Bonus Features 1: Behind the Summary

Posted on January 2, 2008

I said earlier that I thought books ought to have a bonus features element like DVDs do, with input from the director, outtakes, deleted scenes, the-making-of featurettes and so on.

And then I thought, well gosh, those are great things to put on a blog!

I’ve also been thinking about Batya’s comment that a pitch for the second book must be for those who are new to the series, not for those who have already read Destined. And she’s right.

In fact, when I started Book #2, I wanted it to work as a stand-alone novel, where you could read it without having first read Destined, or read them out of order, or whatever, and it would still make sense. (I read mystery series all the time out of order.)

And then I realized I had failed to do one very important thing: I don’t have a summary of either book on the blog! (Bad Sheyna)

Until now.

Which brings us to the first in a whole bunch of bonus features, some of which I’m really excited to share because they were part of the research I did (hours and hours of research) for the series and while readers get to see the result of all the research, you don’t always get to see the cool details.

The text on the back of the book reads:

When Anna Rosenfeld writes a college philosophy paper, she never expects it to jeopardize her relationship with her grandfather, Avram, or leave her alone and afraid on the streets of Minneapolis. Help comes in the form of Rabbi David Cohen, spiritual leader of Avram’s synagogue, who is struggling with his own personal demons admist difficulties with both his family and his congregation.

Trained in both psychology and Talmudic argument, and armed with his faith in G-d, David must help Anna and Avram face the real issue that divides them before time runs out. Set against the backdrop of Tisha b’Av – a time of mourning commemorating multiple instances of causeless hatred – they bring together their memories and experiences as they confront evil itself and answer a cry for help that no one expected.

That was the official “teaser,” though now, some four years later, I’d tweak it a bit.

In my experience life is complex, so there are several subplots as well:

  • David’s family is feeling the effects of him rarely being home, resulting in an unhappy wife (Sara) and his oldest son (Ben – 8) acting out at school and in synagogue
  • The adult son of a prominent board member wants to marry a non-Jewish woman who is more intrigued by Wicca than she is by Judaism, and David is caught in the middle
  • The board president (Billy) is far more interested in increasing the shul’s budget than the spiritual quality of the lives in the congregation, and when David refuses to abandon ritual for fundraising, Billy is determined to find a different rabbi for the shul
  • The cantor exercises the at-will clause in his contract and leaves for a large, influential synagogue on the West Coast, giving David and the board less than two weeks notice and no one lined up for the High Holy Days

A Jewish bookstore owner called Destined to Choose “Rabbi Small [series by Harry Kemelman z”l] meets Faye Kellerman,” which was awesome praise, I thought. I need to get her permission to use that as a blurb!

What more do you want to know?


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