Tasa’s Song by Linda Kass, A Review

We can grow anywhere if we never give up.

We can grow anywhere if we never give up.

Last month at Book Expo America in Chicago, I met a number of fellow She Writes Press authors. We took turns greeting passersby and promoting our books in the SWP booth. During my first session there I was accompanied by Linda Kass, author of Tasa’s Song, a novel set in Eastern Poland, about a young Jewish girl, caught in the cross-hairs between Communist Russia and Nazi Germany, during WWII. This book was awarded the 2016 Bronze Medal in Historical Fiction by the Independent Publisher Book awards.

Having spent two years living in Germany just after the war as a young child, and seeing the destruction of that country, I have always been interested in the Holocaust; searching for answers as to why it happened and how the survivors who were targeted by Hitler’s horrific regime came through such an unspeakable time. As the daughter of an American soldier who fought and liberated a number of concentration camps, the focus of my interest has always been on Germany itself. But I have been mostly unaware of how the people of Poland lived through the upheaval and mass destruction of innocent lives as a result of the war. And being of Polish descent myself, I have felt remiss in my ignorance.

Kass’ beautifully written story, inspired by her mother’s life and how she came to America, has filled in many of the blanks for me. I now understand the intensity of the sudden invasion of Poland by Russia, making everyday life a challenge because of the many changes that the Russians forced upon the Poles. When the Nazis drove the Russian occupation back, and started rounding up the Jews to be taken away, Tasa’s family hid underneath a friend’s barn, away from the light of day for an extended period of time. This is a story filled with loss, love, and the grace it takes to keep going in a shattered world.

For me, what is most engaging about this story is how Kass, weaves in the music that Tasa, an aspiring violinist, always carries with her in her head. Through her constant moves and the unending months when she cannot play her violin for fear that any sound she makes could give away her family’s hiding place, it sings in her heart. Using exquisite, lyrical narrative, Kass explores the way a life filled with music can bring us through life extreme adversity, helping the human spirit to shine and endure. Filled with detailed descriptions of daily life in war-torn Poland, this book should not be missed.


As often as I can, I plan to read and review books by authors already published or is in the process of being published by She Writes Press. I feel extremely fortunate to be included in such a group of talented women writers. Brooke Warner and all of the women at She Writes Press have given me unending attention during the sometimes difficult process of getting my book off the ground. From the editors to the publicists they recommend, I feel well supported and grateful that they are there to answer the simplest questions and help as my book moves toward publication.  To learn more about She Writes Press go here.


from left to right: Annie Tucker, Brooke Warner, Katrina Anne Willis, and myself.

from left to right: My editor Annie Tucker, Brooke Warner, my publisher,  Katrina Anne Willis, and myself.

I Arrived in Chicago last Tuesday afternoon and spent the evening trying not to worry about the next day at BEA. I’m not a crowd person and dislike noisy places. I’d been told that Book Expo America was a bellybutton to bellybutton kind of event, so I lived with that expectation overnight and into Wednesday morning. Not being good enough to be there kinds of thoughts kicked the cement mixer in my gut up several levels the next morning as the cab I’d hailed drew closer to McCormick Place, the huge convention center where I would spend a good part of my day.

Up two flights of escalators the crowd seemed tiny. But BEA wasn’t open to the public yet. I breathed deeply and told myself, I can do this. After registering for my badge I set out to find the She Writes Press booth where I’d finally meet my publisher Brooke Warner, and the community of women authors I am now a part of. Brooke gave us some ideas on how we could welcome those who visit the booth, what to look for as we explored the convention floor looking for others whose services we might want to use, and how not to be overly pushy pitching our books. After a quick lunch with several of the other authors I arrived back at the booth ready to be available to those interested in She Writes Press and the books they publish, most especially mine. There was still not much of a crowd.

I sat at small round table with two other authors, Linda Kass and Jennifer Dwight. Linda’s book, Tasa’s Song, was inspired by her mother’s life, and describes Tasa Rosinski’s life and escape as a Jew from Eastern Poland in 1943. It was the recipient of the 2016 Bronze Medal for Historical Fiction at the Independent Publisher Book Awards. BookList says, it ”depicts a heartbreaking time with great sensitivity and detail.” It was published just weeks ago and is available wherever books are sold.

Jennifer Dwight’s book, The Tolling of Mercedes Bell, is a thriller that the San Francisco Book Review calls, “An unforgettable page-turner.” Suspense Magazine says it’s “Full of surprises with impressive twists.” It won two finalist medals at the 2016 Indie Next Generation Book Awards in the categories of Suspense and Thriller. Published on May 3rd, it also is available in bookstores and on line.

We spent an hour and half together welcoming those who showed interest in our books and She Writes Press. The crowd was still unimpressive at 2:30 when several other authors came to take our places at the table. I began wondering if my crowd phobia was a figment of my imagination and whether BEA was going to be what I had expected it to be.

I slept in on Wednesday morning and spent time with Bill. This was our first real trip together since his knee replacement this past January. We had several lovely meals with friends we hadn’t seen in some twenty years recalling what life was like back in the day. And while I was off having a ball at the publisher’s dinner on Thursday night, Bill took in a play he’d wanted to see for a long time. It was very relaxing to be away from home without the phone ringing and my endless to do list shouting at me in the background. I could hardly contain my excitement at being there amongst all those writers, publishers, and industry people. I finally felt like a real author.

Friday morning, the last day of BEA, I was back at the booth at 9 AM and spent two hours with author Katrina Anne Willis, as people came and went asking questions about our books. Katrina’s book, Parting Gifts, a novel, was published in April, and is the story of three sisters who pull their lives together through tragedy.  Karen Lynch, author of Good Cop, Bad Daughter: Memoirs of an Unlikely Police Officer, says “Parting Gifts is a rare treasure, the sort of book that leaves the reader attached to the characters long after finishing the final page.”

I was delighted by a visit from The Best Editor in the Whole World, Annie Tucker, with whom I loved working through the developmental and copy edits of my book. It was such a pleasure to finally meet her in-person. If there is another book in me, I’d hire her again in a heartbeat.

After my booth duty I took a walk around the convention floor and finally found the crowds as people lined up for books being signed by the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis, Richard Russo, and others. At other booths publishers and authors held up their books, approaching me as I passed by, wanting to give them away for free. I imagine it was not only about getting their books out to the public but also about not wanting to lug them home again. When my head began to pulse from the noise and crowds, I packed up and returned to my hotel for a late lunch and a nap.

It was truly a fabulous trip and I’m so glad I talked myself into taking the plunge. I’m still processing everything I learned about selling books, myself, and how I can operate in conditions I don’t normally seek out without making myself a basket case. It was an exciting hands-on learning experience that I’ll never forget. If God be willing and the creek don’t rise, I plan on being there again next year.

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What’s Happening With My Book


For those of you who aren’t subscribed to my newsletter, I’m posting my May 1st newsletter here so that you’ll know exactly what’s happening with my book.  It’s an exciting and busy time with lots of travel, exploring and learning new things.

memes-bea-chicago4I’ll be making my way to Chicago this afternoon. I’ll be sitting in the She Writes Press booth #1150 at Book Expo America for a few hours on Wednesday and Friday, doing a bit of book pitching and meeting fellow SWP authors. I’ll also get to meet my editor Annie, who I loved working with.  I will also wend my way through the crowd at this huge trade show to learn more about the publishing industry. My first book, Australian Locker Hooking, published in 1980, was self-published long before Indie Writers were doing their own thing. The changes in the industry and book marketing are huge and I want to learn all about it.


My Newsletter, May 1, 2016:

Last week I noticed a big box sitting on my front porch, and asked myself, What did I order that I really don’t need? Running late for my Pilates lesson, I brought the box indoors and left it on the hall table. I didn’t notice the return address. A few hours later between fixing dinner and feeding the dogs, I remembered the package. I still couldn’t remember having ordered anything and as I slit the top of the box open I grew more curious as I pulled out wads of white packing paper. There before my eyes were the Advanced Reader Copies of SCATTERING ASHES, A Memoir of Letting Go. I had completely forgotten that they would be arriving any day — in time for me to take them to Book Expo America in just two weeks. Oh yes, I needed them.

Holding the book in my hands I couldn’t believe that I had come this far. During the last few months there were times I felt it was all a dream and all the work I had done on this project was just a figment of my imagination. But no, there it was. Bill grabbed a copy for himself. When I told him it was only a galley and still needed proof reading, he said, “That’s okay. I want one of each.” We celebrated with a glass of wine and toasted to the book’s success.

I also have other irons in the fire heating up. Last week I ordered postcards to hand out to participants at BEA, and to send to those on my mailing list. They just arrived and they look great with a photo of the cover and several descriptive blurbs. They were designed by a great designer, Alex Baker, out in Seattle.

Last week I heard about the 2016 Journal Conference to be held in Hendersonville, North Carolina, the week after I return from Chicago. I threw my usual need to stay home for a while after a trip aside and signed up to be there. I will have just four days between trips to get laundry and other catching up activities done before I head out to what I believe is going to be a great conference.

I have been journaling for the past 35 years and those writings were extremely helpful to me as I began putting my story on paper. Writing daily journal entries was a huge part of my healing process as I struggled with PTSD and life as my mother’s caretaker. I’m looking forward to meeting other writers and journal keepers and want to begin the process of putting together my own ideas on how to help women in my own community begin keeping journals and writing their own stories as a way of healing the bumps and bruises that life has to offer.

Also happening: My publicist just sent out press releases and ARCs to several publications in hopes of having them write reviews. After I return from my trips I’m hoping to get a few articles written for various publications. Things just keep on happening and at times my excitement gets out of hand!.

I never woulda thunk this would be happening for me!

You can go ahead and preorder SCATTERING ASHES on either Amazon or Barnes & Noble now.

My Book Cover Reveal!


Yes!  That’s it!  And I Love it!!

No, that’s not me.  That’s my mother. She was eighteen years old at the time.

What an exciting time this is. Now that I have a cover and a fresh manuscript back from the proof reader, it’s beginning to feel like my memoir is real. But still, I occasionally have to stop and ask myself if all of this is really happening. Had you asked me 5 years ago if I’d write a memoir and even have it published, I would have said, “You’ve got to be kidding.” But, life is filled with surprises and this is one that I will celebrate for a long time. But this is only the beginning.

Today my words about my book and how I came to write it are over on my blog at She Writes and will be included in today’s She Writes Newsletter, as part of the Behind the Book series. I ended the post with these words saying why this could be an important book for many to read:

“SCATTERING ASHES, A Memoir of Letting Go, is my personal story of caring for my mother while searching for peace within myself and with my abusers.  It is also an important story. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, 43.5 million of adult family caregivers care for someone 50+ years of age. The  US Census Bureau reported as of April, 2014, there were 76.4 million baby boomers. Clearly the problem of finding caregivers is growing. As is the need for family members to find ways of handling their own emotional trauma as they care for those who can no longer care for themselves. It is my hope that my story can be of help to those who are intending to care for their elders and/or those who may already be doing so.”

Please go over and read the whole post. You won’t be able to leave a comment unless you are a member, but you can certainly leave one here. I’d love to know what you think.

Exciting News About My Book

Yes, iIMG_1239t’s fall … my favorite time of year. The leaves are changing from green to bright yellow, gold, red, and orange, too. Yesterday on my walk, there was a a cool breeze out of the northwest. Leaves were dropping like a steady rain. It was magical.

So it seems appropriate to tell you that during this spectacular time of year, another spectacular event is now officially beginning to happen. My book, Me, Myself, and Mom, is officially on the road to being published and will be on bookshelves next September.

I’m publishing with She Writes Press and I couldn’t be happier.

From my first contact with this fairly young press, I’ve been impressed by the quality of the books they send out into the world, their award winning authors, and the help they provide for those like me who are technical dinosaurs.

One of their developmental editors, Annie Tucker, was a dream to work with. She respected what I was doing and never tried to make my manuscript into something it wasn’t. You don’t have to sign a publishing contract with SWP in order to hire one of their prize editors. The experience of working with a professional like Annie, gave me the confidence I needed to know that my book had a great chance where ever I decided to go with it.

In the beginning, I was thinking of self-publishing. But I’d already self-published one book in 1980, before it became the wave of the future. That book, about a way to use fleece directly from a sheep’s back to make rugs and other gorgeous items, was a huge success. But the end process of being a bookseller and taking care of all sales and shipping, was hard work. I had little time for anything else. When other back-to-the-landers, like myself, started getting older and the market began to cool, I let it go out of print.

I asked myself why I would want to take all that on again.

I figured this new book, a memoir, was something entirely different. I’m in my seventies now, I enjoy tending to all of my interests instead of just one. I want to travel. I want to spend time with my family. I want to work in the garden and cook. I want to make art and write much more than I already have.

I knew it could take the rest of my life to find a traditional agent and publisher that I wanted to work with. So the idea of working with a hybrid press like SWP, sounded just right for me. And my experience with Annie, convinced me that going with them was what I needed to do.

Two years ago, when I was still considering self-publishing, I made contact with a publicist at the Virginia Festival of the Book. She was on a panel with two other publicists giving a run down on what publicists do for writers. Between the three of them, I found, Caitlin Summie Hamilton, to be the most down to earth. She seemed like the real deal … open, honest, and approachable. After the panel discussion, I talked with her and later chatted with her on the phone about what she could do for me and what the costs looked like. I really liked her and promised myself that if I decided I wanted to work with a publicist, she would be the one.

Imagine my delight when I found Caitlin on SWP’s list of recommended publicists. I talked with her again last week, and she’s writing up a proposal for me.

I’ve also sent in material for my book cover and look forward to a chat next month with Brooke Warner and all of the other authors whose books will be published in the fall of 2016. I love the community of writers that SWP has created and look forward to getting to know them all.

To say that I’m excited would be an understatement. There were days when I never believed I’d get this far. There were times when I wanted to shred the manuscript and give up the idea of ever publishing this book.

Reliving what I was writing about was painful. But the idea of giving up and throwing it away wasn’t an option and I focused on the idea that this book just might help someone else going through a critical time in their life. I’d learned too much to just let it go and not share my story.

So I hung on. And look where I am today!

Have there been moments in your life when you wanted to trash an important project you were working on? What kept you moving toward the finish line?