Ruins of Castle Hanstein near Bornhagen, Germany

Visiting the ruins of Hanstein takes us back to medieval times - Castle Hanstein near Bornhagen, Germany in 2012 More »

Vietnam War protestors demonstrate - Wichita, KS, 1967.

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Solingen, Germany after the bombing, November 1944. - Stadtarchiv Solingen

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My grandmother Grete with her sisters in the early 1920s in Germany.

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B17 Bomber above German Airfield in WWII

U.S. Bomber flies above German airfield in WWII. More »


Category Archives: Writing

A Great Reading and Upcoming Books

woman standing next to treeLast weekend I had the pleasure of participating in the fifth ‘Literary Hike’ in the beautiful Vorwerk Park in Wuppertal. Under cloudy but dry skies eight authors and their roughly twenty guests walked and enjoyed beautiful settings together. At various picturesque sites throughout the park authors presented stories and poems.

Since the German translation of ‘Surviving the Fatherland’ called Vaterland, wo bist du? will be published this month, I read a section from the new book. We also had the pleasure of listening to Michael Völkel’s music and ballads, both entertaining and fun.

A New Novel Set in WWII

book title

New Cover

When Hitler decided to mass-evacuate Germany’s children in 1940, he had a lot more than their wellbeing in mind. He had a purpose for those kids, particularly children eleven and older. Sold to parents as ‘vacations to protect from bombs and nourish their minds,’ the real goal was to train boys as future soldiers and girls to become mothers. Many camps were strictly organized and schedules began before seven am and lasted all day, strapping children into tightly regulated timetables. School time was restricted to four hours a day—less later in the war because of lack of teachers—and afternoon activities increased to include war games and competitive sports.

I wrote an exciting novel with two youth protagonists, fourteen-year old Hilda who is in love with her neighbor and best friend, fifteen-year old Peter. Here is a little intro:

When They Made Us Leave tells the heartwarming love story of two teens who are separated when they’re forced to attend separate evacuation camps. Each confronted with terror and cruelty as well as unexpected kindness, they must rise above to survive the war and find each other once more.

book cover german

New Cover German version of ‘Surviving the Fatherland’

Both characters have deep wounds and secrets they must work through while dealing with the ever-increasing threats of war and the atrocities they encounter in camp. I’ve also worked in some great historical info I found while researching the dozens of books, magazines and other resources.

VATERLAND, WO BIST DU? Available now in bookstores!

The new German version of SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND is now available in bookstores and online.

I’ve also been working hard preparing the publication of Vaterland, wo bist du? in paperback, hardcover und eBook. Expected publication will be later this month. Because of language, this edition targets the German language market. I’m hoping to do a number of readings and presentations.

Going Back in Time

old fashioned door lock with large key

The door lock of our room

I’m the first to admit that I find the Middle Ages fascinating. But anyone who knows what life was really like in those days, also knows that we tend to romanticize—a lot.

The old castle ruins of Hanstein I still use as the header for my website were my inspiration to write the ESCAPE FROM THE PAST time-travel trilogy. Located on a mountaintop with sweeping views of Thuringia and Hessen, they represent the best part of medieval history. At its feet sits the old Klausenhof Inn, a restaurant and hotel built in 1487.

table in chair in old room

Under the eaves in our bedroom

Since we were visiting friends in Kassel, I thought it might be fun to spend the night in the old inn. We’d eaten there before and the food and home-brewed beer are worth a stop anytime. They offer Thuringia specialties and out of this world venison dishes. I stuffed myself with a Jägertopf, a hunter’s pot until I could no longer move.

medieval armor

This fellow hangs out in front of the Knights Hall

Our sleeping quarters were on the third floor, up two flights of stairs that squeak to tell you their age. We actually signed an acknowledgement about the fire hazard the old and well-seasoned walls and floors present—five hundred thirty two years to be exact. To abide by modern laws, the inn installed an external fire escape staircase in back. Nonetheless, open flames and smoking are strictly prohibited. Who would blame them since spending time in these walls feels like staying in a historical monument. It is beautiful.

old fashioned open fireplace

In book 3 of ESCAPE FROM THE PAST, this fireplace (Knights Hall) has an important task.

The floor of our room groaned with each step and reminded you that countless generations of tired pilgers have walked here before you. Windows are small and under the eaves. But do not worry yourself. We did not need to use the outhouse. Our room came with a modern tiled bathroom and shower.

The inn is a gorgeous historic building with eating rooms where lords and ladies dined as well as peasant quarters with sheepskin covered benches and an indoor well. I don’t know if I could take another night in the old-fashioned beds, but I would recommend visiting the Klausenhof Inn to anybody who is interested in medieval history.

The Klausenhof staff was super nice and you can sign up for wonderful events that celebrate the Middle Ages.