“Our life together
Is so precious together
We have grown, we have grown
Although our love still is special
Let’s take a chance and fly away somewhere
Starting over (over and over and over)”
My writing journey began about 15 years ago with my historical fiction Please Say Kaddish for Me. Once I finished the manuscript all I had to do was find a publisher and watch it rise to the New York Times Best Sellers list. Right?
Oh if only it had been that easy. The truth is I had so much to learn. Each time I went to a writing workshop or critique group, I realized changes needed to be made, whether it was too much passive voice, too many gerunds or word repetition.
After years of writing and rewriting, I pitched to a few agents until one fell in love with my novel. Contract signed, the wait began. Three years later W & B Publishers took on my novel and its sequels. Click here for more info on those books.
Two years ago (maybe three?) I went to work on a new historical novel I titled What the Heart Wants. Once I felt the manuscript was complete I sent it to my beta readers who took me to task on typos and made wonderful suggestions.
Since I don’t feel self-publishing is a viable option for me, my next step was the daunting task of finding an agent to represent it. The group I belong to, Ozarks Writers League, brought in some agents to hear pitches at the September conference. Since I wasn’t able to attend, I sent a packet to one of them through a fellow OWL member. Thank you, Ronda.
I have to *kvell a bit here. The September conference is when awards are given for the annual writing contest. “What the Heart Wants” took first place in the Unpublished Manuscript category. As my British friends would say, “I’m chuffed to bits.”
By mid-October I’d not heard back from the agent. Mind you, I wasn’t stressing over it.
One morning I saw my friend, award winning author and fellow military wife Kathleen M. Rodgers on Facebook. It occurred to me we hadn’t chatted in ages so I asked in a PM if she had time for a call.
Kathleen and me a few years ago at an OWL conference. The bonding was immediate. 😀
As usually happens when authors chat we talked about our current works in progress. When I told her about mine, she thought it sounded like a worthy story and suggested I email her agent, Diane Nine. Kathleen said she’d email her as well to tell her to expect to hear from me.
Before I had a chance to write, Kathleen informed me Diane agreed to take a look at my work. Diane also requested a book proposal along with the manuscript. You think writing a novel is tough? Try writing a book proposal which includes short summary, full synopsis, chapter by chapter summary, author bio etc. etc. I’m not really *kvetching. It was a learning experience that I kind of enjoyed.
The Author-Illustrator in her natural habitat.
After spending nearly a week on the proposal and having it proofread, I sent it to Diane along with the manuscript on 19 October. A mere ten days later I received an email from her saying she enjoyed the manuscript and asked me to give her a call the following Monday. I nearly fell off my elliptical trainer. (That’s what I get for reading emails on my phone while working out. It’s simply not possible to jump up and down at the same time.)
Monday, 4 November, came complete with a tummy full of butterflies. But they all flew away when she answered the phone with, “I loved your manuscript or we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
The conversation lasted close to two hours and left me with a silly grin on my face.
The contract is signed and the waiting begins. It feels just like starting over.
*kvell – Yiddish for “I’m bursting at the seams so I have to shout it to the world.”
*kvetching – Yiddish for “Oy, this is so awful, you shouldn’t ask.”
When I made the announcement on Facebook author, beta reader and friend, Lonnie Whitaker posted this:
“I was privileged to read an early draft and can report it is solid, engaging, and in many ways transcends genres. It’s historical, gritty, romantic, with a hint of mystery. No doubt we will see it in print soon. Congratulations, Rochelle.”
Short Summary –What the Heart Wants
For Asher, growing up as a Jew in Ukraine in the 1800’s, life is a minefield. Eastern Europe is a hotbed of violence and antisemitism. He blames God for the murder of his young bride and the slaughter of his father. All hope is gone.
In America, the home of the free and the brave, Bear Starfire is torn from her family and carried off to boarding school. Her teachers are determined to beat the heathen out of her. The principal lures her into a “special friendship”.
A few years later, having left Russia, Asher answers the call to “go west, young man” via covered wagon. When a blizzard delays his journey, Missouri farmers provide refuge. Their adopted daughter, a tall, bronze beauty captures his heart.
Can these two wounded souls from radically different backgrounds find healing in each other’s arms?