From Silt and Ashes

All posts in the From Silt and Ashes category

EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY

Published April 17, 2017 by rochellewisoff

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”

~~Henry Ward Beecher

Last November I was asked by an LA Talk radio host, Jim Christina which I preferred–writing or painting. I had to think about it for a moment for I consider both of them to be facets of creating art. With one I paint pictures with words, the other with pencil and paint.

To listen to the interview which I enjoyed so much click HERE

My next book will be out sometime next year and will be the companion to the HAVAH GITTERMAN SAGA, filled with illustrations and captions for those who’d rather look at the pictures. 😉 Of course, my preference is that one would enjoy reading the novels first.

In any event, this month marks a milestone for me. Nineteen pieces of my artwork, some illustrations for the upcoming book, are on display at the Colbern Road branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. 

1000 NE Colbern Road
Lee’s Summit, MO 64086
Phone: 816.525.9924
Mon. – Thur. 9 – 9, Fri. 9 – 6, Sat. 9 – 5
Branch Manager: Seth Moses

My thanks for the invitation go to:

Morgan Daigneault
Access Specialist II
Colbern Road Branch
mdaigneault@mymcpl.org
 ***
I’m somewhat late in posting this, but can only excuse myself by saying that I was waiting to gather all of my photos. I hope you enjoy the following photos, or, even better, drop into the library. While you’re there feel free to request my books. 😉

VOICE OF A SPANISH DANCER – COMING TO MY SENSES

Published April 3, 2017 by rochellewisoff

COMING TO MY SENSES

        There is a scene in my second novel, FROM SILT AND ASHES, where Yussel Gitterman tells his grandchildren that the Almighty is merciful. His fifteen-year-old grandson, who has survived the violence in Eastern Europe, lashes out. “When we light candles for the dead, it will start a bonfire. How can you call that God’s mercy?”

            Yussel, who is blind, answers by pressing his hand over Lev’s eyes. He then challenges the boy to see his surroundings with his ears, nose and skin.

 “Tell me what you hear, Lev.”

“I hear Bayla and Evie’s giggles.”

“Anything else?”

For a moment Lev stood still, bit his lip and cocked his head. “Kreplakh’s (dog) snoring under the sofa. Tikvah’s (infant) bawling.”

“Good, Lev. Now what do you smell?”

“What do I smell?” Lev’s voice scaled up an octave with each word.

“You have a nose?”

“Sure.”

“And it works?”

“All right. All right. I smell…mm…sponge cake and apple pie. Coffee. Aunt Cate’s lavender perfume and Uncle Wolf’s nasty cigar.”

“You see, Lev, not all smells are pleasant. Not all sounds are sweet. But…we are alive. That, my son, is God’s mercy.”

            For the past couple of weeks, the weather in our area has been, to say the least, wet and gloomy. Although the rain is much needed, day after day of grey skies has had me digging holes in my outlook.

            Inspired by my friend, Valerie Davies’ blog https://valeriedavies.com/2017/03/26/simple-pleasures-they-may-not-be-what-you-think/           and thinking about my book’s passage, which is one of my favorites, I’ve decided to take Yussel’s challenge.

            I exercise at least five days a week—sometimes less, sometimes more. More often than not, depending on the weather, I walk to the fitness center, a little over a mile away. This way I am able to do both weight bearing and aerobic exercise.

            To some, swimming laps might seem like the penultimate boredom. Not to this Spanish Dancer. The gurgle and swish of the waves is music. I note the difference in watery tones as I vary my strokes and the way the water billows when I exhale. As I flip-turn like an Olympic swimmer to change directions, I’m weightless, buoyed by the current. Unlike an Olympic swimmer embroiled in a race, I take my time when I somersault and enjoy the patterns the ripples make. As I suspend for a few seconds I note the way the water blossoms overhead.

Spanish Dancer Human

Spanish Dancer Jellyfish

            Once showered and dressed, I’m ready for my mile trek home.

            Spring is upon us and splashes of color are everywhere—bright yellow Daffodils and Dandelions—Redbuds and Dogwoods, stunning against a Payne’s grey sky. I fill my eyes with them.

The scent of charcoal from someone’s fire the night before hangs on the breeze. Exhaust fumes and a hint of cigarette smoke taint the rain and grass scented air. I wrinkle my nose. “Not all smells are pleasant.” As I near home I breathe in the scent of hyacinths from a neighbor’s garden.

            Crossing a bridge I, listen to the voice of the water as it flows over rocks. Although I don’t know one bird’s call from another, I can tell that there are several different species singing their arias. Robins, geese, crows and owls are among the few I recognize. A lawnmower starts up in the distance. A rooster crows. Two dogs bark as I pass their turf. A chainsaw grinds and a rake scrapes the sidewalk. “Not all sounds are sweet.”

            I am happy to be alive.  

 

Interview: Meet Author, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Published March 18, 2017 by rochellewisoff

I had great fun this past week interviewing with fellow author Sarah Potter. The magic of the internet and Skype certainly shorten the distance between us. What interesting times we live in. Thank you, Sarah!

Sarah Potter Writes

I’m thrilled to welcome author, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields to my blog for a second time, on this happy occasion to interview her about her writing.  For those of you who missed her guest storyteller post back in November of last year, here’s a recap of her biography.

Kansas City native Rochelle Wisoff-Fields is a woman of Jewish descent and the granddaughter of Eastern European immigrants. She has a close personal connection to Jewish history, which has been a recurring theme throughout much of her writing. Growing up, she was heavily influenced by the Sholom Aleichem stories, the basis for Fiddler on the Roof. Her novels Please Say Kaddish for Me, From Silt and Ashes and As One Must, One Can were born of her desire to share the darker side of these beloved tales—the history that can be difficult to view, much less embrace.

She is also the author…

View original post 2,140 more words

HAPPY SATURDAY IN LEE’S SUMMIT

Published February 27, 2017 by rochellewisoff

What can be more gratifying for an author than seeing her books in print? Seeing that readers appreciate her efforts. 

Last Saturday marks my first book signing in 2017 at Reader’s World in Lee’s Summit Missouri. For those unfamiliar with this little book and gift nook, it’s a lovely, local alternative to its national competitor. Many thanks go to Christian Apodaca who is inviting and supportive to local authors. 

Book sales went fairly well, thanks to three readers who bought the entire trilogy.

In addition to the joy of selling, was the joy of seeing some friends I haven’t seen for a while. One of the high points for me was reconnecting with Dawn Downey, fellow author who was one of my earliest mentors in the Kansas City Writers Group. 

My husband, Jan was on hand to snap a few photos: 

27 January 2017

Published January 25, 2017 by rochellewisoff

Undersea St. Thomas 4 Meme

Note: You can call me crabby or controlling if you like, but…over the past few weeks some writers are going way over the word limit. No one will be kicked out for doing so, but the challenge is to write a story in 100 words or less. While I don’t take issue with a word or two over, last week one of them went over 200 words. 

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Our MantraSnorkeling in St. Thomas

The next photo is the PROMPT. Remember, all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only. They shouldn’t be used for any other purpose without express permission. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor credit. 

PHOTO PROMPT © Al Forbes

PHOTO PROMPT © Al Forbes

Think you’ve seen this photo before? You have. It’s been pointed out that I posted this prompt in February. 😯  A repost was unintentional, but is what it is. If you have a story for it you were happy with, feel free to use it. 😉 Thank you Dawn and Suzanne for pointing it out. This is a first. What was I thinking? 

get the InLinkz code

Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100

Not exactly a flash fiction and not exactly an excerpt. Here’s a scene from AS ONE MUST, ONE CAN. 

OLIVE BRANCH

            Nikolai Derevenko and his father had hardly spoken in twenty years so Sergei’s sudden appearance in Kansas City for his grandson’s graduation mystified him.

            Sergei rotated the crank on the front of the car, starting the motor, and climbed into the driver’s seat. “It’s a Ford. Almost new—Model N, made in 1906,” he shouted over the clatter. “My gift. Tomorrow you learn to drive it.”

            Nikolai scowled. “Thanks, but no thanks. God gave us legs and there are streetcars. With all of your frivolous spending you won’t have enough for your fare back to Russia.”

            “I’m not going back.”

*

*

nikolai

Dr. Nikolai Derevenk0 © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Sergei Derevenko © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Sergei Derevenko © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Vasily Derevenko © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Vasily Derevenko © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

***

If you’ve made it this far down the page I hope you’ll take the time to watch the short video. Perhaps this is the reason I’ve been impressed of late to write so many Holocaust themed stories. I plan to post my picture on Twitter and Facebook. When push comes to shove there is one race…THE HUMAN RACE #WeRemember

FACE TO FACE

Published January 23, 2017 by rochellewisoff
Theodore Roosevelt portrait

Theodore Roosevelt © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Several times over the past few years, as I’ve painted “portraits” of my characters, someone has asked who I used for models. As a rule the answer is, “no one in particular.” In fact, I’ve often thought if I ever need a regular job, I could apply for one as a police sketch artist since I’ve become adept at composites: the eyes from one model coupled with a nose and mouth from another. “Oh, and that’s the perfect hairstyle.” I admit to using a few celebrity photos, although I try not to make them look like portraits. On the other hand, if it’s meant to be a portrait I’m a little more particular. 

        Google images and Pinterest are wonderful places to find vintage photos for the dress and hairstyles of the day. All great fun for the girl who used to get in trouble for daydreaming in class while drawing pictures. Of course those daydreaming episodes were practice for my future storytelling career. 😉 

        From my first chapters of PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME I’ve had a mental image of Havah Cohen. 

havah-at-16

Havah at 16 © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Havah in her 20's © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Havah in her 20’s © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

Last week I had lunch with some friends. One of them brought an American history book he thought would come in handy for my research. It’s a lovely hardbound coffee table book with lots of pictures. 

He opened it to a bookmarked page and pointed to a photo of a young Russian Jewish immigrant and said, “I thought you might know this lady.” 

I suddenly felt like Karen Eiffel, (Emma Thompson) the author in the movie “Stranger than Fiction” coming face to face with Harold Crick (Will Ferrell). There she was, the girl whose voice I heard in my dreams. Do you agree? 

i-know-this-lady

 

ARMED WITH PAINTBRUSH AND KEYBOARD

Published January 17, 2017 by rochellewisoff

burning-shul-complete

Chapter One

NATALYA, MOLDAVIA, THE PALE OF SETTLEMENT, EASTERN EUROPE, NOVEMBER 1899

 Gunshots and screaming woke sixteen-year-old Havah Cohen from a sound and dreamless sleep. She ran to her window and saw flames shooting through the roof of the synagogue. Dense clouds of black smoke poured through the windows as men with shovels and rocks smashed the stained glass. By moonlight she could see her older brother lying beside the road in a bloodstained night shirt. Her other brother, a few feet away, lay face down.

“Papa!” She screamed when she saw him run from the inferno clutching the sacred scrolls.

                                           ~~From PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields 

Published by Argus Publishing

Represented by Loiacono Literary Agency

***

burning-shul-step-2Above is the opening paragraph to my first novel PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME. To my knowledge, a shetl called Natalya, Moldavia never existed. On the other hand, the 1930 census lists my grandfather Sam Weiner’s birthplace as Rosinia, Poland which doesn’t seem to have existed either. I’ve searched the internet for every imaginable spelling. Then  last year a Holocaust survivor from Poland confirmed what I’ve suspected for some time. Rosinia was probably one of those villages destroyed by pogromists. 

I’ve often wondered how close to Havah’s story Grandpa’s came. All I know of his background came from my mother and a cousin. According to Mom, he came burning-shul-step-6over from a part of the country that went from being part of Poland to being part of Russia. It was part of the Pale of  Settlement in any case, the Jewish ghetto of Eastern Europe. Grandpa came to America at the age of 19 “with nothing but the shirt on his back.” He didn’t know his own birthday because those records that were kept in the synagogue had been destroyed. He taught himself to be a tailor. 

Sam Weiner circa 1940-Something

History tells many stories of rabbis who sacrificed their lives to save the Torah scrolls. Havah’s father, Rabbi Shimon Cohen does just that as PLEASE  SAY KADDISH FOR ME opens.

At that moment Havah’s idyllic childhood ends and her journey begins. PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME, FROM SILT AND ASHES and recently released, AS ONE MUST, ONE CAN follow Havah, her friends and family from that night in 1899 to 1908. 

havahs-triplets

Amazon  Amazon AU  Amazon UK  Amazon CA  Amazon DE  Amazon IT  Amazon FR  Amazon ES  Amazon IN  Amazon JP  B&N   Smashwords  KOBO  Scribd  Goodreads

Before the completion of AS ONE MUST, ONE CAN, my publisher asked if I would be interested in compiling a coffee table companion book that would include the character studies I’ve posted. It took a split second to answer that one! Presently I’m hard at work on this book which is due out this spring to be entitled: 

a-stone-for-the-journey-cover-idea

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