Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Things to Do in Jerusalem in the Summer of 2017

There are so many fun things to do in Jerusalem this summer, but unfortunately no one seems to have assembled an easy to understand site of events with correct dates, locations, costs, and so on.

One site, Janglo, has a few good articles about events that are currently happening or about to happen in Jerusalem but is over-run by ads, ads, and more ads. It's frustrating trying to weed through it to find actual useful information.

The Jerusalem Film Festival site has an opening and closing date for the festival, but...there's no other info about this year's festival, which starts less than a month from now. It runs from July 13th until July 23rd this year, and if it's anything like last year's festival, it will be amazing. (The festival last year included a zipline, other interactive activities, and screenings under the stars in  Independence Park; moonlight cinema at the First StationOld City screenings; and a free virtual reality complex next to the Cinematheque.)

Even the best sites, like FunInJerusalem (a good site for families), GoJerusalem (mostly for adult tourists, with events like the Opera Festival and the Beer Festival), iTravelJerusalem ("the official Jerusalem Travel Site"), and the Jerusalem Municipality's events calendar have only partial lists. You have to get one thing from one site, another thing from's all so confusing and frustrating.

Screengrab of one part of the Jerusalem Municipality website with some of the things residents and visitors can enjoy this month

The good news is that you can't go wrong by simply walking around the city any evening of the week. The bad news is that there are so many things you're likely to miss!

With that in mind, I've decided to start a new blog: Shop With Shevi. A part of this will be me trying to work out what I might want to do on any given day. Another part will be an attempt to share this information to help anyone else who is looking for something to do, somewhere to eat, the best places to shop, and more in Jerusalem.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Where in the World Is Shevi Arnold?

Hi, everyone!

So I haven't been blogging for several months. Here's why.

Whenever my life takes a turn, I like to look at where I am and ask myself how I got there. Was this my goal when I started this path? Is this path bringing me closer to my goal?

The purpose of returning to the USA was to get my son the best education for autistic kids that we could afford, and we got that. But in June of last year, he graduated out of the system at the age of 21. After that, we tried to get him into a program for young adults with autism, but we weren't getting anywhere.

Then the 2016 elections happened, and stability--especially for the disabled community--went out the window in the USA.

I don't know if you've noticed, but withdrawing funding from programs that help the disabled seems to be very high on the GOP's to-do list. It's horrible and shocking, but then so are a lot of things that have been going on in the USA lately. The day after the election, I experienced racism and antisemitism during a trip to my local supermarket. This was not my America, not anymore.

I looked at where I was and saw that being in the USA had fulfilled my goal for a long time...but it no longer was. I decided it was time to return to Jerusalem.

Independence Park in Jerusalem

Jump ahead a few months, and here I am, in the heart of Jerusalem! And I love this place. There are so many fun things to do throughout the week. When I left the USA, I was surrounded by fear and instability. Here in Jerusalem, I feel surrounded by joy and love and understanding. Most Israelis have been so nice to me and my son. It's so good to be back!

So that's what's going on with me.

I'm currently doing the final edits on the second book in the Legend of Gilbert the Fixer. Book one was called Why My Love Life Sucks, so book two is, of course, called Why It Still Mega Bites. (Get it? "Megabytes" and "mega bites," because Gilbert is a computer nerd who's also a vampire? Of course, you do. I knew it. My readers are geniuses.)

I've also started working on a nonfiction book entitled Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know about God, which I will be publishing under a pen name. (I don't want anyone to confuse it with my fiction.) Many people know that the three major monotheistic religions began with one man, Abraham. What most don't know is that it started with a logical argument. The book returns us to that logical argument, shows where religion went wrong, and explains how we can return to that logical view of God. It's built on commonly asked questions, like "Does God even exist?" "Does God demand faith?" "Why do bad things happen to good people?"  

But mostly I'm just taking care of my son and enjoying what Jerusalem has to offer. This city is amazing! If you go to my Facebook page, you'll see lots of photos I've taken of just about everything.

I'm feeling a lot better now, and hopefully I'll start blogging a lot more.

Stick around for more stuff about writing, my books, and Jerusalem. I love you all so much and look forward to sharing my continuing journey with you.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

How to Get Rid of the Ugly Green Lines Under Your Lovely Words in Microsoft Office Word

Are you writing fiction or blog posts? Is Microsoft Office Word telling you contractions are a problem? Incomplete sentences are a problem? And other things that are stylistic choices you're free to make as a writer are problems? 

No, the rules of writing haven't changed. It's just that Office is now set for academic writing, not any old kind of writing (Why do they think there's only one kind of writing?!), but you can fix this issue. I found solutions online, but they weren't very helpful, probably because they were for older versions of Word. This solution is for the latest version (although it's possible it might be good for slightly older versions, as well).

Here's how you can fix this problem: The next time you see that pesky green line under your beautiful words, right-click it and then click "grammar" in the pop-up window. That will open this screen: 

(Please don't try to read the words under the window in this screen grab. They contain several huge spoilers for Why It Still Mega Bites, the second book in the Legend of Gilbert the Fixer, and you don't need that.)

See where it says Options at the bottom left? Click that. The next screen should open with"Proofing" highlighted in the left-hand column. In the pop-up menu to the right of that, scroll down to where it says "Writing Style: Grammar & Style" and click the "Settings" button next to it. That will give you the "Grammar Settings" menu shown here:

Go through the options and unclick the things you don't want to be corrected on, like fragments and run-ons, contractions, sentence fragments, sentences beginning with and, and so on. Then click "Okay." This will take you back to the previous menu.

Near the bottom of the menu on the right, you'll see "Exceptions for." Click to open the drop-down menu and select "All New Documents" and then click "Okay" at the bottom of that menu.

And that's it. Yay! You've made those pesky green lines go away!

You're welcome.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

#AtoZChallenge links

Here are all the links to all of my Writing Words for Nerds #AtoZChallenge posts:

J is for Justice (and why we need it in stories)

L is for Love Stories (and how to write one when you don’t read romance)

P is for POV. What’s the right one for your story?

R is for Raise [the Stakes] and why you NEED to do that NOW!

Z is for Zigzag

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Words for Nerds #AtoZChallenge--Z is for Zigzag (the easy way to bust that cliché!)

I’m about to give you a piece of advice I got from an agent at a SCBWI New Jersey workshop. The workshop and one-on-one critique with the agent cost me a nice bit of money and a trip to Princeton, but I’m about to give it to you for FREE!

How lucky does that make you?

During my critique, the subject of clichés came up, not because my manuscript had any clichés, but because I wanted tips on how to avoid them.

The agent told me, “If everyone else goes ones way, go the other way.”

Simple, right? If everyone turns right, you turn left. If everyone zigs, you zag. If everyone is doing something one way, then it’s a cliché. Don’t do it that way. Do it the opposite way. Leave the beaten path and forge your own. It’s that easy.

When we think of clichés, we usually think of over-used expressions, like “head over heels in love.” But clichés can be bigger things, too.

All kissing scenes zig one way? Zag, and write a kissing scene that’s almost the opposite of that. That’s what I did in Ride of Your Life. If you read it, you’ll see there’s a first kiss that couldn’t have been written in any other book. It’s just so different! Gilbert’s first kiss with Amber in Why My Love Life Sucks also zags . . . and so does a kiss in the upcoming sequel, Why It Still Mega Bites. I hate kissing clichés, so of course I write kisses differently.

Everyone is writing dystopian? Zag, and write whatever the opposite of dystopian is in your eyes. (For me, that would be a science-fiction comedy.) Or zag, and write a dystopian that breaks all the clichés and completely changes what people think a dystopian novel is supposed to be! After all, no one need another dystopian novel that’s exactly like the hundreds of others already out there.

So how do you zag?

In my blog post on humor, Writing Words for Nerds #AtoZChallenge—H is for Humor (and how to create it), I mentioned the mirrors and lenses of the House of Funny. While any mirror or lens can help you zag, the best to use here is the “lens of character.” Because if you have a truly different character with a completely different way of seeing the world and interacting with it, anything viewed through the lens that is that character will be different.

Should you always zag where everyone else zigs?

 I don’t think so. But you should always zag when zigging feels somehow wrong to you, it doesn’t fit your story, or it makes your story less of what you’re trying to make it.

You should also try to consider the possibility of zagging, even if you choose to zig in the end. It should always be a choice, not something you did because you were following the crowd—or trying hard not to follow the crowd. You shouldn’t zag for zagging’s sake. You should do it because you like that’s your preferred choice.

And now I’m down to another Z: Zero!

I’ve reached the end of this blog post, which means I have zero posts left to write in the #AtoZChallenge. I did it! Hope you liked it and that it helped or at least entertained you in some way.

Maybe I’ll do it again next year, this time in April!