3 Tricks for magazine writers: How to write on a theme and still make your deadline

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Before you start to type, you might want to try one of these 3 things.

One of my writing jobs is penning teen and tween stories for Jewish magazines. Before getting this gig, I had to learn an important lesson: most kids’ magazines select one theme per issue, and they are only open to stories on those themes. That means you have to write what they want, when they want it–but you’ve got to still tap into your creativity to make your story fresh, fun, and readable.

NOTE:¬†Writing contests (although many are scams, there are plenty of legit ones) and classroom assignments frequently require that submissions/assignments include a specific topic or theme and have a deadline, as well. You don’t have to write for magazines to benefit from these 3 tips.

Sometimes, I get the heads-up on what story the editor wants on what theme a month in advance. But sometimes it’s a lot less. How do I come up with a story on short notice?¬† Continue reading

“Out of Town:” 1 sure-fire way to drive Jewish Angelenos crazy

I’ve long found myself annoyed with the expression that if an American Jew resides in New York, they live “in town,” but if they reside outside of New York (or maybe New Jersey), they live “out of town.” This is true even if they live in Chicago, Cleveland, or Baltimore–all of which have influential yeshivos–or if like me they live in L.A., home of the second-biggest Jewish population in the country.

It’s enough to make you want to scream. Even secular Jews are not immune to it…think of the stereotypical American Jew straight out of an episode of Seinfeld or a Woody Allen movie.
As a result of this lop-sidedness, I have tried to compensate. Any piece of fiction I’ve written that has a clear setting has taken place in either L.A. or Baltimore (my hometown)…unless it’s on another planet, which has happened twice, so far.
My eldest son, Aryeh always gets very excited reading about HIS hometown, and when I write a story set in L.A., he lets me know he approves loud and clear. Unfortunately, his disapproval can be just as vociferous. You see, my attitude has rubbed off on my son. Yesterday, he told me that he hated the library book I’d so carefully selected just for him. Why? “Because the author lives in Los Angeles, but he sets the story in New York.”
Lucky for us, he plans on being a writer (and rocket scientist, and automotive engineer, and world traveler….) himself. Expect lots of stories from him in about 15 years. They’ll all be set in L.A.