A friend recommended that I read a WWII themed novel called The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman. The story is about a German family from a small village during the war and immediately after. Heartbreaking but a well-written story which allows a view of what it was like on 'the other side' since we so often read stories of that period that are from the Allied view. I am not going to review the book but you can read the summary and reviews at Amazon should you be interested.
Instead of a review of the book, I want to concentrate on the author and her publication journey, which I read about in a conversation with the author at the conclusion of the novel. I found it fascinating.
Ellen Marie Wiseman is the daughter of a woman who grew up in Germany during WWII. She married an American and lived in the USA. She told story upon story of what life was like during her childhood to her own three children. Ellen, the oldest, was inspired to write a WWII novel told from the viewpoint of a German family after she learned in high school about the Holocaust. Her dreamworld her mother had instilled with her stories caused her to have mixed emotions. She continued to question her mother about this era of life in Germany. Years went by and she felt the need to write the novel about an average German family.
Much of what she wrote is true--mostly the everyday living of the family, the hardships they endured during those years, the Allied bombings and Dachau. The characters are fictional but she based some on the grandparents she visited in Germany with her mother.
The author attended a small rural school that had no creative writing classes. Besides that, she did not go to college. She worked on her writing on her own for years, then turned to the internet where she located William Kowalski, an author who became her '...editor, teacher, mentor and friend.' She says his faith in her pushed her to believe in herself.
Over the years, Ellen Wiseman received 72 rejections from agents. Ask yourself right now--Would I have persevered in sending queries of that number to agents? In 2008, she and her husband had to file bankruptcy in a family business. They each had to search for work after 26 years of managing their own business. The time was a difficult one but Wiseman persisted in following her dream about getting her book published. When told the story was too long, she spent months cutting and revising while still fighting financial battles. She began querying again.
In January 2011, she came close to giving up. After all, 72 rejections from agents were not the stuff of encouragement. Trying one more time, she secured an agent who sold her novel in three weeks!
She has had two more novels published and another coming this year. I have written about my two keywords for writers--Patience and Persistence. This author is a perfect example of a writer who practiced both and found success because of it. Ms. Wiseman writing journey should also be encouraging to writers who have not received a degree in creative writing, those who strike out on their own, learning as they travel down their writing path.
When you feel like you are ready to give up in your own journey, think of this woman. I'd like to put her on a pedestal ten feet high as she is definitely someone I would look up to. I enjoyed the book but reading about Ellen Wiseman's writing journey was the icing on the cake.