Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Freebie: Judy Wolfman

This Friday Freebie is of special significance to me because I'm featuring someone who's not only my dear friend and a fellow author, but a mentor as well. Years ago, Judy Wolfman convinced me to join her at a critique group meeting. Some arm twisting was required back then, but that first meeting was the beginning of a writing journey that I never would have taken if it weren't for my wonderful friend Judy and the fantastic group she introduced me to.

Judy recently released her first novel, Not My Time, a story that brings together the themes of friendship, struggle and survival. Inspired by real life Holocaust survivor Nessy Marks, Judy created a book that's a great read for young -- and not-so-young -- adults.

Born in Washington, DC, Judy migrated to Pennsylvania to attend Penn State University then stayed in Pennsylvania to work as a home economist, and later as a wife. She moved to York, Pennsylvania in the late 1960s, taught pre-school, first grade and developmental first for York City Schools. Judy raised three children (now all grown) and she has 4 granddaughters.

Welcome, Judy. This book is very different from the picture books, plays and reader's theatre you've written. How did this book come about?

I heard Nessy Wolpert speak about her experiences in the ghetto, and thought her stories would make a great book. I interviewed her for over 30 hours, taped the interviews, and began the book in 1999. After several attempts to get it published, or find an agent, I put the manuscript on hold.

What made you decide to try again after so much time?

This past year I noticed a publisher I had never heard of before, but he stated he has no specific genres - just good writing! That appealed to me, so I queried him, sent him the manuscript, and signed his contract.

How did Tourette's come to play such a large role in your story?

I didn't want the book to be just Nessy, so I invented a young girl with TS who lived next door to her. That gave me a strong platform for Nessy to gradually tell her stories, as well as giving information regarding TS. Nessy and Debbie share their fears and help each other face them.

Does this story have personal connections for you?

Yes. With Nessy as a friend and my granddaughter who had TS (I did a lot of research on that topic.)

What made you decide to make this a work of fiction, rather a biography?

I refer to this as an historical fiction - Nessy's stories, the Holocaust info and the ghetto are true, but, as I said before, I needed others to help me tell the story - so I invented the Robbins family

What are you working on now?

Since The Golden Venture got stranded in New York 20 years ago, I thought that was an important event to relate to young adults. I've researched the entire scope of the Golden Venture, and am creating another historical fiction piece based on that.

Anything else you'd like to share?

My writer's critique group in York has been a strong support system for me, and I appreciate their insights. I think all writers need a group, or individuals, who can look at upcoming work with a critical eye and provide good suggestions to improvement.

Amen to that.

To order Judy's book, click on the title in the second paragraph of this post. For more information about Judy's books, storytelling and presentations, visit her website at

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