JUST RELEASED–The Music Makers

ShirleyIconSo happy to announce the release of my new book, THE MUSIC MAKERS, available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  I hope you can join me in New Brunswick!

Barnes & Noble Welcomes

Shirley Russak Wachtel

author of

Book Cover

Meet Shirley Russak Wachtel, author of the acclaimed memoir, My Mother’s Shoes, as she presents her new novel, The Music Makers.  Reading followed by a book signing.

Sat., February 14th –  3:00p.m.

                                                Rutgers University Bookstore

100 Somerset Street * Gateway Transit Bldg. *  New Brunswick, NJ



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A New Year

A New Year.

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A New Year

ShirleyIconHappy New Year, Everyone!  2015 is a time for new beginnings and, even in this troubled world, a hope for the future.  January sees me returning to teach after a productive and enjoyable sabbatical.  I was also given the opportunity to spend time with my granddaughter, Zoey, who like a glowing light, illuminates my every step and continues to bring me immeasurable joy.  I wish I could offer all of you one of the delicious Hanukkah cookies we baked together.



Professionally, I am very happy to announce the publication of my book, The Music Makers, which has received a favorable review from Kirkus.  The book is now available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Additionally, the first chapter of the The Music Makers, “Virginia,” has been chosen as Scriggler’s “Publication of the Day” for January 10th.  Please check it out.  Also, look for my announcement for an upcoming book signing.  Until then, stay cuddly and warm in this deep freeze.

Scriggler Story of the Day: Virginia by Shirley Russak Wachtel
by Shirley Russak Wachtel
From The Music Makers
Shirley Russak Wachtel — Scriggler

You can subscribe to this email list here: www.scriggler.com/PoD

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And Now December Comes



Hello all–I hope your Thanksgiving was as wonderful as mine was.  Surrounded by family and friends, and “kvelling” about my little granddaughter who astonishes me daily, what could be better?  Just a quick note to let you know that Scriggler.com has again chosen my work as publication for the day.  This one is the preface to my memoir, MY MOTHER’S SHOES.  Please check it out through the link below:

Scriggler Story of the Day: AND SO by Shirley Russak Wachtel

 And here is a recent poem.  I hope you enjoy it.    Till next time, SHIRLEY






A drop of water

Falls from my hand entering

The big sea

Merging in a wave until

I can no longer tell

Where it is

Where it ends

And another begins

I stand at the shore and watch

The waves a multitude

Now undulating in the dusk

Orangeviolet lights that reflect

The moon until ultimately

All seeps into

A vast grayness.

I stand on the shore

Looking for the distant light

My fingers still oh still wet.



—Shirley Russak Wachtel

November 30, 2014

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My Thanksgiving

My Thanksgiving.

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My Thanksgiving

ShirleyIconHow fast the days go!  I know, I know, it’s been months since I last posted but I have been quite busy with work and family obligations.  What’s happening?  Before I begin, since Thanksgiving is drawing upon us, I want to give special thanks to my family for, well, for everything they do and who they are.  I am blessed to have them in my life. Thank you to my dear friends for your continued advice and support!

Happy to say that MY MOTHER’S SHOES continues to attract readers.  I was privileged recently to be invited Family 5to speak for The Ralph J. Bunche Library Speaker Series at the US State Department.  I thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone and introducing them to my parents’ story.  I am grateful for their warm reception and insightful questions.  In the spring I will be back in DC for a book signing at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum–details to come!  Finally, I am excited to announce the forthcoming publication of my new book, THE MUSIC MAKERS  next month–will keep you posted.  Check out scriggler.com where a chapter of the book was chosen in October as “Publication of the Day.”

Meanwhile, enjoy your turkey or tofu, as the case may be.   Kisses to Zoey!

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Another Mother’s Day





Mother’s Day, 2014.   Another year, another day when I am missing my dear mother, Betty Russak, so very much.  She was my cheer leader, my counselor, my sage, my protector, my healer….perhaps the word “mother” best sums it up.  Those who have such mothers understand, and those who have lost such mothers, I know, share my tears.  So, in memory of my one beloved mother, here is a poem I wrote some years ago….

Mothers Shoes 002



What do girls do once they’ve lost their mothers?

Fill the cup.

The cup needs filling.

Who will care?

Who will plug the emptiness, the sadness?

Because you know that life goes on.

But not for mothers

who worry of belly aches

and finals

and two-hour plane rides

and almost jobs

choking sounds which are words made

when we’ve had a day that was, oh, not quite?

(The perfect pitch of mothers who can hear us in the silence)

Who find with equal grace

a dropped hem,

a swollen eye?

(Their eyes in shadow and yet they see the language of our souls)


What do girls do once they’ve lost their mothers?

They tell their husbands at the breakfast table

who smile and turn the page.

They tell their friends

who embrace and share a serving of heartbreak and coffee,

and then go home to their own stories left untold.

When all we really want  –oh–

  1. Mommy.  Ma.

Standing before us in the old blue sweater

tissues and safety pins in the pockets

with hands as firm, timeless as oak,

soft as the moon.

How many tears can one shed in a void?

Who will count the tears?
Does it really matter?

(There is a paradox in this proximity, so close we feel that breath

in harmony with our own.  Yet distance cannot reach them).


What do girls do once they’ve lost their mothers?

They wipe their tears and leave the void

to face their children

who have mothers still.

They take up the sweaters,

turn them inside out .

Arms in sleeves,

they fill the cup again.—Shirley Russak Wachtel


And so, I fill the cup…….

Mother's Day 2012 005




!Charlie and Shirley 001


And yet again….SEE PHOTO AT TOP!

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