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!

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!

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.”