Thursday, October 10, 2013

Blog Tour & Guest Post: She Aint Heavy (Arnine Weiss)

She Ain't Heavy banner

Just when counter clerk Teddy Warner is about to be evicted from her Scranton apartment, she bumps into beautiful, brilliant, blond Rachel – her estranged childhood friend whose mother forbid their friendship thinking Teddy was beneath them.
Teddy and Rachel reconnect over hot chocolate and under New Year’s Eve fireworks. Their discussion leads to an invitation. Soon, Teddy’s on her way to Philadelphia, where Rachel is a student, to share an apartment and begin an exciting new life in the City.
Teddy views Rachel as perfect. Rachel can’t bring herself to shatter the image by letting on that she is having an affair with a married man. Just when Teddy is starting to feel at home, Rachel insists on some privacy. Acting out her anger at being asked to stay away, Teddy indulges in a one-night stand.
When Teddy returns to their apartment the next morning, Rachel is being carried out on a stretcher – the victim of carbon monoxide poisoning. This unforeseen tragedy leaves Teddy alone in a strange city, with no money, no friends, and no connections.
As Teddy struggles to find her way, she meets a mentor at the same university Rachel previously attended who takes an interest in her, but with strings attached. She also develops a unique bond with the firefighter who rescued Rachel. And yet, Teddy remains committed to helping Rachel get back on her feet, at a time when no one else who supposedly loves her can accept her in this diminished way. Along the way, Teddy discovers her own strength in the roles of caretaker, lover, and friend.

Title: She Ain’t Heavy
Genre: Chick Lit
Author: Arnine Weiss
Publisher: Academy Chicago Press
Pages: 255
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0897337220
ISBN-13: 978-0897337229

Arnine Cumsky Weiss

Arnine Cumsky Weiss is a nationally certified sign language interpreter and a teacher of English as a second language. She has worked in the field of Deafness for over thirty years. She is the author of six books. BECOMING A BAR MITVAH: A TREASURY OF STORIES, BECOMING A BAT MITZVAH: A TREASURY OF STORIES (University of Scranton Press), THE JEWS OF SCRANTON (Arcadia Publishing), and THE UNDEFEATED (RID Press) and THE CHOICE: CONVERTS TO JUDAISM SHARE THEIR STORIES (University of Scranton Press). Her second novel, SHE AIN’T HEAVY (Academy Chicago)was published in June, 2013. She is married to Dr. Jeffrey Weiss and is the mother of Matt, Allie, and Ben.

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My Inspiration: On Becoming a Writer 

My oldest son survived cancer. Eleven days after his sixth birthday, and just three months after I gave birth to our third child, Matt was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. We – yes, we, the five of us – endured three years of chemotherapy, two bouts of hair loss, and a daunting uncertainty that if we didn’t know where the disease came from in the first place, how did we know it wouldn’t come back. And yet, as the treatment ended, we emerged as a tighter unit, grateful to medical science and our doctors, who worked in partnership with the Almighty.

Planning the bar mitzvah ceremony for the first child and grandchild on my side of the family would have been enough to elicit tremendous excitement and enthusiasm. However, compounded with the fact that Matt was a survivor, the bar mitzvah became a community event with standing room only in the synagogue. In addition, since I’ve been a sign language interpreter for most of my career, the service was interpreted into American Sign Language, making it accessible to my deaf friends and colleagues.

Stepping back from the situation, I recognized that something unique had happened. We had witnessed a beautiful, spiritual ritual for a young man who, in the process of becoming a man, had already demonstrated more moxie than most people ever do. I thought, well, if we had something special, there must be others who also had extraordinary circumstances surrounding their bar mitzvahs. I was going to write a book.

The process started with a small ad placed in five local Jewish newspapers asking people to share their stories with me. Anticipating that I would be bombarded, I set parameters to weed out the kinds of stories I didn’t want: glitzy, expensive and extravagant parties. Rather my focus was on remarkable people and special situations.

My worries about rejecting stories that did not fit my criteria were for naught. The ads yielded one phone call, one story. It was a great one though, and having even one person respond to my ad gave me enough confidence to pursue this endeavor.

I started researching and through networking, found nearly 100 stories that I wrote and compiled into my first two books,Becoming a Bar Mitzvah: A Treasury of Stories and Becoming a Bat Mitzvah: A Treasury of Stories (University of Scranton Press.) 

The completion of these books gave me the impetus to pursue an idea for a novel. I had actually started writing it years before, but I’d lacked discipline and a clear plan on how to proceed. I expanded what I’d learned about story telling during the process of writing the first two books and my first novel was born. The Undefeated (RID Press) is a coming-of-age story of two young men, one deaf and one hearing, set during the turbulent times of the civil rights movement. I not only wrote what I knew, but along the way I infused little bits of my soul into that book.

My latest novel, She Ain’t Heavy, is a departure for me, as there is nothing related to either Judaism or deafness. The protagonist, Teddy Warner, is a counter clerk at Dunkin’ Donuts, who moves from her small Pennsylvania town toPhiladelphia to be with a childhood friend. When a carbon monoxide accident sidelines her friend, Teddy is left with no money, no friends and no place to live. It’s a heroic journey with themes of loyalty, friendship and second chances.

What started out as a devastating situation, my son’s cancer, brought me to an additional career (I still interpret) and a place I love – writing. Once I started, I realized I couldn’t stop. I see things everyday that inspire me and I want to write about them. And most of all, I look at my now 30 year-old son and know that I’m still enthralled with the miracle of life and the blessings we have received.

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1 comment:

  1. This was beau-ti-ful...thanks for hosting Arnine today, Beth!