Devil Wind by Deborah Shlian & Linda Reid wins 2011 Royal Palm Literary Award!

Congrats to my creators, Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid for another great win. Last year the team’s novel Dead Air won First Place, Best Thriller for the Royal Palm Literary award sponsored by the Florida Writers Association. Now the second in the Sammy Greene series, Devil Wind, has won the 2011 Royal Palm Literary award for Best Thriller. Way to go, guys!

So for those of you who haven’t read book #1 (Dead Air) or book #2 (Devil Wind), you’re in for a treat. And of course, I’m the star of both stories.





“Dead Air” by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid may be fiction, but it’s “dead on”

The authors of “Dead Air, Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid, wrote the thriller as a cautionary tale. As medical research has become more and more competitive, with funding often only availabe from corporate sources with profit motives, conflicts of interest are a real issue – one that literally costs human subjects and, ultimately, patients taking a drug that should not have been approved, their lives. ThisWall Street Journal article details the growing number of real life examples of poor medical research coming out of ostensibly prestigious institutions and published in widely-respected medical journals. This is becoming a serious problem that doesn’t normally get much press. Read the article, then read the book. “Dead Air” may be fiction, but as far as a premise, it’s really dead on!!

– Sammy

Dead Air by Deborah Shlian & Linda Reid, winner of Royal Palm Literary Award

Devil Wind by Deborah Shlian & Linda Reid is Finalist for the 2011 Royal Palm Literary Award!!

Just announced today: Devil Wind is a Finalist for this year’s Royal Palm Literary Award from the Florida Writers Association. Winners will be honored at the October Florida Writers Association meeting in Orlando.  I couldn’t be more excited for my creators: Linda Reid and Deborah Shlian. Last year, Dead Air, the first in their series about me, won First Place in the Thriller category. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they win this year too. But as they say in Hollywood, “just to be a finalist is an honor in itself”.


Devil Wind by Deborah Shlian & Linda Reid: new book review

Thanks to Edie Dykeman, Bellaonline’s Mystery Books editor for her wonderful review of “Devil Wind”.  Her words: “The story is fast paced and the several plots and subplots deftly intertwined throughout the book come together in a harrowing, but satisfying, finish.”

But read the whole review here and if you haven’t read the book, for heavens sake, buy it now! Deborah has been donating all her royalties to breast cancer research. The novel is available in hardback, on eBook and Audiobook (20% discount all summer).



How Jews got their surnames

This is a piece sent to me without giving credit to the author, but I thought it was interesting so I am re-printing here verbatim. It’s about how Jews got their surnames. I am still not sure how my family got the surname “Greene”. If any of you know, please write me.

Thanks, Sammy.


Other than aristocrats and wealthy people, Jews did not get surnames
 in Eastern Europe until the Napoleon years of the early 19th century.
 Most of the Jews from countries captured by Napoleon, Russia, Poland,
 and Germany were ordered to get surnames for tax purposes.

 After Napoleon’s defeat, many Jews dropped these names and returned
 to “son of” names such as: MENDELSOHN, JACOBSON, LEVINSON, etc.

During the so called Emancipation, Jews were once more ordered to
 take surnames. In Austria, the Emperor Joseph made Jews take last names in
 the late 1700s; Poland in 1821; and Russia in 1844. It’s probable that
 some of our families have had last names for 175 years or less.

 In France and the Anglo Saxon countries, surnames went back to the
 16th century. Also Sephardic Jews had surnames stretching back centuries. Spain prior to Ferdinand and Isabella was a golden spot for Jews.
 They were expelled by Isabella in the same year that Columbus left
 For America.

 The earliest American Jews were Sephardic.

In general there were five types of names (people had to pay for their
 choice of names; the poor had assigned names):

1– Names that were descriptive of the head of household:

 HOCH (tall) ,
 KLEIN (small),
 COHEN (descendant of Aaron on the male line),
 BURGER (village dweller),
 SHEIN (good looking),
 LEVI (Levite),
 GROSS (large),
 SCHWARTZ (dark or black),
 WEISS (white),
 KURTZ (short)
 GROSSBARD (big beard)
 GELBART (yellow beard)

— Names describing occupations: 

HOLTZ (wood)
 HOLTZHOCKER (wood chopper),
 GELTSCHMIDT (goldsmith),
 SCHNEIDER (tailor),
 KREIGSMAN (warrior),
 MALAMED (teacher)
 EISEN (iron),
 FISCHER (fisherman)
 SCHMUCKLER (jeweler)

3– Names from place of origin:

 DEUTSCH (German)

4 — Bought names: 

GLUCK (luck),
 ROSEN (roses),
 ROSENBLATT (rose paper or leaf),
 ROSENBERG (rose mountain),
 ROTHMAN (red   man),
 KOENIG (king),
 SPIELMAN (spiel is to play),
 LIEBER (lover),
 BERG (mountain),
 WASSERMAN (water dweller),
 KIRSHENBLATT (cherry [colored] paper),
 STEIN (stone, stoneware, beer mug).

5– Assigned names (usually undesirable): 

PLOTZ (to die),
 KLUTZ (clumsy),
 BILLIG (cheap)
 DREK (shit)
 BARDAKI (bordello operator)
 SCHEINSKOPF (shiny head)
 BECKMESSER (knife beak)
 MONCHARSH (monk’s arse)

Original Birth Names of Jewish Performers:

Woody Allen — Alan Stewart Koenigsberg

June Allyson — Ella Geisman

Lauren Bacall — Betty Joan Perske

Jack Benny — Benjamin Kubelsky

Irving Berlin — Israel Baline

Milton Berle — Milton Berlinger

Joey Bishop —Joseph Gottlieb

Karen Black — Karen Blanche Ziegler

Victor Borge — Borge Rosenbaum

Fanny Brice — Fanny Borach

Mel Brooks — Melvin Kaminsky

George Burns — Nathan Birnbaum

Eddie Cantor — Edward Israel Iskowitz

Jeff Chandler — Ira Grossel

Lee J. Cobb — Amos Jacob

Tony Curtis — Bernard Schwartz

Rodney Dangerfield — Jacob Cohen

Kirk Douglas — Issue Danielovich Demsky

Melvyn Douglas — Melvyn Hesselberg

Bob Dylan — Bobby Zimmerman

Paulette Goddard — Marion Levy

Lee Grant — Lyova Geisman

Elliot Gould — Elliot Goldstein

Judy Holliday — Judith Tuvim

Al Jolson — Asa Yoelson

Danny Kaye — David Daniel Kaminsky

Michael Landon — Michael Orowitz

Steve Lawrence — Sidney Leibowitz

Jerry Lewis — Joseph Levitch

Peter Lorre — Lazlo Lowenstein

Elaine May — Elaine Berlin

Yves Montand — Ivo Levy

Mike Nichols — Michael Peschkowsky

Joan Rivers — Joan Molinsky

Edward G. Robinson — Emanuel Goldenberg

Jane Seymour — Joyce Penelope Frankenburg

Simone Signoret — Simone-Henriette Kaminker

Beverly Sills — Belle Silverman

Sophie Tucker — Sophia Kalish

Gene Wilder — Gerald Silberman

“Devil Wind” by Deborah Shlian & Linda Reid book review on

Read another nice review of my latest adventure (“Devil Wind”) here. Reviewer Patricia Reid says “the authors bring the multiple story lines together in a satisfying and surprising way.” Finalist in the Indie Excellence Awards, “Devil Wind” is available in hardback, eBooks (including Kindle) and Audiobook.

Dead Air by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid book review by Fran Lewis

Hi guys! Read this wonderful review of “Dead Air” – the first of my adventures. You can read it in hardback, on eBooks and you can now hear it on CD or download MP3!

Dead Air, winner of Royal Palm Literary Award for best thriller 2010

Guest Blogger Ilene Schneider tells how her character Rabbi Aviva Cohen met me (Sammy Greene)

Hi: Today we’re thrilled to have a guest blogger, my friend Ilene Schneider, author of Chanukah Guilt and Talk Dirty Yiddish. Like me (Sammy Greene), Ilene has curly red hair. She’s a rabbi in real life and has created a wonderful character Rabbi Aviva Cohen, also with curly red hair. What I never knew (and apparently Ilene just learned), is that Aviva is actually related to me! Read the story of how we met.

Ilene Schneider


by Rabbi Aviva Cohen

(As told to Ilene Schneider, Author, Chanukah Guilt; Talk Dirty Yiddish


Talk Dirty Yiddish


Chanukah Guilt


Back story (from Chanukah Guilt, published 2007 by Swimming Kangaroo Books): “Actually I’m a throwback to some great-great whatever; I met a second cousin at my father’s funeral fifteen years ago (author’s note: 1987), and we could have been twins.”

March 1, 2011

I picked up the phone, and heard Trudy’s voice. As usual, my niece didn’t bother to say “Hello,” but launched right into her part of the conversation. “Josh has gotten into genealogy.”

“That’s better than his last obsession. I was afraid he had moved on to Europe.” I said. My eleven-year-old great nephew has Asperger’s Syndrome and latches onto obscure interests which he obsessively shares with everyone, whether or not they’re interested. His previous hobby was memorizing the subway routes in every major city of the U.S., in case he ever visited there. I really did not care about the easiest way to get from Nob Hill to Berkeley, and was afraid I would now be subjected to a lecture on the various routes from the Eiffel Tower to the Tuileries. “At least genealogy is more socially acceptable than subway routes.”

“True. Anyway, he found out something interesting. Did you know we had a great-aunt Rose? Well, my great-great aunt, I guess, and Josh’s three times great. Her husband was Great-grandpa – your  Grandpa David’s – brother. Did he ever mention him to you?”

“The name’s familiar . . . . Let me think a minute . . . . I remember now: he once told me that when he came to the U.S. as a young man – have Josh check, but I think it was around 1919 – his parents stayed in Poland with the younger children. He told me he was the oldest and the youngest was a lot younger. There were a lot of kids in between. He felt guilt that he was able to come here before the immigration quotas stranded the rest of his family. He thought they all died in the Holocaust. But the name Aunt Rose . . . Got it! You must remember , too. It was during the shivah for Dad, Granddad to you . . .

April, 1987

It was the third day of shivah, and the house was packed. Old lefties, union organizers, new lefties turned yuppies, feminists still proud of the label, customers, neighbors, relatives . . . everyone turned out to console my Mom Ruth on the death of her husband Simon after fifty-seven years of marriage. My sister Jean and I needed consoling, too, Jean more than I did. But then she always did think I had no family loyalty, especially after I moved to the Philadelphia area and her daughter Trudy, only five years younger than I am, followed shortly thereafter.

I was looking through the cornucopia of goodies people had brought, searching for something – anything – with chocolate when I felt a draft from the open front door. I looked up and saw two unfamiliar faces, an older woman in a drab overcoat and sensible shoes holding the hand of a young girl with curly red hair. The woman had the kind of careworn face that could have belonged to anyone from age forty to eighty, although I suspected she was on the upper end of that age range. The girl, cute, eyes bright with curiosity, looking around her absorbing everything in the room, could have been a tall eight-year-old or a short prepubescent who hadn’t yet hit her hormone-fueled growth spurt.

I couldn’t help staring at the girl. I felt as though I was looking in a mirror from twenty-five years ago.

I sidled over to where my mother was arguing nuclear disarmament with a neighbor who was probably the only Republican in the neighborhood. My mother’s mission in life, among her many to her purposes, was to convert him. She didn’t care that he wasn’t Jewish, but she cared deeply that he was a Reagan supporter.

“Mom, I need to ask you something.” I smiled at our neighbor who was relieved to be saved from my mother’s ravings about the perfidy of a man who had the chutzpah to go from being the president of the Screen Actors Guild – “a union, in case you don’t know” – to a dyed-in-the-wool conservative.

I scanned the room and spotted the two strangers. “Who is that older woman?”

My mother gave me a scathing look. “She’s not that old.” She peered myopically – at seventy-three, she still refused to wear glasses except for reading – and squealed. “That must be Aunt Rose. Oh, my, is that little Sammy with her? Oy, Gottenu, such a tragedy there. Thank God, you never suffered what she did.” (For an avowed atheist, my mother invokes the name of the deity a lot.)

“What do you mean?”

“The poor child. Her father ran off to LA with some kurvah.” For someone born in the US, my mother has an inordinate love of Yiddish. A kurvah is a whore, especially one who would run off with another woman’s husband. “And then the poor little girl – she couldn’t have been more than seven at the time – came home from school and found her mother dead. A suicide. The father didn’t want her, there were no other relatives, so her grandmother is raising her.”

“Why have I never heard about them? How are they related? Or did you call her ‘aunt’ out of respect, like Aunt Bella two doors down?”

“Rose’s husband was Grandpa David’s brother. He thought they were all killed in the Holocaust.  After the war, Grandpa started searching through the Red Cross and HIAS, but couldn’t find any trace of the family. Then he found out that his youngest brother Yossi and his wife had managed to leave Poland in 1939, just in time. They settled in Brooklyn. Grandpa David got in touch with him, but for some reason they weren’t really interested in keeping in touch. We tried, but Yossi – I think he was using the name Joseph by then – didn’t even remember Grandpa David, there was such an age difference between them. Even more than between you and your sister. And after Yossi died, his wife Rose sent out Rosh Hashanah cards and sent us sporadic news when something noteworthy happened, but that was all.”

“Put on your glasses, Mom, and take a good look at the girl.”

“I can see just fine, thank you very much.” She pulled down her glasses from the top of her head and put them on anyway. “Oh! She’s the spitting image of you at that age!”

“Weird, isn’t it? We must be the only two red-heads in the family. I’m going over to talk to her.”

Our two new visitors had moved deeper into the room, and Aunt Rose was looking around, probably for a familiar face. Before I got to them, though, my sister Jean waylaid me.

“Spring!” I hate my given name, and used my Hebrew one, Aviva, instead. If I had been born in the Sixties, I’d have the excuse that my parents were hippies, but I missed out on the Summer of Love by over fifteen years. The only reason for my name is that my mother is nuts.

“It’s Aviva, remember?”

“Get over here, Spring. I need to talk to you.” My sister pulled me to a corner of the room. “See that woman there?” She lifted her chin toward the general area where Aunt Rose had last been standing. “Look at the girl with her. Have you something to tell me?”

I must have looked perplexed because Jean became even more belligerent. “Don’t give me that innocent look. That girl looks just like you. Did you have a child out of wedlock and give it up for adoption?”

I wasn’t sure whether to be outraged or amused, so I went with the latter and burst out laughing. “Oh, Jean, come on. You’d love that, wouldn’t you? A nice, juicy scandal to add to your list of grievances against me, beginning with my birth fifteen years after you, when Mom and Dad shouldn’t have been shtupping.”

“Show some respect,” Jean actually hissed. “It’s our father’s shivah!”

“And he would have been the first to laugh. No, the second, after Mom.” I stopped laughing long enough to tell Jean what our mother had related to me. “I was just going over there to introduce myself.”

“No, I’ll do it. I’m the oldest.” Jean might be fifty years old, but adolescent sibling rivalry is still her favorite mode of dealing with me.

Still chuckling, I let Jean go make the introduction, while I searched out my niece Trudy. She was with a rather no-nonsense looking woman, wearing chinos and short, almost mannish hair, and with warm, brown eyes that radiated kindness. “Aunt Aviva, I want you to meet my friend, Sherry Finkel.” One look at Trudy’s face told me that Sherry was more than a “friend.” I shook her hand and almost welcomed her to the family, but I had learned a long time ago not to invest too much meaning in Trudy’s “friends.” My niece was, to put it mildly, fickle in her romantic choices. Not that I could talk – I was on husband number two, who was probably propping up the wet bar in the basement rec room. He wasn’t usually a drinker, but family gatherings – my family, in any case – sent him right to the nearest liquor bottle.

“Come, walk with me. I’m about to meet a new relative. Sherry, you come, too. I’m dying to see my sister’s face when Trudy introduces you. I’m guessing you haven’t met her mother yet. By the way, my mother – Trudy’s grandmother – will love you on sight.”

As we made our way across the room, I recited Aunt Rose’s story for a second time. We were in sight of the small group when Trudy exclaimed, “That girl looks just like you did at that age, Aviva.”

“Here are my daughter and niece,” my mother said to Rose as we got to them. “You still need to meet my nephew Larry. He’s probably downstairs.”

We kissed cheeks, and I excused myself as I took Sammy aside. “There’s something I want you to see. Let’s go downstairs.”

As I suspected, my husband Keith and nephew Larry had plunked themselves down in a couple of recliners, beers in hand, watching some sport or other on TV. I waved when they looked up, and took Sammy over to the couch. On the wall behind the couch were an array of family pictures, including a grouping, in chronological order, of all my school pictures from kindergarten through high school. “Take a good look, Sammy. Do you notice anything?”

“We look alike! Wait, I’ll be right back!”

True to her word, she was back in a minute or two. “Look!” She handed me a school picture. “Bubbe always carries my latest school picture with her.” She counted the pictures on the wall. “This must be you in seventh grade, right?”

I nodded and looked at the picture she’d handed me. The clothes had changed – she was wearing a v-necked t-shirt decorated with sequins; I was wearing a button-down white blouse with a Peter Pan color – and her hair was curlier and redder than mine, but we definitely looked like twins.

“I wonder if Bubbe can handle the stairs?”

I stood on the couch and took the picture off the wall. “No need. We’ll bring the mountain to Mohammed.” At her puzzled look, I explained the allusion.

Aunt Rose’s eyes lit up as she compared the two pictures. “Oy, Samele, and you thought you were alone except for me. See, I told you we have family, and a history.” She turned to me. “Do you know where the red hair and green eyes come from?”

“No, I often wondered. When I was little, I used to say, ‘From the milkman,’ and never understood why everyone laughed.”

“Your father’s father and my husband were brothers. Their father, Shimon – your father Sy was named for him, and so was Sammy – had bright red hair. I think some of his children did, too, but not your father or his uncle. But it showed up in you, and in Sammy here. See, Sammy, you do belong.”

March 1, 2011

“For several years, I kept in touch with Sammy, first as a pen pal, then through e-mail. We still write sporadically. I think she’s in LA now, or maybe San Francisco. Somewhere in California, anyway, working as a journalist. I’m going to check Facebook; I’m sure she’s on there, too.”

“I remember the incident, now. I had completely forgotten. My most vivid memory of the shivah was Mom’s reaction to Sherry. How many years did it take her – seventeen, eighteen? – to finally accept that we were a couple and not roommates? But now I’ll have an even better memory – the name Shimon was given to Zayde Simon and now to my daughter Simone. Make sure when you talk to Sammy, you let her know that she really does have a family.”

Dead Air by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid now an Audiobook

I am so excited! For those of you who like to listen rather than read, Dead Air is now an Audiobook from De Novo Productions.  Barbara Whitesides, nationally known radio talk show host recorded the book. You can buy it on CD on their site. It will soon be available as an MP3 download at De Novo’s site as well as through Amazon ( and iTunes.

Buy it and let me know what you think. Your feedback is always appreciated!!

Shlian Books Newsletter


Sign up for the Shlian Books Newsletter and a chance to win a free autographed copy of Devil Wind by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid. Here’s the link. Lots of news about me and my creators. Hope to hear from you!!

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