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.
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.