What have I been working on?
In 2017, I wrote three publications for young readers: Mindful Kids: 50 Mindfulness Activities for Kindness, Focus, and Calm; Mindful Me, Mindfulness for Kids; and What’s on Your Plate? Exploring the World of Food. Stay tuned for release dates and giveaways!
In 2012, I found boxes of old German letters and documents that survived in an attic during Hurricane Katrina. Digging through the letters, I discovered correspondence from my husband’s uncle, Reiner Niemann, who disappeared on the Russian Front of World War Two. My in-laws never talked about Reiner, but I always wondered what happened to him. He came from a German family that cherished music and art, and hated Hitler. These letters tell a powerful story of a young man who was drafted at age 19, survived horrific battles, and went missing at age 22. After reading them, I went to Germany and Poland three times to research Reiner’s fate.
I documented my research and travel adventures in an adult blog series called Finding Reiner.
After returning from Europe, I collaborated with author and translator Denis Havel on an adult book about Reiner Niemann. Learn more here.
Now I am focused on writing Reiner’s story for a younger audience, and for film.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I write in many different genres——nonfiction and fiction, picture books to adult. My current young adult project about Reiner is not the usual World War Two story about heroism. It offers a view of “the enemy” who didn’t want to fight but found no other option. Reiner tells his own story through words he wrote from front-line trenches in Russia and Poland. I don’t know any other young adult book about a German soldier that is told at the time of the battles.
Why do I write what I do?
I often find story fragments or facts that scream out, “Find out more!” Then the fun starts. I love to research mysteries, especially when they take me across the globe.
How does my writing process work?
I take my time on my first drafts, which are often clumsy. I love the revision process though because I work well with editors I trust. I stay open to making changes and rethinking my vision.