At last! (Cue to triumphant music)

sunset-summer-golden-hour-paul-filitchkin.jpgAfter five years, many blog posts, and a whole lot of griping, I finally finished a complete first draft of my first ADULT novel. I feel exhilarated!

I also feel…strangely empty. As I was telling my friend Merri earlier today, I had my characters’ voices talking in my head for the last five years. Every once and a while, they would go away (particularly if I was knee-deep in another writing project), but they always came back.

They are now silent. Like, REALLY silent.

When I told this to Merri this afternoon, she asked me if I talked to the characters. I kinda feel like I should let them be, at least for the moment. Perhaps, when the time comes to revise, I’ll ask them questions to see if they respond.

It’s very weird feeling. My head is like a vacant apartment. Last Friday was the first day I had no fiction projects in the works in half a decade. (I am, however, working on another large, non–fiction book and several articles.)

My husband suggested I just ride this sensation out. Maybe in a few days, “someone” will start talking to me in my brain, and a new story will start.

In the meantime, he’s going to read my book, and then I’ll move on to a couple of beta readers. The novel is far from perfect, and I’ll need lots of feedback to guide my revision. But this is definitely a huge accomplishment, and I’m ready to celebrate!

PS — I forgot to share another article a few weeks back. This one is a personal essay about confronting struggles from a position of faith. If you’d like to read it, you can find it here.


Where have I been?

As usual, I have lots of good excuses for going missing on this blog. I completed my manuscript for NaNoWriMo, then immediately started work on some short stories…and THEN I started working on *another* novel, which I am hoping will hit the 50,000 word mark (G-d willing!) by the end of this week.

Many of my FB friends, family, and colleagues know I’ve been slowly shifting my writing away from venues which don’t include images of women or older girls. That means I’ve had to find new publications to publish my short stories, which used to appear primarily in Binah and Hamodia. Recently, I had a second piece appear on Hevria, and now I’m privileged to be the first fiction writer featured in the new women’s magazine, The Layers Project Magazine. My story featured there is entitled, “Taking the Plunge.”

One of the perks about this switch of venue is that I get to talk about all sorts of topics not usually covered in Haredi magazines. Even though a lot of my writing is for children, the two stories I link to above are for readers 16 years old and up.

While the piece on Hevria is free, to read the second story, you have to pay a subscription. The Layers Project Magazine would like to be able to pay its writers and staff, and so just like the print mags charge a fee for you to buy them, they are asking for a subscription. For a month, it’s $5.99 for unlimited access, and you get three free articles without subscribing. However, if you consider it’s a replacement for four issues of Binah or Mishpacha‘s Family First, or the like, it’s a cheaper option.

New Short Story Out & Available Online!

It’s been a while since I last posted, but I’ve been up to good things. One of them was finally finding the right ending for a story I wrote over a year ago and getting it accepted by Hevria. You can find my sci-fi short/modern day moshel up there now. Just follow this link. I’d love to hear either in the comments on this post or on Hevria what you think of the story.

In other writing news, I’m still cranking out a humor column every other week. You can find all those columns in The Jewish Home – LA. I’m still waiting to hear back from my editor about the manuscript I submitted at the conclusion of NaNoWriMo.

In the meantime, I’m back to work on my old, at least five-years running WIP. I’m giving it one last “go” before consigning it to the desk drawer (aka the cemetery for dead stories). I’ve given myself the deadline of January 18, 2018 to have a coherent and complete new-and-improved draft ready. G-d willing, I’ll make it with an assist from my good friend Devorah Talia and Scrivener.

Got any writing projects in store for you in 2018? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

NaNoWriMo progress and more updates

So, I’m about 13 days into NaNoWriMo, and still working on my new book. I’m not really writing as fast as I’d like — not even averaging 1000 words a day. But I *am* making progress.

It’s interesting: I felt like I’d prepared well in advance, with one exception. I didn’t get to visit the setting of the middle of the book (a local landmark) before November 1st. Because I outlined in advance, I know pretty much what I want to write in each chapter. But I’m having a lot of problem with the middle scenes, largely because I can’t picture the setting as well as I’d like. G-d willing, we’ll take care of this on Sunday by making a family visit to that location.

I’m also finding writing the “middle act” of the book challenging for other reasons. The middle act is notoriously hard to write, because it tends to sag. You need to maintain suspense, and keep tightening the screws on the main character, while slowly guiding him or her to the ultimate conclusion.

Beginnings are challenging to write, as are conclusions. But I think middles are the hardest of all.

The good news is that because I outlined, I’ve been able to write the final three chapters of the book even with a big, empty spot in the center of the manuscript. I’ll probably gets some of that middle act written within the next couples days, and then hopefully that visit on Sunday will help me pull everything together.

Another strange thing happening is that I’m so focused on writing right now that I’m having problems reading fiction right now. Reading someone else’s well-written middle act, complete with intense suspense, is kinda more than I can handle! Instead of being an escape, a couple novels stressed me out! I’m hoping to polish them off after I get over the middle act hump.

In non-NaNoWriMo news: I wrote a short story I’m hoping to workshop this week with my writing group. My husband thinks it’s very, very weird, but a friend enjoyed it very much last week, and I have high hopes. I’ve also got a couple essays I’m working on.

Writers: what are you working on? Let me know in the comments.

On the Brink of NaNoWriMo

Tomorrow is November 1st, aka the first day of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. I’m all set to go, but feeling very nervous. I’m G-d willing going to be trying out some new software, and I’ve got a partner and a couple online groups for support. And I’ll report back with progress in a week or so.

I’ve got a few tricks to help me out. My great friend, Devorah Talia, suggested an app to me. The app, called Toggl, is free, and helps monitor time spent on jobs. Not only is it helping me make my invoices for freelance editing jobs, it gives me a bit of accountability on what I’m working on. Since starting to use it, I can really see where I waste time, but actually how much time I’m productive, too.

Despite my big NaNoWriMo project, I’m doing other writing, too. I have to write two humor columns in November. And this evening, I spent a big chunk of time writing a dvar Torah to present in my synagogue on Shabbos morning to a group of women. It’s been a while since I’ve taught the parshah of the week, and I got very, very excited about my thesis. A long talk with my husband helped me formulate my ideas, he gave me an additional piece of evidence, and now I’m set to go. I’m hoping to get some feedback on an essay and rewrite it, too.

And I have a couple picture book ideas bouncing around my head, too.

Usually, I’m not exactly a font of creativity at this time of year. This is the season in which I usually start to fade into a hibernation that lasts until Tu B’Shevat, roughly at the end of January. I’m hoping to hold onto my energy and imagination long enough to complete some of these projects!


Well, that was an extended absence…

Sorry I totally disappeared for a while there! Aside from the obvious (the Jewish holidays that crowd Tishrei), I had other reasons for going AWOL. The biggest one is that I started a new writing gig! I have a new humor column in The Jewish Home Los Angeles, so I’ve been writing that in edition to my usual fiction and editing regimen.

Here’s my last column:

The next one is due out on newstands in L.A. tomorrow.

Now that Simchas Torah is over, I’m hoping to return to my weekly blogging schedule already in progress.

Aside from the new column, my big writing goal in the short term is attempting NaNoWriMo for the first time. That means I’ll be attempting to write the first draft of an entire novel in the month of November! I’ve been working on a plot outline, doing a tiny but necessary bit of research, and will be creating some character profiles, too, before November arrives. That should make the writing process go a little smoother, I think.

Anyone else out there planning to write a novel in November?