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 »

 

What I Truly Wish for in the New Year

Had you asked me a year ago whether I’d expect a lot of surprises in 2017, I would’ve said no. However, last year brought a lot of change, some fun, some difficult and some shocking. Let’s do the fun part first. My new novel, Surviving the Fatherland, received several awards and became a #1 bestseller in the Amazon historical category. But it’s just a category, not the NY or USA Today bestseller list, you say. Correct, though this particular category is large and contains many famous writers. In any case, I was humbled to be in such company.

moving container with furniture

Our container before take-off in the U.S.

The difficult part was our move to Germany. After spending 30 years in the U.S., my American husband, daughter and I reduced the contents of a four-bedroom house to fit into a 20-foot container. This project lasted several months as we agonized over what to keep and what to give away. Luckily, we sold our house in a day. When the sale fell through because of financial issues of the buyer, we sold it again—in a day. Finally, at the end of August we took a one-way flight to my hometown, Solingen.

Woman and man in front of a wall smiling

Celebrating New Year’s Eve

The initial move-in, German bureaucracy and arranging technology was trying, but we managed to get settled into our new apartment without too much fuss. Then came the shock. In early November, my husband suffered a stroke. He was not a candidate but a fit, normal-weight man who loves riding bicycles in the mountains and has blood values, most people would kill for. With this new diagnosis, our well-laid plans evaporated. Within three weeks my 88-year old father also suffered a stroke and I moved into the twilight zone.

old dog lying on her bed

Mocha waiting for her man to return from the hospital

I realized I had been very lucky until now, our family mostly being spared serious illness. This new reality made me face our fragility as a couple and a family and pose the question, what would be next. It was uncomfortable to say the least. As I drove to the hospital every day, my moods swung between anger, sadness and worry.

I’m happy to report that as of the New Year, both men are doing quite well and are back on their feet, albeit with lingering numbness. We hope that the continued rehab will speed up their recoveries. For me, I’m grateful—grateful that the strokes weren’t worse. Grateful, I had friends and family close to support me. But I’m also hopeful that 2018 will offer a chance to settle into our new lives, but more importantly health and peace.

And that’s what I wish you, dear readers, for the New Year: health and peace and that you accomplish what you set out to do. Finally, I want to express a heartfelt thank you for reading my books and supporting me!

 

Holiday Season in Germany

***Extra…Extra***

Chill with a book award for Surviving the FatherlandSurviving the Fatherland just received the ‘Chill with a Book Award‘ which makes the fourth award since publication in March 2017. A huge thank you to my readers and reviewers!

Background information and purchasing links

Germany in December

One thing people who’ve traveled around Europe this time of year comment about are Christmas markets in Germany. I have to admit there’s something magical about the twinkle-lit booths, the festive smells of roasted almonds, bratwurst and Glühwein, the Christmas music and artisan offerings.

holiday mug and cookieEven I hadn’t realized that almost every town, small or large has one. Actually, large cities like Cologne host three distinct markets and expect six million visitors. Unlike the past 30 years when I watched the spectacle from afar with a slightly green tinge of envy on my cheeks, I’ll be right in the middle of things this year.

ice flowers on windowOne thing that is different this year is the gift giving or should I say the lack thereof. Since my husband suddenly became ill—he is a lot better now—my focus shifted. What does it matter how many gifts are under the tree? The presen(ts)ce of our loved ones, family and friends, is what counts. The time we share in meaningful conversation enriches our souls. I’m thankful for the gift of love and friends. I’m thankful for you, my lovely readers and fans who choose my stories, or even comment and share your own personal experience with me.

This year why not abstain from rushing around in the mall, spending hours online and draining wallets and accounts in the process. Why not try to relax and enjoy this time of year, create a personal holiday season, see the beauty in small things like a pretty candle or a piece of gingerbread. Do we really need another gadget or set of dishes? Do our kids really need ten different toys?

I’m ready to enjoy my newly regained German family and friends without all the fluff and wish you a peaceful and meaningful holiday season.

Painting by Sidney E. King (1906-2002): First Battle of Bull Run “Capture of Ricketts’ Battery”

NEW Release – New Civil War Novel Will Arrive Soon

I’m super excited about my upcoming new novel:

EVERYTHING WE LOSE

A Civil War Story of Hope, Courage and Redemption

A farm boy’s choice to protect his friend, a slave, from a brutal attack forces both on separate journeys: one escapes into war, the other is sold into slavery. Told from alternating viewpoints, one black and one white, Surviving the Fatherland author Annette Oppenlander delivers another stunning historical tale set against the epic backdrop of the American Civil War—a breathtaking examination of the power of hope and friendship, and the endurance of the human spirit to find a way home.

Estimated release date is February 2018. The cover reveal will follow soon.

Radio RSG Solingen Interview

I’d like to thank our local radio station, RSG Solingen, for inviting me to an interview which aired last Sunday, December 3rd. The interview was conducted in German by Clara Pieck.

Interview Part I – Returning Home

 

Interview Part II – Books and More

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