Anniversary Transformations: Two Years and Ten Years

Note: The portion of this essay written in regular font is adapted from: “Anniversary Transformation.” “Hannah’s Monthlies.” Website of KJ Hannah Greenberg. Jun. 2010.

Happy second anniversary! My transformation was, initially from focusing on being a professor to focusing on being a mom. Now, my transformation has been from focusing on being a mom to focusing on being a writer. This latter change is two years old!

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This year, I was blessed to: be nominated for The Pushcart Prize in the genre of poetry, have a collection of essays, Oblivious to the Obvious: Wishfully Mindful Parenting, published, and join the literary criticism staff at the speculative fiction review venue, Tangent. What‘s more, Australia‘s Kindred incorporated me as their “Suddenly Teens” blogger, Bewildering Stories invited me to become an Associate Editor, and the UK‘s The Mother Magazine embraced me as their “Concentrated Awareness” columnist.

Happy tenth anniversary! It’s hard to believe, but a decade of my life has slipped away while I’ve been focusing on being a writer. What’s more, I’ve have the fortune to glide from a part-time wannabe to a full-time author.  I’m excited to have been able to add the publication of multiple novels to my book credits. Those new titles sit alongside of my published: essay collections, short fiction compilations, and poetry assemblages.

On balance, I’ve had to cut back on teaching. Currently, I only offer online workshops and only do so irregularly. I’ve cut back on blogging, too. At present, I am only writing a column about the publishing industry, “Word Citizen,” for The Jerusalem Post. I am, b’ayin tova, very busy fulfilling multiple book contracts.

This year has been filled with wonderful people, too. I‘ve been graced to “get to know” the astonishing editor Karen Schindler and the gifted writer William Preston. I became inspired by publishing industry contenders like Larina Warnock and Pamela Tyree Griffin, and was encouraged by the New York Times bestselling writer, Jeff Zaslow, as well as by Ronnie van Sweringen, a funky short fiction wordie, and Hadass Ben-Ari, an amazing feminist thinker. I wish I could rent a hotel ballroom and treat both the aforementioned and all of the other individuals who have been helping me, to a delicious “thank-you.” Unfortunately, my funds are those of an emerging creative.

My life continues to be populated with wonderful people. At this point, it’s not so much writers as magazine editors and small press publishers with whom I’m in most frequent communication. Among those luminaries are: Don Webb of Bewildering Stories, Julie Ann Dawson of Bards & Sages Publishing, MH Clay of Mad Swirl, and Michele Hinton of Seashell Books.

I am also entirely grateful to numerous other writers, editors, and publishers, whom I hesitate to list for fear of leaving someone out. I have been trying to emulate you and your many kindnesses. To wit, I have been providing at least as many positive remarks as “constructive” ones when reading slush for publications or when posting critiques, which get published.

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to be an associate editor, assistant editor, or slush reader for; Cat Rambo’s science fiction collection, If This Goes On; and for the following periodicals; Bound Off! Bewildering Stories, Sotto Voce, Notes and Grace Notes Writings, and Motherwords. To Boot, I recently judged an international flash fiction contest for Brilliant Flash Fiction. I still try to ply kindness and compassion alongside of starker comments when I respond, privately, or publically, to other writers’ work.

Because of the guidance of so many incredible folks, I now appreciate media gatekeepers as persons inundated with time, money, and other resource pressures and, consequently, now appreciate why form letters are sometimes necessary. Curt responses might have as much to do with someone else‘s soggy lunch as with my writing or with me (in other words, all of you have taught me not to take things out of proportion and not to take others’ oddities personally.) I have learned from you, too, to ask responders to be straightforward, even to the extent of my seeking out their bluntest reactions (you showed me that my writing and my attitude toward my writing benefit most from direct feedback.)

It’s valuable for authors to heed rejections. In the least, useful information, like specific gatekeepers’ name and email addresses, are almost always part of such letters. At best, pointers on how to improve submitted pieces, specifically, or one’s writing, overall, are included in such correspondences. These days, particularly for my individual works, letters containing unadulterated views help me improve my writing more than do acceptances.

Because of everything that you supportive people have taught me, I am conceptualizing my third year as being about branding. Whereas I still intend to learn more about social media and whereas I still intend to send out oodles of individual poems, short stories, and essays to venues worldwide, I plan to shift my focus. My writing needs to be sharper. My image, too, needs to be more fine-tuned.

I still have not, much to the woe of some of my publishers, settled on a single “brand.” I had named myself “The Keeper of a Prickle of Imaginary Hedgehogs” in relationship to my ongoing series of science fiction and fantasy short story collections, but that reference lasted for less than six volumes of my work.

I have become one name with several divisions. I’m still a “mommy writer” per some of my books of poetry and per some of my books of essays. I’m still “a proud Israeli writer” through some of my novels, some of my poetry collections, and some of my essay collection. I’m still a “wonky wombat female writer” according to some of my collections of imaginative short fiction and some of my book-length fictions. To wit, if Coca-Cola can have multiple product lines, so, too can KJ Hannah Greenberg. Sigh.

My writing reflects my life. BH, I’m a wife, a mom, and a grandmom. I’m a proud Jew, who is blessed to live in Jerusalem. I’m a lover of speculative fiction (some of my publishers see my faith-based [per author epistemology] creations as “magical realism.) All of those facets constitute me.

Accordingly, this year‘s emphasis will be on sending around books, compilations of previous published short works, and stand-alone novels. As well, I hope to find an agent, and improve the overall quality of my output. In the past, I focused on making myself a presence in publishers/editors‘ minds. In the future, I must work on making myself a noticeable presence.

BH, the adventure continues. B’ayin tova, to date, I have had: a musical produced, three novels either published or awaiting release; ten essay collections either published or awaiting release; eight short fiction collections either published or awaiting release; and nine poetry collections published. Additionally, I have written another dozen book-length projects that have yet to find homes. I have had the fortunate to become more and more invested in my writing.

Contrariwise, I still struggle with marketing to readers. Whereas I would rather write than pitch to publishers, I’ve not yet made peace with the amount of time needed to likewise pitch to audiences. Commercial success demands advertising one’s self (brand) and one’s products. I’m still living the scholarly mode of fashioning the best possible book and letting it sell itself. Today, I need to yield that the scholarly model of fashioning work is not going to function optimally in the commercial realm.

Going forward, I hope to: fulfill all of my book contracts in a timely way, place my other completed works with publishers, finish other book projects, and accept that if I want to write for quality, not for sales, that I need to return, in a more regular manner, to science writing, to part-time editing, or to the university classroom. It will be interesting to see what the next ten years will bring.

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