I love to learn. Every week, I publish a science article for children about topics I find fascinating. I come home from my incredible day job as a writer/editor and I tell my children over dinner—“Did you know that there’s a fish called a sarcastic fringehead that can open its mouth THIS wide?” “Did you know that a blobfish decompresses when you take it out of the water? Did you know that when locusts die they form a carpet on the ground that crunches when you walk on it?” My kids have usually stopped eating at this point.
I spent years learning about writing. Before I had my pet Kindle, I would ship hundreds of English books overseas to Israel—mostly middle grade fiction—and devour them. Reading books and analyzing them helped me to develop my writing more than any craft book, though I like those too. I learned to hone my craft even more when I won an intensive mentorship with the amazing Jessica Vitalis from the Pitchwars contest. And working with my smart and wonderful agent, Saba Sulaiman, is like going to writing University.
Teaching and presenting about writing is like having your cake and eating it too. Or having your book and reading it too. Or something like that. I love learning about writing so much, sharing what I’ve learned with others feels SO good. Here’s some good stuff people have to say about my workshops and speeches—
Esther Heller, Co-coordinator of the Jerusalem Writers' Seminar, Professor at the Michigan Jewish Institute, Acquisitions Editor Menucha Publishers, author of THE LOST DAUGHTER.
Yael Mermelstein has been giving dynamic workshops and presentations at the Jerusalem Writers' Seminars for several years. Although we try to vary our presenters each year, our participants insist on hearing Yael every year! Whether she is speaking to a group of 20 or a crowd of 200, Yael gives it her all. She keeps her listeners entertained, inspired and helps them gain depth and insight into the writing process. Writers gain tremendously from her creative and comprehensive teaching and her warmth and enthusiasm.
Tamar Ansh, www.aTasteofChallah.com Co-coordinator of the Annual Jerusalem Women's Writers Seminar; Acquisitions Editor Judaica Press; Author of several books including A Taste of Challah, Pesach-Anything's Possible!
I have had the tremendous pleasure of hearing Yael speak many times already and always come away from any of her speeches or workshops with helpful and insightful information and tips. Yael presents clearly and to the point, while including wit, ordinary, everyday life struggles and more into all her material. Any writer, from the very experienced to the novice will have a lot to gain from Yael's presentations. Women from all backgrounds and of all ages love to come to hear what she has to say, and the material is always new and innovative every time. I've been an avid fan of Yael's writing for years -- she's always interesting and creative in all that she does.
Chaya Baila Weinfeld, Monsey Writer’s Event Organizer, Longtime Columnist at Yated Ne'eman Author of seven books, including YES I CAN (Feldheim Publishers, 2011)
We invited Yael to address our first annual Writer’s Workshop in Monsey, and were thrilled with its success! We had a huge turnout, as writers of all ages were eager to meet Yael and hear her ‘pearls of wisdom.’ Yael’s engaging and witty personality, her superb delivery and fascinating stories made her an excellent choice for a keynote speaker. I also had the privilege of being part of her audience when she addressed 500 plus people at the Bikur Cholim Party, and she sang a beautiful song she’d written for the occasion.The day after the event, Yael offered a private workshop for more advanced writers; I found it very professional, exceptionally well conducted and enjoyable. Yael is a pleasure to deal with; I would hire her again in a heartbeat.
Mrs. Chaya Breindy Kenigsberg, Educational Consultant
I have been arranging and attending Yael's writing workshops for a number of years now and I highly recommend them. Yael's presentations are always organized and clear. She uses specific examples to demonstrate techniques and gives participants a chance to attempt the strategies at the workshop. Her pleasant and congenial manner and personal anecdotes, add a warm, fun touch to the workshops. Attendees feel empowered and inspired to write after leaving Yael's workshops.
Brocha Miller, Freelance Writer and Author of Ripples in Time
Yael's intensive writing workshop packed a ton of material into one evening. She presented practical guidelines, and involved the entire group in analyzing the writing samples and coming up with successful writing strategies. I gained real tools and excellent advice.
Miriam Rothbart, Organizer, London Writer’s Conference
We brought Yael to London where she delivered five well-structured workshops that were focused, interesting, practical and enjoyable. The participants gained many writing tips and techniques and the overall feedback was overwhelmingly positive. It was also a pleasure to host her.
Mimi Weinstein, Teacher of English Literature and Language Arts: BYA
I teach English Language Arts - eighth grade at Bais Yaakov Academy in Brooklyn and I always invite writers into my classroom. Introducing my students to people who write fiction, plays and feature articles energizes my writing classes like nothing else.
Yael Mermelstein is my absolute best presenter.
I watch the faces of even the reluctant learners become captivated and engaged as she speaks. She's honest and so, so, funny when she tells them about her mishaps and disappointments. She's - tissues anyone?, inspiring but never preachy when she shares her idealism. She distributes handouts and displays artifacts to see and to touch. She talks about her husband, her children and how she fits writing into a very busy life. She has a knack for always selecting the student that needs a pick-me-up when her talk calls for audience volunteers. And when she grabs her guitar to accompany the song that she'll be singing (amazing voice) - a song she composed, lyrics that she wrote - the school lunchroom is transformed into Carnegie Recital Hall.
Mrs. Flo Fruchter, Director of Student Services, Manhattan Day School
Yael Mermelstein was very warmly received by students grades 1-5. Mrs. Mermelstein reviewed the writing process with the students, explaining how she came up with ideas for her books and followed the book from the idea stage all the way to the publishing stage. The students were thrilled to meet her since their teacher had read her book aloud to them prior to Mrs. Mermelstein's arrival. In grades 3-4 Mrs. Mermelstein had costumes and props that allowed the children to generate their own stories..This activity was hands on and the students eagerly participated. Mrs. Mermelstein had the students work in groups. The students shared their storyline and characters with the rest of the group. They all enjoyed the interaction and began to understand how characters are developed when writing a story.
There were many valuable teaching moments during Mrs. Mermelstein's presentation. She was able to reach each and every student. This combination made it a winning presentation.
Merry Rosman, teacher and activities coordinator, YCQ
We were thrilled with Yael's presentation to our elementary school students. Her presentations were engaging, creative and interactive. Yael brought a basket of costumes along with her and the children were involved in creating their very own stories! Her presentation was well organized and structured and the kids came out with real life tools for writing. She also inspired them to become successful writers while giving them concrete tools and organizational skills to achieve their goals. We've already had Yael at our school twice and we look forward to having her here again!
Mrs. Hindy Kviat, Teacher
I teach English in a Chassidish school which has eliminated secular literature from its curriculum. I respect the school’s decision but it is challenging to find stimulating, high level Judaica stories. However, Yael Mermelstein’s stories save the day (better said, the lesson). Specifically, "The Society" was brilliant. My classrooms came alive. Both classes were abuzz with questions, analyses and insights.
The girls loved Yael’s originality, use of language, imagery, metaphors and symbolism. I was prompted to contact Yael to provide answers to their questions. Yael so kindly responded at length and brought our discussions to an even more meaningful level. My students clamored for more of her work.
Many of my short stories have been used as springboards for classroom lesson plans, seminars, skits, plays, etc. A number of them have been incorporated into school curriculums. Some have been published in textbooks.
If you would like to use one of my short stories for any of these purposes, please fill out the Contact Me form. Thanks so much!
I like kids. That’s why I keep seven of them at home. There’s nothing like visiting a school and watching the kids’ faces light up when I take out my little writer’s notebook from when I was their age. (White chocolate comes in a close second though). I tailor my presentations for each visit instead of using the same ones over and over again. That way I don’t get bored and fall asleep. The children would never let me live that down. I also enjoy signing autographs at the end. At the last school visit one child asked me to sign the bottom of his shoe and another one had me sign her gum wrapper. I’m not picky. Have surface—will sign. Here’s a sampling of what people say about my visits—