Nice writerly things that have happened this week

On Sunday, we had a second ladies-only Open Mic night at my synagogue for women here in L.A. Despite it being Oscar Night, the evening of a big community bar mitzvah, and the height of cold season, we got a decent-sized crowd. Women's Open Mic FEB 2016

The participants were awesome. The youngest was in her twenties, I think, and the oldest was 68! The audience was just as diverse. More people I didn’t know already came this time, so I think that word-of-mouth is getting around. Continue reading

‘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

What does it take to get you writing? 5 things that get my tuchas in the chair when I don’t want to write

It didn’t even wait until Fall Back: I’ve been in the dragging, low-creativity state that usually hits me at this time of year for weeks already. It’s not really full-blown SAD, thank G-d, but it’s more a fog in which I feel low-energy and short on ideas. My mood’s okay, just kinda blah. I don’t feel like doing much except curl up with a book and eat chocolate and hang out with Mr. Klempner.

When this feeling first hit, the week after Sukkos, I had so many appointments (long delayed check-ups, for example) and errands I’d put off until after the holidays (new headbands, anyone?) that I didn’t have much time to sit down and write. But after a week or two, those things were taken care of, and I had time to sit at the computer.

Nothing doing. I felt limp. Sleepy. About as creative as a stone.

I’m still feeling that way this week, but today, I was shockingly productive. Why?

Because being a writer is about writing. And the number one way to write is to just stick your tush in the chair and do it.

5 Things That Get My Tuchas in the Chair When I Don’t Really Feel Like Writing: Continue reading

Why Endings So Often Disappoint Readers

I’ve posted about the difficulty of nailing an ending before. More than once, I’ve had to completely abandon the conclusion of my rough draft and write an entirely new ending. When I said in the title of this post that endings “disappoint,” I really wanted to use that word that Bart Simpson made popular in the late ’80s that some of my readers insist is almost as bad as actual profanity. I’ll refrain.

I’m thinking about endings because Continue reading

Results of an experiment: finding beta readers online from among fans vs in-person writing groups

A couple weeks back, I sent out a very short story I’d written a few days earlier to people who had signed up for my newsletter (you can sign up for that newsletter on my welcome page). I wanted some feedback, and I had more than a week until the next scheduled meeting of my writing group, so I decided to try something I’d heard other authors have done: generating beta readers from my mailing list and asking for feedback from them.

Here’s the results of my little experiment Continue reading