What is historical fiction?

So many people―especially family members―who have read my new historical novel, Papa's Shoes: A Polish shoemaker and his family settle in small-town America, have asked how much of it is true, I've written the piece below to hopefully provide a coherent answer.  A simple answer is there is a little of both in my novel. However, even though the character's were  inspired by real people and real events, I have audaciously fictionalized their lives. Fact vs Fiction: What in my novel, Papa's Shoes, Is True and What Is Fiction? by Madeline Sharples The characters in Papa's Shoes are fictional though they were inspired by real people in my family. However, the period of time when they lived and locations where they lived are derived from real historical data. So, in my mind, there is a very fine line between fact and fiction―it is definitely not one or the other. With that I think I’ve complied to some rules of historical fiction that I’ve recently read: “Historical fiction is a … [Read more...]

A little bragging is in order

Since my new historical novel, Papa's Shoes, was published by Aberdeen Bay about a month and a half ago, it has received some fabulous reviews. And even a few requests for a sequel - stay tuned about that. Here are three five-star examples: A Love Story with Acceptance, written by Lisa. Oh my goodness, I enjoyed reading this book so much. The story line starts with Ira, father & husband, and his journey of leaving Poland to make a life for his family in the United States of America. Once in America, as he is saving money to bring his wife and sons to join him, he receives news that all but one son died of the plague. Ugh! He returns and takes care of business then returns to America with his wife left to raise their remaining son and the baby on the way. Ruth, his wife, mails a pink string to Ira once Ava is born. When enough funds allow, Ira sends for Ruth, Charlie (their oldest son), and Ava. This is when the story shifts from one of Ira and Ruth to that of Charlie and … [Read more...]

How do you react to interview questions?

I welcome Rina Z. Neiman today, author of Born Under Fire - a historical novel - while she's on her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour. As I am the author of a recently published historical novel, Papa's Shoes, I can totally relate to Rina's book about a family's immigration struggles. Rina also struggled to get the information she needed for her book. Here she provides her thoughts about conducting interviews with people who are (and who are not) willing to talk with you. Here's Rina: Interviews are a great way to collect information, and when working on a biography, sometimes the only way to get information. When I started to write my mother’s story, I went to Israel to conduct interviews with my mother’s remaining friends and relatives. My first interview was a disaster. My phone ran out of battery. I couldn’t figure out my recording app. Why didn’t I buy that selfie stick/tripod? I did the interview, but took very poor notes. Yes, this could happen to anyone, … [Read more...]

I’ve read a couple of great books lately

I'm sure you've heard me say from time-to-time that I am very compulsive. Once I set my mind to do something, I have to go all the way. Reading is one of those somethings. I signed up on Goodreads to read at least twenty-five books this year. That's really not a lot, but with my writing regimen, it's not easy. I did it in 2018, and so far this year, I've read eleven book - two ahead of schedule according to Goodreads. Right now I'm reading Jane Fonda's autobiography, My Life So Far. Please don't give me a hard time about Jane. Since she became my exercise guru way back in the day, she's been my hero. And she writes about and apologizes a lot about her visit to Vietnam during the war. Besides she's a great actor. So here's a bit about two books I've recently read. The Boston stories in Don’t Mess with Tanya, by Ken Tangvik, are beautifully and expertly portrayed. I liked every one – especially the story about Tanya, the young black woman, who gets back at a store keeper f … [Read more...]

My novel is finished – now what?

I had every intention of submitting my finished novel to a small press I heard about a few years ago that publishes American Jewish Experience fiction. I kept checking back and kept checking back to see if they were still around over the years. But when I pulled up their website again yesterday, I found a new note pertaining to their guidelines - they will only look a fiction works that are represented by an agent. That of course stopped me dead. Now I am on the lookout for a small press that will be interested in coming of age/immigration/feminist themes and maybe willing to go with the American Jewish Experience theme as well. Looks like a very tall order to me. I'll also make friends with the agents I've met through the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society, whom I've heard on panels many times. Maybe I can persuade one of them to represent me. In the meantime I want to thank all of the people who helped me with the book along the way. The following  is what I wrote for the … [Read more...]

A review of Farewell, Aleppo by Claudette Sutton

It is a pleasure to showcase Claudette Sutton's memoir, Farewell, Aleppo: My Father, My People, and Their Long Journey Home on Choices today.  I hope you'll all read her book. You will certainly learn a lot about the history and culture of the Jews who came from Aleppo, Syria. Book synopsis: The Jews of Aleppo, Syria, had been part of the city's fabric for more than two thousand years, in good times and bad, through conquerors and kings. But in the middle years of the twentieth century, all that changed. To Selim Sutton, a merchant with centuries of roots in the Syrian soil, the dangers of rising anti-Semitism made clear that his family must find a new home. With several young children and no prospect of securing visas to the United States, he devised a savvy plan for getting his family out: exporting his sons. In December 1940, he told the two oldest, Meïr and Saleh, that arrangements had been made for their transit to Shanghai, where they would work in an uncle's export bus … [Read more...]