Exciting Adventure Ahead

The adventure begins . . . soon, so soon.

New York City offers the best the U.S. has to offer in every venue: especially food, entertainment and business deals.

For the book industry, it means that over three million people will be passing through the huge Javits Center May 23-26, 2011.

I register as author-in-booth on Monday and take my official registration confirmation form to the lobby and exchange it for an official badge. The main pavilions open Tuesday morning so I’ll won’t be walking around too much that day, but will have a chance to hear what leaders of the book industry say about what and how people will be reading in the next five years.

On Wednesday afternoon, I’m author-in-booth at Number 4938. When I’m roaming the halls Monday and Tuesday, I’ll wear a sash with this lettering: Lebensborn, Secret Nazi Plan. If anyone asks what those words mean, I’ll hand my card over and ask them to meet me Wednesday afternoon at 4938.

The real adventure will be meeting agents/publishers/unknowns. Somehow, I’m being nudged to go to the Press Room. As a former news editor/reporter, I may be admitted. These reasons for “nudging” are never clear until they’ve happened.

Going to a Book Expo is one of these I’ve-Never-Done-Anything-Like-This-Before experiences. It feels as intimidating as setting up a new sewing machine.

I’ll be wearing the cargo pants I bought in Istanbul along with a black t-shirt and little blue denim vest. The pockets hold cell phone, billford, pen and Lebensborn business cards. I’m taking my white French beret.

My hotel is three blocks away: Holiday Inn Xpress. According to my Colville bridge group the $219 rate is cheap. Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m. I’m invited to tea on the 24th floor of the Columbia Building which overlooks Central Park.
Raymond Beegle has also invited his friend, Irina, who he says, “Has lead a life which is a novel in itself.” That’s pretty exciting right there. Raymond has bought a copy of Lebensborn and says it’s at the top of his stack to read before I arrive.

Lebensborn Is Taking Off

Lebensborn novel is ready to take off and become a break-through book. See why.

Along with other fast-paced reads, Lebensborn now stands at the starting line, ready to take off.

Which one will have ‘break-through’ sales? Most authors never see their sales top five hundred. Lebensborn may.

It has the help of so many: Lara, a personal assistant who contacts universities to include the book on WWII and holocaust reading lists; Julie who sends e-mails to personal and other contacts; Al, who works the Facebook Author pages; vicki and Suzanne who coach Google alerts and give us authors other marketing tips.

I’m also follow Google Alerts like a detective to many successful sale conclusions. I’m humble about Lebensborn but I can tell a story good enough to motive a sale or two. My husband is quick to add comments, too.

Lara says spring is good for book sales and ponders the reason why. Perhaps Lebensborn will be a hit because it is touted on Kindle and has been given rave reviews by customers on Amazon and Nook.

A special flyer is being sent now, too. But, it all comes down to this: Lebensborn really is a great story. It’s tightly plotted and has memorable characters you care about.

Perhaps in my next blog I’ll go back to sharing a great recipe. There’s one that I’ll be taking to an upcoming potluck or two. It is so yummy that the first time I experienced Corn Casserole, I had to have four helpings, compromising my diet.

Why Be a Friend of Jo Ann Bender? Read on.

Learn more of this author’s background.
Why is she writing story cookbooks?

If you are to become a friend, I should tell you a little about myself.  You already know that I am the author of Lebensborn.

In the deep forested mountains of Eastern Washington State, I am also the innkeeper of a rustic B&B and I also write story cookbooks.  The inn is off the beaten path.  If you read on, you may discover a new recipe.

There’s been a humorous column or two about the inn in the Spokesman, the area’s largest newspaper in Spokane, WA.

The local weekly, TheStatesman, has had a full-page showing the six lovely high tea events held one summer by neighbor Alice Hauflin and myself.  Our husbands joked among themselves, “Who’d pay $18.95 to come so far for tea and crumpets?”

Who?  Why, the sixteen ladies who arrived for each of the six events, many of them wearing big hats and gloves and turning their cars over to Bud who parked them wearing a tuxedo and top hat.

However, the hosting of special events had to be left behind as writing about the secret Nazi WWII program, known as Lebensborn, began requiring more and more research and necessitating trips to France and to Germany.

The background behind the Inn is that my Grandmother, Jenny, opened one of the first B&B’s in Minnesota in the little town of Rush City when she was widowed and left with seven children.  My Mother, Irene, didn’t like that idea one bit.  When she was in high school, she had to wash dishes and set tables for twenty-one persons  for breakfast and dinner seven days a week.

Women love these story cookbooks and you may, too.

Here’s your first story and recipe:  Simple Dips

We love it here,” said Gretchen Yoder, a neighbor who has an unobstructed view of Cedar Lake through her front picture windows.  “On a very cold day last December I saw diamonds in the sky, clouds of them, sparkling.  Now that it’s summer, we’re getting up at four thirty and see so much wild life.  A moose came through the other morning, went through the valley and up your road.  Yesterday our son and grandchildren were on a walk with us and came across cougar scat.  I told the young ones to stay close to us, but one child apparently didn’t think that meant all the way to the house so he raced ahead. At our driveway, he was knocked over by a coyote being chased by a deer.”  Perhaps you’ll claim one of these dips as a diamond in your recipe file.

(Here are two quick cold dips.  They can be put together in a flash.  Handy when you need a snack to go along with a beverage.)

Onion Dip: l pint sour cream

1 envelope onion soup mix

Stir onion soup mix into the sour cream.  Better if chilled at least one hour.  Serve with chips or cut-up veggies.

Olive Dip:      4 ½ oz. can olives, chopped

2/3 cup mayonnaise

Combine ingredients.  Makes about 1 ½ cups.

Now I Know Why I Had to Write Lebensborn

A Lebensborn child shows up
Why I wrote this Story

When I researched and wrote the story of a French girl who is caught in the trap of the SS to breed their Master Race, I gave no thought to the children born in the Lebensborn homes.

After the book was published, a friend asked, “What happened to all the children?” 

It gave pause to consider this big question.  Yes, what did happen to them?

As part of marketing the book, the publisher’s marketing coach discussed Google Alerts and their use.  Every day as I began researching the web, I was discovering that there were now international stories of a Lebensborn child seeking compension in a courtroom of their country for their conflicted life of being shunned, tauted or even physically abused.

The children in Norway had banded together for support as many of them were out seeking their “true” parent.

If that’s the case, what would happen if a Lebensborn child showed up at one of my book talks? 

I must seek the international sources for war victims and was readily encouraged by each one I encountered.  So during my first presentation in little ol’ Colville, WA., population 5000, a man spoke up and told his story of being born in Germany during that time period and given to adoptive parents.  He now was seeking his rightful parents and was finding a dead end in Germany.

“Yes,” I told him, “You won’t have much luck there.  This program is still being “hushed up,” but I do have many of the sources you seek and will forward them to you so that when you make your trip to Europe you will not only have these sources but can contact the Lebensborn children in Norway.”

Lebensborn is tightly-plotted and has information about this time in history that’s little known, but now I know why I had to write about this dark chapter in Nazi history . . . it’s for a lonely soul who craves to find closure.

Meanwhile, I soon will have a Facebook Fan Page and if you’re reading this, do visit there and leave comments.

Lebensborn is Live

 To explain the challenges and toils of marketing is easy.  It’s just like having a new baby with too many things to do all at the same time and feeling exhausted by its demands.

 A friend in the San Francisco area, Mona Burglin, says she’ll shepherd me around during the week of October 18 to 24 during presentations for Lebensborn.

 Mona says, “I went into a small bookstore today in San Anselmo, a really old-fashioned bookstore.  It’s super cute and I told the proprietor all about you and Lebensborn.

“He was very excited, but says his bookstore is too small for a presentation but he’d sponsor a presentation in the coffee shop across the steet.

“He looked up your name in his computer.  You were there.  Lebesnborn is already listed!  We both smiled aat the sight of it, as if we were both part of something much bigger than ourselves, and part of an ‘inner circle’ with a secret ready to be revealed.”

 A young nun in the East was explaining their Gregorian CD’s.  In exchange, I told her about Lebensborn and attempted to down play the sermon I’d written for the village priest.  She thought I was talking about sex scenes and said, “Why that’s wonderful.  We like to read about sex.  I think we should have the book for our convent library.”

The first presentation of Lebensborn took place Sunday for dinner guests.  “Too long.   Too fast, ” were the comments. 

Two short scenes were read by two men and two women.  Those went well so another scene play will be added. 

 A better idea now will be that the presentation will be introduced with  a powerful musical selection of Richard Wagner’s.  “You’ve just heard the favorite composer of Adolf Hitler and Himmler.  It was Himmler who began the Lebensborn program in the mid l930’s to create a Master Race.  Our story  tells of a French girl in the Resistance.  Her home is commandeered by an elite group of the SS.  Listen now as two from our audience act out the Strumbannfuher’s new rules for her village.”

Books have been ordered.  Authors receive the same discount as a book store if 75 or more are ordered: $8.48 per copy rather than $11.66 if ordered per copy.

The usual rate for a bookstore 40% of the sale price: $16.95, less the $8.48, which gives the author roughly $1.70 per book.  

In other marketing areas, there are supplies to purchase from the company:counter or floor displays, posters, etc. 

The publisher’s press contact, Susan, who lives in Minneapolis and who once lived in Cedar Falls, where I once did, represents 33 other authors and has a non-fiction WWII on board.  Perhaps she can generate book reviews.

My librarian says to query the Library Journal and the Publisher’s Weekly.

I hope she’ll query USA today, the New York Times magazine, the Des Moines Register (for which I once free-lanced as Anne Klepacki), the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Kansas City Star, Spokane Spokesman.

Perhaps the e-mail expert, Julie, who says she got married last November and danced the night away, is querying her supervisor to see if they can e-mail book distributors to airports in the U.S. and France &  Germany as I’ve requested.

Meanwhile, contacts are in process with the American Red Cross.  This prestigeous organization for which I did public relations for a number of years, has a Trace & Protect Program to help the “lost children” locate their original parent, mother or father.

As our organic farmer says, “Too much to do.  So little time.”  It’s been raining for weeks and there’s no forecast for sun.  Everyone worries that their garden will not be able to produce.  Weeds, however, love the rain.

Whirlwind Hits

Whirlwind Hits

High winds. Trees down. No matter that a wind storm was taking place Monday at the Lazy Bee and plans for the vast clean up were needed, hand-holding the manuscript pages for Lebensborn and reading each page out loud continued on with Bud, for three intense days. A five-day deadline was looming.

“The proper way to let me know about a fix is to tell me the actual book page number, paragraph number, line number, word number, what the problem is and the fix. Present it like this: Page 56, Paragraph 4, Line 2, Last word: period is missing. Add period. Page 79, Paragraph 3, Line 6, word 4; “peak” should be “peek.”

By the end of the third day, the first and second revisions had been corrected and sent to Bonnie, the book’s designer. Final sign off and dedicated work on our forested property both happened Friday. It was a good day.

In a week or two, the art department will request more information for their design of the book’s cover. The design of the text block is crisp and clean, so less will be more when it comes to art work on the cover.

Visual components may include: the dual-cowl Mercedes Phaeton, a convertible by definition, the gates of the SS house with the French girl looking out of a window at the Lebensborn next door, a silhouette of Major Hurst in the SS gray uniform with the Mercedes behind him. Will the artist do the art or incorporate a photo from their collection?

In another month, I may be able to hold the book. For a moment there will be the fleeting feeling of exhilaration which comes after a long-term project has been reached. But, then, comes the real work: letting people know about Lebensborn. Marketing Lebensborn becomes the next part of this blog.

Momentum Lost & Gained Again

Momentum Lost & Gained Again

  The driving power, push and energy taking Lebensborn to the next step is stolen by our ten-day trip to Chicago.  An interview for a military collectibles article was put on hold.  Weeks later the necessary information and the writing of the article is again side-tracked by the arrival of spring and outdoor projects.

    A delay has been announced by the publisher.  “Please understand,” says Georgie, “Currently we have been forced to place a hold on new productions for two to three weeks. Please be assured that this is a temporary situation and one that we do implement from time to time so there is nothing to be concerned about.  Your manuscript will go into text block production in two to three weeks at which time I will contact you with the print Manager who will be handling the layout of your book.  If you feel that three weeks has passed and you have not heard from me, please do not hesitate to e-mail me.”

    Georgie finally sends details.

    Ellen Green, press department, and Kira Robbins, art department, send e-mails: “We want to get started on your cover and marketing materials.  Please fill in the attached form.  It is our pleasure to work with you on cover design, including back cover text, and to promote your book when it is ready.”

    E-mailing their form was a nightmare.  Kim wrote, “Looks like everything after the genre question is coming through blank.”  “Okay Kim,” I write back, “What last bit did the computer swallow?”

    They both forward another form, a word attachment.  I breathed a sigh of relief when a fully-completed document went through.  “Got it,” says Kim.  “Thanks for your patience and diligence.” 

     The genres I’ve chosen to list Lebensborn are: fiction/historical, fiction/war & military, and drama/European and Continental.  Another suggested third: fiction/action & adventure if the drama idea isn’t appropriate.

     The large and small synopses of the book were written, along with a lengthy listing of the main characters, fifty or so.

     The writing questions:  motivation for the book, themes of messages, setting.  The questions that concerned writing were fun.  They wanted to know why and when I write, my day job. When did I realize I wanted to be a writer?  They asked about my writing schedule, obstacles to writing, influence of life experience, writer’s block, and inspiration. 

    Where did I grow up?  “In Iowa,” I said, “where the tall corn really does grow and where some natives do get restless and move west.”  To answer where I live now, I said, “I make my home at the base of a mountain in Eastern Washington State five miles from Trail, British Columbia, where my husband and I have created a rustic bed and breakfast called the Lazy Bee.”

     I’ll hear more from the art and press departments.  The really big step is the print-block phase.  No one ever said writing would be an easy career.  Every job has challenges!

My main obstacle: “Living the mountain lifestyle, while at the same time keeping the ranch supplied, cleaned, planted and landscape in pristine condition for possible B&B guests.  I think I’ll find a little cabin by a river and do like Marjorie Kinnen Rallings.  She found a cook/housekeeper and sat on the porch and wrote.