Monday, November 4, 2013

New Workshop Based Upon New Book

My new book, When Digital Isn't Real, evolved out of the various workshops I've conducted over the years, including several with Story Circle Network. All writers need to establish the reliability of their information. But in order to keep readers interested and present credible content, they also must enhance their work by providing a high level of verisimilitude.

This is the outside. Now go take a look at the inside!

You're probably thinking that anything and everything you could possibly need for your craft is online, right? True, so much is available online and in digital format but (and it's a very big but) what about all that incredibly rich, unique, and "never-to-make-its way into the digital world" material? What about all the often overlooked sources for information and facts such as one-on-one interviews, visits to geographic locations, rummaging through scrapbooks, recipe collections, and snooping around in closets and in family photo albums?

Well, you get where I'm going with all this! My new book deals with precisely these points and more. And my forthcoming workshop will show attendees exactly how to decide what information and details they need, where to look in the real, non-digital world, and what unconventional sources are available.

if you can't join me in Austin,  you can still buy a copy of When Digital Isn't Real. It's available in both print and as a Kindle.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Berlin - Surprises Abound

Photo via flickr- ERmes Vatali
There’s a tiny, little known museum in Berlin, Museum Blindenwerkstatt Otto Weidt. During World War II and before, it had been a brush factory. Its owner, Otto Weidt, became increasingly interested in creating a safe work environment for visually impaired, blind and deaf workers. It was a workshop in which they were given the opportunity to be productive and remain economically independent. The reason for his interest: Otto Weidt gradually was losing his own eye sight. Visiting this unusual, out of the way spot was one of the highlights of the week for all the surprises it held.

     After the climb up a narrow, creaky flight of wooden steps, I opened the door to the museum’s small entry. It had been pouring rain through out the morning and our group was drenched. The desk clerk greeted us pleasantly in German, asking us to leave  our wet coats and umbrellas in the entry to prevent water damage to the exhibits. The soft spoken man was the security guard / maintenance staff / sales clerk / resident historian and basically filled every position imaginable at this museum.

     He had an amazing smile, pleasant disposition, but had spoken to us in German. “He’s amazing!” I whispered to our tour leader. “I’d so love to take his photo. Do you think he’d mind?”

     “Mind? Are you kidding?" our group leader replied. "He’d absolutely love it, just ask him. His English is perfect and actually he competes in the International Beard and Mustache Competition. You know, he once won third place and is super proud of this!”

     This museum is a must-visit tribute to a German citizen, a non-Jewish hero. While reading about the museum, I learned that its administered by the German Resistance Memorial Centre Foundation - an organization developed as a result of a student project.   Otto Weidt’s story is told through the use of archival photos and in transcripts from interviews conducted with some of those he had saved. The mustache man enriched an already enriching experience. 

     During World War II, the visually impaired brush and broom manufacturer, Otto Weidt,  employed quite a number of Jews in the small factory still located at Rosenthaler 39. As the Nazi party rose to power, Weidt worked tirelessly to protect his blind and deaf employees from deportation to concentration camps. He bribed the Gestapo, falsified documents, and ultimately hid a family behind a backless cupboard in his shop’s workroom.

     Hesitantly, I approached his desk. Apologetically I spoke up. “Sir, excuse me but would you mind if I took a photo of you? My friends in the USA would find your mustache amazing. I know I sure do!”

     “It would be my honor." He said in perfect, accent free English. "This is a good place for me to work. Here, in a brush factory, right? And even more funny, I’m Jewish! Fortunately, I’m not yet blind. I must say though that some people are certain I’m deaf!”

     The encounter was a bigger surprise than I was prepared for that day. And thanks to the man with the award-winning mustache, I learned much more about Mr. Weidt’s brushes, the empoyees he saved and about “mustache man” himself. His own parents had fled Berlin, went to Israel (then Palestine) and remained there. The Israeli- born competitive mustache grower returned to live in Berlin after completing college.  


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Seeing Things Anew

Grim reminder of my own parents' experiences listed here - 3 out of these twelve.
Far too many others not even listed: Auschwitz, Ravensbruck & Dachau.
     Sometimes a break from blogging is a good thing. My break has been so long, I almost forgot how to post new content - not the writing part but the actual mechanics! Somewhat scary. Could this be a case of "use it or lose it?"

     The past three months have been insanely hectic. August was devoted to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico where I presented and conducted one-on-one consults for the AROHO Conference. I returned to Chicago in September and a two week trip to Berlin with University of Chicago's Graham School, and a visit to Santa Cruz, CA.

     There was the frenzy of writing and submitting my proposal to present at the Story Circle Network National Conference in Austin, TX., publication of my new book, When Digital Isn't Real followed by a total overhaul of the same just one week after it was released. Oh, I forgot to mention the Kindle Edition as well.

     These are some of the topics about which I'll be posting during the coming weeks. And there are also other activities; writing a few guest posts, providing my "two cents" of feedback on some fellow writers' books, my activities as a member of University of Chicago's Visiting Committee to the Graduate Division of the Social Sciences, and working on my forthcoming short story collection.

     So what about all those photos I'm eager to post and write about?  Some are more emotionally packed than others, but first things first. I've posted a photo of one of the intense moments for me but coming to grips with all this proved to be a positive and valuable experience.

Please check back this week for new content!