All sorts of great news to share

Yes, I’ve been AWOL again. And yes, I have all the usual excuses. And I have news–lots of it!

  1. I’ve finally got a title for my new middle-grade novel, coming out, G-d willing, this fall: Adina at Her Best. Look for it in Menucha Publisher’s fall catalogue. I’m not sure that it will be out in time for Rosh Hashanah, but it should be available by Chanukah time.
  2. I finished the second draft of my first novel for adults, and I’m getting a lot of feedback from beta readers. It’s been rather harrowing — there’s lots and lots to fix. (I’ll admit to some public ugly-crying.) But hopefully this is another step pushing the book closer to completion.
  3. It might not all pay off, but two weeks ago, I sent off a picture book submission to an agent, an article submission to a Jewish magazine, and short story submission to a secular venue in a matter of four days: bam! bam! bam! The article was, thankfully, accepted, and I’m very excited. I’m very doubtful about the others–they are definite long-shots–but I’m proud of myself for pushing myself.
  4. One of my editing/coaching clients is now nearly done with the second volume in their series of picture books! They’ve been working hard for months, and I’m super-excited to see the reaction with the next book hits shelves.

I’m not getting much creative work done. It’s summer and the kids are all home from school. But I’ve been doing a bunch of editing and picked up another client for picture book coaching. Now I’ve just got to figure out how to get the mental space and time alone to revise my novel…

What are you up to this summer? Do you have more or less time for creative endeavors during the summer? And do you have any exciting news?

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New Edition of Mazal’s Luck Runs Out and more

As usual, my absence on this blog means I’ve been busy someplace else. While I’ve been getting feedback on the novel I finished a couple months back, and digesting it, I’ve been completing revisions for Menucha Publishing on the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo. (I’ve also been brainstorming new titles — the working title was unpopular, to say the least.) G-d-willing, that book will be out later this year. And I also revised and created a new cover for my book, Mazal’s Luck Runs Out. I decided the old one wasn’t engaging enough, so I put a girl on the cover who could pass for Mazal looking right at the viewer. I think it makes a big difference. What do you think? Mazal's new cover

And, of course, there was Purim…and Pesach.

Basically, it’s been busy.

Anyway, I’ve got some goals for the next few months. Continue reading

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.