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Monday, August 20, 2007

Jewish Book Network Event in New York

On May 30th I had the opportunity to attend the children's authors lunch sponsored by the Jewish Book Council’s Jewish Book Network.

Several months ago, I was delighted to receive an e-mail from Lisa Silverman, who until recently was the children’s editor at Jewish Book World magazine. Lisa invited me to be part of the Jewish Book Network Tour. I was thrilled at the chance to participate in this wonderful program that links authors with Jewish communities throughout the country. The big kickoff takes place in NY where authors have the opportunity to make a two-minute presentation to perspective hosts. For me, the trip to Manhattan, a city I adore, was a bonus.

This event is several days long, most of which were for authors of adult books. The children’s authors attended a separate luncheon gathering. It was held at the Hebrew Union College, which is nestled among the buildings of NYU. The neighborhood’s bustling vibe was energizing. I arrived early enough to pop into an organic coffee bar for a four-dollar latte. It was worth every penny. I imagined myself curled up in the bohemian style café, revising manuscripts with creative abandon. When it was time to get to the meeting, I was a bit nervous and grateful for the surge of energy from my latte.

The event brought together authors and book loving community representatives from all over the country. From the first moment it was a wonderful experience, with a lovely venue and a warm and inviting atmosphere. Even so,there was business to attend to. Shortly after the event there was a humorous write up by NY Times reporter Rachel Donadios who described it as as, “a bizarre rite of passage: the Jewish book tour casting call. In a combination of ‘The Gong Show’ and speed-dating, they each had two minutes to pitch their books … An M.C. ruthlessly held up a sign when one minute was up and cheerily announced “on deck” to prepare the next speaker.”

Although this pretty much describes the process, my experience was not the least bit bizarre or ruthless. True, when it was my turn to present, it was slightly terrifying. I was so intent on staying within the 2-minute time limit, I actually had 15 seconds left over! For days afterward, I went over the sentence I took out of my presentation a hundred times. Even so, I still managed to outline my school visit program and introduced my Like a Maccabee puppets.

The beauty of the program was the diversity reflected in the books presented. There were religious books, secular books, and some in between, reflecting every aspect of the Jewish community. A personal highlight for me was meeting fellow authors and the wonderful community representatives from around the country. I’m looking forward to being part of the tour, and will keep you posted of any events I have coming up.

Until then, Happy Reading and Happy Writing.

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