Dennis: How long have you been a writer and how did you get started?
Yocheved: I'd done writing projects for pay on and off for years until I went at it full time in the 90's. A former creative Writing English teacher, my students pointed out that I could probably make it in the competitive writing world. I took the plunge after returning to medical records work (the teaching profession did not offer good pay). My writing efforts have been rewarding in various ways.
Dennis: What type of writing do you do?
Yocheved: My focus is on non-fiction with a specialty in health content. I had worked my way through college by managing medical records in a nursing home. I became a teacher but found the ever-lowered academic standards and low pay rather frustrating and destructive of student potential. I then earned certification in Medical Records Science, and relaunched a medical records career as a consultant. A publish or perish profession, I wrote of what I learned from financial, medical and social angles. I indulged in humorous takes about the stresses of the medical and medical records worlds, too.
I wrote some short stories which were well-received and anthologized by the Baltimore Women's Writers group, Targum publishing and Booklocker.
I eventually began what I'd intended to be a spy novel trilogy, but ended the series with the second book. My publisher had contacted me out of concern and curiosity, because headlines followed my plots so closely. I replied that I'd based the second novel on Bible Codes, taking the story more than 20 years into the future. The publisher eagerly looked forward to the third and final part of the trilogy but I chose not to publish it. I let the first two books of the trilogy go out of print.
Dennis You have written a book titled Empower Yourself to cope with a medical challenge. Please give an overview of the book and where it may be purchased.
Yocheved: The book grew from personal experience. I was rushed to the hospital after waking up one 2004 morning completely blind. The situation led to life-saving surgery in 2005, after the appropriate brain surgeon had been found and agreed to take me as a patient. Medical and mental health personnel asked how I could have coped so well under the pressure, pain and emotional shock of emergency life-saving brain surgery for - of all things - a benign, non-cancerous tumor that had begun killing me by crushing all the nerves in my head, at the point where they extend to the rest of the body. I'd gone blind and was at risk for losing hearing, movement and the ability to breathe.
I assured everyone that my expertise in mental health rested on my confidence in a beneficent GOD, that I'd been an experienced, certified group leader of the EMETT technique created by Dr. Miriam Adahan and that my years of experience in the world of medical records work had alerted me to resources that the average person has no idea would exist. Doctors and social workers begged me to teach other people how to cope as I had been doing. Then it struck me that the world needs to know what I know, so I wrote the EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge print or E- book http://tinyurl.com/mycrisis-book book. It is updated every two years. I'm about to wrap up the preparation of the 2013 edition. Unlike the 2009 and 2011 editions, it will be indexed to better assist readers looking up specific information in a hurry.
Each edition of the book has been praised by clergy of different faiths, medical and mental health professionals. A medical ethicist praised the updated 2011 version.
Dennis: Are there other books you have written? If so please provide the titles and a brief overview of them.
Yocheved: I'm also about to wrap up a project that received lots of pre-publication praise. Entitled The Comfort Foods Cookbook: Recipes to Calm You Down FAST Without Widening Your Waistline, it clues you in on how to prevent poor eating habits, how to eat good-for-you fast food (plus how to make it!), and how to improve your health in several ways. There are recipes for alcoholic beverages, gooey desserts and sumptuous meals, even a trick for international travelers so they won't go nutz converting grams to calories and vice versa. It's one of the book's several tips and strategies for keeping life simple in and out of the dining room.
Dr Neal Barnard of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine provided terrific information for the book, including recipes for reversing and minimizing the effects of rheumatoid arthritis. As the world population is increasingly filled with older people, that information can be a godsend to growing number of RA sufferers.
Here's a look at the table of contents, which hints at the humor I used to make an otherwise boring topic very amusing and educational:
The Comfort Foods Cookbook 411: Do what works for YOU! An Overview of Basic Principles
Kick But! Lose the Excuses
Dying for another snack? Or are you dying from your snacks?
Beat the Clock! Shortcuts to Better Nutrition
Take on the Day with Dining Delight!
Bon Mots are Delicious! Serve as Needed
Recipes for Dining Delight: Lo-cal and No-cal
Kidz in the Kitchen for Kid-friendly Fare
Body Fat is Not Democratic
Slim Down with Smoothies!
Psych Yourself for Success Despite Some Disease
The Cheat Sheet: Outsmart the Calorie Counters and Still Lose Weight!
Dennis: I read your profile on Linkedin and I find your background and experience interesting. How did you get started doing what you do?
Yocheved: I have eclectic interests and needs. And I like to help people. What goes around comes around, and interesting, beneficial experiences are part of my life. My curiosity about life led me to develop a gregarious personality (by nature I prefer to be quiet and to listen to music or to read, and to remain close with a few special people). That grew into an ability to do public speaking. so I have spoken around the world about to survive devastating medical problems based on my own experience and on what I've learned as I go through life. I became certified in counseling skills and as a Melavah Holim - a sort of spiritual chaplain, through the Life's Door organization which helps terminally ill people and their loved ones to have quality lives despite some diagnosis or situation. I've met fascinating individuals, including my clients, who taught me more about life from very different perspectives than mine.
Still a professional writer, I provide writing services in addition to preparing journalistic work. I write speeches, business plans, grant proposals and the occasional feature story, interview or book review. I'm an adept researcher, too, so here and there someone will hire me to learn about specific topics they need researched for business purposes. I've made rewarding friendships with some of the people I've written for or about. And I have a terrific, always growing book collection because of the book reviews I prepare.
Dennis: Do you belong to any social networking sites?
Yocheved: In today's world I must, though I long for more private life. I promote the EMPOWER Yourself book via my blog http://tinyurl.com/itsmycrisis-blog and two Facebook pages. One is connected to Twitter http://tinyurl.com/36fqch3, the other www.facebook.com/yocheved.golani is not, so I'm very much out there in the Social Media Land. I even created a Social Media Savvy CD that gets newbies up and running. It's been especially helpful to people who operate charitable organizations as it teaches them how to raise money online.
I used to have two websites; One touted my journalism credentials and the other my book reviews. I found that LinkedIn provided me with enough professional exposure to obviate the time and expense of maintaining the websites, so I gave them up.
Dennis: What suggestions do you have for other writers/authors?
Yocheved: Keep writing and keep experimenting with your work! Staying with one style of writing stifles and poisons your creative soul.
Writers need to stretch their skills, to keep them fresh so they don't burn out. I'm toying with the idea of writing a novel or novelette based on my experiences as a researcher. Journalists store so much information in their heads and office files so we can use the information from different angles and for different purposes, let alone to vet some statement for accuracy. I've invested so much time looking up and verifying facts that I figure I can use all that time and effort plus the dullness of tedious researching one more way: By turning it into a humorous story illustrating the life of a fact-based writer.
Dennis: What have you learned about the publishing industry that might help other authors or those who may want to be authors?
Yocheved: It is punitive. I learned long ago when I worked in an independent bookstore, that publishers go for big earnings rather than culture. They want to publish best-sellers, not what is called "mid-list titles" that sell so-so. I've seen some genuine junk published because some trend or topic was hot or because some salacious material appealed to the lower levels of book buyers with too much time and money on their hands.
To complicate matters, there have been scandals regarding book reviews and best-seller lists. Deception is part of life. We live with other people and some of them are simply indecent. Destructive people populate all professions, including the literary world. Authors need to fortify themselves to cope with the reality.
Another problem is self-publishing, which enables people to print awful content sans grammatical or punctuation standards let alone professional editing work. The worst content, as far as self-publishing goes, holds personal rants such as we read on blogs. I'd prefer it stayed inside personal diaries or the heads of those writers. Not every thought is worth sharing. I prefer that books hold content to build the world and its residents instead of destroying it or specific individuals.
I want to make a supportive point about the publishing industry, however: Because the brick-and-mortar publishers are so competitive about what they'll publish, so budget-constrained about promoting specific titles and authors, I consider Print-on-Demand and self-publishing options to be blessings for the wider world. Some wonderful content is reaching readers through those auspices. I hope that the literary world will improve over time as P-o-D and self-publishing influence reader tastes and buying habits. I want to praise www.Booklocker.com print-on-demand publishing for being the best of the bunch. Integrity is the guiding principle there.
I also want to caution wannabe authors with a caveat: Don't count on getting rich from your books. You face growing competition from other writers and scarce disposable income from readers. Consider the writing life as an addendum to whatever you do. Professionals can use their books as calling cards, so to speak. Authorship lends some credibility to your skill set. I do coaching for ill people who need to boost their self-respect and to brainstorm about potential
solutions to daunting problems.
EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge print or E- book http://tinyurl.com/mycrisis-book is not my economic mainstay. Being an author is only part of my professional efforts.
Dennis: What kind of marketing activities have worked for you that you might suggest to others?
Yocheved: Public speaking engagements have been a phenomenal success for me whether in person or via broadcast. People like to connect with writers they can get to "know." I once did a live engagement in which the audience kept me busy with book signings and question-answer banter for 1.5 hours past the end of my scheduled appearance. It was a heartwarming experience for all of us.
Dennis: Do You write articles? If yes please provide some links where others can what you have written?
Yocheved: I still write the occasional feature story or book review and expect to provide content to the Harmony magazine which is scheduled to debut in April. It will address practical skills and information for holistic living and nutrition.
Here are a few of my online feature stories from over the years:
Several of my book reviews appear at
Here's a peek into the phenomenal recovery of my sight http://www.mishpacha.com/Browse/Article/1640/Glimmers-of-Light