On This Day, Historical Fiction & a Sneak Peek

On this day in 1945, Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet Union.

I fell in love with history when I was a little girl. I grew up on films like Saving Private Ryan and documentaries like The World at War. Did I always fully comprehend some of the horrors of World War II when I was eight-years-old? No, of course not. But as I grew up and began to, there was always one major event in history that struck my heart at its core.

The Holocaust.

From the moment I realized I wanted to be a writer, I wanted to a write a book about the Holocaust. But nothing I was able to come up with ever seemed good enough. I wanted to write something that showed respect and passion not only for the men who fought and died to win the war, but also give a fresh perspective on Hitler’s plan to wipe out the Jews.

As a flawed human being, I tried over and over to write a story like that but never felt satisfied. I criticized myself for not doing history justice and never allowed myself to finish the project.

Until I wrote The Good German Girl.

I fought and cried and stressed my way through writing this story, constantly afraid I wasn’t doing justice to the truth behind the fiction. But the harder my doubts and worry Good German Girl Quotepushed their way into my mind, the stronger my resolve to keep writing and actually finish this story became. Something that never happened before when I attempted to tackle a story that involved the Holocaust.

In writing this story and choosing to have my character encounter one of the most monstrous figures in history, I had to do a lot of research on Auschwitz II – Birkenau. This research emotionally drained me to the point of nearly shutting down. I tell you in all seriousness, there were times when I was researching and I began to fall asleep at my computer in the middle of the day–as if my body was attempting to shut down and shut out the horrific things I was reading.

From learning about the heartbreaking experiences of Dr. Gisella Perl who worked as an inmate gynecologist in Auschwitz, to the horrendous experiments Josef Mengele performed on adults and children alike within the walls of the concentration camp, I was overwhelmed to the point of tears. Some nights, I slept like a baby–my way of escape. Other nights I lay in bed staring at the ceiling with the same stories replaying over and over in my mind.

But despite the pain of doing such intense research into Auschwitz, I battled through to finish a story I desperately wanted to write. The Good German Girl explores two very different perspectives on the war. One from the point of view of a battle-hardened sniper who lands on Omaha Beach on D-Day, and the other from the point of view of a young German woman who is silently resisting the Nazi regime while hiding her best friend–a young Jewish woman–in her house.

These two characters–Margot Raskopf & Bernie Russell–have imprinted themselves on my heart. Even with ‘The End’ written, I find myself thinking about their story in the Margot 2middle of the day. I sometimes look back and can hardly believe I was the one who wrote this story to begin with. I knew when I started that I wanted to write about extraordinary people–particularly extraordinary women–but I never realized how thoroughly these characters would engrave themselves on my heart.

Bernie Russell is my favorite hero I’ve ever written. He was so real to me during the actual writing of the story, I was blown away. His humanness struck me early on in the story. Bernie is not perfect. He’s not necessarily the hero who swoops in and rescues our heroine from the villains who torture her. He’s just a man, fighting for his country. Flawed, certainly, but who holds a sense of honor that keeps him moving forward not only toward victory, but toward justice.

And Margot? Margot Raskopf has the kind of strength and courage I wish I had. She doesn’t shrink under the weight of Nazi rule but instead struggles to fight back against tyranny. Her life was achingly difficult to write about. Because with as much strength as Bernie Russellshe has, she too is merely a human being who wants to save the people she loves and who will do whatever she must to make sure they survive.

These two characters are separated by thousands of miles, not to mention a war, but their connection is as strong as if they walked beside each other through their trials.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not a love story, per say. The Good German Girl is a Historical Fiction that highlights some major events of World War II while weaving the beginnings of a great love into the mix.

From Omaha Beach to the Battle of the Bulge, we march with Bernie toward the end of the war and watch as he questions his own sanity after fighting his way through Africa, Sicily, and now France.

From the heart of Berlin to the barracks of Auschwitz II – Birkenau, we walk a painful path with Margot as she attempts to save her friends and her family from the monsters all around them.

The Good German Girl put me through the wringer, to be sure. But writing ‘The End’ was never more satisfying. I hope, one day soon, I will be able to share the entire story with you within the pages of a book.

For now, though, I will work on editing and perfecting the manuscript while also writing Book 2 of A League of Extraordinary Women–tentatively titled The Red Bird in the Tower–on the side.

Thanks for reading! But don’t leave yet! Scroll a little for a sneak peek at a scene from The Good German Girl!

 

 

She took a step across the room, staring into her mother’s eyes.

“Do you remember the Entartete Kunst Exhibition?” she asked, her voice catching on the horrible words. “I was too young to go, but I begged Franz to get me in so I could see what they were saying about some of my favorite artists. I cried for a week, Mama. What they did to those paintings … how they degraded such beauty and made our countrymen think they were ugly …”

“I remember,” Sofie whispered. “But Margot, by teaching Brigitte such things you are putting not only yourself in danger, but her as well.”

“How can I keep her from what is natural to her? How can I tell her that her passion is wrong? I won’t do it, Mama. I cannot. Because it’s just not true.” Margot returned to the window, hugging her arms tight across her ribs. “If I can help one child to know the truth, then I will. Even if I cannot help any of my other students, at least I will know I helped one child of the next generation to see the truth behind the lies ravaging Germany.”

“And when Joachim comes again? When he orders a more thorough search because he has no choice but to do so?” Sofie asked.

Margot stared at her reflection in the window. The way the glass made her golden-brown hair shimmer and caught the glittering flecks of blue and brown peppering her eyes. She’d never forget how Hans used to tease her about her strangely colored eyes. How she wished he was here now to comfort her with brotherly teasing! To put his big arms around her and tell her everything would be all right.

To reassure our mother I am doing the right thing. Margot closed her eyes, plunging herself into darkness. There was no day so horrible as the day her twin felt he had no choice but to put on a uniform and fight for the Führer.

“Go back downstairs, Mama,” she said, breaking the deafening silence. “Ilse shouldn’t be alone.”

Bitte, Margot …”

“Mama, I beg you, go downstairs.” A tear rolled down her cheek. She listened to her mother’s breathing, each one heavier than the last before the soft rap of her shoes on the wooden floor warned she was turning around. The door clicked softly when it opened.

“And Mama?”

Ja?”

Margot looked over her shoulder, wiping the dampness from her cheeks. Her eyes collided with Sofie’s, holding her gaze steadily.

“We will never speak of this again.”

The Old, the New, and the End of 2019

Merry Christmas!!!

I can hardly believe Christmas is less than two weeks away! 2019 has been a tumultuous year for me. There have been equal amounts of tears and laughter this year, along with periods of grief and anger that made me wish to the heavens 2019 would come to a hasty conclusion so I could start fresh in 2020. That being said, I am sorry I have been so silent this year! I am hoping to blog a lot more in 2020 (I know, I know, I say that every year but hopefully this time it will actually happen!).

For now, I hope you will join me in looking back over my 2019 year!

Early in the year, I received a wonderful and overwhelming gift. My sweet, loving Me & MaMagrandmother made it possible for me to attend my 2nd ACFW conference. Shortly thereafter, this wonderful woman who I loved with all my heart passed away. I cannot even begin to describe what it was like, waiting for months after she passed to attend the conference, knowing I would not have been able to go this year if not for her.

Then, something beautiful happened. ACFW (America Christian Fiction Writers) often has a worship period during the meals they provide for the attendees. On the first night of the conference during the welcome dinner, we all stood up to sing during the worship. Standing next to me at the table to my left was a sweet older lady who kept glancing my way. Then, without a word, she reached across the space between us and put her arm around me.

Everyone–I kid you not–she was wearing my grandmother’s perfume. I nearly broke down in tears right then and there. Until that moment, I’d had a lot of trouble grieving for my grandmother. I have always been the type to grieve in private, but even that had been difficult for me this year. I thanked God over and over for that moment, because when that lady (who had no idea who I was or what I was going through) put her arm around me it was like my MaMa was giving me a hug! Finally, I allowed myself to grieve and I was so relieved.

This year, I suffered another loss. A friend who I hadn’t seen in a few years died tragically. I felt numb when I heard the news, because he was one of those friends you always think you’re going to see again someday, even though there are so many miles between you now. This added to the grief that made me want 2019 to come to a quick end. I miss him very much and hope he is at peace now.

This year, with as much grief as there was, there was also joy. I had another book release in June! Crown of Flames (The Winter Queen Series, #3) is now available to order on Amazon! I am so excited this book is available now, but also sad. Because this means I COF - 1have only one more book to tackle in this series before I officially close out my fantasy series and will no longer visit the land of Nfaros. I am hard at work writing Winter’s Light, the fourth and final book of my fantasy series. I’ve hit a few snags so far, trying to bring every character’s plot to an end in a satisfying way without leaving behind too many holes in the storyline.

Considering these books are made up of SO MANY characters, this is harder than you might at first think! I need to keep the story interesting while also tying up any loose ends from the previous books while ALSO creating intense situations for some new characters that were introduced in Crown of Flames. All the same, I am enjoying writing Winter’s Light and hope that, if I finish within the next two months, I will have a release date along with a cover to share with you soon!

Now I’m going to do some major self-promoting … 😉

That being said, have you had a chance to catch up on the first three books of The Winter WQ SERIES INSTAGRAMQueen Series? No? Why wait?

Catch up by reading Winter Queen (The Winter Queen Series, #1), Dance of Shadows (The Winter Queen Series, #2) Crown of Flames (The Winter Queen Series, #3) now! Want them the easy way? All three are available together on Amazon Kindle for $13.47!

Travel to the beautiful land of Nfaros and catch up with the fierce Sundragon sisters as they fight to regain their father’s throne. Journey with the courageous Jandry siblings across treacherous lands. And fly with the People of the Dragon over the Nfaros Sea in the first three books of my series and be prepared for Winter’s Light (The Winter Queen Series, #4)!

In September, as I mentioned above, I attended the ACFW conference, and what an experience it was! I was able to connect with some wonderful people AND I heard Frank Peretti speak! Along with his keynote address, I attended several amazing workshops and learned so much.

I was also able to connect with the lovely Laurie Lucking who was nominated for a Carol Me & LaurieAward for her novel, Common! I was so excited to meet Laurie because she has supported my fantasy series from Book 1 and has written beautiful endorsements for all three of the books for me.

She is such a lovely person and an incredible author! If you haven’t read her book, Common, then I highly recommend it! I am a lover of love stories, and this one was a great one! Not to mention it fell in the Young Adult/Speculative category, which I also love! As I say in my tagline: when it comes to genre, there are no limits. And I mean that in both writing and reading!

I met so many wonderful people at the conference this year and reconnected with some of my favorite people as well. I was especially excited to attend author Pepper Basham’s workshop! Pepper is one of my favorite authors and such a sweet person. She also endorsed my debut novel, The Lost Generation: A Novel of World War I, so when I had the chance to meet her at my first conference in 2017, I didn’t hesitate.

Speaking of The Lost Generation, have I mentioned the paperback is available on26536218 Amazon for $9.99? If you love historical fiction, then grab your copy now!

And speaking of historical fiction …

I did something else new this year. I wrote a World War II era novel. I finished it at a whopping 92,048 words and 350 (Microsoft Word) pages! It is currently titled The Good German Girl and I am so excited about it! I have stepped away from it for now because writing it was emotionally draining, but am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this novel.

I rediscovered my love for Historical Fiction while writing The Good German Girl and realized I wanted this genre to be my primary genre. That being said, The Good German Girl inspired several other World War II era stories that I have made a part of a series tentatively titled A League of Extraordinary Women Series.

NaNoWriMo WinnerThis led me to participate in NaNoWriMo for the first time! And … I won! I wrote 51,346 words in November, beating my goal of 50,000 for the next book in my World War II era series in the month of November! What a satisfying feeling it was too, as I hadn’t written that many words in a single month in a while. I was very proud of myself and still am.

I loved participating in NaNoWrimo! I received so much support as I struggled through to achieve that very large word goal. I wrote even on days I didn’t want to write, and kept writing even when I felt like what I was writing was absolutely awful. As a writer, that’s very hard to do because I want everything about my story to be perfect. So when it’s imperfect, it’s hard to not simply stop and walk away for the rest of the day. NaNoWrimo pushed me to set a goal and stick to it and at the end, I was so very pleased.

Oh, and did you notice? I became a redhead this year! That’s right, I made the transition from brunette, to blonde, to redhead! And, may I say, this is my favorite color so far. Could it be? Have I finally made a permanent decision about my hair? Will I remain a redhead to the end of my days? You’ll just have to keep checking in on my blog to find out, I guess. 😉

Well, I think that’s all for now, folks. Thank you for stopping by and reading this incredibly long post.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! I’ll see you in 2020.

Battle of the Genres

Oh my. These past two months have been a whirlwind of imagination and inspiration! Torn between my Historical Romance and the third book of my Fantasy series, my mind has been so scrambled I completely forgot to update everyone on my progress with book 2 of The Winter Queen Series.

Since I’ve been asked a couple of times, let me start by saying there is no official release G's Vow 4date yet, but I have finished my edits and submitted the book to my publisher! I’m very excited to share all the changes that occur in book 2, the development of characters you all met in book 1 and the romance that blossoms between some of our favorite people. Not to mention all the new characters you’ll get to meet. Already having written over 20,000 words for book 3 of the series, I am so enjoying adding more and more people, magic, and romance to this continuing tale.

In the meantime, inspiration has taken hold for a mid-18th century romance and I need your help! I have my characters and my ideas, but the more I think about where I want this story to go, the more it changes! I can’t decide which version I want to write, which is more compelling and which, in the end, I like the most. So give me a hand, people! Here is a very short description of my ideas. Leave in the comments which one you’d be interested in reading the most and help this poor writer make a decision!

Idea #1: 1750s Virginia Territory. A young woman, recently moved to a secluded valley with her family to start a new life meets a strange and mysterious man of Native American descent. This is a Romeo & Juliet scenario in which the couple battle prejudice on both sides, leading not only to the possible destruction of our female lead, but a nation of people as well.

Idea #2: 1750s Adirondack Mountains area. A British woman seeking a purpose travels across the sea to the New World, only to find herself in the middle of a war. When she meets a man who should be her enemy, she finds herself falling in love. But just when she thinks she’s claimed her future for herself, she’s torn away from him and sent home against her will. Now, they will both do whatever it takes to find each other again. (This would be an ongoing story, at least 2 books if not more.)

So, let me know what you think! Should I pursue both ideas, or focus on one? My fingers are itching to write, but I can’t seem to settle on one project. As I write book 3 of The Winter Queen, this is the story I want to turn to when I come up empty and need a short break from Adlae and her followers. So leave your comments below and let me know which of these books you’d be more interested in reading! 🙂

Now, to bring this to an end, let me introduce you to another character who you’ll meet in book 2, A Dance of Shadows!

Everyone, meet Gwylan! Draedinian and an Eventide Sister, Gwylan is one of the most powerful women north of Sunkai. Leader of a small band of Eventide Sisters, Gwylan sets out on a mission given by her Superiors to find the Winter Queen and unite their forces against Roderick and Raphaela Kael. However, along the way Gwylan encounters Maxx Jandry, who changes her life with a simple gesture.

Gwylan has been an interesting character to create and develop. Stubborn and aloof, sheGwylan 2 doesn’t welcome people into her heart very easily. But upon meeting Maxx Jandry, she begins to change. While her story begins in A Dance of Shadows, we don’t really get to know her until book 3. But I hope you’ll enjoy meeting her and finding out exactly what tradition Maxx unwittingly puts into practice upon their meeting. 😉

 

That’s all for now! I hope everyone has a great rest of their week and a fantastic weekend. 🙂

New Website!

Hi everyone! I’m so excited to have finally put together my new author website! Here you’ll find information on my books, including new and upcoming releases. I’ll discuss writing, announce giveaways, and maybe even give a few sneak peeks at some upcoming writing projects. 😉 I’d also like to get your opinions … I’ve been […]