The Invitation by Dawn Kohler

the invitation

It’s a lucky Monday for me, because I get to introduce two brilliant authors to My Dear Readers. Firstly, there was Eleanor Parker below, and now there is Dawn Kohler. Kohler’s work, The Invitation, is vastly different than Parker’s, but just as enthralling.

What first strikes me about Kohler’s work is her prose. Her language is fluid and engaging, drawing me in from the very first sentence. Life is busy and chaotic this time of year, and I often find that I can’t focus on too much at once, but Kohler’s work kept me reading, despite the mental pull I have going in so many directions as a wife, mother, and author. In The Invitation, Kohler weaves difficult life situations seamlessly into a elegant and beautiful story about the walls we build for ourselves and why.

I highly recommend The Invitation by Dawn Kohler.

Despite having a loving fiancé, Kate Edwards is haunted by a feeling that something is missing in her life.

After losing her job as a reporter, a sense of inspiration is ignited by an invitation to spend the weekend with Emma Daines, a retired professor of social anthropology and the former US ambassador to Germany. Kate has long admired Emma’s accomplishments and for years has attempted to obtain an interview. Yet Emma Daines is known to be deeply suspicious of journalists, as she holds a secret that reporters have wanted to get their hands on for decades.

A thoroughly mesmerizing novel, The Invitation takes us to a beach community in Northern California, where through a series of outdoor adventures Kate struggles with her internal conflicts over love, ambition, and her need to gain Emma’s trust. Little does she know how her life will change when she stumbles upon Emma’s hidden memoir which exposes the underbelly of her determination, her relationships, and brings to light the walls that keep us separated from one another.

This riveting, insightful, and unpredictable story brings us into the heart of two women who ultimately learn from each other what’s important in life and the real and powerful meaning behind receiving The Invitation.

Author Bio:

About Dawn

“If I would have known I was going to leave my job that day to become a writer, I probably would have planned differently. I would have found the perfect replacement for my executive position, somebody who would have run my computer company exactly as I did. I would have cleaned out my large corner office, taking with me the pictures of my three children, the awards for being a woman entrepreneur, and the smooth river rock with the word ‘Trust’ engraved on the surface.

My last day was not about heroics, a pinnacle of success, or like I wished, a buyout that would have left me if not outright rich, at least financially secure for the better part of my life. It didn’t come by way of illness per se, accident, or dismissal, but by way of sheer self-mutiny. The self I was born to be, decided to hijack the one I had created.

To help me move through my spontaneous revolt (also known as major depression), I began to write, read, and explore everything I could get my hands on about psychological development and spiritual awakenings. I wrote about what was happening to me and read about what had happened to others who had similar experiences. The journey took me back through my childhood in San Diego. To a family of four children led by Midwestern parents fraught with love, a strong German work ethic, and traumatic dysfunction. The need to cope with such a mix, and the desire to please others, veered me from a want-to-be-writer to a business school graduate and soon after the founder of a fast-growth technology business. The serendipitous journey that followed my exit helped me to uncover a new source of inspiration, and a true north as a writer that gave birth to my first book, A New Dawn Rising, One Woman’s Spiritual Odyssey.

After my company was sold and the book was released, I was asked by a woman at a book signing to help her with her struggling leadership team. Six months later, I had a full practice as an executive coach, which afforded me time to write and helped me provide for my children after a compassionate end to a 20-year marriage. Within a few short years, I found myself working with senior leaders at companies such as Time Warner Cable, DreamWorks, and NBC Entertainment. Many of these leaders were experiencing challenging corporate changes and, at times, their own spontaneous revolts.

Then change came to me again. My two youngest children moved away from home to attend college, and for the first time in my life, I was living alone. The air barely moved in my empty nest, and I found myself yearning for what I have often yearned for in my life—an older, wiser, educated woman who could help me better manage such changes. In those long fall nights, I returned to my writing, tossed out my non-fiction leadership manuscript, and created Emma Daines, a 72-year- old reclusive American hero. Emma and her friends became a loving source of wisdom for me inspired by my journey and those of my clients.”

The Invitation, A Weekend with Emma, is the first in the Emma Daines series. It’s also the beginning of the Emma Daines Society, a community dedicated to personal development and purposeful living.

- See more at: http://www.dawnkohler.com/about-dawn.

The Third Stop on the Historical Novel Blog Tour is Puerto Rico with author, Eleanor Parker

a_decent_womanI can’t believe that we’re already into the third week of the Historical Novel Blog Tour, and just as it’s getting cold outside (we’ve already had two snowstorms in Pennyslvania), we get to visit the beautiful and warm island of turn of the century Puerto Rico. I’m especially thrilled about this week’s author, Eleanor Parker, because I’m raising three half-Puerto Rican children, and I’m further thrilled about this week’s author, because she’s a strong, talented, and inspiring Latina whose work I can share with my own Latina daughter.

I know, without a doubt, that Eleanor’s work will be talked about this Christmas by a few of my Hot Latin Husband’s 32 first cousins. And when her work finally comes out in 2015, I’ll finally have a Mother’s Day present for my mother-in-law that she’ll actually want. So, thanks, Eleanor for that! Her debut novel, A Decent Woman, is coming out in the winter of 2015, and I can’t wait to read it. Of her novel, Eleanor says, “Set against the combustive backdrop of a chauvinistic society, where women are treated as possessions, A Decent Woman is the provocative story of these two women as they battle for their dignity and for love against the pain of betrayal and social change.”

I have done a lot of genealogical work for my husband, exploring his own Puerto Rican history. Reading Eleanor’s work is going to add a richness and dimension to his family’s story. I’m just so excited, and I hope you all are as well. Check out her blog!

Next week, we have two authors to share with you, My Dear Readers. So, come back here on Monday, and I’ll send you to another exciting location, rich in history and culture. Check out Eleanor’s blog here.

Fear and Loathing Somewhere Near Allentown

MH900409234It’s one of those beautifully cold windy northeastern days where I just don’t want to peel myself out of bed. It’s perfectly warm under all these covers, and no one is awake. Well, every part of the household that is awake, is gone now. They’re at work and at school, and I just want to ignore all that is going on outside my walls. The introvert needs peace and space today. I’m tempted to call in to the little Holiday Job I’ve started and say, “I’m not coming in today. I’m staying in bed, because there are books to read and lots of oatmeal in my pantry.”

Yesterday was a terrible day. It started out so promising, but it ended strangely, and I still feel the oddness of it swimming around inside my gut. The feeling makes me want to avoid greasy food for a long time. I’m not one of those writers who believes her crap has a special radiance, nor am I the type to take it personally when someone doesn’t like my work. I don’t write to make millions (and how deeply I have succeeded at this endeavor). I write to write. That’s really my entire motivation. I like the compiling of words, stories, plots, and especially, characters onto the page/screen.

But, yesterday, which is becoming a swear word for me, sank even unsinkable me. After years of literary awards and multiple 4 and 5 star reviews at Amazon and other places, a fellow writer told me that my book contained huge amounts of grammatical and stylistic errors. Now, this book has gone into three printings by three different publishers. That’s three different editors, numerous proofreaders, and me. Not to mention, thousands of readers. But no one caught these mistakes. I pulled my book, which was #3 in one category and #9 in another, out of hundreds of thousands of books, because of this revelation. No one really noticed its loss in the lineup, and it was free anyway, so it’s not like I have broken my own vow of literary poverty or anything, but, added to all that currently sucks in life, that was a turd cherry on top of my feelings vomit.

I gave up several semi-lucrative (meaning, barely bill-paying/totally unnoticeable compared to my husband’s corporate salary) freelance jobs in September to write The Novel, which is still in the very beginnings of editing and had to be completely re-written. I took a year off grad school, so that I could concentrate on The Novel. Now, the credit cards are piling up and the medical bills are hounding me, and the children are wondering why I’ve developed such an obsession with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for most meals (rice and beans for important feasts).

Because I’m a writer. I could have become a lawyer or continued teaching or sold grapes out of the back of my van, frankly, and I’d probably be richer today and my children would be wearing high-quality shoes. But I write and I read, and so everyone in the household suffers together. (Don’t even try to paint that rosy, ye who also has a corporate job or a spouse that does. You have no clue. Shut up, please).

Yesterday, (that word that makes me feel foul-mouthed even just mentally repeating it) I almost quit writing. For one sweet moment, it felt good to say that I was done peddling news stories and human interest pieces for magazines, devising compelling plots, researching horrible human events and inserting innocent people into them, writing marketing materials for French tech companies, editing Canadian romance novels, etc…Just done. Finished. For one sweet moment, I had only the washing, the cooking, the Brilliant 10 Year Old to teach. I had an infinite amount of books to read, libraries to wander through, and I was back in that day before publication. I was young and didn’t need face cream at night, my health was only semi-terrible, my children were babies and laughed at silly things like the wind and plastic dinosaurs, and I was free to be anonymous.

I am the opposite of Mark Twain, who said, “I hate to write, but I love to have written.” I love to write. I like to have written. And to have written badly? That makes me want to dig a deep hole into the ground, like a character in a Twilight Zone episode, and bring my books, glasses, and dusty oil lamp, and simply read without obligation. I really am not that into people. I don’t like to socialize. I have a very short tolerance level for crowded events. You have no idea, My Dear Readers, how tempting and good-feeling that hole sounds to me right now. If I close my eyes and dream it, my heart rate slows.

At what point does a writer burn out? I’m not sure, because I burn out constantly and just wait for the rain to pass and then I turn the light back on. (Yes, I know there’s a missing comma in that sentence. Where did you read above that I love editing?)

So, anyway, I think I’m depressed. People born in the sunny South and raised in the Golden State, don’t go there often. We just eat fried chicken or surf through it. I’m tired, and I want a cookie, but I’ll have to make them with cheap ingredients if I want one, because I’m a writer, and even after we win awards and our books are quoted on the internet, they are fallible and only bestsellers when they’re free. I’m not sure how John Grisham succeeds. Oh, wait…he’s really a lawyer.

That’s it. That’s me right now. I don’t want to look at another word, another article on marketing one’s work, or flip through the pages of one of those high-gloss writer’s magazines that just repeats itself in varying colors every issue. I want to be simply Tiffani today. We’ll see how that goes.

Historical Novel Blog Tour: Stop One – Berlin, 1945

a berlin story final cover

Welcome to the Historical Novel Blog Tour, a compilation of novelists from various publishers. I rounded them all up at two of my favorite (and infinitely helpful) Facebook pages – the manuscript review page of the Historical Novel Society and a private get together place for Booktrope authors. Over the next few months, every Monday, My Dear Readers, you will meet some of the most fascinating and talented writers of historical fiction alive today. If this is something you’re interested in pursuing yourself, or if you just love historical fiction, stop by. There will be a wealth of information, stories, and true life accounts of moments in history that changed the world. Mondays – this is the place to be. You’ll see a link each week to the next stop on the tour. At the end of the tour, in February 2015, I’ll have the whole tour here for you to review and enjoy all over again.

Let the nerdy good fun begin! (I’m first! Woo-hoo!)

My Bio:

I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, something I am fiercely proud of, even though I haven’t lived in the state since I was two and half. I went back to visit nearly every summer growing up, and I stay in constant contact with my family and friends who still live in the state. My Western and Southern heritage (of which I have a fine mix), influences everything I write, even A Berlin Story, my latest work about a young German woman who survives the Fall of Berlin, 1945. A young American G.I. named Aaron Gifford appears in the very beginning of the story, and sticks around for the remainder of the novella. He is fashioned after my great uncle, Aaron Lock, who served in the 101st Airborne in World War II. I tried to affect his Oklahoma twang in my descriptions of his fictional form. I hope I did him justice. From heaven, I believe he sees me and is “tickled pink” as he might have said to me over the phone, the way he was apt to do.

Though born in Oklahoma, I grew up in crazy Southern California, the exact opposite of the red earth of Oklahoma. I loved it as well, but during my senior year of high school, my family moved to Pennsylvania, and it is here, where I met my Hot Latin Husband (a proud Puerto Rican), married him, finished school, had four babies, and haven’t left yet. One day, I’ll get back to Oklahoma. All y’all will see.

Who you are, where you’re from, your writing credits.

I started writing professionally when I was pregnant with my first child and recovering from the paralyzing (literally) effects of Guillain-Barré’ syndromee and Myasthenia Gravis. You’ll just have to look those two diseases up, pals. Their explanations are as rough as the pronunciation of their names. In short, the experience sucked, but I survived and I drew myself out of my bed-rest boredom the only way I knew how, by stuffing my face with salty treats and writing quirky stories about animals that I loved. My first article was accepted by a dog magazine whose name I no longer remember. But the first line read, “Sam is my fat dog.” It was immediately accepted. But after that, I had only rejections until 2001, when a piece I wrote, about being a Westerner living in the beautiful northeastern state of Pennsylvania, was published in Pennsylvania Magazine.

I continued to write and submit, until I discovered my niche, which was human interest, spooky stuff, and history. I tend to combine all of those elements into absolutely everything I write (and there’s always war, too. I just can’t seem to get away from that). I wrote for several newspapers and hundreds of magazines. I continue to write some non-fiction, but mostly, I write novels and short stories for Booktrope and Kindle now.

What is your latest historical fiction piece?

My latest historical piece is the first in a World War II era series called The Embers of War. There will be four novellas coming out over the next two years – A Berlin Story, The Gate, The Raven, and The Red Earth.

A Berlin Story is my current work, and it is the story about 19 year old Annalise Bergen who is the sole survivor of any of her immediate and extended family when the Soviets invade Nazi Berlin, 1945. She endures all the horrible things women experienced during that harrowing time period, but she survives and moves forward, despite the tragedies that she endures.

Why did you choose to write it?

My family during World War II came from the exact opposite side of the events that Annalise endures. They were, either, American G.I.’s or European Jews. Until I began A Berlin Story, I had never in my life wondered what “good” Germans might have experienced. To me, they were all Nazis, all bad guys. But one night, and I have no idea why, I woke up in a cold sweat with the remnants of a nightmare on my brain. In the dream, I was a young woman, I was German, it was the Fall of Berlin, and the Soviets were coming into the city. I still remember the sounds of their tanks and katushka rockets. I must have seen a documentary earlier that week, or something, but it alludes me now, because only the dream that resulted (from whatever inspired my writing) remains in my memory. I immediately wrote down the feelings and the details, and I began the novella in the winter of 2007. It took me until 2013 to complete it, and it’s only 60-odd pages. It was like nothing else I have ever written.

Since then, I have spoken with survivors of those events and the children of men and women who survived those events, and I have come to realize that A Berlin Story is chillingly accurate.

What about that era appeals to you?

The bravery. How? Simply, how does one survive the Holocaust, Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, the Pacific, or even life on the home front, knowing that Adolf Hitler has freakishly and satanically influenced millions of humans and murdered millions more? What a ridiculous time in which to live. What a horrible time, but also, what an amazing time, because from the World War II era came heroes like my great uncle and my grandmother who was one of the first US Marine drill instructors in US history. She wasn’t a WAC. She was Marine, a short little Jewish woman from Brooklyn who wasn’t going to take the news about Nazi U-boats sinking off the the New York Harbor sitting down. She was getting a gun and learning how to use and training young men to go to Europe and do the same. She told me once that most of the boys she instructed never returned.

Are your characters real or fictional? If they’re real, how did you fictionalize them?

All of my characters are fictional, but like all good characters, their parts and elements are drawn from various real life people.

What kind of research is involved in writing your novel?

Lots. I read hundreds of books, watched a bunch of grisly documentaries, read diaries, spoke to eyewitnesses, etc…It’s a good thing I love libraries and late night internet searches, because that’s what this novella took to detail accurately.

How do you organize the fictional aspects of your writing vs. the historical facts?

I usually create a historical timeline, and one side, I write what actually happened during the time and on the other, I write what my characters were doing. It’s very helpful. I can note little details in the margins as well. For example, during the Fall of Berlin, women hung white sheets out their windows believing that the approaching Soviets would see and respect that as a sign of peaceful surrender. However, more Soviets had died in the war at Nazi hands than anything else, so the sheets were completely ignored and simply told the Soviets where women were living. This note went into the margin details on the historical side of the timeline. The women in A Berlin Story do this, so I added it to the fictional timeline as well.

 

How does the historical timeline move your plot along or influence the actions of your characters?

It helps me to see what my characters might do next.

How do you feel about writers taking creative license with historical facts? Or, does it bother you when facts area changed to fit the story in a movie or a book?

It all depends on what those facts are. If they aren’t a gross exaggeration of the truth, then I don’t care, but if they are egregious and they change history for millions of readers, it makes me want to punch the author. This especially angers me when the books are targeted at young people. Such actions can change how whole cultures view history. It’s important that historical fiction be accurate for this reason.

What’s next for you after this present work?

The Gate is the second book in the Embers of War series, and it will come out in the spring of 2015, right after my contemporary fiction novel, All This Time (which is also about…you probably guessed it…war. I think I need a vacation or something). The Gate is about life in the Soviet sector for Ukrainian, Dmitry Stolypin, who is a lieutenant in the Red Army. It’s got a lot of action, some romance, and spies.

Introduce the next author. If you don’t have that information yet, let me know. I will send the bio info to you.

The next amazing author on this tour is Meara Platt. I had the privilege of participating in the Facebook launch of her wonderful novel, My Fair Lily, which I am currently reading. Simply put, you will love it, My Dear Readers! Below, is information from Meara’s website about her work. It’s Cyber Monday, so consider supporting her work, and purchasing her novel. Thanks for reading, pals, and joining in the Historical Novel Blog Tour! Next stop – 19th Century England.

my_fair_lily

From www.mearaplatt.com,

Meara Platt is happily married to her Russell Crowe look-alike husband, and they have two terrific children. She lives in one of the many great towns on Long Island, New York and loves it, except for the traffic. She has traveled the world, works as managing partner in a boutique law firm in NYC, occasionally lectures and finds time to write. Her favorite place in all the world is England’s Lake District, which may not come as a surprise since many of her stories are set in that idyllic landscape.

A close second is the rest of England and the British Isles, the original (and still beautiful) land of enchantment. For Meara, writing is all about enchantment, whether in the setting, the characters (such as Dragon Lords and Fae Kings), or in the author’s voice. A great writer entertains, inspires, makes us laugh or cry, and sometimes makes us think. She is honored to know and learn from some of the best romance writers of our day.

Meara is a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart award winner, and was thrilled to be recognized by this amazing organization. As with everything along life’s journey, it is always sweeter when shared with friends, so Meara’s special thanks goes out to fellow writers Pamela Burford and Patricia Ryan who have been with her from her very first baby steps as a writer.

The Day Annalise Crawled Out of the Rubble

Mystery Woman in Berlin, 1940, Unknown Source

Mystery Woman in Berlin, 1940, Unknown Source

So yesterday, Annalise Bergen came out of hiding. A Berlin Story made its debut, and we all celebrated over at my author page with visits from bestselling authors, Allie Burke and Claudia H. Long.  It was a blast, and I cannot thank these two brilliant writers enough for their assistance in pulling Annalise out of her rubble cave and bringing her into 21st Century literature.

I created a short film (only a little over a minute long) about the life and times of women like Annalise. It begins with life under the horrors of the Third Reich and leads through the Cold War to present day Germany. Do take a moment, My Dear Readers, to check it out right here.

 

As of this morning, A Berlin Story, was ranked #40 in its category at the Kindle Store. I’m aiming for #1 before the weekend is over. I believe it’s doable. When you read it, My Dear Readers, do leave a review over there.

Amazon_Sales_rank_berlin_story

 

I had two main goals with A Berlin Story – to create an excellent piece of literature and to bring awareness about the trauma women experience during war. A Berlin Story is not just about Annalise. There are old and young women, and even children and men, who appear in this novella to show us their story. As Claudia said last night during my interview with her on Facebook, “These stories need to be told, so that they are not forgotten.”

a berlin story final cover

And this is the point. To keep Annalise in the conversation and out of the rubble, to bring sexual assault and the truth of war’s long-lasting scars into the light. It’s when we hide behind the relief at war’s end, that we forget how terrible it was during those years when it was literally eating human beings alive.

Do visit Berlin this weekend, and let me know how Annalise spoke to you.