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Jewish Christmas is Free

“It is better to give than to receive.”
– Axl Rose

So here’s my new story, all wrapped up in red ribbon for you, my darlings. Jewish Christmas will be free December 18-22. Happy Holidays.

Jewish Christmas
by Jasmine Schwartz

A thirty-something woman’s playful, poignant Wizard of Oz-inspired journey on the streets of Manhattan:
It’s Jewish Christmas in Manhattan, which means Chinese takeout and a movie. Melissa Morris’s life is a mess, but she’s hiding the truth from family and friends, pretending that everything is just fine. When an old friend drags her downtown on a chaotic mission, Melissa finds herself involved in a burglary and kidnapping. In the end, she has to find the courage to face herself.
GET THE STORY

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Podcast – Jasmine’s Secrets

What’s an alter-ego? Who has the time to look these things up? I certainly don’t. But if you’re curious to know all of Jasmine’s deepest, darkest secrets, or at least her views on sex, money, yoga and gay men, here’s a podcast to enlighten you. There’s very little profanity here, so apologies in advance.

Listen to the podcast.

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Paperbacks

The paperbacks of my novels are here, crisp and shiny and new. Happy holidays, my darlings. Jasmine is wearing red, in spite of her Jewessness.

Farbissen: Melissa Morris and the Meaning of Money – 1st in the series.

“There were days when fortune smiled and others when it grimaced, and the current one was up for grabs…”
Melissa Morris is a thirty-something single New Yorker who works in fashion. She has it all, until she fails spectacularly and is banished from the fashion industry. Set adrift, Melissa follows her boyfriend to London, hoping for a second chance. But Melissa’s search for herself is interrupted when she discovers a dead body.
Get Farbissen.

Fakakt: Melissa Morris and the Meaning of Sex – 2nd in the series.

Melissa Morris is living the Good Life in New York until she gets laid off. She’s thrust into the Manhattan abyss, aimless and desperate and deciding the only thing to do is marry. She flies to Rome to track down her errant boyfriend, hoping that he can save her, but on her way to meet him she’s arrested for murder.
Who will save Melissa now? Marriage? Sex? Or something even more surprising? When Melissa sets out to find the real killer, she discovers an underside to Rome, and herself, she never imagined.
Get Fakakt

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THE FLAWS OF PERFECTION

I confess. I watched soap operas growing up – in the kitchen with my mom while we watched the maid peel and chop vegetables for dinner. All My Children, General Hospital and One Life to Live. Luke and Laura. Erica Kane. Vicky Buchanan and her many alternate personalities.

As any soap fan will tell you, the appeal of these shows is not the “good” characters – the sweet, the gullible and the law-abiding. It’s the plotters and the schemers, the seekers of revenge and the lovers of injustice, the jealous and the impulsive and the just plain loony – they’re the ones who draw us in. We care more for the tragically flawed than the morally upright, and we tune in to see just how far they’ll push the limits of their outrageous behavior.

So too in literature. In February, The New Yorker published an essay about Edith Wharton written by Jonathan Franzen. The piece [which has since been slammed as “mean-spirited” and “uninformed” because of its treatment of Wharton] points out that we root for unlikeable protagonists in fiction because the author has given the character “a powerful desire”. We, the readers, take on that desire as our own, and keep reading.

That’s part of the story, but there’s another important element. Honesty. Naked, relentless emotional honesty. There are writers who use language beautifully, and there are authors who are expert storytellers, but the books that stay with us are written by those unafraid to tell the truth, about themselves and their characters.

The Patrick Melrose novels of Edward St. Aubyn hook us, not because the main character was raped by his father, but because of their magnificent portrayal of narcissism, drug addiction and self-delusion. Here again, it’s the weaknesses and the failings, both the writers’ and the characters’, that perfect the character. St. Aubyn has said, about these outstanding autobiographical novels, “The whole Melrose series is an attempt to tell the truth, and is based on the idea that there is some salutary or liberating power in telling the truth.”

From Luke and Laura to Patrick Melrose. That’s quite a neat jump, don’t you think? We need something in the middle, like the funny, fabulous David Sedaris. The reason his books are consistent bestsellers? His portrayal of himself as an egotistical, inept pinhead.

Sedaris has been criticized for exaggerating the truth in order to make his essays entertaining, but the heart of his appeal is that he skewers himself without sentimental fluff. In The Learning Curve, an essay published in Me Talk Pretty One Day, Sedaris describes his failure as a writing teacher. He’s at such a complete loss for what to do with his class, that he wheels in a television set one day and forces the students to watch his favorite soap, One Life to Live, instructing them to guess what might happen next.

I bet you didn’t think I’d bring it back to Vicky Buchanan, but I did. Aside from writing characters that are flawed, neurotic and self-destructive, a little humor, too, can breathe life into a story.

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Podcast: Some Bitch Talking About Her Alter-Ego

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is what I said in the podcast. So here it is, insatiable readers – a podcast about Jasmine for the first time, with all her flaws. Just kidding! Jasmine is still perfect.

Listen to the podcast.

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GET IT WHILE IT’S HOT

FAKAKT: Melissa Morris and the Meaning of Sex
is FREE, June 27 – June 28

Melissa Morris is living the Good Life in New York until she gets laid off. She’s thrust into the Manhattan abyss, aimless and desperate and deciding the only thing to do is marry. She flies to Rome to track down her errant boyfriend, hoping that he can save her, but on her way to meet him she’s arrested for murder.

Who will save Melissa now? Marriage? Sex? Or something even more surprising? When Melissa sets out to find the real killer, she discovers an underside to Rome, and herself, she never imagined.

GET THE BOOK

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SOMETHING STRONGER THAN A VALIUM

So I just finished the second novel in this detective series I’m writing and it got me to thinking. Why do people write anyway?

My future-ex-husband says that writing is a big waste of time, because you’ll never make enough money to justify it. He also points out that writers fall into that category of people who feel important and self-satisfied for no good reason. He’s right, of course. Then why did I choose this career?

I asked around, and it turns out that people write for all kinds of reasons. They need to be creative and express. It makes them feel good. They want to influence others. They want to escape into a different world. They feel like they have something important to say. They generally hate interacting with other human beings. And some people are actually good at it. All fine reasons, I suppose. Me? I never really considered any of them.

As my readers know, I write because I got too old to do my real job – I used to be a hostess in an unambiguously private gastro-pub in Manhattan. I couldn’t think of any other work, and writing seemed like something I could do quickly and be successful at without much real effort. I mentioned this to my mother, who lives in Palm Beach, and she just laughed one of her mean little laughs.

I don’t know what she’s so angry about. She did well in the divorce, but you’d never know it, the way she behaves. It reminds me of when I was seven-years-old, and my father was home for a change, and he took me to my ballet lessons because my mother was too drunk to leave her bed. On the way to the studio, we passed a bookstore. My father stopped to look in the window. There was a book on display, something about a World Series in the 1960s and some team that wasn’t supposed to win, but did. What did my father do? He got choked up. He cried.

It was the only time I ever saw my father cry. I forget why I started telling this story. I wish I had something stronger than a valium.

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WITH NO OTHER SKILLS, I NATURALLY TURN TO WRITING

My future ex-husband always says, “If they can’t afford to live in Manhattan, don’t waste your time.” What he means is, life is short. Pursue your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you no, especially if you’re attractive enough to get your way. It’s so true. Five years ago my uncle Myron was skiing in Verbier and Bam! Just like that, he was gone.

I was thinking about this the other day when I decided to write a novel. As my readers know, I’m the hostess at a private gastro-pub in Manhattan. We don’t give out the name, we have no website, and the sign on the door is written in invisible ink.

It’s terrific work. I love the pleasure of turning people away. I would do this job forever, if I could. But I can’t.

You’re probably as sad about this as I am. You’re asking yourself: Why, Jasmine, why?

I had this plan to be young and glamorous forever, but it never panned out. It’s a shame because I’m gorgeous. But tragically, my beauty is fading. I didn’t realize it, but the decline in beauty, as it relates to increasing age, is not gradual. It’s exponential. Did you know that? That once you pass a certain age, you might as well get fat and dress in that cheap, synthetic clothing that they make people in the Midwest wear? I wish someone had told me about this years ago. I would have come up with a different plan.

Given these unfortunate circumstances, it’s unfair of me to keep my job. Our customers deserve better. The men who grace our establishment should be greeted and seated by a woman they want to have sex with. The ladies deserve someone who makes them feel overweight and bad about themselves in general.

It’s time to face reality. I need a new career that doesn’t expose others to my crow’s feet. As Mark Twain said, “wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been, but unfortunately they end up making women ugly.” So here I am, bravely looking ahead, wondering what’s next for Jasmine.

With no other skills or training to speak of, I naturally turn to writing. Tomorrow I start my first novel. How hard could it be?

in Crime Fiction, future ex-husband, Jasmine Schwartz, Myron Xavier Schwartz., Writing | Read full story · | Comments { 1 }