I’ve been productively busy with many writing projects, and am especially excited to share the publication of my first fiction story, published today in the Jewish Journal . (See below). I’m also doing more work as a book editor and ghostwriter, while also keeping up my feature and essay writing and promotional events for my book, The Skeptic and the Rabbi: Falling in Love with Faith.
I never get tired of my work. Each assignment, whether short feature or book-length topic, teaches me new things. Recent and current projects have taught me about best leadership practices, holistic approaches to treating cancer, and nuances in dealing with people who have sensitive emotional make-ups.
For a good part of the last year, I was not feeling so great. In fact, I felt lousy and tired much of the time. I am extremely grateful to be feeling so much better now. I’m doing more yoga (Namaste!), and while I do not stand on my head as some of my classmates do, I am pretty proud of myself for getting stronger and more balanced through the practices. Picking up my youngest grandchildren is also wonderful form of exercise, though they are heavy to use as free weights and I must put them down after a short while. The other day I reached into a jacket pocket when I was out for an errand and pulled out a pacifier — sure evidence that I am also active in my role as Nana Gruen to our four beautiful, smart and funny grandchildren. (What else did you think I would have said about them?)
In trying to pick a suitable image to reinvent my newsletter, I couldn’t think of a better one than this incredible set up celebrating a life involvement with books, a photo that any bibliophile will love. I took this photo at The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles. A worthy place to visit! I picked up two used volumes of Bernard Malamud short stories and am eager to dive in.
Books that I have recently read and highly recommend include Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill , by Sonia Purnell. Mrs. Churchill was Sir Winston’s secret weapon, and it was very eye-opening to read about how much her political astuteness, powers of diplomacy, dynamism and endless support are vastly underappreciated contributions to her husband’s career. Keeping with the British theme, I also just finished The Summer Before the War, and reread Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand , both based in England and written by the wonderful Helen Simonson. She is one of my favorites.
My four-year-old granddaughter has recently learned that fiction means that a book is not true, and it is so cute that almost any book I read to her from our book of children’s titles will prompt her to ask, “Is this fiction?” even when the main characters are dogs or teddy bears. This is part of the joy of having grandchildren nearby. So is having them rush into the house on a rainy Sunday to color, string beads, and raid my pantry. Jeff and I are so blessed to have them near us.
This is a big milestone for me — a short story I first wrote years ago, and have revised many times since then — has found a home in the Jewish Journal , which does not normally publish fiction. “The Inheritance” is the story of a couple facing a growing rift in their marriage over their diverging approaches to Jewish tradition. I would love to know what you think of it. Please post comments via Facebook at the end of the story, or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After so many years of writing non-fiction exclusively, I wondered if I could write a good short story. You will have to be the judge of that.
I was pleased to have my first essay in the New York Daily News recently. Here’s how it begins:
“I’m at the gym, fruitlessly trying to keep up with an endless loop of ab crunches. I steal a look at the clock; has it only been 12 minutes since class began? Oral surgery goes faster than this.
Most of the other dozen or so women here are young enough to be my daughters, beautiful and toned enough to be on TV. But this is West Hollywood — they probably are on TV when they aren’t perfecting the Body Beautiful. The woman to my right looks like she might also be in her late 50s, but who can tell? In Los Angeles, it’s a misdemeanor to look older than 35.”
So many articles, so little time
I ‘ve published several pieces since last sending out a newsletter, but I’ll highlight two of them here. In “Stop the Sloganeering on the Cereal Aisle,” I write about how politically, socially, environmentally and gastronomically correct shopping is driving me nuts. It’s also an economically unsustainable practice.
Aish.com just published a longer-than-usual story of mine based on the new book by father-and-son writers David and Nic Sheff,High: Everything You Want to Know about Drugs, Alcohol. and Addiction. The book was written for teens but is important for anyone who is involved in a teenager’s life.
David Sheff is the author of the book, “Beautiful Boy,” recently made into a movie. Both father and son have written memoirs about their experiences with Nic’s years of addiction.
New reader raves for The Skeptic and the Rabbi
From Amazon reader reviews:
“This was a fabulous book. It helped me understand a whole other way of life.”
“Judy is a captivating writer and she explains what it’s like to become observant . . . Kudos to her for putting a positive Orthodox Jewish story out into the world.”
“For the Jewish reader looking to expand his or her understanding of Torah and Judaism, this book will resonate deeply. This is a book that will stay with you for a very long time. It is food for the soul.”
By the way, more book clubs are choosing my memoir to read — why not yours? I’m appearing at local book clubs, but if you’re far away, I can show up via Skype or Zoom!
Click here to purchase your copy of The Skeptic and The Rabbi: Falling in Love With Faith