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 »


On the Path of History – Germany, Month Two

portrait of martin luther

Martin Luther in 1529

Well, my friends, it’s been a busy month. Aside from attempting to tame the German bureaucracy or what Germans call the ‘Amtsschimmel,’ I’ve been working hard on prepping for the publication of my Civil War novel. ‘Broken Journey: A Civil War Adventure’ is in editing which means I’m working on wording for the back cover and all online sales outlets. A first look at what that sounds like so far can be found on my upcoming novels page.

photo of old buildings in Germany

Bishop and St. Lullus in Bad Hersfeld, Germany

Of course, that isn’t all. Early in 2017 I began a story set during prohibition. I find this period of U.S. history absolutely fascinating. It is one of those examples of total governmental failure, opening the way to career criminals like Al Capone and George Remus. I decided I’d try a female protagonist this time and give the story a more romantic twist. Thus this is not going to be Young Adult, but historical fiction with a heavy dose of romance.

medieval tower in Rotenburg

Witches Tower in Rotenburg (Fulda)

On another front I’m attempting to settle into the German language and my role as a German-speaking and -writing author. Part of that process is to teach again. Just a few days ago, I was able to schedule new writing workshops with the local VHS, a learning community which one could best characterize as a blend of community college and Parks and Recreation program. I also scheduled my first reading—albeit in English—from my bestselling novel, Surviving the Fatherland.

medieval door

The door to the Witches Tower

I was also fortunate to visit the historic town of Bad Hersfeld and Rotenburg south of Kassel. Both towns have long histories, in fact, Bad Hersfeld dates back to the year 769 when Lullus, who later became a bishop and saint, reestablished an abbey here. On one of our wanderings to the remains of a nearby castle tower, we learned that Martin Luther passed by here in 1521 and held a service at the abbey. Martin Luther celebrates his 500-year anniversary this year because he published his 95 theses in 1517 and many credit him with ending the Middle Ages.

woman next to war memorial

WWII memorial about war children – in Rotenburg

Well, I could go on, but suffice it to say that I collected new ideas for future books. I’m even thinking about a series of non-fiction children’s books about important figures not often mentioned. For instance, Bad Hersfeld is home to two prominent men: Konrad Zuse who is credited worldwide with the invention of the computer and Konrad Duden, a man we can thank for unifying the German language and whose name permanently adorns German dictionaries.

Enough said. Now I must figure out a way to pack more hours into each day.



Moving to Germany: One Month Report

More than a month ago I set foot in my home country, Germany, in particular I returned to the town I grew up in: Solingen. I have since discovered that if you leave your home for 30 years, you don’t fit into Germany’s neatly organized bureaucracy any longer.

moving container with furniture

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

All Germans have to report to the city they intend to live in. The ‘Einwohnermeldeamt,’ a city’s reporting agency was one of the first places I visited because without an official address it is impossible to buy cellphone service or Internet or pretty much anything else. Thank the stricter terrorism laws for that. A visit that takes most Germans a few minutes turned into an hour. Apparently according to the official records, I had lived in Cologne (not the U.S.) for 30 years and had a secondary place of residence in Solingen. Neither were correct because paperwork had gotten lost in 1986 and it took the very helpful employee patience and expertise to set my records straight. With the new paper in hand, I was able to get a new cellphone. But Internet? Not so fast. Actually, most things aren’t so fast. Internet service requires about a three-week wait. Not convenient when you need to research everything that makes life easier online.

three people walking in the woods

Hiking the ‘Hilly Land’ near my home.

During the week I continued by applying for health insurance, trying to move some money from the U.S. to Germany to buy a car and getting electricity for our apartment. Americans are used to dealing with utility monopolies. Not so in Germany. You can choose between different power operators who channel electricity through the local network. As a result I found one that will save me more than $200/year over the established regional supplier. Not bad.

dog with german flags on her head

Mocha feeling patriotic.

Getting furniture is another issue. I’m used to walking into a store and buying what I like. I either take it with me or arrange delivery within a day. German furniture stores operate on a two-month ordering system. Because of the many choices, i.e. a bedframe is available in beech, oak, cherry, etc., the store shows samples only. Right now we’re waiting on a bed I ordered in July even before we arrived here. Our clothes are stacked in boxes and bags along the walls of our bedroom until the wardrobe and dresser arrive. German apartments and homes don’t have built-in closets and every German lugs around his/her own closets when moving. A decent quality wardrobe is a real investment, setting you back the cost of your next vacation.

Italian plum cake

My first plum cake baked in Germany.

On the upside, I’m enjoying breakfast in the company of a huge Nutella jar. It’s cheap and delicious, just like the selection of rolls and fresh breads from one of the dozens of bakeries in the area. Just this morning, I read that Germany produces more than 3,100 types of bread. I plan on trying as many as I can. Then there are the amazing cheeses from Austria, France, the Netherlands and Germany. A high quality Brie costs less than one Euro. Compare that with prices at my local Kroger store where a decent piece of cheese sets you back $7 plus.

We’ve already been in the woods a few times hunting mushrooms and hiking. Last week we spent three entire days exploring new forests. There also the very enjoyable visits with friends and family. This time, we can welcome them in our own home. We’ve attended several parties, eaten Italian, Greek and German food, tried a few new beers, and begun stocking our wine shelves. The only thing we’re still struggling with is the weather. It’s mostly cool and quite damp with many cloudy days.

In Other News

badge for kindle book review finalist

‘Surviving the Fatherland’ named Finalist in 2017 Kindle Book Awards

I’m excited to report that my novel, Surviving the Fatherland, is a finalist in the 2017 Kindle Book Awards. Winners will be announced in November.

New Editorial Review on ‘Reader Views’

Reader Views posted a new editorial review for ‘Surviving the Fatherland.’

Having read numerous books on Hitler, survivors and concentration camps, I must say “Surviving the Fatherland” by Annette Oppenlander is one of the most compelling books I have read…continued