Another Step Closer

Published February 24, 2015 by rochellewisoff

As much as I’ve always loved FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, I knew that it was a watered down version of the persecution the Jews in Eastern Europe before the turn of the last century. My family suffered at the hands of the Czars. The history of what happened to them has always haunted me.

Nine years ago I started my first novel, equipped only with the desire to tell the real story that few really know and a minimal amount of writing experience. In a matter of months I had written a one-hundred-and-fourteen thousand word manuscript. It was a beginning, the first manifestation of a dream. A dream that many told me was a pipe dream, but I felt compelled to keep going. I continued to work on the first manuscript and wrote a sequel.


Standing: Nettie Weinberg, my maternal grandmother. I don’t know the other woman’s name, but I’m pretty sure she was my great grandmother.

I had no idea where to go from there.  A fellow student in my Hebrew class, writer Annie Withers, read my first manuscript and told me it was a story that needed to be told but needed a lot of work. She invited me to a small critique group of experienced writers who met every other Monday night. I came to look forward to these meetings with happy anticipation and dread. It can be painful to hear that your baby has warts. For the most part these dear ladies encouraged me.

Annie introduced me to Kansas City Writers Group and to Ozarks Writers Group (OWL). Going to workshops and networking with other writers helped me hone my skills. It was also at OWL that I learned how to pitch to an agent.

The first agent turned me down with “This is just excellent, Rochelle, but…” he went on to say that he wasn’t working in a market where my book fit. I wasn’t surprised since I’d gone to his website and checked out his clients. Nonetheless, I framed that letter. It was the first of more than one rejection.

Meanwhile the novels have gone through many revisions.

Three years ago I pitched the first novel, PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME, to agent Jeanie Loiacono and she accepted it with enthusiasm and, this past week she took on the sequel, FROM SILT AND ASHES. I’m thrilled to have an agent who believes in my works and is committed to finding an publisher for them.

80 comments on “Another Step Closer

    • Dear Sarah,

      That photo is one of less than a handful that I have. I’ve always been fascinated with it. My mother looked a lot like the lady seated, so I’ve always assumed she was my great grandmother.

      Thank you for coming by and congratulating. It’s another step in the journey.



      Liked by 1 person

      • (: I can relate. Recently, my mother decided to spontaneously and not so ever conspicuously lock the two mother and daughter ducklet into our local bank vault to show me old sepia faded photograph of my father and his school buddies…my cousin looks frightening similar today haha. And of course ! Always living vicariously through the blogosphere !


  • That is super. Congratulations. Keep us posted.
    I decided to publish my first novel myself without pitching it to anyone. Whether this was from cowardice or arrogance I cannot say, but in large part it was my unwillingness to relinquish any creative control. I think I have my fill of collaboration in my daily work life. What to do with the second one is the question.


    • Dear J Hardy,

      I think there’s only one person who can answer your questions.

      Have you had much success with self publishing? I’ve always been a little leery of it but have considered it.

      I’ll admit that I’m a bit nervous about what will happen when I’m faced with a publisher/editor. My experience with my short story anthology editor, however, was a good one.

      I will certainly keep everyone posted.😉

      Thank you for coming by.



      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Joy,

      It’s a waiting game. It’s been nearly three years but as you can see Jeanie doesn’t give up. She emailed a couple of months ago asking for the promised sequel saying she thinks she’s close to selling the first. A sequel can boost interest.

      When the good news comes, everyone will know.😉

      Thank you for coming by.



      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Susie,

      As I said, Fiddler on the Roof is one of my all time favorite movies/plays but doesn’t tell the grisly truth. I had an agent tell me my novel was too much like it and it’s a story that everybody already knows. (I didn’t frame her letter.)

      Thank you for coming by.



      Liked by 1 person

  • I do wish you the very best of luck, Rochelle.
    I am sure the story of your family will make fascinating reading when you finally reach publication. Does being Jewish make it easier or harder to find the right market?


    • Dear Liz,

      Although I started out wanting to write something about my family, little was known by anyone in the family. All I knew was that my grandfather came over in 1903 “with the shirt on his back” according to my mother.

      Good question about the market. I really don’t know. Being Jewish is what prompted me to write.😉

      Thank you for coming by and taking the time to comment.




  • I saw Alison Weir speak in my local library (Prolific British author of both history non-fiction and fiction, but not an historian) and she said very quietly, for anyone listening at that point, that it had taken her a decade to get into print. Depends on your point of view whether that sounds devastating or encouraging – I took it as encouraging! Some things take a while…
    Really pleased you’re truly on your way.
    I know you’ll have a pool of keen readers.
    PS I think this week’s photo prompt in FF looks like a bit like a metaphor for writing.


    • Dear MJL,

      I’ve done my part. Now it’s up to Jeanie. She’s had the first novel under contract for going on three years. At this point I write and pray that it happens soon. She feels that having the sequel now will help sell it.

      Friday Fictioneers has done a lot for my writing as well as building a following.😉 Although I only got into it for the fun of it initially.

      Hm…interesting comment about the photo. Writing is a journey, isn’t it? On foot.

      Thank you for coming by with encouraging comments.




  • I’ll say it again… and again: MAZEL TOV, Rochelle! You are inspiring, as I plug along hoping to one day do the same. For now, my novel and my memoir sit on the desk, waiting for me to figure things out.:-/ It is really exciting to see you make this progress and score! Bravo, friend! xox

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dawn,

      Your Huffington Post success is nothing to sneeze at. I’ve never been Fresh Pressed either. I think at some point you’ll find the time to write novel and memoir.😉

      I’m very pleased that you’re in my corner, Dawn. I always appreciate your kind words and support.

      Todah Rabbah and Shabbat Shalom,


      Liked by 1 person

  • Well done, Rochelle! You are an inspiration to all of us. I just resubmitted my MS to the same agent for the 4th time following her request for revisions. I hope 4th time is the charm. If not, I will persevere with others I have on my list. It’s all part of the process, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Erin,

      At least she asked for revisions and didn’t just reject you on the spot. My advice, from my own past experience, would be to take care jumping through hoops for an agent who doesn’t have a contract with you. I had one request 20,000 more words before looking at my MS and then turned it down in less than a week after submission. I wrote about that here

      I honestly can’t believe I’ve been at it this long. It started with an idea, a compulsion to tell a story, nascent writing skill and being in the right place at the right times.

      Hold onto your dreams and keep moving forward, my friend.

      Thank you for your support. I’ve met so many wonderful people through FF and you’re one of them.




      • Thank you, Rochelle – I agree, meeting you and some of the people in this group has been a big boost!

        I understand what you are saying. In my last email to her with the once again revised MS, I said something to the effect of “I hope you like the new version. If you aren’t convinced that you’re ready to represent it, I will understand and move on” I said it very nicely, but I have reached a point where I fear more changes will make it no long my voice. I met a woman in a writing association and we agreed to exchange MSS to critique. She told me as she sent me hers that she’d just been offered representation a week after she submitted her story – and it was by the same agent!!! I was flabbergasted – the odds seemed so unlikely that the two of us would connect. In any case, I devoured her MS to see what it was like – and I enjoyed it, but think it was quite a bit lighter than mine. I have to assume that is what the agent wants, so do I want to go there? So, I said what I said. She has, however, been hugely supportive and encouraging, so I have appreciated that immensely. It has given me hope as I work on it.
        Have a wonderful day –


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