Sunday, April 27, 2014

The most frequent questions, Pt. 2

Why would a nice person like you write about Nazi Germany?

  I've written (and published) fiction and non-fiction short pieces for all ages, preschool through adult. Risking Exposure is the only one set in Nazi Germany. The others aren't even remotely similar in time or place or even in tone - Chicken Soup for the Soul for audiences seeking inspiration, Highlights High Five for preschoolers, Advance for Physical Therapists for PTs and PTAs, Discovery Years and Thriving Family for parents, Hopscotch for kids, plus a few currently on Wattpad. I think across genres, I read across genres, so I write across genres too.

I love stories, real or fictional, in which an unlikely hero must pull himself up by his bootstraps and become more than he was, in which an ordinary person is forced to rise above her circumstances in order to stand up for what is right.
That means the hero would have to be in a time and place in which doing what's right comes at great personal risk. Nazi Germany was just such a place.

All four of my grandparents emigrated to the US from Germany in the 1920s. One grandmother lived in our apartment building when I was a kid, and the other one moved in with us when I was a teen. So we got a good dose of the language, food, music, and culture of the homeland they loved. When I learned of the Nazi years in school, I asked the same questions many have asked - How could that happen? How could the country which produced my own family, plus geniuses like Bach and Goethe allow such horrors to occur right under their noses?

The answers are complex of course, spanning decades of Germany history and the culture of everyday life in a police state and dictatorship. But in exploring the answers, I found some simple themes which resonated with me -
it was a time and place of blind allegiance to an ideal;
in which some people held more value than others;

in which people were brainwashed by a flood of government-controlled information;
in which the voices of those who spoke against the regime were silenced through threats, violence, or detention.

It was and still is a perfect storm to use as a backdrop for a hero story. That's probably why so many of us writers choose to set our stories there.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The most frequent questions

I've had the good fortune to take part in a number of book signings, and I've presented my historical research in front of more than 100 people now. Audiences have varied in age and size, but I find I'm being asked three questions at almost every event. I'll try to answer them here in installments.

1. Did you always want to be a writer/ write a book?
As a young girl, I did want to write stories. Even then, I was fascinated by the way stories and characters stayed with me, and I wanted to be able to have my ideas impact other people that way. Experiencing a story for me has always been close to experiencing it first-hand - I feel emotions, learn lessons, cheer for heroic actions, and weep over sad endings. Through reading historical fiction and stories set in distant lands, I've come to understand that people through history and around the world are pretty much the same.
So yes, I did want to write when I was a kid. But I also wanted to be a ballerina and to travel the world in a hot air balloon. Turns out I'm a klutz and not fond of heights, so those things didn't happen. And even though I loved creative writing class in high school, I never pursued it in my college or career  plans. I went to college to learn a skill to get a job, not to pursue an interest which would I thought would never earn me a living.

Once my own kids were grown and I had time for personal interests, I found that I still liked to write. In fact, the more I did it, the more I liked it. No, I loved it. Now, a perfect day for me involves some coffee, a good dose of sunshine, and a couple hours of writing.

Why would a nice person like you write about Nazi Germany?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sale ends in a few hours!

Until 11pm PST, Risking Exposure e-book is on sale for only $1.99. Where else can you get a 4- and 5- star rated historical fiction novel at that price?? 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Kindle Countdown Deal!

Until 1am PST on 4/12/14, Risking Exposure e-book is on sale for only 99 cents!

Then until 4/13/14 at 11pm PST, it will be only $1.99 - still a bargain. Get 'em while they're discounted :)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Self-promotion with the help of others

I'm getting around, but only because of the help of others.
Ms. Mary Jo Walsh, the Principal at Fell Charter School contacted me a few weeks ago. She'd seen an article about me/my book in the newspaper. She invited me to speak to her students about the process of researching and writing. So this past week, I had the opportunity to talk with about 40 inquisitive 7th and 8th graders at Fell Charter. They were finishing a unit on Holocaust literature and were familiar with the basics of the Nazi era and its propaganda. As a class, the 8th graders are reading The Book Thief, and they are obviously really into it. One student even asked me if I visited Himmelstrasse while I was in Munich! (That's where Liesl, the protagonist of The Book Thief, lives.)

Ms. Walsh's purpose for my presentation was to introduce the students to 'someone who has done it.' My own purpose was to let them know that I dreamed it and I did it, so if they dream it, they can do it too. During the presentation, I gave them each four different colored sticky notes to jot down their ideas - 1) for the main character, 2) for the setting, 3) for what the character wants, 4) for what problem he/she has to overcome in order to get it. 
Hopefully I gave them encouragement to follow some of their own ideas into creation of a story.

A couple weeks ago, my friend Brenda Davis told me that she'd attended a WWII exhibit at the Everhart Museum in Scranton. While there, she'd spoken about my book and my presentation to an Everhart employee. So this past week, I followed up and spoke with Stefanie Colarusso who coordinates programs at the Everhart. She has arranged for me to present my research as part of their D-Day Community Day activities on May 31st. So, thank you to Brenda for being my PR gal!

And then my friend Eleanor Kane invited me to participate in the Grand Re-opening of the Factoryville Public Library. I'll be doing a book signing and have some of my primary materials on display on Friday April 18th from 6:30-8:30 during their Grand Re-opening reception. Cool, huh?