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.

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A Copyeditor’s Rant

During my disappearance from this blog, I spent a lot of my time proofreading, editing, and copyediting.

First, while people tend to use the terms interchangeably:

  • A proofreader checks text for syntax, spelling, punctuation, and other similar errors and corrects them.
  • An editor may do the above, but also will consider the content of the piece, the order of sentences, meaning, style, how the author addresses the audience, and other, deeper issues.
  • A copyeditor deals with text intended for publication – for instance, in a magazine or a book, proofreads it, checks it for accuracy (for instance, are the names of sources spelled correctly?), and then formats the material according to the “house style” of the publisher.

As you can see, each job has slightly different responsibilities. Mostly, I’ve been copyediting the local publication I mentioned in earlier blog posts. In general, I love the job. The hours are flexible (so I’m free to take care of sick kids or errands), and I get to make other writers look good. I’ve developed great working relationships with several of the columnists, thank G-d.

But there are also annoyances. And – without naming names – I’m going to tell you about some of them, because many of the people who read this blog are also writers, and those who aren’t may still be in a position where they have to write something for public consumption. A little awareness about common issues might prove helpful to you.

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Pesach Magazine CRAZINESS!

It looks like I’m not just in one Jewish magazine this Pesach, not in two…IY”H, I’ll be in FOUR. That’s right:

  • You’ll find a sci-fi tale in the Hamodia Story Supplement.
  • You’ll find another short story in Binah‘s main magazine.
  • I have a short story also in The Jewish Press, out today.
  • And, lastly, an article in The Jewish Home – L.A. about cheap activities in Southern California for the intermediate days of Passover.

I’m a little verklempt. And busy. I’ll tell y’all more about the stories another time, when I’m not cooking and have no kids home on vacation. (A couple of the stories have interesting backstories.) If you read any of my stories, and want to give me feedback, just comment below.

And have a chag kasher v’sameach!

They loved it, they hated it: Feedback on my story from Binah’s Sukkos Supplement, “From the Furthest Reaches of the Heavens”

I have emerged from the semi-hibernation of Sukkos (if you can call a holiday that involved cooking 10 fancy meals – many with with guests – hibernation) and am looking forward to a week chock full of work. I’ve got a personal essay to write for one of the sites I frequent, another to revise for a literary journal, and spent most of today editing. That’s on top of some work I want to do on one of my ongoing projects. And did I mention I still have to market the two books I recently self-published?

Earth on 1967-11-09, as seen from Apollo 4.

But I’d like to take a moment to look back on the story I published in Binah Magazine’s Vistas story supplement, “From the Furthest Reaches of the Heavens.”

SUMMARY

In case you haven’t read the story (and I’m assuming many of my blog readers haven’t), I’ll summarize it: Continue reading

A Tribute to My Favorite Uncles

Looking for some Shabbos/weekend reading?

I’ve got a new story in this week’s Inyan Magazine, inside Hamodia (dated August 26, 2015). The story is called “The Favorite Uncle,” and it’s a sorta reversal of real-life situations between my kids and their beloved uncles, as well as a paean to my own awesome uncles, Ira and Larry.

Synopsis: 11 year-old Alex Silverstein’s favorite uncle frums out (becomes Orthodox), and Alex is not amused.

I’d love feedback from anyone who reads the story!

I also thought this would be a great opportunity to answer a question I’ve been getting a lot lately, included from professional (non-fiction) writers:

How do you write a short story?

Usually, the first step for me is Continue reading

Sometimes it pays to be a fan…

Last week, The Jewish Home L.A. published an article I wrote about Hevria, an online lit mag/blog that I’ve loved from its first post last summer.

One day, after contemplating how much I would like to see Hevria’s message of Torah and non-judgmental discourse spread, and thinking about how fun it would be to write about its writers, I pitched an article based on the website to The Jewish Home L.A.‘s editor. Since the publication is based in L.A., I focused on the website’s contributors who live in the L.A. area. The pitch got accepted, and now the article is hopefully being read by many people.

I guess sometimes it pays to be a fan. In the past, I’ve written book reviews of works by writers whose books I love, and I’ve written stories based on my hobbies and interests. Sometimes, researching articles can be a chore, but when you’re writing about something you love, it’s a pleasure. And then when it’s time to write, the words simply bubble up with enthusiasm.

I’m definitely going to be exploring more of my favorite things in future magazine pitches.

I can’t help but think that there’s a secondary message here: Recently, I’ve been mired down in a project for which my initial enthusiasm has waned. Maybe I need to introduce something new into the project which I’m actually interested in writing about.

Have any writers out there published articles based on one of your “favorite things?”

Do you think it helps/hurts your writing, makes it harder/easier?

And have you tried to draw on your hobbies or interests in order to liven up a project that you need to complete, but which you’re no longer excited about?