About Masha Levinson

Posts by Masha Levinson:

First “Manuscript”

I will use the term manuscript loosely because… well, because this is my post and I feel like it.

The year was 1981 (yes, ’81.. I’m old).  I was sitting in a second grade classroom listening to the teacher speak in a language I didn’t understand.  I had only been in America for a month.  In a small deep Midwest town, I was probably the only foreigner in the school.  No ESOL programs for me.  Sink or swim.  Sitting in Mrs. Magruder’s second grade class I was bored.  And so I wrote a story, complete with pictures on every page.  About a lonely little girl who left behind her life to come to a new country, where she didn’t speak the language, didn’t have any friends and had a very bleak outlook on the future.  I don’t remember the plot, the exposition, characterization or metaphors.  I don’t remember the dark moment, the turning points, the scenes or the chapters.  I don’t remember the secondary characters and whether they supported the…
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Writing Nowhere

Where do I write?  These days, nowhere.  Not in my head, not on my keyboard, not in a creative nook, not in a fancy writing office with a cantankerous cat.

Nowhere.

Life has gotten in the way.  Not an excuse for some, but it is for me.  And I’m okay with it.  This is the first time I’ve touched the keyboard in months.  How many, I don’t know.  Lost count, to be exact.  And so that’s where I am.

Nowhere.

Not developing new story ideas.  Not creating new characters.  Not writing fast drafts.

Nowhere.

Except is that really where I am?

I stop by my parents’ house.  My gaze falls on a poem I wrote to them, years ago.

We still remember where we came from The withered birches standing tall The dachas with their secret gardens That rolled from summer into fall.

As children we knew very little Of all the hardships they endured They did not want us bearing witness To those same struggles, as we matured.


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I Got a $5 Coupon for Valentine’s Day

“You know we’re not doing anything for Valentine’s Day,” I say in a sweetly menacing voice as my husband and I pass each other in the hall. He rolls his eyes. “Yes, I know. Not my first day on the job.”

It’s not by accident I make sure we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. Early in our relationship, when we were still figuring things out, I said the same thing. But then came Valentine’s morning and there they were on the table: roses, chocolates and a trinket. “You didn’t get me anything? Not even a card?” he asked with a look of bewildered incredulity. “But we said nothing,” I mewled. “I thought you meant nothing big,” he replied A quick trip to the store and I spent a load of money to wipe the stench of disappointment I had smeared all over him with my lack of sentimentality. But that was in the early throws of dating.

It’s not that I hate Valentine’s Day, I hate what it represents….
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Cannot Write Without… My Sanity

Edgar Allen Poe said, “I am a writer. Therefore, I am not sane.” I think I agree. Sanity is twenty shades of complicated. For me, it’s the ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner. When life gets tough, or when sanity is tested, writing can be an outlet. Sometimes. Except this is not one of those times. This time I can’t write. And it’s happening during NaNo. When everyone is furiously squirreling away words, the inability to write becomes a miasma of frustration and self-recrimination. But not this time. This time I am allowing myself not to write. And not to feel guilty. There are a number of downsides to not being published. But one of the upsides is that the only deadlines I have are self-imposed. Yes, it’s NaNo. Yes, I’m not writing. Yes, I’m okay with that.

Editor and Agent Recommendations.. Go!

It’s that time of year. The Easter Bunny is tiptoeing through the tulips, April showers are sowing May flowers and Masha (yes, I’m referring to myself in the third person.. shows you how much I’ve been working in 3rd POV) is getting ready to bombard unsuspecting editors and agents with her (mostly) edited manuscript. Hence, the request. If anyone has an editor or agent recommendation, swing on by your keyboard and throw out some details. Since our pond plays host to friendly fishies, please no negative recommendations. Only glowing reviews from personal experience or the gossip mill. Any and all feedback is much obliged.

I Did It

A few months ago I wrote about how I went to the Bethesda Writer Center in the hopes of reading my work aloud.  In front of humans.  Living humans.  And I chickened out.  Well, I’m happy to report that I went back for another helping of terror pie and this time, I did it.

There were about 20 or so people in the room.  A few faces I’d seen last time.  I took the last seat in the farthest corner of the room and pulled out my papers. Earlier that day, I’d gone through which poems and narrative I was going to read.  You get anywhere from four to seven minutes, depending on how many people sign up.  I think I was number 12.  Person after person went up to the mic.  I sat, listening to their words.  I didn’t feel anxiety or fear.  Actually, I didn’t feel anything.

That should have been my clue.

Before I knew it, it was my turn.  And then it became real.  I’d have…
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Best Lines Ever… Go!

Sometimes an author writes a line that sticks with you.  Here are a few of my favorites, including one of my own (yes, I know, presumptuous).   What are your favorite lines from other authors, but especially yourself?

For Sale:  Baby Shoes.  Never Worn.  Earnest Hemingway (a six line story competition)

“Sometimes a woman needs a man for company, no matter how useless he is.”  Lisa Kleypas, Sugar Daddy

“I have sex,” Grace shrugged. “I meant with a man,” Claudia said dryly. “Now why would I ruin something so good by inviting a man along?”  Sarah Mayberry,  All Over You

“You signed me up for an orgy?  My own mother signed me up for an orgy?”  Masha Levinson, Cruising for Love

 

Perspective

Life is about perspective. Or so we hope. Or maybe, so we are reminded. A number of years ago, I stood in front of my mirror, trying to lump my hair into something that didn’t resemble a villainous Star Trek character.  To no avail.  The strands refused to cooperate, as did the rest of my appearance.  A frumpy outfit hugging a poochy belly.. green tinged skin glowering under fluorescent lights.  Bloodshot eyes pegged into a puffy face.  And a nice hint of a double-chin laughing at me from its less than obvious hiding place.  I hated what I saw and was angry at all the maladies I felt had been unfairly heaped upon me.  Why, oh why, I bemoaned, must I look like a freak show in a fun-house mirror?  It wasn’t fair.  Others didn’t have to go through this.  Why did I?  As I scrubbed my teeth, I silently grumbled about the days when my hair cooperated, my clothes fit and my face wasn’t a replica of the Grinch. …
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Gentle Endings

There’s no good way to end a relationship, especially if one party doesn’t want it to end.  But how to react when the relationship never got off the ground?

A friend of mine is swimming in a tarn of internet dating.  And I’m along for the ride.  We have lawyers who can’t spell lawyer.  A world traveler who has never heard of Machu Picchu and one bozo who only wanted to discuss the dimensions he would bring to the relationship.  Yes, those dimensions.  Within this jambalaya of bachelors, there are of course, nice, sweet guys, who by all accounts look good on paper, but just don’t have that “something” that connects her to them.  So then the question arises, how to let them know, it’s just not there.

Asking me for advice, less so for my dating experience (ahem, 10-year wedding anniversary coming up) and more for wordsmithing, I give her my .01 cent of advice.   Be nice, be gentle, but be honest.   Something like, Mr. Bachelor, you are a…
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Using and Abusing the Mermaids

Okay Mermaid gals and beloved visitors, I’m letting it all hang out.  I’ve taken off the make-up, the Spanx (for those who remember one of my previous posts) and the Wonderbra.  I stand before you in my all unglory.  What in the heck I’m talking about, you ask?  Here goes.

In a spurt of insanity, I’m putting my first 300 out for commentary.  Myself and an unnamed Mermaid are taking a Margie Lawson class and unlike the unnamed Mermaid, I’m confused.  I’ve been getting such contradictory advice on my opening paragraphs that I have decided to take my confusion to the Mermaids.  Who better to help?  So I’ve included two versions.  Version #1 was the original opening.  However, a few editors didn’t love it.. said not to start with an opening sentence.. give a bit of the character.  So I created a quick infodump.  However, the peanuts from Margie’s class didn’t like the infodump and said to start with the opening sentence.

Any and all thoughts are welcome, including but…
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