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 »

 

Category Archives: Author events

After the “Lull”

escape from the past trilogy by annette oppenlanderSometimes after publishing a book, a certain inertia sets in, a kind of lull. Some authors don’t experience any pauses, others take months or even years until they return to writing. For me this ‘phase’ typically doesn’t last very long. Very soon, I’m antsy again and my brain searches for the next great story.

After publishing my seventh novel, and while I’m still researching my next project, I took advantage of the lull by deciding to repurchase the rights to my time-travel trilogy, Escape from the Past, from my U.K. publisher, Lodestone. Very soon I’ll share the new covers I’ve ordered. All three books will be republished as second editions.

Surviving the Fatherland Interview

Last month I had the honor of being interviewed about my award-winning true story, Surviving the Fatherland, on ManyBooks. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

a young couple standing in a field

Lilly and Günter, ca. 1949

What inspired you to write a coming-of-age love story set in WWII Germany?

Growing up, I always felt there were a lot of stories hidden in my family. I’d hear bits and pieces, brief references or watch my parents nod at each other in silent understanding. As my interest in history grew, my curiosity grew with it. So in 2002 I asked my parents to share their stories. I spent several weeks visiting them in Germany and recording their memories. I remember one afternoon we were in the basement while my mother ironed. I’d ask questions and she’d tell me about the way her mother treated her. I still have those tapes though it’s hard for me to hear my mother’s voice. She passed away in 2004.

My mother always insisted that my father was the better storyteller. And while I agree that his activities were quite adventurous, my mother’s quieter side offered a lot of depth. And so I think the two characters balance each other out nicely.

book cover of surviving the fatherland with awardsWe most often hear WWII stories from the allies’ side. Why did pick the “wrong side” of the war as the backdrop for your book?

Initially, I had planned to write short stories so my children could remember their grandparents. But then I realized there were few if any stories about Germany’s war children and the civilian side of WWII. Of course, we have excellent and moving stories about the Holocaust and the soldier’s war. There is no shortage of battle scenes. Yet, many battles were fought at home. They weren’t drawing as much attention, but they were just as heroic. I wanted to add complexity to the stereotypical portrayal of Germany during the Third Reich.

This photo shows my father, Guenter, around 1940.

Guenter ca. 1940

This book has received multiple awards. What has the experience been like?

Humbling. I’m super happy Surviving the Fatherland has been so well received. I just wish my mother could’ve been here to witness the wonderful response to her life story.

Read more on ManyBooks

 

Change is Good – Most of the Time

Well, I thought I’d work ahead with my newest manuscript and get it listed on my online platforms. I was still waiting for the editor to finish and sure enough, she didn’t like the title of the book. Yikes. So I hemmed and hawed whether to go against my editor’s comments—and my husband’s who also didn’t like the title—or to give in. Too schmaltzy they said, too soft and romantic.

book cover image of where the night never endsIn the end I agreed with them. It took some doing, having my cover designer change the art, switch out all references to the old title, and make changes to the online sales platforms. There is a saying in Germany: “Those who don’t have work, make some for themselves.” That was me.

It is really a drawback of the independent author to be in charge of all aspects of writing and marketing. While I sell only through national and international platforms—I don’t have time to package and ship books myself—there is still so much to do. And a new novel requires an extraordinary amount of preparation, often many months in advance. Publishers do this kind of work for the author, but they also leave the author with precious little royalty, often pennies per sale.

So, I am happy to announce the upcoming release of WHERE THE NIGHT NEVER ENDS. And I thank you, dear readers, for your continued support and your reviews. I look forward to hearing from you.

***Presale Only $0.99***

In case you wonder why you should spend $0.99 on an eBook, let me tell you a bit about the way this story was created.

How I found this Story

last call book coverIn early 2017, I spent time in Cincinnati in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. I walked the streets and took a neighborhood tour to get familiar with its unique history. Over-the-Rhine is the cradle of beer brewing in Cincinnati. A lot of old brick homes and the remnants of various brewing companies are still present. You can visit the skeletons of old breweries, their incredible cellars where humungous kegs were pushed along wooden tracks. People often got crushed when barrels broke loose. The neighborhood has maintained some of its old charm and you can imagine how it must have bustled with life a century ago when the beer brewing industry was at its height.

black duck bookRequired Reading

To get a feel for the prohibition era, I read a number of books, including novels and non-fiction. I read about Al Capone, wets and drys, George Remus, the King of Bootlegging in Cincinnati, speakeasies, corruption, brothels etc. I even listened to YouTube clip of Al Capone so I could hear his voice and describe it correctly.

mr. capone book coverDespite all the preparation and historical study, writing WHERE THE NIGHT NEVER ENDS was a struggle. Some books write themselves easier than others. They do truly write themselves. I just sit there and use my fingers on the keypad while my brain cells go up in smoke. Just kidding.

WHERE THE NIGHT NEVER ENDS was not an easy project. It did not write itself. It fought me. It bucked and bit. Many days I dragged myself to the desk just to produce a few sentences. I also made many changes, starting out with a younger protagonist. I added the second protagonist Paul later. I changed from close third-person point-of-view (POV) to first person POV.

So now, two years later, I am ready to publish my seventh novel. I hope you like it and I hope you’ll consider $0.99 a bargain.

***Presale Only $0.99***