Posts Tagged ‘The Twelve’

The Literary Life

Monday, July 27th, 2015

In the 1950s and 1960s, I grew up in Westchester County, thirty minutes from New York City (think Don Draper in “Mad Men” for the  typical train commute), and I was the son of a book publisher 9k=living in the center of the literary world.  My dad would have frequent parties with other book publishers including Sol Stein, the founder of Stein and Day; Max Schuster of Simon and Shuster; Jovanovich of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; Nat Wartels, the founder of Crown; luminaries such as Bennet Cerf of Random House; and many others whose names have receded into the mists of publishing history.  I remember the parties and the characters, they seemed larger than life and enjoyed every aspect of living with great emphasis on fine food and drink.  After all these years I forget many of their names, but their companies (such as Sterling) live on, now owned by larger corporations which have changed the publishing world and which, no doubt, in fifty years will in many cases have disappeared as well.

The literary life itself has changed.  As a society we do not cultivate great writing; we really don’t.  I am not sure if great writing is still possible.  And this is not because of technology, but in spite of it. More people are writing more books more easily than ever before. There are more writer’s groups,  more writing courses, more “How to be a Best Selling Author” seminars, and more access to getting books published than in any previous moment in history.  So the problem with the lack of great writing is actually neither access nor time to the tools and the profession. The problem, as far  as I can determine, is with the times in which we live.

There is much focus on commercial success and seeming relevance that it is rare for those who read to take the time to cultivate great writing.  Great writing takes time. Great writing takes  rewriting.  Great writing does not ensure commercial success.  The recent release of Harper Lee’s  “Go Set a Watchman” is a case study that proves why there is little if any great writing or great publishing at this moment in time. “To Kill a Mockingbird”  is a great book, it has withstood the test of time.  It will still be read fifty years from now, more than one hundred years after it was published. But I doubt that even five years from now “Go Set a Watchman” will be read. It is not great writing. It was not meant to be published; it required rewriting.  The rewriting is what created the timelessness of “To Kill a Mockingbird”.  The editor took time, months of back and forth with Harper Lee, hundreds of hours of thought and comment from both editor and author.  This could never happen today.  Both publisher and author can not  take the time to have a book percolate. There is too much financial gain or loss at stake.  And besides, is anyone other than a few literary critics or erudite publishing industry or academic specialists going to notice the flaws in books not truly gestated, not truly edited, but published for great financial benefit?

I write books myself and they are well written. One, “The Twelve”, has sold more than 500,000 copies. My authored books however are not great writing.  I was not motivated to write a great book. I hired an outside editor. I had a wonderful editor provided by the publisher. They did as good a job as the time and money allocated justified. Readers have enjoyed my books, and I receive wonderful compliments from them. For some my books have changed their lives for the better.  They are good books, just not great.  In the fullness of time my books are unlikely to survive.  Only truly great works of art survive.

I recommend that those of you interested in writing strive for greatness. It will not be easy, there will be distractions. You will have to find great editors and you will have to pay them.  You will have to allocate time. You will have to be unattached to the financial results.  You will have to cut back on your social media and dedicate all of your creative energy to the book itself and not the marketing. You will have difficulty finding a major publisher. But if you write a truly great book, your words may live forever.

Now, that would be a true literary life.


Friday, February 21st, 2014

In my novels The Twelve and The Power of Twelve, synchronicity and hidden patterns are keys to images-2understanding larger themes.  Synchronicity and hidden patterns are perhaps also the key to understanding our own life purpose.

Nothing in this world happens by chance. Einstein was the first scientific thinker to propose that God does not play dice with the universe. We often believe that our lives are random, without a higher purpose, without guidance or connection to the essence of life itself. Such beliefs are simply incorrect.  I was raised by a father who was a gifted chemist, and he believed only in that which could be measured and calculated. On his death bed he told me that he knew as a chemist that once he died his molecules would decompose and that there would be nothing left of his personality or persona. I could not convince him other wise, and although he was not afraid of death he did not think that there was any future for him  once he died.

Strangely, in working with bestselling author Victor Villasenor I have been told on numerous occasions that my father is guiding Victor and me as well, as Victor’s agent in assisting Victor to bring his messages to the widest possible audience. Victor believes that he communicates with many higher souls ranging from William Shakespeare to Cervantes. He is in constant contact with the soul of his own father, and apparently with my father as well. (more…)

Life in the fast lane revisited

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

So last Friday I wrote about my life in the fast lane. I had visions of driving from Cardiff, California to Las Vegas, Nevada 5423866562_f3672170e2_oin less than four hours. Welcome to reality. The trip took more than six hours, and that was even with Gayle by my side ensuring access to the diamond lane for carpoolers. What is going on? The traffic in the desert in the middle of nowhere between Barstow and Las Vegas was near a dead stop. No cars were getting on, no cars were getting off. Why were we going five miles an hour and sometimes not moving at all?

The trip back was a little faster, but still took five hours. Guess my days of driving to Vegas are done. Planes, even with the absurd TSA searches, will have to do.

My trip brought the realization that Americans fear change. We would be driving along and even when an extra lane opened up the majority of drivers would slow down to ascertain why there was a new lane and only move into the additional lane a half mile or more down the road, causing everyone and extra five to ten minutes of slowdown.  Five to ten minutes may not be much, but on a trip of three hundred miles those extra five and ten minute waits add up.

The other remarkable feature of my fast-lane drive to Vegas and back was seeing that there are more people driving this route than ever before. I thought we were still in a recession and that high gas prices limited recreational outings. Not the case. It was wall to wall cars the entire three- hundred mile journey, though fortunately there were a few places where the wall was moving at eighty miles an hour. On the upside, I was never in danger of getting a  ticket for speeding. (more…)


Monday, October 7th, 2013

On January 20, 1961, a young, newly inaugurated President mobilized and united a country in a short address in which heKennedy_Giving_Historic_Speech_to_Congress_-_GPN-2000-001658 said, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”  The line resonated with Republicans and Democrats alike.  For a shining moment, we felt the possibilities that emerge when we unite in the spirit of giving.

With the ongoing shut down of the federal government I have been thinking more and more about the role of our “public servants”. I do believe there was a time when giving was the primary reason politicians wanted to be politicians; public service was the reason for running for public office, and most politicians also kept their day jobs. But that time has passed.  Certainly in my lifetime being a politician seems to have been much more about getting than giving.

This shift from giving to getting seems fairly universal today throughout our society. In theory people who become doctors, nurses, firemen, teachers, policeman, attorneys, and yes, politicians do so to help others. Their own compensation, though not irrelevant, was never supposed to be their primary motivation. We leave money grubbing for used car salesmen, investment bankers and ruthless venture capitalists. (more…)

Friday the 13th

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Historically, at least in America today, Friday the 13th is a day fraught with danger.  In today’s date, Friday, September 13,images-2 2013, we have not just one but two thirteens. This double thirteen phenomenon will only happen once more in the next one hundred years on Friday December 13, 2013. So be careful, very careful. Maybe you should not even leave home.

But seriously, why is the combination of thirteen and Friday considered bad luck? This is not true throughout the world. In fact, in some cultures thirteen is considered a lucky number. We can only speculate on the origins of the belief that Friday the thirteenth is a cursed day, but knowing what I do about numbers I can say that thirteen is a special number indeed. Thirteen is the beginning of new cycles in music. After twelve notes you do not get a thirteenth note, you get a new octave. In traditional religions twelve is the sacred number, but there is always a thirteenth energy that has either created the twelve or is created by the twelve. I used this knowledge in formulating the collection of characters in both of my novels The Twelve and The Power of Twelve. (more…)


Monday, June 3rd, 2013

We tend to think of ourselves as responsible for those in our families. We believe that being family should make us close.  And we like to think we exercise some control in our lives and in the lives of those we love.  But none of this is necessarily true.

I received a phone call from a social worker in New Jersey yesterday. She reported that my older brother Robert is refusing treatment for a heart condition, has pneumonia, and is likely to die relatively soon if untreated. She asked if I or other members of my family wanted to intervene. The reality is we are sad but at some level at peace with this news. Robert has been violently schizophrenic for at least the last three decades. He has tried to kill me several times and it has been a challenge to care for him. He is the basis for the character of Louis in the novel The Twelve. (more…)


Monday, May 6th, 2013

An ancient kabalistic belief explains that there are thirty six righteous people in the world and that the behavior of these thirty six people is vital to maintain a balance in the world.  These people according to the belief have been chosen by God and offer humanity the opportunity to demonstrate that the human experiment is not flawed. Many of the rest of us may err, but as long as these thirty-six people are impeccable in their behavior God will continue to support human civilization.


Shortly after World War Two, a novel was written based on this belief. This year the network television show TOUCH, produced by and starring Keifer Sutherland, has followed this theme of the thirty-six righteous souls as essential for the well being of humanity as well. (more…)


Monday, April 8th, 2013

Life is always unpredictable, manifesting that unpredictability in myriad ways.  In a real sense, that is what keeps it exciting; it’s also what can make life scary.  And to a degree, it is what makes life worth living.  Recognition of that unpredictability is the antidote to complacency.  And the most predictable yet unpredictable aspect of life, the ultimate curve ball on life’s journey, is death.

In my novel The Twelve I present a near death experience that the main character Max Doff has at the age of fifteen.  In the novel this near death experience is pivotal to Max’s future and helps him become the open and aware adult he needed to be to accomplish his mission of reuniting The Twelve.  In real life I had a similar near death experience also at the age of fifteen. (more…)


Friday, March 1st, 2013

Time seems to be speeding up. This month is done and it seems to have barely started. Tomorrow is again the first and it seems it was just the first a moment ago. In the last month I have met with dozens of authors, done a few radio shows, agented some books, met with friends and generally enjoyed my tennis, golf and beach walks on the Cardiff beach.  Really a lovely life, but time is just unrelenting and there is so much to do and seemingly too little time.  But if life moved any slower I would also find it strange. (more…)


Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Rhianne is my cousin and also shares 12/12 as her birthday with me. Is this quite an interesting coincidence or is it something more meaningful? Her mother, my aunt Ann Davis’s birthday is February 19th which happens to be the day that many ancient masters have predicted as the day just a week ago when the new feminine energy cycle of 26,000 years began. Are these all just meaningless coincidences or something more? My cousin thinks there is something magical happening within our family. Perhaps she is not mistaken.

 I will be posting guest blogs from time to time on topics that seem relevant to my novels and work as a literary agent. Enjoy.

Guest blog from my cousin Rhianne Newlahand:

“Once, not all that long ago, two cousins were born, each on the 12th of December; A boy born to the brother, a girl born to the sister.

One became a prominent and successful businessman, using the skills of the masculine, to accomplish his tasks, to make money, and to have many great adventures. (more…)