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?

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.

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?

The Characters Write their Story

Writing Yoga for Detectives: First Lesson https://www.amazon.com/Yoga-Detectives-Lesson-Prero/dp/1512109371 was the kind of experience you’ve all had where it grabs you by the heart and you trip over your own feet, laughing, trying to keep up.

It was joyous and fun and refreshing.

I met Jaya, Arielle, Tal, Ansui, Rose, and all the others, along with my readers.

Friends of mine asked me if I had modeled Jaya after myself but, really, there’s some of me in all the characters. Sure, on some days I feel like Jaya. But on others I’m much more Ansui. At times I’m Tal, while at others I’m more Yitz. Sometimes 82 year old Rose and sometimes 9 year old Arielle. They’re all inside  me.

Mostly, they took on personalities of their own. Words flew out of their mouths via my fingers on the keyboard, not the other way around. When I tried to create their conversations through my fingers, they most often didn’t ring true and I had to wait patiently for my fingers to let go and surrender to the characters.

The story line tumbled out day by day. I was never quite sure where it would all end up.

These are all the kinds of realities that can be frustrating for would-be authors to hear.

What does it even MEAN? That the characters are in control of their actions and words in a book, and not the author? That the story tells itself, instead of the author making all the decisions?

I remember a Hebrew teacher telling my class, when asked how we know whether the plural of a word is the feminine ending “oht” or the masculine ending “eem”, that it just rings true or not. “How in the world does anything ring true to someone only just now learning the language?” I thought, in frustration.

Frustrating or not, it’s true of language and it’s true of writing.

I fell in love with the characters of my first book. And that’s what’s complicating my second.

The story is taking me to some dark and dangerous places this time. It’s not clear to me yet, as I begin writing Chapter 28, if all my beloved characters are going to survive. The plot is twisty and following an ominous path and there are some days when I’m too fearful for my characters to continue.

Several of my characters have begun to show less attractive traits, alongside the wonderful traits with which I originally fell in love. And that’s hard. In some ways, oddly, I’m finding it harder to expose their faults than it is to expose my own. (Someone has suggested that, perhaps, their faults ARE my own.)

We’re traveling to parts of India and Spain  where I’ve never physically been. How peculiar that after reading about these places, seeing photographs of them and writing about them, I feel that my characters have taken me there and shown me around, through their eyes.

Writing. Not an experience for the faint of heart.

As if self-discipline weren’t challenging enough, there you are, meeting yourself on the path over and over, in the most unanticipated places with the most unexpected feelings. Not all pleasant.

This time my characters and their story are sometimes dragging me forward reluctantly instead of grabbing my heart joyfully.

But I’m all in for the journey.