History Writer in New Jersey
The world conspires to help you
When I read Paulo Coehlo's book, The Alchemist, I realized my path was to become a writer. As a child I used to buy printing kits and write and produce my own newsletters I sold to my classmates. In my freshman year of high school, I banged out stories on yellow stationery just for fun and gave them to my favorite teacher and friend to read.
But it was only after my father died in late 1997 that I became serious. I had been researching my family's history since 1989 and I decided to write about that. There's no doubt that passion finds its way on to the page. Within just a few years, my articles appeared in several genealogy magazines, including:
I branched out to history magazines, such as History Magazine and History Channel Magazine, and to writers' magazines such as Writer's Digest and The Writer. For five years I served as a contributing editor to three magazines while I was also working full-time as a single mom in a large high-tech company.
Becoming a children's writer
I had always wanted to write for children. I attended the Highlights Foundation Workshop at Chautauqua (NY) and received valuable advice, including query each issue of the magazines you want to write for. The following month I received my first assignment for Calliope and others soon followed:
From magazines to books
My first book, Images of America: Kearny, New Jersey, was published by Arcadia in February 2000. My second book, Discovering Your Jewish Ancestors, was published by Heritage Quest in June 2001. I also authored the chapter “Decoding Genetics: Your Family’s Health History” for Celebrating the Family: The MyFamily.com Guide to Understanding Your Family History, published by Michael Friedman Publishing Group, 2002. My third book, Images of America: Kearny’s Immigrant Heritage debuted in November 2003. A new book to help Kearny's public library celebrate its 100th anniversary, The Kearny Public Library and Its Town: A Pictorial History, appeared in June 2007.
What I write about
I have always loved history. All kinds of history from my hometown of Kearny, New Jersey to American history, and world history. I have a special fondness for Jewish history. Many of the things I learned in Hebrew school at Congregation B'nai Israel in Kearny still inspire me to write for either young readers, adult readers, or both.
Helping Jewish children's writers
From 2003-2011, I helped to coordinate an annual conference in New York City for writers and illustrators who focus on Jewish themes. In 2010, I led a workshop, Writing Jewish-themed Children's Books, with an awesome faculty for the Highlights Foundation. I led that workshop again from May 15-18, 2011. We're planning even greater things for 2013.
As a service to Jewish children's writers, I introduced The Whole Megillah | The Writer's Resource for Jewish-themed Children's Books in May 2010. It's become very popular! Here you'll find interviews with authors, agents, editors, and librarians as well as book reviews. I was selected to join the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee at the end of 2010 and have set up my first blog tour for the winners of this prestigious award!The blog expanded in early 2012 to include Jewish story in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for readers of all ages.
Jewish Poland photo gallery
Many history writers know that photos can enhance their work. While traveling in Poland in 2008, I took a number of photos that I'm very proud of. They are now in my Jewish Poland photo gallery and have been featured in two New Jersey Jewish Community Center photo exhibitions. I frequently address Jewish genealogical societies and local Jewish organizations on "My Home Is Gone - Remnants of Jewish Poland."
As a recipient of a fiction scholarship, I was fortunate to attend Western Michigan University's Prague Summer Program in July 2011. I took classes in fiction and Jewish Studies. You can read my "Report from Prague" blog posts at The Whole Megillah.
The eternal student
I am a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Rutgers University’s Douglass College, where I earned my B.A. in German. I hold an M.B.A. in Marketing from Rutgers University and an M.F.A. in Writing for Children & Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA). I am currently an adjunct professor in the English department at William Paterson University, teaching introductory and advanced creative writing and am pursuing a post-MFA semester in poetry at VCFA. I am also an award-winning Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) and love to talk about history and writing.