The best stories--whether we pen them from our imaginations, or regale them with one another among friends, or share them at family gatherings (where the fresh insights of he young are as treasured as the recollections of the old)--the best stories are constructed of love and memory, both those newly made and sparkling as well as those long-aged like fine wine in oak casks.

The following is a forschbise, "a little taste" from the first page of an (as yet) unpublished literary short I wrote for a southern Maine synagogue fundraiser "A Storied Affair," to an audience of 160 people. [See blog post of April 5th]

Last year, Ruth had me submit a story to the first gala fundraiser and, to her surprise, I won (and she had to actually read and listen to one of my tales--ha!). Afterward, the exhausted organizers said they were not planning to do another. However, it seems once all the shekels were counted, they changed their minds. Ruth discovered this, yet again a week before the submission deadline. At her urging, I managed to crank out something appropriate.

...And, what the hey, my entry was again selected, and I was assigned to the honored (sacrificial?) position of "pre-dinner" reader--i.e. the hors d'oeuvre.

Yup, I had to keep a room of hungry Jews entertained while the chefs futzed in the kitchen with the lamb, salmon, and duck entrees, etc.  

My beloved daughter videotaped my performance. All except, alas, for the first few opening lines which I include, for those with interest, below

Nu? Submitted for your amusement, the opening lines from My Pet, a story about boys and pets and family, about fear and cruelty and the Holocaust, and how (Baruch HaShem) love and memory and kindness ever abide from generation to generation.

...But you just get the one minute long ("sucker-them-in") cute part of the story. :)


Dogs are God's gift to boys. Dogs are ever eager to play. They always pick you first, and they never hog the ball. They’re first to greet you in the morning and the last to wish you goodnight. They never betray a secret. For them, your joy is like sucking down too many straws of powdered sugar: their paws stamp the earth as they jump back and forth and sideways and run in circles, their tails spinning like propellers...

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The first (I hope annual) "convergence" of the New England Speculative Writers (NESW) consortium of authors and industry professionals was held in (South) Portland, ME this past Saturday.

As the event was a mere 18-minute drive from my home, the first such writer's workshop and networking opportunity in my own backyard, how could I not attend?

"It's shiny. I like to meet new people. They've all got stories."

--Kaylee Frye [Serenity (Part 1), Joss Whedon's Firefly, FOX Television]

Except...having registered last December, I then forgot about it and sort of promised my wife we'd spend that day together. But, per usual, she was forgiving. "Gay ga zinte hate," as we say, "Go in good health; go do your thing" -- and then went shopping. :)

This one-day event run by NESW creators Jeremy Flagg (who I knew from our panel together at Boskone 2017) and CL Alden included:

The presentations were by additionally successful best-selling and award-winning indie authors like M.D. Cooper, EJ Stevens, and Chris Philbrook, and entrepreneur Paul Kirkpatrick of BetaBooks. Additional lectures were available on-line. The event sponsors also included Kobo, Smashwords, and Autocrit.

Being as this low-cost "business of writing" workshop occurred in my humble rural state backyard, I had unfounded modest expectations that proved fallacious. Mea culpa. The event was excellent.

The workshop was as good as any business of writing seminar I've yet attended, full of tips, guidance, and proven methods of success:

  • from gaining followers,

  • branding and presenting and selling at conventions,

  • understanding the mire and achieving your best returns for your marketing and advertising investments, and

  • to the lucrative opportunities still untapped in audio books.

The speakers were well-versed in their topics. They provided not only their personal insights and their lessons learned, but also detailed contemporary "how-to's" that attendees could use to benefit their own business writing goals today.

This 1st New England Speculative Writers workshop/convergence fulfilled the organization's mission "to assist authors in crafting, editing, publishing and marketing their works."

In summary, this humble one-day event surpassed my expectations. Thus, I took a moment to craft this blog post to express my appreciation to the event organizers and faculty, to encourage a "convergence" of the NESW again next year, and to recommend it to all who may find the above beneficial to their own endeavors in writing, marketing, and publishing.

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[Menu - Schedule below]

In support of the Congregation Bet Ha'am's fundraiser, I jotted off a new partly autobiographical literary short just before the submission deadline (I know, I always seem to find out about these things late). I am pleased to have again been invited to be a guest reader.

Unlike Red Buttons of the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts who complained: "He never got a dinner" -- I will. And Ruth as well. :) As a special treat, my daughter Hannah will join us to see her old man perform.

Now, I've read my work at a number of SFF conventions...to a whole audience of two or three and, in a group author reading, to a whole baker's dozen!

But at "A Storied Affair," I have had, and am pleased to have again, the opportunity to read a wee tale of mine to hundreds of captive hungry fellow landsmen. When I'm done, THEN they can eat. :D

These are the times when you feel such a thrill from the kishkes.

My thanks to the selection committee, the event organizers, the marvelous chef and staff, and the entire congregation of Bet Ha'am for the honor. Mazel tov on another successful fundraiser in support of all the good works you perform on behalf of the community.


Here is the order of the evening's readings and courses:


Jane Sloven - Rufus

Off The Page - The Heart of the World


Segment 2

Abby Staberg - Return Trip

Soup Course

Segment 3

Anna Seigel - Home Planet

Anna Bat- Chai Wrobel - Concert in Galilee and Wondering Jew

Richard Peterson - Sunrise in Santorini

Salad Course

Segment 4

Robert Finegold - My Pet

Dinner Course


Segment 5

Laurence Gardner - Return to Ethiopia

Sarah Cropley - reading Mark Melnikov's From Foreign Lands They Settled

Announcements and Raffle Drawing

Segment 6

Roxanne Baker - The Heirloom

Dessert buffet

Time to schmooze

Congregation Bet Ha'am

81 Westbrook St

South Portland Me 04106

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