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The Girl From Foreign – traveling with Sadia Shepherd literally and figuratively

November 25, 2008 at 1:44 pm

On the airplane to Los Angeles, I finally cracked the Sadia Shepherd book, The Girl From Foreign. Following Sadia to the far east was a great way for me to head west.

Aside: In deference to the book I can’t seem to finish, Girls Like Us, I think if I read about one more affair of Joni Mitchell’s, she will fall from her coveted position of grace in my female vocalist hall of fame. The tryst with Jackson Brown was just one tryst too many. As far as I can tell, Joni’s left no troubadour unturned. (sorry, Joni) What I have enjoyed is connecting the dots between love affairs and song lyrics. Now I can picture all the dreamy beaus when playing Ms. Mitchell’s poem/songs.

Back to Sadia’s book.

I’m nearly 200 pages in and sailing through the pages as she makes the trek to India to retrace her grandmothers steps. Currently, her brother Cassim is with her.

Sadia’s a Muslim name given to her by a family with a fascinating geneology. Her father’s a Colorado-born Christian, her mother’s Pakistani Muslim, and Nana (grandmother) is a Jew from India who converted to Islam for her polygamous husband.

The idea of Jews in India intrigues me. I was aware of a community in Cochin, but not the diminished Bene Israel clan from which Sadia’s grandmother hails.

Apparently, Jews from Israel were shipwrecked in the waters that border India. Although many returned to the holy land, about 3,500 now remain in India.

The author fulfills a promise she made to her grandmother to tell her story and as the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, she’ sets out for India to do just that. She hauls an impressive amount of camera equipment, seeks out relatives and follows the trail of a Jewish Indian woman’s life.

I met Sadia Shepherd at the Peace Village summit in September, watched a part of her documentary film, and have been swept away by her journey. I have a long way to go with her but am anxious to see where this triple-faithed (is that a word?) ends up. Will Sadia, choose one of these three religions as her own or all three?

I’ll get back to you but in the meantime, I highly recommend this for the adventurers out there.

I thought being born with one faith was tricky enough.

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Gratitude week begins – with thanks first to mother nature

November 24, 2008 at 6:30 am

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GUEST BLOG: A Furry Muse by Theresa Peluso

November 20, 2008 at 7:45 am

I am so lucky to know Theresa Peluso (always Teri to me). I’ve worked with her for my entire 15 years at HCI, laughed with her, battled with her, but mostly have learned from her. One of the smartest, most productive people I know, she’s largely responsible for putting together our latest Ultimate series of books. Teri, I mean Theresa’s sharing a great story about a puppy dog named Jack and his rising star in the video contest world. But, look for the words of encouragement she’s offering to the creative part in all of us. Enjoy!

When Stephanie Longinetti saw a blurb on the internet about a publisher wanting stories and photographs of dogs, cats and horses for an upcoming series of books, she grabbed her camera and her puppy and started shooting.

Meanwhile, I was culling through the thousands of photos submitted when Jack’s smiling face popped up on my screen. Jack’s photo met all our criteria and was among 70 photos published in The Ultimate Dog Lover, an anthology of stories, photos, and expert tips which give the reader a nice mix of material in a short-attention-span format.

Jack’s all grown up now and Mom has continued to cultivate her creative side using Jack for inspiration. While Jack was counter-surfing one day, Stephanie grabbed her video and captured his antics. Soon after, she saw a call-out for entries in the “Marley and Me” video contest.

Stephanie’s talent for capturing Jack’s charm paid off. Their video is one of 12 finalists!

The videos will be shown during commercial breaks on Thanksgiving Day during the National Dog Show on NBC and the winner gets a trip to Hollywood for the premiere of the movie, “Marley and Me.” You can view the videos and vote for your favorite at http://www.longliveyourdog.com/Dogpark/overview/videocontest.aspx

Who knows what may be next…a trip down the red carpet; and agent; contracts that stipulate Milkbones in every green room.

(arf!)

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The recession’s got me depressed, or is it the depression’s got me recessed?

November 19, 2008 at 12:01 pm

Recession, depression, whichever way you slice it, times in the publishing business ain’t so happy. It’s just too darn quiet and we can no longer blame the presidential race for hogging all the media time. It’s all about cutting back, finding ways to stretch our dollars, shivering in our boots about our jobs.

It’s real life. And, sometimes it’s scary.

We try to put in practice some of the things we read. Keep a positive attitude, keep a smile on our faces. Act “as if.” Maybe if we keep our spirits high the law of attraction will reward us with abundance. Doesn’t that sound nice? Tell that to the people at General Motors, or all the laid off folks at Rodale or Citibank.

The upper classes are feeling the pinch that we down lower having been feeling for five years. (Only in their case, their multi-million fortunes may now just be mini-millions.) Our budgets stretched beyond reason with gas and food prices going off the charts. One friend puts it pretty accurately, “we’re working twice as hard for the same money.”

At least, those of us who are still working. And, however we regarded the unpleasant nuances of our jobs, we’re now all appreciative of every little unpleasantry, annoying coworker, any piece of work we thought was beneath us. I think God’s hearing a cacophony of prayers from people he/she never heard from before. When they’re not praying, they’re giving thanks. Good time of year for that.

Everyone’s got religion all of a sudden.

Our hope in the publishing biz is that people will regard books as still one of the most worthwhile gifts one can give for the impending holidays. Books are a nominal investment, cheap to ship, easy to wrap, and certainly have meaning to many of us. 

Buy books. Keep the industry alive. Do your part. 

Buy some from your local independent. Buy some from Barnes & Noble. Borders and even amazon. Everyone needs your book bucks now.  But most importantly buy books from HCI.  Just kidding. 

Sort of.

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Before the sunrise, clouds look like mountains

November 19, 2008 at 7:42 am

Here on the southern tip of the eastern seaboard, clouds look like mountains before sunrise. Compared to the infinity of Florida flatness it is our moment to pretend.

(why am I up so early, don’t ask…)

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