Writing the Rails

Published June 16, 2016 by rochellewisoff

Wednesday, May 11 with Arlo Guthrie singing “City of New Orleans” in my head, I boarded the Am Trak headed to Chicago. There I planned to connect with friend and author of BANK NOTES, Caroline Giammanco, for the BEA 2016, Book Expo. Our publisher, W&B Publishers had included our books with six other titles on the indie book display.Chicago write

Selfie on AmTrak

Selfie on AmTrak

One of the bright points of my journey was a stopover to change trains in St. Louis. This gave me the pleasure of catching up with long time friend, Kent Martin. Thirty minutes sped by and it didn’t seem like over thirty years since we’d last seen each other.

With Kent Martin in St. Louis

With Kent Martin in St. Louis

All together the trip took over ten hours with all of the stops. I enjoyed sightseeing and unfettered writing time on my netbook. Not only that, I didn’t have to use up battery power since the trains are equipped with outlets and free wifi.

My son Christian and his sweetheart, Sarah, opened their home in Evanston to Caroline and me which saved us a lot of room and board. Since I don’t see my kids as often as I’d like, this was a joyful bonus for me.

Enjoying some family time with my youngest son.

Enjoying some family time with my youngest son.

We bought three-day passes for the CTA and Sarah gave us instructions. We would take the purple line, transfer to the red line on the way and visa versa on the way back. We pretty much had the hang of it by the end of the first day.

Beginnings in Chicago

With author and friend Caroline Giammanco

From Evanston to downtown Chicago is an hour commute. However, with two chatty women, it never seemed that long. Friday brought us a surprise when we found ourselves on the purple line express which stopped sooner than the day before.Not being familiar with streets and stops we were unsure of what to do. A young man came to the rescue and told us we could indeed take the red line from that stop to our destination.

Chicago CTA and me

When I thanked him he said, “Shabbat shalom.” I wondered how he knew I was Jewish until I remembered my ubiquitous Star of David around my neck. I returned the greeting and he showed me his Star of David, a locket with a picture of his parents and another of his son. He asked where we were from and I took a copy of PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME from my bag to show and told him about the expo. His face lit up. He told me he was looking for gifts for his family and my books would be perfect. After we boarded the train, I gave him my card. He generously shared some of his life story in which his Jewish faith played a huge part. I hope one day to hear from him again. At any rate, I won’t soon forget him.

The expo was a great place to make connections and develop a feel for the industry. There are so many facets to it and I have so much to learn.

Chicago with Greg

With author Gregory Solsrud

In addition to my own book, my artwork is on the cover of Douglas Cameron's book.

In addition to my own book, my artwork is on the cover of Douglas Cameron’s book, Wings of a Butterfly.

Seeing PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME on display gave me a surge of pride.When I started writing the story, I had an idea and what I considered a lofty dream. Would anyone really be interested in my Havah and her trials? Nonetheless, I kept at it—writing, rewriting and pitching to various agents, until Jeanie Loiacono found the story worthy of publication.

Other trips, conferences and book signings loom large on the horizon as Havah’s journey continues in FROM SILT AND ASHES and the third book in progress. The title of it has become my motto, AS ONE MUST ONE CAN.

Charging up for next time!

Charging up for next time!




36 comments on “Writing the Rails

    • Dear Susan,

      I think I could like it there. I love Evanston where the kids live. Everything you could ever want is within walking distance and what isn’t you can get to by train. I wouldn’t mind not having to drive.😉
      Thanks for coming by and commenting.😀



      Liked by 1 person

  • I loved reading this and you have inspired me to keep at my various writing tasks. I have a blog that I’m working on daily, I’m trying to secure some paid writing gigs, and I also have a family ancestor that I want to write about and turn a part of her life into an historical trade book for young children. I’ve started and stopped, worrying about her voice and how to best present the story…thank you for your inspiration! xoxo


  • That sounds (and looks) like such a wonderful trip! I love riding on trains, and when you have a chatty friend, even better. And how lovely to meet new people along the way, too. The book expo sounds so exciting, seeing your book displayed like that, all that hard work paying off — you’ve earned all those big beautiful smiles!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Stephen,

      What’s not to love about purple?😉 I love Chicago, I didn’t really see much of St. Louis and of course I live in Kansas City…which means I really don’t see much of it.

      Thanks for stopping by. Shalom,


      Liked by 1 person

  • Congratulations, m’lady, on your hard earned success.
    As one achieves, one deserves.

    And well done on gleaning so many positives from what might otherwise be mundane travel experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

  • What a lovely post – so full of love and happiness! Congratulations on having your book on display! So wonderful that you could catch up with your friend and your son. Glad you had a great trip!
    I just had a gig on Friday, June 17th, and now that is behind me (my first solo gig in eighteen years – unless one can call teaching a daily solo gig for the seventeen years that I did it!), I look forward to reading your short stories.
    Best wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

  • That’s fantastic. I have an idea of renting a sleeper on the Zephyr and doing a writing retreat from Chicago to San Francisco and back. My first two novels have long train trips in them, and I am incurably romantic about the whole thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear J Hardy,

      That sounds like a great idea. Let me know if you’re taking passengers. I’ve written a couple of train scenes in this current novel, but with not a lot of description.
      There were some unromantic things on the train trip, like one or two passengers who felt that everyone was entitled to hear their phone conversations. Aside from that and the fact that it’s longer than a plane trip, there are fewer hassles.

      Thank you for making this page one of your stops.




      • Love your work, Rochelle. I like the ironic experience a train provides of simultaneously moving and staying still. It’s much like writing itself. Some day sooI will certainly do it. I’m finishing up the first revision of a novel and doing research for a much more ambitious, longer work. Maybe by next year I’ll be in a position to write for an extended period rather than at four o’clock every morning.


  • I LOVE PURPLE TOO!! LOL. So happy I came across you fabulous blog. I am a newbie. I am SO enjoying my visit, reading and I love the all the pic;s too. Now following XO 🙂

    I have 2 blogs. Come by my Book Promotions Blog sometime: https://anauthorandwriterinprogress.wordpress.com/who-is-this-author-writer-book-blogger-book-promoter/

    My Recovery Blog: https://catherinelyonaddictedtodimes.wordpress.com/

    Author & Recovery Columnist, Catherine Townsend-Lyon 🙂


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