The Yiddish language is making a come back

An October 2013 article in the Huffington Post discusses the revival of training in Yiddish that is helping to keep the language alive for the next generation. This is of great interest to me since I chose to use Yiddish words in my novel, Papa’s Shoes. My resources were online Yiddish to English dictionaries and a wonderful old book called  The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten. My mother gave my husband a copy back in 1970 when we got married. I think she was trying to entice him to convert. One of my novel’s beta readers, who is also not Jewish, did a study of the words I used in the book, dividing them into three categories: Words he uses in his own vocabulary, for example: Goy – a person who is not Jewish Kibitz – to offer unsolicited advice as a spectator Mazel tov – good luck Mensch – a special man or person, someone respected Nebbish – a nobody, simpleton, weakling Schmooze – talk, conversation, chat Shtup – push, vulgarism for sexual intercourse Tokhter – dau … [Read more...]

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Introducing Shirley Loeb and her debut novel

I'm so happy to welcome Shirley Loeb today as she tells us how she created her debut coming-of-age novel, The Y Sapphires. First a brief synopsis of The Y Sapphires: It is a coming-of-age story that will satisfy adolescents and adults. The 12-year-old protagonist, too tall and too fat, is lost in the new world of high school. She's funny, lovable, and reads people accurately. She joins the Y Sapphires, a club of the "not-so-popular" and begins a friendship with a sophisticated but troubled classmate. Can she remain true to herself and still fit in the club she loves? Here's Shirley: "The process was lengthy. I started writing this book about 25 years ago. I always loved the protagonist but somehow could not sit down long enough to complete it. It was left languishing for years at a time. Funny as it might sound, I felt I had abandoned Sylvie, the 12-year-old protagonist, and that I owed her the debt of completing her story. I was in a writing class where the members en … [Read more...]

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Overcome by writing

I’ve really been working away at my novel – at least the first three chapters. I'm getting them ready for a First Three Chapter Strongest Start competition that I plan to enter by June 22. I actually printed out a copy of the first 35 pages in no time at all with our brand new Epsom Artisan printer and did a line-by-line edit on the hard copy. Like back in the good old days. But even after reading it through, I still wasn’t satisfied with the opening – which I think is the most important part of the book. Well, I had an epiphany while I was on the elliptical this morning – even through the Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee on the TV, the article I was reading in The New Yorker about the artist Christian Marclay who created a digital piece of art called The Clock, which I’m dying to see, and the mix of music on my iPhone – I was able to think about writing. That’s how it has totally taken over my life. It’s on my mind constantly. I’m never bored with it. There’s always something to … [Read more...]

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Outline a novel first or just go for it?

A recent discussion on LinkedIn in my Authors, Writers, Publishers, Editors and Writing Professional group was about the question: Do you write with an outline or without one and just from your mind? The answers are all over the place, some for an outline, some against an outline and for the free-writing approach, and some for a little of both. I am of the outline-before-writing school of thought in most cases. When I worked on proposals in the aerospace business, the maxim was plan the writing before you write – that was to have a top level outline, annotate it with details and a graphics plan, get it approved, and then begin the writing. For my novel I did it a little less formally. In the first novel workshop I ever took, I learned these steps: write the first scene, write the last scene, and write a middle scene. Then write a list of scenes that go in between and start filling in the details of those scenes. Once all that is done, go back and fill more details: results of r … [Read more...]

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