Monday, December 19, 2016

Life in Indiana in 1930s

In my research, I stumbled upon this interesting website called Only in Your State and one of its pages shows what life was like in Indiana in the 1930's. Of course that grabbed my attention because of my Great Depression novel. So if you're curious as to what life was like for my heroine, or perhaps you want to know what life was like for your grandparents and great-grandparents, check it out!

Click here.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Dear Lucky Agent!!!

For those interested in having the first few pages of your novel read and critiqued by a literary agent, please check out the Dear Lucky Agent Contest. Keep in mind though, it is for Historical Fiction only.

Check it out here!

Good luck!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Home Fires: Season 1

This time I want to blog about one of my new favorite shows, which by now isn’t so new.

Last autumn a new debuted on PBS called “Home Fires” which features a group of women living in England prior to and during WWII. Though they were fictional, I was blown away by the strength of these ladies. I grew up hearing about America’s home front and how the women were the ones to hold down the fort while the men were away. Living in England, though, being in such close proximity of Europe, the bombings, the constant terror…I couldn’t really imagine until I watched this show. The music, the cinematography, the acting, the characterization – just perfect. I was sad to learn that after season 2, Home Fires was not renewed and well not be returning. It did well in the ratings, but for whatever cockamamie reason, it will not be back.

(From this point on there are spoilers for Season 1.)

There are two characters that really struck a chord with me: Steph Farrow and Pat Simms. 

Steph is a no-nonsense, farmer’s wife who has a son to raise, and who is her husband’s equal in every sense of the word. When her husband feels called to go to war, she encourages him to do so, and then she and their son run the farm while he is away. She is strong, intelligent, and capable. Her only stumbling block is that she can’t read. But with the help of a new teacher in town, she overcomes that as well.

Now Pat Simms, she too is a strong woman, but her strength is channeled in a different way. Pat is married to Bob Simms, a one-hit wonder novelist who is physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive. He thinks he is some kind of English Ernest Hemingway. Bob might be mentally ill (it is alluded to when he is drugged with lithium salts by a well-meaning friend of Pat’s and he suddenly becomes docile - seriously, you have got to watch this show) and I feel sorry that he can’t receive the proper treatment, but whatever his reason, he has no right to be abusive to Pat. Pat is one of the sweetest, kindest, giving characters on the show, and she continues to be so, despite her circumstances. Through some quick thinking, the two of her friends manage to send Bob off to be a war correspondent, freeing Pat of him.

Though I love Steph, it is Pat who has become my favorite. She is in a similar situation that the heroine of my Great Depression novel is. Divorce was looked down upon, society couldn’t intervene, and Pat had no place to turn to for help.

Though Home Fires was only a two season show, I look forward to watching the second season. I hear there is a cliff-hanger ending that will no doubt frustrate me because the questions will never be answered, but it will be worth watching it. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Zookeeper's Wife

Okay, I have been waiting for this movie for two years and finally, the trailer has been released and it is coming out in March 2017!!!! Check it out!

For those who don't know, it is based on the bestseller "The Zookeeper's Wife." It is the story of Jan and Antonia Zabinski, who ran the Warsaw Zoo. During the Nazi Occupation of Poland, the Zabinski's hid Jews in the Zoo.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

An Agoraphobic in Europe!

Hey All,

My article entitled, "An Agoraphobic in Europe" is up on! So psyched about it. Please go check it out and let me know what you think!

Click the following link to read it:

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Alone in Berlin

Alone in Berlin” is based on the book, “Every Man Dies Alone,” by Hans Fallada, which in turn was based on the true story of Otto and Else Hampel. This looks great!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Quick Note...

To say that one of my stories was accepted by Haven't heard when it will be up on the website, but I'm excited. Anyway, it was about my trip to Poland and my tour of Auschwitz and Krakow.

Will let you know more later!

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Plunge

God help me, but I did it. I started the querying process on my Great Depression novel. I had procrastinated for months, using one excuse after another. That it wasn’t ready, or the subject matter was too taboo, or that the prose was crappy. All of which may still be true, but how will I know that for a fact if I don’t test the waters? I had to start somewhere. Some literary agents give feedback when they reject a project, so one of them may help me without realizing it.

I’ve been in this boat before, so I know the routine. You send off your query letter and- depending on the agent – a proposal and then you have to wait for a response. Sometimes it is a couple of hours, a couple of days, or a couple of weeks to hear back. Others never reply. I think the record for longest wait was about eight months, which by that time I had forgotten that I had even contacted them. Then there are a few agents who have rejected me twice. As if getting one rejection from said agent wasn’t enough, they decided to send that rejection to me again.

I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes in the querying process. I’ve mistaken a man for a woman; misspelled a last name; got the date wrong; forgot to attach the proposal; used the wrong words; misread the guidelines…Been there, done that. I’d like to think I’ve learned from my mistakes, but no one is perfect. Inevitably I will embarrass myself. I’m sure if I am ever land a literary agent, I’ll continue to do silly things. It’s just the way I am. After all, nobody’s perfect.

Well, I’m curious to see what will happen. In the meantime I’ve written a number of short stories that need to be sent off too, and have many others in the works.

Until next time. 

(BTW- Its my 250th post! Whoopee!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Book Review: Women Heroes of World War II—the Pacific Theater

Book Description:
Glamorous American singer Claire Phillips opened a nightclub in manila, using the earnings to secretly feed starving American POWs. She also began working as a spy, chatting up Japanese military men and passing their secrets along to local guerrilla resistance fighters. Australian Army nurse Vivian Bullwinkel, stationed in Singapore, then shipwrecked in the the Dutch East Indies, became the sole survivor of a horrible massacre by Japanese soliders. She hid for days, tending to a seriously wounded British soldier while wounded herself. Humanitarian Elizabeth Choy lived the rest of her life hating war, though not her tormentors, after enduring six months of starvation and torture by the Japanese military police.

In these pages, readers will meet these and other courageous women and girls who risked their lives through their involvement in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. Fifteen suspense-filled stories unfold across China, Japan, Malaya, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines, providing an inspiring reminder of womens' and girls' refusal to sit on the sidelines around the world and throughout history.

These women—whose stories span 1932 to 1945, the last year of the war—served in dangerous roles as spies, medics, journalists, resisters, and saboteurs. Seven of them were captured and imprisoned by the Japanese, enduring brutal conditions. Author Kathryn J. Atwood provides appropriate context and framing for teens 14 and up to grapple with these harsh realities of war. Discussion questions and a guide for further study assist readers and educators in learning about this important and often neglected period of history.

About the Author:
Kathryn J. Atwood is the author of Women Heroes of World War I and Women Heroes of World War II and the editor of Code Name Pauline: Memoirs of a World War II Special Agent. She has contributed to The Historian; War, Literature, and the Arts; and the collections Des Plaines River Anthology and Holocaust Heroes: Fierce Females. Visit her online at

My Thoughts:

The author arranged to have a copy of her book sent to me to review (Thank you, Kathryn!) and I can’t begin to tell you how much I learned. My knowledge of Japan, China, and the Pacific Theater was limited. I read “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” when I was eight, studied Japan in the third grade, and heard of the bombing of Pearl Harbor – aside from that I was clueless about Japanese history and how their fascism developed. “Women Heroes of WWII – the Pacific Theater” not only gives a short history lesson, it delves into how Japan went astray and how after the war they were given a pass, unlike Germany. There are fifteen different biographies of women, from journalists to spies to children who were witnesses. Many risked their lives to do what was right. One of the more heart wrenching stories was of a young teenager who was forced to become a “comfort woman” and how years later she came forward to speak of her experiences. While the accounts of some of the ladies in the book are harrowing, girls of all ages need to read this. It is a part of history that we have forgotten and must remember. So I highly recommend this book, and once more thank the author for sending it to me.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Femnista Article Is Live!

My September/October article for Femnista is available! The theme was "Derringers & Fedoras: Spies, Assassins, and Private Eyes" and I chose to write about Count von Stauffenberg. He was the man who attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler and orchestrated a coup against the Nazis. To learn more about Stauffenberg, click here!

Thanks for reading! 

Monday, August 29, 2016

New Zenith's First Issue is Available!

A quick note to let you all know that the magazine who published my, "A Grave Discovery," is available! So for those interested in purchasing it, click here!

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Rejection just plain sucks. No matter who you are, putting yourself out there is hard, and then to hear, “No, not interested” can be heart wrenching.

Rejection plays a big factor in the pursuit of a literary career. You pour your heart and soul into a story or a novel; perhaps you’ve spent years on it, perfecting every detail. You know it’s good; you know you have something special. You’re certain of it. You’re not mistaken; this time it will work out. You know you shouldn’t view your creation as your baby, but you do. In a sense you gave birth to it, nurtured it, groomed it, coddled it and now it is time to send it out into the world, for it to spread its wings.

You jump through all of the hoops, pay special attention to the guidelines, whisper a prayer and you send it off. You send it to multiple places. You try to distract yourself with a new project, because that’s what a writer does. They write. The second you finish one story, you start on another. There is no “The End” for us. But that’s fine, because it’s all part of the process.

Weeks pass, maybe even months. You haven’t heard a peep out of the literary agent or the publisher. You check your e-mail every five seconds and you stalk their twitter feeds and blogs. One part of you fears that the submission never reached them, that it was lost in cyberspace. The other part of you holds out hope that perhaps they haven’t read your submission. Or they have and they are so mesmerized, so in awe of your masterpiece. Hope springs within you.

And then an e-mail is delivered. Either it says “No, not interested” or “Thank you for sending ------- but we do not feel enthusiastic enough to represent your novel. Best wishes, etc.” Authors must bend over backwards to pique the interest of a literary agent or a publisher, but the professionals can get by with form rejections.

It’s tempting to throw in the towel, especially after you’ve received a couple hundred of these. But at this point, can you quit? Can you stop creating? This Magnificent Obsession has become so ingrained into who you are. You don’t know where it ends and you begin. If you quit now, you would be denying part of who you are.

So tomorrow, get up and try again. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Grave Discovery

Hey, all, I meant to write sooner about my upcoming published story, but have had limited access to the internet the last couple weeks. So, here are a few more details.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the story is called “A Grave Discovery,” and it will be available to read on New Zenith Magazine. New Zenith will release print editions of their magazine four times a year. I will let you know when it is live. 

“A Grave Discovery” is a small murder mystery based in 19th century England. And um, well, it’s inspired by an incident that occurred a few years ago.

I was up in northern Indiana, visiting my cousins for a few days. Since I had missed the funeral of their parents, one of my cousins took me to the graveyard where her parents were buried that way I could pay my respects. When we arrived, the graveyard’s gates were up, blocking all of the entrances. Police swarmed the area; German Shepherds were sniffing the ground. My cousin got out of the car to ask what was going on, only to learn that a woman had been murdered and dumped in the graveyard. We got out of there fast.

While the incident inspired the story, “A Grave Discovery” is 98% fictional. Hopefully it will be entertaining and enjoyable, and will be perhaps the first of many published fictional stories to come.

More later!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Never Give Up

I have sold my first fictional story! I’ve been published before, but those were autobiographical pieces. I generally write longer fictional pieces (novellas and novels) but have recently tried my hand at writing short fiction and this time I lucked out. New Zenith has bought my mini-murder mystery entitled, “A Grave Discovery.” It will debut in an upcoming issue of this new magazine!

It was inspired by an incident in my own life, which I will talk more about in the coming months. Don’t want to give too much away. I was trying something new and wrote it in a few settings. I ended up sending it to several different magazines and anthology publishers and had received a number of rejections. I figured it would be yet another story thrown on top of that stack of failed pieces. Then the editor of New Zenith contacted me, showing interest in it.

My point of this post – other than to begin promotion for “A Grave Discovery” and the magazine – is to say: never give up. Just when I had started to have my doubts on this story and my ambitions, it was picked up. You never know what is around the corner. 

So, please, check out New Zenith magazine

Thursday, June 30, 2016

A collage

My sister, Seanna  made this for me in honor of my Great Depression novel. The actress I am using as inspiration for my heroine is Holliday Grainger. She has been in a variety of period dramas, including the recent miniseries of "Bonnie and Clyde." This very English actress was able to don on a convincing Texas drawl! Anyway, my sister created this; it really ties into the themes of my book. Isn't it gorgeous?

Thanks, sis!

You really ought to check out my sister's blog! Not only is Seanna a genius at graphics, she is a fantastic author who writes contemporary and historical dramas!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Femnista Has Moved!

The magazine I write for, Femnista, has moved! You can read the articles at You now have the ability to search the website and read through the archive of old articles. Check it out.

If you are interested in reading any of my older pieces, click here.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Sin City (i.e. Terre Haute)

Sin City (i.e. Terre Haute)
Although my Great Depression novel primarily takes place in the Prairieton/Prairie Creek area, Terre Haute is featured in there quite a bit.

The city of Terre Haute has a colorful history. While it didn’t officially earn the nickname of Sin City until 1955, the city was well on its way to earning it by the 1920’s and 1930’s. While Indiana itself has always been part of the Bible Belt, my hometown has had its struggle with sin. 

A prime example was the Red Light District…the area in town where the prostitutes lived. Terre Haute can boast that it had its very own madam. Madam Brown (originally Edith Brown, a minister’s daughter) was well-known in Terre Haute; she ran an infamous house of ill repute; her girls dressed well, had all their shots and were the cleanest members of the Oldest Profession.

When Prohibition was established, like every other city in the nation during the 1920’s and early 1930’s, Terre Haute officially went “dry.” However, there are numerous tunnels beneath the town that were used to transport illegal liquor. The tunnels still exist to this day, although they are no longer in use. Folks may not have bought liquor from a store nor could they frequent a bar, but it was not uncommon for them to have their own still and to market their product themselves.

Terre Haute was a safe haven for some bank robbers and others involved in illegal activities. I’ve heard tales of them staying at the old Terre Haute House, partying hearty. One Hoosier bank robber that has become synonymous with Robin Hood, John Dillinger was no stranger to Terre Haute. He quipped that he would never rob a bank in Terre Haute, because he would risk being railroaded by a train. 

My grandparents used to talk of an African American man who was hung off the Wabash River Bridge. My aunt said she knew a man who bragged about having one of the man’s toes. Hoosiers are known for their tall tales, but after a little research, I learned that this story was true. In 1901, when teacher Ida Finklestein was murdered, George Ward was arrested and incarcerated. A lynch mob gathered, broke into the prison, beat him and hung him off the Wabash River Bridge. His body was later taken down and burned; spectators collected “mementoes” of his remains. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Femnista May/June 2016 Issue

This issue of Femnista features articles on how two different worlds collide and meld together. From The Help to Zootopia to Kate Middleton, learn how people from two different worlds encountered and learned from one another.

My article on Elizabeth Gaskell's "North and South," is included. Find out what happens when cultured Margaret Hale from southern England meets the hard-as-nails John Thornton from northern England.

You may read it here.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Home Away From Home

Yesterday my family and I gathered to celebrate my aunt's birthday down at the old house in the country. This house was the house my maternal grandfather and his family built in the 1920's/1930's. The story goes that they had bought fifty acres worth of land and the family of nine lived in there through out the Great Depression and into the 1950's. By then most of the children had moved out, married and started their own families.

Art tends to imitate life. The old house wound up in my Great Depression novel. My heroine lives there after she marries her husband. Many of my grandfather's tales of Prairieton and Prairie Creek are also featured in there. Hopefully my story has done the house and the past justice.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Write Process

A few weeks back I was asked what my writing process was. How I went about writing my novels. I became tongue-tied and couldn’t articulate a good response. Any other writers out there have that problem? Being able to write a decent piece of prose but sounding like a babbling idiot when you talk?

Every writer has a method to their madness. Some are seat of their pants writers. They sit down at the keyboard and just write whatever. I used to do that when I was younger… it was not an effective process for me. Plots would change on a whim, dialogue took forever and often sounded cheesy, and the lack of planning showed up in the story. The quality was poor. If I don’t have an idea of where I need to start or where I am going, then I had better stop before I get in too deep.

Finding a certain subject can be tricky. I’ve had my share of false starts. These are the stories that just fizzle out after the first few chapters and you know it’s better to forget about what you’ve written and start on something else. Usually my subjects of choice find me. For an example, my current WIP is set during the Great Depression in Indiana. It is probably no coincidence that I focused on Indiana so near its bicentennial. It must have been on my mind. Also, the past, history, my grandparents are often in my thoughts. My grandparents lived during the Great Depression, so it is only natural that at some point in my life I write about Hoosiers and my state. It was the Deep Calling Unto the Deep.

I usually write a detailed synopsis of an idea and then on notebook paper I write outlines of the scenes and dialog that will end up in the story. I put all of these notes on the computer and then go over them twenty or thirty times, trying to improve upon it. I separate the scenes into chapters and go from there. That’s when the real writing begins.
It takes me two or three months to write a very crappy first draft (and believe me, all first drafts are crappy). But then again, I’m a slow writer, averaging at 1000 to 1500 words (if I am very lucky) a day. My mind is only good enough to write twice a day, after lunch and in the evening. Otherwise my brain turns to mush.

If I can give any advice to any other writers out there, here it is: don’t write formula fiction. It’s a waste of time. I’ve tried it, just to get my foot in the door. Unless you have your heart is in your project, then there is no point. Better to write something you are truly passionate about than waste what talent you do have on subpar stories. Also, do not limit yourself to one story. I made the huge mistake of devoting myself to one novel for several years, and nothing came of it. Be sure to have a Plan B. And then a Plan C. And after that a Plan D. That is my two cents’ worth, take it for what it is. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Auschwitz Trip Reunion

A few weeks back, some of us who have accompanied Eva Mozes Kor and the CANDLES Museum to Poland had a little reunion. Eva and the museum has been making annual trips to Krakow and Auschwitz-Birkenau since the mid-2000s. So a hundred some men and women spent Saturday at the CANDLES Museum and the United Hebrew Congregation Synagogue. (There were other events that weekend, but I only took part in the gathering at the museum and the synagogue.)

I spent part of the morning touring the museum, observing their latest exhibits, which included a prisoner’s uniform from a concentration camp (may have very well been Auschwitz) and letters Dr. Joseph Mengele had written to his wife while he was working at Auschwitz.

The other part was spent talking with two Holocaust survivors, Agnes Schwartz and Ida Kersz. 

Agnes was from Hungary and was in hiding for the duration of the war, living as a Catholic. She has written a book entitled, “A Roll of the Dice: A Memoir of a Hungarian Survivor.” Ida lived in Poland and had been raised believing she was Catholic, and had some prejudices against Jews. She later learned that she was Jewish. Her essay was included in the book, “Out of Chaos: Hidden Children Remember the Holocaust,” by Elaine Saphier Fox. Both Agnes and Ida hope to return later this fall to the CANDLES Museum, to speak more on their experiences.

The third Holocaust survivor who attended the reunion, was Stan Kalmanovitz. As a young man, Stan was taken his home country of France and sent to Auschwitz. He joined the CANDLES Museum at the 70th anniversary of Auschwitz-Birkenau and has become very involved. Last, but not least, Eva Mozes Kor was there. The four were able to reminisce in a way that the rest of us could not comprehend.

Near noon, we headed over to the United Hebrew Congregation Synagogue. 

Having been in more than my share of churches, this was the first time I had ever been in a synagogue. We had lunch and then were free to explore the building. The sanctuary (forgive me if that is not the proper word) was like a work of art: stained glass windows, marble pillars, finely crafted wood. The room off the sanctuary was a library, devoted to hundreds of books on Jewish history, literature, fiction, etc. I was in my glory.

That day was a memory to last a lifetime. I hope that those of us who’ve been to Auschwitz continue to meet like this.

If you want to see more of my photos from that weekend, please look me up on facebook

Saturday, March 12, 2016

My Books

To organize this blog a little better, I have moved the promotion of my books to this page. So here they are, all of my little darlings. Hopefully there will be more to come!

"Precious, Precocious Moments," by Yvonne Lehmann. Features my story, "The Game." You may purchase it here.

"Love, Animals, and Miracles," by Dr. Bernie S. Siegel. Features my story, "Saving Grace." You may purchase it here.

"Surviving Mental Illness Through Humor," by Jessica Azar and Alyson Herzig. Features my story, "The Attack." You may purchase it here.

"Miracles & Moments of Grace," by Nancy B. Kennedy. Features my story, "A Shot in the Dark." You may purchase it here.

"I Believe in Healing," by Cecil Murphey and Twila Beck. Features my story, "The Healing Season." You may purchase it here.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Rest in Peace, Harper Lee

My favorite modern author, Harper Lee, died last Friday. She was the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning "To Kill a Mockingbird," and after fifty-five years of silence, she published her second novel "Go Set a Watchman."

Four years ago, in 2012, I began writing for Charity's Place's online magazine Femnista and my first article was on Harper Lee and her precocious character Scout Finch.

To re-read it, click here.

Rest in peace, Harper Lee. You are forever immortal in our hearts and memories.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Now What?

Okay, so, I’ve completed another draft on the Great Depression novel. It was a small one; just some minor suggestions that my sister gave me. This is quite possibly the longest thing I have ever written. Maybe too long… not quite sure about that. It’s not ready for an agent to look at. This WIP needs a few more drafts, at least. Polishing, mostly. Of course I’m at a loss as to what to do with it now. Fleshing out, character development, back stories, historical facts- that is never my problem. It’s cutting the unnecessary scenes and whatnot. I never know what is not needed.

Once upon a time, I belonged to a writer’s workshop…for senior citizens. I was an honorary senior citizen at twelve years old. It was a family affair, really. My aunt led the group and she invited me to join, then my grandmother started to attend. One time a cousin of ours visited. I think my Mom and sister sat in on one of the meetings. It was great; I learned a lot from the women and men there. Some of the stories they told inspired this novel (they were part of the Greatest Generation). Now, my sister and a friend of mine reads my various projects and they offer great critiques. For the most part I’m skittish about showing anyone my WIP’s. I worry that they’ll think I’m odd or strange or nuts for writing this or that. Or worse, they may not like it at all and like many writers, I take criticism personally.

But with the Great Depression story, I want to show my friends and family and get their feedback. Perhaps because many of them inspired this story too. They had a hand in it without knowing it. Still, it’s frightening to be so public about a project of mine, because there is always that underlying fear that the agents and/or the publishers won’t want it. Then I’ll be embarrassed for talking up this story.

Sometimes being a writer just plain sucks.

“I hate writing, I love having written.” Dorothy Parker. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Femnista: Classic Hollywood

The latest issue of Femnista has been released. This month's theme is Classic Hollywood.

In this issue: James Cagney, The Philadelphia Story, Audrey Hepburn, Sherlock Holmes, Mae West, Sorry Wrong Number, John Wayne & Maureen O’Hara, The Honeymooners, Judy Garland, East of Eden, Norma Shearer.

Yours truly contributed an article on the World's Greatest Entertainer, Judy Garland! Check it out!

Read it here.