Blog Tour Interview-Why I Do What I Do

Published March 10, 2014 by rochellewisoff

photo (57)

Thank you, Erin Leary for the invitation to participate in this blog tour. Read about her writing process and her novel in progress, BROKEN PARTS here.

Two other authors participating in this week’s tour are Alicia Audrey and Whats-so-funny-russell-gayer.

What am I working on?

At present, Friday Fictioneers takes a fair amount of my time. Besides facilitating, which entails choosing photo prompts, provision of the venue and commenting, I spend at least two days on my own one-hundred word story.

I am a few pages away from finishing edits on my second novel entitled FROM SILT AND ASHES. Once I’m satisfied with how it reads I’ll send it to my agent Jeanie Loiacono who is seeking a home for my first novel PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME. The second book is a sequel to the first. A third book, AS ONE MUST ONE CAN is in the works to create a trilogy.

Generating Genre

My maternal grandmother, Nettie Weinberg, standing. I’m guessing my great-grandmother sitting.

How does my work differ from others of its genre and why do I write it?

My first two novels could be subtitled “The Dark Side of Fiddler on the Roof.” As the granddaughter of Russian Jewish immigrants I’ve always had a personal affinity for the play. However there’s a grisly side to an otherwise romanticized history that isn’t widely known and I wanted to tell the story.

My characters aren’t the stereotypical Jews who settled in New York’s Lower East Side. Like my grandparents, when my main character Havah and her family immigrate to America, they settle in Kansas City.

When I first started to write in earnest, I imagined my muse looked a little like Yenta the Matchmaker. After all, aside from Jewish historical fiction, what else is there? The answer is, “Plenty.”

In 2010 I’d had short stories published in two High Hill Press anthologies. To my surprise  Louella Turner, owner of High Hill Press, emailed to say she wanted to publish an anthology of just my stories. I had to read that email several times. Then I did what any aspiring writer would do when offered a contract, I set the novels aside for a year.   During that time I explored all sorts of themes and settings.

Two years ago I “fell” into Friday Fictioneers, run then by creator Madison Woods. It’s a wonderful venue for further exploration. I’ve tried my hand at memoir, speculative fiction, science fiction and, of course, my favorite genre, historical fiction.

Quite a bit of what I write comes from personal experience. One of the perks of being a bit further along on this journey called life is that I have plenty of grist for the mill. I’m still in discovery mode. In which case, the questions,”how does my work differ from others” and “why do I write it”  are still being answered.

Miriam Reuben Wisoff, my grandmother who was a published poet.

Miriam Wisoff, my grandmother who was a published poet.

How does your writing process work?

Because I work a full time job and have to be there by 7:00 AM, I’m up and at the computer by 3:00, the quietest time of the day. Of course this morning ritual includes caffeine. Must have coffee—strong and black. As sleep-fog lifts I’ll read what I’ve written the day before to see if it’s worthy of survival.

Often I’ll print a chapter or story and then pencil whip it. Then I make the corrections on computer and save it on three flash drives, my  hard drive and an external hard drive. Thank heaven for word processors. If I had to use a typewriter I’d have to own a paper mill and a white-out concern.

Another part of my process is daydreaming which I do during my 45 minute drive to work or while I swim laps.  Conversation or  scenes play out in my head like movies. My job is to figure out the best way to articulate it.

Research is my passion and a huge part of the process. Old newspapers are better than textbooks for history because they’re written in the language of the day. I’ve found some incredible articles that have served as fodder for events in my books. 

One of my biggest pet peeves is to read a piece of fiction where the writer didn’t do his homework. This applies to novels, short stories and screenplays. One such example is a movie I saw a few years back. For the most part it was a wonderful movie. Great acting. Known stars. But the only thing I remember is a scene set in the 50’s or early 60’s and the female lead is holding a piece of Tupperware that didn’t come out until the 70’s. Am I a nitpicker? Perhaps. I’ve been known to spend hours combing the internet to find the origin of a word or phrase to make sure my characters would use it. I can’t have someone in 1903 saying, “Whassup yo?”

An important part of my writing process is feedback from other writers. I used to belong to a wonderful critique group but we disbanded a couple of years ago for the winter and never re-banded. There are still friends I can go to for crit. I am blessed with one particular writing buddy, a gifted writer, who I appreciate for his sometimes brutal honesty.  

So why do I do what I do? Isaac Asimov said it best. “I write for the same reason I breathe–because if I didn’t I would die.”

Nyad in office


Every writer is unique. Special thanks to these three sister writers who have agreed to participate in the blog tour. Look for their answers next week, Monday, March 17.

Stephanie Briggs

 Born and raised in the Heart of Dixie, STEPHANIE BRIGGS is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and a refugee from corporate America. Stephanie charged into adulthood with the words, “No one is going to tell me what to do, I’m joining the military.” Out of the frying pan into the fire, but the choice was hers to make, and she is grateful to the women who fought the good fight to make it possible. A no-nonsense attitude keeps Stephanie true to the value of living an authentic life. She is married to a loyal New York Yankees fan with whom she has raised two children, relocated a dozen times, and shared the best years of her life. She currently resides in Texas where community service, creating content for, and the pursuit of higher education keep her occupied. Experience has taught her there is always more to learn. SUMMONING THE STRENGTH, available on Amazon, is her first published work of fiction.

Marie Gail

MARIE GAIL STRATFORD is a writer, poet, interpretive dancer and all-round creative woman from the greater Kansas City area. She enjoys spending time with her family, especially her five nieces and three nephews, all of whom live nearby. In addition to writing and creating, she passionately loves candles and reluctantly admits to also loving cats. A self-proclaimed “dog person,” she only has two cats, one of whom thinks he is a German shepherd. She hasn’t had the heart to disabuse him of this notion.

Currently, Marie Gail works as a freelancer, creating unique web content for a wide range of clients. Between drafting descriptions of plumbing parts and composing narratives for travel blogs, she also finds time for creative writing projects. Currently, she is working on a book of jazz poetry inspired by the stories and sounds of American roots music. Publication is tentatively set for early this summer, but she wonders if her publisher might be slightly delusional concerning the projected timetable.

imageDAWN QUYLE LANDAU lives in Washington state. She is lucky enough to wake up every day to unparalleled beauty, and is grateful for even the rainy days. There are fewer than most believe, but locals like to perpetuate the rain myth, to keep population down. She has raised three highly spirited kids:  a daughter who now lives in Israel, and two sons. One will graduate from college this May and the other from high school in June, and then her nest, will hypothetically be empty; her husband refuses to leave. To further feather the nest, she had been known to take on exchange students, from China, Denmark and currently from Germany– so her travel options are extensive. She’s been married to her husband, Smart Guy, for 27 years; they met in college. In another life, Dawn got her MSW, and currently volunteers with Hospice, the public schools, the hospital foundation in her community, and a local agency that works with sexually abused kids. “Not working” has her busy, way too much of the time.
When she isn’t volunteering, Dawn is a writer. She has become a huge fan of flash fiction, and never misses a week of Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. She is currently marketing her first novel and working on a memoir, about the year she took in two exchange students, and lost her mother to Huntington’s Disease.  In addition to those two projects, she is an active blogger who posts three times a week. Her blog, Tales From the Motherland, covers everything from raising those three spirited kids, to self-esteem, aging, travel, sex toys, Justin Bieber and her affair with Barack Obama– a post which recently had 1,500 hits in one day!  Her work has been Freshly Pressed on Word Press two times, and she’s proud to be a blogger. 

49 comments on “Blog Tour Interview-Why I Do What I Do

  • Dear Rochelle

    Great post.

    Thank you for sharing your writing process – I feel quite humbled. I too have a full time job and am also a ‘bit further along this journey called life’ and complain about not having enough time to write! Perhaps I too should rest my alarm clock.

    I look forward to reading the posts from Stephanie and Dawn.

    Take care

    PS I have some photos for FF if you want them; let me know how best to get them to you


    • Dear Dee,

      The flip side of that getting up early is that by 7:00 PM I’m nodding off, definitely not the life of any party.😉 I started getting up at that early hour four years ago when a NY agent wanted me to increase my novel by 30,000 words before she’d look at it. Then she might’ve read ten pages from the looks of the returned and spurned manuscript. Of course by then the habit was firmly ingrained.

      You can send photos either to or I look forward to receiving them. Thank you and thank you for commenting.




  • Well, that was fun! Thanks so much for sharing some of your process and background. I, too, draw from my personal experience for my “fiction,” so am glad to hear I am not alone in that process. Your trilogy sounds delightful. I hope it is published soon so I can enjoy it, too! :>


    • Dear Melissa,

      I’m pleased you enjoyed the side trip into my world. I think all of us, to some degree, draw from personal experience. Nothing’s wasted, not even the trials and tribulations. Thank you for stopping by with your lovely comments.




  • Thank you for sharing your experience and affirming that I am on the right track. It would seem we have much in common and this encourages me. I look forward to your trilogy!


    • Dear Lynda,

      I’m pleased that this was encouraging to you. As it encourages me to receive your feedback. At present, I’m looking forward to seeing the first of the trilogy in print and getting the other one sufficiently edited and proofed.😉 Meanwhile, Lou and I’ve talked about getting together a book of my flash fictions.

      Thanks for coming by,




  • You work hard Rochelle, and in your FF pieces, that ethic always shines through. I can relate to the 3am caffiene fueled quiet time. I live on a very noisy main road and to get peace and quiet, that time is always the best – other times earplugs work well😉

    I understand Issac Asimov’s words. Theres something that is lacking when writing has been put to the side. Any form of writing I find needs to be in my life and it’s a disjointed feeling when I haven’t written something so I find time every day, in whatever form, to get something down.

    This was a lovely post🙂


    • Dear Victoria,

      Fortunately we live in a semi-rural area. Suburban neighborhood with a farm across the street that looks like a post card.

      My son who is a writer, told me once that I had the look of a writer. He said that while I was physically present my mind was somewhere else. Guilty as charged.

      Thank you for dropping by with your encouraging comments.




      • Oh, you’re welcome Rochelle… Looks like there’s writing within your families blood! It must be helpful and encouraging too. My partner always wanted to be a writer but his career path took over. And it’s just so coincidental that this is what I do; and also what he does is the only career I ever mentioned to my Father I wanted to do! I guess ‘like attracts like’! Thanks for the reply and I wish you a wonderful day🙂


  • Good Morning Rochelle,

    Must have coffee. This is my credo as well. It is a privilege to be included in this esteemed group of “sister writers” and I thank you for the opportunity to share my writing process, such as it is, with other writers. I have learned a great deal from you and the Friday Fictioneer challenges.

    Kind Regards,
    Stephanie a.k.a. HonieBriggs


    • Good morning, Stephanie,

      I raise my second cuppa to you. I’m looking forward to reading about your process next week. I’m thrilled that you accepted the invitation.

      Thank you for the affirmation. It means more than I can say.




    • Dear Madison,

      I haven’t decided if it’s discipline or demented obsession. I guess it depends on who you ask.😉 At any rate, I’m pleased that you took time from your busy schedule to swing by and comment.




  • Hi Rochelle!

    Thanks for sharing a bit about yourself. It is nice to know what others are doing outside of the FF writings. I too am a fan of historical fiction. I’m not sure my family is as interesting as yours, but I am definitely interested in reading your story. You will have to let everyone know when the book is available.



    • Dear Amy,

      I’m not sure that my actual family is nearly as interesting as my fictitious one.😉 Little is actually known other than a few snippets my mother shared. When push came to shove I used those stories as a jumping off point.

      Believe me, once the novel is published I’ll be yelling it from the rooftops. Meanwhile I do have an anthology of short stories in print.




  • I’m enjoying the glimpses into the lives of other writers, although I can’t claim to have much of anything published. However, putting out a blog post a day for over two years now, even if some of it is photography, keeps my hand in just a bit. It’s always good to see talent and hard work get their rewards. 🙂



  • I enjoyed your post, Rochelle and so inspired by your writing. I also have a full time job, raising three boisterous boys and have about three or four WIPs and no clue as to how to finish these. Waking up early at dawn I do but that time has to be used in getting two of the boys ready for school (first one is away at school), myself ready for work and hubby ready for school (MBA programme).

    Ha! You’ve inspired me to find and make a way round all the barriers!🙂 BTW, I also love historical fiction. Good luck with all your works, Rochelle.


    • Dear Celestine,

      I raised three boys, too so I have a pretty good idea of where you are. Sounds like your plate’s pretty loaded. I hope you find some time to rest. I wish you all the best in working in some writing time.




  • Dear Rochelle (if that IS your REAL NAME),
    You work so much harder at this than I do, I feel embarassed by my laziness (not really). I really enjoy your historical pieces and learning more about Jewish culture. I’m also enjoying reading your short story anthology. Your writing is very smooth and has a graceful flow. I also appreciate the time and effort you put into Friday Flash Fiction. Thank you on behalf of all of us who share that weekly addiction.


    • So great to see what all is behind your creativity! This was a huge help to understand your motivation and your process. I am impressed! And the three you chose are stellar contributors and I look forward to reading their posts! Thank you again for doing this. (I almost put hugs and kisses, but then self edited. Oh heck, big hugs and kisses to you!!)


      • Dear Erin and Russell,

        I’ll take all the hugs and kisses I can get, edited or not.😉 Thank you both for your sweet words of encouragement. They mean a lot. Sending back the hugs and kisses.




  • This was a great read! I loved hearing how you manage to fit it all in, and now I’m here thinking ‘hmmm, maybe I do have a few hours free at 3am…’ And that photo of your grandmother is exquisite!! What a treasured piece of history.


    • Dear Jessie,

      Getting up before dawn isn’t for the fainthearted. But it is a wonderful time of tranquility and, for me, the time my addled brain is at its peak.
      I’ve always loved that picture of my grandmother, too.😉
      Thank you for your comments.




  • Dear Rochelle,
    This post is fascinating! I’d love to read your book(s), as I enjoy reading your flash fiction and nonfiction here on the blog, and I sincerely hope they find a home very soon. I, too, nit-pick appearances and language in films–and sometimes anachronisms–but I do that in “real-life” sometimes too (having worked as a fact-checker, copyeditor, and proofreader at newspapers and publishers). Speaking of newspapers, I’m glad to see you use them in your historical research; my husband recently judged some middle-school history projects and very few (if any?) seemed to make use of newspapers as primary contemporaneous sources for their work. Also, kudos on the time-management skills that backbone much of what I’m reading here; I don’t work full-time nowadays (other than at parenting and caring for a small, needy bungalow) and can’t begin to fathom how you ladies and gents are able to do it all (parenting, writing, volunteering, jobs outside writing) and so well. Bravo!
    My best to you all,


    • Dear Leigh,

      I work in a place where English is a second language. And I’m talking about people who were born in this country. What is done to the English language is unconscionable. Okay, so I may be a little melodramatic.😉
      As for time management, my family might debate that.
      As for my books…the burden of submission is off my shoulders and Jeanie says she doesn’t give up.
      My anthology, THIS, THAT AND SOMETIMES THE OTHER is available on Kindle or directly from the author. (Never hurts to advertise).
      Thank you for coming by.




      • Rochelle, my husband and I are kind of… okay, I’ll just come out and say it . . . hopeless bibliophiles. If I get the book directly from you (much preferable to the Kindle, though we do have one), would you autograph it?🙂


        • Hi Leigh,

          I have mixed feelings about Kindle. I have an app on my iPad and it’s great for reading in bed, but it’s very tough to do book signings with them. I’d be very happy to send one and autograph it.😉


  • i enjoyed reading about the lovely host behind FF! you must have to go to bed early to be up so early (smile) i also want to say, again, thank you for all the encouragement you share with us every week. peace be with you.


  • Rochelle, the fact that you research things and dig deep is one of the things I love best and most admire about you and your writing. Your stories all seem to have a sense of authenticity to them, that really appeals to me. I look forward to each of your FF stories, and this post really piques my interest about your other published work.

    I’m honored that you asked me to share my own answers to these questions, and included me with these wonderful “sister writers.” As a fly by the seat of my pants gal, I hope I can be 1/2 as interesting!😉 Shalom, Dawn


    • Dear Dawn,

      I’m looking forward to reading your interview next week. This has been fun to do and I think a good way to network.

      As for the published…I have several copies of THIS, THAT AND SOMETIMES THE OTHER.😉
      I always look forward to your comments, too. Thank you.




  • Rochelle, I agree with the others, it was fun reading about your writing process. But 3 AM I don’t think so.

    Congratulations on finishing your second novel. I’m still working on my first.

    Looking for a publisher? Try
    Creating books from a Jewish perspective.

    Is the blog tour a new thing to this blog sight, or a one time post?



    • Dear Phyllis,

      Getting up at 3 isn’t for the faint of heart😉 But I can’t seem to sleep much past it.

      Thanks for the congrats. Actually I’ve “finished” the second novel at least 3 times. Thanks for the heads up on the publisher. I’m not sure if Jeanie has tried them yet.

      As for the blog tour, I’m not sure where or with whom it originated. Erin Leary invited me so here it is. Then I was supposed to tag three more writers. It was fun to do.




      • Good job, Rochell,

        Were those three authors in the blog tour or did you nominate them and invite them in?

        I’m on the look out for blog tours for when I finally do publish my novel.
        I’m not hinting to you, I’m just saying, I’m on the look out.

        Did you get more visitors because of the tour?

        Blessings Phyllis


        • Thanks, Phyllis. Yes, I did invite the next three authors. It’s how the tour works. I was one of three that Erin Leary chose. I don’t know if I got any more visitors than usual, although more than I would have a year ago. And that’s simply due to the fact that I have more followers, thanks to Friday Fictioneers.

          The blog tour had to have started somewhere. You could start one.😉 I just thought it to be a nice way to network and get my name out for something beside flash fiction.




  • I’m quite late to the party, but glad I made it. This was an interesting read.
    You’re up at 3am? WOW! I think that was just the shove I needed to get out of bed at 6am to get my morning writing done. Thanks!
    I hope your trilogy finds a home soon!🙂


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    Honie Briggs



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