Tuesday, November 18, 2014

19th Edition of Jesper from Edebe!

Wow! 19. That's quite the number. The 19th edition of Jesper  -my book about The Danish Resistance in World War 11 -
just arrived in the mail. The coolest part? The publisher is Edebe from Spain! So in Spanish translation...

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Tucson Jo Book Launch!

What an evening! The really spectacular thing, outside of a fabulous turnout at McNally Robinson's Bookstore, was to have two very special guests, my best friend and my publisher, Morri Mostow, and the head of the Simonsen Foundation in Denmark Marianne Olsen.
We weren't sure how a dual launch would go - me talking about a children's book and my husband Per talking about a book he had translated of a Danish Jewish philosopher, Andreas Simonsen. But funnily enough it seemed to all fit together. I spoke first and talked about the writing of Tucson Jo, then read a chapter. Per talked next and read the forword from the book and then described each chapter. We took questions and the questions overlapped in interesting ways. Tucson Jo is about a Jewish family, so there were a lot of Jewish themes in the evening, and Tucson Jo also asks some big questions so it all seemed to fit together. In this picture Marianne is beside Per and that is Morri beside me.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Writing a first Draft/ Tucson Jo

Writing a first draft is so different for every writer. Some take years to fine tune every sentence as they work. Some take months or years to prepare, detailing everything in a long outline. For me. the process has always been the same. I have a rough idea, maybe a few paragraphs long, the beginning, the middle, and an idea of where it might end. If it is an historical I take as long as needed to do the research which could be months or years! Plus never underestimate the thinking time involved in writing. Walks, showers, staring into the distance, all times when the "little grey cells" are working are the most important time for me - the time before the writing starts. That's when the themes of the book take shape, the characters start to emerge, and finally, that most important thing- the first sentence. When I have my first sentence- which often changes as the book changes- I am ready to start writing. And then the first draft goes fast. Maybe 3 weeks tops with no interruptions -  that's when all things domestic seem to get ignored and we have to hope the water doesn't get turned off because I've forgotten  to pay the bill! Oh- but did I mention the procrastination that comes just before the first draft starts? That's when all things domestic get done! The house gets a spring cleaning, drawers that haven't been looked at in years get organized-all because I feel like I will never start the book, it is too difficult, I can't write it - for various reasons depending on the project-  etc.
I love the first draft process. It's like running a marathon maybe- not sure since I've never run one, but it is all encompassing and really hard work, and somehow full of elation.
And working this way tends to banish writers block because I don't give myself time for doubt. Or more accurately I try to pay doubt no attention. So when that little voice says to me " This is rubbish" at the end of the work day, I ignore it and keep on writing the next day. It also helps that when I tell my husband it is all awful he reads it and disagrees and that helps me to keep pushing ahead.
The second draft and sometimes up to 20 more? Well, that's another story. But when you write this fast on the first draft there is bound to be lots to fix on subsequent drafts. And I know that and expect it.
Except for my book Lisa which came out just about as you see it on the page...
Tucson Jo had so many drafts I've lost count. Actually I have tried to count and it is well over 30! And that isn't just changing a word here or there that is changing major characters, adding new ones, subtracting ones that aren't working, even changing plot lines. OK. Enough of this- must get back to reading over the first draft of my new science fiction book.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Writing Tucson Jo

One of the hardest things about this book is remembering how to spell Tucson! To be fair it does sound like Tuson or should be pronounced Tukson.  I have to admit I'm an awful speller- always have been- and without the computer correcting me I would always sound at the very least confused and at worst just bad, but there it is!

Anyway, back to the reason for this post!

I have been working on this book for eight years, obviously doing other projects as well -  in fact, during that time I've  published eleven books including, The Freak series,  Behind Enemy Lines and Pieces of The Past. But all the time -  ever since I finished the first draft after a research trip to Tucson in 2006 - I have been returning to this book and trying to get it right.  I worked with an editor from a big publishing house at first and it got better but still wasn't quite right. Finally my best friend, Morri Mostow, who had just started a publishing house, offered to have a look at it. It was her notes that made me realize what wasn't working but more importantly how to fix it. I think the biggest stumbling block for me was being too tied into the historical material. Based on a real person, the first Jewish Mayor of Tucson, Charles Strauss,  I tried to follow his story and the story of his family - during the time he was running for mayor. That tied me down too much and didn't let my own creative take on the story evolve.

When I chose to write a story "inspired by the first Jewish mayor of Tucson and his family," I was able to focus not only on telling an exciting story but on what I wanted the story to be about. Jo, the fourteen-year-old daughter of the patriarch wants nothing so much as her freedom, but her father is running for mayor on a platform of  law and order. I was able to use the story to explore what freedom really means to us personally and to our society. Freedom is a word bandied about freely by everyone but what does it really mean? For Jo it means not being constrained by the fact that she is a young woman. She wants to be able to wear pants! She wants to be able to speak freely. She wants to be able to ride a horse and not side-saddle! She wants equality with her brother and to be taught Torah just as he is. And yet her father points out that society will not accept these freedoms for her, and that she must live within her society and accept some restraints.

Which brings us to an interesting problem. What kind of restraints are we willing to accommodate in order to live both safely and freely? That, I think, is an important question these days with threats around us from bad people who have guns and weapons. Will safety and freedom force us to strike some sort of balance?


Monday, September 8, 2014

Tucson Jo is out and it's on sale for 2 weeks!


I have been working on this book, Tucson Jo for 8 years now!

In another post I will describe the writing process. But for now I just want to celebrate the fact that it is out there and that if you buy it now you can get it at half price!! Feel free to share this promotion with your friends.
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PRELAUNCH SPECIAL – 50% OFF – MY NEWEST HISTORICAL NOVEL FOR MIDDLE GRADES

Fictive Press is launching Tucson Jo, my newest historical novel for middle grades, on October 1, at McNally Robinson Booksellers Grant Park. But, FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS, you can purchase Tucson Jo online at the links below for 50% off.

YOUR CHOICE OF EBOOK OR PAPERBACK!

THE EBOOK EDITION
Download Tucson Jo in your favorite ebook format by using this 50%-off discount coupon code: JQ36T


THE PRINT EDITION
Order Tucson Jo in paperback for only $10.00 CDN (plus shipping)


OFFER ENDS SEPTEMBER 20/14.
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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What a Week! Red Cedar Nomination!

Pieces of the Past, The Holocaust diary of Rose Rabinowitz, has been nominated for a B.C. Red Cedar Award. Just to make a perfect triple this week, adding that to the Manitoba Day Award and the Canadian Jewish book Award.  Whew! Or should I say Awesome!

Canadian Jewish Book Award for Pieces of the Past!

I am thrilled to announce that Pieces of the Past, The Holocaust diary of Rose Rabinowitz, has won The Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish book Award, for Youth. 
This is a very special honour for me and for the book and I couldn't be happier.
Here is the link:/http://kofflerarts.org/programs-events/2013/11/13/2014-helen-and-stan-vine-canadian-jewish-book-awards/

Pieces of the Past wins a Manitoba Day Award!

Pieces of the Past, The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz, was awarded a Manitoba Day Award by The Association for Manitoba Archives. 
The award ceremony was on May 13th at the Berney Theatre at the Rady JCC in Winnipeg. It was a fascinating program honouring people who had used Manitoba archives  with excellent results. My book was one of 10 awards given out.
The award itself is a stunning glass sculpture of prairie wheat, which is now sitting proudly on my dining room hutch. (I may have to move it to avoid destruction when the grandchildren come over!)
I used the archives of The Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada extensivley as I researched my book. Stan Carbone, who is Director of Programs and Exhibits at the Centre helped me gather all the relevant materials. In particular I was able to use the minutes from the organizing committee that brought the orphans to Winnipeg. The minutes had every detail of the orphans' resettlemnt from where they were to be housed, to jobs, to dances and swimming, to psychiatric issues.
The book would not have been the same without these detailed documents.

With Stan's permission I am posting his introduction of me from last night:
The Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada, which I represent, nominated Carol Matas for Pieces of the Past: The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz. For the preparation of her book Carol drew on the Jewish Heritage Centre’s extensive collection of materials that covers virtually every aspect of the history of Winnipeg Jewry including the connection or relation between the local community and the Holocaust in all of its implications, be they historical as well as moral, ethical and psychological. The excellence and high quality of Pieces of the Past is due to various factors not the least of which is Carol’s ability to utilize archival sources to posit a sense and a feel for the period she is writing about. In so doing she is able to integrate the subjective element which is critical to understanding the human condition with objective, historical circumstances and realities.
Carol Matas has a proven track record of documenting, through the medium of literature, the social and cultural life of Winnipeg and Manitoba as reflected in the history and contemporary reality of the local Jewish community. In many of her works, the Holocaust provides an indispensable point of reference as the local Jewish community seeks to negotiate and define its identity in a Manitoban and Canadian social setting. In addition, she has that wonderful ability to connect the local with the universal in that the themes she explores and dissects relate to local circumstances but resonate at a universal level. Her works speak to dimensions and aspects of the human condition that transcend the Jewish experience without of course diminishing the centrality of said experience.  In so doing she has brought the Holocaust to our attention by making it a part of our lives. I’d like to think that the archives of the Jewish Heritage Centre have played a role in this process. The information that she has unravelled and interpreted has allowed her to piece together the past and offer it to her readers so that they will acquire a better understanding of the moral, ethical and human rights issues that reverberate in their everyday lives. If literature and the interpretation of history are vehicles for empowering people by making them aware of their role in society and how they fit in the ups and downs and windings of the course of history, Carol has succeeded on all counts. Through the characters she has created, with their nuanced and complex experiences and values, and through the pedagogical importance of her works, Carol Matas has made a major contribution to our province’s richly textured and vibrant multicultural mosaic.
 I’d like to ask Carol Matas to come up and receive her award.



Friday, March 7, 2014

A Blog Interview About Pieces of the Past

In this blog interview about Pieces of the Pastas part of the Sydney Taylor book awards 2104 blog tour, I talk about the challenges of writing a Holocaust book. I also mention my upcoming historical novel, Tucson Jo, which is inspired by the life and family of Tucson's first Jewish mayor. It will be available in May.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

4/4 Star Review for Pieces Of The Past

Pieces Of The Past has been named a Best Book for 2013 (for Grades 3 - 6) by Resource Links and has been "highly recommended" by The Deakin Review of Children's Literature. I found their review very touching.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pieces of the Past awarded Sydney Taylor Honor!

Pieces of the Past, The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz (Scholastic Canada 2013) has just been named a 2014 Sydney Taylor Honor Book for Older Readers by the Association of Jewish Libraries. I will be travelling to the Association of Jewish Libraries Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, this June to pick up my silver medal! I'll also be giving a presentation. I was so excited I sat down and wrote the presentation already!

The Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience.