Remembering the Past

The world cracked nearly eighty years ago as Hitler and his minions ravaged Europe, leaving a legacy of loss, but also a significant lesson for future generations.  Let”s not just remember the lesson on Holocaust Remembrance Day, but live it, especially in current times, as racism continues to be prevalent in our society.  I invite those who have not read the story of my family, MY MOTHER’S SHOES, and others who have read it to read the novel again so that we NEVER FORGET.

On Monday, January 29, my son presented the book to UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, during a visit of the National Security Council to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

In November, I conducted a discussion of my latest book of short stories, THREE FOR A DOLLAR, at the Barnes & Noble Store at Middlesex County College.  The book was also presented at a meeting of the East Brunswick Hadassah group where I discussed how short stories reflect issues presented in The New York Times.


Reminder—Please visit this blog again in March for an announcement about the release of THIS I KNOW published by Black Rose Writing.

See you again soon, and keep reading!


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Looking Forward

Hello again—Yes,  it has been awhile, but that doesn’t mean things have been stagnant.  First and foremost, as we all know, November 8, 2016 brought great change to our country (no comment on that one), but more significantly for the Wachtel family, we were blessed with our newest granddaughter, Emmy Clare.  She joins big sister Zoey, and now that she will celebrate her first birthday, with her laughter, ready smile, and constant activity, she has secured a permanent place in all our hearts.

In April, I was honored by Middlesex County College with their 2017 Faculty Scholar Award for my work as a writer of fiction and a reading textbook series, as well as my efforts toward establishing a vibrant Holocaust and Human Rights Center at the college.  On April 20, I addressed faculty, administrators and guests; and accepted the award, as did my colleagues, Kathy Shay (Excellence in Teaching) and Sara Blomquist (Adjunct Excellence in Teaching).  I am humbled and touched by this recognition.

This September, my latest book, THREE FOR A DOLLAR and other stories was released.  I am quite excited for you to read this collection of original tales, all character portraits braided by single individuals.  The book is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online.

In March, 2018, my latest work, a novella entitled THIS I KNOW, will be published by Black Rose Press.  More to come…

Finally, I invite you to join me at the two events listed below.  Meanwhile, I feel the urge to begin another novel, so while I go sharpen my pencils, wishing you all the best and happy reading!



Meet Shirley Wachtel

Monday, November 13, 2017
11am—12:20pm Barnes & Noble Special Event
Middlesex County College 2600 Woodbridge Avenue, Edison, NJ

You are invited to a reading and book signing of Three for a Dollar, just released short story collection by Dr. Shirley Wachtel.

Described as a “…collection of tales laying bare the complexities underneath normal suburban life,”(Kirkus Reviews), Dr. Wachtel’s latest publication reveals the dreams and struggles of ordinary individuals and the subtle connections among them.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017
7:30 pm at Temple B’nai Shalom
15 Fern Road, East Brunswick, NJ

Sponsored by East Brunswick Hadassah–Event is free and open to the public. Book signing to follow.

Shirley Russak Wachtel will present “Stories of Survival from Life and Literature.” She will read excerpts from her newly-released book, Three for a Dollar, leading a discussion of how current events are emblematic of our own personal stories.

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Love is in the Air

ShirleyIconLove.  It’s a word which has inspired hope in the hearts of young suitors, revenge for those spurred on by jealousy, and inspiration for many a poet.  I too have been thinking about the word as Valentine’s Day looms.  The things I love are family, friends, and my career as a teacher and writer.  The freshman composition course I am currently teaching deals with survival as seen in literature, and I am constantly gratified and motivated by my students when their “lights go on” and they comprehend the meaning of a metaphor, or make connections between the literature and their own lives.  Their responses and their questions  challenge me each day, and I love the challenge!

I recently was invited to the Blue Colt Book Store at Middlesex County College for a reading, discussion, and book signing of The Music Makers.  I enjoyed seeing friends, colleagues, and students, and was gratified by all your comments.


I am also happy to announce that my poem, “A Summer’s Evening” won the second place award for excellence in the Dream Quest Summer 2015 poetry contest.  Please check out my blog for further announcements on new publications and book events.  Till then, as we brace ourselves for the cold days ahead, let’s remember the immortal words of Percy Bysshe Shelley, “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”

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ShirleyIconIt’s that time of year again when many of us reflect on the importance of family and friends we hold dear.  But shouldn’t we devote just as much energy to these individuals throughout the year?  As a daughter of Holocaust survivors, I remain acutely aware of the blessings bestowed upon me: first and foremost, my husband, sons, brother and his family, and my cherished three-year-old granddaughter; a nation, though deeply flawed, where I have the rights to freedom, and am only limited by my own choices; a career of teaching and writing, both passions which keep me vital; dear and caring friends; and lastly, but perhaps most importantly, good health to enjoy all of these things.

This year, to demonstrate my love and gratitude for all I have, I have released a new children’s book, ZOEY and the PURPLE ELEPHANT (at Amazon, Barnes & Noble), just in time for Hanukkah and Christmas.  Kudos to Don Bloom, a professional artist and my notable illustrator, whose drawings capture the essence of the book.  The book is a special gift written for my granddaughter, ZOEY, and in memory of my mother, BLIMA, as a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.  Did you know the purple elephant is a symbol for Alzheimer’s and reminds us of the strides continually being made to find a cure?  Let’s hope it happens in our lifetime, or at least in Zoey’s.  I sincerely hope she enjoys the book, and that you do as well.—Shirley

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Remembering on Memorial Day

Remembering on Memorial Day.

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Remembering on Memorial Day

BlimaiconHello Again–Memorial Day is a time to reflect on the dedication and sacrifice of our troops.  I will forever be grateful to the valiant soldiers who liberated my parents and other survivors from under the heavy hand of Nazi domination.  Each day I am aware of the young men and women who undergo toil and sacrifice to keep our nation whole and safe.  And, like my parents, I am so very grateful that I and my family are citizens of the United States.  Thank you.


On Sunday I was able to view patriotism up close as I witnessed the stunning parade of motorcyclists honking and showing their colors near the Washington mall.  Although I was an hour late for a book signing, I couldn’t help but feel inspired and proud at the display.

The book signing of MY MOTHER’S SHOES at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum was also a time for remembering.  I have visited the museum several times and it never fails to awe me and, I confess, leave me at a loss for words. I enjoyed meeting so many visitors and having the chance to converse with teenagers, scholars, and people from as far away as Norway.  I even met a former student from Middlesex County College!  Thank you all for your interest and kind words.

Of course it is always a joy to visit my son, Howie, and daughter-in-law, Jaime.  And I can never forget Zoey (hugs and kisses) who continues to charm us and soon will be three.  Thanks so much to my brother-in-law, Mark, and sister-in-law, Michelle, for coming out.  It is always wonderful to see family.  Lastly, my love and thanks to Arthur for driving and shlepping–you are the “bestest” of the best!

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ShirleyIconHello Again, Everyone—

Just a note to thank those of you who turned out for the reading and book signing of my latest novel, THE MUSIC MAKERS, held at Barnes & Noble in New Brunswick, NJ. on February 14th.  It was such fun re-connecting with dear friends and meeting new ones.  Special thanks to my assistant, Zoey, my delightful granddaughter, who held my hand throughout it all.  2015-02-14 15.08.022015-03-15 09.08.04

Most recently, I wish to thank the Sisterhood and Men’s Club of the East Brunswick Jewish Center who hosted me on March 15 for their author event and for providing a delicious breakfast for all.  Special thanks to Myra Feldman for supporting me and for her kind words about the book, and Cindy Rabinowitz for her encouragement and organization of the event, and the always-supportive Gloria Jaslow and Bernice Bellows.  Thanks to all who woke up so early to make this morning such a memorable one!

After a week of freezing temperatures, I couldn’t wait to get away during spring break to the only slightly warmer environs of Washington DC where I visited my son, Howie, daughter-in-law, Jaime, and the aforementioned Zoey.  I was thrilled to read my first book, WHAT WOULD I BE? to Zoey’s class of two to three-year-olds.  What a well-behaved bunch (much to the teachers’ credit)!  Although my time with Zoey was limited, since she spent most of the day in school,  the memories of our making brownies and omelettes together, drawing flowers, and caring for her “baby” will sustain me until we see each other again. I still hear her voice asking, “Shoshi, how are you doing?” ringing happily in my ears.  I am so grateful to Jaime for “putting up with me” during those few days, but I was so glad for the opportunity to enjoy her company as well.

I want to give a special shout-out to a new friend whom I met on the train on the way to DC.  Sandy Cypess is a professor of Latin-American Literature at the University of Maryland who posts impressive credentials in her field.  Most notably, though, she hails from Brooklyn, graduated from Brooklyn College, and her parents owned a candy store.  Who knew?  Somehow, I feel sure we will see each other again–(perhaps at my book signing of MY MOTHER’S SHOES at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum on May 24th?).

Last, but certainly not least, I wish to publicly thank my husband, Arthur, for carrying the books, taking the pictures, and transporting me to my events.  Without his love and support, nothing is possible.  He is the best.

Until next time,




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