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

Archive for October, 2020


I’m having my car serviced today, and I’m going to wait there for it to be done. I’m taking my laptop so I can work on Killah Megillah, book 4 of the Rabbi Aviva Cohen Mysteries. And it’s not for Nanowrimo.

I have decided not to sign up for National Novel Writing Month for a few reasons. For one, you have to be starting a new manuscript from the beginning, not continuing a work-in-progress. I am not about to discard all the pages I have already written.

Related to that reason is the goal of Nanowrimo and my goal are different. Nanowrimo’s purpose is to encourage participants to produce a 50,000 word rough draft. My goal, OTOH, is to complete a polished 90,000 word manuscript to send my publisher.

Here’s my plan:
Step 1: Stop procrastinating.
Step 2: Reread what I’ve already written and edit it.
Step 3: WRITE.
Step 4: Repeat.

Will I finish the book in 30 days? Unlikely. But by the beginning of 2021? Possible.

How can you help? Ask how I’m progressing, not constantly, but enough to remind me “my posse” is waiting. The fear of public humiliation is a great motivator.


I’m a cultural Anglophile. If it a cast member of a movie or TV show has a British accent or a book is set in the UK, it must be high culture.

There are a lot of differences between American English vs. British English: some I’ve known for years: e.g., pissed (drunk); flat (apartment), boot (car trunk), bonnet (car hood), lift (elevator). With the help of Chef Google, I have even figured out foods, like saveloy (a spicy sausage) and bubble and squeak (a cabbage dish). I can sometimes manage to decode Cockney rhyming slang (trouble and strife = wife).

But there are two Britishisms which are either new or I’ve only recently become aware of.

One is a strange grammatical usage, saying “I was sat” instead of “I was sitting.” Example: “He was sat in the chair reading a book.” It just sounds “wrong” to me. It wasn’t as if an usher had come in and sat the person in the chair.

The other is more humorous. I became aware of it when a character on a show mentioned buying a pot plant as a gift. My first thought was, “How interesting. They sell marijuana as house plants in London.” Then I realized it wasn’t a pot plant but a potted plant (and not in the sense of drunk).

Anyone have other examples that have puzzled you?


National Novel Writing Month begins, as it has since 1999, on Nov. 1. I have always resisted joining, not that the resistance was so difficult, as I really dislike giving in to peer pressure, nor do I enjoy being told to write a certain number of words or else. The “or else” in this case is potential peer embarrassment.

So, what has changed, besides everything else, in 2020? You can see how well self-motivation has worked for me this year, during which I have added exactly zero words to my work-in-progress. I need external motivation, namely, a deadline. I have always found that when I have a deadline, I can get the work done early. No deadline gives me permission to procrastinate. And feel guilty about procrastinating, which leads to even more procrastination, in an endless loop. The ouroboros theory of writing is a lesson in futility.

As we say in Yiddish, I need a potsch in den tuchus in order to get my tuchus auf den tisch – a kick in the ass to get my ass off the table. IOW, it’s time to shit or get off the pot. And I’m not referring to cannabis.

So, who of you out there reading this blog have participated in Nanowrimo?What were your experiences? Did it give you that potsch in der tuchus that you needed to get moving?


I believe we are witnessing climate change. Yes, it is true that weather fluctuates and even climate has changed over the eons. But weather refers to short term conditions; climate to long term ones. And those long term ones become the norm over the course of millennia, not in the 150 years or so since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Extremes of high and lows temperatures have increased and so have the frequency and severity of “weather events,” such as hurricanes and tornadoes, droughts and floods.

I am a birder and a gardener and have empirically observed (is that a tautology?) changes because of climate change. For example, 25 years ago, it used to be a big deal to see a Black Vulture here in So. Jersey; now I see them frequently all year. And I put up my hummingbird feeders earlier in the spring and remove them later in the fall. (“Hope is the thing with fathers.” – Emily Dickinson.) Plus, our frost-free date is earlier and first frost date later. I have roses still blooming, milkweed seeds germinating, and hibiscus and goldenrod blooming simultaneously.

The “new normal” is in constant flux.