New Release, Writing & Reviews

Good Morning, dear readers!

Today is a very special day. Today, The Good German Girl (A League of Extraordinary Women, #1) is available on Amazon! I am so thrilled to be able to share this new book with you. I’ve been waiting, hoping, and praying for this day for a very long time and now that it’s here, I honestly think I’m in a little bit of shock (heehee)!

This book was one of the hardest books I’ve ever written before. It deals with so much trauma from the second World War, the research of which sent me spiraling into darkness on more than one occasion. But out of that darkness, came light. All I can say is I hope my book inspires strength and faith. I hope it reflects the respect I wished to show those who survived and who didn’t and honors those who went through so much during that turbulent time.

I can’t wait to find out what you think about Margot and Bernie! I’m excited to know what it was like for you to walk with Margot through the gates of Auschwitz and race with Bernie across Europe from France to Germany. Excited and a little nervous, of course. 😉

The adrenaline rush of:

‘I just released another book!’

Never gets old, but is always quickly followed by:

‘Oh no … what if people hate it?’

I tell myself that, as the years go by, I’m developing a thick skin. I’m no stranger to rejection and one star reviews. But, no matter how many times I pep talk myself into being tough, seeing those bad reviews is still hard sometimes. But, at the same time, that’s the beauty of this journey. Not everyone is going to like what I write, and that’s okay. Because we are all unique. We are all different. I made a promise to myself when I started writing this series.

That I would write something that I, as a reader, would like to read. I stopped dwelling on and worrying about writing what I thought people expected from me and instead wrote exactly what my heart was telling me to write. Once I made that decision, the words flowed from me like a broken dam. Now, it’s finished and out there and while I’m nervous, I’m also more excited than I’ve been about a release in a really long time! This was the book that meant the most to me. The one that’s been on my heart to write for years but that I didn’t have the courage to let out until now.

Now, with its release, I’m anxious to complete Book 2 of this series, The Red Bird in the Tower! I’m getting excited again to introduce you to my three leading characters, Katya, Michael, and Alexei! Theirs is an unusual love triangle that has had me stumped on more than a few occasions. Trying to find the perfect way to leap between the years 1942 and 1948 to tell Katya’s story has been a struggle. Making sure the transition from 1948 New York to 1942 Stalingrad is a smooth one has been more difficult than I first anticipated. But I think I’ve got it now!

I’m so close to the end! It’s at my fingertips, I just need to smooth out a few wrinkles and find the perfect way to bring their story to a conclusion. I’ll be sharing more news on The Red Bird in the Tower with you before you know it!

I hope you’re as excited to read The Good German Girl as I am for you to read it! Check out what people are saying in these early reviews on Goodreads HERE!

And don’t forget to purchase your copy HERE on Amazon!

Back Cover Blurb:

Omaha Beach
June 6, 1944

When battle-hardened Private Bernie Russell witnesses a fellow soldier shoot a young German boy with his hands up, he’s shaken to his very core. Then, as that same boy is dying, he presses a packet of photographs and letters into Bernie’s hand and utters three words in English.

It must end.

After having the letters translated, he discovers they were written by the soldier’s twin sister and the photographs within the packet reveal evidence of Hitler’s plan to wipe out the Jews.

Berlin, Germany

Margot Raskopf is a young art teacher, forced to conform to the education Hitler has designed. Then, when one of her sources with the underground resistance receives a letter for her from an American soldier, she’s shocked and filled with renewed hope. But Margot has been harboring a secret. In her house she hides a young Jewish woman she’s known since childhood, risking being discovered by the gestapo with each passing day.

As they begin a dangerous correspondence, both Margot and Bernie embark on treacherous journeys. One taking Bernie across Europe and right into Germany. Another taking Margot through the gates of Auschwitz … and under the scrutiny of Josef Mengele.

New Year, Cover Reveal, & Writing Goals

Drum roll please!!!

It’s a new year and with it comes a new cover for me! I am so excited to share the cover for the first book in my World War II series, The Good German Girl. This book definitely took its toll on me, emotionally and physically, but I can say most definitely that it is my favorite of all my books so far.

I think we all want 2021 to be a much different year from 2020. As we were approaching this new year, I tried to think of all the ways I could make this new year better than the old one. Even with all the determination all around me to make this year far better than the last, I must say it’s been difficult to think about this new year with a smile.

Perhaps it was from the mental and physical exhaustion of the past year. But one thing I kept coming back to–the one thing I always come back to in the end–is my writing. Even though I struggled to write anything at all during the last couple of months of 2020, my writing has continued to be a source of comfort. A source of motivation for setting and completing goals. Something to look forward to at the beginning and end of my day.

Which was why I made up my mind to set a goal for Book 2 of my World War II series, A League of Extraordinary Women. Book 2, titled The Red Bird in the Tower, is about halfway done and my goal is to write THE END by the time The Good German Girl releases on April 15th! I am very excited to finish this next book. It will have a very different tone from the first book but will hold fast to the research and essence of the mid to late 1940s.

Each book in this series is inspired by true events that took place during World War II. As I’m sure you’ve realized, The Good German Girl was inspired by the horrors of the Auschwitz II – Birkenau concentration camp as well as the journey our American forces made from Omaha Beach across Europe. Book 2, inspired by the battle of Stalingrad and the snipers recruited during that time. Book 3, the Marines who fought the Japanese in the Pacific and the spies who infiltrated Japanese-occupied Manila, and so on.

A League of Extraordinary Women is a fictional series of at least 5 books that will echo with true stories of the second world war. Every character born in my imagination by the extraordinary stories I discovered during my research of the war. My goal in my writing has always been to write about people who rise up out of tragedy and adversity in hope, faith, and love. I hope these stories depict such strength and inspiration.

Just to pique your interest a bit further, here’s a rough summary for The Red Bird in the Tower (A League of Extraordinary Women, #2).

Brooklyn, New York

Spring, 1948

Katya Rakovich has survived the worst of times. Hoping to begin fresh with her young son, she has worked and fought her way across the ocean to the land of the free. Following her husband’s instructions, she finds a small boardinghouse in a quiet neighborhood in Brooklyn where she hopes her new life can actually begin and the past can finally remain where it belongs. In the past.

Michael Donaghue has known his share of suffering and he lives with the painful memories of the war every day. But when the mysterious Russian redhead moves into his aunt’s boardinghouse with her toddler son, he starts to think life might be giving him a second chance after all. There’s something about Katya that stirs life inside him like nothing else since the war ended. But she’s keeping secrets. Secrets about her life before and during the war and, especially, about her husband Alexei Rakovich.

As her relationship with Michael intensifies, Katya realizes that some secrets cannot remain buried and in order to give her heart to him she needs to tell Michael everything. About the event that changed her life and the love she can barely speak of.

But most importantly, she must tell him about the Stalingrad sniper called the Red Bird.

The Red Bird in the Tower will ring more of historical romance than just historical fiction, but what I love about this book is its structure. We will jump into the past and relive Katya’s story as she’s telling it to Michael somewhere at the halfway point in the book. So, in the end, this is two love stories in one book. I’m very excited to finish this book and am crossing my fingers it works on the page the way it seems to be working in my head.

You will also get to revisit a character from The Good German Girl in this second novel, but to avoid spoilers, I’m not going to tell you who. 😉

This entire series is shaping up to be so precious to me and Book 3 is already in the works as I feel the end of Book 2 approaching. I can’t wait to share more with you as I continue this writing journey for this series and hope The Good German Girl will capture your heart and encourage you to read the rest of the books!

Don’t forget to add The Good German Girl to your 2021 reading list! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55674241-the-good-german-girl

Happy New Year!

Book Series, Historical Fiction, & Peppermint Mochas

The time has come for Peppermint Mochas, Christmas decorations, and holiday music!

As we enter this holiday season after a very difficult year, I feel my spirits lifting. In the face of holiday cheer and kindness, I feel lighthearted for the first time in 2020–every sorrow swiftly floating away on a sea of sweet anticipation for this season of giving. And I’m particularly enjoying my morning Peppermint Mochas from Starbucks. 😉

I’m also anticipating the release of the first book of my World War II series, A League of Extraordinary Women. Having these books releasing soon has lifted my spirits in so many ways! These stories mean so much to me, especially since I have thrown so much of myself into them. While they may be fictional, they echo with truth. My desire for this series was to write about strong, courageous, extraordinary women–and the men who love them, because I apparently can’t write anything without a little romance–who fought back in the only ways they could between the years 1941-1945.

From the horrors of Auschwitz II – Birkenau, to the devastated streets of Stalingrad, to Japanese-occupied Manila & Nazi-occupied Poland, and finally to the gates of Treblinka, you will follow five women who have already captured my heart. Some already have endings to their stories, others are still in the works, but they are as much a part of me as if their stories were complete. Their experiences taken from the many hidden stories of World War II that I discovered during my research, I have explored the dark corners of this war and the many extraordinary, forgotten women who walked these treacherous paths.

The first of these five women you’ll meet is Margot Raskopf! She’s strong, brave, artistic, and defiant. She wants to pave the way to a better life for herself, her family & friends, and the children she nurtures with a love of art. But her whole country is fighting her efforts and Margot soon finds herself trapped in the most horrible place on earth. I’m so excited for you to meet her!

The second woman you’ll meet is Katya Rakovich. I don’t want to say too much about our heroine in book 2 of the series, The Red Bird in the Tower, but I will let you know that I am working on her story. It’s been a bit slow-going for poor Katya, but the further I move through her story, the deeper I fall in love with her and the two heroes who claim her affections. Her heart is an iceberg about to be melted by an American paratrooper in the wake of World War II’s end, but can she forget the Russian journalist who claimed it first? You’ll just have to wait and see. 🙂

If you want to learn more about Margot and her experiences in The Good German Girl (A League of Extraordinary Women, #1)–not too much, because I don’t want to give away too many spoilers!–then be sure to join me on Facebook next Saturday, December 12th at 3PM! I’ll be going live to talk about Margot’s character, the in depth research I did on Auschwitz II – Birkenau, and a woman who survived the concentration camp and was a huge inspiration for the scenes about Auschwitz in my book.

Also, don’t forget to add The Good German Girl to your to-read list on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55674241-the-good-german-girl

AND if you’re still looking for one last gift for Christmas to someone who loves to read, check out my debut novel, The Lost Generation: A Novel of World War I HERE! I love receiving books for Christmas, especially Historical Fiction novels, so head on over to Amazon and see if The Lost Generation is the perfect gift for someone you know. 🙂

I hope you all have a beautiful, blessed, & merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Autumn, Thanksgiving, & Books!

Good Saturday Morning!

There’s nothing like sitting on a cozy couch in the morning sipping coffee and eating a pumpkin cookie (loaded with plenty of chocolate chips, of course!), on a cool Fall morning. I can hardly believe Thanksgiving is less than a week away! With editing and promoting The Good German Girl, along with crazy busy days at work, the weeks have just flown by. 2020 has been a crazy year to be sure, but with all the bad, it’s had its moments.

As we approach Thanksgiving, I’ve been thinking about everything there is to be thankful for. This has been a lonely year, and coming from an introvert who sometimes prefers being alone, that’s saying a lot. But despite feeling a bit isolated, I’ve found myself on more than one occasion surrounded by people who care about me and make things better.

And one of the biggest things was, of course, finding out The Good German Girl (A League of Extraordinary Women, #1) is going to be published! I threw so much of my heart and soul into this book and was praying for months that it would be published. On the brink of publishing it myself, I was offered a contract from Elk Lake Publishing, Inc. for the series, making my dreams for this book come true.

Now, with editing pretty much finished and promoting in full swing, I’m looking forward to the start of the holiday season and everything 2021 will have in store for me! Planning the launch of The Good German Girl as well as looking into marketing options, I realized that all I really wanted to do was talk about my book. To share everything I worked so hard to accomplish with this story–everything I learned during the writing of it. From the shores of Omaha Beach to the women’s barracks at Auschwitz II – Birkenau.

Therefore, this afternoon at 3PM central time, I will be going live on Facebook in the first of a series of videos leading up to the publication of The Good German Girl. I will be sharing excerpts from the book itself, talk about any news on it’s publication, and discuss the research I did on World War II. I will also give you a bit of background on the characters themselves and I hope you’ll fall in love with them the same way I did!

This first video (and I hope it will be a very special one!), will focus on our hero, Bernie G. Russell! I will ask the questions:

Who is Bernie Russell?

How did I create his personality?

How did I choose the kind of soldier he would be?

Why was HE my hero and not his best friend, Bruno Agnelli (also a hero and so very dear to me)?

I hope you’ll join me! And don’t forget to add The Good German Girl to your to-read list on Goodreads!!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55674241-the-good-german-girl

Contracts, Editing, & Endorsements!

I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it! (Heehee 😉 )

On Monday October 12th I signed a brand new contract with Elk Lake Publishing, Inc. for my World War II series, A League of Extraordinary Women! Which means Book One, The Good German Girl (which I have talked about multiple times over the past year), will be coming your way in 2021!

This is truly a blessing to me and I have found myself randomly crying almost every day over this. 2020 has been a hard year for all of us. My anxiety and depression has been through the roof lately which has made me more introverted and more detached from life, especially lately. When my sweet publisher reached out to me to ask me why I was thinking of indie publishing my series, my response to her was:

“I don’t have an agent anymore and it’s more general market with faith elements, I’m not sure it will fit your criteria.”

Her answer:

“You’re one of ours. Send me chapters and we’ll see.”

For someone who was feeling down and alone and who was struggling to write day by day, these words lifted me up in ways I can’t even describe. I felt like I belonged and that my talent for storytelling wasn’t at an all-time low as I thought. I also knew that even if she didn’t find my book to be a good fit, I’d been wonderfully uplifted from the darkness I’d been struggling through.

And now, I’m looking forward to the editing process! The Good German Girl should be coming your way early to mid 2021 (no official release date yet but hopefully soon!) and I can’t wait! This book is so dear to me. I put in hours–even days–of research, reading story after story about the experiences of survivors of Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Digging deep into the dark and twisted mind of Josef Mengele. This book has a permanent, solid hold on my heart and I am so happy I get to share it with you in a few months!

Editing always makes me nervous, of course, but it’s a good nervous. I’m so excited to hear what my editor thinks of the story and to iron out all the flaws between the lines. You’ll probably be hearing from me as I cry and laugh my way through this next, long process. But like every other time, I know that all my tears will be worth it in the end.

One of my missions with this book was to show two very different perspectives of World War II. I wanted to include the journey of an American soldier from Omaha Beach to Germany, while also giving a peek into Berlin. But bringing this soldier and this German girl together? That was the real challenge and I absolutely loved conquering it! Margot and Bernie became so real to me as I wrote this story. They are my favorites and I hope they’ll be yours too!

Anxious for a little bit more detail? Here’s a brief (rough) overview of the novel:

When battle-hardened Private Bernie Russell witnesses a fellow soldier shoot a young German boy with his hands up point blank on the treacherous shores of Omaha Beach, he’s shaken to his very core. Then, as that same boy is dying he presses a packet of photographs and letters into Bernie’s hand and utters three words in English.

It must end.

After having the letters translated, he discovers they were written by the dead boy’s twin sister and the photographs within the packet reveal evidence of Hitler’s plan to wipe out the Jews.

In Berlin, Margot Raskopf is a young art teacher, forced to conform to the education Hitler has designed. Then, when one of her sources with the underground resistance receives a letter for her from an American soldier telling her how her brother was killed, she’s shocked, and filled with renewed hope. But Margot has been harboring a secret. In her house, she hides a young Jewish woman she’s known since childhood, risking being discovered by the gestapo with each passing day.

As they begin a dangerous correspondence, both Margot and Bernie embark on treacherous journeys. One taking Bernie across Europe and right into Germany. Another taking Margot through the gates of Auschwitz … and under the scrutiny of Josef Mengele.

Now, before I say goodbye, I’d like to announce that I’m getting a head start on my endorsements! Editing is about to begin, but if you’re an author and you think you might be interested in reading and writing an endorsement for The Good German Girl, please private message me here or on Facebook! I’m being proactive so I don’t wait until the last minute (like I’ve done in the past, lol).

Thank you for stopping by!

Ready for Romance? A Peek into My New WIP …

What happens when an arrogant, washed-up TV actor & a bestselling author with an extreme case of writer’s block come together?

In a word: Trouble.

Who’s ready for romance? I am knee deep in a new story about a bestselling author with writer’s block and a divorced television actor facing a dead-end career. In an attempt to escape their current realities, they flee to an isolated boardinghouse on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where they meet, butt heads, and end up passionately entangled. And assisting in their ill-advised romance is the sweet, middle-aged boardinghouse owner with her own idea about romance.

Add to the mix actor Roan’s two young children, author Tessa’s overprotective brother, and the romantic secrets of boardinghouse owner Magda’s past coming back to haunt her and this story is an absolute tornado of chaos, passion, and humor.

I am so excited about this book! Writing it has been an absolute delight so far. My transition from Historical to Contemporary only had a few bumps and, in all honesty, I haven’t actually made a full transition! I am also in the midst of writing the second book of an 18th century Historical Romance series. Both books are so different, it’s sometimes hard to keep up but I never did like writing the easy way.

NC Beach 2One of my favorite things about writing something new are all the inspiration pictures I get to gather. Believe it or not, pictures really do help the writing process. Sometimes, I sit down at my computer and there is a total lack of inspiration. Pictures go a long way to help get the first word, then a sentence, then, before you know it, a whole paragraph onto the page. I’ve always enjoyed finding some of the most beautiful pictures of scenery or characters to help me develop and advance in a novel.

In my current Contemporary WIP you will meet sweet introvert, Tessa Walker. A Tessabestselling author who would rather bury her nose in a book–or hide behind her laptop–than socialize, she finds herself at the mercy of her keyboard, unable to get a single word on the page for a novel that’s due in a month. Badgered by her intimidating agent, pushy publisher, and even by a few eager fans, Tessa flees her home in Manhattan for the quiet, secluded shores of Currituck County. There, she meets her warm, lovable hostess, Magda Campbell, who is quite certain the only thing Tessa needs for inspiration is a handsome man to sweep her off her feet.

Enter Roan Darrow, a washed-up television actor waiting with breath held for his agent to call with his next big role. Fifteen years on the same show didn’t make him, it broke Roanhim. Now, he isn’t seen as anything but the handsome ladies man he portrayed on screen and it’s killing his future. Living miles away from his two young children and with a bitter ex-wife who won’t let them come for their usual visit–again–all Roan wants is to escape his life, even if only for the summer. When he discovers the isolated boardinghouse in North Carolina, he thinks it’s the perfect place to hide. He never counts on running into a beautiful woman like Tessa Walker–or rather, walking in on her in the tub!

This is like nothing I’ve ever written before and I am so thrilled! These two opposites run straight into the fire, believing they are risking nothing before soon discovering they are risking everything. Particularly, their hearts. I am enjoying the rollercoaster ride that makes up Tessa and Roan’s story so far. Not to mention a little bit of romance on the side for Magda, who is reunited with the man who broke her heart over twenty years ago (ah, the delights of complicated romances).

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little peek into my WIP! On a side note, though … I have a giveaway going on for the fourth book of my fantasy series! If you enjoy fantasies, you might enjoy my series so be sure to enter the giveaway on Goodreads for a chance to win the fourth book, Winter’s Light! Maybe you’ll win and decide to read the first three too. 😉

Goodreads Giveaway: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/309992-winter-s-light

The Romance Authors Who Inspire Me

So why Romance? What made me make the switch?

Before, I didn’t think Romance was much of an option for me. Because I realized, if I was going to do Romance, I was going to run with it to a level that people wouldn’t expect from me. I was worried for a very long time about being judged for that, so I avoided writing romance.

But no more!! I am so excited to be writing romance. I have a ton of ideas bottled up in this brain of mine and I can’t wait to share them with you. Now, I’d like to talk about some of the romance authors who have inspired me over the years. These authors went a long way in my making this switch, urging me with each page of their beautiful works to begin my journey toward the Romance genre.

As most of you know, my library was limited for a very long time to Christian Fiction. However, a few years ago, I decided to pick up a few books from the general market. And which category did I pick? Romance, of course. 😉

First, let’s talk about the Romance author who taught me what passion could look like on the page. That would be, of course, Christian author and one of my favorites, Julie Lessman. Reading her novels, Julie taught me so much about the romance genre. She was the first author who taught me that putting passion on the page could be meaningful and beautiful and have a real purpose. She turns up the heat while also weaving faith and hope throughout.

Now, we all know that every genre has their Queen (or King in some cases). For me? The Queen of Contemporary Romance is Susan Elizabeth Phillips. The first novel I pickedSEP Books up from a general market publisher was It Had to Be You. Then, I discovered it was the first book of a series so, of course, I had to read the rest! The Chicago Stars series absolutely blew me away and opened up a whole new world to me. The depth of feeling, the authenticity, of It Had to Be You was like nothing I’d ever experienced before and had me laughing, crying, and bubbling with excitement for more!

 

 

In keeping with my love of Historical Fiction, the second novel (or I should say series) I picked up from a general market publisher, was Elizabeth Hoyt’s Legend of the Four Soldiers seriesI have since read her Princes Trilogy, Maiden Lane series, and am looking forward to her Greycourt series! Her variety of characters, unique style, and her ability to draw you into a story has been a source of inspiration for me for the past four years and I am thrilled to call myself a fan of hers!

Another favorite who inspires me to mix humor and spice, Tessa Dare! My reading journey with Tessa began with the first novel of her Castles Ever After series Romancing TD Booksthe Duke. Tessa has had me in stitches on more than one occasion and every time I hear of a new release, I am right there pressing the pre-order button! These Regency era romances are true gems, mixing humor and passion in the most brilliant of ways. Without a doubt, Tessa will remain one of my top favorites in the Romance genre!

 

 

Now, on to two new-to-me authors!

I am a new fan of Sarah MacLean. After reading the first book in her Scandal & Scoundrel trilogy, I was hooked. I ate up the other two and immediately went online to purchase a whole bunch more! Let me just say, of the three books of her Scandal & Scoundrel series, book 3, The Day of the Duchess, was my favorite! That book was like a T&S Books 2punch to the gut (which is one of the marks of a great author, by the way!). I had a lump in my throat for most of it and I absolutely LOVED the ending!

Another new-to-me author is the amazing Talia Hibbert! I am still reading Get a Life, Chloe Brown and I am absolutely enchanted. This author’s ability to create characters you instantly love from the very first page is phenomenal. I have never read anything like this before in Contemporary Romance and I am racing through GALCB so I can move on to book 2, Take a Hint, Dani Brown!

 

Unlocking the chains I put around my own wrists, I have opened a whole new world to myself in the writing world. I am no longer afraid to write my stories the way I see them–no longer looking for ways to cut or edit around things I think people might judge me for. How people react–love or hate or disapproval–is up to them!

I came to realize that nothing I do will ever be considered perfect. While my crazy, OCD brain sometimes freaks out over the possibility that I will appear less than perfect–that I will receive a lack of understanding and judgment for human mistakes I make–I have to write what makes me happy. I have to write what makes my heart soar and makes the butterflies in my stomach run wild!

These authors went a long way to helping me discover this freedom.

 

Next Up: Ready for Romance? A Peek into My New WIP …

Coming August 8th!

The Start of Something New …

I have gone over and over what I want to say in this post. But I guess I should start with the obvious.

By the Book: Diary of a Bookaholic is no more. Other Worlds is no more.

I have transformed By the Book into a brand new blog with an entirely different theme. This decision was a long time coming. After a lot of thought, soul-searching, and prayer, I realized By the Book had to go. I started this blog a long time ago when I was very young and as I have grown and developed in my writing pursuits, I have also grown away from the blog that was primarily meant for book reviews. I tried to keep the blog (its name and its purpose) for a long time while also using it to talk about my passion for writing.

It didn’t work.

For months I wouldn’t even look at the blog, much less write a post. With the release of my latest novel Winter’s Light (The Winter Queen, #4) I didn’t even stop by to announce its publication. That was when I truly realized something was wrong here. I had no motivation to come by, not even to see if I’d had any recent visitors.

The same was going on for my Speculative blog Other Worlds. It did not receive the response or the results I was hoping for in order for me to feel it was worth my giving so much time to continue it. While that saddens me a great deal because I’d love to dedicate an entire blog to the promotion of a genre that could use the exposure, I simply cannot find the motivation to put so much of my time into it.

Something had to change. Recently, it seems everything is changing. Particularly with my efforts as an author.

Can change be scary? Absolutely.

Can it also be exciting & invigorating? Heck yeah!

I’ve realized over time that everything about my becoming a published author was rushed. I was twenty-three when all of this started. I was young, excited, and wanted to be published so badly! When a publisher showed interest, I jumped in. I’m not saying that was an entirely bad thing because, hey, I have five published books! Woo-hoo! What I am saying is that it all happened so quickly, I was completely unprepared. I didn’t know what I was doing which made it hard for me to build audience, platform, and promote properly.

Do I know what I’m doing now? Not entirely, haha. But I’ve got a pretty good idea where I want to start. Because that’s what I plan to do. I am going to start over. With the conclusion of my fantasy series, I’m ready to begin fresh and new with something that’s been on my heart for a while.

I am no longer going to base my style and themes on what other people want or expect from me. I am no longer going to conform my writing to what other people think I should be writing either. I am simply going to write the way I want to write–what is on my heart to write, and not worry about what people I don’t know or barely know might think of it. How that writing translates to the page, you’ll just have to wait and see and, hopefully, you’ll love it!

Am I saying I don’t care what my readers think or want? Absolutely not! I’m saying I was influenced too many times in my young life, before I was even published, into what others told me I should be writing or what I should be reading and, now that I’m older, I realize how stifling that was. How much it held me back from the stories I actually wanted to tell.

I have grown and developed from that girl who was so afraid of being judged. My stories have grown and developed as well. How I write them has grown and developed. This brings me to my next announcement …

You all know I consider Historical Fiction to be my primary genre. I still do. HOWEVER, my focus is now going to shift to the Romance genre and I am so excited!! Historical, Contemporary, you name it! I am turning up the heat, people, so watch out!!!

With this change, comes another one. I now have a brand-spanking new website and it is NOT a WordPress website! I decided to keep WordPress for my blog only and step away from it for my official author website. Want to check it out? Please do!

Click Here: https://www.ericamariehoganauthor.net/

With all of that being said, let me welcome you to my brand new blog: Coffee, Chocolate, & Romance: Turning Up the Heat on Every Page!

On this blog, I will talk about writing & reading romance and annoy you with my addiction to vanilla lattes & chocolate! I hope, with this new theme and this new start on my writing journey, you will be hearing a lot more from me than you were before! I also hope you will give this new direction I’m taking a chance and still enjoy visiting my blog.

I plan to post here at least twice a month, if not more. Check in to learn about my progress on new projects I’m working on and stop by my new website to learn about the WIP I’m working on right now!

Thanks for stopping by today! Happy 4th of July!!!

 

Next Up: The Romance Authors Who Inspire Me …

Coming July 25th!

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 Jewish population.

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 End is Near …

I know, I know. That’s some title for the first blog post of the year. But it’s true! The end is near. The end of my fantasy series is near. I can see the finish line–I know how the story is going to end. I know who is going to live and who is going to die. I know exactly what the last battle looks like.

I just need to figure out how to get there.

Winter’s Light is the final book in my Winter Queen Series, which will wrap up the lives of so many characters I’ve grown to love. They’ve surprised me in so many ways over these last three years. And while I don’t consider fantasy to be my primary genre, I am going to miss writing about the land of Nfaros and its rulers. Excited as I am to begin focusing more on my historical fiction WIPs, I am going to miss the Sundragon sisters more than I thought I would.

Looking back over the progress of these novels, my heart soars over how they came to beWinter Queen. Winter Queen was born from a little idea I had during a very bad bout of writer’s block. I was stuck in the middle of another story, so I decided to simply write ‘for fun’ for a little while. And that is how Winter Queen came alive. It started with an image of two young princesses fleeing their city accompanied by the idea of a queen who could command an entire season. From there, it developed into something I never expected. Soon, there were ice fairies, dragon folk and a world full of strange and extraordinary people.

Have I ever told you The Winter Queen Series was originally a seven book series? When I realized how many characters I wanted to be involved, I thought there was no way I could do this in a trilogy. So I split the storylines into seven different books. Until the day I realized they might actually be published! On that day, I cut the stories down so they could fit into a four book series.

But even having done that, I worry. These last few days of writing with the story jumbling about in my head in bits and pieces, I start to wonder if I should’ve added more of the storyline to Dance of Shadows or Crown of Flames. I second guess myself about how I ended the second and third books of the series. I wonder if there was another place I could have ended them. If I could have tacked on a bit more so this last book RGB_Dance of Shadows (1)would have been easier.

But then I realize, stressing over what I might have done is useless. All I can do now, is write. I look back at the difference between writing Dance of Shadows and writing Crown of Flames and realize it is no different than what I’m going through now with Winter’s Light. Will this fourth and final book be longer than the others? Most likely. From the Jandry Siblings to the Sundragon Sisters to the Malaki family, I have a lot of characters and storylines to wrap up.

And one of the most difficult parts of that is deciding exactly how these stories will end. Will there be tears? Well, if you’ve read my books, then you probably know there will be. I can’t seem to write without throwing in some emotional trauma.

For my part, I know I’m probably going to cry. Not necessarily because of what happens to my characters–I’ve been preparing myself for the end of this series for a while now and have known a few things about the conclusion since the first book was published–but more because the stories themselves will finally be complete.

I was so excited when Crown of Flames was released last year in June! As the writer, I think this one might be my favorite of the series so far (we’ll see how Book 4 comes out COF - 1;)). Crown of Flames not only introduced even more characters, but brought our favorites to a crucial point in the plot–a climax in a way. Two major battles were fought and whether they were won or not is up to you to find out.

I’m so proud of Book 3, the ending giving me a perfect opening into Book 4 as well as lighting the way to several conclusions. Whether you caught the hints of certain characters’ fates or not, I promise I won’t spoil anything. But I am so excited for you to see everything come together.

As we entered Awards season at the beginning of the year, I hesitated to enter Crown of Flames, simply because sometimes I feel the harder I try, the less results I receive. But then I realize–as I always do–that not trying won’t get me anywhere. So I entered and am looking forward to seeing the results. And if there are no results, then what did I lose? Nothing. Because either way, people saw and read Crown of Flames, simply because it was entered to begin with.

Oh, and by the way, if you wanna help a girl out … Crown of Flames is eligible for a nomination in the INSPYs awards. If you want to nominate it, click here.

Now, who wants a sneak peek? The final book of The Winter Queen Series should release later this year (as long as I get to writing like crazy!). So here’s a little excerpt from Winter’s Light (The Winter Queen Series, #4) to hold you over until then …

“In fear they are here.” Jhaedra raised defiant eyes to Haileah. “If they saw Gwylan Almandreya, run to her they would!”

Haileah grabbed Jhaedra by a handful of her hair, yanking her close. “Do not speak that woman’s name!”

“Why? Because more powerful than you she is?” Jhaedra grimaced, a small smirk shining through the pain of Haileah’s grip. “Able to hold the Novices for long, you will not be. If run to wait out the war they do not, run to the Sundragons they will.”

“Let them! We do not need their pitiful strength. The Intermediates are all we need.” Haileah shoved Jhaedra away, sending the woman into a heap in the snow. “And if you do not remember your place and hold your tongue, I will soon have very little need of you as well.”

With a twirl of her cloak, Haileah spun back toward the camp. Jhaedra remained on the ground, watching until the woman disappeared among the tents. Then she looked up, peering directly through the tree branches at Taleah. The Frostling held her breath, unable to restrain the flurry of snowflakes falling from her wings any longer. A shower of them fell upon Jhaedra, making the Quintarian woman smile.

“Tell Adlae Sundragon,” Jhaedra murmured. “If survive Haileah’s wrath, I do, I will rally the Novices to her side.”

Jhaedra!” Haileah shrieked, her voice bouncing among the trees.

“Fly, Frostlings! Fly!” Jhaedra hissed, struggling to her feet.

“Come dear ones,” Taleah said, grabbing both M’kela and Ilicya’s hands as she watched the Eventide Sister stumble away. “We must deliver this message and pray the Creator show mercy on Jhaedra Randeryn.”

In a flash of snow dust, the three Frostlings vanished into the sky.