Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Storytelling is for Always

When I was one year old, my mother and I flew from Israel to the United States because her father, my grandfather whom I never met, had just died. My father stayed behind, and our stay in Florida, which was supposed to be short, lasted nine months.
It would be a foreshadowing of my parents eventual divorce, when I was seven. But for a time, it was an extended separation.

When we left, I spoke in two-word sentences in Hebrew. When we returned, I spoke fluently, and in English, a language my father barely knew. But my father understood the very first thing I said to him when he greeted us at the port of Haifa, where our ship had docked. He told me about this meeting many times. He said I looked at him, took his hand and said, “Daddy, tell me a story.

I forgot whatever English I knew not long after. I would learn it (or re-learn) some years later in school, as a second language. But I knew this sentence because in re-telling my father always said it in English.

Tell me a story. No matter what or where, no matter how or whom. There are always the stories and the storytellers who tell them.

📚~Keep telling stories~📚

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Repeat Questions on Writers’ internet Forums

I belong to three writers’ forums and five more writerly groups on Facebook. Many have multi-published veterans who participate. Almost all have many more newbies, and the questions they ask are surprisingly similar.

Why “surprisingly”? Because a simple search or quiet observation for a short amount of time would have given the answers to most.

Here are some questions I see over and over (and over and over)😦. There are different opinions as to the “right” answers, but I’ll give mine here because they reflect a general consensus, some experience, and this is my blog, after all 😜

*Should you nudge an agent who has had your unsolicited submission for a while?
Basically, no. You’ll be adding to their bursting Inbox. Let them know you have an offer from another when you do. That’s all the nudging that makes sense.

*Should you send the latest revision to all the agents who have yet to reply to your unsolicited submission, since you made changes you are excited about?
Basically, no. Unless the changes are vast and make a story unrecognizable, you will be making changes many times after feedback and spontaneous brainstorms. No agent is thrilled to know you sent him or her something that you hadn’t already vetted and polished before approaching them.

*Should you mention to an agent that you got another’s full request?
Basically, no. A full request shows interest, but most do not lead to offers. Only offers are possibly relevant to an agent.

*Should you mention how much another much-lauded writer praised the manuscript at a critique session? How much your critique group loved it?
Certainly not. And don’t mention your kids’ approval or your mother’s, if you’re lucky enough to have such a family.

The thing is, unsolicited queries require only one thing—

that you wait patiently, keep querying others, and don’t reveal your inner fretting as you move forward to, hopefully, an offer you are happy to accept.

And after that, it’s your agent who gets to wait on editors’ responses.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020


The other day, a writing friend said it was hard for him to write to an unknown future.

I offered that the future, by definition, is unknown.

“But with all that is going on, it’s hard to plan,” he said.


My suggestion, which is also what I do, is plan anyway.

There’s a paraphrasing of an old Islamic Hadith, said by Martin Luther King Jr., “Even if I knew the world is going to end tomorrow, I would plant a tree."

Works for me.

What does this mean in real life context? I’m writing, while making sure we have enough toilet paper for the next who-knows-what. I can’t plan for every shortage, so if the next one will center on hairnets, tea or open-toe sandals, I may not have a sufficient stash. But I will have toilet paper, and also writing paper, and enough sense to know that there’s never a better time to plant a tree.


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The Last Few Months

A writer friend reminded me that as different as these last few months have been, for many of us they were more the same as the pre-pandemic world.

Because books are books, and stories are stories, and the things that matter are very much the same.

But the publishing world is trying to access what is different, not what is as before. As they do so, those of us who want to be published are swinging in the breeze of changing winds.

To that end, I’d love to hear from others. Have you found that you are reading/watching differently? Have your book-buying habits changed? If you could rule the publishing world, what do you wish you could find on virtual shelves?

Maybe the most surprising thing, for me, is that at the height of the rapid closures and public tension I found it hard to focus on reading or writing original stories. But shortly after, (shortly here means about eight weeks) the ability to be a reader and also a writer returned with aplomb. What about you?

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Facebook Friendships et al

Most of my Facebook friends are colleagues, and most are not people I have met in real life. I especially enjoy the artists/illustrators posting their wonderful work and the kid-lit writers who post well-worded witty status reports. I know of them, but this is not the same as knowing them.

Facebook has been a miraculous connector to people from my past, half a world away. It’s been the most convenient way to message my kiddos, also half a world away. Maybe 20% of my Facebook friends are people I have met outside of the virtual space, and I designated them as “close friends” per Facebook lingo, as opposed to “Acquaintances.”

I get friend requests almost every day. It used to be enough that we had many friends in common (always kid-lit related) and I could find something about them on the internet to verify they were the real deal. But I have learned that isn’t enough, through some less than positive experiences.

So, if you want to friend someone, may I suggest that –

A.    You have a photo of your face (not a flower or your dog) as your profile picture
B.     You make sure to have a banner photo, not a black hole, and hopefully your banner is personal
C.     You are not selling “Author Services” or “Life Coaching,” because this is essentially spam even if you are a real person doing this one friend request click at a time. I’m not arguing with colleague friends who approve these sorts of friend-requests, (as I can see on the request that we have hundreds of friends in common) but it’s not for me, thank you

Otherwise, I look and carefully approve individuals who in some way may contribute to the life of my Facebook community, and I love hearing about the many blessing (as well as join in the struggles) shared on the site. 
I have come to value what Facebook offers.

P.S. The banner^ is a screenshot of the old "classic" Facebook formatting, which I prefer for not putting my face at the center. Alas, like everyone else, we've been switched to the new and improved (?🙀?) header. But this will serve as a memorial to what was 😿