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.

More from Gardner’s On Moral Fiction

In my last post about On Moral Fiction, I went over the first couple chapters of the book. If you are lost by what follows, you can go back and read that post to catch up before continuing.

596242When someone hears the words “moral fiction,” or “moral art,” a person might wonder how to define morality. According to John Gardner, “moral” does not equal “not too blatantly immoral.” It can’t be simple, and it can’t be forced upon artists. Continue reading

What I’m Reading Right Now: On Moral Fiction

A while back, EriOn Moral Fictionka Dreifus had recommended John Gardner’s On Moral Fiction, a slim volume dedicated to writing and literary criticism from the POV that an artist has a moral responsibility to their audience, and that art criticism should in part address how well the creator of a work of art has met that responsibility. The book dates from 1978, and it’s amazing how well it (thus far in my reading) stands up over time.

I’m only about three chapters in, and what strikes me most Continue reading

A classic or a shonda: Which pieces of literature stand the test of time?

Earlier today, I was listening to an audio recording of some Beatrix Potter stories. My children and I laughed over the surreal adventures of little Lucy in “Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle” and the slapstick of “Two Bad Mice.” The stories are about a hundred years old now, I believe, and they’ve stood the test of time very well.

A failure in my sister’s home.

My kids and I often read classics, and sometimes we recommend titles to friends and family looking for a good read. Not too long ago, I recommended “Little House” books to my sister. Specifically, I suggested she start with Farmer Boy, which my children think is nearly as funny as a Beverly Cleary book. The scene where Almanzo feeds his pig home-made candy is one of the few literary moments that have made my kids laugh as hard as Ramona’s antics.

So, my sister and brother-in-law picked up a copy to read with one of their kids. A few days later, I got a phone call from my sister.

“What were you thinking?” she asked. Continue reading

You’ve got to be a reader to raise a reader: My take on recent research on teens and reading

Common Sense Media recently issued a report about kids and teens and their reading habits. The four principal findings (I’m going to quote CSN directly) were these:

  1. Reading rates have dropped precipitously among adolescents.
  2. Reading achievement among older teens has stagnated.
  3. There’s a persistent gap in reading scores between white, black, and Latino kids.
  4. There’s also a gender gap in reading across ages.

The NY Times and NPR are both aghast at the findings, but their responses focused more on the problem — and how it has arisen — than on solutions. Common Sense Media itself has offered several strategies to increase reading, but I’m going to suggest my own. Continue reading

Passover looming ahead: Not quite panicking yet

Due to the onslaught of housework, etc., that Pesach entails, as well as some nifty work assignments, I’ll be posting less for the next month or so. However, I do want to share with my readers several bits of good news: Continue reading