Every year since my aliyah (immigration to Israel) in 2007, there has been at least one event that stands out from all the others. This year’s distinguishing event was the realization of my lifelong dream of publishing a book.
In August 2016, I saw an e-mail in my inbox that I initially thought was spam. A publisher was reaching out to me, offering to publish a collection of my short stories. It seemed too good to be true. I scanned the words looking for “the catch” only to find that there was none. I investigated further and saw that the source of this e-mail, Hadassa Word Press, was a legitimate publishing company.
The initial e-mail read, “We would like to cordially invite you to publish with Hadassa Word Press, the Jewish-Interest imprint of an international publishing group OmniScriptum GmbH. We publish literary fiction and creative nonfiction books with a focus on Jewish history, culture and contemporary society. We offer free publishing services for Jewish authors and our quality books [are] available worldwide.”
I replied to the e-mail asking how they had found me. The answer was that they came across my column right here in The Jewish Voice! When I pointed out to them that my genres of choice were fantasy and science fiction, without any kind of Jewish content, they replied, “We really admire your writing style, and your stories can be in the genre of science fiction or fantasy and don’t have to be Jewish themed.”
I spent the next few months revising my manuscript; writing new stories, deciding which stories would make the final cut and editing to make sure they all flowed properly. Along the way, I was in touch with Elena Djima, acquisition editor at Hadassa. She was the person who originally reached out to me, and she was always very patient and clear when answering my questions along the way.
Then there was a period of seemingly insurmountable writer’s block. So I broke from my routine and decided to spend six weeks back in Providence. My only goal during this hiatus was to finish the manuscript.
Back in my childhood home, where my earliest stories first took shape in my imagination, whatever remaining writer’s block I had vanished, and the final draft of my manuscript was completed.
Finally, in November 2017, I became a published author when my collection of short stories, “Tavern of the Mind,” was published. Before I had even received a copy of my own book, a literary group here in Jerusalem, known as Jerusalism, asked me to come to an event to read an excerpt from one of my stories.
A friend who works at a publishing company asked me, “How many times were you rejected?” (It’s commonly known that even some of the most successful authors received dozens of rejections before being “discovered.”) I proudly answered, “Zero – the publisher found me. Not the other way around.”
In March, I was able to throw my very own book launch party, which my parents were able to attend. Friends and family came to help me celebrate my achievement and to buy copies of my book.
So this article is my story of a writer coming full circle, at least for the time being. I began this column just a few months into my aliyah, back when every day of my new life had an adventure worth writing about.
A few years later, I used my aliyah benefits to subsidize my education; I studied for and received a master’s degree in creative writing from Bar Ilan University. And this past year, after my articles in The Jewish Voice caught the attention of just the right people, all of these factors came together and made me a published author.
I’ve used this column for many things: to share my life and experiences, offer my opinions on the state of affairs in Israel as it relates to the greater Jewish world, and above all else, as a way to write letters to my childhood community. It has bookmarked my life in Israel, and now, it has helped me to be discovered by a larger audience. I thank you, all my readers, for it. I look forward to telling more stories, both personal and Israel-related, to all of you.
DANIEL STIEGLITZ (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a certified Life Coach who lives in Jerusalem. His collection of short stories, “Tavern of the Mind,” is available for paperback and Kindle purchase at Amazon.com (www.amzn.to/2Izssrz).