Tips for the Mid-Month, Downhill Nano Slide

Oh NaNo, we always start off so well don’t we and then you go your way and I go, well …

Here’s the truth. I wrote more than 10,000 words this month on my manuscript. Not all of it got recorded on my NaNoWriMo account but I know because every morning I’ll rework a little section from the day before and tweak words or descriptions, which doesn’t “add” to my word count goal of the day.

So yay me write … uh, right?

Well, yes and no. We are at the point in both the story and NaNoWriMo where everything becomes that much harder. If you are participating, you are probably stretched way too thin, have been having too much caffeine to give yourself a boost to get through just another 500 words and, because you can’t resist, you just read what you’ve been writing all this time only to discover that it is just … ugh!!!

Or maybe that’s just me. Could be it’s just me.

Hopefully, your writing is going a lot better and you’ve just spent 18 days writing sheer perfection. That would be nice, I think.

But, in case you are like me, I’m going to share some advice I gave to a writing group I belong to. Take what you need from it, ignore the rest, and know that works for me, may not work for you and vice-versa:

Writing isn’t supposed to be easy, it’s actually really hard work. If you stop every time it gets hard, usually just as you start the middle part of the novel–which is the main, slogging section that stretches on for pages when you have no idea how to get from point A to point B–you will not learn the art of finishing a novel.

There will always be another new shiny story to tell. I know my brain is full of them, especially when I’m bogged down because I can’t figure out what my characters need to do or should do or what will make my story not be so blah. 

Some days you do simply need to walk away and give your mind a rest, especially when you are working at a writing rate that you are not used to. Yes, I know, it’s one month of crazy writing, but this year especially, even one month of writing like crazy may be a bit much. Take a breather. Get some fresh air. Close your laptop. Doodle. Knit. Read. Bake. Or simply close your eyes and let your mind wander. Try and come back to the story after you’ve done that.

As for my NaNoWriMo novel, it’s unlike any of my other stories, which is good because I need to try new things and grow as a writer. This particular story is in a new-to-me genre, historical fiction, and features a boy protagonist. My work is also barely a first draft.

I have tons of holes and missing scenes, etc. (which is how I generally work) that need to be fleshed out, but I have no idea how to fix what’s already there. Do I throw it all out? Do I start from scratch? Does any of it get salvaged?

Here’s what I can tell you … I am NOT done with this story. I will slog my way through it and try and figure out how to make it the best it can be.

I participated in a writing workshop last week and several of the authors mentioned making lists or notes as they are working, I may try that to see if I can jump start my creativity that way.  

Will I finish my novel this month? Nope, not happening. One day maybe I will finish NaNoWriMo with a completed manuscript … or not, and I’m fine with that. 

NaNo Week 1 Results …

I finished week one of National Novel Writing Month having conquered a major goal – writing fiction every single day. Now, considering I have five published novels and a sixth one coming out next month, you might be surprised by this admission. Truth is, my fiction writing often comes after my other nonfiction writing responsibilities, which in any given week can include news articles, feature writing, fundraising brochures, blogposts and press releases.

If you were to add up my word counts of all the various types of writing on any given week it could easily surpass the 8,000 word mark. What makes this time different is that this was just fiction work. (Yes I did have some nonfiction work thrown in over the last week, though not included in this count.)

While according to the official NaNo tally I should be closer to 12,000 words at this point, I am beyond thrilled with my output.

Is it because I wrote 8,400 words of brilliance? Nope, not even close. What I have accomplished is moving myself 8,400 words closer to completed manuscripts. 8,400 words focused on building my stories, finding out who my characters really are and what makes them tick. 8,400 words of wondering … will it ever get easier?

Truth is it doesn’t get easier. There is no mystery writing fairy who will come and turn my gobble-dee-guck into genius prose.

There’s just me and my writing.

And little by little, word by word, the story will emerge, the characters will come to life and a manuscript will appear. Every day I keep going through NaNoWriMo is one day closer to that goal.

How’s your writing adventure going?

Dealing With Rejections

That was then … now I know better.

Every “No” is one step closer to “Yes,” because through every story I write, every story I create, ever word I put on paper, every hour I spend reading, revising, editing and submitting is one step closer to seeing dreams come true. This is how the writer’s classroom works.

So today, I say one down – more to go!

Keep writing, keep submitting, keep trying!

And a reminder, Sunday is the start of National Novel Writing Month. It’s a great time to commit to pushing yourself as a writer. Spend time working on that novel you’ve always dreamed about writing. Devote a few minutes each day to getting some words onto the page. Make it a priority and you’ll see a change in how you approach your work.

For tips on dealing with NaNo or NaNoWriMo as it’s called .. check out this blog posts. You’ll notice one theme – I never quite meet my goals but the skills I’ve learned along the way have been critical in reaching my goal of being a published author.

Summer Crafting Make #1: An Achdus Club Bookmark

With summer in full swing, and the weather plenty hot, now’s a great time to do some crafting and what better way than to celebrate friendship and reading.

Create one Achdus Club bookmark for yourself and make one for a friend! Share the Achdus and the love of reading.

To make your bookmark special, decorate the back of it – you can always dd a special saying, write your name in calligraphy, put on some stickers or color your own image. This is your bookmark! It should reflect YOUR personality. Have fun.

To get your Achdus Club Bookmark, just let me know you’d like a copy!

Check out some of the bookmarks that Achdus Club friends have already crafted!

Happy Pesach!


For this adults like me who are saying ma nishtanah this year, here’s just a piece of food for thought that I personally found interesting —it is not my original idea, I saw it written somewhere a while ago—but the essence is why do we say ma nishtanah if there are no children present? Because saying it represents the wonderment in all of us. I hope everyone finds their sense of wonderment and joy this year. Gut Yontif, Chag sameach.

Layla’s Vistaville Summer: A Review

It isn’t often that Jewish children books written for the Shomer Shabbat market get reviewed, which is why I was thrilled when author Judith Pransky told me she is now reviewing books in the Philadelphia Jewish Link.

Even more exciting was that she chose Layla’s Vistaville Summer as one of the first books to review. Then I read the review, which said, in part:

“The reader is drawn along, eager to find out more about the family relationships and the hidden mystery. The book is a quick read, with sentences that flow, and vocabulary that is easy to comprehend. But the characters and storyline have depth and interest, and the reader grows along with Layla.”

You can read the whole review for yourself on page 30 of the Philadelphia Jewish Link.

Thank you so much Judith, The Philadelphia Jewish Link and all the readers who’ve enjoyed Layla’s diary! Her next adventure will be out this fall, but it’s not too late to get caught up with Layla’s time in Vistaville.

To learn more about Judith Pransky’s work, including Mister Lister (a recent PJ Our Way selection) and its sequels check out her new website.

Do you review Jewish children’s books? Do you have a favorite Jewish children’s book, leave your thoughts in the comments below!