Monday, December 23, 2013

If you're offended by talk of politics and religion, don't read this

This is unlike my usual blog posts. You've been warned.

If I learned one thing in my travels through the history of Nazi Germany, it was that the world needs more words and actions which support justice. Only through voices speaking in love and truth will change come about, injustice eradicated. 

We've all heard of the United Methodist pastor in Pennsylvania who performed the marriage service for his gay son and his fiance. The pastor underwent a church trial and has been defrocked for performing the service which violated the rules of the UM Book of Discipline. There has been quite a bit of discussion about this event on the UM Church's website and some eloquent, passionate pleas for a more loving approach to controversy.

I am not a pastor, nor am I schooled in the content of the Book of Discipline. But I am a member of the United Methodist church by choice. I try to live as a Christian, making mostly vain attempts at following Jesus' example of a loving, generous spirit.

The Jesus we know from Scripture spent his days ministering to the outcasts of society, those whose rights were limited by law and status. And he often blasted the Pharisees, the church rule-makers, for their hypocrisy and for attempting to speak for God. I have no doubt that, were he here in the flesh today, he would support gay marriage and bless it within a church. And he'd blast the use of a book of rules to make decisions over the use of God's love to accept and nurture his children.

Our days can be lonely, and commitment is hard to come by. Yet God created us to be in community, beginning with committed pairings and expanding out from there - couples, families, neighborhoods, church communities - people who will watch out for each other. Having others beside us as we dance with joy or slog through the muck of grief is what it's all about. It's what God planned for each and every one of his children.

As a member of God's family, I intend to honor that plan. I support Pastor Schaefer in his performance of the church marriage of two gay men, just as I support the church marriage of two committed people of any gender.  


Sunday, December 15, 2013

A kick-start and a giveaway

When I self-published Risking Exposure, my first and foremost goal was to get people to read the book. So I gave away dozens of copies - to family and friends, to school libraries and public libraries. I entered it in contests and sent it out for reviews. I arranged for book signings and have scheduled presentations. It's been a blast.

But lately I've been selling more print copies in person than any of the online sources, digital or print. So I knew my online presence needed a kick-start.
I did a giveaway on Goodreads for the month of November, and 180+ people marked it as 'to-read.' I've gotten some wonderful reviews there and on Amazon and B&N. Still, online sales remained flat.

So now I've enrolled it in KDP Select, a Kindle program that monopolizes my digital sales for 30 days. That meant I had to take it off B&N's Nook, but I've sold very few there so I have to hope that doesn't put someone off. In exchange, the book (hopefully) will get increased visibility on Amazon and can be loaned electronically through their KOLL.

KDP Select also gave me a chance to enroll the e-book in a giveaway - so from now until Tuesday Dec 17th, Risking Exposure is completely FREE for Kindle on Amazon. Download away, share the link, tell your friends. The more readers I get, the happier I'll be.

Especially if those readers write reviews, which draws in more readers, who will write more reviews...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Another first


Yesterday I had the opportunity to spend the day at Philadelphia's Fort Mifflin on the Delaware for their WWII Reenactment of the Battle of Schmidt. One hundred + guys dressed as Allied and German officers and soldiers took part, and hundreds of spectators came to watch and tour the exhibits. I'd never seen anything like it.


In the barracks adjacent to the reenactment field, I had a large display area for my books and research materials. I had the chance to talk with lots of people, both reenactors and spectators. The 1938 Sears-Roebuck catalog and the reproduction Nazi propaganda pamphlets generated the most interest and discussion.

The reenactors and I have something in common - we like to get 'into the skin' of another era, to think about and act out scenes which occurred before we were born. Perhaps by putting on that skin, we see our commonalities across years and cultures instead of our differences. We learn compassion for what others have gone through. Compassion alone can keep us from repeating the mistakes of history.

While I was watching the reenactment, a 9-year-old boy sat nearby, watching also. He was dressed from head to toe in the Hitler Youth uniform seen late in the war, when children his age were sent into battle to defend what was left of the Reich.

I hope and pray compassion wins before that ever happens again.


Sunday, December 1, 2013


During the weeks since Risking Exposure was published, I've experienced lots of firsts. First sale, first review, first book signing ... all exciting moments I cherish. Well, this weekend I had a book signing at Duffy's Coffee House, a great family-run small business in Clarks Summit, and I had another 'first.' 

A girl named Stefanie about 12- or 13-years-old walked up with her mom and her brother, a copy of my book tucked in her hand. It seems that after reading about the book in a newspaper article, they ordered it online. Stefanie immediately read it and loved it, and when she learned that I'd be at Duffy's, she asked her mother to bring her there to meet me.


She looked through my photo album of Munich and listened as I pointed out various places I included in the novel. She checked out the 1930s Balda camera I used as the model for Sophie's camera, and we talked about our mutual interest in creating, writing, and history.

I've taken great pleasure in learning that folks I know have read the book and enjoyed it. They've written reviews and shared it with others, and I wouldn't have gotten this far without their support and enthusiasm. But I can't even tell you how thrilled I am that this young girl I've never met wanted to connect with me in person because of my book. That's a first I'll never forget.