Friday, February 28, 2014

Small Updates

Haven’t updated this blog in months. It has just become a place for me to dump my thoughts and progress (or lack thereof) on writing. There is no theme to it, nothing special to attract a real audience. I’m too busy to revamp it or invest any real time in it. I don’t want get rid of it and may come here from time to time to update, but it’s a little sad, because I had originally envisioned something else for it. Oh well.

I did start a second blog, one dedicated to the YA WIP that I am working on. It is centered on the Holocaust, Poland and WWII. It’s what I know, so maybe I will garner an audience through that. It isn’t ready to show off yet; maybe in another month.

I’ve been working on another WIP, hopefully for the Christian market. It is small, simple and sweet- a nice break from the Holocaust. Whenever I need to get away from WWII and that dark period, I drop into another, quiet world based in Indiana in the 19th century. It’s small enough that I can just submit it straight to the publishing company. No agents required. Just hope that this one will get picked up.

Hit the 200lb mark a couple weeks back. That was a wakeup call for me. So I have gotten serious about diet and exercise. Have already lost a teensy bit and am glad to be on the right track.

Winter is driving us all crazy. It warms up for a few days, then the temperatures drop and another snow storm hits and we get at least five inches- if not more. The weather service is predicting an ice storm/blizzard this Sunday. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Book Q&A: What are your reading habits?

I found this quiz on my sister Sean's blog, liked it and stole it from her!

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack:
Yes. I eat a variety of things, but prefer chocolate. There is nothing like nibbling chocolate while reading a good book.

What is your favorite drink while reading?
Cocoa or root beer. Or water. Anything to wash down the chocolate.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
I never use to, but now when I see a factual or grammatical mistake, or even a mistaken, I must fix it. You'd be surprised how many oopsies  editors miss.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?
Dog-ear? What kind of sick sadist dog-ears their books? Okay, I use to be that sick sadist, but thankfully I saw the light and started using bookmarks or pieces of paper.

Fiction, non-fiction, or both?
Fiction, if it is good. Unfortunately I have become a book snob and rarely read any new fiction that comes out. But I love non-fiction; I love learning new things.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?
When I like a book, I must finish it. If it is mediocre or infuriates me, I stop after a couple pages or skim through it.

Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?
I have considered it before, but I don’t make it a habit of throwing things.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?
Yes, otherwise I will forget about it. If I stay in ignorance, it totally throws the sentence/scene off for me.

What are you currently reading?
“Sophie’s Choice,” by William Styron.

What is the last book you bought?
“The Plum Tree,” by Ellen Marie Wiseman. Fine book. I rarely buy books anymore because I’m so picky.

Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?
More than one. I’ll be in the middle of one and get another from the library and have to start it.

Do you have a favorite time/place to read?
The couch, next to a bag of chocolate.

Do you prefer series books or stand-alone?
Stand-alone. Sequels sometimes take away from the original. Give me one, great solid book that changes my life and a series is not necessary.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?
Favorite authors: Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Louisa May Alcott, Harper Lee, Tosca Lee, Kathryn Stockett… Favorite book: “I Capture the Castle.”

How do you organize your books? (by genre, title, author's last name, etc.)

My books are haphazardly placed here and there; organization is not a factor. Not a lot of space.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Celebrating a Milestone of a Lifetime

Holocaust survivor, CANDLES founder Eva Kor turns 80

TERRE HAUTE — Eva Mozes Kor was a 10-year-old prisoner in Auschwitz in 1944 when she was told by Nazi doctor Josef Mengele that she had only two weeks to live.

On Friday, she turned 80.

Guests at her birthday party Saturday evening ate, sang and danced in celebration of the woman whose message of forgiveness has resonated across Terre Haute and the world.

More than 200 people attended Eva Kor’s 80th birthday celebration and CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center Annual Gala in O’Shaughnessy Hall at St. Mary-of-the-Woods.

The grand birthday party was complete with a multi-tier cake, a toast, music and videos paying tribute to the Holocaust survivor. One much-anticipated part of the event was dancing the hora, a Jewish folk dance of celebration.

Kor, who wore a blue and sparkling gold dress, looked happy.

“I am absolutely delighted to turn 80. I am proud that I reached that age,” Kor said before the event.

But she plans to live for many years to come.

“I look forward to turning 90, 100,” she said. “My goal is to live to be 111.”

A very specific age for a very specific reason.

Her goal is to be in Auschwitz for the centennial anniversary of the camp’s liberation.

“In order to be there at the 100th anniversary, I have to turn 111,” Kor said.

“I’m taking it one year at a time but I’m getting closer to my goal.”

The last 80 years of Kor’s life are a story of overcoming adversity.

Born “in a tiny little village” in Romania, “I was born in the wrong place, wrong time, wrong religion and wrong sex,” Kor said, because being born Jewish in Europe at that time was going to “get you in trouble.”

The youngest child, Eva Mozes’ father, was a farmer and landowner who wanted a son but got four daughters instead.

“He told me that I should have been a boy,” she said adding that for the first few years of her life, “he set me up for failure everyday” and punished her by putting her in a dark room with mice.

At 5 years old, she apparently “snapped back” at her father, “I don’t see how it’s my fault.”

And defying her father for the next 41⁄2 years was “practice” for Auschwitz.

Being strong-willed and outsmarting authority “helped me survive” at the Nazi camp.

At 10 years-old, Kor and her twin sister, Miriam Mozes Zieger were among 3,000 children imprisoned in Auschwitz and were among about 200 liberated from the camp by the Soviet Army in 1945.

 She lived in Israel for some time and came to the U.S. in June 1960. She married Michael “Mickey” Kor, another Nazi concentration camp survivor, and raised two kids.

One of her children, Alex, attended the event.

From her, Alex said, he found an example of perseverance over unbelievable odds, maintaining a positive attitude, and as he personally learned from a challenging experience, “there’s a lot of good that can come out [of] something so bad.”

He also admired his mother’s sense of humor.

His wish for his mother “is to… have the health, strength, ability to continue to tell her story.”

And this story is told to many who hear Kor speak and those who visit CANDLES, the museum she founded.

She spreads the message of forgiveness.
“Forgiveness is available to every victim on the face of this earth. It can heal, liberate and empower,” Kor said.

CANDLES Executive Director Kiel Majewski also learned many things from Kor.

“The things that inspire me about her are the little things: She never quits, she always comes through, she tells it like it is, and she expects the best out of people,” Majewski, whose first day of work at the museum was on Kor’s birthday in 2007, said. He has known her for eight years.

“In Auschwitz, Eva dreamed an impossible dream just to survive. The odds were always against her, but she has shown us that the odds don’t matter if you believe in yourself and don’t give up on your dreams. Her example has inspired entire generations of people.”

And Kor did not want any gifts, she said. Instead, she hopes people will support CANDLES.

“I don’t need anything. I have everything. I probably am the luckiest person in the face of this earth,” she said, because at 80, “people still want my company” and “hear my thoughts.”

“What else can I ask for?” she said.

The gala also included a silent auction, dinner, raffle and the recognition of Eternal Light Award recipient, Peggy Tierney. The award is given by CANDLES annually to a person who demonstrates service to the museum’s mission.

Also at the event, special guest Carl Wilkens — the only American who stayed in Rwanda throughout the 1994 genocide — spoke of healing and forgiveness. He is the former head of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency International in Rwanda and now director of World Outside My Shoes, an educational nonprofit.

Aided by pictures and video clips, Wilkens not only shared his stories from the genocide but also spoke of the importance of relationships and allies during times of crisis. He also talked about Rwanda’s recovery process and keys to healing.

“The way to healing and forgiveness is focusing on what remains,” not what was lost or taken because those can bring about bitterness, Wilkens told the Tribune-Star.

“Looking for the good in situations is key to putting one foot in front of the other.”