A Tribute to My Favorite Uncles

Looking for some Shabbos/weekend reading?

I’ve got a new story in this week’s Inyan Magazine, inside Hamodia (dated August 26, 2015). The story is called “The Favorite Uncle,” and it’s a sorta reversal of real-life situations between my kids and their beloved uncles, as well as a paean to my own awesome uncles, Ira and Larry.

Synopsis: 11 year old Alex Silverstein’s favorite uncle frums out, and Alex is not amused.

I’d love feedback from anyone who reads the story!

I also thought this would be a great opportunity to answer a question I’ve been getting a lot lately, included from professional (non-fiction) writers:

How to you write a short story?

Usually, the first step for me is observing the real world, true adventures in human psychology and spirituality, and internalizing them. After a while, I elaborate on them in much the same way that a jazz musician might improvise on a familiar melody.

This kernel of this story is an outing my sons – observant Orthodox Jews from birth – took with one of their uncles – who is not Orthodox – at the beginning of the summer. My sons particularly enjoy the company of this uncle, and despite his different lifestyle, they share a mutual admiration.

This relationship got me thinking about the relationships I have with my own uncles, who stepped in when my parents divorced, and about how the bonds of family can endure despite differences in religiosity. I didn’t want to write a personal essay, so the story is firmly in the realm of fiction, but these truthful observations formed the kernel of the story that eventual developed.

In order to make the break concrete, I did a little role reversal: the person who is observant is no longer the niece/nephew, but the uncle. I also pushed some of the situations to the extreme. I made the uncle formerly very, very cool in the eyes of his tween nephew, because he drives a cool car (the car Uncle Larry drove when I was 11) and shares many of the nephew’s favorite hobbies. And then I made his descent a bit drastic (the guy has become quite Hareidi indeed).

Any other writers out there, have you written a story inspired by reality, but turned on its head? Please share in the comments.

An oasis in my posting desert

Things have been a bit nutty lately in the Klempner household. I’ve got a few kids home from school to entertain, and we made a bar mitzvah for our eldest. Blogging hasn’t been a priority this summer.

However, I managed to squeeze in a little writing, and the first fruit I’ve got to show for my labors is my latest piece in Tablet. It’s my first real foray into food writing. Follow this link, and you’ll find a personal essay, complete with a recipe for egg-free, vegan matzo balls.

Hope everyone else is having a great summer, too! Let me know in the comments if you try the recipe. I’d love some feedback, including any tweaks you make it that result in a fluffier product.

“A funny thing happened on the way to staycation…” or “Happily Ever After as a breeding ground for faith”

So, just as I gave up on blogging about books during summer break, my husband mentioned something tonight so post-worthy, that I just had to share.

Mr. K. has been reading Searching for Dragons to my children at bedtime for the last week or so. Tonight, he noticed a pattern in our youngest, just six years old: at peak points of suspense, when the story gets really “scary” for her, she starts to panic. Usually, he reassures her that there will be a happy ending. Continue reading

On Staycation

Try not to be too disappointed, but I don’t expect to be posting very much on this blog over the summer. I’ve got some kiddos home, and we’re doing our usual “family camp” thing.

If you are interested in fun stuff to do while staycationing/vacationing/killing time in Los Angeles, you can peep over at my other blog, where I share tips on the subject.

Why Endings So Often Disappoint Readers

I’ve posted about the difficulty of nailing an ending before. More than once, I’ve had to completely abandon the conclusion of my rough draft and write an entirely new ending. When I said in the title of this post that endings “disappoint,” I really wanted to use that word that Bart Simpson made popular in the late ’80s that some of my readers insist is almost as bad as actual profanity. I’ll refrain.

I’m thinking about endings because Continue reading

It’s the week of Shavuos!


I haven’t been blogging much lately because I’ve been working on several larger writing projects. I’m very excited about them, but I can’t talk about them yet! However, I thought readers would appreciate the links to art projects that can be used to teach about Shavuot to kids 3-7 who might be reading A Dozen Daisies for Raizy this week in preparation for the holiday.

Originally posted on Rebecca Klempner:

Things have been a bit crazy in the Klempner household as of late. We’re already in the week of the Jewish holiday of Shavuos, the subject of my picture book, A Dozen Daisies for Raizy.

A few weeks ago, in honor of the 5th anniversary of Raizy, I asked librarians, teachers, and parents about how they’ve reacted to Raizy. Here are some of the responses:

From fabulous librarian Davida Levin, of the Torah Day School of Atlanta:

I love using the book every Shavuos with my K-2 library groups, and was delighted that several of the 1st and 2nd grade girls said that they also own the book.

This year we talked about what the daisies meant to the recipient and decided that they meant “I like you” or “I care about you”. The second graders were able to  say that the flowers were a reminder of Raizy’s invitation or offer…

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