How far would you go to find the woman you love? Teasers for Searching for Gertrude #historicalfiction #historicalromance #romance

I’m super excited to share the teasers for my upcoming novel, Searching for Gertrude, with you today. As the teasers have been officially ‘revealed’, I can FINALLY share them. I’ve also included an excerpt below. I hope it piques your interest.

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~ Blurb ~

While growing up in Germany in the 1930s, Rudolf falls in love with the girl next door, Gertrude. He doesn’t care what religion Gertrude practices but the Nazis do. When the first antisemitic laws are enacted by the Nazi government, Gertrude’s father loses his job at the local university. Unable to find employment in Germany, he accepts a position at Istanbul University and moves the family to Turkey. Rudolf, desperate to follow Gertrude, takes a position working at the consulate in Istanbul with the very government which caused her exile. With Rudolf finally living in the same city as Gertrude, their reunion should be inevitable, but he can’t find her. During his search for Gertrude, he stumbles upon Rosalyn, an American Jew working as a nanny in the city. Upon hearing his heartbreaking story, she immediately agrees to help him search for his lost love. Willing to do anything in their search for Gertrude, they agree to work for a British intelligence officer who promises his assistance, but his demands endanger Rudolf and Rosalyn. As the danger increases and the search for Gertrude stretches on, Rudolf and Rosalyn grow close, but Rudolf gave his heart away long ago.

How far would you go to find the woman you love?

Grab a copy!

Amazon ~ Smashwords ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Kobo ~ Goodreads

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~ Excerpt ~

Gertrude continued to cry and hiccup in his arms. With his right hand, he smoothed her blonde curls while shushing her and murmuring nonsensical words into her ear. When her breaths became less erratic, he loosened his arms from around her before grabbing her hand and tugging her towards her parents. Avi and Rosa Liebster stood at the top of the stairs leading into their townhouse and watched them approach.

Rudolf didn’t bother greeting them. “What’s going on?”

Avi Liebster turned sad eyes on him. “Rudolf, my son, we can’t stay. You know this. Deep in your heart, you know this.”

Words escaped him. He couldn’t lie to the man who he had always known would be his father-in-law. There wasn’t a moment of his life in which he didn’t know Gertrude would be his wife. Until now. Now, she was leaving. Without him. No, not without him. “I’ll come with you.” He turned to rush down the stairs intent on packing up his life. A hand on his shoulder stopped him.

“You know that’s not possible.” The hand on his shoulder squeezed before dropping away. “Stay. Get an education. Become the man you are meant to become. You and Gertrude have time. When the time is right, you can join us.”

“Gertrude can stay with my family until …” His words petered out. Avi shook his head. He tried to implore Rosa with his eyes, but she turned away. “We can get married. She’ll be safe with me.” His desperate plea was met with silence.

“Rudolf!” The sound of his father’s voice startled him.

“Go,” Avi whispered.

He turned to Gertrude. “I…” Words failed him. What could he possibly say to make things better? His eyes stung, and he took a deep breath before trying again. “I’ll come for you.” He leaned forward and brushed his lips against hers. “No matter what. I’ll find you, and we’ll be reunited.”

She flung herself at him, and he caught her in his arms. Sobs wracked her body with such force, he could barely hold on. He tightened his arms around her and leaned against the wrought iron handrail of the stairs to steady himself. He took a deep breath and brought her honeysuckle smell into his lungs.

“Rudolf.” His father’s voice came to him from one step below him. He turned to his father and watched as he nodded to the man standing behind him.

“It’s time,” Avi Liebster whispered the words before gently untangling his daughter from Rudolf’s arms. His arms felt empty as Gertrude was pulled from him. Would they ever feel anything but empty from this moment forward?

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~ About the Author ~

I grew-up reading everything I could get my grubby hands on, from my mom’s Harlequin romances, to Nancy Drew, to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although on the odd occasion I did manage to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But being a lawyer really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out being a B&B owner wasn’t my thing either. I polished off that manuscript languishing in the attic before following the husband to Istanbul where I decided to give the whole writer-thing a go. But ten years was too many to stay away from my adopted home. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book.

Searching for Gertrude is my twelfth book.

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Craziest things first-time authors have said to me & how I wish I responded #WriterWednesday #AmWriting #BookMarketing

Pay-it-Forward-DayI didn’t have a single clue what I was doing when I started self-publishing. I literally pushed publish and thought I’d start selling novels. *Rolls eyes* I’ve learned a lot since then. Although I’ve learned a lot from trial and error, I’ve also learned loads from other writers and bloggers. I’m unbelievably thankful to those who have given me a helpful hand. I’m a firm believer in the ‘pay it forward’ concept and as such I started my Readsalot blog to promote other authors in any way I can.

smiley-zipping-mouthAs anyone who has a book blog can tell you, you sometimes ‘hear’ the strangest things. I’m not talking about bullying. I’m referring to those comments that are so out of touch with reality that you can’t help but sit at your computer with your mouth hanging open wondering if aliens have invaded. Although anyone who has met me in person knows I have a BIG MOUTH, online I try to remain professional. So, instead of screaming ‘What planet are you living on?’ at these out of the world comments, I try to provide a rational response.

I can no longer keep my mouth shut, however, and here are the responses I really wanted to make to those outrageous comments:

But if I don’t price my book for $14.99, it won’t make any money. There are just so many things wrong with this statement that I don’t know where to begin. Actually, I do. Are you out of your freaking mind? Have you looked at the average price of ebooks? Dan Brown’s last novel debuted at $15! If you are writing to make money, you’re going to be disappointed. The vast majority of self-published authors do not make enough money to live on. And those who do often have different streams of income (blog advertising, courses, etc.). (Note: This comment does not apply to non-fiction, which is an entirely different kettle of fish.)

delete-button-fBut you’ll love my book! I used to take the time and energy to respond to authors with specific reasons why I didn’t want to read their book. No one appreciated my efforts. In fact, many wrote back to say, ‘but you’ll love my book!’ Seriously? Who the hell do you think you are? You can’t even write an email without a ton of typos and grammatical errors! Sure, I’ll read your book and give you a big fat 1 star. Is that what you want? I’ve learned to delete these emails. I also now use the standard ‘I’m not interested in reviewing your book at this time’ spiel.

I’ve always had this email address! I also used to waste time and energy commenting on errors in emails I’d receive from first-time authors requesting a review – not addressed to me personally, contained links instead of blurb, full of typos, etc. I thought I was being helpful, but apparently that’s not how the authors took it. I stopped wasting my time when I informed an author that she should think about having an email address dedicated to her writing instead of the cutesy email address for her and her husband. Her belligerent response was the last straw. Now, I just delete any review requests not directed to me personally and those containing more than a few typos (we can all make a mistake or two).

<Insert political rant here> I actually saw a twitter profile today that stated if you are a democrat or liberal, get off my page! Um, what? I won’t get into how nasty that is and how we should all be open to the opinions of others. What I will say is this: being an indie author is a business, you are an entrepreneur as well as an author, and businesses should be politically neutral. You are entitled to have your opinions. Of course, you are! Unless you’re writing non-fiction political essays, etc., however, you should keep your opinions to yourself. Note: This comment does not apply to racism, sexism, etc. Those are not political statements, but violations of basic human rights.

There are tons more strange comments I’ve received but these are the ones that got my goat today. Please, I need my goat back. Thank you.

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Why I chose Istanbul as the setting for Searching for Gertrude #MondayBlogs #AmWriting #HistoricalFiction #History

Readers often comment that my ‘glamorous life’ must give me lots of story ideas. My first response to those comments is to snort. My life? Glamorous? Um, no, not even close. Just because I’ve lived in several countries and had more than one career change doesn’t mean my life is glamorous. In fact, it often feels just plain exhausting when you’re living in a country where you don’t speak the language, it’s late, it’s dark, you’re alone in a cab, and you can’t communicate with your cab driver.

While living in Istanbul, I received tons of thinly veiled suggestions that I must be writing a novel set in Istanbul as it’s so exotic and I’m actually living there. Yeah, no, that’s not how it works. I usually just let story ideas come to me. I don’t know how – they just come to me. But these comments were driving me nuts! Was there something wrong with me that I didn’t write stories set in locations I’d lived in? Maybe I should? I spent more hours than I care to admit trying to think of a story set in Istanbul. What did I come up with? A bit fat nothing.

casablancaBut then I heard something about Istanbul being to WWII what Casablanca was to WWI – a hotbed of espionage. Turkey declared itself neutral at the start of the Second World War. This neutrality, combined with its location at the intersection of Europe, the Soviet Union, and the Middle East, made Turkey – Istanbul especially – an ideal location for espionage activity. One American official in fact claimed that you couldn’t throw a stone out of hotel window without hitting a spy.

I now had a backdrop for my story, but I still didn’t have a story. I knew I wanted to write a novel with espionage and intrigue wrapped up in a foreign locale. I vaguely thought I’d want to add some type of romance as well. I came up with the following prologue:

My first love was my next-door neighbor, Gertrude. Unlike other first loves, which fade into bittersweet memory, my first love made me into the man I am today. My name is Rudolf, and this is my love story.

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I don’t have time for love or romantic antics. I’m out to stop the most vile person in the history of mankind or die trying. My name is Rosalyn, and this is the rest of the story.

That’s all I had, though. So, I stalled. I put the novel on the back burner and wrote another cozy mystery and romantic comedy – all while this idea percolated in the back of my mind. In the meantime, I left Istanbul and moved to The Hague.

midnight at peraThen, fate stuck her nose in. I was browsing the shelves of used books at my local English language bookshop and ran across Midnight at the Pera Palace by Charles King. This was definitely a sign from the universe that it was time to stop procrastinating. I threw the book in my bag more determined than ever I was finally going to find my story idea.

While working on other projects, I slowly picked my way through Midnight at the Pera Palace. When I stumbled upon a vague reference to a large group of German Jewish professors who were fired from their positions during the Nazi period and went to work at Istanbul University, I knew I’d finally found the starting point of my novel.

Curious? Here’s the blurb for Searching for Gertrude, which releases on January 22nd:

While growing up in Germany in the 1930s, Rudolf falls in love with the girl next door, Gertrude. He doesn’t care what religion Gertrude practices but the Nazis do. When the first antisemitic laws are enacted by the Nazi government, Gertrude’s father loses his job at the local university. Unable to find employment in Germany, he accepts a position at Istanbul University and moves the family to Turkey. Rudolf, desperate to follow Gertrude, takes a position working at the consulate in Istanbul with the very government which caused her exile. With Rudolf finally living in the same city as Gertrude, their reunion should be inevitable, but he can’t find her. During his search for Gertrude, he stumbles upon Rosalyn, an American Jew working as a nanny in the city. Upon hearing his heartbreaking story, she immediately agrees to help him search for his lost love. Willing to do anything in their search for Gertrude, they agree to work for a British intelligence officer who promises his assistance, but his demands endanger Rudolf and Rosalyn. As the danger increases and the search for Gertrude stretches on, Rudolf and Rosalyn grow close, but Rudolf gave his heart away long ago.  

How far would you go to find the woman you love?

Intrigued? Join my newsletter to receive the first fifteen chapters of the novel for free! I’ll be sending the excerpt out Wednesday.

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This blog is the second in a series of blogs I’m writing about the research I’ve done for my upcoming novel, Searching for Gertrude.

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Things I learned in 2017 #NewYear #AmWriting #AuthorMarketing

Every year on New Year’s Day, I’m shocked that a new year has arrived. It’s always a surprise that I’ve somehow managed to pull myself through another year relatively unscathed. I’m one of those middle-aged people who sometimes still begin writing the year with 19, even though we’re now in our 19th year of the new century. I like to blame my faux pas on no longer working in an office where I have to write and/or sign the date on documents every day. I can find an excuse for anything!

I’ve already written about my New Year’s Resolutions. In that post, I indicated I wasn’t going to do a review of how successful I was in following my resolutions last year. Spoiler alert: They did not go well. But 2017 wasn’t all bad. I did learn some things. I thought it might be nice to list those things. So, here we go:

wordpress logoIf done right, blogging is a ton of work. I now average 2-3 blog posts a week. Sure, that’s a lot of figuring out what to write and actually writing it, but it’s more than that. Blogging alone won’t get you anywhere. In order to build that author platform, you need to follow other blogs, read those blogs on at least a semi-regular basis, comment and like them, and share them on social media. Wow! I’m tired just typing that up. The WordPress app has been a lifesaver to me with this.

instagram logoInstagram is actually kind of fun. I held off joining Instagram as I didn’t want to have yet another social media platform to maintain. I’m not sure why I finally took the leap, but I’m glad I did. It’s actually a fun app, and it’s not that hard to maintain. I try to post one picture a day. Additionally, I go on the app three times a day for five minutes to scroll through the posts of those I follow and like and comment. C’est tout!

writing-is-not-my-hobbyNo one will take you seriously, if you don’t take yourself seriously. This has been a big lesson for me this year. I accepted a position as vice-president of a volunteer organization. Although it’s a volunteer position, everyone in the organization, including the other board members, expected me to be available all the time because ‘I can write whenever’ or ‘Writing is just my hobby.’ Um, what? I’ve had to ‘own’ being a writer. This has caused me quite a bit of anxiety. For some reason, I didn’t have a problem proclaiming myself a lawyer before the ink on my law degree dried, but calling myself a writer is still difficult even though I now have published twelve books.

Time management is an essential skill. I’ve always thought I was great at organization and time management. But that was before I was trying to balance the different jobs of being a writer, being a board member, and running a business. I never realized balancing a gazillion tasks at one job was a different skill set than balancing different jobs. Now I know. Boy, do I know.

Author marketing is constantly changing. One of the difficult aspects of being an indie author is handling all the marketing yourself. This is made even more difficult by the fact that marketing strategies that worked last year no longer work this year. In addition to performing marketing tasks such as drafting ads and filling out a gazillion online forms, authors need to continually research marketing strategies as they are ever-changing. Talk about annoying.

What did you learn this year? Feel free to share in the comments.

New Year, Not New Me ~ New Year’s Resolutions I hope I can manage to keep #NewYearsResolutions #2018

I was all set to write a wrap-up of 2017, but as a drafted the blog in my head while walking my dog, I realized the entire blog I was preparing was basically a big whiny whine. There was so much whining I had to use the word twice. So, I’m calling 2017 a scratch and moving on.

I’d like to say I’m going to kick 2018 in the a$$, but I already know that the first few months of the year are full of commitments I’m not excited about but feel obligated to perform anyway. (I’m being vague in a huge effort to not whine about those commitments. Is it working?) This year’s new year resolutions are, therefore, less vaulty goals like losing that 15 kilos I really NEED to lose and more about handling the busy, chaotic life I currently find myself embroiled in.

So, without further whining ado, here are my goals for 2018:

Overflowing-BookcasesSpend one hour per day on my TBR. Instead of making lofty goals like ‘I’ll keep up with my TBR’, which everyone knows won’t happen, I’m committing to something I can manage – 60 minutes per day working on my TBR. I’m going to set a timer and everything. By TBR, I mean those books I’ve committed to not only read but also review. I usually read an hour or two per day for relaxation, but reading books I’ve committed to review feels more like work than like relaxation – resulting in me skipping right over the ‘review’ category on my kindle and straight to guilty reads.

new year resolutions 2018.2Run the CPC Loop Den Haag. For once I’m not committing to working out more or healthy eating. Nope. I’ve just registered for a 10-km run here in town. In addition to playing tennis twice a week, I’ll run twice a week because otherwise I’ll make a darn fool out of myself at this run. I’m hoping my pride will be enough to get me out the door to run when I’m crazy busy.

Learn how to manage my time better. I can’t make any resolutions about doing less because I’m already committed up to my eyeballs. Instead, I need to learn some time management tools to ensure I not only honor my commitments but do so without stress eating and dropping exercise everytime I’m stressed out, which means I would never run at all and be as big as a house before summer hits. I’m not sure how I’m going to accomplish this, but hope springs eternal and all that.

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When are you done editing? #WriterWednesday #AmWriting

Let’s face it – as writers we will never be fully satisfied with a manuscript. It just isn’t in our blood. We want to review each phrase, sentence, and paragraph to ensure every single word is a perfect match for what we are trying to express. At some point, however, we need to stop editing and re-editing and publish our work. If you’re a self-published author, it can be difficult to know exactly when you are ready to publish that book. There are only self-imposed deadlines with which to contend after all. So, how do you know when you are done with editing (and ready to publish your book)?

Although my husband would vehemently disagree, I’m not a perfectionist. I know I’m only human and my novel will always have errors. I’m not perfect, so why should my books be? BUT I want each of my novels to be as close to perfect as possible. But like all authors, I sometimes have a ‘difficult’ time stopping editing and polishing off my manuscript for publishing. I’ve come up with some tips and tricks that will help you figure out when you should stop dawdling and push publish already!

First of all, here’s how you know it’s NOT time to publish. If you’ve printed out the manuscript and your notes look like this:

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You Are Not Ready To Publish!

Tips to know when you are done editing:

  • When you’ve whittled your ‘crutch’ words down to less than 25 occurrences per word in a 200-page manuscript, you’re getting close to being ready to publish;

 

  • If you’ve run out of the mountain of chocolate, snacks, wine, and beer you stocked the house with to survive your editing binge, you’re definitely getting close to finishing;

 

  • When Microsoft spellcheck says you have no errors in your document, you’re probably ready (it’s expected that you shout for joy when that complete box pops up);

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  • If you’ve printed out the manuscript (and you should!) and your only make one or two improvements per page (not corrections!), you’re nearly ready;

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  • If you are reciting the words from memory while editing instead of actually reading them, you’re pretty much ready;

 

  • If your husband is starting to think you’re turning into a vampire due to your pale skin as you haven’t seen the light of day in a very long time, you are really, really close to being ready;

 

  • If the thought of reading your novel one more time makes you want to puke, you’re as ready as you’re ever going to be. Might as well publish that baby and find out how exposing your work to the world can really make you puke.

 

Anti-Semitism or antisemitism? Which one is correct? And does it matter anyway? #MondayBlogs #HistoricalFiction #JewishHistory

There are often two ways to spell a word: enquire or inquire, for example. Usually, the choice of which spelling to use is based on dialect. Enquire is more used in British English, while inquire is commonly used in American English. But can different spellings have different meanings? And cause negative feelings – even racism?

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Searching for Gertrude is a historical fiction novel which takes place in Istanbul during the Second World War. The hero, Rudolf, who happens to work at the German Consulate, is searching for the love of his life who is a Jewish woman. Naturally, antisemitism plays a large role in the novel. When I started writing my manuscript, I didn’t pay much attention to how to spell antisemitism. I just followed Microsoft Word’s advice, which is to spell the word as anti-Semitism. During the hours and hours of research into the historical background of my novel, I stumbled upon several articles regarding how to properly spell the term. Apparently, it’s a controversial issue.

IHRAThe International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance is a firm believer in using the term ‘antisemitism’ as opposed to ‘anti-Semitism’. (The entire memo from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance regarding the spelling of antisemitism can be read here.) Here is their reasoning:

The word ‘Semitic’ refers to a family of languages originating in the Middle East. Following this definition, the term anti-Semitic would seem to refer to prejudice against all people who speak Semitic languages or to those classified as ‘Semites’. However, since its inception, the term has only referred to prejudice against Jews. German journalist coined the phrase ‘antisemitism’ in 1879 to designate anti-Jewish campaigns. The term ‘Semite’ was used in the mid-nineteenth century to classify humans based on racialist pseudo-science.

The unhyphenated spelling is favored in order to dispel the idea that there is an entity ‘Semitism’ which ‘anti-Semitism’ opposes. When the term is not hyphenated (antisemitism), the meaning is clear: a generic term for modern Jew-hatred.

After I read the above, I couldn’t help but rush back to my manuscript and change every anti-Semitism into antisemitism. So, yeah, the spelling of words matters.

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This blog is the first in a series of blogs I’ll be writing about the research I’ve done for my upcoming novel, Searching for Gertrude.

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