Let the touring begin…
Flying Without a Net
E.M. Ben Shaul
Release date: November 17, 2016
“May the words of my lips match the words of my heart.”
E.M. Ben Shaul’s 10 tips for becoming a better writer…
1. Make writing a habit: Make writing something you always plan to do, like brushing your teeth or stopping for that first cup of coffee on your way to the office. It doesn’t have to be an every day habit; for example, when I am in the writing phase of a project, I write five days a week.
2. Allow yourself small victories: Some days, one word will be very easy, and you’ll go on to write another, or ten more, or 100 more. But then there will be days that even one word is a victory. Allow yourself to see that victory and use it to bolster yourself for the next writing day.
3. Allow yourself to write a bad first draft: Don’t feel like you have to write a perfect, publishable piece of prose on your first draft. For me, striving for a perfect first draft adds unnecessary pressure that can stall the writing process.
4. Don’t edit while you’re writing: I have worked full-time as a professional editor, and I know from experience that if I try to edit as I go, I’ll get too focused on the edits and let them derail the writing process. I do take notes in a separate file of things I think I may want to revise, or at least revisit, but I don’t take the time before the first draft is finished.
5. When editing your own work, read it out loud: The human mind is trained to correct for what it expects to see, which means that you will frequently not notice obvious errors (such as the word “the” repeated). To trick your brain into actually paying attention to every word, read the story out loud. If you’re nervous about someone else hearing your unpolished work, read it to yourself when you’re alone.
6. Find other writers to interact with: It doesn’t have to be a formal writing group, and it doesn’t have to be in person. Having other writers who understand the joy and the pain of writing can be a valuable asset when you’re in the depths of a project or, on the flipside, when you are having trouble getting a story to flow. Other writers can provide advice, or they can just be there as a sympathetic listener who understands exactly what you’re going through.
7. Set realistic goals: Some people will tell you that you should set a 250 or 500 word goal for each writing day. But many of the people who give this advice are full-time writers. For those of us with day jobs, families that require attention, or other calls on our time, it may not be realistic to write even 250 words per day. Find your realistic goal, and aim for it.
8. Don’t despair if you miss a goal you’ve set for yourself: Not every day will be a perfect writing day. Some days the words just don’t flow. I find that forcing the words to come makes it worse, and I usually end up deleting most of what I forced out. It’s sometimes better to recognize that you missed the goal and try to do better the next day.
9. Find some trusted first readers: Find yourself some people who will read your story and give you honest and constructive feedback. These people don’t have to be writers. Sometimes, actually, it’s better if they’re not. Have first readers who will be fair but tough. For me, a first reader who tells me that they love my story and has no changes to suggest is lovely but not helpful. I need my first readers to tell me where the plot holes are, where my descriptions are weak, where I missed the end of a sentence because I got distracted.
10. Love what you write and write what you love: Don’t pick a genre to write in just because you think it will sell well. If you don’t enjoy your subject, it will be reflected in your writing. Write something you’re passionate about, and your readers will be drawn in by your passion.
Dani Perez, a secular Israeli working as a software engineer in Boston, has never had trouble balancing his faith and his sexuality—until he meets Avi Levine, a gay Orthodox Jew and sign language interpreter. As they fall in love, Dani finds himself wanting Avi in his life, but he can’t understand how Avi reconciles what his religion demands with what his body desires. And although he wants to deny it, neither can Avi.
Despite the risk of losing Avi forever to a religious life that objects to their love, Dani supports him through the struggle to find an answer. Will they be able to start a life together despite religious ideology that conflicts with the relationship they are trying to build?
Categories: Fiction, Romance, LGBT, Jewish, M/M
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: CB Messer
“All of the dati people I knew before I came out, they all thought that gay people were an abomination. And while, yes, I’m learning that not all dati people feel that way, I still have trouble understanding how someone can identify as dati and gay,” Danid said. I mean, yeah, halacha doesn’t mandate thought, just action. But how many people know that? How many people practice that?”
“A lot of people know. Think of it this way. Halacha has a lot to say about kashrut. But not everyone keeps the same type of kosher, even among the dati community. So, for example, I don’t hold that you have to only eat glatt meat or chalav Yisrael milk, but other people do. That doesn’t make my type of kosher any less legitimate than their type of kosher. The people who only eat glatt or chalav Yisrael won’t eat the food I make, but that’s because of how they interpret the rules. In my experience, most of them don’t believe I’m not keeping kosher; they just hold by a greater stricture.”
“We have a difference of opinion on how to interpret the law,” Avi continued. “Judaism allows for that; we have a long tradition of different communities having different standards, all of which are considered legitimate interpretations of halacha. Same with this. My interpretation of halacha has no problem with my being gay and my being frum. Someone else’s opinion of halacha may not be as inclusive, but those people may also say I don’t keep kosher enough or that the fact that I have a television in my house or an Internet connection means that I’m not frum. I disagree. My community disagrees. If they don’t like my interpretation of halacha, they can leave me to my life. I’m not going into their houses and saying they have to be accepting of my kashrut standards, but at the same time they cannot come into my house and tell me that I cannot eat my own food to my own standards of kashrut.”
Avi stopped and took a breath. Dani closed the distance between them and took Avi’s hand. “Okay, motek, I get it,” he said. “I think. I mean, it’s still a huge thing for me to work through, since I have been so used to the dati community that I know judging me simply for whom I choose to love. I just… Until I met you, I had never met an Orthodox Jew who was open-minded about gays. So I admit it will take me some time to adjust my biases. Please be patient with me, motek.”
“We’ll be patient with each other,” Avi said, bending for a kiss.
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It’s all about the author…
E.M. Ben Shaul lives in many communities. An Orthodox Jew and writer of gay fiction, E.M. lives in the simultaneously gay-friendly and Jewish-friendly Boston area with her husband and twin daughters. A technical writer by day and freelance editor by nights and weekends, E.M. likes to knit, cook and coin neologisms. E.M. seeks to explore the seeming conflict between religious teachings and the heart’s desires.
…and stalking them :)
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