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Fly on the wall: Interview with Ellen Brazer – inside her book and inside self-publishing

September 23, 2009 at 2:55 pm

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I  am thrilled to have a very special guest post on my blog today from colleague and friend and esteemed author of historical Jewish fiction (perfect for this holiday time) , Ellen Brazer.  Ellen has recently released her ambitious new book, Clouds Across the Sun and has worked very hard in bringing it out to the world.  After much research and experience Ellen opted to take the self-publishing route and is making some  impressive strides there.  Help me welcome Ellen here to my humble blog and please do yourself the favor of finding out more about her book and, by jove, reading it!

Brief summary of Clouds Across the Sun:

Before the end of WWII, Hitler charged a group of his most trusted and brilliant comrades with a mission—educate your progeny and then elevate them to positions of power throughout the world. Steeped in fact and impeccably researched, Clouds Across the Sun is the story of just one of these children.

From Naples, Florida, New York City, and Washington D.C., to Israel and then the killing grounds of Vilnius, Poland (Lithuania) this story is one of great romance, discovery, redemption, and enlightenment as Jotto Wells discovers her Jewish soul and unravels the intrigue surrounding a plan to take over the government of the United States of America.

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What inspired you to write this story?

I think the answer to that is two-fold. As a young Jewish girl being raised in Naples, Florida, I was not exposed to other Jewish people. Yet, still I felt this huge tug in my soul for a connection. At twelve I read Leon Uris’s, Exodus. The journey for answers began. In 1986 I went to Israel and met and befriended Menachem Perlmutter. At 16 Menachem was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp where his mother, father, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were all exterminated. Menachem and his brother survived. Menachem moved to Israel after the war, became an engineer, pioneered drip irrigation and spoke throughout the world. His impact on me was that he never lost faith in God or his love and belief in humanity. Intrigued by this, I decided to explore those issues in a fictional setting.

Did you begin with an outline? Did you know the ending when you began?

No and no. Writing for me is as much of an adventure as I hope it is for the reader. I knew what I wanted to explore, I knew where I wanted the book to be set, and that it would have a back story in the Holocaust. That was all I knew. As for the ending, I didn’t know that until I wrote it.

Tell us about your character studies:

As my characters are born I begin to outline their personalities, what they think, what makes them unique. It helps me create separate and distinct voices. And in a book like mine, where there are many characters, it is important to understand them all.

What did you hope to accomplish in writing this story?

I wanted people to explore what I believe is deep within all of us. I call it the soul, others may choose another name. It is that voice whispering to us, urging us on, pushing us towards our destinies. I also wanted to explore just how far the human spirit can rise and move beyond obstacles. On a spiritual level I wanted to send the message that we all live on this planet, we share a Higher Power, and that no one is right or wrong in what they believe as long as in the end we are all seeking love.

You have decided to offer your book in not only a trade paperback addition on Amazon but also as an E-book. Can you tell me why?

I am so excited about this new technology. Just imagine, people from all over the world can now have access. If a man in Bombay wants to read my book, or a lady in Singapore, all they have to do is go to Smashwords.com and download the book to their computer, laptop, I-phone, or reader for only $2.50. And, they can read the first 100 pages for free. There is no downside for the reader or for me. I want my work out in the universe. This will allow that to happen.

What advice would you like to impart to the readers of this blog regarding the writing process?

I think the most important thing I have learned in this writing process is “Don’t dust!” Hang in there with me and I will explain what I mean. We writers we experts at finding a myriad of chores and obligations that take precedence over our work. But to become successful, to finish that article, book, or memoir we have to put our butts in a chair and write. Here is what works for me. I get up really early, six in the morning. I try and go to the gym five days a week. (I usually make three) I figure the only other thing I would be doing is sleep, and anyone can sleep. My time on the spin bike is spent with my eyes closed, listening to my higher-self create the story.  What comes next is now easier. I have the pictures in my mind and I just have to write the words. I try and write a few hours every day. So, don’t dust! Write.

Can you also give us some insider tips about self-publishing?

If you are considering the self-publishing option than make sure you want this so badly that it hurts to even consider your manuscript getting placed in a box in the closet! Become a self-promoter, telling everyone that your book is great! You have to believe that-it is the first step to your success. Then do your homework. There is so much more involved than just getting a book printed. You will need to create ways to get your work out into the world. Kim , you are the perfect example of where the self-published author can turn. You are an expert in PR. You know what the writer needs to do. I offer this suggestion to those of you that feel overwhelmed at the thought of taking on such a huge project: turn to the experts.

What are you working on now?

I am writing a story that takes place in the year 130 CE, when the Jews of Israel defeated Rome and ruled their country for three years under the direction of Bar Kockba, a man that was declared the messiah by the leading rabbis of the time. No fictional book has ever been written in this era and the elements of the book are every bit as intriguing as the Da Vinci Code. Watch for the release sometime in the next year.

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Comments (1)

1 Comment »

    Kim,

    Thanks for a lovely interview. I learned something new:

    As a young Jewish girl being raised in Naples, Florida, I was not exposed to other Jewish people.

    Because I thought that’s where all the Jewish people I knew in New York had gone!

    I think Ellen’s comments on self-publishing are right on. You need to have a real and continuing passion for your topic, or to get your word out, to really make a go of it. Book publishing is not a simple or quick business to learn, and the enthusiasm you bring to it makes all the difference in the world.

    Best,

    Comment by Joel FriedlanderSeptember 24, 2009 @ 3:40 pm

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