Yes, the time has finally come.
I finished my fifth book, Postwar Drifter, a few days ago.
Well, that’s not exactly correct as I wrote the final chapter several weeks ago, but after reading and rereading it seemed that the flow in the last three chapters needed some adjustments. This turned out to be a very time consuming undertaking. Once you start correcting yourself there is no end to the changes you want to make. I will never, ever do that again. Rewriting I mean.
Last week I received the last chapters back from my new editor, Melodine Reese, and I dumped the whole load on my trusted VA, Christina Haas, to read the story and create the cover art. True to form she came through not only with an excellent cover but also in record time. (She knew I was more than late) And then she really stepped on it. She wrote the foreword, the blurb, the historical note and did the keyword search which is important and which I still don’t understand. Then she put in a night shift to format the book and submit it to Amazon.
Thanks Chris! Without your unrelenting effort it would still be nothing but a manuscript.
But now it’s finally published.
The book is about the life of Harold under the tutelage of the Russian Commissar Godunov. Due to his very unusual life I decided to write several books about him and his covert activities during the cold war and beyond. I have to give Christina Haas credit for suggesting the name of the series: “The Kellner Chronicles”. You might remember that Harold’s last name was “Kellner”.
Since I had many readers asking me to also write more about Karl’s life I started in the mean time to write a book about his years after the war.
However, right now I bake myself a cake, or maybe cook some noodles with milk and then cover it with several layers of sugar. As soon as the first layer melts you have to add another layer of sugar until it doesn’t melt anymore. This way you can hear it crunch when you eat it.
I know, I know, I heard all the comments how the sugar is supposed to be bad for your health. Well maybe, for somebody.
However, I am now close to 86, enjoy the same weight, 140 pounds, as 50 years ago and always enjoy potatoes and sweets. That’s just the way I roll.
I have just finished “Postwar Drifter” awesome ! I give it ten stars,Amazon only lets me give five ! As usual ,I can not put down ,so I read to fast ! I will be waiting ! Have a great summer .Thank you for sharing your experiences with us .
Thank you for your enthusiastic comment. You are the first to leave me a message in regard to this book and I really appreciate your support.
Wishing you a great summer too. Have fun.
Thanks once more and best regards,
Before I begin this, I need to reread the others!
Do you have any idea how many books will be in the Kellner Chronicles?
And, will your story be multiples, or do you think it will be all in one book?
Thank you! And I am glad to see the stories continued beyond the war.
I figure that there will be at least 5 books in the Kellner Chronicles.
Harold was involved in so many different activities, serving in the translator team of Stalin and Khrushchev, carrying documents around the eastern block and sometimes for the Swiss into the West, tracking down his mother’s killers, setting up businesses and shell companies for himself, getting married, (this could easily turn into a real romance story) setting up a children orphanage, (he had no children of his own) pursuing Godunov’s assassins,….. coming to think of it it will probably more than 5 books.
I am planning to alternate in writing his story and the story about Karl.
I just finished chapter four of Karl’s continued story. However Karl’s story will probably end with his culture shock when he entered the USA. Probably not more than three (3) books total.
No Judi, I don’t see how I could fit all this into a single book.
Thanks for your continued interest, Judi, Please keep in touch,
Wow, I knew you had said Harold had a very interesting life. I do think I will wait, though. I think I will get the books when you’ve neared the finish. If I get books before all editions are out, I end up having to reread them all because of my poor memory! I shouldn’t complain too much. With all my health problems and treatments, it is a wonder I remember anything! Karl’s culture shock will be quite interesting to read, but you might want to consider also writing about how you viewed your new country after the shock wore off, direction of your life, work choices, meeting your wife, etc. and any insights or comparisons on how different it could/would have been in your homeland.
You once mentioned that you wondered why people bought old furniture when such nice, new furniture was available; I’ll just say that I prefer old. It was made at a time when people took pride in what they did, something that’s lost to the new generations! I also prefer very old sewing machines because they’ve lasted for a century while new ones barely last to the very short warranty date!
I’ll look forward to your new publications. Thank you. Take care!
Thanks for your suggestions which I intent to follow.
As far as “old furniture” ….. I received similar answers …… I agree with you in regard to the quality, especially the sewing machines.
I think a lot of my culture shock was caused by the relentlessness press which touted that everything in the US was brand new and better than yesterday.
(and then I saw in NY in the window of a prominent store an old spinning wheel, with an unbelievable price tag) We used the old spinning wheels for kindling, they made nice fire starters. . After all, nobody would use them anymore for spinning.
Comments like yours make me aware that I will need to write a huge “foreword” to my “culture shock book.” Otherwise I am bound to lose some of my readers.
However, I think that it will not only be interesting reading, but it will also shed some light on the naive mindset of people entering this great country.
Thanks, Judi, for your continued interest,
I’m not sure you will lose your readers! From the comments I’ve read, I can see people are hooked! So much of this info is spellbinding, terrifying, eye-opening, and I pray that if enough read it with open hearts and minds, similar happenings just might be avoided! That is my heartfelt prayer! The info you are sharing is eye opening! We know people from other countries that have totally different ideas, but we have friends that assimilated so very much they would defend their new home more strongly than if they were born here! One Iranian friend will not allow others from his birth land to berate this nation – and his wife has become accustomed to his interrupting their conversation in attempts to set them straight (total strangers at a different table!) There is much to learn from stories like yours, and like his. I love our country and am glad people like you have been able to make it home, love your new country, make new lives for yourself and your family. It is important that these stories get told!
And – spinning wheels as kindling?!? 🙂 I know. I’d hate to know how many very nice antiques spent their last moments in a fire when folks found it necessary. I’ve seen drawer fronts patching a barn stall. Most spinning wheels might have never been used again, but I’ve seen them on country porches by the rocking chair, and some people learn how and do use them. Some are learning the ways of old so they can be self sufficient and never be dependent on a government that can turn against its population, or even just a part of it! If I were younger, I would want to learn how to spin wool. There are generations that couldn’t survive a collapse. Your generation and possibly some of mine were probably the last that could survive by their own wits.
I often check on the progress of your books. Thank you for writing them.
There is very little that I am able to add to your comments, except maybe, to tell you how great it feels when I read that I am connecting with my readers.
Thank you very much for your enthusiastic support and encouragement, Judi. It is very much appreciated.
Wishing you all the best,
“However Karl’s story will probably end with his culture shock when he entered the USA.”
Before I graduated at Portland State, one of my professors was Dr. Friedrich Schuler. He grew up in East Germany, and came to the US to gain his Ph.D. (and then stayed). During class he would tell us stories about his “American firsts.” Obviously they always tied into the lesson, but they were always a good reminder of how your own cultural assumptions can lead you astray.
Sometimes the firsts were pretty obvious, like his first Chicago-style pizza (he attend University of Chicago), and some were things that a young American would never think of, like large sized beds that don’t have a hard divider down the middle because it’s a single mattress, not two pushed together.
You are right on the two beds pushed together. We didn’t know about queen or double beds.
It was a nice surprise and I really love the California King sized mattress.
Thanks for your comments.
I purchased your book and came across this, curiosity got the better of me so here I am. I’m looking forward to reading your books especially since they’re from a different perspective on WWII! I’m so happy that I came across your blog post and I wish to follow up on your life and people you have written about. Thank you!
Thank you for taking the time to post your kind comment.
I am happy that you like my stories and will try my best not to disappoint you with my future books.
Take good care,
I’ve just finished your fourth book, “Partners to a Degree”. I have loved every one of your books and can’t wait to start “Postwar Drifter”. My mother was born in 1930 so I have felt a connection to some of the characters. I just have to say YOU AMAZE ME! Thank you for everything you’ve shared.
Thank you very much for taking the time to leave a comment.
It is very encouraging to read that you liked my first books sufficiently to continue reading about Harold.
My book about Karl’s years after the war is now also almost finished and since your mother was born in 1930 she might remember
some of the things I am writing about.
Wishing you the very best,
I think these books would make a great series of movies. I was enthralled and stayed up past my bedtime many nights. Please keep writing, and find out how to promote them as movie plots!
Thank you very much for your encouragement to keep on writing.
As to your suggestion of promoting my books toward a movie …… well, that’s a bit more difficult.
But, in the meantime I do as much promotion as I am capable ……. you never know, I might get lucky.
Thank you Nancy, for taking the time to leave me your kind note.
Take good care,
I just wanted to thank you for your books. I got “Children to a Degree” from Barnes & Noble, where they’re running it free as a promotion, and then bought the next three for my nook as a set. I’m looking forward to this one.
My father is from Germany, born in 1938, as is my stepmother. This gave me a great deal of insight into their lives, a part where they’re just a little too young to remember and explain fully.
I look forward to more about Karl – I wonder if his introduction to American root beer will be as traumatic as my fathers? (He initially lived in a dry county in Texas, and unthinkingly ordered a beer with his lunch. He never quite recovered from getting a dark, sweet drink with a straw and ice.)
Happy New year to you, and thank you for your interest in my books.
Well, no, my introduction to root beer was not as traumatic as your father experienced.
However the taste is something I am still not used too.
But, this does not mean anything, because I don’t like regular beer either.
I still remember my first beer, I was terrible then, and it still is today. Nothing changed.
It is not only the taste, but also the smell.
As far as taste surprises in the USA . . . well, you can chase me with Pumpkin Pie.
By the way, your first name brings back many memories. It was a very popular name in Germany and,
I wonder if your father called you “Uschi”? Hmm, this is the German spelling. So, “Uschee” in English.
Take good care Ursula, and, thanks again for your kind comments.
All the best,
I’ve reached the end of “Partners to a Degree,” and I must say that I’m quite frustrated with Karl’s father.
Karl just pulled off not one, but three, genuine Daring Rescues. First, his father from transport to Siberia, then both of them from Soviet captivity, and finally to reunite the entire family.
And the father’s response? “Great, you’ve got two weeks, then you’d better find an apprenticeship, or else you’re a slacker for life.”
Despite Karl’s education being disrupted for years, having no access to his educational records, being in a new state and city with no contacts, and having had no opportunity to make any connections in the local trades, Karl is a slacker if he can’t pick up as if there had been no war.
In addition, no one sees that Karl has a needed and valuable skill set – all those orphan kids, whom Karl’s father said nothing could be done for? Karl has already helped such children, and would easily be able to apply those skills working for occupation forces to organize social services for orphaned and lost children.
I do hope that Karl’s family eventually came to appreciate that he was the family’s hero, doing the impossible to get them reunited and safe.
Thank you for your continued interest in my books
You are not alone with your frustration about Karl’s father. I felt it too.
But, on the other hand, I did understood my father. He, and I, were the product of a strict Prussian officer family. He could simply not allow his son to use the ‘excuse of a lost war’ to develop unproductive habits. He not only “expected” me to grow up and follow “traditions”, . . . . No, he “demanded” it.
Ursula, it is very difficult to write a balanced account about these forgotten times, and traditions, without triggering an emotional response from today’s readers.
To simply write: It was different then . . .” is not enough.
I feel that I have to write, as I was experiencing these times. Constantly questioning the overwhelming flood of changes and new social values.
Sometimes, when I discuss these changes, with social groups, I truly feel tired, of evaluating, for myself, what’ was right or wrong.
And, sometimes, when I am tempted like screaming: “You don’t understand . . . . ,
I feel a small voice asking me: “Maybe it’s you, Horst, who does not understand?
However, when I sit down to write about it, then, well, then I write it the way it was, and, the result is the book you are reading.
And, yes, my parents did rewarded me, by installing in me values, which will never change.
Thanks, again, Ursula for your pertinent comments. Believe me, they are very much appreciated.
Take good care,
Hello again, Horst.
I must say, I can’t see why your father thought you had unproductive habits. You were clearly working very, very hard, to survive, to care for children, to reunite your family, to get everyone the resources they needed to live. (And, quite literally, “bring home the bacon.”) But, perhaps, a different type of work than he was used to, as you were working for yourself and your family, rather than an employer, and had to rely on using your wits rather than strictly following rules.
I just read the bit of “Postwar Survivor” where you worked out the soap/eggs/cigarettes trade, and I suspect that if he’d kept you as a partner, your father’s new business would have been far more successful than with him running it on his own, when he’d not even figured out the trade value of cigarettes! So, perhaps, a bit of jealously, that you could provide better than he could, and were better at adapting to the changing world.
My father and stepmother are some years younger than you, and having heard their stories of post-war hunger and hardship, I wish that they’d had an older sibling and protector as resourceful as you in those hard times. Your siblings were fortunate, when you were there to help.
And yes, I was nicknamed “Uschi” growing up. It was actually a double nickname. As you describe, a German nickname from my given name. But also, my mother is from India, and my parents chose “Ursula” not just as a family name from my father’s side, but also because “Usha” is a reasonably common name for girls in the part of India my mother is from, and “Ushi” is a nickname for “Usha.” Same pronunciation, so one name that honors two very different parts of my background.
I’m looking forward to reading the rest of “Postwar Survivor” and to the ongoing adventures of both Karl and Harold.
Thank you for reading my latest book.
Your comments are well taken. There were many times, well actually nights, when I turned and tossed, trying to understand my father, or at least figuring out where I went wrong.
Sure, later on, it fell all in place, as I explained in my previous answer to you, and as I do near the end in the book “Postwar Survivor”. I know that the phrase “I guess you had to be there” would maybe fit the past, but, Ursula, it was more than that. All our “role models” where either dead, or whatever they did, to become role models, was all of the sudden without value. There were many occasions when even my mentors could not answer my questions.
On a different note: Based upon your comments, and the many questions I received, I know that it will be extremely difficult to write about Karl’s culture shock, and to explain it, when he entered the USA. But, I will try.
Thanks, Ursula, for explaining your double nickname. I didn’t know about the connection to India. Very interesting.
Take good care, Uschi, I sincerely appreciate your comments.
All the best,
I Just finished “Postwar Drifter” and loved it as much as your previous four books. I cant wait to continue to read and learn about both Karl’s and Harold’s lives.
Thank you for kind commenting about my latest book.
I was working to have my follow up book about Karl published by Christmas.
However,somehow I got sidetracked by searching for some lost notes from Harold, and when I finally found them, I wrote the outline for my next book about Harold instead of finishing the book about Karl in a timely manner. In any event, Karl’s book is now with the editor and I hope to have it published during the next month. In the meantime, I am in the middle of the next book about Harold. I hope you will like it as much as my previous books.
All the best,
I have enjoyed your books and look forward (selfishly) to more. If you are actively writing that will make many of us happy, yet there is also podcasting where you could have an outlet to share whatever you would like.
As a side my father sereved during WWII never really shared any of his experiences. So I do feel a connection with him in your work if that makes any sense to you.
Hi Tim, thank you for your kind comment.
Yes, I am actively writing, but thanks for suggesting podcasting.
Have to learn what this would entail.
At the present time I am still waiting for my editor to return the last chapters of my next book, about Karl.
You mentioned that my books make you feel a connection with your father. Yes, it makes sense to me. I guess it is
because my books are touching on times, and subjects that seem forgotten, but they do exist in the subconscious of the people
who for one reason, are connected to them. Your relationship with your father, and his silence about WWII is a pertinent example.
Take good care, Tim, and please stay in touch,
I have enjoyed every book so far. I get them on Kindle and also buy the paperback version. I enjoy history and I teach History. I have the books in my classroom for the children to read so they can learn from the past. Thank you for your time to write this story for us to enjoy.
Thank you for your interest in my books and for taking the time to comment.
May I ask you, what age group you are teaching?
Sometimes I have been asked by a high school to speak to a particular class, and I was always besieged by countless questions.
It was always an interesting hour. So, I feel honored that you included my books in your class room.
Should you have any specific questions,please don’t hesitate and ask. Hopefully I will be able to answer.
Take good care, Donna, and thanks again,
Last year, I saw “Children to a Degree” on book bud. It looked interesting so I down loaded it to my ipad. It sat in my book inventory for several months and finally decided to read it. I absolutely loved it and was hooked. I found all the other books and quickly read them. Just finished “Postwar Survivor” and was disappointed because it ended. I am anxiously awaiting your next book.
Thank you for writing these books. My mother, as a young girl was brought to the United States with her family from Yugoslavia to escape communism. I am grateful to be an American and living in the the US. In your book “Postwar Survivor” you touched on the break down of morals after the war. I am in my late 50’s and am saddened to see not only the break down of morals but the complete lack of personal responsibility with strong reliance on the government. A government strong enough to give you everything is strong enough to take it away.
Thank you again for writing the books.
Thank you for reading my books, and for your comment.
Yes, I think it is very interesting that with all the books that are written about Germany, after the war, only a few touch on the decline of order,and morals. I hardly dared to mention it. However, the truth is that it was all around us. Together with a rise of total incompetency. And, nobody commented negatively about it.
The bombing had stopped, everybody was happy that they had survived, and all was good.
No, not really. Look at the results. . . . . . Or not.
You are correct by mentioning the complete lack of personal responsibility. As you noticed, I barely mentioned the topic in my book, because being 86, I am a bit out of touch with today’s main stream readers, and I most certainly don’t wish to insult anyone. When I turned 80, I decided to put my personal opinion to the side, and become instead an observer. It’s interesting what you see, that is if you choose to open your eyes. In the end, it’s your choice? Isn’t it?
Be save, and all the best to you, Rene,
I have read almost all the books in the past couple of weeks, & now I am reading Postwar Drifter last. One thing bothers me, & that is–did you ever find out what happened to Peter & the group of children on the train?
I am looking forward to the next books in the series & I think both boys had fascinating lives. Do you have any pictures of when you & he were younger? It would be nice to include them in the next book if so.
Thank you for your interest in my books, and for your question.
No, in spite of my efforts, after the surrender of Berlin, I was unable to find a trace from Peter, or of his group.
There where many attacks, from the Polish underground, on the trains which carried the wounded soldiers back to Germany.
Furthermore, there was no agency in charge, or counted the casualties.
It was “total war”, a term which was coined by Hitler, and if you didn’t lived through the terror and mindset . . . . it is pretty much impossible to describe.
If Peter’s disappearance bothered you, Katherine, then you come close to understanding.
All the best, and thanks for taking the time to comment.
(No, sorry, I have no pictures)
I want to thank you for writing your books. So powerful, insightful, meaningful… I could go on and on about their value. I had stumbled across your “Children To A Degree” and read it as soon as time allowed. Well, all else stopped until I finished the last page! I couldn’t put it down and then, when I was finished, I couldn’t stop contemplating it all. Thank you. My 16 y.o. son will now read it. I think it will give him a much different and needed insight. Your books are a treasure, indeed!
Please consider contacting me. I would love to speak to you in person. Hoping all is well and that the smoke and fires were far from you and your loved ones.
May God bless you, sir. Christine
Thank you so much for your very enthusiastic comment.
If you find my books interesting enough to give them to your son to read, I am richly rewarded.
You know, it is not easy, nowadays, to write in a neutral, balanced way, and still being able to report about a time, we would be wise to remember.
Yes, I will contact you. It will be nice to talk to each other.
Thank you also for your concern in regard to the wildfires. I have to admit that they were too close for comfort, but, thankfully they passed.
All the best to you Christine, and please take good care,
we are living in difficult times . . . . again . . . but, I trust that you know this already.
Hello Horst! I’m glad you are well. The long hiatus had me worried.
If I may, I’d like to offer a suggestion about your approach to story telling. I do this from the utterly selfish reason that I want you to keep writing because your stories have such depth, such detail of observation, that I savour them as I read and re-read them. Ok, here goes!
You’ve taken a ‘straight timeline’ approach to your story arcs, sticking to strict chronological order. With that you’ve produced your terrific series. While you seem to be confident that you have lots of material to continue to tell Harold’s story, I get the sense (and I deeply apologize if I’m wrong or out of line here) that you feel you’ve told Karl’s story said and done. Horst! Please consider mining the period up to, say 1946, for additional stories of your life and adventures with your friend Harold, your HJ responsibilities, daily life in Nazi Germany and your own inimitable ‘voice’. (please no over-editing until you sound like a native-speaker American).
Again if I’ve crossed a boundary I apologize. I’m greedy. Hate me.
Well, you did it!
You got me thinking.
No, you didn’t crossed any boundary lines, or are out of line, not at all.
Your comment mirrored some other reader responses who also asked me to “mine” the “End of WWII time period”
So, I answered your comment in a personal email to you, in which I invited you to tell me your expectations.
Maybe the email wound up in your “SPAM” file?
Anyway, I’ll be happy to correspond with you. (if you have the time)
In the meantime, I like to thank you for your continued interest and your encouragement.
Believe me, it is very much appreciated.
Take good care,