The Ups and Downs of Writing Life

I was feeling a little cranky earlier today. Okay–more than a little. I’ve hit the point in a particular revision which I’m working on when I have to start writing new material, not just tidying up what was previously written. And I found out this morning that a program which wants to reprint one of my books will be doing so *at least* another year in the future (I was informed I’d made their list a year ago). The program comes with a stipend for authors, and I would love to receive my cash sooner rather than later.

So, yeah, feeling demoralized.

Anyway, last week, I’d noticed that the sales of my first book, A Dozen Daisies for Raizy, had gone up. The book takes place on the day before the holiday of Shavuos, which I figured was boosting sales. I also tried to work a little social media muscle to make sure people knew the book was back in print and how to reach it. I decided at about noon today to check where sales are at THIS week. Continue reading

It’s the week of Shavuos!

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 of help.  This year I gave the girls the attached pages to fill in during check out time–one even suggested that you could send them to Hashem, but another was sure that Hashem can make His own flowers.

Here’s a copy of the handout she used. Feel free to borrow it, but give credit to Davida, okay?
Regular Binah and Inyan writer Rochel Burstyn says of Raizy:
I worked a few years ago in a playgroup and it was one of the kiddies’ favorite and the only ‘long’ one I could sit through!
Another fan of Raizy, Chani Fischman, wrote me to say:[m]y daughter has brought your book, A Dozen Daisies for Raizy, home from her school library a few times and we’ve enjoyed reading it together at bedtime. I like the fact that 1. The book is not too wordy (I hate wordy children’s books) 2. The pictures are vivid. 3. Subtraction becomes so clear to children without them realizing that they are actually doing a mathematical operation.

Last year, I gave out a couple craft ideas to create daisies for Shavuos following a school visit I did here in L.A. Here are a few more last-minute ideas, with an emphasis on projects that are particularly kid-friendly and can be done mostly with stuff you can find around the house:

daisy craft

Recycled kid’s project for Shavuos.

Have a great holiday everyone!

It’s less than 3 weeks ’til Shavuot and it’s been 5 years of Raizy!

It’s the 5th anniversary of my picture book about Shavuos, A Dozen Daisies for Raizy, and I’d like to learn from teachers and librarians what activities they’ve used with the book and how their kids have responded to it. If you have pix of art projects or the like, that’s even better!

You can respond to me in the comments below or privately at

Counting down (or is it up?) ’til Shavuos

This time of year is always a little interesting for me, since my one-and-so-far-only (yes, I’m still whining about that) book is seasonal, as it is set on erev Shavuos. I read my book at synagogue, have friends and acquaintances purchase it, do a school visit…that type of thing.

There aren’t many Shavuos books out there, which is one of the reasons I wrote the book. When A Dozen Daisies for Raizy finally came out (I think it holds the publisher’s record for longest stretch from manuscript sale to publication), it came out the same year as the Shavuot book in the Sammy Spider series. My first thought was “Oy!” but others told me that people about to purchase Sammy Spider (a very well-known commodity) might see my Shavuos book and then either buy mine instead or as well. I felt a little better.
Then, reviews started trickling in. Most of mine were good or at least okay–the kids, parents, teachers and librarians who’ve spoken to me have been much more enthusiastic–but there was ONE review that was SO BAD I wanted to cry. And when A Dozen Daisies for Raizy became available through Amazon, that was the review posted on the page for the book, because it was from the most prestigious source.
One of the things that was most hurtful was that the person who wrote the review compared my book unfavorably to another book, A Mountain of Blintzes.
Buy this book
This was like turning to your kid and saying, “You’re terrible, but your big sister…she’s terrific.” Right to her face.
The thing is…I really like A Mountain of Blintzes! But I almost couldn’t, because of the hurtfulness of the reviewer’s words. It’s the tragedy of saying Onaas HaDevarim (hurtful speech prohibited by the Torah). My anger at the reviewer almost carried over to anger against Barbara Diamond Goldin (author of …Blintzes) who I’m sure had NOTHING to do with the aforementioned hurtful statement.
Thankfully, I’m pretty much over this whole episode now. I’m actually sad for Barbara Diamond Goldin, because her funny, lovely book is tragically out of print. You can still find it in libraries and through online booksellers who deal in out-of-print merchandise. I urge you to borrow or purchase it during the upcoming holiday season.
And if you can borrow or buy A Dozen Daisies for Raizy, too…that’s even better.

In the beginning…

…there was a rejection letter. O.K., lots of rejection letters. I’ve published one children’s book (A Dozen Daisies for Raizy in 2008) and have spent years trying to sell another, unsuccessfully. After spending so much time writing and rewriting and workshopping my stories, I couldn’t just toss them out with the garbage. What should I do with them? Serialize and post on the web!

In this blog you’ll get daily (well, more likely twice-weekly) installments of stories. Most of the stories will have Jewish content and characters, but not all will. Some might be better than others. Feedback is always welcome.