On New Covers and Counting Blessings

It’s Blog Day and also Halloween. But this blog isn’t about Halloween.  And yet….

Chaplain, Dodger Dan, Frankenfurter, Groucho

Before getting into the main topic, though, a few thoughts.  Last week the blog was On Dealing With Adversity.  Like most of you, I don’t really know about dealing with truly dangerous situations, even like some of the situations in my novel. But we can use experiences in our lives to give us a basis of understanding of what it truly is like to find oneself in immediate, horrifying peril. In the blog, I made a few jokes about how I curl into the fetal position under duress, etc.

And then a man full of hate walked into a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

This was no different in importance or devastation than when that other man walked into a church in Charleston, SC, but even so, it was Jews this time, and I’m Jewish, raised in the 60’s which was only 20 years after WWII so we were told what happened, over and over again, in great detail.  And we were told that it could happen anywhere.  Even here.  We didn’t believe it, but there you go.  Maybe we should have.  It’s sad and frightening for all of us.  Every single one.

Smoking In Bed deals with life and death issues, and it’s funny, at least it’s supposed to be, and so is this blog, but I need a moment of silence to acknowledge that this happened and even though I wore a costume that night and performed with my band at a Halloween party, something was different.  It wasn’t as much fun.  Life wasn’t as much fun.

So… a moment of silence for the 11 taken from us, may their memories be a blessing, and for our Democracy.  Maybe the Democracy is still intact, but it’s not, it would seem, in very good shape.  That’s another story for another time.  This blog is not for politics.

(moment of silence)

Okay, thanks.  Now, I’d like to introduce our new cover which has just been added to the paperback and Kindle versions of the book on Amazon.com.  The cover illustration was done by a good friend of Kiki’s, Carlos Nieto, a talented LA artist and designer.  We gave him the concept and he did the rest.

smoking in bed cover ebook

Of course, this being “Smoking In Bed,” we wanted an image to invoke just that.  Only the book isn’t really about the dangers of smoking cigarettes in bed, not at all.  And of course, with a double entendre, smoking in bed could indicate a person who is talented between the sheets.  And while there is some smoking and some references to between-the-sheets action, the book is not about that either.

The book was inspired in part by my reaction to 9/11, and that is also reflected, as the city seems to be going up in smoke.  But it’s not really about that either.  But the bed, and the image of a city in smoke, or in a cloud, maybe?  That’s like a dream, and dreams were another inspiration for the novel.

So we thought about it and came up with an unmade, recently vacated bed, with a charred hole in the mattress with smoke coming out of it, presumably because someone dropped a lit cigarette in the bed, and then the smoke rises and becomes a city.  And Carlos captured what we wanted instantly. He saw it and he nailed it.  And of course, the cover is damn important. It’s the first thing people see.

Carlos did the drawing some time ago, and we used it in various cover designs, but the templates on Amazon and other publishing sites are limited, and I’m lame at Adobe. So we thought, let’s ask Carlos to take his illustration and put it in a cover.  And he did. And it was good. We hope Carlos will join us on November 18th at Book Soup.


This leaves me where?  Last week it was overcoming adversity. Then I saw, once again, that I don’t have a clue about adversity.  Oh, sure, the FDA put a hold on my product for 3 weeks and it cost me some business.  And I had a bad cold last week.  I mean, really, I’m white privilege personified, let’s face it.  Sure, I’ve had to deal with stuff, but to this point, nothing worse than most and not as bad as a lot of what I see.

For example, in my old age, I’ve developed very painful arthritis in my shoulders.  Probably from playing guitar and doing massage therapy, and whatever else.  So I went to a doctor, got some PT and went to my first appointment.

That day, I was by far the healthiest, most fit person there, including most of the staff.  There were people, some of them younger than I, who were recovering from strokes.  One guy had been beaten up and had his wrist broken.  And so on. I thought, hey, I guess I’m not too bad off.  And then I felt badly for those people.  And then I felt badly for feeling badly for those people.

One of them was a guy from India who had had a stroke, and had limited movement in his arms. He was working with an aide, who helped him stretch his arm up to reach something on a cupboard shelf. They used an actual cupboard shelf. And the guy was just able to reach, with a lot of help, that shelf.

The happiness he expressed at this simple task made me feel like an idiot for feeling sorry for myself.  I joked a bit with the fellow later.  Nice guy.

So when I thought about this blog, and the last one about adversity, I realized that I feel differently about my own adversity this week, because of things that happened. And I realized that I might always have to write what I don’t actually know (see blog of 2 weeks ago), and thank God for that.  I wouldn’t want to go through a lot of what my characters do.  Who would?  That’s probably why we make this stuff up and read it.  So we can experience things without having to risk our lives, even unwillingly, to experience them.  And none of us want to experience most of what we read in the papers or see on TV.

And so this idea of what is adversity, or what is difficult, might be in a constant state of flux. Like our democracy.  But even if change is the rule rather than the exception, most people want things to be settled, comfortable, secure, at least a little. Keeping perspective (maybe things could be a whole lot worse?) and counting one’s blessings (at least I can reach the top shelf in the cupboard, even if it hurts sometimes) might go a long way toward having a more positive experience.

Smoking In Bed (paperback)

Smoking In Bed (Kindle)

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