Sunday, November 25, 2007

What's Up

Been informed I've been too quiet lately--I'm just glad to have friends who check in on my every once in a while.
Without going into great detail, here's what's been going on (I'll do individual blogs for some of these items in the near future).
1. September went to Dallas and took second place for the Contemporary Romance category in the Genesis Contest at the annual ACFW conference.
2. October my middle daughter married her sweetheart--think purple and pretty and you've got the idea. Lovely wedding and we love the groom almost as much as the bride.

3. Also in October was robbed at gun point in my driveway in the middle of the afternoon. Still dealing with the aftermath but I'm okay--physically at least.
4. November received an author copy of my latest pubbed work--I'm May 15th in Tyndale's One Year Life Verse Devotional.
5. I learned I'm not "highly qualified" anymore because I don't have a Reading Endorsement on my teaching certificate so I get to take classes (2 of them) this spring.

6. My roommate at my classroom has been teaching me about grant writing--learning a lot there. Hope to get a SMARTboard for my classroom.
7. Recently finished two really great books I need to write up for review. Look for those posts in the very near future.
And between all that I continue to teach, test, write and sometimes even critique for my partners.
I'm whupped just reading that over--think I need a Sunday afternoon nap.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thank You, Vets

I know it's been a long time but thought today would be a great day to get back into the swing of things, blog-wise. And, since it is Veterans' Day, I want to take time to say thank you and express my appreciation for those who have stood in harms way for me. This includes my father (above left) and my grandfather (right) as well as my father-in-law (Battle of the Bulge), four of my uncles (two named Bob)and an aunt who were in WWII and one uncle who was stationed in Viet Nam. Of all of them, only my Uncle John of the Viet Nam era survives. That is why I am reprinting, with permission, Tricia Goyer's piece, Don't Let the Memories Die along with the pictures she has of WWII vets. I hope you will take the time to not only read this, but to then find a vet, say thank you and then listen before the stories are gone for good. It is part of our heritage, a part of our legacy, a part of who we are today.

And, to all vets and their families, I say thank you and abundant blessings!

Don't Let the Memories Die by Tricia Goyer

In 2000, I got my idea for what came to be my first historical novel, From Dust and Ashes. Wanting to know more about the 23 men who liberated Mauthausen concentration camp, I contacted the 11th Armored Division who put me in touch with six of the veterans. These men then invited me to attend the 59th reunion of their division. I wasn't expecting that at all. I thought they'd point me to a good research book or allow me to interview them over the phone.

I felt SO unworthy to meet with these men. I knew very little about WWII, and I didn't want my inexperience to show. Not to mention the $1000+ for airfare, hotels, rental car for a book I didn't have a contract to write.

I urged a friend to go with me, and I've been so thankful we went. The men were caring and opened their hearts to me. They shared stories with me that they hadn't shared with anyone before. They laughed. They cried. They took my hands and thanked me for caring about their story. They hugged me and kissed my cheeks.

When it came to writing my novel, I wasn't writing about fictional characters. I was writing pieces of Charlie's story, bits of Arthur's experiences. The memories that made LeRoy cry made it into my book. The snapshots that Tarmo carried around in his mind for 60 years transformed into scenes in my novel (and the novels to follow!).

I get many letters from readers who say that my novels come to life on the pages--that's because the men's experiences came to life to me as I looked into their eyes and saw glimpses of young heroes. Also, the following year I went to Europe and walked the streets of the SS housing with a man who'd been nine-years-old when the camp opened near his home. Again, I "saw" the story in his eyes as he shared--this time from someone on the outside.

There was an added benefit to this diligent research that I didn't expect. After my second novel Night Song came out I received a letter from a veteran. He made a list of twenty minor research points that I'd gotten right, and then he asked, "One thing I didn't understand was the faith element of this story. Can you tell me more about your faith in God?"


Because I had done the research, I'd was able to share about my Jesus with a veteran who has since passed away.

One more fun thing I didn't expect. One of the men I met at the reunion was Pete. Pete was a medic--the one medic I met. Years later I received a letter from a reader who had read From Dust and Ashes. She was a survivor of Mauthausen--actually, she was born there. When she was 3-weeks-old she was close to death. When the gates were open a medic spent a full day lancing and cleaning infected boils on her skin, saving her life. She asked me if I knew any medics. I knew one, and I passed on his phone number. It turns out Pete was the one who saved her life! They have since met on numerous occasions.

If I hadn't gone to that reunion I wouldn't have met Pete, and I wouldn't have been able to connect him with Hana--what a God thing!

Of course, I do have regrets concerning research, too. In my most recent series on the Spanish Civil War I received a letter from a SCW veteran who said he was willing to help me with research. The letter got put into my "very important" pile on my desk and weeks and months passed. I pulled it out again, and I planned on calling him when I heard from someone else that this man had passed away. That has happened more than once with men who offered to be interviewed, and I'm always regretful of the "one more story" I missed. After all, once gone they are gone for good.

If you have a veteran in your life ... today is the perfect day to reach out--to listen to his or her story. Don't let the stories die, when you have a chance to make a difference.

Below are photos of a few of the men I've interviewed.

To read some of their stories, go to:

To see more photos (including real photos from the liberation of Mauthausen) go to:

To watch my NEW video about my WWII Liberators Series, click here.