A New Direction for Me

It’s been several weeks since I posted a blog regarding what was happening to Dad and his family.  My last posting found my grandparents and three aunts evacuated to the new Soviet capital of Kuibyshev, while the location of my Uncle Pete was then unknown.  I left off in March 1942.

I began this blog nine months ago, and at the time, I didn’t plan where I was going with this. A large part of writing my blog was to determine if anyone other than some close friends, family and my very polite book club would have any interest in reading my father’s story. I am surprised with the interest this has generated both in the United States and in over forty countries throughout the world. A few readers have stopped by only once, while many others have made return visits. The number of viewers, though modest in size, was still unexpected.  I wish my dad knew.

During the last five years, I have been researching and writing Dad’s story.  Initially, I wrote it to my three girls so they could have a sense of their grandfather’s early years. As I uncovered more details and met more people who helped me learn the specifics of his travels, the format of the story evolved to its latest final version, which is his story written as accurately as possible along with letters to him, from me, intertwined within the book. These are the imagined conversations that I had with Dad as I put together his story, so I decided to include them in my book.

I wanted him to know where and how I unearthed the details of his early life. The discovery that documents, including handwritten letters from him, are stored at the National Archives would have thrilled him. Learning that a journalist from the UK included information about Dad’s family in his novel would have excited Dad.

I wanted him to learn about the woman from New Zealand—Bumblebee —who tried to find his brother’s grave, and although unsuccessful, was kind enough to photograph the cemetery for me. (A Bumblebee Searches for Tony-Random Act of Kindness)

I wished to share my excitement in locating the grandson of the woman he met on the boat traveling from Japan to San Francisco in 1941. I wanted to tell him about locating Jerry Aagaard, a man who received his passport in Moscow on the same day as Dad. My conversation with Leo Melamed, the man who was the founder of financial futures and former chairman of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange would have tickled Dad as well.

Now I am finished and have decided to see if I can find a literary agent interested enough in my book to take this on as a project. I don’t know what I am doing, and perhaps, in the end, I will self-publish a few copies for my family and friends.  I am researching the process, looking for agents interested in my genre, and trying to craft letters according to their individual submission standards.  I expect many rejections, but I only need one acceptance.

I realize what a persistent man my father was, so I am hoping this trait is genetic. I will remember his tenacity whenever I get discouraged.  I plan on blogging a bit about my adventures in publishing for those interested in the procedure, but I need to end the story now.  I can’t give away the ending, can I?Perhaps I will throw out a carrot or two in the coming months. I just don’t know.  But for now, you will have to wait to discover what happens to my grandparents, three aunts, Uncle Pete, and Dad.  All I will tell you is that Dad’s entire family did not join him in the States.

Thank you for your interest.

About kjw616

I am a genealogy detective. I have already written one book about my Irish family's journey from 19th century Ireland to the United States- a family history sprinkled with personal anecdotes. My second book was intended to be a similar story about my Russian ancestors. Instead, it turned into a tale of just my father's immediate family. It is the tale of what happens when 6 children from New Jersey are moved to the Soviet Union by their Russian-born parents during the Great Depression. It details who lives, who dies, and who is able to return to NJ during a time when leaving the USSR was not an easy endeavor, particularly during World War II and the Cold War. It is my hope that those interested in history during this time period will find this story fascinating as well as those fellow amateur family historians who will learn some of the tools such as ancestry.com, visits to the National Archives, and local libraries I used to uncover this story.
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5 Responses to A New Direction for Me

  1. Bumblebee says:

    Karen, congratulations on finishing your book! A massive task in itself, let alone all of the connections and discoveries made along the way! It will be fascinating and exciting to follow your process to publication. I can’t wait to see the end result! And any spin-off further books!! Fingers crossed for you. Good luck and keep us posted! Sarah

  2. jerry l. aagaard says:

    Karen! so glad to see a new blog from you,ever since I ran across you old memories from the forties have been sparked.thank you so much. every once in a while I recall a new one and if it is of any interest to you i’ll be glad to send it to you and again,when your book is published I certainly
    want to buy a copy. my e mail since I am in amateur radio is n9iph@aol.com.it is a hobby that gives me a lot pf enjoyment 73! [ ham radio for good bye] p.s.my address is 5302 256th ave.salem wi.53168-9598

  3. kjw616 says:

    Thanks Jerry. I am so glad I found you, and I only wish you could speak to my dad. He would have enjoyed talking to you. I would love to hear any further memories you may have. Although the book is done, no one has expressed interest in it yet, so I may still find some spots in it to add any of your memories which may be pertinent to Dad’s story. If I don’t get anywhere in the traditional publishing world, I will still publish it myself. I will let you know. So feel free to email any more of your trips down memory lane.

  4. kjw616 says:

    Thanks for your nice comment. I had expected to do some more blogging, but I have been getting ready for my daughter’s summer wedding. I started learning about traditional publishing and began putting together a list of literary agents. I don’t know whether to do that or just self-publish it. It is all new territory for me. I really appreciate your feedback, though. It makes me believe that there are more people than just my family interested in this story.

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