Glixman Sales, Writing While Parenting, and Other Summertime Thoughts

I heard from the CEO of Menucha Publishers last week, and he says that while there are no official numbers yet, the sales of Glixman in a Fix are strong. I’m a bit frustrated because due to the timing (the U.S. release was just before Shavuos, and now my kids are all home from school), I can’t really spend the time and energy on promoting the book that I’d like.

Writing has been hard, too. I’ve tried to write in the early hours while my kids are still either asleep or curled up with a book, but everything is slow, slow, slow. Still, I managed to write a short essay last week, have added a bit to my novel-in-progress, and started a new short story yesterday.

I’m trying to remind myself that summertime brings all sorts of new and different experiences, especially with everyone home from school and no camp in sight. Hopefully, all those novelties will feed my writing once I have more time on my hands again. But I can’t help feeling frustrated.

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Writing Groups Run for Pay Are Useful…But Not the Same as No-Fee Writing Groups

After last week’s post, in which I explained how to set up and run writing critique groups and manuscript swaps, I got some feedback, and I’d like to address one of the issues that came up.

What to expect if you pay for a professionally-led writing group:

There are many writers/editors, who run critique groups for a fee – and I am among them. Usually, the organizer will do at least some of the recruitment for you, and they have genuine expertise. (Although I suggest you check on this – recently, I came upon a writer who offered advice – for a fee – to a person in a field of writing it turned out they knew nothing about. There’s nothing wrong with asking for a reference even if the person is a published writer of note. Not all writers know all fields of writing, and not all writers are good at running critique groups.) Good writing group leaders are familiar with the “writing group format” and may have a very gentle and efficient way of keeping participants on-task and well-behaved. They will often arrange the logistics of the location/conference call/whatever.

Interestingly, since participants usually pay in advance for a series of meetings, they are more likely to show up. I have a close friend who is a personal trainer, and she says her clients have the same attitude: If you pay in advance, you are more likely to show up, because you know your absence will cost you money, and yet you will get no benefit from that money. For a fledgling writer who really, really needs a fire lit under their tuchas to make them show up regularly for a writing group, this has a big advantage over a free model.

I know many, many people who have enjoyed and learned a lot in writing groups run by a paid professional. A really good writing-group-for-fee is worth the price you pay. However, I don’t classify them with lay-led, no-fee groups for a number of reasons. Examining these will help a writer decide which model will work best for them. Continue reading

Fan mail: the way to make an author’s heart go pitter-patter

I haven’t been posting much this month because I’ve been very, very busy. Thank G-d, in a good way. After failing to write any fiction for a couple months, I wrote three short stories – bang! bang! bang! – and a few teensy other projects besides.

I had the kids home with me on Friday because of the Mid-Winter Vacation many Jewish schools stick between semesters. I was a bit under the weather and had to shop AND cook for Shabbos because I’d been too tired after painting with the kids and taking them to a museum on Thursday to do the grocery shopping then, as I usually do.

The exhaustion! The squabbles! The noise! It was ugly.

And then I opened up Inyan magazine and saw this:

Fan mail for The Perfect Shabbos

Instantly, all was better.

2015 in hindsight

I usually review my professional year just before Rosh Hashanah, but when Erika Dreifus posted last week about Annette Gendler‘s “Artist and Writer’s Workbook,” she piqued my interest. I moseyed over to Annette’s site to acquire my copy (free download with sign-up to Annette’s newsletter). Today, I finally sat down to complete it.

On the financial front, it was a bit sobering. Continue reading

Posted by Anonymous

Okay, this is really not being posted by Anonymous. It’s plain ole me.

Writers live in the same world as the rest of you, which means we have to live with the people who read our work.

Yesterday Hevria began to post a series entitled “Truth And Dare.” The first post was by the outstanding writer, Chaya Kurtz. Entitled, “Backlash,” Chaya described the artistic desire to bare her opinions for all the world to see, but how when she did this, she suffered from the subsequent reactions that readers had. Today, sometimes she censors herself.

Anyway, it’s a fabulous post, and I recommend you read it, as well as the other pieces in the series.

When I commented on her post, a topic came up in the conversation I had with Chaya that has been on my mind lately — that being, is it right to publish anonymously or under a pseudonym? Continue reading

Sol Stein sold me on “The Actor’s Studio Method for Developing Drama in Plots”

Some of my regular readers might notice that my usual response to frustration in the midst of a writing project is to start borrowing writing books from the library and systematically going through them (in addition to eating chocolate, cleaning, and spending too much time on Facebook as an avoidance strategy).

stein on writing

A new favorite writing book, chock full of original, well-informed, and practical advice.

I’m two volumes into my current stack of five. The last couple of days, I’ve been reading Stein on Writing, written by novelist, playwright, and editor extraordinaire, Sol Stein. It’s not a new book, but it’s a classic, and I picked it up due to the acclaim.

I’m not done yet, but I’m just loving this book. It’s much more practical than most of the writing books I’ve read, which tend toward the touchy-feely, and after 50 pages of familiar (but articulate) ground (which I probably could use a review of anyway), Stein starts describing all sorts of new strategies for writers to employ.

My favorite one, thus far, is “The Actors Studio Method for Developing Drama in Plots.” Continue reading