Who the Heck Are We?

Most of us are concerned (or even obsessed) in one way or another (or many ways) about our identity.

Male, female, trans, non-binary (and, yes, I know there are more options out there). Smart or smart-ass, kind or a pushover, equanimous or apathetic, voluptuous or fat, Jewish American or American Jew, discerning or judgmental, aging or decrepit, compassionate or pitying.  I could go on.

Here’s an interesting little tidbit of information –  over 30% of the Buddhist leadership in the United States is Jewish. There’s even a name for a Jewish person who meditates and otherwise follows some (or many) Buddhist precepts – she’s a Ju-Bu.

Way to go! Nice option for avoiding yet another identity decision.

The Jaya series, recently renamed A Jewish-Buddhist Mystery Series, is a study in contradiction – identity complexities all over the place. Yoga teacher Jaya herself is a meditating, Buddha-quoting Jew. She’s intuitive in a haphazard, unaware way. She makes brave decisions from a place of confusion and weakness.

Her sidekick, Ansui, is grumpy and big-hearted, philosophically wise and interpersonally clueless. Her love interests run hot and cold, close and distant.

The series itself seems to be searching for its identity. Book One is a cozy mystery, filled with quirky characters and little violence. Book Two is more in the direction of Jewish mysteries with historical puzzles to solve while avoiding disaster. And Book Three – wait for it – is headed toward true detective. Jaya’s adventures have escalated from long-range rifle fire to kidnap and brutal murder. 


Don’t blame me. The characters take me where they want to go. I’m only telling their stories.

Now there’s another identity issue. Some authors believe they’re in control. They plot and outline and then fill it all in with (hopefully) talented writing. I’m the other kind. I plot and outline and then set my characters free to drag me hither and yon.

People say that writers write what they know. Several readers have asked me if Jaya is me. I suppose there’s a little of me in every character but, no, Jaya is definitely not me. Here’s Jaya:

Oh! Did you think I was going to post a comparative picture of myself? Suffice it to say that this ISN’T me.

And I don’t know firsthand about kidnap or murder, have never solved Jewish mysteries or been a true detective (though I’ve watched enough Blue Bloods, Chicago PD and Law and Order to just about pass the detective exam). I don’t know about or really have much of an interest in genealogy and, while it’s true that my minor in undergraduate school was history, I have no patience for remembering historical facts, names, and dates.

Longer ago than I care to admit I stopped struggling with identity issues. My friends and family might disagree but here’s how I see myself:

  •      Rebelliously inconsistent in almost every facet of my life
  •      Flitting from one interest to another
  •      A dilettante, I learn things superficially and abandon them at will
  •      Open-minded to the extreme at times
  •      Stubbornly clinging to ridiculous views and habits at others

Hand on heart, aren’t you a little like that, too?

So what are the constants in our lives?

Here are some of mine:

I love my family – every single one of them
I’m loyal to my friends – always
I’m a reader – always have been – always will be

What are yours?



Check it Out

Life. It has its good days and its not-so-good days. Ups and downs. roller coaster

And then there are stages of life. These were some of mine. Being a kid. Being a teenager. Being on my own. Being a student. Being part of a couple. Being a parent…with little kids in the house and then bigger and bigger and then no longer in the house. Being a worker. Being partially-retired. Maybe someday being just plain retired.

Sometimes we don’t even notice that we’ve switched stages


until we’ve been in the new one for awhile.

Each stage has its rewards and challenges. I just took a couple of seconds to remember how I walked around in a fog of no sleep when I had infants under my care. And then took a couple more to remember how nothing melted my heart more than my children’s faces.

There’s a stage of getting old and then there’s a stage of being old. Technically, I guess we’re all getting old from the minute we take our first breath but we all know that, really, getting old is something altogether different.

While it’s politically correct or just polite to talk about getting older, there comes a point when you’re just OLD. Getting older is the gentle surprise of an ache here and there or less drive to get out there and jog a few miles, or grab a few more clients. Being old is more a not-so-gentle shock than a gentle surprise.  old young shadow

They say that old is a mindset. They are young.

So I’ve created a new website and blog about being old. Yes, folks, I’m 65 years OLD; no longer 65 years YOUNG. (is that even a thing?)

This website will remain for yoga, books and beyond and I’ll allow myself to ruminate on my new website, in brutal honesty, about the challenges and rewards…yes, there ARE rewards…of BEING OLD.

You can find that part of my life here:


Meanwhile, a word about my latest book. I tried to market this one. Read some articles. Spent some money. Alas, it hasn’t sold any better than my first book. I’m wondering what’s up with that.

Maybe Jaya and friends just don’t appeal to readers. Have you read it? Can you send me some honest words about it? I’ve pretty much decided to abandon Jaya for now – and mysteries altogether – and move on to a totally different genre.

quirky books 2                quirky books 1            quirky books 3

What do you say?

An Old Person’s Tale

My name is Aliza and I’m a gadget addict.

Yep. I don’t deny it. I’m one of those people who can’t keep her hands off her smartphone when she’s sitting across from you at the coffee shop. You know the type.smartphone shop The one who knows the nicknames of more people on the Hearts Multiplayer App than of relatives. Who keeps her iPad on the night table so she can check Facebook before her feet hit the floor in the morning.

The only thing I have to say for myself is that I’m aware of and fighting my addiction. Some days more successfully than others.

I’ve weaned myself off reading and sending Whatsapp while driving. Yay! Once upon a time, in primitive times, people might have been considered insane if they consciously took their eyes off the road for “only” a minute or two while driving at 60 mph but now you probably appreciate that achievement.

smartphone danger

I can refrain from taking my phone out of my purse and off silent after the movie, when I’m having dinner with friends…without needing a Xanax. I’ve even been known to LEAVE THE HOUSE WITHOUT MY SMARTPHONE! (but that may be as a result of encroaching forgetfulness) forgotten

I believe that having a few real flesh and blood friends is healthier than having hundreds of Facebook friends. I realize that I’m fortunate to have a living, breathing human being sharing my house who cares about me and actually enjoys talking to me. I know how dangerous it can be to be totally unaware of my surroundings as I cross busy streets or walk down partially deserted streets after dark.

And yet…sometimes I wonder.

As someone once said (when he was a young person), the times they are a’changin’.

Our kids’ and certainly our grandkids’ world is full of electronics from Day One. Eighteen-month-olds have that swiping motion down pat to change screens (maybe year olds). Several of our toddler grandchildren call me on their own. No parent required. They identify my photo sitting right there alongside my phone number, swipe to send and happily chatter away to me in gibberish. Instead of being engrossed in a book, our older grandchildren spend hours  (or as much time as parents allow) watching clips and entire shows on their phones.

Maybe it’s an old person thing – thinking that books are intrinsically better than electronic entertainment. Maybe it’s very 1990s to believe that in-person conversation is more valuable than texting. Hey, it’s true that the less one engages in face-to-face conversation, the less she needs all that pesky vocabulary to be gained by reading books.


Soon there’ll be driver-less cars so we can text to our hearts’ content while traveling. We can learn to use walking sticks like the vision-impaired so that we can keep our eyes on our screens while getting around outside. And, anyway, maybe soon there’ll be no need to even go outside.

(a) Kindle versus (b) print books? (a) Amazon versus (b) Barnes & Noble? (a) Webinar versus (b) professional conference? If you answered (b), (b) and (b) maybe you’re a dinosaur

So, here’s the thing. I think my outrageous addiction to electronics helps me feel comfortable saying (out loud) that I mourn the simpler days of walking barefoot with my friends during the long Texas summer evenings, feeling the warm, soft asphalt under our feet, looking at the lightning bugs and listening to crickets; that I’m ridiculously ecstatic to have grandchildren who love to read; that I’m fighting to reduce my screen time and my gadget budget.

I can’t help but believe that my generation is exceedingly lucky to have not had the temptation to live a solitary, sedentary existence, inside our homes, iPad or iPhone in hand. But, at the same time, I know that it’s an old person’s belief. And that’s as it should be. We had our chance to change the world for the better (and I think we haven’t done a terrible job so far compared to our parents’ world).

So here’s my prayer: May our children and grandchildren make a better world with these crazy electronic tools in their hands, because it doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere in the near future.



Buy it On Sale – Just 99 cents!

The Kindle edition of my second book, Yoga for Detectives: Interconnected, is on sale for the next two days – Oct. 31 – Nov. 1. If you haven’t already bought it, now’s your chance!

The paperback edition has undergone significant changes in formatting. Several people complained that the print was so small it was giving them headaches…

headaches and that can’t be good. It was partially an optical illusion because the paragraphs weren’t indented and there wasn’t enough space between the lines but I changed all of that.

Marketing a book is harder than I thought – and I thought it would be pretty hard. It’s been an adventure and I’ve been enjoying the collateral benefits. I’ve received some interesting correspondence from people to whom I reached out. I’ve gotten a heads up about some books that I’m reading happily and never would’ve found otherwise. Turns out there are lots of self-published authors out there whose very good books are languishing unnoticed.

I started a third book which was to be a political thriller and was enjoying the new challenge. Having heard from several people that they were eagerly awaiting the continuation of the mystery series, though, I decided to write one more before my thriller experiment.

pleaseHopefully, this time next year I’ll be marketing a third mystery before taking a break to tackle that new genre.

I’d love to hear from those of you who have read Yoga for Detectives: Interconnected.  Is there something more you’d like to know about any of the characters? I know them really well; just ask. Is there an unexplored direction you’d like to see? They’re adventurous and willing to go anywhere. Is there something annoying about any of the characters and you’d like them to PLEASE CUT IT OUT!? Hey, even an old dog can learn new tricks, or try to.


To those of you who haven’t yet read Yoga for Detectives: Interconnected, get your 99 cent copy and enjoy!


Read and Review! Learning to market

Learning to edit with an eye toward publishing with a traditional publisher was an adventure. Whenever it got wearisome I took a timeout for a week, or two or three. It’s a process that can go on indefinitely and, I understand from my writers’ groups, sometimes does. In the case of Yoga for Detectives: Interconnected, I think the end result is a tighter, better book. I hope so.

Deciding to work with a professional book cover artist was a major decision. Since I write primarily for my own enjoyment, I’m reluctant to rack up a big bill. I paid for two beta readers when they had “sales” and charged a ridiculously small amount for their work – it’s a thankless, time-consuming endeavor and a good beta reader is worth her weight in gold! I vacillated about adding the expense of a book cover artist. Ultimately, I found someone from one of my writers’ groups and he (a) didn’t charge much and (b) had the patience of a saint.

Learning to format for the self-publishing process was a hugely satisfying endeavor. I paid a professional to do it the first time around after trying unsuccessfully to figure it out by myself – many hours of frustration. After spending money on two beta readers and a book cover artist, I decided to bite the bullet and make the effort again to format the book myself. This means two kinds of formatting; one for the paperback book and one for the Kindle version. This time it went amazingly smoothly and I felt like a real computer wizard.

I didn’t invest any energy or money in marketing my first book and, guess what?, not very many people read it. How could they? Hardly anyone knew it existed. The few who miraculously found it seemed to like it…a lot! But there were only about 40 of them, not counting friends and relatives. Deciding to make the effort to remedy that, I began learning about marketing and yesterday started putting into action one of the strategies suggested. One woman even purchased both my first and second book so she could start at the beginning!

One of the primary methods of making potential readers aware of my book’s existence is getting people to review it. Hmmm. How can the book receive reviews if no one knows it exists? First I purchased a book review targeter app and sent out a few hundred emails to people who reviewed books similar to mine. Within a day I received responses from more than a dozen who are happy to read and review the book. I also received kind words and encouragement.

There’s something called “verified purchase” attached to reviews of people who read a purchased copy of the book. People seem to put more stock in these reviews. Reasonable, I suppose. So the next step is to solicit people to purchase the book on a certain date and then lower the price to 99 cents on that day.

That’s where you come in! I would be thrilled if you would purchase the Kindle version of my book on Friday, November 1st, (I’ll post a reminder), to receive the reduced price and then write a review – preferably once you’ve read the book, but I’m not picky.

It’s a journey.

Yoga for Detectives: Interconnected on sale soon!

After more editing by more people than the uninitiated might imagine and a significant rewrite, my second book, Yoga for Detectives: Interconnected, was processed by the robots at Amazon today and went on sale!


A serious marketing process began this morning, something that wasn’t done for my first book. It’s a fascinating and exciting prospect.

I have a feeling that authors’ relationships with their books are a bit similar to parents’ relationships with their children as far as birth order. (with apologies to my children)

The first made me an author. The process of creating that first book was filled with exuberance and joy. The writing flowed. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Yoga for Detectives: Lesson One. https://www.amazon.com/Yoga-Detectives-Lesson-Prero/dp/1512109371it. I love having the print version on my shelf and seeing the digital version listed on Amazon.

I took the creation of the second book much more seriously. Writing the first draft of the book was just as joyful and exuberant but the many drafts that followed showed a certain maturity as a writer that I gained from having written a first book.

I joined writers’ groups and took a couple of writing courses. There were four beta readers involved. I hired a book cover artist. I read articles suggested by others in my writers’ groups, asked questions and incorporated many of the answers. I made a huge effort to get it right.

I decided to have my second book traditionally published, researched potential agents and publishing houses and learned what they look for in a manuscript. In the end, I decided that the advantages of self-publishing far outweigh the psychological advantage of being a traditionally published author. The process of structuring my book to adhere to traditional publishing standards was a process that I am happy to have accomplished, though.

Clicking approved on the final pdf file of Yoga for Detectives: Interconnected was a dramatic moment. Perhaps even more so than the first birth, approving my first book, because I invested so much more effort in perfecting it. I know so much more about how the process works and have expectations that I didn’t have when I knew so little.

Ultimately, I am in tune with the reality that, as with everything else in life, I can only do the best I can and understand that the results are out of my control. I can only write the best book I’m capable of writing at the moment, learn as much as I can and incorporate what other, more experienced, writers share with me, make use of the marketing tools available and then let go.

I’ll love it no matter how others receive it but I hope it will be enjoyed by many. I’m looking forward to reading the reviews.



Women, WWII and Wonder

After reading tons of Holocaust Literature in my teens, I put it aside for decades. I didn’t go to WWII movies, and wasn’t pulled in the direction of Holocaust museums. Not so much a case of avoiding the horror, tragedy and evil so much as a feeling that I’d seen it, read it, knew enough about it.

I don’t remember the first Holocaust book I picked up a couple of years ago or why. It was probably a hand me down from a Canadian friend I often share books with. Whatever the reason, I was stuck. In a good way. I went on to read Those Who Save Us, Once We Were Brothers, The Nightingale, All the Light We Cannot See, One Early Morning and others I can’t recall at the moment.

Just when I think I’ve read my last, the wonderful woman at Sefer v’Sefel, the used book store whose aisles I love to wander, a friend or Bookbub.com recommends a book I have to read. I’m no longer surprised at how many fascinating stories of human capabilities stretched to their outer limits and plunged to their depths and beyond there are or at the talented people imagining and writing about them.

I’m also not surprised that the heroes, damaged as they may be, in many of these books are women. Ours are not usually the stories of military bravery, though there are some of those now sneaking into general awareness, but more the stories of our hearts putting us at grave risk. Stories of using our wits and cunning for the sake of others, in spite of being left breathless at our own actions. Stories which don’t always have good endings for us but usually have happy endings for those we’ve helped at the cost of our lives or mental health.

When I look around at the actions of neo-Nazis in Europe and the U.S., rampant murder in Syria, Sudan, Iraq, Somalia and other places around the globe, I’m tempted to shake my head at the world into which I’ve brought children and they’ve in turn brought my grandchildren.  But, as it turns out, our world has always been full of opportunities to sacrifice ourselves in the name of easing the pain and tragedy that results from the evil of a power-hungry, greedy, hate-infused minority.

The bravery that evil inspires in the breast of those who are involuntarily faced with its reality provides endless material for authors and hours of wonder and awe for readers.

I hope you’ll take a minute to join me in praying for a cessation of cruelty and hatred and the day when we, as authors, will have to search for other avenues of inspiration.

Book Cover: A Work in Progress



I created the book cover for my first book and it was okay. Not great.

Figured I’d create the cover for my second book, too. Worked at it. Learned how to find good images in the public domain. Found a decent design. What got me hung up was the font. The templates I found for design had their own, very limited, ideas about what fonts I could choose from and none of them were good.

I kept running my creation by the two writers’ groups I work with and getting bad reactions to the font. It looked like a textbook. It looked unprofessional. It looked…bad.

I looked at sites which offer book design at low prices but how to choose one of the many, MANY people out there who do this stuff? Back to my writers’ groups to ask how to choose.

The administrator of one of the groups asked if I wanted him to try his hand at it. We wrangled a bit about the price and then worked online together for 5 hours to come up with this:


It’s  not quite finished. I’ve decided to take “A Jaya Frankel Mystery” off the front cover because it’s too crowded. There are two typos. The bar code has to be added.

But I’d be happy to hear your reactions.

Would you pick up this book?