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How writing flash fiction helped me write a novel

Published February 7, 2017 by rochellewisoff

If you think that Friday Fictioneers is just a diversion for those who have nothing better to do, read this by Louise Jensen. 

fabricating fiction

the-sisterWhen I started writing in earnest two years ago I created this blog and stumbled across a weekly flash fiction challenge called Friday Fictioneers. A photo would be posted each week and participants were invited to use the prompt to create a hundred word story.

It sounded fun and a good way to kick off my blog. Writing the first story was difficult. It took me ages to edit it down to 100 words. It was nerve wracking sending my first story out into the world but if I’m honest, I didn’t expect anyone to read it, but read it they did. I was enveloped into a supportive writing community who have critiqued with kindness, encouraged and soothed every step of the way on my journey to publication, commiserating with every rejection and celebrating my first two novels hitting No. 1 on Amazon. I am so grateful to those bloggers…

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2 December 2016

Published November 30, 2016 by rochellewisoff


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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 © Jan Wayne Fields

PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields

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Genre: Realistic Fiction

Word Count: 100


            In preparation for his bar mitzvah, twelve-year-old Harvey Weinstein opened the book to his parashah. His stomach rumbled. “I’m hungry.”

            “Sh’mot beginning with Chapter 16,” said Rabbi Shmuel. “First in English, then Hebrew.”

            Harvey fumed. “I’m tired of Torah. I’d rather play Xbox.”

            “This is the perfect reading for you.” The rabbi winked and pointed to the page. “The children of Israel kvetched day and night in the wilderness. ‘Oy, Moses, we’re wet. We’re cold. We’re starving to death.’ Nu? Is there something we can we learn from them?”

            “Yeah.” Folding his arms across his chest, Harvey smirked. “Jews don’t camp.”


What can I say? 

A Book Signing to Bank On

Published July 5, 2016 by rochellewisoff

Belton Arvest

The way we bank today is considerably different than when Jan and I opened our first checking account in the early 1970’s when you had a checkbook and, if you were lucky an adding machine. We’ve had the same account for over forty years, but not with the same bank. To save any undue head scratching I’ll clarify the previous remark. While we’ve had the same account, the bank has changed hands three times. Same account number, different bank–from Bannister, to Union and finally, to Arvest where I’ve recently opened a business account. Everyone at the Lee’s Summit Branch has been very helpful, particularly Christina Gardener. 

What does this have to do with a book signing? 

One morning a few months ago as I balanced my checkbooks online, I found that a withdrawal had been mistakenly taken from our account. The customer making the withdrawal had an account number one digit off from ours. My horror only lasted a couple of hours as the problem was quickly addressed and corrected. One of the managers from the Lee’s Summit branch called to apologize and asked if there was anything else they could do to make things right to which I jokingly replied, “Have a book signing for me.” 

She answered, “Christina’s read your books and loves them. Let me see what she can do.” 

A month or so passed and I really didn’t think much about it. One morning Christina called and asked I’d be interested in doing a signing at the new Belton branch after they opened in June. The beauty in that is the new branch is three miles from our front door. 

Belton Author Revision

To check out Belton Arvest’s Facebook page click Here

Wednesday the 29th came. We had a lovely time and I think I might have had more customers than the bank. 😉 Being the middle of the week and a rather unusual activity for a financial establishment, I’d say we had a good turnout. Stacey Dahlman, the bank manager was very enthusiastic and wants to try it again at a later date. She also bought a copy of each of the books as did another employee. 

Here are a few pictures from the day.


With Christina Gardner

With Christina Gardner

Bank Signing 6

This is Stacey Dahlman the lovely bank manager. A special thank you!

This is Stacey Dahlman the lovely bank manager. A deserves a special thank you!

Bank Signing 12Bank Signing 11Bank Signing 2

Bank signing 4

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!




Lift Off

Published April 3, 2016 by rochellewisoff
Book signing Scott H

Good friends came to support me.

Saturday, April 2, 2016 is a date that will stick in my mind and on my wall for a long time to come. For me this was a long dreamt of milestone—my first Barnes & Noble book signing.

BN with Rebbe

It’s pretty special when your rabbi shows up. Thanks, Rebbe!

signing books

Although Please Say Kaddish for Me debuted in May of 2015 and From Silt and Ashes close behind in December, due to extenuating circumstances and a full time job, they were never officially launched. 


For four hours old friends and new readers gave congratulatory hugs and asked questions. Friends and family members had already purchased the books but wanted them personally autographed. This author happily complied.

Isn’t ‘author’ a lovely word?

BN with Tarin and Jan

My hubby, Jan, managed to get in a picture. The young lady is our great niece Tarin Clay. How sweet that she made a special trip for the occasion. Sorry this one’s a little fuzzy. Still precious.

BN with Weiners

There’s nothing more wonderful than family at a book signing. I’m between my cousin, Jeffrey Weiner and his lovely wife Karyn.

BN with Kimmee

Avid reader and good friend, Kim. I’m thrilled she got a copy of each book.

BN with Denise

With Denise Mahoney. Isn’t she adorable?

Meeting a new fan. She read Please Say Kaddish for Me with her book club. On to  From Silt and Ashes!

Meeting a new fan. She read Please Say Kaddish for Me with her book club. On to From Silt and Ashes!

BN with MG

With Marie Gail Stratford, someone who has shared tears and laughed at my jokes. Thanks MG!

BN with Theo and T Toon

Theo and Terry…we were coworkers for many years. Now we’re ‘just friends.’

A new happy memory. Stay tuned for the next time!

A new happy memory. Stay tuned for the next time!



A Eulogy for Hope: The Silent Murder of Gallery 37

Published January 28, 2016 by rochellewisoff


156839_479163562635_3310009_n The author, center, at her first teen gallery opening at the Gallery 37 Center for the Arts. circa 2005

The first time academic pressure made me feel suicidal was in sixth grade. So when I say I won’t allow Gallery 37 to quietly die, it’s because Gallery 37 saved my life.

Yesterday I received a flurry of messages from my own beloved instructors and artist friends who are currently teaching in the Advanced Arts Education Program (AAEP) at Gallery 37, a FREE arts college preparatory program through CPS.

Yesterday morning, a close friend high in AAEP administration told me that all AAEP programming will be ending in June. I looked at my phone and felt a wound open and yawn in my chest. I tried my best to not burst into tears on my way to work. “Tell folks so they know about this, okay,” she asked.

So of course, I…

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Another Manic Monday – First Prize, Writers’ Forum Magazine #170

Published November 19, 2015 by rochellewisoff

I’m so proud of my friend and fellow Friday Fictioneer, Sandra Crook. Warning!!! This is a story you’ll want to read to the end without interruption. Sandra, you’re my hero!


Another Manic Monday005Everyone says I don’t look 64, but on Mondays I feel every day of it, and I can’t wait for my 65th birthday. I suppose it’s the prospect of five full days at the diner ahead of me that does it, because on Fridays, when I’m cleaning out the ovens, I always feel like a young woman again, looking forward to the weekend ahead, full of plans and excitement. At that time, my retirement in December is very far from my mind.

This Monday morning I’m in the kitchens, busy hauling steaming plates out of the dishwasher, when an arm roughly encircles my neck from behind and I find myself being dragged backwards out of the kitchens, heels scraping along the floor. I experience an overwhelming rush of shocked indignation at being treated like this and, oddly, it’s tinged with a hint of embarrassment and self-pity as I catch a…

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