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 Joy of Writing

It’s Done!

Here’s how writing a book goes for me.

I get up in the morning, read in bed until I hear my egg white frying and smell the coffee, get up, brush my teeth and make my way out to breakfast on the back porch. Yes, I have a husband who makes me breakfast every morning. Highly recommended for every writer, and everyone else.

After feeding and watching the birds, I take care of housekeeping items. That can mean actual things to do in and around the house for our continued existence or it can mean answering emails, checking on yoga students, catching up with friends.

Time to sit down to write.

In two hours a reminder goes off for me to do at least 10 minutes of yoga to rescue my joints and then it’s back to writing. If bells didn’t go off every two hours, I could (and have been known to) sit and write for 8 hours without moving. That might work for a 20 year-old but not so much for my old bones.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I am blessed with this routine and with writing a first draft that flows. I’m a little in love with my characters. I wish they were real so I could have a cup of coffee with them.

And then….It’s Done! Great feeling, right?

Then I start on the first edit.

Wake up. Read. Breakfast. Birds. Housekeeping.

Procrastinating. Editing? Not so much fun.

But, okay, at some point…It’s Done!

Second and third edits, with beta reader assistance, more procrastinating, no longer any need for a reminder every two hours unless it’s a reminder to get back to editing.

Finally…It’s Done.

Now it gets harder. The big re-write. Bless the beta readers. One character needs more depth. One chapter needs to be torn apart. Too many adverbs. Too many words.

Suddenly I find myself watching TV series downloaded from Netflix in the middle of the day while my re-write beckons. I have to help a friend find a wedding dress. I need a new playlist for my Sunday night yoga class.

The first draft took four months of fun and the re-write took almost as long but of procrastination. I hear James Patterson’s words in my ear – your writing is not holy! If it doesn’t move the story forward, get rid of it.


And then, today at 5:10 p.m…It’s Done!

I feel like a Cucumber Gin Gimlet or two or five and dancing all night.

My manuscript is written, edited three times and re-written. I’ve sent it off to three new beta readers.

Sure, I’ll be back at it next week after I get feedback but, for now, It’s Done.

The Characters Write their Story

Writing Yoga for Detectives: First Lesson 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.



The Yoga of Max’s Discontent

I read The Yoga of Max’s Discontent by Karan Bajaj while on a 5 week trip in India. Couldn’t have been better timing.

The book can be read and enjoyed on several levels.

It is interesting as the tale of one young man’s personal journey toward a better understanding of the meaning and purpose of his own life. The reader follows Max’s development from a childhood of poverty in the projects to financial success on Wall Street; from his close relationship to a childhood friend and his younger sister to a life seemingly far from each; from certainty to confusion to acceptance of both. Max can easily be the archetype young person in the Western world of 2016.

On another level, The Yoga of Max’s Discontent clarifies the basic concepts of attachment, The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, the path to Enlightenment, no-thing and emptiness. I’ve been teaching meditation for close to two decades, teaching yoga for 5 years and practicing for eight. A decade of reading Buddhist thought and philosophy quite intensively as well as listening to hundreds (perhaps thousands) of hours of excellent dharma talks didn’t bring me to the clear understanding this book did.

Of course, it’s undoubtedly the combination of all those factors. In any case, I greatly appreciated this book’s crucial part in that process.

Max’s own confusion at each stage in the development of his path toward Enlightenment created the possibility for suspending my own disbelief in such seemingly bizarre events. His difficulty in grasping the logistics of his spiritual advancement allowed me to recognize the stepping stones in my own journey.

Paradoxically, the clarity I gained also brought me to the realization that enlightenment is not, in fact, something I choose to seek. To the contrary, I’ve become clearer in my understanding that should I ever approach that state, my choice would be to remain on the path of altruism in this world.

Jaya’s in Trouble!

In Yoga for Detectives: Lesson One, Jaya began to understand that her guru’s plan for her may have something to do with her ability to solve mysteries and protect good souls who are in danger. But she, herself, is never in any real danger.

In Yoga for Detectives: Lesson Two, all that changes. In the very first pages we come upon Jaya alone, bruised and broken, awaiting certain death.

The twists and turns of this second book take our characters through the crowded streets of Mumbai, into the ruins of temples in Goa, crossing into Basque Country, delving deep into the archives of The British Museum in London and, finally, making their way through the labyrinth of the Three Counties Caves System in the Yorkshire Dales.

Deceit and desperation are the name of the game as Jaya and her friends discover that some people are willing to do anything to prevent the truth from uncovering a saint’s extreme unsaintliness.

Once again Ansui, the elder statesman of The Brahmacharya Das Legacy Meditation Center in Manhattan, brings his grumpy disposition, wise quotes and loving heart to the tasks which threaten those good souls who come under Jaya’s protective wing.

We learn, together with Jaya, to appreciate Daniel’s inner strength and creative intellectualism, as he helps unravel the intricacies of centuries-old secrets. Working together with him from far away, Ananda begins to acknowledge her own growing feelings for Daniel, painfully in conflict with her understanding of Jaya’s relationship with him.

And, always, the children’s stories are interwoven with the danger, tragedy and heartbreak which the adults encounter. Another young cousin, Yarden, joins Ariel and Tal on a lark, in a European vacation which may be their final adventure.

Sinister and highly dangerous men, cloaked in the righteousness of their religious order pull apart the lives of all the characters we grew to know and love in Yoga for Detectives: Lesson One.

Will they survive for a third lesson?

Read the sequel, Yoga for Detectives: Lesson Two to find out. Available on Amazon Summer 2016.

Vishnu       star_o_david   Ganesha 1