Model of Jerusalem at the time of the 2nd Temple now situated at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

Monday, November 7, 2011

STOP–before you hit “send”

Sometimes it’s such a relief to finally finish an  article, especially if it’s been hanging like an albatross around your neck for weeks on end.
But no matter how relieved you are that you’ve actually got to the end  – don’t hit ‘send’ just yet.
  • Wait overnight and re read the piece the  next day.Print it out. Don’t try and edit/proof read on the computer it’s very difficult to catch all the mistakes and spelling and punctuation errors.Don’t rely on your spell-check; it doesn’t know if you want ‘there’, ‘their’ or ‘they’re’.
  • Try and think of an eye catching title. Even if the editor changes it he’ll appreciate your attempt.
  • Check the word count – make sure you are no more than  10% over your limit or 2% under it.
  • Did you go that extra mile that will  make the editor look forward to working with you again e.g. send some suitable images or an additional side-bar of information.
  • When you send the article, write a short covering introductory email and then include the article  in the body of the email and also send it as an attachment. This gives your editor the two options of reading and downloading to edit.
  • Check that you are sending it to the correct editor and that you have spelled  his/her name correctly.
Now you can hit ‘send’ and make a note in your diary  when to follow up with the editor.
Good Luck

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


It’s frequently quoted that you can’t make a living writing essays – and this may well be true. 
 But  essays are a wonderful addition to your writing arsenal, and the more mature you are, the more you have to write about..

As the years have gone by I have written more and more essays for various publications and with practice they have become easier to write and almost all have been published ,( the ones that don’t usually end up on my other blog)

I’m not going to give definitions / directions / hints and tips about writing because so many other people have written about essay writing far better than I can,  so I’m giving some links below  to a variety of articles on the subject .

Now once, you’ve picked your topic and written the essay, where are you going to send it?
Below are links to guidelines of  a number of online and print publications that publish essays .
I suggest that you take the time to read some of the essays that they have already published to get some idea of what they are interested in and the style they prefer.

Most essays are between 700 – 1000 words with the preferred number being  usually 800 – 900 but always check the guidelines.

Some of the below markets have both online and print publications and some only pay for one version. If you want to get paid check carefully what the current rates are.

Although the CS in the  title is Christian Science, this is an online newspaper with  a very tenuous connection to religion. They like essays connected to travel, nature and parenting.
Here are some essays they have recently published in the Home Forum section
Sasee – essays on topics of interest to women
Brainchild – The Magazine for thinking mothers

Chicken Soup stories – current needs for various upcoming books
Underwired – women’s stories
Skirt – essays for and about women monthly essays are according to themes
Guideposts – stories to inspire

Family Tree – Genealogy Magazine – they have one essay  column called  Everything’s Relative


Aish Hatorah  -  show Jewish wisdom in a positive manner

   Mishpacha weekly magazine with separate supplements for women and children
Ami  -  weekly Magazine with separate supplements for women and tweenagers
Here is a market analysis I wrote a few months ago.

With so much choice what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


When I first started writing non-fiction  I used to think that when I was quoted a rate for an article, it was ‘take it or leave it’.
I was so grateful for being published  that I never queried the rate nor asked for more.

But that attitude isn’t really logical. Some places are offering the same rate per word / article / story now as they were ten years ago.

Would you remain in the same place of work and not apply for a raise in ten years?

There are several way of possibly getting more money for an article and it’s certainly worth trying them.
Don’t worry that  the editor will be so angry that she’ll decide to cancel the assignment – I’ve never heard of that happening.
The worst that can happen is she’ll say NO. But at least you will have tried.

  1. If you have been writing for the publication for some time ask if you can have your rate increased as you have shown that you write consistently well / stick to deadlines / turn in good clean copy that requires minimum editing  etc.

  1. If you can’t have your word rate increased, ask if you can add words by including a useful sidebar. Obviously what you write will depend on the topic of the article.

             Travel – how to get there / fare prices / hotel and restaurant information..
             Parenting – tips on the topic according to the different  ages of  children.
             Food – conversion of cups= grams= ounces / 
                         alternatives for making the food  parev instead of milchik 
  1. Ask for pay for photographs. Sometimes the submissions editor has her hands tied regarding pay rates but is allowed some creative leeway to help her regular writers earn more. When a publication I wrote for reduced their freelance rates ( yes I know it does happen -  I  am   living in   the real word) I asked to be paid extra for the photographs  I supplied and that way  at least I got it back to my old rate.
4. If the publication has a flat rate per article suggest you spread the topic over two articles. When you submit your query you’ll have to show that you have enough material for two articles but, especially with online articles, when readers’ attention span is limited, two articles are often better than one – and you get paid twice.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


There are many days when I don’t have the time to write much.,
But there’s one thing I can almost always manage and that’s sending a letter to the editor  a household tip, a funny incident or  a cute photo.

Keep a notebook for all ideas for letters that occur to you / kitchen short-cuts you always do without thinking / fun things children say.
You can always ask your friends for a good household tips as well.

These items are often  known as fillers and many publications use them.

 One of the most famous publications for humorous  fillers is Readers Digest. Read a copy to get some of ideas of the topics they cover but they are mostly funny incidents that happen  at work / in the army  / jokes  / odd photos etc.
 They pay $100 but the competition is fierce. You can submit your entries here 

There are also many British magazines which pay money for letters to the editor / opinions/ money saving ideas / cute things your children say etc. etc. Pay varies  usually from about   £10 – £100 and if you think of it as pay per word it’s well worth it.

They also pay well for  cute pictures of children – they don’t have to be your own they can be children / grandchildren / nieces/ nephews .or your neighbor’s. Occasionally a publication will ask for the parents letter of  permission if  you say the photos isn’t of your own child.

I recently received  £100 ( that’s about  $160) for a picture of one of my grandchildren , sitting in a field of flowers. Now I know she’s  absolutely gorgeous  but  it’s nice that the magazine also thinks so.

Many of the magazines that take these kind of letters / tips / photos are the weekly tabloid types full or lurid, grizzly stories  .They are very  popular and  are  published every week and therefore need a lot of material and so it’s not that difficult to get published in them .

I  rarely see actual copies of the magazine,  but although some of their requirements may change slightly, they almost always publish photos of children  and  tips in some form or another.

In order to keep up to date with fillers  I  subscribe to Freelance  Market News (FMN) which always has a page of filler markets, as well as many pages of general writing  markets and writing tips.

Two things you need to check 
1. That the letter pages aren’t full of comments about articles from the previous issues of the  magazine. Obviously, if this is their policy, you’re just wasting your time if you try and send them a letter about your daughter’s cute comment .  FMN does warn you if the letters are all about previous articles.

2. They don't pay in prizes that you won't be able to have sent out of the UK . I usually only write for magazines that pay in money.

Here are a few magazines to start you off.

Photos of children / pets./ travel  £100              email:
Tips  £30  tips with photo of tip in action £60   email:

Tips with photo £25
Send through their website and see other tips ( only those in the printed mag are paid for)

Tips   £25  submit at website

Letters   £50 for star letter   £25 for others

Letters and tips   £10

Letters ( must be accompanied by a photo) £25


Sunday, June 26, 2011


I was at my granddaughter’s end of term kindergarten party last week when they started playing a song.
I turned to my daughter and asked “ What does this song remind you of?”
She immediately replied “Safed – but why?”
I knew why;  because this song had been played on the radio and on our tape-deck ( no CDs in those days)  non-stop as we drove up the long 3 hour road to Safed, in northern Israel, over 22 years ago.

As I listened to it I could see all the details of the journey , the apartment we rented,  all our little children ( who are mostly parents now) the long walks we took,  the visit to the ancient shuls, the artists’ quarter and  the cemetery with graves of  some of our most famous kabbalists.
I could have written an article about that trip as though I’d been there yesterday . the memories were so vivid just listening to that music.

So if you’re trying to recall an event that happened a long time ago try checking out  which of your favorite songs were popular that year. And if you can’t find a recording of it , try humming it to yourself.
The music memory  trigger is very powerful.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I'm often asked to recommend books which have helped me in my freelance writing  learning curve.
Below is a list of my favorites.
I have many more books,  but these I think have given me the most information / inspiration / encouragement.
As you can see from the selection I'm not (yet?) a fiction writer.

ON WRITING WELL  - William Zinsser A  classic that is as relevant today as it was when it was first published over 30 years ago. A pleasure to read, flows easily and is full of  hands-on writing advice for all creative writing and reporting.  'The best book on the Journalism 101 course' is how a journalism student described it to me.
Here is an excerpt

WRITING ABOUT  YOUR LIFEWillaim Zinsser  He brings the same easy readability coupled with writing insights  to writing  memoirs.
Although I don’t write what are officially called ‘memoirs’, I write a lot of essays and what are essays if not short memoirs?

COURAGE AND CRAFT - Barbara Abercrombie   Essay writing

READY AIM SPECIALIZE  - Kelly James Enger  subtitled ‘create your own writing specialty and make more money’  she shows you how to choose your niche and develop it  and also  describes the ten most popular specialties and how to break into them.

ON WRITING -  Stephen King  An autobiography telling how King started writing and all his slip ups and failures on the way, interweaving tips and strategies for writers.

THE RENEGADE WRITERLinda Formichelli and Diana Burrell  An unconventional guide to breaking the standard freelancing rules. You have to know what the rules are in order to break them but this book will guide you all the way. From never sending query letters /  calling your editor on the telephone etc

GETTING THE WORDS RIGHT Theodore A. Rees Cheney  an excellent book on editing and rewriting

Monday, June 13, 2011

AMI magazine

I know that many writers in Israel have never seen a copy of Ami magazine.
Some of you, like me, may even have written for them, without ever having seen what the new weekly even looks like.

So when my sister, from Teaneck came, I asked her to see if she could get me a copy. Being the extremely kind sister that she is, although Ami isn’t available where she lives, she shlepped out  three times and brought me three different issues.

Now three issues do not make me an expert, but I guess if you’ve never seen a single copy then the information I’ve gleaned may help you.

Please understand that the information below is my subjective opinion based on what I read only in those three issues and it is far better to get detailed guidelines from the editors themselves.

In the issues I saw there was no fiction  except in aim, the tween  section ( more of that in detail below) and even the stories in aim all seemed to be serialized, (each episode written by the same author).
The main  magazine contains  news  and current events  articles as well as articles on general topics .

The columns below seem to be open to freelancers and I’ve tried to give a brief synopsis of the stories in the 3 editions I saw.


These were all as-told-to ….. stories based on  the goodness of human nature (my description)  -
  around 800 words
a)A story about a landlord who reduced the rent for a couple who were struggling to pay.
b)A woman who pretended to buy some old clothes from a poor person in order to re-sell them, but was really just helping her get an income.
c) A business whose owners continued to pay workers who were  not  needed as technology had replaced their jobs.

Human Experience

As-told-to …… people going through very difficult life situations ( 2000-3000 words)

a)      A second marriage where the household fell apart when the wife became ill.
b)      A Muslim who discovered he was really a Jew and his return to Yiddishkeit.
c)      A  bochur who moved in with a blind man to care for him 24/7.

Jewish Living in …….    ( 700 – 800 with photos)
Short  pieces about Jewish life in
 a) Cleveland   b) The Lower East Side      c)  Meron, Israel

AMI LIVING   The women’s magazine.

The editors said they are very happy to receive  queries for  all types of general  features of interest to women.

Weekly columns which seem to be open to freelancers:

The Clean Bill – Real People on a quest for health      as-told- to  (2000- 4000 words)

a)A wrong diagnosis by a doctor
b)A boy with Asperger’s syndrome
c) A wrong diagnosis by a doctor

Truth or Consequence
Should a person always be told the truth  ( 2000 – 3000 words)

a)      Should you take the car keys from an elderly parent who could be a danger on the road.
b)      Discovering your nephew on a diet eats at a soup kitchen to get extra food.
c)      Should people always be told the truth about their medical condition.

They also publish  up to  four essays each week of very varied lengths ( the shortest I saw was only 400 words – the longest about 1500 words)

aim -  Magazine for tweens

The sections which appear to take freelancers are:

Real Tweens – Real Life   (approx 1500 words)

a)      An unpleasant camp experience
b)      Awkward incident with a teacher at school
c)      A torn tendon in a thumb and the lessons learned from it.

At the end of  each edition I had  there  was another section that looks like it would take freelance contributions as each one was by a different writer – no  special subject / title    (1500 – 2000 words)

a)      The trials of having very curly hair
b)      A bad experience babysitting
c)      Leaving one girl out of the friendship clique

If anyone else has any information that might help potential contributors to Ami, please leave a comment.
Hope this helps those of you who’ve never seen the magazine.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Don’t wait until  you learn the hard way. It’s just too annoying.
Back up your work on your computer now.

How you back it up will depend on what you are trying to protect yourself against:

  1. a computer crash
  2. fire
  3. theft

 If you want to have your files backed up in case of a computer crash, which is the most common problem, then an external hard disk, connected to a USB port, is probably the easiest and cheapest back up method. There are many on the market and although I’m not going to recommend any particular one, as I’m not  too pleased with my current one, please, any of you reading this feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments section.

If you use this method, and your hard disk dies, you will have the information saved (until the last time it was backed up), but it may be easy or more complicated to retrieve this information . When you buy your back up disk check up how the information is retrieved.

   If you are worried about theft or fire then you may want to consider an off-site back up, online where nothing is physically  attached to your computer. Your work is backed up by a company  in cyber-space, usually for a monthly or annual fee. There are many such sites available, all offering various options. Google 'online back-up' and see the possibilities or ask someone for a recommendation.

However, unless your work is backed up every day  ( the more likely scenario is once or twice a week – this is something you have to decide) you will have days when your work / research / half written story or article is sitting  in your  computer when you turn it off and it isn’t backed up.
What I do,  is send the work to myself by email. Set up an email address which can be accessed by any computer ( e.g. gmail / yahoo etc -  not one attached to your place of work) and attach your work to an email and send it off. Should  you not be able to turn on your computer in the morning, your work awaits you as soon as you can get to another computer and access your email.

 Whenever I take  photos whether they are of the family or to accompany articles, I immediately download them onto the computer  as soon as I get home , just in case something happens to my camera..  (I’ve lost two in the last  three years so it’s  unfortunately a possible scenario for me )
However I only delete them from the camera once  the computer has backed them up.

Do any of you have back-up tips or recommendations?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Writing for Jewish Religious Publications and Publishers

If you’re interested in writing for the Jewish  religious market then make a note to attend next year’s  Annual  Jerusalem Writers’ Seminar.

In one day we  heard from  book publishers, magazine and newspaper editors and a myriad of women successful in various writing- related  professions that suit religious women writers.

Representatives from the main religious publishing houses spoke about their needs and the type of manuscripts they are looking for.  Some topics are always popular e.g. cookbooks / inspiration / short stories/ humor but all the editors said they would happy to look at manuscripts that  were ‘out of the box’  and are always on the look out for new ideas.

Click on the names below to reach the publishers’ websites. Browse around and look at the kind of titles they publish to get a feel for what  they are interested in. Some have author's guidelines on the site- if there aren't any, request some by email.



Jewish E-books (Hebrew site)       English site should be running soon

There is an ever increasing number of high quality, weekly magazines for the orthodox reader:
One editor described her publication as a voracious animal desperate to be fed week after week, and she was always extremely happy to get pitches, fiction  and essays from writers. Although  they may have a small stable of  regular writers, all the editors agreed that there is a constant need for  material and they  welcome high quality  work from all writers whether experienced or newcomers.

Pitches for  articles and stories related to the Chagim (Festivals) should be sent 3 months in advance.

Mishpacha has three sections every week:
 A family magazine, a women’s section (Family First) and a children’s paper. Pitches, essays and fiction for Mishpacha should be sent to  and for Family First to the editor;
 At Pesach and Sukkot there are numerous extra supplements for teens / fiction/ literary etc which provide a wonderful opportunity for fiction writers.

 Ami  magazine is the newest pub. having started out only just over 6 months ago. It also consists of three sections every week : The general family magazine, women's section and teenagers' magazine.
.At the moment, it is only distributed in the USA  so many potential writers have never seen a copy. It seems to be very similar to Mishpacha and the editor encourages writers to submit pitches, essays and stories to

 Binah is a weekly women’s magazine with a separate section for children and numerous extra supplements for Pesach and Sukkot.
They have no website  but pitches and essays should be sent  to

Hamodia newspaper has a weekend edition with multiple sections including a weekend magazine with sections for women and children. 
Hamodia and Binah work closely together and if an article, essay or children’s piece is unsuitable for one, the editor will  probably pass it over to the other publication, so check before resending it yourself.
Queries for Hamodia to or

You don’t have to be religious to write for the religious  market – but it does help if you have some idea of the  needs and limitations of the market.
Manuscripts, both book and magazine, are always approved  by a Rabbinical advisory board and although editors will always help a good writer iron out  the wrinkles, if there are too many it won’t be worth the effort as nothing of substance will be left.

 The religious market  is a rapidly growing section of the publishing world and there’s no longer any need for a writer who only writes for religious publications to feel there’s no market for her work.

Monday, May 16, 2011


This  month is both traumatic and rich in writing opportunities here in Israel.
It starts off with  the festival of Pesach ( Passover) with all its myriand preparations from spring cleaning to clothes and food shopping and cooking.

This is followed just a week after the end of the festival,by Holocaust Memorial day.

Exactly one week later we have  Memorial Day for soldiers fallen in Israel's wars and terrorist attacks
.And the next day is Independence Day.

This month is both  a writer's blessing and nightmare. There are so many opportunities and so many possibilities to write about but you have to be very well organized to make the most of it.

And that organization starts a full 12 months in advance.

My neighbor's daughter went on a trip to see what remains of some of  the concentration camps of Europe and was there with the Israeli contingent on Holocaust Memorial Day.
As soon as she returned I went and interviewed her - ready for an article on this topic next year.. If I wait too long she'll have forgotten all her fresh memories and the raw feeling of pain  that she experienced there.

As I was cleaning and cooking before  Passover I made notes of things worth adding to an article or blog on Passover preparations for next year.

Wandering around town on the eve of Independence Day I marveled at  how much the celebrations had changed over the years and my mind was already writing an essay on Independecne celebrations of 20 years ago - no use for this year but I have every chance of selling it next year. If I wait another six months until submission time to write it I'll have forgotten all those memories that sprung up on the day itself this year.

The time when most of us have the greatest ideas for articles about an event, whether it is  Thanksgiving/ Xmas/  summer vacations /  Mother's Day etc , is in the midst of the event itself.

Don't despair and think you've missed the boat. Write it now and make a note in whatever form of online, virtual or physical calendar  you use, to remember to submit it in its entirety or a pitch in  6 - 9 month's time depending  on whether  it's a weekly, monthly or daily  publication or site.

Planning a year ahead makes sure you never get writer's block and can help keep the checks flowing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


For 18 months I've been blogging at Living and Writing in Israel but have decided the time has come to separate the 'living' and the 'writing' as the two aspects interest two totally different groups of readers

On this blog I hope to concentrate on aspects of writing which should be relevant to all writers, wherever they live.
Although it's inevitable that your home and  background affect your writing, which is good as it makes us each unique, writing and publishing can be done from anywhere in the world and we all have many problems,  challenges and solutions in common.