Mid-Week Field Notes–September 15, 2021

Some very quick things:

  1. Feedback from my agent about my new YA novel in verse book proposal conflicts with what my editor and I have discussed. I have more comparative titles to read and I’m going to sound out my editor again.
  2. The semester’s teaching load and other academic projects, not including my dissertation, are already creating an imbalanced life. I’ll be ruminating on this over Yom Kippur.
  3. Now reading Judy Batalion’s The Light of Days. I’ve assigned it to my Holocaust Resistance & Rescue class at The College of New Jersey.

Shana tova! And to those of you who fast on Yom Kippur, may it be an easy one.

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Mid-Week Field Notes–September 8, 2021 (Delayed)

Some very quick things:

  1. I’m giving a Zoom reading on Saturday, September 11, of my middle-grade novel in verse, 37 Days at Sea. Here’s a Facebook link to the event. Hope you can join us!
  2. I completed my proposal for the new YA novel in verse and it’s now with my agent.
  3. The semester is off and running. I wonder how much time I’ll be able to give to creative writing. I have to give first priority to my dissertation.

Shana tova! And to those of you who fast on Yom Kippur, may it be an easy one.

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Mid-Week Field Notes–September 1, 2021

Some quick things:

  1. I’m looking forward to Labor Day weekend and self-isolation to work on my new novel-in-verse book proposal. I need to work on some new poems and lay out the annotated outline. What a pleasure it will be to write creatively!
  2. I’m back on campus starting tomorrow. I’m teaching five courses at four schools this semester: America & the Holocaust and Resistance and Rescue during the Nazi Regime at The College of New Jersey; English Comp II at Mercer County Community College; Professional Writing & Business Communication for the MA in Nonprofit Management program at Gratz College; and Family History at William Paterson University’s new online university for adult learners, WPOnline.
  3. Head’s up: The Mercer Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Education Center will be offering programs this fall on Holocaust Art as Resistance (Oct. 5, noon ET via Zoom), Part II of The History of Genocide in Cinema (Oct. 28, 6 pm ET via Zoom), Remembering Kristallnacht–a Memoir by Fred Behrendt (Nov. 10, 7 pm ET via Zoom), and Lemkin, UN Declaration of Human Rights and the Courts (Dec. 8, 7 pm ET via Zoom). More details to come! If you’d like to be on our mailing list, please either reply to this post or send a note to me at krasnerb(at)mccc(dot)edu.

Shana tova! Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year!

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Two-in-One Author’s Notebook | Hannah G. Solomon Dared to Make a Difference with Author Bonnie Lindauer and Illustrator Sofia Moore

Lindauer, Bonnie. Hannah G. Solomon Dared to Make a Difference. Illustrated by Sofia Moore. Minneapolis: Kar-Ben, 2021.

The Whole Megillah (TWM): Welcome, Bonnie Lindauer and Sofia Moore! Bonnie, let’s start with you. What inspired you to write about Hannah G. Solomon?
Bonnie Lindauer (BL): As a member of the San Francisco section of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), I’ve attended over several years the awards luncheon and listened to the accomplishments recited for each year’s winner of the Hannah G. Solomon award. The service to their communities that these women provide is truly amazing. I am so impressed by how the NCJW promotes and supports the social justice work that it does. Also, after I read a history of our SF section, I became more and more interested in the life of our founder, Hannah G. Solomon.

TWM: What were your greatest challenges in writing this book?
BL: The greatest challenge for me was having too much information about Hannah’s life and having to find ways to present only the most salient parts for children. I revised the manuscript at least seven times, each time cutting out sections and reorganizing it.

TWM: What were your greatest satisfactions?
BL: I suppose the greatest of all was having the manuscript accepted by Joni Sussman of Kar-Ben Publishing. But my elation about having it accepted soon faced the reality of still needing to do a bit more revising. Tied for the greatest satisfaction was seeing how the manuscript came to life with the sketches, and later, stunning illustrations by Sofia Moore. Finally, I continue to get satisfaction from readers who tell me they so enjoy the book, especially my NCJW colleagues who are so happy to finally have a book published about their founder. Now, the way is paved for someone to write an adult biography of Hannah G. Solomon.

Author Bonnie Lindauer

TWM: Please describe your research process.
BL: As a retired academic research librarian, I’m sometimes disadvantaged by researching and collecting too much information. For this book, I was so fortunate to find her autobiography freely available on the web. Her autobiography is very detailed and gave me a sense of her personality and motivation. I highlighted sections of it that I knew I wanted to have in my book and took notes. I’m aware that sometimes a person writing an autobiography much later in life (she wrote it when she was 85), may not recall as precisely, or may have a different perspective on an earlier period, so I consulted other sources, primarily from the Jewish Women’s Archive and several magazine articles about her. I also researched the history of Chicago during the period she lived and was most active. I recall how helpful was a source I found about what it was like for immigrants living in the shoddy, poor section of Chicago where Hannah and other women from NCJW provided services. I was somewhat disappointed that the editorial staff at Kar-Ben did not include my selected list of sources in the back matter.

TWM: Who inspires you to write? Who do you like to read?
I guess I inspire myself to write because I have such a long list of ideas for books. I so much love reading picture books and middle-grade novels that I find myself somewhat driven to write. It’s been a slow process over eight years to learn more about writing for young children. I still struggle with finding my voice.

I read fiction and non-fiction picture books and middle grade novels, along with adult fiction and non-fiction. Some of the children’s writers I most admire are Deborah Underwood, Mo Willems, Lisa Wheeler, Melissa Stewart, Samantha Berger, and Julie Fogilano. For adult fiction and non-fiction, I’m very eclectic and don’t really have very many favorite authors, although I do admire and read the work of Sholem Aleichem, Philip Roth, Michael Chabon, Alice Hoffman, Cynthia Ozick, and Nathan Englander.

TWM: What’s next for you?
BL: I’m working on a children’s graphic novel and also picture book biography of Laura Margolis, known as the “savior of Shanghai.” She was an adventurous social worker for the Joint Distribution Committee pre- and post-World War II. She was instrumental in saving the lives of thousands of Jewish refugees in Shanghai during WW II, as well as serving in several European locations. She was part of two historic events — the MS St. Louis ship turned away from landing in Cuba with nearly1,000 European Jews and the 1947 Exodus ship turned away from landing in Haifa. I’m also working on polishing several narrative non-fiction picture books.

TWM: Thanks so much, Bonnie! Now, let’s turn to illustrator Sofia Moore. What strategies did you use to translate Bonnie’s text to illustration?
Sofia Moore (SM):
Because this book is a biography I wanted the illustrations look as a continuation of the narrative with the ability to show important historical details. The research part was the most fun for me, I loved looking for the period fashion, architecture and details of Hanna’s everyday life. Bonnie did a great job pacing the story the way it was easy for me to start imagining how the images would follow the text and what should be in focus on each page.

TWM: What medium did you use?
I painted on paper using ink and acrylic paints and then finished in Photoshop, adding small details and adjusting colors.

Illustrator Sofia Moore

TWM: How did you decide on illustration placement?
The placement was given to me by an art director in most cases, but when I had something different in mind, the team that worked with me was very flexible and
I had freedom to make changes.

TWM: Please describe your research process.
I created a Pinterest board where I collected images of late 1800s Chicago, architecture, clothing details, photographs of immigrant families of that time. Great source of
information came from Hannah’s autobiography, The Fabric of My Life, that I found online and gave me so many ideas of how to illustrate Hannah for children. Her big loving family,
passion to help other people, her strong leadership nature was great inspiration.

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#52snapshots–Week 35

Because I’ve been working on my doctoral dissertation in these last few days before the fall semester, I’ve not really written anything creatively. I received a rejection of my Avram Mendel piece this morning after submitting to that journal fourteen days ago. But during a night of insomnia, I began thinking about this genealogical memoir work as a whole, which pieces fit and which don’t. I came to the conclusion that maybe all the pieces about my father’s mother belong in one book according to my original 2015 book proposal plan, and that the #52snapshots belong elsewhere.

I have no writing sessions this week and am holing myself up over the Labor Day holiday weekend to work on my new novel in verse’s book proposal, which necessitates several new poems. But I know what they need to be, and I don’t think I need prompts for them.

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Mid-Week Field Notes–August 25, 2021

Some quick things:

  1. I’m in the second week of isolation to write at least part of my dissertation. About a third of it will go to my advisor and a mentor after Yom Kippur for review. The insights I’m gaining are just amazing. If you haven’t yet read the first children’s book about the Holocaust, written in Yiddish in 1938, published by a Yiddish press in New York in 1940, and only just translated into English in 2006, please read Emil and Karl by Yankev Glatshteyn.
  2. I’m planning more days of self-isolation over Labor Day weekend to work on the book proposal for my new novel in verse. As always, I’m leaning into Amherst Writers & Artists to write the sample poems, including sonnets, ghazals, and villanelles. I’ve devised a poetic strategy for narrating members of the German-American Bund and for campers at New Jersey’s Camp Nordland, run by an auxiliary organization of the Bund.
  3. Head’s up: The Mercer Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Education Center will be offering programs this fall on Holocaust Art as Resistance (Oct. 5, noon ET via Zoom), Part II of The History of Genocide in Cinema (Oct. 28, 6 pm ET via Zoom), Remembering Kristallnacht–a Memoir by Fred Behrendt (Nov. 10, 7 pm ET via Zoom), and Lemkin, UN Declaration of Human Rights and the Courts (Dec. 8, 7 pm ET via Zoom). More details to come!

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#52snapshots–Week 34

Last week I heard back from the National Archives through my Freedom of Information Act request: no documentation available about the detention of my great-grandparents Krasner at Ellis Island in May 1901. I did not write anything new or revise any #52snapshot essays. That will likely have to wait until the fall semester gets underway.

What I have been working on is my doctoral dissertation, a slow and painful process.

I have two Amherst Writers & Authors sessions this week. I’ll just follow the prompts and see what emerges. I’ve been writing poems for my new novel-in-verse’s book proposal, which my editor wants to see in September. More about that forthcoming in this week’s Mid-Week Fieldnotes.

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Mid-Week Field Notes–August 18, 2021

Some quick things:

  1. Copyedits on my bio in verse, Ethel’s Song: Ethel Rosenberg’s Life in Poems (Calkins Creek, Fall 2022) are now complete. Onward! I hope to be able to share the cover with you in the next few weeks.
  2. I am getting poetic inspiration from The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux and wrote a villanelle (one of my favorite forms) last night. Also reading Dana Gioia’s Studying with Miss Bishop and Theodore Roethke’s On Poetry and Craft.
  3. I’m also hard at work on my dissertation about children’s Holocaust books, as I vehemently disagree with Marjorie Ingall’s July 8 New York Times take on such books and I have the numbers to prove she’s wrong. For instance, seven hundred books were published about the Holocaust for children and young adults between 1952 and 2020. No more than 30 books were published in one year, not including self-published and educational series titles. That’s hardly market saturation.

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#52snapshots–Week 33

Last week I did some generative writing about the clothes I made during high school and after college. I started making field notes in Evernote to capture sewing-related word lists and a list of all the outfits I could remember.

I sent out my Avram Mendel essay to one publication. It looks like many literary journals will open up for submissions on September 1, so I’m going to hold off on sending out this essay and the one about Esther Toby until then.

Last week I also took my rough draft essay about my paternal great-grandfather, Morduch Krasner, through Throughlines. I found some hiding spots where I could delve more deeply, including how he, my great-grandmother Bryna, and great-aunt Bessie were held overnight for special inquiry because they arrived with no money. I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the National Archives for any documentation about this. I received awesome help from the Tracing the Tribe facebook group. Another hiding spot is the “pillbox” yarmulka he wore in the 1912 family portrait taken in Newark, New Jersey. Does anyone know more about this style of yarmulka?

Photo courtesy of Pam Weitzel

This Week

I only have one, maybe two, Amherst Writers & Authors sessions this week. I’ll just follow the prompts and see what emerges.

Happy Writing!

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Mid-Week Field Notes–August 11, 2021

Some quick things:

  1. I am now using Evernote to capture my field notes about works in progress. These notes contain key words, submission ideas, and insights about the writing so far or what I want it to be.
  2. I am upping my game on being a good literary citizen by continuing to patronize small literary presses. I read two books of poetry last night (loved Sondra Gash’s Silk Elegy published by CavanKerry Press in 2002) and two more books are on the way. The Gash book will serve as a mentor text of sorts for a new memoir work in progress about sewing.
  3. I’ve been sharing my #52snapshots with one of my sisters and she’s told me I’ve inspired her to write for her community’s newspaper.

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