Getting my first novel published just over a year ago was very exciting and fulfilling. That it wasn’t hard to find a publisher for it and that I sourced a wonderful illustrator to do the cover art also were part of that mix.
However, the work leading up to the novel’s publication was hard and long.
I started writing the novel in 2010 at a UCLA four-day workshop called How to Write Your First Novel. I decided to take that class to get away from the frustrations of trying to get my memoir published. I was querying like mad, but nothing was working, so a change in pace was necessary. I already had an idea – taken from the life story my aunt wrote not long before she died in her eighties. She wrote about a young man – actually a teacher – who took her to school plays and concerts when she was a senior in high school. When her brother – actually my father – found out he wasn’t Jewish, he made his family move to Chicago from their small town in mid Illinois so that she could find a nice Jewish man to marry.
Since she wrote about him with such detail – what he looked like, how he dressed, how polite and attentive he was to her, and that she even remembered his name – so many years later made me think she really must have loved that teacher. I immediately decided to write a book that would end up with her marrying her true love rather than the Milquetoast man she really married. Though dating a teacher might not have been a no-no in those olden days, in my book I turned him into a college student who directed the senior high school class play.
The people in the workshop thought it was a good idea, so I started. However, almost immediately I sold my memoir to a publisher and had to spend the next six months revising it and getting it ready for publication. The novel went on hold at that point. In fact, it went on hold a lot for the first few years because of all the marketing obligations of a newly published memoir.
Finally when I could actually spend time on it, I took it through another more advanced novel writing class at UCLA, a revision class, three groups of outside Beta readers, two editors, and my last reader, my husband, who of course found more things I needed to change. Nine years and ten revisions since the start of that first UCLA workshop, it was ready to see the light of day.
Papa’s Shoes: A Polish shoemaker and his family settle in small-town America, my historical novel that takes place in the early 1900s was published by Aberdeen Bay on April 25, 2019.