Success Happens

It’s easy to feel discouraged in the tumultuous, über-competitive world of writing and publishing. With rejection letters clogging your inbox or “Chapter 1” trailing across the top of an otherwise blank screen, success seems elusive.

But it does happen.

Consider Oksana Marafioti. Yesterday was the launch party for her first book—a memoir entitled American Gypsy. In a theater packed to capacity, she regaled the audience with her tale of  growing up in a family of Romani performers in the Soviet Union and her subsequent journey to the United States.  Dancers in flowing skirts and clanking baubles, guitar duos strumming the “gypsy-jazz” of Django Reinhardt, and even a jaw-dropping performance of Carmen‘s “Habanera” punctuated the author’s reading. The launch was amazing, and Oksana sold out her entire stock of books.

American Gypsy by Oksana Marafioti
Cover Art by Charlotte Strick and Frederick Schmitt

For Oksana, the path to publication followed a unique trajectory. The first novel she wrote as an adult was an urban fantasy. She pitched it to an agent at the Las Vegas Writers Conference. Though that agent wasn’t interested in fantasy, when she read Oksana’s bio sheet, she suggested Oksana try writing a memoir. At first hesitant to publicize her life, Oksana wrote and submitted only few trial chapters. The agent loved them and shopped the partial manuscript to publishers—eventually landing a deal with Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Three years later, with a West Coast book tour scheduled this summer and a fellowship to research her next book at the Library of Congress in the fall, Oksana has definitely attained success.

Her story is one of both hope and inspiration. She worked hard and put her herself out there. Success didn’t come exactly as expected, but she was open and ready when it did. 

Whatever your definition of success, Oksana’s a wonderful reminder that you can capture your dreams.

Oksana signing books


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