Mid-Week Notes

Three quick things this week:

  1. The Amherst Writers online memoir retreat group has now become a biweekly, self-led group. I’m looking forward to plowing memories and genealogical research. We start in September. Sadly, AWA’s beloved founder and author of Writing Alone and with Others, Pat Schneider, passed away on August 10.
  2. I have a new book for hire to write for an educational company. More news on that after we sign the contract. The book will tie together the Holocaust and ghetto archives.
  3. If any of you have sent your work out into the market during this COVID period, know that both agents and editors are swamped with submissions. Please be patient.

Continue to be safe, wherever you are.

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August 2020 Jewish Book Carnival

The Whole Megillah is pleased to once again host the monthly Jewish Book Carnival!

 

 

 

 

Here are this month’s links:

  • On The Book of Life Podcast, Heidi Rabinowitz interviews the cofounder of the Jewish Grandparents Network about how families can stay connected under quarantine, and plays the entire audiobook of Bubbe & Zaide by Anne-Marie Asner, voiced by Anne-Marie and Ed Asner!
  • Also on The Book of Life Podcast, Heidi Rabinowitz interviews Tziporah Cohen about her debut Jewish middle grade novel No Vacancy, a story of friendship across boundaries, the importance of community in fighting prejudice… and a Virgin Mary sighting.
  • On her blog, Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb, Deborah recently interviewed Barbara Diamond Goldin about her children’s picture book, A Persian Princess.
  • Julie Gray has written for several publications, including The Huffington PostMoment Magazine, and The Times of Israel. Heidi Slowinski recently had the pleasure of interviewing her about her most recent book, The True Adventures of Gidon Lev, which shares the story of her friend and Holocaust survivor, Gidon Lev.
  • The Sydney Taylor Shmooze is a mock award blog for the Association of Jewish Libraries’ children’s literature prize. Read a review of The Boy Who Thought Outside the Box: The Story of Video Game Inventor Ralph Baer.
  • “Conference Second Chance:” The Association of Jewish Libraries held its annual conference digitally this year. ALL conference recordings are available for a mere $36.
  • Over on the My Machberet blog, Erika Dreifus posted some reflections on and recommendations of Jewish short stories.
  • Reuven Chaim Klein reports a review of Rabbi Berel Wein’s new book at the Rachack Review.
  • Batya on Shiloh Musings  posted Tikkun Olam: ISRAEL VS COVID 19, Book Review, about a very up-to-date book: how Israel has managed to fight COVID 19 with high tech weapons, a modern small David against Goliath, competing with the largest and richest countries in the world.
  • And finally, on The Whole Megillah, Barbara Krasner interviews Laurie Wallmark about her picture book biography, Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor.

 

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Mid-Week Notes

Three quick things this week:

  1. Reminder: My short story, “The Last Survivor,” will be featured in a public reading on August 18, 7 pm EDT, hosted by Press 53. The story about the last Holocaust survivor who returns to Prague to be featured in a documentary, was published in the anthology, Everywhere Stories, Volume III, in 2018 after its initial 2016 publication by Lilith. Here’s the link to register for this free event.
  2. I spent two days in an Amherst Writers & Artists online memoir retreat. What a wonderful opportunity to write together with wonderful voices while I continue to mine my own memories. Still working on my #genealogicalmemoir that may take another couple of years because of COVID-19 and inability to travel to the Old Country. A friend recommended Esther Safran Foer’s I Want You to Know We’re Still Here. I’m reading it as inspiration. I marvel as how the Yiddish “Mir zaynen do” (we’re here) becomes a mantra of Holocaust survival in song lyrics and book titles.
  3. I have two projects going to acquisitions. It’s tough knowing exactly when the committee meets–and then you hear nothing. Is it bad news? That’s what I’m thinking.

Continue to be safe, wherever you are.

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Mid-Week Notes

Three quick things this week:

  1. My short story, “The Last Survivor,” will be featured in a public reading on August 18, 7 pm EDT, hosted by Press 53. The story about the last Holocaust survivor who returns to Prague to be featured in a documentary, was published in the anthology, Everywhere Stories, Volume III, in 2018 after its initial 2016 publication by Lilith. Here’s the link to register for this free event.
  2. Because I’m working on several short stories right now, thanks to Erika Dreifus, I’ve signed up for an August 6 New York Times At Home event with author Curtis Sittenfeld. The event is free.
  3. I just watched this TED Talk, “Where Good Ideas Come From,” in preparation to teach an English composition class. It occurs to me that the message here also applies to the creative writing process. I am always amazed at how mental flotsam and jetsam make their way onto the page when I’m writing. Take a look and comment below on your thoughts.

Continue to be safe, wherever you are.

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Author’s Notebook | Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life, Written by Laurie Wallmark

Wallmark, Laurie. Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life. Illus. by Katy Wu. Sterling, 2019. 48 pp., $16.95

The Whole Megillah (TWM): You’ve now published four picture book biographies. What has driven your interest in writing about female scientists?
Laurie Wallmark (LW): There are two reasons I write about women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). First, ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved math and science. I want to share that passion with children. Second, until recently, there were almost no biographies written about women in STEM. Because of this, children might believe that girls could not grow up and choose these professions. By highlighting women’s accomplishments, both girls and boys will come to realize this is not the case.

TWM: How did you come to know the story of Hedy Lamarr?
LW: I of course knew about Hedy as an actress for a long time, but I don’t remember how I learned how instrumental she was to the digital world we live in today.

TWM: How did you handle that she was Jewish?
LW: When you write picture books, because of the limited word count, you have to choose what part of the person’s story to include and what to leave out. I chose to concentrate on her scientific invention, while including her Hollywood life for context. Hedy left Europe before the Nazis invaded her homeland of Austria.

Laurie Wallmark

TWM: What was your greatest challenge in writing this book? The greatest satisfaction?
LW: My greatest challenge was not only explaining Hedy’s invention, frequency hopping, in words that children could understand, but also making it interesting to them. My greatest satisfaction is that I feel I succeeding in overcoming both of these challenges.

TWM: Please describe your research process.
LW: I did most of my research using books written about her. In addition, I was lucky that a documentary, Bombshell, come out while I was still researching her life. This documentary included many clips of interviews with her and people who knew her.

TWM: Please describe your writing process.
LW: For a picture book biography, I of course start with the research. When I feel I have a good handle on the person’s life, I brainstorm approaches I can take to tell her story. This leads to a detailed outline, which inevitably means I need to go back and do more research. After several rounds of research and outline, I “translate” my outline into a story. Many revisions later, often including more research, I run the manuscript by the people in my critique group. Eventually, it’s ready to go to my agent, where I receive more feedback for revision before it goes out on submission.

TWM: Do you get feedback from beta readers for a critique group?
LW: Absolutely! I’m in two critique groups plus I often will pass the manuscript by a beta reader.

TWM: Do you have any advice for picture book biographers?
LW: My best suggestion is to be really be interested in the person you’re writing about, because you’ll be spending a lot of time with her.

TWM: What’s next for you?
LW: I have another woman in STEM book coming out next year: Code Breaker, Spy Hunter: How Elizebeth Friedman Changed the Course of Two World Wars (Abrams). In addition, my first fiction picture book, Dino Pajama Party (Running Press Kids), also comes out in 2021.

For more about Laurie Wallmark, please visit her website.

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Mid-Week Notes

Three quick things this week:

  1. The American Jewish Historical Society has begun a series of webinars, “From the Archives.” Yesterday’s installment was about New York poet Emma Lazarus. The webinar included clips with academic experts, a visit to Emma’s brownstone (the exterior), and views of archival documents. Next up in the series: GI Jews.
  2. The project idea for a new YA novel in verse has pretty much decided it wants to be adult prose.
  3. On the agency side: I am putting together a Zoom session, “How to Grab an Agent’s Attention–in a Good Way.” A colleague and I will cover query letters, manuscript preparation, and some dos and don’ts. Stay tuned.

Continue to be safe, wherever you are.

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Mid-Week Notes

Three quick things this week:

  1. By the end of today, I will have five book manuscripts in the market. They range from picture books to a novella to novels in verse. Yesterday I decided to start work in September on a new historical YA novel in verse. Timeframe: 1951, America.
  2. I’ve been thinking of unearthing the scads of picture book biographies that have been lingering in the drawer for years. Erika Dreifus mentioned her new mentor text this morning: a biography of Judah Touro, published by Kar-Ben in April 2020. What are your favorite PB bios?
  3. Writing Chai is going to gear up again on July 26. Unearth your creativity, meet the blank page with fervor, and turn your raw material into writing you love. If you’re interested in writing to timed prompts on Sundays, please send a note to me at barbarakrasner(at)att(dot)net.

Continue to be safe, wherever you are.

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Mid-Week Notes

Three quick things this week:

  1. The Southampton Children’s Lit Conference was fantastic! Not only did I learn so, so much about graphic novels, but I also connected with writers of all types. This is a conference I would dearly love to attend again.
  2. I’ve mentioned before that I opt in to the Amherst Writers & Artists method when I’m working on new projects or revising a work in progress. Here’s a link to a little piece I wrote with an Amherst Writers group of cancer survivors (did I ever mention I had cancer in 2014?) during the organization’s Write around the World fundraising event.
  3. Writing Chai is going to gear up again on July 26. If you’re interested in writing to timed prompts on Sundays, please send a note to me at barbarakrasner(at)att(dot)net.

Continue to be safe, wherever you are.

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New Writing Chai Cycle to Begin July 26 – Reserve Your Spot Now

Find the Stories That Are Yours to Tell

There’s still room for you!

The Writing Chai Studio offers writers of all genres and all levels the opportunity to find the stories within them and bring them onto the page. Find the voice that makes you unique. In the past cycle, we’ve uncovered nearly forgotten memories, deepened our writing with new insights, and forged new understandings of connections to photographs.

Using the Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) method, using time-based prompts as inspiration. All material is considered fiction and all work receives responses about what resonates or sticks. There is no critique. Certified AWA-facilitator Barbara Krasner will provide the prompts.

Interested? Send a note to barbarakrasner(at)att(dot)net.

Writing Chai

This is an ideal workshop for anyone with a work in progress or just a desire to get words down on the page. Perhaps you’re stick in your writing. Maybe you want to explore your setting or characters. Or you want to breathe new life into an existing manuscript. This workshop will give you the gentle nudge to move forward in ways that might surprise you. This is a five-week workshop for two hours each on Sundays from 4:00-6:00 pm EDT. Fee: $225, starts July 26, 2020 (no class August 9).

About the Amherst Writers & Artists Method

Pat Schneider founded the method through her book, Writing Alone and with Others (Oxford University Press, 2003). Nothing could be more appropriate to the COVID times we’re living through right now. The AWA method adheres to Five Essential Affirmations:

  1. Everyone has a strong, unique voice
  2. Everyone is born with creative genius
  3. Writing as an art form belongs to all people, regardless of economic class or educational level
  4. The teaching of craft can be done without damage to a writer’s original voice or artistic self-esteem
  5. A writer is someone who writes

About Barbara Krasner

AWA-certified facilitator Barbara Krasner has been writing with the AWA method since 2011 and received her training in 2013. She writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for adults and young readers. Work using the method has appeared in Jewish Literary Journal, Poetica, Michigan Quarterly Review, South 85 Journal, Peregrine, and other literary journals. She has been nominated for a fiction Pushcart and her middle-grade novel in verse about the ill-fated 1939 voyage of the MS St. Louis, 37 Days at Sea, debuts Spring 2021 from Kar-Ben.

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Mid-Week Notes

Three quick things this week:

  1. Today is my first day at the Southampton Children’s Lit Conference Graphic Novels Workshop. I also get to attend craft and industry talks across all genres. Plus there are faculty readings. I’m looking forward to hearing Billy Collins, Melissa Bank, Matthew Klam, and Meg Wolitzer.
  2. I’m slogging through Camp Nanowrimo, drafting the script for my historical MG graphic novel.
  3. Writing Chai is going to gear up again. If you’re interested in writing to timed prompts on Sundays, please send a note to me at barbarakrasner(at)att(dot)net.

What are you working on?

Be safe, wherever you are.

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