Shopping List, Orange Smoosh, & Damn Right Artists are Needy!
....with footnotes. Because it's me.
Greetings from our Writing Retreat in an Undisclosed Location in New Jersey. We had a very nice Thanksgiving Dinner a Deux last night, which Facebook just showed me was pretty much identical to last year’s, except with different china.
I am charmed & amazed at how many of you tried my Orange Smoosh recipe from Recipes & Reminiscences! Astrid Bear has assumed the noble title of Smoosh Prophet, sharing the recipe with writer Amy Thomson, who made a few improvements.Did you try it? How did yours come out?
I am eager to get back to work on the Recalcitrant Novel - but first:
This is the dreaded Thanksgiving Weekend Shopping Message.
. . . Or is it?
Maybe you’re like me! Because I love to shop. I love to wander the aisles looking for something worth my nickels. I am a Hunter at heart. I love to zero in on an Internet site and decide to make an offer to someone in Latvia for that old red linen ankle-length Gudrun Sjoden duster they’re offering for $95 but they’ll actually take $55 for. (I have a nice little collection of Baltic packing envelopes by now, yes I do - and if I can find a photo of me in that duster, which I happen to kill in, I’ll post it here.)
So for better or worse, this is the Message in which (spoiler alert!)
I beg you to buy my book.
ALSO: For free and for nothing, I’ll recommend some indie artists & craftswomen who may have just the present you need for someone this year. So if you already have my book, just scroll down past all the begging stuff to the part with other people’s stuff listed.
Now, I was going to start this request by apologizing for being needy - but then I realized that, goddammit:
ARTISTS ARE NEEDY
Yes, we are, and it’s time to stop faking.
If you make a career in the arts - whether as writer, painter, musician, actor - you depend on the whims of a wafting public to make a living. You NEED people - publishers, casting directors, audiences, galleries, libraries, readers - to patronize/support your work. And just as importantly:
You NEED to be assured that your work is GOOD! Because for most of us, Art is Communication.
I’ll let you in on a little secret - revealed to me by my hard-cooking, deep-thinking wife Delia Sherman last night over a Thanksgiving duck and a bottle of Clos Hermitage.
“Of course you’d never admit this in public,” she began [OH WOULD I NOT?], but sometimes we hate what we’re writing. It’s a lot of work, it’s not going well, and we know in our hearts it’s no damn good and never will be. Even when it’s finished, you have your doubts. You need readers because you need someone to help you love it again.”
While we’re taking that one in, perhaps you would care to
(See what I just did there? Or do I have to keep tagging things NEEDYNESS ALERT? Because I could use more Readers here.)
Right. Now, as you know, Bob, Delia & I are on a Writing Retreat in a beautiful quiet country house, on loan from some kindly friends who are away. But can I disappear into the Writing Fugue I usually aim for on these Retreats? Or do you behold me sitting here typing up a NEEDY SUBSTACK LETTER three days before the beginning of Chanukah because the book is called The Golden Dreidel, and let’s be real, the biggest sales will probably be from Chanukah presents.
So I’m saying it here for loud and for real:
PLEASE BUY MY BOOK
PLEASE TELL YOUR FRIENDS TO BUY MY BOOK
PLEASE BUY MY BOOK FOR YOUR FRIENDS
Especially ones who love fantasy
School Library Journal says:
“Fans of fantasy classics like Coraline, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and The Phantom Tollbooth will feel at home with The Golden Dreidel.”
Even if you don’t celebrate Chanukah, please buy my book, because:
Here’s how to buy my book:
Via Indiebound.Support your local bookshops!
Via Amazon.com. And listen, I have another favor to ask about that:
I used to airily assume that Amazon and its ratings and stars and stuff did not really matter. But wiser heads than mine say that, actually, they do. So if you have a moment to click on that page, even if you don’t buy the book there, apparently even that makes a difference! If you can give the book 5 stars without a review, that does too. But the highest level of Tzedakahwould be to post a review; just a few lines saying something nice about the book.
Via any other way a human being buys books, including walking into your local Big Box Bookstore that starts with a B, and asking if they have a copy, and please to order it for you if they don’t. Also, asking your public library to buy it is very cool!
You can’t buy the book on GoodReads, but if you like The Golden Dreidel, a nice review there would also make a difference. (It’s funny: the reviews there for the 2007 edition are pretty tepid. It does seem to be getting a better reception in 2021! I wonder if it was just ahead of its time?)
Finally, I’d like to thank my dear Lunar Hine (in Devon, U.K.) for giving me heart with her comment on yesterday’s post:
At least one copy is being given for Christmas! I have reached 43 without learning much at all about Judaism. I'm not sure how I've achieved this, but I'd like my girls to be better informed, so we're starting with your book. xx
Lunar (which the Brits pronounce Lunah, so I thought her name was Luna for the longest time and she kindly didn’t correct me!) is a writer and artist, and her good heart shows in the offer she is making for the holidays. So I’m starting with her in my tiny list (it would be longer if I weren’t out of both time and room here) of:
HOLIDAY SHOPPING RECCs:
• Buy the print with the Hafiz quote above on Lunar’s Etsy page.
• Our playwright friend Liz Duffy Adamssuggests:
Want to buy xmas etc presents from artists rather than evil billionaire-breeding mega-stores? Go check out the beauty of Betsie Withey's work at https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheFaerieMarket...
I approve this message. So will you, when you see her shop! Wearable art, like nothing else you’ve ever seen, in a variety of price points. She also takes commissions.
• I am a huge fan of the Washington Post (aka WaPo), who chose Democracy Dies in Darkness as their motto after the 2016 election. I’m not sure how I could have gotten through the beginning of Covid and the Reign of Trump without them. I know budgets are tight, and it’s really irritating when I post stuff from them on Facebook and it’s locked to subscribers. But I believe firmly in the right of journalists to eat and pay the rent and buy the occasional pair of new shoes. WaPo is offering an amazing deal through Nov. 30th:
“Unlimited access to The Washington Post for just 99 cents every four weeks for one year."
So basically $12 for top notch investigative journalism that must be supported!
THIS WOULD ALSO MAKE A GREAT GIFT for someone!
• My beloved Litographs is having a Black Friday Sale. They are the ones who do the Swordspoint merch.: the text of the entire novel printed on everything from T-shirts & Tote Bags to Pillows & Blankets - with an attractive sword on the front, and my City on the back. They have TONS of other books, too, including Pride & Prejudice, The Princess Bride, etc. on a shower curtain, so you always have something sensational to read on the loo. Really worth checking out.
• Please support your local indie bookstore if you’ve got one. Many of them ship, too - including NYC’s fabulous Books of WonderI’m not doing any live signings this year, but as soon as I get back to NYC, I’m going down there to sign all the books they have in stock. They ship. So here’s a special offer for Substack Readers:
Tell me what you want me to inscribe in your copy of The Golden Dreidel here in Comments BEFORE DECEMBER 1, and I’ll personalize it for you when I go to Books of Wonder that afternoon to sign stock.
You then order the book from them online, and I’ll do my best to make sure that you get your personalized copy. If it doesn’t work, you’ll get one of the signed ones, anyway.
And here’s my final offer:
Randee Dawn made a video at the Ample Hills reading last week! Of me performing a bit of The Golden Dreidel with Delia working the peacock puppet! I can’t insert a video here, but you can watch it on Instagram. In fact, if I get 15 new Comments on the Instagram page, in my next Letter I’ll share an excerpt from the WIP novel I must now get back to writing.
And that’s a good place to stop.
Outta room, outta time, but ever yours,
Sorry I have to be careful of the number of photos I post here; they eat up the room that Substack allows for e-mails. So I hope you like Links!
My rapidly-scribbled note on the back of a shopping list reads: “The desire to have someone help you love it.” But I can’t make that fit into a sentence, even though I know it was part of an elegant one that Delia spoke, so I had to rewrite it - because I knew I’d forget! So this Footnote is For the Record.
The Jewish calendar is lunar. Sometimes Chanukah falls around Christmas. This year, it’s really early - and on Thanksgiving weekend! (Has this ever happened before? I mean, in my lifetime?) So Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, begins this weekend on Sunday, 28 November, with the lighting of the first candle at sunset. Delia & I were careful to pack our menorah & the right number of candles, since we’ll be here for the first 2 nights. Every night you add another candle, until you’ve got 8 candles (plus the Lighter Servant Candle, so technically 9) burning on the 8th night, which is December 5th.
So technically if you BUY MY BOOK it is till a Chanukah Present if you give it on 12/5/21.
There are two ways to purchase books through IndieBound.org: (1) The "Buy Here" button on every book page allows readers to purchase the book immediately, and the sale will support the entire network of independent bookstores. (2) By entering a zip code in the "Shop Local" box, readers will be able to choose from among the websites for a list of independent bookstores near them. They will then be transferred to the selected store's website to complete the purchase, and you can go pick it up there on your meanderings around town.
With a little nod to the great Jewish sage Maimonides’ Ladder of Tzedakah, there.
The gift I really want is a Broadway or West End production of one of her plays - probably OR,, or the new one about Shakespeare & Marlowe that is premiering this spring in Houston!
I have a photo of Pat Rothfuss wearing one of the Swordspoint shirts. But I’m at my e-mail length limit. Maybe I can post it on the Substack page once the e-mails have gone out.
Fun Fact: Books of Wonder was founded by Peter Glassman - who was a student of Delia’s when she taught Freshman Comp at Boston University! Apparently he walked out of class one day to do something with his life, and never came back. But they’re still friends. I’m really grateful to him for carrying the book.
Dear Ms Kushner,
I have bought 2 copies. One for a friend and one for me.
You and Delia are SO right about needy artists. We are indeed.