As you can see it has been almost a year since I announced the completion of my fictional memoir ” Leaving Cleveland.” What am I up to? Well, as one literary agent expressed ” You are a good writer and this is a good story and we would be interested in representing you BUT……you are not famous, yet.” He was absolutely right. Not to be deterred, I decided to go the self-publishing route. I am have researching the best way and have learned a lot about self-publishing and publishing on demand. The more I have learned the clearer it became that for this book it is the best way. I have been in contact with BookBaby and have gotten all their info and costs. I will be also applying for a grant through the college I teach photography , Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. They award grants to help their faculty complete projects they are working on. If I do receive the grant, the wheels will be in motion and I hope to have this book out by early fall, just in time for the holiday season.
If you have been following my posts you will also notice that I have changed the title to Leaving Cleveland. When you follow the upcoming posts and read the book will make more sense. So please sign up for notices of new posts and tell your friends. If you are new to this blog , you can read some of the entries, although I will be submitting more entries in each new post as I keep you up to date with my experience of self publishing. I have also made a slight change to the cover, let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions. See if you can guess what the story is about by the cover….My goal is to post once a week and as things start to getting closer to publishing date even more.
Fall is usually the month of transition and this blog is no exception. I will streamlining my blogs to focus on my book Leaving Cleveland, out in March or 2023.
I am in the research phase but know that I will be changing the link to this blog to just Leaving Cleveland. For those who are subscribing be on the look out for that change so that you do not miss out on updates for the book.
This is a short blog but I have been asked ” why is your publication date March 14th ( presale on January 14th) ? March 14th marks the birthday of my mother-in-law Ann Siegrist who passed away in 2014 at the age 89. She was a voracious reader, a kind person and made the best pies ever.
The joy of self-publishing is I get to call the shots and have control over the final publication. It also means I am responsible for everything. As a freelance for over 40 years you get use to that pressure. Finally I have been tweaking the cover and the last version is what you see here. That said once I hand off my book to the printer/designer…it may change again…but for now I like it….
Thanks for your time and please share and subscribe ….
I wanted to let you know that I have 2 weeks left to gain pledges for my Kickstarter Campaign Leaving Cleveland , if you have not signed up or pledged, please think about doing it now. Here is the link to sign up :
Now that I got that out the way, I wanted to tell you what fun I am having reediting the book. I have now read it from the last page to the first to check for any grammatical errors, typos, and just plain whoops!
As I read it again, for the 10th time, I can honestly say I still enjoy the story. If I were not the writer I would say it is a real page turner, even when reading from back to front. I am currently on page 215, it is 262 pages long and Sam, the protagonist is contemplating driving off the cliff with his irritating boss Izzy on highway 1 on their way to meet this new author by the name of Alice Walker, you may have heard of her.
Why? You ask? Well you will just have to read the book. If you pledge at least $105 dollars to the KS campaign you will be one of the lucky ones to receive a advance book before the general public. You do have to promise not to reveal the ending until the release date…in March of 2023…
Your next question is probably: Are there any celebrities in the book? The answer is yes, but remember it is fictional and the dialogs are mainly from my imagination but based on actually spending time with them. Who are they? I will reveal that in the next blogs and include more excerpts after the final edit….
Until then, pledge. If you have already, I am forever grateful and I can’t wait to send you your rewards. You can see the rewards for your support by going to :
In 2007 our family packed up our bags with two kids in diapers and drove cross country to a home we bought that my wife had never seen. Our reason for leaving Philadelphia, to be closer to my wife’s aging parents and to help them out in their ” golden years.” The other reason was a change in scenery after living in big cities for 20 years. That is another story.
It was in Missoula, Montana where I woke up in the middle of night, in a cold sweat, at 2 am in the morning I got the idea to write Leaving Cleveland. I was having a nightmare of running in the dense woods being chased by Nazi’s. That was not my life, it was my fathers, so why was I dreaming about the terrifying event. Then my mind started racing and I was awake. So I headed down the basement to where my office was , looking outside at the temperature was reading -15 degrees F. I turned on my computer and started to write and write and write. Before I knew it the time was 6 am and time to prepare lunches for the kids and send them off to school. This seemed to be my writing pattern for the next 4 years and 800 pages later.
It must be in the water. There are a lot of creative writers in Missoula, the University even has a great creative writing school. Even the famous writer, director David Lynch was born in Missoula and it it inspired him to write his popular TV show, Twin Peaks.
My specialty and true passion was photography not writing so why I chose to spend so much time writing this book is still a curiosity in my creative world. As I wrote the story it started to make more sense to me and I felt it was a great story to share. I do understand why there are so many writers in Missoula, the winters are long, there are very few sunny days, the access to mountains are sublime and there is no shortage of bars or places to drink coffee. It is enough to drive a sane person crazy, in a good way.
Back to the book, Leaving Cleveland is now a fast paced, emotionally moving page turner and now 293 page book…in other words a fun and adventurous read..Thank you Missoula and support your local artist!!!!
As in life writing a book has many hills and valleys. I was hoping to finish my book #Leaving Cleveland, last year but my editor and I parted ways, he is trying to finish his historical fictional novel and I felt he need to put all his attention to finishing his book, rather than putting my off for months.
Lucky for me, my sister in law has a doctorate in Poetry from NYU and is a big fan of my book, volunteered to do the final edit, and after two months it is complete….hooray!!!!! The next challenge is finding a literary agent that is the ” right fit” for my fictional memoir. I have been going through the website https://querytracker.net/literary_agents.php and have gotten a couple of nice rejections but still waiting to hear from others.
This may be bad luck but I did connect with an LA producer who is looking at the book. We had a good conversation and he feels the book may make a good film…I imagine I will have an answer from him by the end of the summer. Although, I would prefer for the book to be published first, if someone. like #Steven Spielberg wants to make a movie out of it I am not going to say NO! In truth I think this book would be a good fit for Speilberg being that it explores the effects of American children born to #holocaust survivors and how, even though they did not experience first hand the horrors of the concentration camps, their lives and choices are influenced by the trauma. Not to mention Steven Spielberg is a fellow Ohioan and has a great first name:)
Not to worry this book is not a downer to read…it is actually funny, quirky and a real ” page turner” I’ve been told. It is not formulaic and you will have to read till the end to ” find out” what Mark Cohen decides to do for the rest of life. Other comments from my group of “readers” about the book is that it really captures NYC in the 1980s. Little know fact from my agent in LA is that books set in a different era can cost up to 15million more to produce to create an accurate account of the time period. I don’t think the 1980’s will cost that much more…just need to find answering machines and a good costume designer…
Self publishing, my last resort….I will be giving it a year to find an agent/publisher before I consider self publishing…Not that self publishing is not a viable option. I believe in the book and feel it should be out there so I will do whatever it takes to bring it to the public. In the meantime I will be publishing excerpts, teasers….starting with my next post. So please sign up for blog to keep informed and get FREE excerpts from LEAVING CLEVELAND.
In the meantime stay well and please share this post. I promise to be posting once a week, not that I have some free time and am not writing a book….
As I had mentioned in my earlier post, most of my writing happened during the hours of 3 am and 6 am. For some reason, I am the kind of person that can wake up at 3 am and start my day. It may have been because for 10 years, while I was living in NYC , I played saxaphone in a blues band, the Broken Hearted Blues Band. Our gigs would end around 2 AM and I would have to be up early, usually around 6, and get ready to work my photography job ( corporate photography). It wasn’t so bad, since corporate photography paid my rent. Rent, one of the biggest motivators when you live in NYC. Over the years ,I have developed this Pavlov’s conditional response to be alert at any hour and avoid homelessness.
You are probably wandering why I have included this pencil drawing of the Pulitzer Prize writer Alice Walker. Well, she is in my novel, as are other famous people, who I have actually spent some time. So I wanted to include the excerpt from my novel Cleveland of when I met Alice at her cabin in Northern California to end this post…. PS..This is a second draft and I am waiting to get the final draft back from my editor Peter…who is furious at me ..that is another story ….
My editor, Peter, always told me to just write, ” don’t worry about grammar and spelling, just write the story down. This is one of the mantras I used while writing. I often wonder if Peter regrets giving me the advice, now that he has to edit my work. It is liberating and at times joyful to watch the word appear as the story takes shape. Unlike most writers, I don’t throw away any drafts. The story is so clear in my mind, that the words flow, perhaps not grammatically. I have read that when you begin writing a novel know the ending and I thought I did. I did know the ending up until I finished the novel. Once, I finished the novel, I felt the ending was NOT right. So, I changed the ending…and feel I nailed and so does my editor. It was nice to get a note from him that ” you really pulled it together, I even got choked up at the end….but I am getting ahead of myself.
Excerpt #2 Alice Walker…a pivotal moment..
To set you up..Sam has been working for Izzy for a while and traveled to California to assist Izzy on a shoot for Vanity Way.. Important…this is second draft and may need some changes but there ya go…enjoy ….
I handed Izzy the camera and she continues to talk to Alice. The conversation between Izzy and Alice becomes sparse and turns into a few directorial comments by Izzy before she announces, “we’re done.” Izzy hands me the camera and says “we’ll leave as soon as you pack up, “and walks back into the cabin with Alice. It’s dusk and quiet again. I think to myself “that was a short session.” As I pack up the gear I look around at the serene landscape and imagine my father hiding behind a tree, trying to not be seen by the Nazi’s that are pursuing him. I imagine if this were Poland 1939, the woods would be full of terrified Jews trying to survive the wrath of Hitler. My father being one of them. I am not sure why my thoughts move in that morbid direction in such a safe and faraway place in a different time. Although I am second generation of the Holocaust survivor and never experienced the horrors of my father, I can never feel complacent in an apparently safe place. Somehow, I have inherited my father’s memories without even knowing the details.
Izzy and Alice come out the cabin and Alice approaches me to say goodbye. I walk up to her to shake her hand. She holds my hand with both of her hands and looks me the eye. “We all have a pain and conflict inside us, I write about it to make some sense out something I can’t comprehend and try to soften the hurt. I hope you can find a way to reconcile yours. “I am bewildered by her comment and stumble to say, “thank you.” As I walk away, I wonder if she was reading my thoughts, was the expression on my face? How did she know? On the drive down the mountain pass, I finally tell Izzy about Alice’s comments. Izzy starts laughing. “She wanted to know a little about you, I guess she is always looking for new characters for her novels. I told her you were thinking of getting a sex chance and were conflicted about your sexual identity,” Izzy said laughing. “Why would you even think that!” I said incredulously. “It was the first thing that came to my mind, and, well I thought it was funny.” I sank back into my seat and thought about it for a while and stated chuckling. So much for mindreading.