Cheer Up a Friend (and Yourself) with Snail Mail

Want to know how to surprise a friend, whether they are in quarantine across the country or one of your “far away/so close” neighbors who you saw daily in pre-quarantine days? Want to cheer up someone totally alone in their home due to COVID-19?

SEND THEM SNAIL MAIL.

Last week, I had done some coloring of “color yourself” postcards my daughter had, and then sent off little haikus on them to some people who thought would appreciate them. I got texts and emails and phone calls from people thanking me for them, and that was yet another nice human contact (albeit remotely).

But by the end of three days of coloring, my hands were super unhappy with me.

I spent a big chunk of this week doing some deep cleaning and a lot of organizing. I found a slew of cards and old stationery! Now I can send off more little notes and haikus w/out coloring first!

Want to know how to write a haiku?

Usually, the first line is 5 syllables long, the second is 7, the third is 5. There are other configurations, and honestly, you don’t have to be strict with yourself. The tone is sometimes nostalgic or full of pathos, but often, they are funny.

Here’s an example of something appropriate for a neighbor:

I’m sorry I can’t
bump into you in the milk
aisle. We’ll schmooze soon!

(If you choose to use mine for your card, PLEASE ATTRIBUTE IT TO ME.)

If you want me (for free!) to help you workshop your first attempt at a haiku to send to a friend or relative, drop me a comment. WIN_20200430_12_41_08_Pro

Me with some of my stationery find from deep in a file cabinet!

My Quarantine Diary, Part 1

Like the rest of you (I hope), I’ve been staying at home for the last seven weeks or so.

diary girl hand journal

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’m not getting much work done, but I’ve been tweeting a lot, and I realized today that many of these tweets–particularly the poems I write–read like diary entries. Looking back at the last several weeks of tweets, I can see the story of my quarantine. Maybe some of these episodes will remind you of yours?

I’d love it if you commented with a poem about your own quarantine, thus far.

The last “normal” day:

I’m trying to stay chipper in the face of the news. Continue reading

Writing Goals for 5780

It’s almost Rosh Hashanah, which means a new Jewish year is ahead. It’s a good time for me to do some “accounting” for my professional life, looking back at this past year and also planning for the next one.

person holding pen and planner

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

This past year, I’ve made over four dozen submissions (most of which were rejections). I got some personal rejections along with some of the form letters, several of which were encouraging. A few of the submissions are still pending–there’s nothing for me to do but pray and keep writing at this point.  Continue reading

Returning from a Series of Misadventures

I decided to post today and realized that I hadn’t posted in months! I’m still researching the book I reported researching in my last post, but in between then and now:

  • I attended a great conference hosted by the Association of Jewish Libraries. While there I got super exciting, top-secret news and then was told not to share it. (G-d-willing, I’ll be able to in a few months.)
  • I figured out I couldn’t do the necessary research on that YA novel because my kids were home for the summer. I decided to shove the rest of the research off till fall.
  • I got a wacky new idea for a Middle Grade novel and started writing it.
  • I broke my arm. (Yes, my dominant arm.)

    man carrying backpack

    Fun fact: When you break the radial head, you don’t actually get a cast. But it still hurts like heck. (Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com)

  • I finished writing that MG novel, largely through voice-to-text and typing help from my husband and eldest son.
  • I sent that MG book out to beta testers. (Thank G-d, they liked it, and I got a slew of useful suggestions to improve the book.)
  • I got a rejection letter from the one agent who had the full manuscript of my adult-audience novel.
  • The kids went back to school.
  • I attended a great writing conference in Fallbrook at the library there.
  • And now, because I got so many useful tips about my adult novel submission and my MG novel submission, I’m shoving off my YA novel research just a bit more. Hopefully, I’ll get to it in October, because my plan for the moment is to write that book during NaNoWriMo.

What did you get not get done this summer? What happened instead? What are your fall plans? I’d love to hear the answers to these questions!

Researching my next book!

While I’m deep in the querying process for my first adult novel and my first secular picture book, I’ve started to research my next book. I began with digging out some old interviews I did for an article I published about the Jewish experience of the Cold War, and have acquired some reading material which should help.

And now I’m doing interviews!

Since my university background is in anthropology, I spent quite a bit of time learning how to do interviews for research purposes. It’s a little different than interviewing for an article, because you ask many people similar questions, and then look for patterns and anomalies in those patterns. It took a couple interviews to get into the groove, but now I’m having a blast, and learning a bunch, too.

saint basil s cathedral

Photo by Julius Silver on Pexels.com

I love the way so many questions I ask lead to new questions, unexpected little journeys.

In case you are wondering, the topic I’m researching is living under Communism as a Jewish person. I’ve got many female respondents so far, and many people from Russia or the Ukraine. If you are Eastern European, from a Central Asian republic, or male, who was born before 1984 (so you have some memory from before the fall of the Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact), and you would like to be interviewed, email me at beccaklempner@gmail.com.

Want to Learn How to Write a Genuinely Helpful Book Review?

Someone pointed out to me that one of the reasons that people don’t write reviews is that they don’t know HOW to do so. And then another someone confessed she was interested in writing reviews, but didn’t know how.

So I made an infographic.

How to Write a useful book review

It’s a nice shape. If you printed it, you could probably make it into a nice bookmark. I tried to narrow it down to the most basic tips without overloading people.

Do you write book reviews? Do you find it hard? Easy? Do you have tips of your own? Share in comments.