Papa's Shoes by Madeline Sharples - blog tour launch and book giveaway!

Monday, June 03, 2019
Papa’s Shoes: A Polish shoemaker and his family settle in small-town America is a work of fiction about immigration with a feminist and historical bent. At 99,968 words, Papa’s Shoes is a stand-alone novel with series potential.

Ira Schuman is determined to move his family out of their Polish shtetl to the hope and opportunities he’s heard about in America. But along the way he faces the death of three of his four sons, a wife who does not have the same aspirations as his, and the birth of a daughter, Ava, conceived to make up for the loss of his boys. Ava grows up to be smart, beautiful, and very independent.

Besides having a feisty relationship with her overly-protective mother, Ava falls for the college man who directs her high school senior class play. With the news that she wants to marry a non-Jewish man, Ira realizes that his plan to assimilate in the new world has backfired. Should the young couple marry, he must decide whether to banish his daughter from his family or welcome them with open arms. Even though he won’t attend their wedding, he makes her a pair a wedding shoes. In his mind, the shoes are simply a gift, not a peace offering.

Print Length: 286 pages
Publisher: Aberdeen Bay (April 27, 2019)
Publication Date: April 27, 2019
ISBN-10: 1608300986
ISBN-13: 978-1608300983

Papa's Shoes by Madeline Sharples is available in print and as an ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.

Book Giveaway Contest

To win a copy of Papa's Shoes by Madeline Sharples, please enter the Rafflecopter for at the bottom of this post. The giveaway ends Monday, June 10th at 12 am PST. We will pick a winner randomly and email the winner on the same day. Good luck!


"From an insightful storyteller, Papa's Shoes, is a heartwarming story of courage and love. Author Madeline Sharples has created an epic journey with intriguing twists and surprises along the way. From days of old in Poland to cultural and economic realities in America, this is an awe-inspiring novel about families, generational history, and the incredible power of change. You truly won't want to put it down!"
—D.A. Hickman, author of Ancients of the Earth: Poems of Time

"Author Madeline Sharples tells the intimate story of an American family, of immigration, tragedy, renewal, and love with grace and the delicate touch of a poet. There’s a raw kind of sweetness in this rich and epic saga."
—David W. Berner, author of The Consequence of Stars and A Well-Respected Man

“An immigrant family’s braided history – its conflicts, losses, and secrets – come to life in Papa’s Shoes. With loving attention to detail, Madeline Sharples transports readers from a Polish shtetl to the Illinois town where Ira and Ruth settle, and shows us the intimate workings of their
marriage. This family’s triumphant journey to the American Midwest will inspire you long after
you’ve closed these pages.”
—Eleanor Vincent, author of Swimming with Maya: A Mother’s Story

About the Author:

Madeline has worked most of her professional life as a technical writer, grant writer, and proposal process manager. She began writing poetry, essays, and creative non-fiction when her oldest son, Paul, was diagnosed as manic depressive. She continued writing as a way to heal since his death by suicide in 1999. Madeline’s memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, first released on Mother’s Day 2011 in hard cover, is about living with her son’s bipolar disorder and surviving his suicide. Her publisher, Dream of Things, launched a paperback edition in July 2012 and an eBook in August 2012.

Madeline also co-edited Volumes 1 and 2 of The Great American Poetry Show, a poetry anthology, and wrote the poems for two books of photography, The Emerging Goddess and Intimacy (Paul Blieden, photographer). Besides having many poems published in print and online magazines, writes regularly for Naturally Savvy, and occasionally for PsychAlive, Open to Hope, and Journeys Through Grief and The Huffington Post.

Find Madeline Online:
Facebook page
Twitter page

-- Author Interview with Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

WOW: Thank you for choosing WOW to help promote your latest work. Our readers loved your memoir and won't be disappointed with Papa's Shoes! Now, do tell, where did you get the idea for Papa's Shoes?

Madeline: While my husband was writing our family histories some twenty-five years ago, he interviewed some of the elders in our family and collected writing from others. I became very intrigued with what my aunt – my father’s sister – wrote when she was well into her eighties. That she wrote a whole page describing her friendship – as she called it – with a young gentile teacher while she was a senior in high school. He would pick her up at her family home and take her to school plays and concerts and then out for a bite afterward. She also wrote that her brother (my father) objected so strongly that he got the family to move to Chicago to get her away from this man and so she would find a “nice Jewish man” to marry. That she still even remembered his name and could describe his looks and the way he dressed after 64 years made me think she must have still carried a torch for him all those years. While in real life she met and married a Mr. Milk Toast, had two children, and lived the rest of her life in Chicago, I decided to let her have her true love – this teacher – in my story.

I rounded out that idea by basing my story on the lives of my grandparents, father, and aunt. It is indeed true that three of my father’s brothers died as infants. It is also true that my grandfather was a shoemaker, who emigrated from a tiny shtetl (village) in Poland to a small town in middle America in the early 1900s. However, my idea took the story in Papa’s Shoes far afield from how they actually lived their lives.

WOW: Inspiration comes from so many places - I won't spoil it for our readers, but this certainly is a fulfilling tale and an intriguing read. I'm glad you chose to tell this story - it's truly touching. Let's talk about the publishing process: what was easiest? most difficult? Your cover is lovely - tell us about that process and how it came to be?

Madeline: Publishing. Finding a publisher for Papa’s Shoes was relatively easy. I contacted one agent, whom I had met at my local writer’s society meeting, and he rejected it in less than a day. With that I decided to query small traditional presses as I did with my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. After seven queries I got a hit, and after some back and forth, I signed a contract. Aberdeen Bay initially asked for the first three chapters, a synopsis, and my biography. They next asked for the entire manuscript and a couple of weeks later asked me to fill out a questionnaire about my book marketing and PR experience. I guess I must have passed on all counts because next we talked on the phone and they finished the conversation by telling me they would send me a contract. They also felt my book was ready to go – they didn’t ask for any revisions. However, I did have a chance at the end to review and edit it again – and that was very much needed. My husband volunteered to be my fresh pair of eyes, and he found many things that needed fixing.

Cover. Throughout my writing process I had a picture of a pair of 1920’s style wedding shoes on the title page of my Word document. When Aberdeen Bay asked me to provide a cover art design, I didn’t deviate from that concept and found a wonderful photo on Pinterest; however, I couldn’t use it because I couldn’t find its source. With that I went shopping at second hand stores with my son and daughter-in-law hoping to find some vintage shoes to photograph. We struck out. My next thought was to ask an artist friend of mine, Jen Jenkins Dohner, if she would be willing to get involved. And thankfully she agreed. She took the photo I liked and put her spin on it, and we were both thrilled by how it turned out. After she completed her design, Aberdeen Bay’s designer laid in the cover text.

WOW: I just knew there had to be a great story about the cover and the process - thank you for sharing the details with us!

What role does journaling or writers groups play in your writing life?

Madeline: After a few sporadic attempts in journaling, I started to journal regularly and for keeps when our older son Paul was diagnosed as bipolar in 1993 and after his suicide in September 1999. Journaling became an obsession and a balm. It became my daily therapy. Writing through my grief totally turned my life around. It helped me heal because it allowed me to put my pain on the page.

The page was always ready without judgment about anything I had to say. The page never told me what to do, how to handle my grief, or how long to grieve. The page was there for my tears, my rants, my sorrow, my complaints, my thoughts and ideas. And it still is. I still journal every day.

I also belong to two writers groups. One is a satellite group from a larger local organization, Independent Writers of Southern California. We meet monthly to hear writing advice and discuss people’s concerns about their own writing work. We also welcome author presentations.

The other writing group is made up of friends and writing colleagues. First, we meditate, then write for about forty-five minutes to a prompt. When our writing time is up, we share our writing with the group and hear very gentle comments. Writing in real time is always a challenge, but we go easy on each other.

WOW: I love how you reference gentle comments - sounds much more appealing than having one's work critiqued. What have you learned about marketing a book? What tidbits do you want to share or do you wish you'd known sooner?

Madeline: When I signed my first contract for my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, my publisher gave me some great marketing advice six months before my memoir was to be published.

First, create a blog. I felt great about that since I had started a blog four years earlier. However, I needed to change my blog’s focus to the subject matter of my book and all aspects of my writing life.

Next: create Facebook personal and fan/author pages. And she suggested I find a new Facebook group to join every week. I’m currently a member of many writing groups and groups about suicide, mental illness, and bipolar disorder (the subject matter of my memoir), and historical fiction groups (the subject matter of my novel). I also joined Twitter, which has taken me years to get experienced in, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest. Fortunately, when I publish a blog post at least once a week, it links to my Facebook author page, Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and to my Amazon page. Another thing I’ve done, for which I thank, WOW! I host other authors while they are on their book tours. That way I get to give my blog a variation in subjects, kinds of books, and writing voices.

The major advice I’d give to new authors is to interact regularly with all these social media networks – once or twice a day at least and write a blog post weekly.

Yes, I know all this takes a lot of time. And really, it’s not the end of it. I went on a WOW! Women on Writing blog tour right after my memoir was released, and here I am on another WOW! tour for my novel. I also created another blog tour on my own, I went on several radio and online interviews, and one of my favorite things to do is give readings and talks about my books. Marketing and PR work is never ending, but very well worth it.

WOW: Such great advice - thank you! I hope more authors follow your great suggestions.

What would the current you say to your younger – high school age self?

Madeline: I fell in love with writing when I was in middle school and high school. In my junior year I took a journalism class, and then my classmates and I went on to edit and write for our high school newspaper during our senior year. Many of those people – including our teacher/newspaper sponsor – are still in my life today.

In those days I wanted to be a journalist – a pretty far-fetched idea for a young woman during the early 1960s. That being a dead end, I fulfilled my writing ambitions by working as a technical writer and editor in the aerospace industry for most of my career. I took up creative writing after I retired.

So I would say to my younger self – don’t sweat it. There’s always time to fulfill your writing dream. I never thought I’d fulfill it writing books and poems, but I have, and I’m still in love with writing to this day. The road to success takes many turns.

WOW: Oh so many turns - sing it sister!

Are any of the characters in Papa's Shoes based on you? In what ways are you similar and in what ways are you different?

Madeline: The Ava character has a lot of me in her. Her independence, her feistiness, and her push-me pull-you relationship with her mother. However, we grew up in very different times even though in my day it was not considered appropriate to challenge my parents as much as I did.

Ava, however, wouldn’t disrespect her parents. She did what they told her to do. As for me, not so much. Also, I didn’t have the same kind of relationship with my mother. Mine wasn’t as suffocating and controlling. Plus, she had another daughter nine years after me, so she was busy raising her and didn’t have much time to care for me anymore.

Also, Ava as described in the book is very beautiful. I went through a very chubby period from age four to twelve. I got a lot of criticism for that from my family. That was very hard for me to contend with. Ava doesn’t have that problem.

WOW: Thank you again Madeline - I just know readers will find joy with every page turn! Papa's Shoes is an absolutely 5 star read!

----------Blog Tour Dates

Launch Day – June 3rd
Madeline Sharples launches her tour of Papa’s Shoes with an insightful interview and giveaway at the Muffin!

June 4th @ Coffee with Lacey
The lovely Lacey reviews Papa's Shoes by Madeline Sharples and shares her review with readers at Coffee with Lacey. This is a blog stop and review readers won't want to miss!

June 5th @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews
Lisa Haselton interviews well known author and memoirist Madeline Sharples about her latest novel Papa's Shoes - the story of a Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America. This insightful interview is one you won't want to miss!

June 6th @ Beverley A. Baird
Beverley A. Baird shares her thoughts after reading the touching story of a Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America - Papa's Shoes by Madeline Sharples is a book that is sure to please readers!

June 7th @ Linda Neas
Today's guest author at Words from the Heart with Linda Neas is none other than well-known author and memoirist Madeline Sharples. Today, her guest post is titled "How I reinvented myself from a technical writer and editor to a creative writer – and at my age." Heart from Madeline and learn more about her latest novel Papa's Shoes!

June 12th @ Linda Neas
Last week, readers at Words from the Heart with Linda Neas read a guest post penned by Author Madeline Sharples and today, Linda will share her review of Madeline's latest novel Papa's Shoes. This is a blog stop you won't want to bypass!

June 18th @ Selling Books with Cathy Stucker
Cathy Stucker interviews Madeline Sharples at Selling Books. Readers will flock to learn more about Sharples and her latest novel Papa's Shoes.

June 19th @ The Muffin with Crystal Otto
Crystal Otto reviews Papa's Shoes by Madeline Sharples - don't miss this well deserved 5 star review!

June 20th @ Women's Writing Circle
Madeline Sharples pens today's guest post at Women's Writing Circle with Susan Weidener - don't miss the post titled: "Fact vs. Fiction" and learn more about Madeline's latest best selling novel Papa's Shoes.

June 26th @ Linda Appleman Shapiro
Fellow author and memoirist Linda Appleman Shapiro shares her review of Papa's Shoes by Madeline Sharples. Don't miss Linda's insight into this touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they move to America!

June 27th @ World of My Imagination
Nicole Pyles reviews the latest best selling novel Papa's Shoes by Madeline Sharples - readers will delight to hear what Nicole thinks of this crowd pleasing story of one Polish shoemaker and his family!

June 28th @ Deal Sharing Aunt / Vicki Brinius
Vicky Brinius reviews Papa's Shoes by Madeline Sharples. Find out how she feels after reading this touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America.

July 2nd @Author Anthony Avina
Fellow author Anthony Avina reviews Papa's Shoes by Madeline Sharples - this is a touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they settled in America.

July 2nd @ Amanda Sanders
Amanda of Amanda Diaries reviews Madeline Sharples latest novel Papa's Shoes - read Amanda's review and add this lovely story to your TBR pile today!

July 4th @ Author Anthony Avina
Readers at Anthony Avina's blog will delight with today's guest post and author interview with Madeline Sharples - learn more about her and her latest work!

July 5th @ Lisa Buske
Lisa Buske shares her review of Papa's Shoes - the latest novel by Madeline Sharples and a touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America.

August 12th @ Kathleen Pooler’s Memoir Writer’s Journey
Readers and writers alike will want to stop by Memoir Writer’s Journey to hear from Kathleen Pooler and friend / fellow author Madeline Sharples as they discuss Madeline’s latest book Papa’s Shoes.

***** BOOK GIVEAWAY *****

To win a copy of Papa's Shoes by Madeline Sharples, please enter via Rafflecopter below. Giveaway ends on June 10th at 12 AM EST. We will pick a winner randomly via Rafflecopter and email the winner on the same day. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


madeline40 said...

Thanks so much, Crystal, for organizing my tour and for your great interview questions on today's Muffin. I hope we both are a huge success. xoxo Madeline

Angela Mackintosh said...

This is such a fantastic interview! :)

Madeline, I love that you wrote a novel based on the lives of your family. I'm a creative nonfiction writer, but recently have been dabbling in adding the speculative into my memoir. I'm finding that fiction gives me the freedom to excavate deeper truths that may not be "facts" but hold so much emotional truth.

Thank you for sharing your publishing journey and your cover art, and for reminding me of the importance of social media. Arg! It's something I have to start focusing on soon as I have a few book projects in the works.

Good luck on your tour, and I'm looking forward to reading your book! Cheers to you! :)

madeline40 said...

Thank you, Angela, for coming by and posting such nice comments about my interview. I look forward to hearing your thoughts about my book after you've read it.
All best,

Barbara Lima said...

This sounds like a very sweet story. All families have conflicts and it's hard for parents to give up control. But parents have much love for their children.

Michelle L said...

This sounds like such a tender, inspirational story, one I would love to read.

Dana Banana said...

I would love to read this book! It’s giving me all the feels!

madeline40 said...

Thank you, Barbara, Michele, and Danamichele,
I very much appreciate you're reading the interview, and I hope you will read Papa's Shoes. I think you'll find it interesting from a historical standpoint.
All best, Madeline

Sara said...

My family is polish and we are looking to read any books about the polish and this book sounds particularly interesting. Thank you.

madeline40 said...

Thank you, Sara. I hope Papa's Shoes is what you're looking for. Please let me know after you've read it. All best, Madeline

Princess Seronica said...

I enjoyed the interview. The book sounds great.

madeline40 said...

Thank you Princess, I hope you read it and let me know what you think. Have a wonderful Sunday.

lilyk said...

What is your favorite food?

madeline40 said...

It's a toss up between avocado and salmon. What's yours?

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