Archive | September, 2009

Scribblers on the Roof has launched!

15 Sep

scribbler logo copyAmidst all the kerfuffle, I forgot to mention, that I finally launched Scribblers on the Roof, the Web site devoted to writers of fiction and poetry with Jewish themes. Remember my lightbulb post? Well, here it is barely two months later, live and kicking. Please visit us here and take a trawl around. Join our Facebook Networked Blog and sign up to our Twitter account.

I finally launched on September 14, but have been so busy with other things, writing, editing, etc. preparing for the upcoming Jewish holidays, that I forgot to post it.

Please enjoy and pass on our site to anyone you think may be interested!


Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan: toast his burning carcass

15 Sep
The aftermath of the Paradise Hotel bombing. I was there

The aftermath of the Paradise Hotel bombing. I was there

That dude – Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan – is the al-Qaeda terrorist killed in an airstrike Monday. “Toast his burning carcass” is how my brother aptly summed up his death.  Seem a little harsh? Not really. Nabhan masterminded the al-Qaeda attack on 200 Israelis at  the Paradise Hotel in Mombasa Kenya, on November 28, 2002. I was there, at the time, on a junket from The Jerusalem Post. I was the only English-speaking journalist there at the time so I did a slew of on the spot interviews with every major news outlet worldwide.

Wanna read about my horrific ordeal? There’s a myriad of places you can. I wrote so many articles about this I went a bit gaga after a while.  This one is my most personal piece, though. You can read it here.

So,  after hearing about this sorry excuse for a human being’s death yesterday, I found it difficult to pigeonhole the emotions I went through. I landed up writing an article – an Op-Ed that I have submitted to the New York Times. I have to wait three days to see if they’ll accept it. Only then can I submit it elsewhere. So, until the NYT accepts or declines my piece, I’m keeping it under wraps. I promise to post it on this blog though, whatever the outcome. If not the NYT, then I’ll head to the other major outlets and of course, the Jewish ones. But for now, I’ll let my brother’s words ring in my ears. “Toast his burning carcass!”

The Writer’s Guild and the porn industry

14 Sep

EI-LovesFlamingPagesFirst Ellora’s Cave and now this!

What is happening in my world? So, as I innocently trawl the freelance sites for work, I come across this advertisement on Craigslist:
Looking for a writer that has experience in review style writing. A good friendly tone to the writing is what I am looking for. Pauline Marshall.
Doesn’t say very much, does it?

Nonetheless, I send off a short email, asking what sort of reviews? Film, theatre, book, spa, products? I send a link to one review of each and say, let me know if this is what you are looking for and if so, I can send more information (resume etc).

I receive an instant reply from one of those instant reply email thingies. And here it is verbatim:

Hi there,

Thanks for your interest in the website reviewer position. We are currently looking for honest people with a keen eye for detail to visit various adult sites online and write the things they like and dislike about each. We will require 12 reviews per week which are due by 2pm every Friday.

The starting wage for this post is $350 per week which rises after 6 months. No previous experience is required for this position. The only requirement we have is that you submit a 100-word review of the members area at a pre-selected site ( It’s completely free to join so don’t worry about any costs (be sure to cancel within 3 days or you will be billed).

Please submit this review to within 48 hours if you’re still interested. This position can be taken from  anywhere, it’s going to be a home-based position. If this isn’t for  you we thank you for your time.

Thanks for your time

Pauline Marshall
The Writer’s Guild 09

Sheesh! Watch out for those wacky freelance scams.  Don’t you just love the part about how I have to sign up and remember to cancel within three days? Can’t you just see the site suddenly crashing, the inability to access my “account” and the vast sums of money being deducted from my credit card?

Still the great news for all the wannabee writers out there is that you don’t have to have any experience writing! All you need is a pornography addiction and for the guys taking on this job – a box of tissues.

Here’s hoping the Writer’s Guild have Ms. Pauline Marshall as their guest speaker at their next illustrious event.

Onwards and upwards!

I’ve been nominated for a Kreativ Blogger award!

7 Sep



  • 1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
  • 2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
  • 3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
  • 4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
  • 5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
  • 6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
  • 7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

Oh my goodness!

I am honoured, flattered, and quite honestly tickled pink to have been nominated for a Kreativ Blogger award by the incomparable Val Russell. I’d like to thank my parents, without whom I’d never have been born…

No. Seriously. This is quite extraordinary. I’m not sure how/if one wins these things, but who cares? Val is an amazing writer, who right now is taking a hiatus from blogging, but I’m hoping that her nomination will see her back dipping into the old inkwell.

Oh dear – seven things about myself? And they have to be interesting??? Okay, here goes nothing:

  • I have free-fallen off an eight-foot oil drum (stupid drama school trust exercise)
  • I have lived in four countries, own three passports and have an accent with an identity crisis
  • Al Qaeda tried to kill me in Kenya and almost succeeded.
  • I had planned to attend (or at least apply) to the MFA in Creative Writing at Antioch University in Los Angeles. The money was to have come from a great job I took in early 2009 – I worked like crazy and was owed $30,000 and guess how much they paid me? ZIP. There goes my tuition money… And I can’t afford to sue them! Please send donations… 🙂
  • I am double-jointed and most of the bones in my body crack
  • When  I was 9, I caught my left foot in a Ferris wheel at the school fete, thereby effectively ending my ballet career, and causing my dad to note that it was the school “fete worse than death”
  • I will need someone else’s kidney one day – but not today.

My 7 Kreativ Blogger nominees. Drumroll please…

Meredith Resnick: Creator of The Writer’s Inner Journey. She’s smart, erudite and has some fantastic interviews and real insights into the deep, dark, soul of writers.

Rachel Resnick: No relation to Meredith (as far as I know). Blogs at Rachelville. My brilliant creative writing teacher. She’s sassy, sexy, raw, emotional and talks about all that crazy shit that goes on in writers’ lives. Hey, the woman has written two amazing books – Go West Young F*cked up Chick and Love Junkie. Rachel rocks. Plain and simple.

Tania Hershman: Blogging at Tania Writes, she and I go way back, to when she used to act in my plays in Jerusalem. She found her true fiction writing voice a few years ago and has published her first collection of short stories – The White Road. Her writing is always exciting, unpredictable and a delight to read. Plus, she’s the world’s greatest supporter of short story writers everywhere  and even created a website  – The Short Review – dedicated to the craft. Oh, and did I mention she’s a lovely person??

Debra L Schubert: I only recently discovered this gem of a novelist, and she’s incredibly generous about sharing ideas, tips, and thought-provoking insights into the writing life. Plus she blogs under the title Write on Target. You gotta love her for that alone.

Steve Berer: Yes, finally, a man! His blog Shivvetee is an extraordinary site dedicated to Jewish poetry. He’s also a good friend, a soft-spoken, gentle man whose emotions and thoughts run deep, and it’s clearly reflected in his writing and his love of Jewish texts.

Jane Boursaw: See Jane Clack is smart, sassy, funny and delicious. If you want to know anything about anything on television, then go play in Jane’s brilliant playground. She’s the writing teacher you’d have wanted in high school, because she lets you know that writing can be fun! Oh, and this is just one of her myriad writing sites.

Martha Frankel: A memoir writer – just published her first – Hats and Eyeglasses. She’s entertaining, thought-provoking and best of all is the world’s greatest cure-all for writer’s block. She’s like the ever ready bunny. Keeps on keeping on.

Moriah College, my op-ed and Mrs Siderowitz

4 Sep

Picture 1I just received my high school’s alumni newsletter and apparently, an op-ed I wrote in the Washington Post’s On Faith column on June 13 (which just happens to be my birthday) found it’s way back to my school in Australia. It was an article in response to the Holocaust Museum killing in Washington DC. It was reprinted from the Washington Post by my journalist friend Lisa Alcalay Klug on her site Tolerant Nation and you can read it here:

Since I wrote the piece, two things have changed. The first is, as a result of that op-ed I found out that the woman I was writing about – a teacher at my school (which was also our pre-school, kindergarten, primary (American translation – elementary) and high school –  is no longer alive. I was saddened to hear it.

Secondly, the company I was working for at the time  and whom I mention in the article was an online comparative religion Web site and I was excited to be working for such an organization. Unfortunately that job lasted only two months as they failed to pay us. I still haven’t received a dime from them – hence my dire financial circumstances at this time.

However, more importantly, I’m so thrilled that my school – Moriah College (full name Mount Moriah War Memorial College) – managed to somehow come across my article and put it in our alumni newsletter.

Here’s what the Moriah Newsletter had to say:

A very beautiful article has been forwarded to us written by ex collegian Kelly Hartog (Class of 1982) where she writes her memories at Moriah and of Mrs Siderowitz (Z’L) after hearing of a shooting incident at a Holocaust museum in the USA. It is a really beautiful read for those wanting to reminisce.

And this was followed by a note about a tribute to Mrs Siderowitz from the alumni association. I’m not going to make it back to Sydney, Australia for the tribute, but I will be there in spirit.

We all remember Mrs Siderowitz who taught us Yiddish and Hebrew at Moriah as well as being the Yiddish voice on radio 2EA for so many years. We have been invited to attend a tribute to celebrate Aliza’s amazing life, her love of Yiddish and Hebrew literature and poetry, her spirit and her many contributions to Jewish culture and continuity. This weill be held on Sunday 25th October 2-5pm at B’nai Brith 22 Yurong St East Sydney. For more details on how you can contribute to this special afternoon – please see the news section of our website.

My article is an op-ed about tolerance, compassion and understanding and our school’s motto was “To Learn, To Heed, To Act.” I’d like to think that all these decades later, this op-ed in honour of the great Aliza Siderowitz came about because of the lessons learned at Moriah College when I was just a little girl.

Literary submission guidelines: to follow or not?

2 Sep

hiker-cartoon webWhen you go off to a foreign country to trek the wilds or hike a mountain in some remote, forsaken spot, people often hire a guide. That’s a guide (I believe) as in someone who makes it very clear the path you should take. She doesn’t suggest what might be best. She doesn’t cajole and coax and say “Well, I think it would be advisable if…” No. She knows what she’s talking about, she makes it clear what you should do and you follow. So I think the same should apply with guidelines. And specifically, submission guidelines for oh, let’s say, literary magazines.

So, I say all this apropos of my Web site launching very soon – watch this space. I’m absolutely delighted that submissions are coming in from all over the world and from a variety of people. Out went the emails, yahoo group posts, the blog, the Twitter, the Facebook postings and people have heard and are submitting. Hooray!

I spent a lot of time laying out the clear submission guidelines. Basic guidelines. Only send in a Word Doc. Don’t send in body of email. Double-spaced, 12 point font. Two line bio on a separate page. Thank you to everyone who followed them. But to those who have sent me poems that yell (ie all caps in bold font) in the body of the email, or those who uploaded 25,000 word zip files, or those who decided that despite the fact that the site is for poetry and FICTION only sent me their life stories, their personal musings on everything from thumbs to divorce, I say:

  • Did you not read the guidelines?
  • Did you think I didn’t mean what I said?
  • Could you just not be bothered?
  • Did you think you were allowed to be the exception to the rule?
  • Do you think guidelines are just a “jumping off” point and that even though your submissions don’t meet some, one, or any of the criteria it doesn’t matter?
  • Do you think I wrote these for my own amusement?
  • Are you testing me to see if I’m upholding my own standards?

As a writer, you need to do two things: write, and what’s the second one? Oh yes, read. And if you can’t read or follow guidelines, what does that say about you as a writer? If your reading and comprehension skills are sloppy then in all likelihood your writing will be too.

And you’ll probably be the type of tourist who heads out to the Kalahari desert and leaves your guide behind.

Right. I’m done venting. Good night to all.

I look forward to more submissions as per the guidelines!

Does anyone else have this problem? Why oh why don’t people follow the guidelines?

Losing an arm, a leg, and having three sets of twins

1 Sep

civilwarAnd you thought you were having a bad day?

FedEx dropped off a lovely square, heavy package for me yesterday. The package screamed “BOOK”, and sure enough it was a review copy of something called A Separate Country, by Robert Hicks. Mr. Hicks, I have discovered is the New York Times bestselling author of The Widows of the South. How do I know this? Because it says so on the book jacket’s cover.

Okay, let me back up here. Firstly, why do FedEx NEVER knock? I was home, and yet they saw fit to simply dump this parcel on the doorstep. Hmmm… Oh well.

Secondly, it was addressed to me at the California Literary Review, whom I’ve been known on several occasions to write book reviews for. Surprise! I love Paul Comstock and his great site. Go check it out. But the publicist who sent me the book, should have sent it directly to him. A Separate Country is a rather heavy tome about the aftermath of the Civil War. I went to school in Australia and England, and believe me, the Commonwealth has had its fair share of wars. I’ve read and studied them all and I don’t want to read any more war stories from yet another land, so I’m sending this book back to Paul and will let the publicist know I don’t want any more civil war novels to read and review.

Still, this one sounds like a doozy. How can you resist a synopsis like this?

Set in New Orleans in the years after the Civil War, A Separate Country is based on the incredible life of John Bell Hood, arguably one of the most controversial generals of the Confederate Army–and one of its most tragic figures. Robert E. Lee promoted him to major general after the Battle of Antietam. But the Civil War would mark him forever. At Gettysburg, he lost the use of his left arm. At the Battle of Chickamauga, his right leg was amputated. Starting fresh after the war, he married Anna Marie Hennen and fathered 11 children with her, including three sets of twins. But fate had other plans. Crippled by his war wounds and defeat, ravaged by financial misfortune, Hood had one last foe to battle: Yellow Fever. A Separate Country is the heartrending story of a decent and good man who struggled with his inability to admit his failures-and the story of those who taught him to love, and to be loved, and transformed him.

Sounds like great bedtime reading, no?

Oh and they’re plugging A Separate Country‘s Web site here.  So I think I’ve done my duty.