Up, Up and Away!
I promised you a rundown on my interesting career path, so dive in, folks!
Believe it or not, I never wanted to be a writer. In third grade, we took a trip to the Toronto Science Center and in a big, dark room I came across an X-ray machine. The placard said it was built to provide radiation therapy to people sick with cancer. In the solemn, ominous darkness, I pledged to find a cure for cancer. You might imagine this wasn’t the typical third-grade response to the existential “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Especially when the school was Bais Yaakov Elementary.
I nurtured this mission through high school and beyond, but the dream was killed by a family friend and hero of mine who talked me out of biomedical research. He had been badly burned when a rival research group beat him to the finish line and his lab got axed.
So I turned to my second love and lifelong fascination: computers. I taught computers to grades 9-12 before getting married at 20 and moving to Israel where I landed a dream job as a junior software engineer. Except for one problem: the company folded the day after I was hired. (You can’t make this stuff up! Especially when their name, unluckily, was actually Fourfold! ????)
My teachers had never been particularly enamored of my chutzpah (I don’t blame them–I was a nightmare!), but it certainly came in handy when I was jobless and broke. I got hired by Feldheim Publishers to write the book descriptions for their catalog and to build their first website. It was a job that lasted upward of 10 years and it was during my wonderful time in the Feldheim family that I also wrote my first novel, Breaking Point, and translated my first two children’s books in the Adventures with Rebbe Mendel series.
Yes, I had been born with a silver pen in my mouth, and at five years old wrote a story about bandits who drug a kid with chloroform. (Thanks, Herge!). Yet I never, ever, EVER aspired to be a Writer, capital “W”. It just wasn’t on my radar. Instead, I moved back to the States and taught high school English, but quickly realized that I wasn’t cut out for the discipline part. By day, I created curriculum for the Mosdos Press literary series, and by night, I mentored awesome teen girls .
And here we get to the really gritty part of my story. Somewhere along the line, I. Sold. Avon. Really! ????
Motivated by pep talks about women who were killing it and earning themselves pink sportscars, I was sure that I’d be the next beauty products superstar. I could write a book on the experiences, including one epic customer who, having no change for the $2.50 she owed me, tore up a $5 and declared us even. (You REALLY can’t make this stuff up!)
Avon called but eventually I hung up, and one day, during a particularly gift-heavy season where our family celebrated multiple birthdays, an anniversary, and Chanukah, I was struck by inspiration to write an article. After submitting it to the Cleveland Jewish News and having the supreme pleasure of enjoying my five minutes of fame, I decided, on a whim, to submit it to Aish.com. Well, it was accepted. You can read my very first article here: https://www.aish.com/f/p/The-Gift-of-the-Past-Present.html
After that, things kinda snowballed for me. I got bit, real bad, by the writing bug. By the professional writing bug. Long dormant aspirations and lots and lots of words rose to the surface and made themselves known. I pestered Mishpacha magazine to let me write for them and they finally acquiesced, if only to get me to stop stalking their editorial desk. When our family had the privilege of making Aliyah in 2006, I was asked to write a serial story for the Family First, and me, the consummate procrastinator with an almost anaphylactic allergy to deadlines, somehow found a woman with a striking resemblance to myself saying, “Okay.” That’s when I broke out a new genre in frum publishing, “kosher soap operas”—sensationalist, entertaining, but always with a mission and a message. Long live Green Fences! ????
In recent years, after releasing my 12th best-selling novel, Enough, I decided to devote myself to offering frum women the kind of mentorship and safe space I had always craved, to give them a chance to nurture their writing skills and build confidence. I created the online community Masterpiece: Unite & Write (www.rivapomerantz.com/masterpiece) and then a special Masterpiece Teens community because they deserve a place full of creativity and self-expression, www.rivapomerantz.com/teenswrite.
My newest project, which I hope to roll out shortly, is an online marketplace where frum creatives can sell their online courses to the global frum market. Stay tuned! ????????
I’ve also worked in patent writing, life coaching, and I’m an international motivation speaker. But by far, my most important and rewarding life’s work has been raising my seven amazing children who inspire, delight, and challenge me every single day.
And guess what? I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. ????
Written by Riva Pomerantz
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