A DEBT OF GRATITUDE

              After my last post, Janet Estridge wrote to tell me that about ten year ago, she and her husband toured the USS Alabama. In the gift shop, they met Colonel Glenn Frazier, a soldier on the Bataan Death March back in 1942.
              He was signing books, and Janet had her picture taken with him. Here’s a link to Colonel Frazier’s book Hell’s Guest: https://www.amazon.com/Hells-Guest-Col-Glenn-Frazier/dp/193655416X
              On the cover with his fellow soldiers, he’s the only man wearing black trousers. He told Janet that when they rousted them out of bed he grabbed the trousers closest to him–everybody else wore brown.
             Janet wrote, “When I saw your article I just had to tell you what happened to me.” I’m really grateful she took the time–it’s great to learn another tidbit about the war.
 
             Colonel Frazier died in 2017–what an honor to meet someone taken captive in Bataan in April of 1942. Survivors of the enemy camps were liberated in January of 1945, and came home to recuperate. Some lived “normal” lives, but surely their terrible ordeal never left their minds.
 
             We owe them such a debt of gratitude.  My father-in-law was eighteen during the liberation, and like most WWII veterans, he rarely spoke about his role in the Raid on Cabanatuan prison camp until later in life. I’m glad his story surfaced during the last years of his life, and that he was able to hear “Thank you for your service.”
             If you know a World War II veteran, I hope you make the most of the opportunity to chat with them. My desire is that readers of All For the Cause will experience deepening respect and appreciation for all who sacrificed.

 

 

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Note: ebooks available from all retailers. paperback available now from Amazon, available for pre-order from BN.com. Hardback available for pre-order at all retailers.

All For The Cause

Seventy-seven years ago today, what occurred in the World War II timeline?  April 9, 1942…am I referring to something in Europe or possibly North Africa? 

No, this day marks the fall of Bataan to the Imperial Japanese forces in the South Pacific. In general, we seem to know far less about the surrender of the Philippines than about other dire situations in World War II history.

But my new novel ALL FOR THE CAUSE will hopefully increase understanding of this war theater. Why? Because the fall of Bataan–and of Corregidor about a month later–affected so many Americans.

Tens of thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and nurses stationed in the Philippines left worried families back home. And when the news of the Allied loss hit the airwaves, those families’ worst fears increased.

Had their loved ones survived the horrific bombing that led to this surrender? Would the troops now be taken to prison camps? What would become of them…and when could the families hope for word? 

ALL FOR THE CAUSE introduces Private Stan Ford, a Wisconsin native who signed up with the National Guard and arrived in the Philippines before the Pearl Harbor attack that ignited the U.S. declaration of war on Japan. Because of the press surrounded that horrific attack, what occurred in the Philippines might be lost in the shadows. 

But our troops stranded on the island of Corregidor endured intense deprivation and trauma. Those who survived the battle may or may not have lived through the terrible march up the mountains to a Japanese prison camp–the Bataan Death March. 

At the encouragement of his Captain, Stan chose to flee to the mountains to join guerrillas fighting the enemy until General MacArthur returned to liberate the islands. But what he observed on the way–captured American prisoners on the impossible trek to a remote POW camp–imprinted in his mind forever. 

Back in the States, Twila Brunner seeks to contribute to the war effort and discovers a possibility reported in the local newspaper. Who would ever have imagined a prisoner of war camp built in the middle of an Iowa cornfield to house Nazi captives? In accepting a position at the camp, Twila finds far more than she ever could have dreamed.

When Stan is forced to return to the States, his journey intersects with Twila’s. All he wants is to return to liberate his comrades on Bataan, and he puts every effort into making this happen. But sometimes, unexpected joys lie along the path of duty.

Here’s the new cover!

 

And here’s the purchase link:

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Available in e-book, paperback, and hardback from WordCrafts Press.

 I hope you enjoy this story and hold dear the men and women who gave their ALL FOR THE CAUSE – and please leave a review on Amazon if you do.

 

 

 

The Power of Perspective

I’ve written about perspective before and probably will again, because this quality can make all the difference. Sometimes when you feel you’ve hit the bottom, you possess quite a unique vantage point. Observe:

My husband took this photo in Arizona this winter…don’t ask me how!

But what a perspective, eh? You’ve seen many of his birdie photos, but I simply have to share one more today–can’t ignore this perfect example of FOCUS

What a great example of the phrase, “Keep your eyes peeled.” Observant…undistracted…watching, waiting. LOOKING INTENTLY, INTENTIONALLY–that’s what FOCUS means.

Now for this one: The tree’s closeness only heightens our interest in a distant object–the moon is what matters, but the tree frames it in a new way. (For a guy who never has taken a photography class, Lance is GOOD!)   (:

His next one reveals the intriguing quality of the color grey.

 

You see the deer, of course. But at the same time, interesting tree bark, rocks, and surrounding earth blend shadow and substance in a pleasing way. At least I think so.

Ahh…what does this have to do with my writing? Well, perspective and focus play a huge role in All for the Cause, my next release. And the color grey?

In the chaos of battle in the Philippines, Private Stan Ford can only hope for a neutral shade in the midst of rich jungle foliage. So much green, it hurts his eyes…so much suffering, too. After he escapes capture by the Japanese during the American surrender in 1942, Stan and his buddies come across GIs being taken to a POW camp in the mountains.

What they see infuriates them. Sickens them. Strikes terror into their souls–brutality, cruelty, complete disregard for international law.

As a result, one desire enters Stan and will drive him to any length. He must do his part to rescue those men–they have become his family. But accomplishing this objective will take time…much more time than Stan wishes. Forces beyond his control seem bent on preventing the fulfillment of his desire.

But that longing never leaves…in fact, time only strengthens it. Will Stan be able to give his ALL FOR THE CAUSE? Soon, we’ll see. I know…I keep saying soon. But this book truly will soon release.

Can You See It?

I’ve learned about something new. My Iowa friend Jill came over to help dig out my water pipe after we had 36 inches of snow, and pointed out the BLUE SNOW she saw everywhere. At first I couldn’t share her excitement, because I didn’t know where to look.

But then, viola! Between the crevasses and cracks, it’s everywhere. With all the melting going on, there’s not so much now, but this morning I took some photos. Can you see it here?

Or here, even though these are just cell phone photos?

 

For me, this is a new phenomenon, and of course, scientists have an explanation:

As with water, this color is caused by the absorption of both red and yellow light, which leaves light at the blue end of the visible spectrum. When this light travels into snow or ice, the ice grains scatter a large amount of light.

Cool! Even in the midst of a massive snowfall, we can find something intriguing and (for me, anyway) exciting. Having lived in snow country my whole life, I have to wonder why I never saw this before. Maybe it’s because of the altitude here?

Whatever the reason, there it is. And like my friend asked me the other day, CAN YOU SEE IT? becomes the big question.

This question figures in many of the novels we read. The reader sees something the characters don’t, or vice-versa. In a mystery, we seldom see the whole picture until the end.

In the process of publication, things sometimes change. I should let you know that the release date for All For The Cause, in which the heroine and hero navigate many World War II questions, has been changed. You can now expect it to surface into the big, wide world in late March or early April.

In the meantime, keep your eye out for blue snow and the like!

And since few of my blogs are complete without a photo from Lance, here you go…see the blue?

The Sky Above Us

A special welcome to award-winning World War II author Sarah Sundin. Here’s her latest novel, and Sarah is offering a giveaway of one signed copy of The Sky Above Us to one fortunate commenter between now and Feb. 18.  Thanks so much, Sarah.  

Tell us about your new release, please.

Burdened by his past, Lt. Adler Paxton ships to England with the US 357th Fighter Group. Determined to become an ace pilot, Adler battles the German Luftwaffe as the Allies struggle for control of the air before D-day. Violet Lindstrom wants to be a missionary, but for now she serves in the American Red Cross, where she arranges entertainment and refreshments for the men of the 357th in the Aeroclub. Drawn to the mysterious Adler, she enlists his help with her programs for local children. Adler finds his defenses crumbling. But D-day draws near. And secrets can’t stay buried forever.

Why did you choose to write about these aspects of World War II?

With each novel and each series I like to focus on different aspects of the war to keep things fresh. A few years ago, I thought it would be interesting to write a series about D-day, with three brothers fighting from the sea, in the air, and on the ground. My first series focused on bomber pilots, and a lot of readers told me I should write about a fighter pilot. What if I had a fighter pilot flying over the beaches of Normandy on D-day? That’s how Lt. Adler Paxton came to be.

For the heroine, I decided to have Violet Lindstrom work for the American Red Cross. The ARC ran Aeroclubs at the US airfields in Britain, arranging refreshment and entertainment for the airmen. That sounded like a fun and adventurous way for a woman to serve her country.

What unique aspects about your research can you share with us?

Although this was my eleventh World War II novel, each story presents new research challenges. Adler’s story was surprisingly easy to research. I’d already tracked down a lot of information on the US Eighth Air Force while writing my Wings of Glory series.

And fighter pilots love to tell stories. I found countless memoirs, oral histories, home movies, and photos. These were valuable to help me understand the mindset of fighter pilots, how it felt to fly a P-51 Mustang in combat, and what everyday life was like on the air bases in England.

Violet’s story with the American Red Cross presented a greater challenge. In general, stories from personnel in any support capacity are scarcer. I found a treasure trove of primary documents about the Red Cross on Fold3.com (a division of Ancestry.com). These provided many of the big picture details I needed about ARC services overseas. On the personal side, I perused the Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project on the University of North Carolina, Greensboro website. They’ve collected oral histories, photos, and documents from women veterans, including dozens of Red Cross workers. These helped me piece together the colorful bits about what life was like for these brave and resourceful women.

Bio:

Sarah Sundin is a bestselling author of historical novels, including The Sky Above Us and The Sea Before Us. Her novels When Tides Turn and Through Waters Deep were named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years,” and Through Waters Deep was a finalist for the 2016 Carol Awardand won the INSPY Award.A mother of three, Sarah lives in California and teaches Sunday school. She also enjoys speaking for church, community, and writers’ groups.Please visit her at http://www.sarahsundin.com.

Sarah has also shared this trailer for The Sky Above Us: you may view it here: 

 

Earth to Gail…

Two nights ago, Lance took some photos of the moon just before it became a “blood moon.” This was about 9 p.m. Arizona time, and we could just see a rosy haze rising due to refracted light. 

 

He didn’t think they’d turn out, but…well, I’ll let you be the judge.

He’s been snapping dozens of elk, deer, javelina, and bird pics too…but this total eclipse only happens once in a… quite a few years.

I’ve neglected blogging for the past few weeks, and could explain that I’ve been head over heels into my next WWII story featuring the POW camp in Algona, Iowa. But that would sound like an excuse, so I’m just starting in again…hopefully you’re all in a compassionate frame of mind.

The good news is that I am approaching…not there yet, but CLOSE to completing this final (I HOPE!!) edit of a manuscript that has given me some surprises and frustrations along the way. Aren’t things supposed to become easier with practice???

And just for good measure, here are a couple more pics from our day trip to Sedona.

I love the way the background and foreground integrate. Reminds me of how the main characters and secondary characters in a novel complement each other.

Each of their personal stories shares a common premise. It stands to reason that during war, that premise may become even more complicated than normal.

Picture a small midwestern town chosen to host hundreds of Nazi prisoners…many of them from Hitler’s elite SS, taken captive in North Africa. What would it be like to guard them…to provide milk, eggs, and other essentials to feed them, knowing that chances are slim Allied prisoners were being treated according to the Geneva Convention? 

Doesn’t this sound a little complicated?  Stay tuned – ALL FOR THE CAUSE is on its way!

RELEASE DAY…SENDING MY BABY OUT…

A fellow writer recently sent me this photo of his newborn calf, a Saler-Hereford.

SO cute! Look at all that curly hair, and a face any mother could love!

How does this tie in with today being RELEASE DAY for Kiss Me Once Again? Very clearly.

Sending a story into the world after such a long process of drafting, writing, editing, re-editing, re-re-editing (you get the picture) shares several parallels with birthing an infant.

But when that infant grows up, they’re out of your hands…well, actually quite a while before that point.

So off you go, Kiss Me Once Again, my first World War II novella…out into the cold, but hopefully not cruel world. It’s been joy-laced hard work to bring you to this moment. May you touch hearts and faithfully reveal the incredible era of World War II.

My publisher tells me this novella debuted at #56 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases chart in the World War II Historical Fiction category.

Reviews

Kiss Me Once Again is a sweet novella that will make you feel like you are in the WWII era. I loved how Gail crafted Glenora, I could really feel her tough exterior filled with grease and less-than feminine features, but she also captured “Glen’s” tender interior. Hank is everything you want to read in a 1940’s hero. Affected by war, yet lacking confidence due to everything he’s been through. It’s a novella, so it’s a quick read. I definitely recommend!  

 “Kiss Me Once Again is a heartwarming story of love, sacrifice, dreams deferred, faith and family. I always appreciate the historical research that underlies author Kittleson’s stories. 

Purchase Kiss Me Once Again HERE for Amazon

Purchase Kiss Me Once Again HERE for Barnes and Noble

 

Far From Home For Christmas

I’m so excited to introduce a real-life World War II story – Barbara von der Oster’s father missed not just one Christmas with his family, but three. World War II stole him away, and I think you’ll enjoy Barbara’s tale of his three holidays as a lonely sailor. I learned so much from reading LST 388, the name of the vessel that took her father to several major war theaters and the title of Barbara’s book. She offers us yet another gift–a paperback copy of this book to a reader who leaves a comment. 

FAR FROM HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

With the start of December comes planning for the holiday, including decorating, baking, shopping and making decisions on where to spend Christmas. Yet, even with all the commotion and must-dos, every year I pause and remind myself of those who can’t be home for Christmas. Our military men and women often find themselves far from home during this time of year.

My father, while serving in WWII, missed not one, not two, but three consecutive Christmas holidays with his family back home in New York. His first Christmas away, in 1942, he found himself in Norfolk, Virginia after receiving a few hours liberty from his new assignment on the amphibious force landing ship, USSLST-388.

At a bar in a seedy part of town, he writes in his journal about listening to songs on the jukebox, such as White Christmas, and thinking of home. As he leaves the bar with other sailors, Christmas carols blare from the loudspeaker above the Monticello Hotel. He joins in, singing along with sailors and civilians alike as he walks along the street.

By the time the next Christmas, 1943, arrived, he had sailed overseas to North Africa, participated in two hostile invasions (Sicily and Salerno) and sailed to England to begin preparations for a third (Normandy).

While on a short liberty in England, he runs into a woman who happens to have a sprig of mistletoe attached to her coat. He bets her she can’t raise it above her head, and, much to his delight, she does. He leans in and plants a kiss on her lips. Returning to the ship, he finds he has several letters waiting and settles in to read each one, treating them as special gifts. Soon, however, he and his shipmates are forced to spend the next several hours fighting off an attack by German planes and eboats in the English Channel. A subdued Christmas Day dinner follows after all but their nerves have quieted down.

Another year passed, which included the devastating invasion at Normandy, and Christmas found my father once again in the English Channel, this time carrying reinforcement troops and equipment from England to France. Unbeknownst to him at the time, the German navy had launched a last desperate offensive to stop the supply of more troops to the continent, sinking several ships directly ahead in his own ship’s path.

All throughout, my father sought out church services on Christmas, whether at the USO or American Red Cross, or even onboard his ship. He never lost his faith. Today’s military men and women no doubt are doing the same.

So amidst the holiday hustle and bustle, the planning, praising, gift-buying and decorating, I’ll be keeping not only my father in mind, but also present-day military men and women’s sacrifices. Let’s all keep them in our prayers this year, and hope they’ll be home soon.

BIO:

Barbara co-authored the book LST 388: A World War II Journal with her father, who passed away in December 2016 at the age of 96. She is currently working on her first historical fiction novel, based loosely on her father’s experiences in WWII. She says, many times people will pick up a novel rather than a memoir or history book, so this is another way to share a bit of history, and keep the memories and sacrifices of WWII alive.

Barbara will also have her own memoir out in early 2019. In it, she shares her experiences as a fashion model in Europe during the mid-1980s.

You can reach Barbara through her book website, www.lst388.com.

Follow her on Amazon for future updates: https://www.amazon.com/Barbara-von-der-Osten/e/B079JZWVKG

Connect with her on Twitter, https://twitter.com/BarbvdO

November’s Flown In

October partially undressed the flame bush near our back door,

Scattered leaves along the path south of our house…

Shone glory through what brightness remains on the branches,

And created curlicues against blue sky.

The end of October also sent us the BEST photo of our daughter and granddaughter, before the Hallowe’en night festivities in our little town.

Now, November paves the way for my latest release, Kiss Me Once Again, a World War II novella featuring a young woman used to sacrificing her dreams for the cause. Her name’s Glenora, and I’m delighted to introduce her to you. You’ll like this make-do Greatest Generation woman, and applaud her ability to do what needs to be done–even when it hurts.

This includes giving up her ISU scholarship and her dream of being a home ec teacher and grabbing a monkey wrench to work in her father’s garage when her brother joins the Navy after the Pearl Harbor attack. The fateful day the Arizona sank, taking her high school sweetheart with it, Glenora sealed off a portion of her heart.

Since I’m not one to spoil the story, I’ll let you know exactly where and when KISS ME ONCE AGAIN becomes available.

This marks my first plunge into the world of novellas with my publisher, WordCrafts Press, which also published A Purpose True. I’m so grateful to be connected with them–for one thing, the editor is a former Green Beret. You might want to check out their other publications at wordcrafts.net/

 

 

On Skipping a Post, Autumn Joys, and Essential Details…

Boy, is it tough to get back into a routine, even when I’ve only missed one post. So here we go, after a week in the Deep South. Well, deep for me, anyhow! Being with my friend Patti was a joy, not to mention her family…such CUTE grandchildren! My expectations of the weather were fulfilled, hot and muggy, and that proved true of my time in Columbia as well.

But I mo tell ya, honey, the weatherman lied about the temperature in Nashville. It was nippy down there at the Nashville Book Fair! But getting to meet my publisher at Wordcrafts Press and his wife (Mike and Paula Parker), plus several other authors with this company, was worth it. Making new contacts among those who braved the cold and rain to attend the fair–doesn’t get better than that.

So now, it’s back to Iowa,  where it SNOWED while I was gone…not typical for mid-October. Today, though, it’s in the sixties, and the glories of fall are visiting us once again.

A day like this calls for some rich vegetable soup simmering on the stove. OOPS that was before I added the zucchini…

Notice the color difference? This morning our writing group met at South Square here in St. Ansgar, and one discussion point fits here…the difference one small detail can make in our creativity. The addition of zucchini in this pot brightens the whole stew…gives more of texture to the overall dish. I could add some corn, which would also have its effect.

Now that I’m hunkering down with my World War II nurse’s story again, this principle applies. In the first drafts, I may not have taken time to add all of the “small” things…the seemingly insignificant quirks about locale, habits, or sounds and sights. But these elements become vital to the overall picture for a reader.

This type of editing equals fun for me…how can I make each scene stronger, each character more vivid, each challenge more of an obstacle? On Tuesday evening, I traveled to the Nora Springs Library for a book talk, and readers reminded me of some details I’d forgotten I included in the first book of Women of the Heartland. But they remember them…those details make a difference! (Click below for a peek at the series.)

Women of the Heartland

So many readers of In Times Like These agree on one point: Harold, Addie’s recalcitrant husband, should be shot! (His personality must shine through clearly!)

Creating believable characters–that’s what writing fiction is all about, and here I am, happy to be at it again.