From Silt and Ashes

All posts tagged From Silt and Ashes

22 September 2017

Published September 20, 2017 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 © Sarah Potter

It may look like it’s just a dusty pair of shoes, full of cobwebs. But does it say anything else to you? What story do these shoes tell?

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Because the time to work on the content to go with the artwork, I’m using Friday Fictioneers as a proving ground. My plan is take excerpts from the book continue to distill them into standalone flashes. This doesn’t mean all my stories will be book related, it just means that you might be seeing more of them. 

Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100

 

SACRED PROMISE 

          Although he had closed his shop for the day, Gavrel could not go back on his word to finish Reuven’s new shoes. He buffed them until they glowed in the lamplight.

          Gavrel pulled off his young brother-in-law’s tattered shoes. “Just in time, my little apple. You’re growing so fast I’d better start your next pair tomorrow.”

            A frown darkened Reuven’s ruddy face. “Papa, Lev says someday you’ll have a son of your own and won’t want me anymore.”

            Heart racing, Gavrel crushed the boy against his chest. “If I have ten more sons, not one will ever take your place.

 

 

ELEGY

Published September 16, 2017 by rochellewisoff

This week Pegman takes us to St. Petersburg, Russia.

There’s an abundance of both street view and photo spheres in this beautiful city. Feel free to stroll around the area using the Google street view and grab any picture you like for your post.

Your job is to write a 150-word (or less) story about this week’s chosen location. Where will you take your readers? You’re invited to join the talented writers of Pegman this week in St. Petersburg, Russia.

To enjoy this week’s stories or to submit your own, visit the inLinkz button:

For guidelines and rules for the What Pegman Saw weekly writing prompt, visit the home page.

Thanks to Karen Rawson and J Hardy Carroll for facilitating this interesting and unique challenge.

As you may already know, I’m currently working on getting my fourth book A STONE FOR THE JOURNEY ready for publication. It will be a collection of illustrations and excerpts depicting characters and scenes from my novel trilogy. These excerpts seem to lend themselves to 100-150 word flashes. This week’s location was the perfect opportunity. Thank you for your indulgence and your help. 😉 

St. Petersburg Philharmonic

Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 149

ELEGY

                With the unpleasant task of delivering bad news to a dear friend and former patient behind him, Dr. Nikolai Derevenko settled back for the evening. In an attempt to cheer himself, he picked up his flute from the table, brought it to his lips and played a Bach sonata. Usually the music would lift his spirits, but tonight it only intensified his loneliness as he reflected on his life, beginning with the day he informed his father he had chosen to go to medical school.

            Sergei Derevenko, a prominent violinist in the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, eyed Nikolai with a mixture of anger and hurt.

            “You’d rather slice people open and wallow in their blood and bile than delight thousands of patrons with your talent? I don’t understand you, Kolyah.”

            “You never have. Why start now?”

            “But how can you abandon your dreams?”

            “Don’t you mean your dreams, Tatko?”

For your listening pleasure.

 

18 August 2017

Published August 16, 2017 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 © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

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A little teaser this week from my second novel FROM SILT AND ASHES

Genre: Historical Fiction circa 1904

Word Count: 100

LACK OF VISION

           “I’ve been reading.” Arel peered over his newspaper at seven-month old Rachel in her highchair. “There are places for people like her.”

            “She’s a person.” Havah seized the paper and ripped it in half.

            “In one of those schools she can be with other persons who are…” he lowered his voice, “…blind.”

            Choking on her anger, Havah hobbled to their bedroom where she hauled a suitcase from the closet. After stuffing it with his clothes, she shoved it down the stairs.

            “Havah, listen to reason.”  

           “I will when I hear it. Come back when you decide to be a father!”

 

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.  

 

CHARACTER STUDY – The Gitterman’s Hanukkah Menorah

Published December 11, 2016 by rochellewisoff

In the beginning, I referred to Havah’s trilogy as “The Menorah Saga.” Although the series has gone through numerous revisions over the past twelve years, one thing has remained a constant–Rabbi Yussel’s menorah. Although, it’s an inanimate object this holiday candelabra holds a very special place in the Gitterman family in all three of the novels.

***

menorah-step1

Crafted to look like a tree in the wind, the main stem curved with nine branches arcing in opposite directions. The candle cups sat upon them like majestic crowns. Between seven of the branches and the trunk an opening hosted a pair of doves, positioned breast to breast, and perched on a flower covered vine, spreading their graceful wings. The vine twined around the trunk, ending at the wide base.

Proud of its history, on most occasions Arel was usually more than willing to recount the story. Tonight his tongue turned to dust. “My grandfather…of blessed memory…was a rabbi as was his father before him.” menorah-step-2

“Mine, too.” Havah leaned forward, elbows on the table, and propped her head on her hands.

Did Adam feel this way in the Garden of Eden when he brought the succulent fruit to his hungry lips?

Arel found his voice again, though not without a struggle. “Zaydeh…Papa’s father…an artist. After my grandmother died he made this menorah in her memory. She was very young”

“What did she die of?”

“Christian poison! Tell her Arel.” Yussel’s bony hands curled into fists. “A pogrom. In the street like an animal. Fifty-three years ago. Like yesterday I remember.”

“You must’ve been a boy.”

“Five years old. Her Yosi, her heart, she called me.”

Tears quivered in Havah’s eyes. “You can tell how much he loved her by the verse he chose to engrave on the menorah, ‘Behold, you are lovely. Your eyes are like doves.’ It’s from Song of Songs.”

~~From PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME

***

menorah-step-3

To evade his pleading gaze, she studied the menorah that sat like royalty on decorated oilcloth in the middle of her oak dining table.

Nine candle flames reflected in the silver stems of the candelabra that had survived three generations of Gittermans and a journey across the sea. It had been crafted to resemble a tree with nine branches swaying in the wind. A flowered vine twined around the trunk which was etched with the Hebrew words for “Behold your eyes are like doves.” Just above the trunk, snuggled together like lovers, were two doves.menorah-step-4

At their first meeting—Sabbath dinner with her adoptive family—Arel told her how his grandfather had crafted it in memory of his slain wife when Yussel was only five. While the story fascinated Havah, it was Yussel’s son who fascinated her more. As he recounted the history, his luminescent gray eyes gleamed with enthusiasm and intelligence. Her grief fresh and wounds painful, she found solace in the rise, fall and lilt of his resonant voice.

“Havah? Where are you?”

~~From FROM SILT AND ASHES

***

 

menorah-step-5      Havah stood on tiptoe to put the menorah away. The unique candelabra still fascinated her even as it had the first time she saw it, the night she met Arel.

            Feeling Arel’s hot breath on her neck, she shivered and set the menorah back on the table. He slipped his arms around her waist. She turned in his embrace. “Remember, Arel? It was love at first sight.”

            “I wasn’t such a hideous sight back then.”

            “Miss Tova says Bayla has the prettiest Papa in town.”

            “Havah, do you have any idea how ridiculous you sound?”

            “You know what I mean.”

            As he opened his mouth to reply, Lev rushed into the dining room with an armload of books.

            Arel dropped his arms to his sides. “Where have you been?”

            “Didn’t Aunt Havah tell you I’d be late?”

            “She didn’t say you’d be this late.”

            “It’s only eight-thirty.”

“Well?”

            “I went to Vasily’s to study.” Lev set his books on the table. “He’s a year ahead of me so he gave me his old textbooks.”

            “Have you had supper?” asked Havah. “How was school?”

            “School was great and Oxana invited me to eat with them.”

            “Oh dear, you must be starved.”

            “Not to worry, Auntie mine.” Lev playfully pinched Havah’s cheek. “Vasily cooked.”

            “Vasily is younger than you.” Arel thumbed through a book. “Shouldn’t you be ahead of him?”

            Lev’s jaw tensed. “I’ve missed a lot of school.”

            “And you’re proud of this?”

            Lev crimped his lips together.

            Havah’s stomach kinked into a knot. “Arel, listen to him for once.”

            “Damn you, Uncle Arel!” Lev seized the book. “Nothing I do pleases you.”

            In one heart-stopping motion Arel slapped Lev, hitting the menorah. It toppled to the floor and broke in two at Havah’s feet. The ground listed beneath her. The color drained from Arel’s face. Lev held his book to his chest, Arel’s handprint bright on his cheek.

            Yussel dropped to his knees and searched for the menorah with trembling hands until he found it. His shoulders sagged as he pressed the two pieces against his heart. Sitting on the floor, he rocked to and fro. Tears soaked his beard as he chanted, “‘Gahm kee elekh b’gay tzalmavet…yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…’”

“It’s only one branch, Papa.” Havah knelt beside him. “Surely it can be fixed.”

            “Once a limb is severed can the tree be made whole again?”

~~From AS ONE MUST, ONE CAN

 

yussels-menorah-in-frame

Original Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

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fsaa-amazon-jpg

aomoc-titled-cover-art

 The Trilogy is Complete! All books available in print, Kindle and Nook. Look for them at Amazon.com,  Barnesandnoble.com or Argusbooks.com

Represented by Jeanie Loiacono 

Loiacono Literary Agency

What’s a Little Jet Lag?

Published November 21, 2016 by rochellewisoff

Last Wednesday I set forth from Belton, Missouri to Burbank, California with more than one mission. The primary one was to do a live interview on The Writer’s Block Radio Show. Although I could’ve stayed home and phoned the interview in, when I found out how close my son lives to the studio I made travel arrangements. To read my other two blogs leading up to this Click Here and Here

Yes, I do have a purple suitcase. Why do you ask?

Yes, I do have a purple suitcase. Why do you ask?

Thursday night came and with it butterflies in my stomach doing loop-de-loops. My son, Travis drove me to the studio and sat in on the interview. 

latalk-entrance

I felt a little nervous as I sank down in front of the microphone, reminding myself not to say, “Um” or “Er”. However, as soon as we went live, host Jim Christina and his co-host, Russ Avison put me at ease. It seemed more like sitting in someone’s living room having a great conversation than a question and answer interview. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

latalk-warmup

Jim Christina

Jim Christina who took the time to research the pogroms in Eastern Europe.

la-talk-interview-and-shoes

Wearing my magic shoes.

russ-avison

Russ Avison, who read Please Say Kaddish for Me and asked some brilliant questions.

With the interview behind me, I spent the rest of the week getting to know my five-year-old granddaughter, Olive. It happened that her other grandmother Dru was also in town to spend Thanksgiving. I enjoyed visiting with her as well. art-time-with-oliveolive-and-bubster

We stopped in at the Bookstar Barnes & Noble in Studio City so I could sign two copies of PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME and two copies of FROM SILT AND ASHES. 

bn-bookstar2

Even though we weren't able to arrange a book signing, the manager was nice enough to order in my books and invited me to come in and sign them. (I suppose we could call this a book signing. Right?)

Even though we weren’t able to arrange a book signing, the manager was nice enough to order in my books and invited me to come in and autograph them. (I suppose we could call this a book signing. Right? Of course, right!)

L-R Grandma Dru, Jaimi, Travis with Olive and Bubbie Rochelle

L-R Grandma Dru, Jaimi, Travis with Olive and Bubbie Rochelle

Last but not least, a little artwork from the budding artist. Remember when Grandmothers carried brag books? Today’s Bubbie blogs. 

Poppie the Troll by Miss Olive Fields

Poppie the Troll by Miss Olive Fields

The highest point of the week might have been the moment Olive said, “I love you, Bubster.” 

 

Out of the Zone

Published November 3, 2016 by rochellewisoff

I can’t remember a time I didn’t love to draw. So much so, that my mother’s most common laments included those of never being able to find a clean sheet of paper to write on.

I’ve  always enjoyed drawing people; figure studies, hands, feet and faces. When my agent, Jeanie Loiacono, suggested posting character studies to generate interest in my novels I jumped on the idea and added portraits hoping to heighten that interest. 

Shortly after FROM SILT AND ASHES debuted, my publisher asked if I might consider putting these character studies into a coffee table companion book. Would I? After letting out a whoop and breaking into a happy dance at my computer, I calmly answered, “Oh yes!!!”

Framed Arel in Svechka

Arel Gitterman as he appears in PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Framed Havah at 16

Havah Cohen as she appears in PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

While imagining and rendering my character’s faces comes easily, buildings and landscapes do not. I sweated bullets on the painting of the Richelieu Steps that lead from the harbor in Odessa Ukraine. 

FSAA Front Cover

Published by W & B Publishers Represented by Jeanie Loiacono

It occurred to me that A STONE FOR THE JOURNEY, the companion book to Havah’s trilogy needs to include scenes from the novels. Once more I’ve taken a giant leap from my comfort zone.

As with writing, painting is a process. I usually share this process with my friend Jean Hays in New Mexico who is also an artist. As my co-authors offer me suggestions and critique on my writing, Jean does the same with my artwork. Because I was quite nervous with this next piece, I texted her photos each step of the way. 

The subject,  which appears in AS ONE MUST, ONE CAN, is the Hochstrahlbrunnen fountain in Vienna.  The prospect of trying to paint water was a challenge. 

hochstrahlbrunnen-step-1

Step One – The Rough Draft

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Step Two – Laying in the background

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step Three

Step Three

Step Four

Step Four

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step Five

Step Five

Step Six and Seven

Steps Six and Seven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A full day’s work later, the finished work.  

Original Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Original Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

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