Oprah, do you know Ang Lee?

I went out to lunch with my parents, feeling a touch discouraged by the progression of my book (still waiting to hear back from two interested agents).  My mother, always a cheerleader, suddenly said, “Oprah, do you know Ang Lee?”

We all laughed, even as we wondered who out there, with our six degrees of separation, knows Ang Lee.  So, if you read this, and somehow your cousin once made a tall, skim, extra hot, no water Oprah Chai Latte for Ang Lee’s cousin…well, perhaps you could put in a good word?!?

Here’s my pitch:

“Inside the River,” is a story about carrying the shame of someone else’s wrongdoing and then letting it go.  It’s a story about reclaiming that which is divine and magical within all of us.  My book is an affirmation and a prayer of sorts, in whatever way you believe that to be: Ana grabbed a fist full of dirt with one hand and let the shadows out; Emma burned a bouquet of scents representing Antonio’s life of yearning and misread intentions; Carmen, the large and looming white-haired tambourine playing gypsy declared herself the leader of her tribe; and Eloisa carried the green bag with the magical book inside, believing it her destiny to search for the blue haired girl who made the fish forget their pact of silence and sing for freedom.

Ultimately, it is a story which asks the question: Is our life predetermined, already sketched in a magical book, or can we change what is on the page?

Thank you for reading, sharing, and maybe becoming some degree of separation…


All living things contain a measure of madness–Life Of Pi

“All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving; it is part and parcel of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive.”-Yann Martel, “Life of Pi”

As read on jeffjlin.com, Ang Lee, from the age of 30-36, with two kids and his wife supporting them, tries to get a script going.  Each new script was sent in and rejected.  For six years he kept his focus and although I assume he was dismayed and contemplating other forms of work, kept going.  I wonder how often he looks back on those years of uncertainty? I wonder how grateful he is for his own tenacity of will and craft? (I know I am)  Or maybe it’s a form of madness, this passion of purpose, unwavering and persistent?

In “Life of Pi”, the madness was with Richard Parker, the tiger, which allowed Pi his story of survival.  In my novel, “Inside the River,” Ana hears singing fish.  Magical Realism is such an appealing tool to show the elements of our imagination needed to adapt, thrive, and survive.  It opens up space for a new tunnel of experience, bordered by its own set of rules, its own reality.

Unlike fantasy, where a whole new world is created, magical realism inserts bits of magic into the world we live in, helping us to survive its madness.  I am attracted to this form of story, this off-centered truth, this raw and penetrating attempt to light up the dark spots of our minds.



We need storytelling-otherwise life just goes on and on, like the number Pi. (Ang Lee)

Why do we, the published and unpublished writers sit alone, spinning a tale, over and over, combating frustration, doubt, and fear? What is it about the idea of story that compels us beyond reality and into the realm of fiction, where anything can happen? Are we driven because of some need to rewrite our lives in a way? To control the uncontrollable? Is it ego, hubris, or a touch of madness that keeps us going, draft after draft, rejection after rejection?

And what is it for the reader, the audience, the other participant in the dance?  Do we sink into the story, in all its many forms and expressions, to escape our reality? Do we admire, feel inspired, and learn beyond the boundaries through storytelling? How else would we enrich and enliven our lives that, too often, sink into the metronome of routine?

Storytelling-the myths, legends, fables, epic adventures, and magical tales are what binds us together and keeps our humanity safe.  Think back at the movie that blew your mind (Yes, Ang Lee, it was Life of Pi), or the book that touched your heart and changed you in profound ways, or the painting that expressed everything that is beyond words….

What choice do we have, but to delve deep, hone our skills, and attempt to create the story? What choice does the reader have but to go for the ride?



Please Comment Below

I am new to this whole “social media” thing.  I realized that writing a book meant learning about how the world views things and it is different than when I was younger and would crawl into bed with a new book, all by myself.

It’s been an interesting unfolding…this sending out my thoughts about my process around “Inside the River,” and my vision of having Ang Lee make the movie version (even though he doesn’t know it yet), intertwined with my journey as a student of yoga.  I hit publish and it goes out to unknown readers around the world.

This blog is for you all out there who somehow found me and perhaps read these words.  Please comment below…about anything. Let’s start a conversation, like the good ole days.


“Inside the River” Query Letter

Thank you readers (and Ang Lee, even though he doesn’t know it yet) from 52 different countries for sharing this journey with me.

I’m seeking representation for my novel, “Inside the River.”  I believe this story will appeal to you because it explores the raw emotions of suffering and forgiveness.  There is also a magical book, a white haired tambourine playing gypsy, and the fish who forgot their pact of silence and sang.  “Inside the River,” bridges Magical Realism with Contemporary Women’s Fiction, and totals 94,000 words.

No life comes without some struggles — the toughest trick in life though is how to heal ourselves and love.  “Inside the River” follows the poignant stories of two women, separated by centuries, but connected by their shared history of having suffered as girls and then struggling to learn how to heal themselves and love years later in their lives.

In an ancient time when magic was still real Ana, a blue haired girl, hears fish singing, and jumps inside the river beside her small village to get away from her suffering.  In modern day New York City, Emma mysteriously hears the same song and responds, also to get away from her own suffering.  But are these two stories intertwined beyond a song from inside the river?

After crossing the river, Ana becomes a fortune teller and meets Eloisa, a red haired gypsy, who has been searching for the blue haired who made the fish forget their pact of silence.  Emma, on her way to a Starbucks in New York City, meets Antonio, an old man who tells Emma how the tinges of blue in her hair remind him of Ana, whose story was passed down through his family for centuries.  Indeed, Ana and Emma’s stories are eventually revealed to not only parallel, but also mysteriously interact and, in the unfolding of their lives, the reader learns how both women are able to heal and break the cycle of suffering.

“Inside the River” will appeal to book clubs — it is “The Shadow of the Wind,” meets anything by Paulo Coelho.  This is my debut novel.  I hold a BA in English Lit and a Masters in English and Writing Education.  The manuscript is complete and available at your request.

Thank you for your consideration.  I look forward to the possibility of working together.


Mindy Levine



Ang Lee: The synopsis is almost done!

Has anyone felt the lightness of accomplishment only to be weighed down by that one last thing to do?

It took me twenty years of “I wish I could write this book” to get to the messy and beautiful task of actually doing it.  “Inside the River” is done.

I am not alone in finding the synopsis, that needed summary of the book, difficult and procrastination worthy.  I have procrastinated and fought it with eyes wide open. I think I’ve done it because I fought against the fact that the summary of my work is not my work.  It’s the tastiest flavor of my book, but it’s not all the flavors.  Just like when we meet someone, start a new venture, say hello to a blind date — we cannot expect that first impression to be the full sphere of a person, idea, finished product.  But what if this glance is the only glance you get? What would  you put inside it, what would be expendable, what would stand under the spotlight?

What if you had to write the summary of your life, in about 3,000 words (double-spaced or single-spaced I am still figuring that out).  Would the joy or the sadness or the healed pain be the thread?  Would other people overpower your own story?  Would the silence and lonely times knot the thread?  Would the past inform or keep you stuck?  Would your words scream of fear or sing about love?  What flavor would you want to savor? What flavor would you surprisingly realize was not all that flavorful?  What regret could you let go of because it doesn’t move your story forward and your word count is almost full?  What happens when you edit out all the drama?  What is left?  Who is left?

After reading this summary, would an agent, and an audience,  want to read your whole story?






Every movie I make. That’s my hideout, the place I don’t quite understand, but feel most at home. –Ang Lee

So often I have sat inside my comfort zone, because I understood it.  It was important that it all made sense, that it wasn’t, with obvious intention, anything too risky.   My days flowed with a routine, a drowsy, seamless state of mind.

There is a creative fire inside me (as there is in all of us) and somehow not exercising it was keeping me in what I can label as my low grade fever days.  I wasn’t sick and my life was full of joy and laughter but there was a tiredness to my efforts.

“Inside the River,” has been the house guest I’d ignored for a long time, the light dazzling outside wanting to play, the risk of conscious action.  Writing those words, wrapped around a story brewing inside me for over twenty years, starting a blog, joining twitter yesterday (not sure I quite get that concept yet) and allowing myself this voice (read in 37 countries…would love to know who you are), has taken me to a place I don’t quite understand.

But it’s home….