After Writing … Endorsements’ by Paula Rose Michelson

Authors of any genre would admit, if asked, that endorsements’ or lack thereof can make or break a novel. Since I have always decided upon one book instead of another because of the endorsements, teaser on the back of the jacket, and author information that told me why this author was qualified to write about the topic I was going to read, reader/author endorsements have been important to me. Therefore, once I had finished book one and two, which were originally one book, I sought acknowledgments from those I knew whose opinions mattered to me. From an early age, I was taught not to bother scholars or heads of large organizations with expectations prior to asking. I followed that advise and a month prior to summer college recess, I spoke with both people and was assured that they could find time to read Casa de Naomi for endorsement purposes. I mailed the manuscripts out and waited expectantly for a word or missive.

September had almost become October before I had mustered enough courage to ask those who had agreed to read my text if they had found time to do so. One had but decided they could not endorse for personal reasons which as always is everyone’s right. However, it did seem odd to me that I had to track the person down and when we spoke, I had the distinct feeling that they might have not completed reading the text. That stuck me as strange because when asked to do a favor, it seemed to me that even if one had not completed the task they might have something salient to share. Instead, I read a brief email that said, “This is going to be a best seller!”

The second person I had hoped would endorse received the same query I had sent the first, asked for my phone number, and made an appointment for us to talk. This seemed very promising indeed and I was surprised to hear her state that the people I was writing about did not exist. In fact she told me that she would be happy to endorse Casa de Naomi if I set the story 100 years earlier, making the opening date 1852 instead of 1952. She challenged the validity of my research and refused to hear anything I said that might sway her. At my wits end, I finally suggested that she review the material gleaned from Simon Wiesenthal’s book Sails of Hope. To facilate her inquiry, I sent her a copy of the material I had found on the internet. However, she was convenced of her opinion and I received neither endorsement nor encouragement from her.

By this time I found myself asking if I really did need endorsements. Try as hard as I might, I was unable to make myself believe that I did not need what I had sought. A week passed, then another before I finally asked God why he had pointed these two people out as endorsers. Before I finished asking, I had the answer! One person felt that fulfilling my request could hamper her plans; the other debated the very existence of the very people I had spoken to who had befriended me. A lightning blot shot into my cerebral cortex I seemed to hear the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit)say, You know the truth. What are you going to do to prove her wrong? Nothing in my life had prepared me to wage the battle I was about to enter, yet enter it I did as one by one my Sephardic friends walked down 16 stairs to my cottage, knocked at my door, entered my little office, and told me their stories. With each telling, I became more compelled than I was before. Compelled to make certain that these hidden peoples lives and struggles became known, in fact more committed than I had been about anything entrusted to me. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you might have read the personal accounts of three Sephardic women that I posted on January 19, 2011. If you joined this blog later, please visit tomorrow to read one of the three stories that comprise the Sephardic Voices in Book One of the Casa Saga. And if you wonder why I am posting this material in an interactive blog please drop by and find out.
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