Fun Storytelling Project I Just Started

I kicked off my Pesach cleaning with a little not-strictly-necessary-for-Pesach file purging on Sunday. Once again, I was astonished by how many stories I have lying around unread after their initial publication. I decided to do something about it.

Opening a Soundcloud account, I chose four of my children’s stories, and read them aloud. Now there is downloadable audio of those stories on my Soundcloud account! You can listen to them in the car, at home, even in a waiting room. No story is longer than 10 minutes.

It’s been nearly 9 years since A Dozen Daisies for Raizy came out, and I’ve written several sequels which were never published or were published in a different form. My favorite of these is set at Passover time. It no longer stars Raizy, but I think young readers will enjoy it just the same. I decided to include this story – now titled “Bella’s Busy Day” – on my Soundcloud. You can listen to that story – for ages 4 to 6 – here.

When it came to choosing the other stories to read aloud, I selected three that have been requested by teachers and therapists in the past. They follow Chaim Mendel, a 14 year old Jewish boy with Asperger’s, and his friends. If you want to listen to Chaim Mendel’s adventures, I recommend you listen to them in the opposite order in which they appear on the Soundcloud page: 1) “The Gift of Giving,” 2) “Not So Far From the Tree,” and 3) “Team Thinking.” Those stories are perfect for kids 9 – 14.

A couple of weeks ago, someone asked me if I’d be willing to do audio for them, and I refused. I’m very self-conscious about my voice. Half the time, I sound like I’m mumbling (thanks to being from Baltimore, home of a very strange accent), and I tend to sound high-pitched when recorded. These recordings didn’t turn out too bad, and I figured it was a low-stress environment in which to share my voice with the public.

I plan to add other stories later – particularly as Sefirah follows Passover, and for some of us, that means we don’t listen to music. If you like the stories, please share the links and so on.

 

‘Tis the season for applications: 10 Essay Tips for Students Applying to College

Although I’m mostly known for my writing, I also do a bit of proofreading and editing. And the most common thing for me to proofread at this time of year is a college application essay.

Now, I’ve been looking at those essays for over twenty years – basically, since I was a high school senior myself. Back in the day, we had to type their final drafts onto our applications, of course.  typewriter

I’ve seen some wonderful college essays, and some terrible ones, in my time. I’m going to offer a few tips based on my experience. These tips apply to college application essays, but also to applications for scholarships, internships, and even many assignments.

I will not cover proofreading – which you can often get assistance with from a teacher, parent, or guidance counselor. If you proofread your own essays – and you should do so first, even if you are going to get help later – just make sure you wait at least a day or two after writing the essay to do the proofreading. Otherwise, you will likely not notice your errors.

TIPS FOR COLLEGE & SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION ESSAYS

Continue reading

Orthodox Women Talk: Roundtable about media consumption

OWTHi, everyone! I know I pretty much never post twice in a day, but I’m hosting this month’s Orthodox Women Talk. Our panelists include:

  • Tali Simon
  • Melissa Amster
  • Ruchi Koval
  • Rivki Silver
  • Keshet Starr
  • Estee Lavitt
  • and yours truly.

This month’s question is this:

How much do you engage in popular music, movies and other forms of entertainment? What factors have contributed to that choice?

Wow! We’ve got a lot of variety in responses. Let’s see what our roundtable panelists have to say... Continue reading

When you’re sorta on vacation…and sorta not

So, I’ve got a couple kids home with me this week, and two more will be home starting next week. I’ve been spending a lot of time with them doing all sorts of fun stuff — hiking, museum-hopping, long walks — and it’s nice to be doing things other than gazing into my computer screen.

Just when I’d cut back on my writing, the war in Israel started, and my brain’s been feeling a little overloaded by all the bad news. I kept feeling horrified by all the reports, and yet unable to pull myself away from a screen.

Everything in my head feels jumbled up at the moment. Writing has gotten hard for me lately in a way I’m not used to. I’m having problems getting the words to flow. It’s like my brain needs to detox.

This week, I’ve had to leave the computer behind for long stretches, and it will remain that way until September. The only work I will be doing is the most essential, mainly writing episodes of my serial and preparing rewrites requested by editors for already accepted pieces. I’m hoping the little break will help me snap back to normal.

When school resumes in the fall, I’m expecting to work almost full-time, writing. It will be the first time I work full-time at anything other than being a wife and mom since my first child was born. I feel like I need to rest in the coming weeks before this new phase of my life starts.

I’m hoping to spend a lot of time in the great outdoors, getting exercise, absorbing smells and scenery and sounds. I’m hoping to enjoy my family, just enjoy them, their company and special-ness. It’s like my creativity needs fuel, and the tank needs to be topped off.

I wish I could stop writing altogether for the rest of the summer, but with the serial looming over me, that’s going to be impossible. So, this vacation isn’t really a vacation. But at least it’s something.

 

4 Questions for author Tamar Ansh about her new Passover cookbook

I recently conversed via email with the enormously popular author, Tamar Ansh, about her new cookbook. Let My Children Cook! is her first cookbook for kids, and it tackles a particularly pertinent area of Kosher cuisine for this time of year: Passover.

ansh book cover

Tamar Ansh’s latest cookbook, out in time for Passover!

4 Questions:

Rebecca:

What made you want to write a cookbook for children this time? And why specifically one for Passover?

Tamar:

For this book, Let My Children Cook!, Hashem sent me the inspiration from a totally unexpected angle. Continue reading

My thoughts on Tablet’s article “Do Jewish Children’s Books Have a Problem with Gender?”

Emily Sigalow, in Tablet this week, published an article entitled “Do Jewish Children’s Books Have a Problem with Gender?”

While she does make one point I agree with, that awards committee’s tend to favor Jewish picture books with male lead characters and that the females tend to be engaged in traditional roles, she seems to learn from that that Jewish children’s books as a whole have a problem.

I have to disagree with the overall picture Sigalow paints, though.

You can see my comments on the article if you visit Tablet (scroll to the bottom of the page), but I’d like to make a few more thoughts.

Jewish children’s books do have problems. Actually, many secular books have the same problems. Continue reading