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.
Visit Arnine’s website at www.ArnineWeiss.com.
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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.
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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Arnine. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
My novel She Ain’t Heavy is my sixth book.
Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?
My first two books, Becoming a Bar Mitzvah: A Treasury of Stories and Becoming a Bat Mitzvah: A Treasury of Stories are compilations of interesting, unusual and one-of-a-kind stories regarding this beautiful Jewish coming-of-age celebration. The stories include a bar mitzvah that took place in the concentration camps, the joyful ritual for a young man with AIDS, and the amazing feat of another special boy who in honor of his bar mitzvah collected and distributed 12,000 pairs of shoes to poor children. I found a publisher early on who was interested in publishing both books. But once they took possession of my manuscripts, they held them for several years and did nothing with them. I finally asked for them back and went to a small academic press, The University of Scranton Press. They published both books.
Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?
The first publisher held the books for two years with no promise of a publication date in sight. The University of Scranton published both books within the year.
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
I was ecstatic when I saw the published book. I cried and then drove to my mother’s office to show her.
Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
I tried to get as many speaking engagements as possible. I travelled to whoever would host me.
Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?
I’ve thought about this question a lot and I feel that I have grown as a writer as far as skill level is concerned. I feel like I pay more attention to the mechanics of writing. But when I look back at my earlier work, I realize there was something raw and powerful that I hope I can still recreate.
Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?
If you don’t promote your work, your books will sit on a shelf or in a box. You need to get the word out.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?
The validation. Someone thinks enough of your work to want to publish it.
Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Love the writing. That’s the only part of the process you have any control over, so love the story you’re telling.
Thank you for this opportunity.