Jeanie Loiacono

All posts tagged Jeanie Loiacono


Published July 3, 2017 by rochellewisoff

It all started when my agent Jeanie suggested I post character studies of my throng of characters on my blog to garner interest in my yet-to-be-published novels. I didn’t start rendering them in pencil and watercolor straightaway. You can blame it on Officer Lafayette A. Tillman, the second African American on the Kansas City Police Force. Since he shows up in FROM SILT AND ASHES and becomes an influential person in the life of Lev Gitterman in AS ONE MUST, ONE CAN I naturally wanted to post a character study about him. There are photos of him online but the only ones I could find were copyrighted. That’s when it occurred to me to paint a portrait of him.  

LAFAYETTE A. TILLMAN-Original Artwork – © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Fast forward to two novels later with one on the way, my publisher wanted to know if I’d be interested in putting together a coffee table companion book. “Let me think about that a minute…yes.”  For going on two years, I’ve worked to make that book upwards of 220 pages. In addition to the sepia portraits of the characters, I’ve been painting watercolor scenes from each of the books. I hate to call it ‘work’ though. To be honest, I’m having the time of my life. 😉 

This brings me to three months ago when I was introduced to Alexis at a place in Blue Springs, Missouri called Print Graphics. It had been suggested to me that I have prints made to sell. A festival in the area called Corks & Canvas would be a good venue, I was told, to market, not only my novel trilogy, but my artwork as well. So the games began! 

GAVREL WOLINSKY- Orignial Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields


My husband Jan was excited at the prospect of my finally showing my artwork. Maybe those student loans to the Kansas City Art Institute would finally pay off. At any rate, he was totally on board with purchasing the display racks and tables. He used his Academy Sports employee discount to buy a purple tent and matching chairs. (You expected, maybe white?) 

I didn’t think I’d have much to show, but thanks to Alexis, who is an artist herself, my stack of prints grew. My office/studio took on the appearance of an explosion in an art gallery. We found thrift stores to be wonderful places to find gently used frames, some with pristine mats that were the perfect size for my prints.

     When the time came, Jan, bless his heart, spent most of Friday packing the truck so there’d be little left to do Saturday morning. We lucked out. After a month of stifling heat and humidity, the temps dropped and we had pleasant weather. We were on site by 8:00 am and set up by 10:00.

     I enjoyed friends who showed up to support me and meeting new friends. One young Jewish woman stopped and we chatted for a long time. She was drawn to a couple of the paintings because they reminded her of her grandparents. While she didn’t buy anything, she said she would definitely get back with me. I hope she does. 

    If Corks & Canvas is any indication, it seemed to me that the artwork sold the books and visa versa. Financially, it was a successful day and makes us want to combine book signing and art display at other festivals. 

     Who knows where this will lead? 

Click on photos to view larger versions. 


Published January 17, 2017 by rochellewisoff


Chapter One


 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. 


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: 


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. 


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. 


Jim Christina

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


Wearing my magic shoes.


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. 


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.” 


Taking Flight-This Week!

Published November 14, 2016 by rochellewisoff

Reservations are made. Packing soon to begin. California here I come…this week! the-writers-block-mug

I’m looking forward to meeting Bobbi Bell and Jim Christina in person. Thursday night, 7:00PM Pacific time. It will be archived for those who aren’t able to catch it live. 

What does one wear for a radio interview? Whatever goes with:


While I wasn’t able to schedule any book signings, one Barnes & Noble manager said she’d order in two copies of PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME and FROM SILT AND ASHES. She invited me to come in and sign them. Being Judaica they’re just in time for Hanukkah. If you’re in the area the store is at 12136 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City.


 Th-that’s all for now, Folks. 

Character Study – Charles Rosenthal

Published October 7, 2016 by rochellewisoff

As a girl in, Fruma Ya’el fell in love with an idealistic Jewish doctor from the United States.

Framed Fruma Ya'el

Fruma Ya’el -Original Artwork-© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

            “I was your age when a doctor came to visit Svechka—Dr. Rosenthal—all the way from New York, America,” she tells Havah. “He claimed it was his mission to recruit Jews to become doctors so we wouldn’t always be at the mercy of the Goyim. He stayed for two years and filled my head full of knowledge and dreams…”

            Recognizing Fruma Ya’el’s aptitude for medicine, Charles urged her to return to New York with him to study medicine and marry him. When tragedy struck she laid her aspirations to rest. Obeying her father’s wishes, she married Herschel. Dejected and heartbroken, Charles left Svechka.

Dr. Charles Rosenthal - Original Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Dr. Charles Rosenthal – Original Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Setting down the tattered diaper she used as a polishing cloth, Fruma Ya’el reached into a concealed pocket in the wooden box’s lining and pulled out an old tintype. Lean, with black hair, bushy moustache and olive skin, to this day, Charles’ image held the power to quench her arid heart’s thirst if only for the briefest moment. The memory of his lips pressed hard against hers still lingered in her mind like sweet cream and honey.

             “Charles. I can’t.”

            “You’d rather rot in ignorance because of a narrow minded old man and a piece of paper than come with me?”

            “I’m all my father has left.”

            Charles’ dark eyes filled. He grasped her face with both hands. “I beg of you, Ya’el. Think. There are schools cropping up all over America for women. You’ll be a brilliant doctor, a medical pioneer.”

            “What about Papa’s honor?”

            “Damn ‘Papa’s honor’!”

~~Taken from Please Say Kaddish for Me

Published by Argus Publishing

Represented by Loiacono Literary Agency




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The Sequel

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Watch for the third in Havah’s Series!



Check out my author page on the Loiacono Website.  For all of the character studies thus far, click on the link Rochelle Wisoff-Fields Art and Blogs or my website RochelleWordArt.

Taking Flight

Published September 27, 2016 by rochellewisoff

I’ve been given the opportunity to be interviewed on The Writer’s Block Radio Show. It’s a weekly program that, according to the creators, brings writers and readers together every Thursday night.  My interview is scheduled for Thursday, November 17th at 7:00 PM Pacific Time. the-writers-block-mug

You can listen to live broadcasts and recorded podcasts here:

Interviews can be done over the phone or live depending on the location of the interviewee. However—for me a big ‘however’ since we don’t have a landline—LA Talk Radio strongly discourages the use of cell phones as they tend to drop calls. 

The interview

Television Interview on Fox 4 KC in April 2016.

With that little piece of information tucked away, I contacted my son, Travis who lives in LA. When I asked how far the studio is from him he answered, “Pretty close.”


Perhaps Olive and her Bubbe will do some artwork together. (I hope so.)

What better way to plan an unprecedented visit with my one and only grandchild?  I’m pleased to announce that I’ve purchased my airline ticket and am looking forward to seeing my kids as well as doing the interview. Hm. Perhaps I’ll be able to schedule a book signing while I’m in the neighborhood?

signing books

Once Upon A Time

Published August 4, 2016 by rochellewisoff

Twelve years ago I began a journey. I really had no idea where it would lead, I simply put one foot in front of the other and wrote. PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME began as an exploration of my own Eastern European background and Polish roots. I quickly detoured and ended up in Kishinev, Moldova, the scene of the first internationally recognized pogrom.  This is where I met Havah who took my hand and told me her story. 

When our journey began, I had a dream and rudimentary knowledge of how to put my thoughts into words. Along the pathway I had the good fortune of meeting those who guided me to workshops, conferences and critique groups to learn the craft.

When I think of those who wrote their manuscripts in longhand or on a typewriter, I’m grateful for the such wonderful tools as backspace and copy and paste. Without which my novels might never have happened.  


Havah Cohen Gitterman at her writing desk. Original artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

My paternal grandmother, Miriam Reuben Wisoff

My paternal grandmother, Miriam Reuben Wisoff who was a published poet.









Wonder of wonders, the dream that I considered a lofty one has been realized and I have two novels in print and one on the way. Many thanks go out to my agent, Jeanie Loiaconao who believed in Havah and worked hard to find a home for her at Argus Books. 

So begins the next leg of the journey. Marketing. Book Signings, interviews and social media are all part of the modern world of marketing. The author must become the promoter. 

Author InterviewBN Event Poster

Having said all that, I come to conclusion of this blog post. One thing that sells a book is a great review. Goodreads, Barnes and Noble and Amazon are good places. Currently PLEASE SAY KADDISH has 48 reviews on Amazon and FROM SILT AND ASHES, 9. 


If you’ve read and enjoyed (naturally I hope for positive reviews) please consider taking a few minutes to leave a review. This author humbly thanks you in advance. 

Note: For overseas friends, please copy your comments into in addition to leaving them on the UK or other sites. I’m not sure why this doesn’t carry over. I think it should. 



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!




Character Study – Nocturne in C-Sharp Minor

Published March 6, 2016 by rochellewisoff


Original Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Felds

Original Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Felds

   “Now, where was I? Your education…Frederic Chopin.” Ulrich cleared his throat and poised his hands over the keys. “He was one of the world’s greatest composers. His life was short but his influence great. Nocturne in C-sharp Minor was my Valerica’s favorite. Her life was also short. She said this piece took her to far off places. Close your eyes and see where it takes you.”

             From the first resounding chords a flood of emotion flowed through Havah like a river current. In a moment she was both callow child, alive with anticipation, and wizened matron, bone weary and full of years. Her mother’s voice lulled and comforted her with a song about raisins and almonds. She saw her father’s face, half illuminated by candle flame as he poured over volume after volume of Talmud. Arel approached from the shadows, tall and thin. His gray eyes devoured her. His tender lips kissed her.

~~From Please Say Kaddish for Me

Valerica Dietrich - Framed

Valerica Dietrich © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Original Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Original Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields









Frederic Chopin’s Nocturne in C Sharp Minor soothed Havah’s jangled nerves. The ivory keys were smooth and comforting under her fingertips. Although she would never be a pianist of Ulrich’s caliber she played well enough to entertain an audience of one. Closing her eyes, she relished a soft breeze carrying the scents of daffodil and hyacinth through the open window.

Havah in a Frame

Havah Cohen Gitterman

~~From From Silt and Ashes 




Original Artwork - © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Arel Gitterman – Original Artwork – © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields










Letting the strains of Chopin’s Nocturne in C-Sharp Minor waft over her, Shayndel sat in the rocking chair beside the piano with Tikvah asleep on her lap. While Shayndel did not know many musical pieces by name like her sister-in-law she could always recognize this one. When Havah was sad or in pain this would be the piece she chose to play.

~~From As One Must, One Can (2016)

Shayndel Abromovich-Original artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Shayndel Abromovich-Original artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Published by Argus Publishing

Represented by Loiacono Literary Agency

  While not a person or an animal, a piece of classical music becomes something of a friend and companion to Havah. Chopin’s Nocturne in C-Sharp Minor comforts her when reality becomes too much to handle.

            I fell in love with this piece and Chopin’s music when I saw the movie The Pianist. It’s haunting, ethereal beauty transports this author to other places so it seemed only natural it would do the same for Havah.

            Unlike the author, Havah has latent musical talent that Ulrich is only too happy to nurture. While he tries to steer her to something simpler for a beginner, she is determined to learn how to play the nocturne.

            I hope you’ll take the time to not only read my excerpts but also to enjoy the music.  


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Amazon AU  Shelfari

The Sequel to

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Amazon  Angus & Robertson  B&N  BAM  BookWorld  FishPond  Shelfari  The Book Depository  Waterstones  GoodReads  iDreamBooks  HPB Hudson Book Sellers   IndieBound  Powell’s Books

Amazon AU  Amazon UK  Amazon Germany  Amazon Italy  Amazon France  Amazon Spain

Check out my author page on the Loiacono Website.  For all of the character studies thus far, click on the link Rochelle Wisoff-Fields Art and Blogs or my website RochelleWordArt.

Character Study – Rabbi Shimon and Miriam Cohen

Published January 24, 2016 by rochellewisoff

Out of the corner of her eye she [Havah] saw her mother creep through the doorway and inch toward the bed with a wooden rolling pin high over her head. She slammed it down on the back of the man’s head. With a sudden jerk and a grunt he released Havah. He rolled off her and fell to the floor unconscious.

She sat up, clutching a pillow and stared down at him. Blood pooled under his head and seeped into the cracks between the floor boards. This had to be a dream. In the morning Papa would wink at her over breakfast and assure her it had all been a horrendous nightmare.

 Her mother yanked her hand, dragged her from the bed and held her for a moment, her tears hot on Havah’s neck.

“Hurry, Havah. May the God of Israel go with you.” Taking Havah’s face between her hands her mother kissed her forehead.

“But Mama—”

Tugging Havah’s arm, her mother dragged her to the back door of the house and shoved her out. “No arguing. Go!”

Heart thumping, she ran. Thick smoke stung her eyes and burned her throat. She stopped and turned to look one last time. The blazing synagogue crumbled to the ground.

“No, Havah, don’t look back!”

                      ~~Taken from Please Say Kaddish for Me by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Miriam Cohen 2

Original Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The Heder teacher’s face turned crimson. He narrowed his eyes and glared at five-year-old Havah as if she were a piglet about to be dumped on his doorstep. Then he clenched his tobacco-stained teeth and spat a brown glob on the doorstep.

Up until this moment she had been excited to learn to read the Torah, the words that came from Adoshem’s own mouth. Huddled against Papa’s shoulder she hid her eyes in his coat folds.

“You can’t be serious, Rabbi Shimon. She’s a girl.”

“So she is.” Papa’s arm tightened around her. “My daughter’s mind is every whit as keen as her brother Mendel’s.”

“To be certain she’s a bright one, and one day she’ll be a most excellent wife and mother. Perhaps she’ll even marry a rabbi herself but, Rebbe, to come to Heder with boys? It’s not right.”

“Where does the Torah say it’s wrong for a girl to learn?”

“Rabbi Ben Hyrcanus clearly stated in the Talmud that to teach a daughter Torah is tiflut, obscenity. And did he not also say that the words of the Torah should be burned rather than be entrusted to a woman? Rabbi, you of all people should know this.”

“As far as I’m concerned it’s opinion and rubbish! Didn’t the prophet Yo’el write ‘your sons and daughters shall prophecy’? Miriam and Deborah—were they not judges in Israel?”

“You win, Rebbe.”

“I always do.”

                 ~~Taken from From Silt and Ashes by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Published by Argus Publishing

Represented by Loiacono Literary Agency

Original Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Original Artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Until the pogrom that took them from her, Havah’s parents, Rabbi Shimon and Miriam Cohen were the two most important people her life.

            Not one to be bound by law and traditions, Rabbi Cohen relied more on Torah than Midrash, the rabbinic commentaries.  When questioned, he was quick to argue that the former was the irrefutable word of God while the latter was merely opinion and conjecture.  He encouraged his daughter and his wife, if they so desired, to study the Holy Word.

            Miriam was a gentle and loving wife who kept a clean, Kosher home. She considered her greatest treasures to be her husband, her two sons and her daughter.

            Havah adored her parents and her memories of them are a constant thread throughout the series. Even though she was only sixteen when they died, their words of wisdom are always there to guide her.

FSAA Cover

Amazon Amazon Spain  Amazon Italy  Amazon Germany  Amazon UK  Amazon France

Amazon AU  Shelfari

The Sequel to

PSK Cover


Amazon  Angus & Robertson  B&N  BAM  BookWorld  FishPond  Shelfari  The Book Depository  Waterstones  GoodReads  iDreamBooks  HPB Hudson Book Sellers   IndieBound  Powell’s Books

Amazon AU  Amazon UK  Amazon Germany  Amazon Italy  Amazon France  Amazon Spain

Check out my author page on the Loiacono Website.  For all of the character studies thus far, click on the link Rochelle Wisoff-Fields Art and Blogs or my website RochelleWordArt.


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