On My Night Stand | The Seven by Ellen Friedman

I attended a session at the Princeton Public Library three weeks ago about writing the memories of others. The speaker, professor and memoirist Ellen G. Friedman, shared her family’s story: seven of her family members escaped east into the Soviet Union during the Holocaust. Naturally, I bought her book, The Seven: A Family Holocaust Story. I was attracted to it by my own family’s story.

One of my grandfather’s brothers also traveled east. He settled in Uzbekistan-Bukhara, and after the war, resettled in Palestine. With the exception of my grandfather and another brother in America, the remainder of their siblings were killed.

What’s on your night stand this week? And do you have any stories of family members escaping from Nazi persecution into the Soviet Union?

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Literary Offerings into the World | March 2018 Report

Poetry: 8 submissions (American Poetry Review, Redivider, Bodega, Bateau, Comstock Review, Agni, Salt Hill Journal, Lunch Ticket). 0 acceptances. 1 rejection (Rappahannock Review). 

I gave two poetry readings from Chicken Fat this month: Somerset Poetry Group at the Bridgewater Library and I read at my hometown library, Kearny Public Library. Sold some books and was asked to come back to Congregation B’nai Israel to give another program and the Kearny Library asked me to lead a summer workshop.

Creative Nonfiction: 9 submissions (Kelsey Review, Writers on Edge, Brevity, Longridge Review, Persimmon Tree, Capra Review, 1966, Storyscape, Brevity Blog). 2 acceptances from Brevity Blog (for “Finding Inspiration in Free Events at the Public Library“) and Jewish Literary Journal (“Finding Emma Lazarus“). 3 rejections from Persimmon Tree [of a December 2017 submission], The Sun, and Yemassee.

I stayed up all night on March 30 to write a new essay in abecedarian form. My inspiration? Dinty Moore’s “Son of Mr. Green Jeans.”

Although the Donald Murray Prize rejected an essay in February, the hosts asked me if they could consider my essay until September. Sure.

Fiction: A hometown diner conversation with my honorary sisters after my poetry reading led me to revise a short story from at least four years ago and send it out. So, 5 submissions (Elsewhere, Ginosko Literary Journal, Flint Hills Review, Passages North, Chattahoochee Review), 0 acceptances, 0 rejections.

Other March 2018 activities: The Whole Megillah hosted the March Jewish Book Carnival. I completed a work-for-hire book assignment for a book packager about Jewish immigrants and the outline for another book about Russian immigrants. I delivered a guest lecture about dance marathons to a graduate class in The Great Depression at William Paterson University. I completed a poetry course in Rilke at 24 Pearl Street and completed the Advanced Personal Essay and Memoir class at Creative Nonfiction.

Coming up in April!

I am giving a talk at the Cranbury, NJ Hadassah about Jewish genealogy on 4/24, postponed from March because of weather. I begin my PhD studies in Holocaust & Genocide at Gratz College. I’ll be completing the book about Russian Immigrants and three debate books for an educational publisher. I also have work for two issues of Cobblestone magazine. I want to send out more poetry and essays.

April also launches Cycle 10 of The Whole Megillah‘s Online Fiction Class and Cycle 1 of The Whole Megillah‘s Online Memoir Class. Seats still available in Memoir.


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Two Seats Left! Mining Your Memories on the Page

wedding photo - max and eva krasner 1918 in original frameTwo seats remain in the April online memoir class. Claim your place now!

In November 2011, I drafted a genealogical memoir, piecing together 20 years of research conducted in cramped libraries, intimidating archives, and through the efforts of hired researchers in Europe.

In the fall of 2015, I took a part of that memoir and developed a book proposal, focusing on my search for the grandmother I never knew.  Since then I’ve been working on chapters as standalone essays. In the process, I’m discovering new information (like finding out that my great-grandfather came to America with his younger brother in 1893—he didn’t stay. If he had, my grandmother’s family could have been spared their deaths in the Holocaust). My cousin sent me photos of a three-foot high, gold-framed wedding portrait of my grandparents. I’ve reconnected with second and third cousins and finally sent in my DNA kit.  My resulting essays have found homes in literary publications such as The Manifest-Station, South 85, Poor Yorick, The Smart Set, Jewish Literary Journal, and others.

I’m so excited about this process that I’d like to offer a six-week online course for The Whole Megillah readers. Through guided prompts, I’ll help you mine your memories about places, events, people, and objects significant in your life. I’ll help you develop character, setting, and scene to make your memories come alive. And perhaps if you’re like me, you’ll gain new insights into those memories.

The course will begin April 15 and the fee is $300. A 15-page manuscript critique is available for an additional $50. The course takes place on a private, secure website. You do not have to be “present” at any particular time and you can go at your own pace.

Join me on this journey! Send an email to me at barbarakrasner(at)att(dot)net or comment below if interested.

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On My Night Stand | A Primer for Poets and Readers of Poetry by Gregory Orr

Every now and then I like to indulge in a good craft book. I am a fan of Gregory Orr’s poetry and saw this book advertised in the latest issue of The Writer’s Chronicle.

It’s targeted toward young poets—a population I do not belong to—but I do find the exercises useful. Here’s one I particularly like: create your own compendium (Orr calls it a bible) of your favorite poems to inspire you.

What’s on your night stand this week?

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March 2018 Jewish Book Carnival

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

Here are this month’s links:

  • Chava Pinchuck spoke with Yael Levy about romance novels and social commentary.
  • Over on My Machberet, Erika Dreifus routinely curates pre-Shabbat Jewish-lit links. Here’s one recent post.
  • In March, Jill at Rhapsody in Books reviewed Sadness Is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-Zecher.  In this topical and beautiful story, a young Jewish man who came from America to Israel unexpectedly befriends two Palestinian siblings, causing him to question everything he thought he knew about his new country and about himself.
  • Batya Medad on Shiloh Musings reviews a very accessible theological work.  Disillusions: A Spiritual GPS For the Journeyer, The Real New World Order by Yemima Bakol manages to be both a very serious philosophical and theological book mostly about Judaism, but light, fun and easy reading, too. Now, that is a very amazing accomplishment.
  • Deborah Kalb interviews a wide variety of authors on her book blog. Here’s a link to a recent interview with Dina Gold, author of Stolen Legacy: Nazi Theft and the Quest for Justice at Krausenstrasse 17/18, Berlin.
  • Finally, at The Whole Megillah | The Writer’s Resource for Jewish Story, Barbara Krasner interviews authors Margie Wolfe and Pnina Bat Zvi and illustrator Isabelle Cardinal about their Second Story Press picture book, The Promise.


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Announcing The Whole Megillah Writing Career Coaching Service

About Our Writing Career Coaching Service

Trying to find your voice in a crowded marketplace? Frustrated by rejections? Unsure of your strengths? Going in too many directions at once or unsure of which path to follow?

Let The Whole Megillah Writing Career Coaching Service help you. In a monthly series of one-hour conversations, our experienced coach works with you to put you on the road to success.


Confidential—All conversations are private and confidential.

Location independent—Coaching is provided through phone, Skype, or Google Hangout, no matter where you live.

Clarity—No one can see into the clouded crystal ball of publishing, but if your goals are clear, you can at least know what you’re working toward.

Try a 20-minute mini-session free to find out if this service is right for you!

About Your Coach

Barbara Krasner, MBA, MFA is an award-winning author of prose and poetry for both adults and young readers. She has served as a member of the selection committee for the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee and for Writers Digest Life Writing Awards. She teaches creative writing at the university level and online at The Whole Megillah and has an inside perspective of the agenting world

Contact us now!

Just respond with a comment telling us you’d like to schedule a mini-session free or send an email to barbarakrasner(at)att(dot)net. Requests honored through March 30 (though sessions may be scheduled after that).

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On My Night Stand | A World Erased by Noah Lederman

I continue to be a sucker for memoir, and Holocaust memoir in particular. But I’m looking to this book for how Lederman moves back and forth in time, from his present self to his seven-year-old self, points in between, and points before he was born.

I’m also thinking this could be a good book for the April cyber-meeting of The Whole Megillah Book Club.

What’s on your night stand this week?

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