7 Jewish Authors Get Personal About Anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism: hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group. —Merriam-Webster

When I was asked to put together a roundtable discussion on anti-Semitism, I admit I felt like a fraud when I agreed. My Jewish dad “converted” to Catholicism when he married my mom (although the conversion never really stuck), so my three sisters and I were all raised as Catholics. I remember arguing with a Jewish girl in my grade school class about Jesus (not trying to convert her, but in disagreement as to his significance). And I never set foot in a synagogue while I was growing up.

But then there was that time when I was six or seven when the Brownie troop told me that there wasn’t any room for me (although there was for my best friend), and my mom told me it was because my dad was Jewish. There was that day I learned that the care home where my Alzheimer-afflicted dad lived had included him in a church activity despite his records indicating he was Jewish. And then there was the very scary day when Nazi-Twitter attacked me and my friends came to my rescue and got the hateful tweets blocked.

So I may be a stealth Jew, but I’m Jewish. And when I asked seven Jewish authors to write essays on their everyday experiences with anti-Semitism, I was startled by how familiar their stories were to me.

We’re lucky that in the United States anti-Semitism is only rarely expressed violently. But the most recent ADL Global 100 study, a survey commissioned annually by the Anti-Defamation League, found that ten percent, or about 24 million individuals in the US harbor anti-Semitic attitudes. And as you’ll see in the essays below, there are likely many more people who would never consider themselves anti-Semitic, but who confront the Jewish people they meet with micro-aggressions that can be exasperating, heartbreaking, and even frightening.

Here’s the question I asked these seven authors:

How have you seen anti-Semitism expressed, either in the media, on the internet, or in your personal lives?

And this is how they answered. Read more.

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1 Bankrupt Publisher, 2 Orphaned Books & Rising from the Ashes


Pretend it’s a phoenix, risen from the ashes.

You could say I’ve been around the block a few times in the publishing business. Maybe I’ve even run a marathon by now. I’ve experienced a wide assortment of industry glitches–publishers who never get back to you on books they’ve contracted, editors who have the audacity to go out on maternity leave and pass you off to other editors who just don’t understand you, publishers who always seem to have a crisis when royalties are due.

But in my 17 years of being a published author, I’d never had a publisher go bankrupt (okay, insolvent) until 2014. Said Publisher had bought one completed mystery (CLEAN BURN) and contracted a second book in the series. CLEAN BURN was published without a hitch, coming out in trade paperback, ebook, and a lovely audio edition. The reviews were terrific, including great quotes from authors James Rollins (“Blisteringly paced, authentically told”), Brenda Novak (“Chilling, engrossing and addicting”), and Lynn Hightower (“an ex cop P.I. heroine with attitude and a haunted past”).

Karen_CleanBurn300dpi750x1200It was in the midst of writing the second book, HANGTOWN, when I got the sad news that the editor I’d started with at Said Publisher would be leaving the company and I’d be assigned another editor. I’d really liked editor #1, and while it’s always an unhappy day to lose an editor you like, it’s especially unsettling when it happens when you’re in the middle of the project. But I forged ahead with HANGTOWN, eventually passing the completed manuscript on to editor #2.

Editor #2 and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on a number of issues, but that sort of thing happens. I stood my ground where ground-standing was important, but any writer worth her salt knows that editors can save your butt by not letting something stupid slip into the final edition. So it’s always worth it to listen to them.

HangtownI told editor #2 I wanted to read over the Advance Reading Copy so I could vet it for any errors that might have squeaked through. I waited for the ARC. And waited. We were getting very close to publication date and still no ARC.

Then Bad News #1 dropped: HANGTOWN would not be coming out in print. It would be an ebook only.

As someone who has several e-only books published, this was not a massive tragedy. It disappointed a couple of friends who only read paper. But to me, an ebook is a book, and earns royalties just like a paper book does.

In and of itself, the fact that Said Publisher changed their game plan for HANGTOWN wasn’t an issue. It was the WHY that set off giant, screaming red flags in my mind. I didn’t learn nothin’ in all my years of being a published author. My writer’s instinct was tingling, telling me that somethin’ was up and there was more to the story.

Hangtown PurchaseSure enough, Bad News # 2 dropped not long before HANGTOWN’s publication date. Said Publisher was filing for insolvency. They would not be publishing HANGTOWN in any format, print or e (even so, the book was published on Kindle for a very short period).

I was irritated and exasperated but not totally surprised (writer’s instinct and all). My irritation grew quite a bit when a deep-pocketed white knight whisked Said Publisher from insolvency by purchasing them, and shortly thereafter SP offered a six figure advance to a well-known author.

The upside was that I got rights back to both books, and although it took me more than a year, I’ve got CLEAN BURN up for sale and HANGTOWN available for pre-order. You can find all the links to buy here. And don’t worry, I’ve cleaned up all those untidy ashes so they won’t clog up your e-reader.

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When Life Turns on a Dime

SticksSometimes life imitates fiction. For instance, you’re tooling along, everything as usual, expecting to grill a couple burgers for dinner, then kick back and watch the ball game And out of the blue, something happens that throws you a curve, all your mundane expectations scattered like pick-up sticks (click here if you’re too young to remember pick-up sticks)

IV RackI’ve had that life-off-the-tracks experience a number of times, most recently a week or so ago when a family member was unexpectedly hospitalized (he’s fine).


The ill-fated horse I never bought.

There was another shake up a couple years ago. I broke my ankle moments before I’d planned to leave to check out a horse I was thinking of buying. That break not only stopped me from buying that horse, it kept me from riding for several weeks.


Wrecked Car1Thirty-five years ago while driving to work, someone turned left directly in front of me. The collision totaled my car and when I slammed on the brake pedal, I fractured my foot (same one I later broke the ankle of). That particular accident led indirectly to me meeting my husband of three-plus decades, so it wasn’t all bad. ;-) But I ended up in the hospital rather than work that day.

When you’re writing a story, you’ll want send your characters into a similar life-off-the-tracks situations right from the beginning. They can start out in an everyday, humdrum experience, but within pages, everything has to change for them. Whether they’re fired from their job or barely escape being flattened by a piano, an inciting incident had better yank them free of their moorings. And their travails have to continue, building in magnitude to keep your reader reading.

I wouldn’t wish a car accident or a broken ankle on anyone. But when it comes to my fictional characters, sometimes a trip to the hospital is just what the doctor ordered. :-)


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Danger, Will Robinson, Danger! Family Vacation Photos Ahead!

If pretty pictures of scenery bore you to tears, just click on that X in the corner of your screen. If you’re willing to look at gorgeous vistas and me looking particularly awkward on a horse (even though I really ought to know how to ride), scroll on.

3 Sisters

The Three Sisters, seen from our condo’s balcony.

It was our son’s and daughter-in-law’s  idea to do a combined family trip (the grandkids, their parents and both sets of grandparents). Since we all live in hot summer locales, a trip to somewhere cooler seemed like a good idea. So Alberta, Canada rather than, say, Arizona was the destination of choice. The Northern California contingent left behind triple digit heat in exchange for temperatures that never topped the mid-8os. That’s a vacation destination.


Yes, I own a horse and ride often. Maybe I just look so confused because it’s a Canadian horse.


My son’s goal was for us to “see pretty things” in particular in as many modes as possible. We therefore hiked, biked, drove, rode horses, gondolas, and ski lifts, were transported by buses with gargantuan wheels (those that visited the nearby glacier), took a tour boat, canoed, and hiked some more. We ate–a lot–and didn’t skimp on desserts. For instance, the best ice cream in the world can be found at Cows in Banff.

We also had a great opportunity to see various critters. There was the grizzly bear we saw below us while we were on the Banff Gondola. There were also elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, various birds, and a particularly vicious chipmunk.


Happy to be viewing this big fellow from the gondola rather than up close and personal.


This chunky, over-friendly fellow (he climbed on my lap) is an example of what happens when you feed the wildlife. Big fines for that sort of thing.






Clark's Nutcracker

I’ve been told this is a Clark’s Nutcracker. Or it’s possibly a Black Beaked Fiffer Fluffer.

Gondola View

The view from the top of the Banff gondola where the chipmunk lives. Pretty jaw-dropping.





Also, we ignorant Americans learned a little something about Canadian history–namely that July 1st is Canada Day. We watched a great local parade in Canmore, and then oohed and aahed at fireworks afterward.

FireworksFireworks with the Canadian Rockies as a backdrop. Well done, Canada. Well done.



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When Your Characters Come Out to You

3 CoversI recently guest blogged at GayYA.org and wanted to share. In the post, “Are They LGBTQIA? Let Your Characters Tell You,” I talk about how I discovered the sexual orientation of characters in my Tankborn Trilogy as I wrote the books and got to know the characters better.

You can check out the Tankborn Trilogy at Lee and Low’s website. You can also find TANKBORN, AWAKENING, and REBELLION on Amazon.

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Diversify your Shelves with We Need Diverse Books

Killer of Enemies sI had a lot of fun with this guest post for YA Books Central. We were asked to recommend three diverse books and discuss what we liked about them. This is a monthly column that I’m sharing with authors Maurene Goo (Since You Asked…) and Brandy Colbert (Pointe).

You can find my blog post here.

If you’d like to read Maurene’s recommendations, they’re here.

Happy reading!

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#WeNeedDiverseBooks: A World of Change in Just One Year

WNDB_Button TMJust wanted to share this history of We Need Diverse Books that I wrote for the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database. It was fun to look back and see how far we’ve come. From a hashtag to a movement to a non-profit working hard for inclusiveness in children’s literature.


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