Blog posts about the Rabbi Aviva Cohen Mysteries and their author Rabbi Ilene Schneider

As loyal followers of this very sporadic blog may have noticed, I am very good at coming up with excuses for not producing a new book in the Rabbi Aviva Cohen Mysteries series annually. Or biannually. Or triennially. Life, day job, promo for the previous books, blog postings (here and on others’ sites), conferences, travel (for promo, conferences, fun, and all three), life; they all interfere.

I lost one excuse – day job – after I retired as of December 31, 2013. Since then, I’ve doubled the number of pages in my third mystery, YOM KILLER. I’ve gone from three pages to six. And I’m still not crazy about any of them.

Here are my excuses for not getting more done in the year from the publication of the second book in the series, the award-winning (I love writing that phrase) UNLEAVENED DEAD, at the end of November, 2012, until the end of 2013: life, day job, promo for the previous books, blog postings (here and on others’ sites), conferences, travel (for promo, conferences, fun, and all three), life.

But there’s an additional reason: during that year, I rewrote sections of my first mystery, CHANUKAH GUILT, so I could add a bonus section with an alternate solution to the second edition. And I exchanged lots of emails with Billie Johnson, publisher of OTP, to redesign the cover so it looked like the original, but was slightly different. I lost at least a day of writing trying to come up with something I liked. (Not sure what happened to the other 364.)

The second edition of CHANUKAH GUILT came out in January of this year. So, more promo, plus trying to get Amazon to list it properly, followed. (See earlier blog posting; the Amazon listing is better, but still not accurate.)

And my excuses for why I have written only three new pages (plus rewritten another three pages, none of which are quite right yet) of YOM KILLER are the same as above. But with another one added: I’m working on a cookbook. No, not my recipes. Nor is the idea unique. (There’s no copyright on ideas, fortunately.)

The cookbook, with the working title of RECIPES BY THE BOOK, came about when I noticed a number of Oak Tree Press books (including my own) contained or referred to recipes. I was obviously channeling Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland when I exclaimed (well, emailed my fellow OTP authors), “Let’s put on a show!” Or, in this case, “Let’s put together a cookbook!” As I am wont to do, I then pushed “send” before thinking: “I’ll even collect the data and edit it.” How long could it take? A couple of weeks? Maybe a month?

I sent out that first email on January 20. I double-checked the year. It was indeed January 20, 2014. That’s only three months ago. It seems like three years. I’m still collecting recipes. I had no idea how tedious – I mean, rewarding – it can be to cut-and-paste recipes, book descriptions, head shots (author promo pictures, not forensic photos), book cover photos, contact information, etc. from emails to Word files.

The project keeps growing. Originally, the book was to contain only recipes mentioned in books published by Oak Tree. Then we decided to add in recipes mentioned in any books written by OTP authors, regardless of publisher. Then it developed further to encompass favorite recipes, whether or not in books by OTP authors. I think we’ve hit the limit of our expansionistic goals, especially as the book may now be at a length longer than a pamphlet. But I won’t know until I actually put all the various pieces together, format them, make sure each chapter is consistent with the others, embed the photos. And, I guess, submit my own data.

So, fans of Rabbi Aviva Cohen, please be patient. I promise I will get back to those six pages soon. Or as soon as I finish the cookbook. And figure out how to deal efficiently with life, promo for the previous books, blog postings (here and on others’ sites), conferences, travel (for promo, conferences, fun, and all three). Oh, and did I mention life?

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