I have now worked for forty days straight. According to NaNoWriMo, I average close to 3 hours a day. Mostly, it is exhausting and anxiety provoking. I feel like a hamster on a wheel. Wake up – work. Next day – wake up, work. Endless. The good news is that I finished editing another chapter. Four down, six to go.
I have plans to fly to Florida next week. Because of the pending governmental shutdown, everything is up in the air (no pun intended). I don’t enjoy flying in the best of circumstances. Thinking about doing it when there will either be pissed off traffic controllers who aren’t getting paid or less of them is terrifying. I hate the Republicans.
I picked up the pace this week, working an average of 3.7 hours a day. The weekend was particularly productive. On Saturday, I worked for 3.5 hours and on Sunday for over 5. My hard work this week led to my sending another chapter to my editor.
I tried using Zotero, installing it with help on Friday. Then I started adding citations. The process was overwhelming. My conclusion was that it was more trouble than it was worth. I am going to do the footnotes manually and use the cloud version of Zotero, Zotero Bib, for my bibliography. I will have the editor copy-edit everything. This is the best solution. If I was just beginning a project, I probably would use Zotero or some other citation manager. It is just too late in the process to learn something new.
This journey of getting my manuscript ready for publication is anxiety provoking. It is hard to find the balance between trying to perfect it and realizing I have to finish. Without the deadline of May 20024, I will probably keep tinkering and tinkering with it with no end in sight.
Tonight is Erev of Rosh Hashanah. L’Shana Tova to everyone who celebrates.
As I said in my previous post, Good News, I am under a strict, self-imposed deadline, to send a clean as possible copy of my manuscript, Dames, Dishes and Degrees, to Levellers Press, by May 1 2024. This still seems like a daunting prospect, but I have made some progress.
I started work on August 21, and was able to send the introduction and chapter one to an editor I am working with. I have worked eleven days at an average of 2 hours and fifteen minutes a day. I am hoping to get to more like three or four hours a day, at some point.
I then started working on editing and tightening up Chapter 8. Most of my book deals with people who are dead. The last chapter, however, looks at two different college president’s wives and some controversies they were involved in. Because of this, the press wants to have their lawyer look at it. That is why I have skipped from the beginning to the end in my editing process.
While I was working on the chapter, I realized I have done a terrible job keeping track of my citations and sources. Years ago, I was using a citation manager, RefWorks, which I got from UMASS since I am an alum. Long story short, they went private a few years ago and the school no longer offers it. I was too busy to start with a new program, so I just continued powering through to finish the manuscript.
Now I have to figure out how to format all my notes and generate a bibliography. I am going to try to use Zotero. If anyone has any other suggestions, please let me know.
On July 26, I finally got a yes from one of the many publishers I have sent queries, book proposals, and sample chapters to. Levellers Press will be publishing Dames, Dishes, and Degrees in the Fall of 2024. This is long-awaited great news and I am incredibly happy.
I barely had any time after this revelation to process it and figure out how I would get a clean, ready to print copy to the publisher by May 2024, nine months away. Shortly after I found out my book will be published, I went to Seattle and then on an Alaskan cruise.
The whole family went on this wonderful adventure, and we had an exciting time. We saw glaciers, whales, bears, and bald eagles. We walked through a rain forest and learned about the history of Sitka which the Russians settled.. We also had a lot of fun in Seattle which is a beautiful city with many views of water and mountains.
We got home around midnight Tuesday evening and have been getting back to our real life the rest of the week. I have come up with a plan to complete the work to ready my manuscript for publication. Starting Monday August 21, I am going to do a mammoth NaNoWriMo with a minimum expectation of two hours of work a day, every day until May 1st.
Because I am on such a tight schedule and I need to stay focused, my blog posts from now to the beginning of May 2024 will primarily be progress reports, similar to what I did in the past when I was completing the first draft. Those posts will start September 1 after ten days of work.
Before I went on retreat, I completed a ten-week course in Jewish genealogy that the Center for Jewish History offered. For the final class I had to do a slide show presentation about a relative. I chose my maternal great grandfather – Max Smolensky who lived from 1871 to 1923.
According to my grandaunt Anna, her grandfather, Max’s father, Moishe Yisrael was married twice and had a total of sixteen children. Max’s mother was Hester Lipschitz. I found out the names of my great great grandparents during the class when I found Max’s death certificate.
Max or Mendel was a bit of a rake – a player – so, first they married him off to Adda Lipschitz who may have been his cousin. After Mendel and Adda had two children; my grandfather, Eli or Albert and my great-aunt, Anna, the elders were still concerned. They decided to ship the family off to America.
For my project I focused on trying to determine where my ancestral town, named Prilucki, was located. Was it in Belarus or Ukraine? Another family story is that the Smolenskys founded the town.
Many of the documents I have point toward Ukraine. One of the most compelling is the 1919 application for a grave for Benjamin, Albert’s and my grandmother, Celia’s first child. It states that the father Elias (Albert) was born in Poltava which is a city in Ukraine.
The competing documentation for Belarus is the fact that my Aunt Anna’s naturalization papers state she was born in Homel or Gomel which is part of Belarus.
I learned a lot in the class, found some new documents, and started organizing my material. There is much more I would like to find out about my ancestors. I also hope to come up with a definitive answer to where Prilucki was located in the early twentieth century when my relatives immigrated.
My next blog post will be on August 18. After that, i will post again on September 1. Have a great rest of summer!
Sunday I came back from attending Nashim: A Jewish mediation Retreat for Women. It was in-person for six days at Wisdom House, Litchfield, Connecticut. The retreat was remarkably like the virtual one that I participated in at the beginning of the pandemic, three years ago.
While I was at Wisdom House, I experienced this retreat as vastly different from the Zoom one. Reading over my 2020 post about the experience, I see more similarities. Yesterday at the closing of Nashim, one of the leaders told us that we should be scheduling our next retreat right away. The wisdom one receives during multiday silence needs to be replenished either periodically or regularly. I came away from the week hoping to reinvigorate both my mindfulness practice and my spiritual observances.
One of the differences between the virtual and in-person retreat was Wisdom House. This retreat and conference center was originally the home for the Daughters of Wisdom College and Convent. The Daughters of Wisdom began in 18th century France. The grounds are beautiful with lovely gardens and impressive views of mountains.
Although its’ website describes the campus as an “inter-faith” community, it felt very Christian to me, with a wooden cross in my room. As a Jew, I most often think about Christians from a place of trauma for past mistreatment and wounds. During my time at Wisdom House, I was able to open my view and see that just as there are many ways to practice Judaism, Christians come in many flavors and varieties.
It turned out that one of the most peaceful places I have ever spent time in was a small garden with two statues of Mary. I found these to exude a sense of warmth and comfort that was very healing. During the retreat, I gained insights about myself and a better understanding of the potential of inter-faith interactions.
Please let me apologize for not posting last week. I have been very busy and the summer is packed with plans. Because of that, my next regularly scheduled post will be July 21st. I will also blog the following week, July 28th. Then there will be another break from the 29th to August 18th.
I hope everybody has a great summer and stays cool, healthy, and safe.
I had a terribly busy week and now Friday is here before I even realized it. I did not have a post pre-planned, and it turns out I am too busy to write one today.
Starting last week, my husband and I have been busy building furniture for a redo of his home office. We have done this many times before but, of course, we are older now. It turns out that repeatedly getting up and down from the ground is pretty difficult and exhausting.
We finished the lateral file on our own, after having to wait for a new drawer rail but the thought of putting the 68-inch desk with seven drawers together was daunting. The boxes with all the components weighed over two hundred pounds.
Luckily, our younger one was able to come yesterday, and we got the desk together. The two pieces of furniture look nice, and I hope the hard labor it took to assemble them will fade, eventually, from memory. I plan to never to do this again. In the future I will buy already assembled furniture or pay someone to assemble it.
As I said I few months ago, I bought new skates.
Because of Covid, I delayed picking them up until last Wednesday. The skates are smaller, narrower, and stiffer because they are new. I have skated with them two times with mixed success. Last Wednesday after I picked them up, I went straight to skating. When I first got on the ice, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing or supposed to do. Gradually my muscle memory kicked in and I could do some things including skating forward and skating backwards.
After a half hour of minimal skating close to the boards, I had a lesson with my coach, Kiara. Because I was warmed up, I did do some more things and even skated out into the middle of the ice which amazed me. The skates felt okay except for a little rubbing where the top of the tongue meets my skin. When I got my skates 10 years ago, I had the same problem and I used to put little round cosmetic pads in-between the tongue and my skin. Kiara suggested I buy gel sleeves which I did.
Monday was the next day I skated and it wasn’t as successful as I hoped. I was very nervous when I first stepped on the ice. My legs were shaking to almost the same degree they shook when I had my episodes of stage fright. After about 30 minutes of the 50 minute session, I did feel warmed up and I was able to do a few more things. I wore the gel sleeves over my socks and the skates were more comfortable.
This process of breaking in the skates and returning to my fairly minimal level of skating proficiency will take some time. One bright note is I am already spinning better than previously. This gives me hope that once I have gotten used to the new skates, because they are the right size and fit better, my skating will actually improve. One can always help hope.
My new skating bag
I have a list of maybe five or six topics that I was considering for this week’s blog post. As I sit here trying to write, I feel overwhelmed. As you may remember, for three weeks in February I was dealing with COVID. Both my husband and I were sick; I was really sick, and he got a rebound case after we both had taken Paxil for five days.
Shortly after he finally tested negative, we went away for two weeks to Florida to visit my aunt. The trip had its stressful moments, but the weather was beautiful and the ocean was gorgeous. We walked on the beach a lot and I swam most days. It was definitely a vacation mixed with familial responsibilities.
We have been back a few days and it’s been up and down with how focused I can be. The trip to Florida did restore my energy level which was set strongly depleted by COVID so that’s a good thing. However, life keeps intervening, occupying my brain, leaving less space available for things like blog posts.
Besides blog posts, the main thing I want to make progress on is my book. Since I can’t stand the thought of further revisions of my manuscript, I have decided to focus, once again, on trying to get a publisher. I spent a few days this week working on getting my submission packet in shape to start sending it out to a list of publishers I compiled before we left for Florida..
I intend to include a marketing plan along with my book proposal and CV. That is what I have been working on this week. I have a marketing plan I did after Brewing Battles was published. I developed it because if I had waited for my publisher to do any marketing, I would still be waiting.
I have been trying to use that marketing plan from 15 years ago as a template for a current marketing plan for Dames Dishes and Degrees. It was going okay till I got to the review section. Book publishing and marketing has changed tremendously since Brewing Battles was published. Whether or not a journal or magazine accepts books for review and publishes book reviews is not that easy to find out. My attempts to research that wound up sending me down a rabbit hole that was rather discouraging. I’m going to regroup and figure out how to tackle the reviews section and then move on to the other parts of the marketing plan. I’ll let you know how it all turns out.