Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It’s been two months since my last posting. For about five weeks I was fighting a cold and couldn’t run, thus cutting off the prime source of blog material. Then my film deal fell through turning my thoughts from stalking readers for my books to formulating new writing plans. I strongly considered abandoning this blog. I didn’t know if anyone was even reading it. But then I discovered a reader identifying himself as “Jockomo” and expressing a concern for both my health and further postings. I couldn’t help but respond to Jockomo.
Yes, I am healthy and trying to get back into shape. I can run two miles and am working up to three. Strangely enough, I have had little contact with people during my runs, perhaps due to winter weather, and thus little inspiration for the blog. But, I will tell you about what has occupied my thoughts for the last few weeks.
The sequel to “Mother and Me” was released by my publisher this past November, under the title, “A Ship in the Harbor.” There is a second sequel (trequel?) named “Loves of Yulian,” at the publisher now, hopefully for release next year. This second sequel ends as my mother and I sail into New York harbor in May of 1941 and Mother drags me on deck at some ungodly hour of the morning to see the Stature of Liberty. I am nine years old and would much rather go back to bed. Since this ends our odyssey of escape from the invading Nazis, I considered it a proper ending for the memoir series.
But readers have become so interested in the character of Barbara, my mother, that they have been asking for a fourth book, telling them what happened once this firecracker got to the States. And I, like any author, have fallen in love with my leading characters. If Barbara wouldn’t allow herself to be loved as a mother, she could not stop me from loving her as a character and wanting to give her a final curtain call worthy of her earlier heroics.
Unfortunately, that is not the way it happened. Some of the traits that made Barbara an exciting character in the drama of WW II, revealed themselves as tragic character flaws later in life, making for an ending that was not in keeping with the endings of the other three books. I know that life is messy and everyone has dirty laundry, but I’ve discovered that I am not a tragedian, and my mother’s tragedy is not how I want to end my memoir.
Still, there is so much more to the story, and, as a storyteller, I cannot resist. Were this a work of fiction, I could easily shape the ending to my taste, but it’s not – it’s a memoir. And I have spent several weeks pondering this problem. How do I put an ending acceptable to me, on an uncooperative memoir?
Finally, I wrote a prologue that lays my problem out for the reader. Book IV, I explain, will be a memoir, most of the way, with a just a few changes. Those who really, really want to know what really, really happened, will not be satisfied. But those who, like me, have come to love Barbara as a character of literature will, hopefully find satisfaction and fulfillment in her last hurrah.
And so, there it is. I don’t have a title for it yet, and I don’t know if my publisher will want to publish it. I don’t even know if I will ever finish it. But that’s where I’m at now.
I hope to be back in a week or so with more material. Any of you who may want to contact me directly can reach me at Just make sure in the “subject” line that I don’t mistake if for spam. And as for you, Jockomo, thank you for getting me back into harness.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I’ve been sick. I’ve been sick for the past two or three weeks -- it feels like months. I haven’t been sick enough to feel bad, but sick enough to not want to make it worse by going out for my regular run/walks.
It didn’t stop me from going to Cincinnati with Donna or our stopping at the B&B I wrote about last time. But I spent the time coughing into my elbow and blowing my nose into a growing stack of Kleenex. (I’m speaking figuratively, you understand, since I don’t want you to think that I actually go around dragging used tissues from state to state.)
But the inability, or at least my unwillingness, to go for my daily run/walks has been a great loss. It’s my encounters with my “stalking” victims that generate ideas, and I haven’t had a new idea in two weeks.
But my new book, A Ship in the Harbor has just been released by the publisher, Academy Chicago. It’s a direct sequel to Mother and Me: Escape from Warsaw 1939, its opening scene being the closing scene of the first book, where my mother and I limp into Budapest’s posh Bristol Hotel, disguised as peasants and quite the worse for wear, after our trek through the Carpathian Mountains. Mother, who had stayed at the Bristol many times before the war, can’t resist a little joke. Positive that the desk clerk won’t recognize her in her disguise, she demands a room.
The desk clerk tells her there are no vacancies.
Mother retorts, “Nonsense, the Bristol always has vacancies.” At which point the desk clerk falls into her trap.
“Madam has stayed with us before?” he asks in his haughtiest tone.
“Of course, many times.”
“And under what name?”
She tells him her name, he does a double take, and they hug across the counter, to the horror of the guests and staff around the lobby.
Mother quickly contacts her Budapest friends and tells them about our escape. She is immediately lionized as a “heroine,” and I, having just turned eight, am miffed that I’m not equally lionized, since I walked every mile that she walked and faced every danger that she did. While Mother is asked, time and time again, to tell her story, I’m put to bed with my teddy bear.
But Mother’s celebrity soon hits a snag in the person of a Polish intelligence officer who reminds her that Hungary is a Nazi-sympathizing country, and she had bragged to the border security man that, when we reached America, she was going to write a book exposing Nazi atrocities. The Nazis, the man tells her, are not going to want her to reach America. Mother and I need to go into hiding, until he can get her a new passport and a visa to a more neutral country.
But asking Mother to give up her fifteen minutes of fame and her comfortable hotel room is like asking Jack Benny to surrender his wallet. Mother pooh-poohs the warning, and I begin seeing Nazis behind every tree.
I could tell you more, but you’ll enjoy reading it for yourself. I don’t know how many stores have it in stock yet, but they can all order it for you, and I know that Amazon has it. But, if you haven’t read Mother and Me, I suggest that you read that first.
There is still another sequel coming. Its working title is Loves of Yulian, and it takes place in beautiful Rio de Janeiro. I fall in love with an older woman – she is twenty-two to my eight – and Mother falls in love with a handsome Brazilian and has to decide between her heart and the book she wants to publish in America. I don’t know when it will be out.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

If you haven’t heard from me for a while, it’s because my wife Donna and I just took a sentimental journey to Cincinnati to visit some dear friends who moved there a couple of years ago. With our busy schedule, who knows if we’ll ever be seeing them again.
On the drive back, after spending a day with Donna’s father in Virginia, we realized how long it had been since we took a “vacation vacation.” With Donna’s 92-year-old dad in Virginia, a son and grandson in California, and a daughter in North Carolina, we devote all our vacation time to visiting family, and our only one-on-one time is en route.
So we decided to treat ourselves to a lunch of Maryland crab cakes in a restaurant we’ve stopped at before, in Crisfield, and then the night at an interesting looking bed & breakfast in a town called Princess Anne. Donna had found a “Booklovers’ Bed & Breakfast” with a long list of positive reviews on the Internet, and we thought we’d give it a try.
Well, our familiar old crab-cakes restaurant in Crisfield was no longer there, which was a blow. We have recently lost several favorite restaurants back home in Connecticut and come to believe that the god of restaurants must be mad at us. It was in a cautious mood that we proceeded to our bed & breakfast.
What we discovered, was a creatively decorated 1880’s house with rooms named after writers and appointed to reflect each one’s personality. Ours was the Langston Hughes room, with dramatic photographs of old New York and Harlem on the walls and books by and about Hughes on the bureau. There was even an old typewriter on the desk with a half-finished poem in the roller.
Hosting us was Elizabeth, the owner, a charming lady, who urged us to take off our shoes, then showed us around the house, including the Robert Louis Stevenson room, the Jane Austen room, the Mark Twain Library and Parlor, and French Café Colette, where afternoon tea and breakfast would be served. There is also, we were told, a cat named Dr. Hobbs who would, “upon request,” come and greet us.
Elizabeth is a warm and charming retired journalist, who has recently written both a novel and a play, and who does not actually live in the house. She does, however, spend a lot of time there, and there are bells that will summon her immediately. As it happened, we were the only guests that night, due to cancellations, and had the whole place to ourselves. An author named James McBride was scheduled to be there the following night and speaking at the library.
We enjoyed the afternoon tea with freshly made brownies and read in the Mark Twain library, well stocked with good books. Elizabeth had urged us to read any of them, except for the leather-bound set of Shakespeare on the top shelf, since the bindings were coming apart. I had to fight an urge to carefully take one of the Shakespeares down and examine it. We had a good seafood dinner at a local restaurant and returned to find brandy and sherry set out for us in the Café Colette.
The following morning Elizabeth served us the breakfast we had ordered the afternoon before. Donna had crepes stuffed with peaches and I a spinach-and-mushroom omelet. When we ordered, I had forgotten to ask our hostess if she could serve some sour cream with my omelet. I always have sour cream with my omelet and the prospect of an omelet without it was like sleeping without a pillow. But, lo and behold, there was a generous pile of sour cream on my omelet anyway. It seems that Elizabeth had Googled me, learned that I was Polish, and decided – on the basis of two former Polish boyfriends – that Poles ate sour cream on everything. (That’s only a very slight exaggeration.)
During breakfast, Donna, a cat lover, asked when we might meet Dr. Hobbs. Without a word, Elizabeth returned to the kitchen, we heard some whispered urgings through the closed door, and she reappeared to hold open the door. In a moment, a black-and-white cat came into the room, walked up to Donna, allowed himself to be petted, and, having performed his duty, marched right back into the kitchen.
A few weeks ago I wrote, in this blog, how much I enjoy the serendipity human contacts that my activities expose me to. The job of a B&B hostess, of course, is to make the kind of contact with people that makes them feel cared for and appreciated. Elizabeth accomplishes this in great style. We left with our spirits well lifted and stories to tell. Should any of you be planning to drive along the Maryland Eastern Shore (I-13) I strongly recommend a visit to www.bookloversbnb, a night at the Booklovers’ Bed & Breakfast, and the gracious hospitality of Elizabeth and the hard-working Dr. Hobbs.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I love to banter. I don’t know how universal this feeling is, but, when I find myself bantering with someone, when we are both saying things that we don’t really mean and that we both know that the other person knows it, I feel that I have an intimacy with that person that gives me great satisfaction.
On a recent Valentine’s Day, I was just coming out of the front door of the Greenwich Town Hall, when I found myself facing a man coming in, carrying a bouquet of flowers. My response was the same as, I’m sure, many of you would have given: I said, “For me?” Without missing a beat, the stranger answered with, “And you thought I didn’t care.” We smiled at each other and continued on our way. But, for the rest of the day, I had a warm feeling about having reached a stranger on a certain level of intimacy.
Over a lifetime, I have had a number of such experiences with both men and women in stores, on subways, wherever strangers rub shoulders. My wife and I banter a lot, and I see it as a sign of the health of our relationship. There wasn’t a lot of bantering in my first marriage.
Going out on my daily run/walks, accosting strangers to spread the news of my book, I look forward to the opportunities to banter. When I ask a woman in a car, at a stop sign, if I might give her something, I hope that she asks me what it is that I want to give her. When she does, I say, “Well, I’d like to give you diamonds and pearls, but I don’t have any.”
This leads to my saying, “But what I do have is this letter about my book.” But I pause first, hoping that she’ll jump right in and say something like, “I’m so disappointed. I was really hoping for diamonds and pearls.” One woman said, “Well, you have some nerve, getting me to roll down my window when you don’t have any diamonds or pearls to give me!” This not only makes it more likely that they will, eventually, buy and read my book, but it also leaves me with a nice glow for the rest of the day. When I meet someone who tells me that I’ve already given him or her my flier, I ask, “And have you read my book?”
Frequently, to my great satisfaction, they tell me that they have. But if they say that they haven’t, I ask, “How do you expect me to become rich and famous, if you don’t read my book?” Of course, my becoming rich and famous wasn’t one of their expectations, nor would their reading my book make a significant difference in that respect – unless, of course, their name is Oprah. But we do part smiling, and it does remind them to read my book.
The other day, I had an interesting chat with a woman who promised that she would buy my book and read it. As she drove off, I saw a second car pull up to the same spot and signaled the driver to open the window. This one turned out to be a man, so when he asked me what I proposed giving him, I said, “I’d like to give you a million dollars, but I don’t have any.”
His response was, “I’ll settle for a couple hundred thousand,” and I felt I had a good thing going with this one.
“Gee, I’m sorry,” I said, ”I gave my last hundred thousand to the woman in that Buick that just drove away. Maybe if you catch up to her, she’ll share it with you.” At which point the man stomped on his accelerator and took off after the Buick.
I don’t want to know what happened a couple of minutes later, a mile or so down the road.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

As I look for people to give my flier to, on my daily runs, I discovered that I had the best luck at the entrance to a private school, two miles from here, in New Canaan. I found that at 8:30 in the morning, mothers and a few fathers would be coming out, right after dropping their child off for school. Reaching the road, they would stop, and I could walk up to the car and ask if I could give them my flier.
I realized that I would have to be careful about this. If there were several cars coming at once, I could not approach one because the drivers behind him or her would become annoyed at the delay. Nor did I want to stand around waiting for a car – I didn’t want to give the appearance of “standing around,” but rather that I just happened to be running by when that particular driver was coming out.
For about a year, this worked very well. I always made sure that I was well shaven before leaving the house, and I would find most people to be quite receptive to my polite approach. After a while I would meet people to whom I had already given my flier, who had found it interesting, and who had either gone on to read the book or were, certainly, planning to read it. Only rarely would someone tell me that, no, she didn’t want me to give her anything, and I would smile and wish them a nice day.
One day, last spring, I came across one of the people who were not receptive to my offer, and, as usual I waved her on and continued on my run. On my way back, however, as I approached the school’s driveway again, I saw a policeman standing there. As I got close, he asked me whether I had been on that private property, earlier that morning. This was not totally unexpected. I told the officer that I may have stepped a foot or so into the property, but that I hadn’t been any further.
“What were you doing, sir?” came the inevitable question.
“I was just handing out a flier about my book,” I said. I had had this conversation in my head many times before. But as I reached for the fliers in my pocket, I heard, “Take your hand out of your pocket, sir!” and saw a Tazer gun pointed at my stomach. “Walk over to that car and put your hands on the roof,” he said.
My fantasy had never extended to this point, but I realized that New Canaan police had little to occupy their time. Having seen this maneuver many times on television, I walked to his car, keeping my hands well in sight, and assumed the familiar position. When I had been patted down, I heard, “Now turn around and let’s see that flier.”
I did as I was told, and handed a copy of my flier to him.
As the policeman read the two-sided flier, three more police cars pulled up to investigate the disturbance. Within minutes, I was surrounded by three policemen and a police woman, all reading my flier.
“My father-in-law comes from Poland,” the police woman said. “May I give this flier to him.”
I told her that she could.
“Isn’t Kowalski Polish?” I heard one officer ask another. The answer was in the affirmative, and the fist officer asked if he might give his copy to Officer Kowalski. Soon it turned out that each of the officers had friends and relatives with some kind of Polish connection, and my entire supply of fliers was quickly consumed.
Then it was explained to me that it was illegal to hand out fliers on private property. In addition to which it did not look good for a man to be hanging around the entrance to a school. I had to agree with this logic and promised not to stop cars coming out of that school anymore.
This was not a problem for me through the summer, but now that a new school term is in session, and I see cars that I can no longer approach, come to a stop in front of me, I feel a little pang of longing for the good old days.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It’s been a while since my last posting, and I apologize. What’s happened is that my screenplay writing project, for a miniseries based on my book, just got expanded from two segments to five. Segments three and four to be based on the two completed but not yet published sequels, the fifth on a sequel I have not written and probably never will. In book 3, the story of our escape from war-torn Poland ends as my mother and I sail into New York Harbor, but the producers are so intrigued by the relationship between my mother and myself that they’ve asked me to carry the projected series through to the end of her life.
This, as you might imagine, has caused considerable soul searching at this end. While the story that ends with our arrival in the safe haven of New York City is basically an adventure story, one that follows my mother’s life to its conclusion would be a drama and, in her case, a tragedy. It’s not an undertaking that one assumes lightly.
While I can’t give you any more information on the project, at this point, I do hope to at some time in the future.
In the meanwhile, is there anyone reading this material? While I’ve been told that a blog is supposed to provide opportunity for readers to respond, I haven’t discovered how that’s done. Consequently, I’ve received absolutely no feedback and, for all I know, there is no one reading it.
I would appreciate it if you’d e-mail me at and let me know if you’re out there and how you feel about what I’ve been writing. And, if anyone knows how this can be managed directly on this page, please tell me about that as well.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In the mid 1960’s, when I got a job in New York and my then wife and I moved from Cape Cod to Westport, Conn., we were pleasantly surprised to find that Westport was a real tennis town. My wife and I were both avid tennis players (she was good and I was just avid.) We soon made friends with several other tennis playing couples on the public courts, and our social life grew out of that activity.
One of those couples were Carol and Jerry, and when they built a court on their own property, I was quite honored to be invited to play singles with Jerry one Saturday morning. Jerry beat me quite soundly, which made me quite surprised to be invited back the following Saturday. Soon this became a regular thing, and Jerry and I played singles just about every Saturday for the next 35 years. During the winter, we would reserve an indoor court, so that our tennis routine was uninterrupted. Jerry still kept beating me, but I heard his wife, Carol, say that I was the only one of his friends who could give him a decent game.
When my wife and I ended a marriage that really, really wasn’t working, and I moved out of Westport, I discovered that she had spread a lot of untrue stories about me, and I had no more friends in that town. Except for Jerry and Carol. The tennis with Jerry continued and, when I hit some bad financial times and could no longer pay my share of the indoor tennis, Jerry generously took over the entire burden. My second wife, Phyllis, and I were invited to social functions at their home, and occasionally we would go out to dinner together.
Not only was Jerry a tennis player I looked up to, but he had a brilliant mind and incredible energy; his last job, before retirement, was as VP for planning at one of the nation’s major banks. His presence at one of our parties always made the party a little more interesting. Our "apre tennis" chats would have been an education in finance for me, had I had the ability to absorb it. When I was making an educational film on the legitimacy of emotions and needed a man in a business suit to stand, knee deep, in a pond and say “I feel cold,” Jerry not only volunteered, but nailed the line on the first take.
Phyllis and Carol became good friends, and, when Phyllis passed away in ’86, after an appropriate time, Carol and Jerry had a single lady all picked out for me to meet. I never did meet that lady, because I already had my eye on the woman who would become my present wife, Donna, but Carol and Jerry quickly accepted Donna as a close friend, as well.
We had some twenty more years of this friendship. For financial reasons Donna and I were never fully a part of their social group. Some of their activities were beyond our means. But the tennis and the occasional get-togethers continued.
Then, some six years ago, in his seventies then, Jerry suffered a heart attack and I feared that our tennis days were over. On one of my runs along Hope Street, my muse put the opening lines of a tennis poem into my head, and, on getting back to my study, I finished it. You’ll find it at the end of this blog.
As it turned out, my fears were only partially right. Our singles game was turned into weekly men’s doubles, and just during the summer months. But even that only lasted a couple of years, because Jerry and Carol decided to sell their house and move to Cincinnati, where their son and daughter-in-law had settled. Speaking to their son, just before the move, I heard that Carol and Jerry considered Donna and me to be their closest friends.
It’s been a couple of years since we’ve seen them. When we speak to Carol on the phone, she seems genuinely anxious for us to come and visit. But it's a long drive to Cincinnati, and,with grandchildren and things, we just haven't made it. But last week we set up date to stop at their new home on our way to Missouri, where we may, some day, be settling.
Now that it's on the calendar, I look forward eagerly to seeing our dear friends again. I'm not one to bandy the word, "love" around, and Jerry certainly isn't. I've never thought of a weekly whipping on the tennis court as the basis for that particular emotion, but, if nobody tells Jerry, I would dare to apply it quietly in this case.

A Tennis Player’s Prayer

My knees are both in braces;
My elbow still is sore;
My poor brain, all too often,
Has lost all track of the score.
But I love my tennis.

My forehand is erratic;
My backhand has no power;
My first serve has been rated
At thirty miles an hour.
But I still love my tennis.

My wife has bought me golf clubs;
My son-in-law is wishing
That I’d come up to Michigan
So he can teach me fishing.
But I can’t leave my tennis.

For my heart is all entangled
With my friends who play this game,
Who have listened to my problems
And for whom I’ve done the same.

We have whiled away the years
At this insanity sublime
Hitting tennis balls, pulling muscles, kvetching,
Solving problems, wasting time.

And there is not on this earth of ours
Any other sense at all
To match putting your whole weight
In back of that fuzzy little ball.

So some day, when I’m out there
Decked out in my whites
And I get a really high lob
Lined up in my sights

And I’ve leaped high off the ground,
Four inches or so,
And I’ve dealt that yellow tennis ball
My most devastating blow,

Then I pray the Lord will take me,
Please have no regret,
Because then I’ll never see
That goddamned tennis ball go in the net.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Not all the people I approach with my book flyer respond with equal enthusiasm. About one out of every seven or eight claims to be late for work. Some of these are women, dressed in short shorts and halter tops, who leave me wondering just what kind of work they do. Some tell me I should get a proper job. One Hispanic looking woman, with apparently little command of English, embarrassed me by reaching for her purse and asking if I wanted money. Another woman actually called the New Canaan police, leading to an adventure I will tell you about in a future blog.
There is one woman walker, with a heavy Germanic accent, whom I run into about once a week and who uses the occasion to tell me some more of the book she is planning to write some day. Because of her accent and my having ADD, as well as the fact that her protagonist does not seem to have lead a very interesting life, I internalize little of what she says. But she seems to be a nice lady and it seems to be very important to her that she share all this with me, so I stand there, running in place, feigning polite interest, and trying to come up with some new reason to cut this session short. One of these days she may ask me whether I think her story has publishing potential or even to introduce her to my publisher. When she does, I have no idea what I will say.
Some people make a pointed pretense of not seeing or hearing me at all, and just drive away, usually with an insulted look on their face. One man, in a maroon SUV the other day, with his window half open, was so blind to my presence that he blew smoke in my face before turning hard to the left so that I had to jump backwards to avoid being hit.
As he drove away, I yelled after him, “I just wanted to tell you about one of your tires!” Then, as I continued on my run, I had the satisfaction of looking over my shoulder and seeing him squat by each of his four wheels.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The other day on my run, I saw an SUV, with two women in it, stopped at a stop sign so, as I usually do, under such circumstances, I asked if I could give them a letter about my book. The driver, who looked to be in her thirties, expressed some mild interest. I saw that she had begun reading my letter right there, so I waited to answer any questions she might have.
The woman – I’ll call her Suzan – read the first few lines and grew very excited. “Oh, I can’t believe it!” she said, in an accent that was unmistakably Polish. “You’re the writer that my sister Sophie told me about meeting. And, wow, here I’ve run into you!”
Meeting someone who’s already read my book is always exciting. Just this morning a woman told me that, at a dinner party, she had discussed receiving my flier with a friend, and they had both decided to buy the book the next day. But I had never seen quite as enthusiastic a response as I got from Suzan. She asked if I would talk to her some more, and proceeded to pull the car over to the side of the road.
She asked if I would come to her house some time to talk to her friends, and, since I don’t pass up an opportunity to tell people about my book, I said that I would be happy to. Then she asked if I would come to some Polish holiday celebration at the Polish church in town, and I said I would be happy to do that as well.
Then her phone rang, and it was her sister Sophie. Suzan told her, excitedly, about meeting me, right there on Hope Street and inviting me to her house and the church celebration. While they talked, I got a chance to practice my Polish on the other woman in the car.
When Suzan got off the phone, she informed me that she had made a mistake. The writer that her sister had told her about was someone else who had also written a book about his WW II experiences in Poland. Then they got back in the car and drove off. I haven’t heard from them since.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

When I was a little kid in Warsaw, before WW II, my Catholic nanny, Kiki, taught me, as she had been taught, herself, that only Catholics went to Heaven. This raised an immediate question regarding the current whereabouts of my late, Jewish father. And it was something to which Kiki did not have a ready answer. Because he had been a very good man, he certainly wasn't in Hell, about which she had told me numerous stories and even shown me pictures -- which I took to be actual photographs. But, as to where he actually was, Kiki drew a blank.

This question did not stay long unanswered in my mind. When Kiki and I had to travel a distance in the city, we took the trolley, and on hot summer days, the Warsaw trolleys took on an atmosphere that wasn't altogether pleasant. One of the features on these trolleys were the black-coated, black-hatted, bearded Hassidic Jews, of whom Warsaw had a large population. On the street, these were just odd looking people who walked past, but on the trolley, I could watch them. I could look at their strange appearance, listen to their odd talk, and observe their unusual body language. And so I came to associate the trolleys with things Jewish. And the picture that I formed in my mind of my later father's whereabouts was him riding one of these Warsaw trolleys into eternity.

When my book came out, three years ago, and I put together a talk I could give in libraries, churches, and synagogues, about my WW II experiences, including this account of the trolleys, I titled it "A Streetcar named Eternity."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Any friendly looking jogger or walker, any motorist stopped at a stop sign, any homeowner gardening too close to the road is fair game. Either sex will do, though I have more fun with women. I begin with a friendly greeting and ask the person whether I might give her or him something. Women will usually ask what it is that I want to give them, and my response is that what I would really want to give them is diamonds and pearls, but I don't have any. "What I do have, however," I say, "is a letter about my book. Please take it home and read it, then rush out to the nearest bookstore."

I'm the author of an award-winning memoir about my experiences as a Jew in WW II Poland, when I was seven. The books is entitled, MOTHER AND ME: ESCAPE FROM WARSAW 1939, published by Academy Chicago in '06 and named "Book of the Year" by "ForeWord Magazine." It received wonderful reviews when it came out, and I still get phone calls and letters from people who have read it and loved it. Unfortunately, however, in this economic climate, publishers no longer promote books, except by celebrities, and an author is expected to do his or her own promotion. Many will hire a professional book promoter to place stories in media and book interviews on talk shows. I, unfortunately, don't have a budget for that, so I speak at libraries, churches, synagogues, colleges, and private homes, and I carry a pocket-full of fliers wherever I go and give one to anyone I can. And the best opportunity I have found for handing out my fliers, is when I go one my morning run/walk along Hope Street in Stamford, CT.

Three or four times a week I run and walk several miles along Hope Street in Stamford, and onto Ponus Ridge in New Canaan. I do it for the exercise -- at 77 exercise is very important to me -- and to stimulate my imagination. It seems that Hope Street has become a mantra for me, and my mind turns creative almost the moment I step outside. I get ideas and solve problems for the books that I write, while I run or walk, and come up with other thoughts that, until now, have mostly gone to waste.

That's why I'm starting this blog. Now I hope to share many of these thoughts with you. I hope you will find them interesting and will come back to read more and to respond.

I will try to post something new once or twice a week, and more often if the spirit moves me. I look forward to your next visit to my blog.

All the best,

Julian Padowicz