Archive for February, 2009

Teenage turmoil

Yesterday afternoon I met with a Book Club in Encino, California, one which had invited me to discuss my memoir, Becoming Alice. It is so interesting for me to speak to these various groups because I always come away with a different experience. This one particularly focused on the teenage part of my story. This always surprises me since my own thought on the subject made me think that the first part of the book would be of most interest. It is the most dramatic part. It is the one that invites you to experience the sheer panic and the miracle of the escape from Nazi persecution.

What I learned from the many book clubs I’ve spoken to, is that there have been so many books written by people who have had similar and often much more horrific experiences than I, people who have been in the camps, and people who have been old enough to fully understand the danger to their lives, that my story told from the perspective of a child, seems not to have the same impact.

But then the seeds of fear come out most distinctly in my teenage years, years that are even difficult for so many kids who have had the most normal of childhoods. I love when people tell me their own stories about having been the kind of kid I was … for a whole set of reasons that are entirely different than mine. I’m so glad they can relate to the teenage Alice.


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An Exciting Event

I’ve been moving along over the last couple of years doing “events” which I discovered were a lot of fun to do. I mean that I have really enjoyed talking to all sizes of groups about Becoming Alice without suffering any stage fright. There have been literary groups and book clubs, libraries and temples and senior centers, and even a fifth grade classroom that I’ve talked to and have answered their questions. the only glitch I’ve ever encountered was one (bleep-bleep) man who stood up and announced to my group that the Holocaust never happened. My group was about to attack him but I was able to throw him out of the room before that happened.

I don’t know why I don’t suffer from stage fright, but my publisher iUniverse is even happier than I about this phenomenon. Now the real test is about to begin. I’ve been invited to sell and sign Becoming Alice at the Women’s EXPO Ventura County (Ventura Fairgrounds, Ventura, California) on March 14th at 11:00 AM in the Author’s Lounge. I was invited by the neatest little independant bookstore in Ventura called Bank of Books. And it is expected that 3,000 people will attend. Stage-fright, don’t lay claim to me now!!! http://www.alicerene.com

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My Writer’s Digest magazine came in the mail yesterday and lo and behold, it was almost entirely on self-publishing. I know a little about that. My book, Becoming Alice, was originally published by iUniverse almost two years ago and has been re-issued last August 2008. Last summer my publishing company merged with Author House.  the good news is that it all went and is going very well for me.

I’m not through reading the entire issue of Writer’s digest yet but I got a kick out of reading some of the statistics they put out … like the “the average book in America sells about 500 copies.” That includes both self-publishing companies and traditional publishing compnies. Well, I’m proud to say that I got that number beat by a mile.

I remember reading elsewhere that self-publishing authors sell on the average about 75 copies. Of course, that includes all those that just want to leave their own history behind for their family. My ambition developed into wanting for far more than that.

The good news is that with the help of Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com and iUniverse.com along with a healthy number of local Barnes and Noble, Borders, and independent bookstores, my memoir continues to sell.

I need to read the rest of this Digest. Will tell you more the next time.

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Book Titles

I’ve  spent 6 and 1/2 hours on a plane from NYC to LA yesterday with a book whose title is eirily like the title of my book, Becoming Alice. It is entitled Still Alice and it is a novel instead of a memoir, like mind. Not only is the title similar, but it was originally published by iUniverse, who has published my book. And it has done well in sales. I think I might be following in her footsteps in that regard.

The big difference is the subject matter of our books, hers being a novel on Alzheimers while mine is a memoir, a true story about a little Jewish girl caught in Vienna as Hitler started his war of terror. Yet there is another connection. My mother, the refined lady of leisure in Europe who came to America and became sort of the original feminist by managing and working a successful grocery store, a strong woman, ended up as a Alzheimer in her later years.

These books are a great read. I’d recommend them both, for personal reasons, of course.

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The Reader

Two landmarks all in one day: I finished reading “The Zookeeper’s Wife” and saw the movie “The Reader. ” Somehow I seem to be bogged down in World War II. But both those stories give us such a new perspective on what we know that happened at that time. Who would ever think about a zoo in Poland and what they might have gone through? It just tells us again there are so many good people remaining in this world who would stick out their necks to do the right thing.

Of course, I should have known that. I write about my own good person in my memoir, “Becoming Alice,” by describing what Tante Rosl did for me and my Jewish family. She helped  to get us out of Vienna before the Holocaust caught up with us in 1938. The book, “The Zoo Keeper’s Wife” gives us that history and more by teaching us about the animals and their compound and how they hid and helped to many people get out to freedom.

“The Reader” gives us a totally different perspective on how a person can get caught up into doing something so evil as to help the Nazi cause. It is basically a love story and beautifully scripted, acted, directed, and all. I hope it wins all sorts of oscars.

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