Speaking with Alice Hoffman via facebook: Review: “The Dovekeepers”


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Social media has its upside. I was able to contact Alice Hoffman, a very prolific writer via Facebook and asked her some questions. Her answers are contained in this book review. She is my favorite author.

Review of “The Dovekeepers
“The Dovekeepers,” is the fictionalized story of what might have happened at Masada located in Southern Israel.  If you’ve ever toured Israel, you’ve probably visited the remains of the fortress. It was originally occupied by King Herod. It’s situated on top of a high rock and surrounded by steep cliffs.  Israeli soldiers take an oath on Masada, “Masada shall not fall again.”

Masada protected Zealot Jews and their families from the Romans in the first century. After the fall of the second temple in Jerusalem, Jews were being taken as slaves or killed.

Unfortunately, the Jews were only safe at Masada for three years. It took the Roman Tenth Legion that long to reach the fortress. What they found inside the compound shocked them. Nine-hundred-sixty Jewish people were dead. They preferred death to becoming enslaved and killed by the Romans. According to historian, Flavius Josephus, two women and five children escaped death.

Alice Hoffman is a prolific writer who has published a total of twenty-one novels, three books of short fiction and eight books for children and young adults. This is the first adult book she’s written about her Jewish heritage. “ I am not religious, but am culturally attached to my heritage,” said Hoffman.

Many other authors such as Tony Morrison, Jodi Picoult, and Wally Lamb are praising “The Dovekeepers.  “For me, “The Dovekeepers” is the most complicated book I’ve ever written and the most emotionally honest,” said Hoffman.

“The Dovekeepers” is fictional, but Hoffman researched it thoroughly. It took her five years to write this novel. Hoffman also studied artifacts from this period. She was inspired after she took a tour of Masada. “I was moved and connected,” said Hoffman.  The book started coming to her when she was looking at the artifacts displayed in the Masada Museum. After she read some history, she had her novel.

Brave and courageous women are the main characters of this book: Revka, a woman who had led an ordinary life as a baker’s wife until her daughter and husband were brutally murdered; Yael, an assassin’s daughter; Aziza, raised as a boy warrior and Shira, a woman from Alexandria who studied potions and magic.

While doing past research, Hoffman discovered that some women during war-time, disguised themselves as men and went into battle. She was fascinated by this idea and that is how the character Aziza developed.

“Sometimes characters simply arrive, other times they don’t work out. They always surprise me,” said Hoffman.  When she finished the book Hoffman realized each of the characters represented a part of her personality.

The four women in this story are the “Dovekeepers.” The dove’s waste is used to fertilize the land so crops can grow. At first, survival is easy. Herod left storerooms of food behind, but as the time goes on, the storerooms become barren, the weather becomes too hot and dry to grow crops and life becomes desperate.

In the meantime, the Jews watched the Romans constructing battering rams and other weapons. They knew it was only a matter of time before they would be conquered.

Interwoven in the plot are love stories, births and deaths. There is plenty of passion too.
The writer manages to take us back in time. “The inside story is about forgiveness,” said Hoffman.

Descriptions of the battles between the Zealots and Romans are vivid. The tragic end of the people of Masada is masterfully told. Hoffman does end the book with some hope.

When asked how it feels to be admired by so many readers, Hoffman said, “ I am lucky enough to have wonderful readers.”

This book is readily available on the web and at bookstores. Among her other books are “At Risk,” and “Practical Magic.” If you enjoy reading a fantastic author, read any book of Alice Hoffman’s. You won’t be disappointed.

Author Alice Hoffman

Author Alice Hoffman

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Is is smart to post on Facebook? Colleen Marshall investigates and I am her guinea pig


Colleen Marshall and me

Colleen Marshall and me

I call myself the Facebook Queen. That is because I am on it way too much. I started out on Facebook because I wanted to keep track of my adult children. However , I quickly learned my adult children are smart enough to know it is not the best idea to post anything that can have any possible significance on Facebook. In other words, don’t let  your dirty laundry out on Facebook. So, I wasn’t going to find much out about them by looking at their Facebook pages. I have to use an ancient device, the telephone, to communicate with them.

Positive side of Facebook

I ended up finding people I knew in elementary school, junior High, high school and college. Some of the people were never really my friends, more like people I said hello to in the hall. But I did find two of my high school closest friends that I lost track of.   I even found my speech teacher. I even borrowed some of my kid’s friends who were happy to let me see their posts.

I’m in the Harmony Project, a huge volunteer choir,  and can keep up with some of the members using Facebook. It’s a good way to keep up with what’s going on around town. I can remember people’s birthdays now because they are posted on my Facebook page.

I also can keep up with relatives I haven’t seen in years and see pictures of their children and grandchildren.
Some of the people I’ve found are people who I admire, and wouldn’t have a chance to talk to in real life.  For example, author Alice Hoffman has a page and I was able to interview her online for an article I was writing for a local newspaper. That would have been unheard of years ago. In that sense, social media is a terrific thing.

Facebook is the place where I’ve found out that people are getting married, having birthdays, and passed away. It’s like the new town crier. Much faster than snail mail, a telephone, or the slower newspaper.

I also want people to read my blog since I think I am so brilliant. It’s another way of being heard. One of the places I advertise it is on Facebook.

Facebook has a negative side
In Ohio, employers can ask you for your Password, so they can check you out. Is this fair?

Colleen Marshall, my Facebook friend, was looking for someone to demonstrate that people can access your account if they have your password. She was looking for a guinea pig who would not only divulge her  password, but allow her to look at everything she’s ever put on Facebook.

Other people were too smart to do this. On the other hand,  I didn’t think there was anything on there that would embarrass me.  I did get to meet her, something that probably wouldn’t have ever happened in real life.

See how I react when she shows me what she found. It will be on( WCMH Channel 4) tomorrow night February 19, at 6:00 P.M. Tune in.

It will bring you the message that you shouldn’t put on Facebook anything that you wouldn’t want anyone to know!

What do you think of Facebook? Do you think it’s a time waster or valuable? Would you give it up?

My First Experience at a Women Writer’s Retreat


You’re never too old to learn new things. I put this on my Facebook page, and it’s something I live by. Just because you’re older, don’t give up on educating yourself.

I just attended Deanna Adam’s, ” Sixth Annual Women Writers Winter Retreat”. It was in Willoughby, Ohio, a perfect setting. Women of all ages and ability levels attended this retreat (You didn’t  have to be Anne Tyler  or  Alice Hoffman to qualify for this retreat.) Women stayed in a bed and breakfast, and a charming hotel.

Imagine spending three days with  17 women whose commonality is a love of writing! How about listening to successful authors who have already made it in the writing world.  Speakers included: Joyce Dyer, Sandra Gurvis, and Julianne Lindsay. They represented different venues of writing, and they all were happy to share their knowledge.

With the advent of self-publishing and e-books people who have a story to say, can write it, and easily get it published. It’s a wide-open market. “If your story isn’t well-written and interesting  it probably won’t succeed,” said author Sandra Gurvis.

Spending three days discussing and learning was great. Not to mention breaking bread with everyone.

If you have a passion, investigate it. See if there is anyone else who shares your passions. Groups are forming all over the internet. In some cases, there are chances to meet in person.

Like anything else, you have to make an effort! Go for it.

Women bonding at Deanna Adams Sixth Annual Winter Retreat!

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