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Introducing Tales from the Sheep Farm

Graphic to show love of books

Books: They tell our stories. Support the NEA or NEH

I wasn’t going to do this yet. I mean, I’ve been sitting on this for well over a year, and the plan was to wait until the website is live and launched.

Life happens when you make plans, huh?

My daughter is doing a study abroad this semester in Africa. Ghana, to be specific. It’s through the university and the group of 12 of them have a faculty member from home present with them; the whole thing has been seamless. They are there to take a deep dive into tropical ecology, as this specific program is designed for Biology majors. But they are also there to learn about their host country, of course. How can you not?

On Friday the 13th, she toured Elmina Castle.

I mean, you can’t talk about the west coast of Africa, the former Gold Coast, without talking about the atrocities committed there. Forced migration. Enslavement. Killing. Murder. Death. Rape. Starvation. Disease.

The Door of No Return.

But even before this, long before we knew for certain that my daughter was going on this adventure, I’d been thinking. Watching, really, as diverse author after diverse author (and even some editors!) got the shaft from the big publishing houses (and some small ones, too). I have spent years listening to some well-published LGBTQ+ authors bemoaning the lack of support they receive, the difficulties they’ve had getting respect from their own publishers. Authors who are searching for a literary agent, only to be told, “I really like your book but I already rep an author whose book features a Jewish main character.” And my favorite: “If you’re disabled, you should be writing about disabled people. That’s what’s hot right now. Not this very good book you’ve put in front of me.”

Yep. All true.

“Tell the whole story,” my rabbi said in a sermon in 2022. “Teach the suffering, teach the pain, and remember it, share it. Because the only way to move beyond it, the only way to return to a more healthful way of getting along with each other and interacting with each other is to tell the story, to remind ourselves of the low that we suffered together.”

Powerful words.

When I heard them, I knew what I had to do. I had this book, this story that has since become MAYBE THE BIRD WILL RISE, the first book in the Tales from the Sheep Farm series, and it begged me to do just this. To tell the whole story, pieces of which I cannot even begin to fathom because I am not the right person to tell it.

There’s only one option: To make this a Shared Worlds project, where I’ll invite others into my fictional world and let them tell stories — fictional of course, but fictionalized is super as well — so that we can, together, move beyond the pain we inflict on each other in the world.

“If we can figure out a way to make ourselves see the other more favorably, to view the other not with a sense of dread or fear, but to see in the other the same holiness that we want for ourselves, then we can tell this story [he was referring to the story of Passover] in a way that builds us all up and builds up our society and builds up our nation.

“So follow the path of the Torah. Tell the story. Look for ways to find goodness in the other. See our own holiness as we look into the eyes of another person.

“If we do that, if we can figure out a way to tell this story, we can figure out a way to use it to remind us to seek the good…”

Join me. If you’re an author with a story to tell and would like to be part of the world of Tales from the Sheep Farm, let’s talk. If you’re a reader who’d like to read more stories of and by diverse authors, stay tuned.

The website’s being built as we speak. I’ve been waiting a long time for it, but when you hire the best, you have to wait for the perfect site. It’s going to be worth it.

But today, as I’m thinking of history of Elmina Castle and my daughter, my heart, standing in those dungeons into which human beings were forced, as I think of her there, looking at the Door of No Return, I just can’t be quiet about what I’m up to.

Tell their stories…

And so I will strive to. Because as the tag line for this project states, People are treasures too.


Why West of Mars Clients are the Best


It seems that lately, my inbox has been filled with good news. I am so not complaining, as good news is a precious commodity, meant to be handled with kid gloves lest it dissolve into ephemera. And it’s pretty. Full of warm fuzzies and all those other good things that we need to balance out the bad.

Yeah, you know where this is leading. To an e-mail I got the other night while waiting for my kids (what? You don’t work when you’re waiting for your kids?). One of my authors had gotten twenty-eight reviews on her newest release, which I’d proofed for her. Twenty-eight five star reviews. Not one was solicited. And before you pooh-pooh the paltry number, let me add this: they’d all happened within three weeks of release.

Now, this was the seventh book in a series. I came onto the team with book six, so she’s had plenty of time to build a readership and garner success before this seventh book came out. And she’s also had plenty of time to grow as a writer, as well.

But her e-mail made it pretty clear: Look what we did. Yay, us.

See those possessives here?

I’ve said before that I don’t work for royalties because it’s a project and when I finish it, I move on to the next. That’s true. No matter how proud of my authors I become and how many times they use plural possessives, the simple fact is that I have less at stake in this than my authors do.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t burst with pride with every success. With every story that a novella trilogy I edited went from earning $10 a month before the edit to earning $6000 this year alone. With every story of authors who are starting to win awards. Okay, the last person only won an honorable mention, but before we’d started working together, honorable mention was a far-off dream. And with every story of authors whose latest book hit a best-seller list or two.

This one, this seventh in the series, also hit a best-seller list, according to Amazon. So did one of my fantasy authors. And a thriller author before that.

It’s not all due to me, of course not. These men and women have a fantastic vision and a dedication to putting in the hard work required of best-selling authors.

But I’d like to think I played a role in the ultimate success. In helping them put their best word forward. That, my friends, is what a really good independent editor does.

And yes, I’m taking new clients.


Louder than Love: A Rock Fiction Readalong!


Everyone’s talking about Jessica Topper’s Louder than Love, and she was kind enough to send a copy my way. I’m around page 50, so it seems like the perfect time to ask you guys if you are reading it, if you have read it, or if you’ll consider hopping over to your favorite bookstore (indies are always the best) and picking up a copy of your own.

Join me in the story of Katrina the widow and her adventures… Fifty pages in, it’s darn good stuff!


After the #amwriting, it’s time for an edit


I’m talking about a few words that really crank my editor’s red pen. Join me at the #amwriting blog to see what those words are, and how many of them you like to use!