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.

Article for German Publication

Article for German Publication

German Life is a bi-monthly magazine dedicated to solid reporting on cultural and historical events as well as the publishing of travel information. Accepted manuscripts are printed nine months to two years after acceptance.

In my letter to the publisher today, I said, the enclosed article was nucleus of information I’d use when I talk about Germany and the novel during book presentations.

“Lebesnborn is my WWII historical novel about the secret Nazi Lebensborn program (unknown to the German public but not to their military). The novel is scheduled to be published by Eloquent books early this summer of 2010.

“My professional background includes a decade of public relations with the American Red Cross in Iowa and Montana so my background is acknowledged in several references to the superior expertise the Germans had in public relations. I have also worked for newspapers as reporter and editor and my freelance articles have appeared in many major magazines such as the Des Moines Register and Cedar Rapids Gazette/”

New Blogger Begins

My publisher has sent instructions for how-to-blog. So, I’m going to blog and have the help of Sherry Bloxam, a gal. She lives in nearby Northport and once was a hippy living in the Seattle Love Family Israel commune and while there learned her computer skills at Microsoft.

The site to blog recommended by the publisher cost $24.95 per month, so she used at no charge. These blogs will be linked through my Facebook page.

Through the Costco Magazine, I discovered It’s a fun and more personnel way to blog.

The final edit is over. It was exhausting and tedious. No matter how well anything is written, there always is a bit here and there to be improved. In the last edit, “eve” was pointed out to be missed spelled and should have been eave. Who would have known that the word “gray” is preferred over grey?

I’ve e-mailed manuscripts to several persons who may provide a review of the novel. My son, Tony, who lives on the East Coast, wanted to read the novel. He opened the first book and tried yesterday to phone to say how much he likes the novel. “It reminds me of reading Grisham. When I pick up a book and it doesn’t hold my interest in the first page or two, I don’t continue reading.”
“How far did you read?”
“Just the first chapter,” he said.
“You’re just arriving at the good stuff.”
He said, “Don’t tell me. I don’t want to spoil the surprise.”

Heaven Help the World

Blogging is as much fun for me as investing, hosting a dinner party, writing a love scene, sitting beside a campfire watching the clouds roll by, concocting a new recipe or kayaking with the girls.

The outpouring of thoughts flows naturally. I feel sad for those who find writing to be a chore or difficult. Some have told me that it’s inconceivable for them to find it easy. An AAUW friend who asked for help to write press releases says, “You don’t know, how I agonize over every word.”

Will the world be filled with an overload of information and topple over? I’ve watched my husband’s writing bloom doing it every day. He was an expert at engineering reports, but when he saw me having so much fun writing fiction he thought he’d give it try and write a few pages about the last Indian Wars in the Pacific Northwest.
Ten years later, he has more than six-hundred pages. He spends mornings writing and in the afternoon, he’s off to work in the woods.

Another Direction

Every day brings new insights for how-to showcase the book. During a chat with a man at the Chicago Visitors Bureau, I asked if there were a military museum in Chicago. He gave me the phone number for the Midwest Military Museum. During our conversation, I told him about Lebensborn. “I’m writing the title down now. It sounds interesting,” he said. 

The synopsis of Lebensborn: A French girl is caught in the web of the SS plan to create a Master Race. Intrigue in the heart of Germany is WWII. (Or, should I have said, Intrigue at an SS party house next to a Lebensborn home in the heart of Germany in WWII?)

R. James Bender, in San Jose, who sells military collectibles, says he is too swamped by work to answer questions for an article about military collectibles. “I work sixteen hours a day and seven days a week.” Later, I am to discover than anyone like Mr. Bender in this profession must have the same passion, dedication and ability to work on their collections.

Note to San Rafael Community

Coming soon to your area!

Hello San Rafael Community:

Jo Ann Bender. That’s me. I’ll be coming in your area this fall to talk about my new novel, Lebensborn, non-political, and discuss this secret Nazi program. If any meetup club has an interest in learning more or hosting me, please have them contact: Jo Ann Bender, 3651 Deep Lake Boundary Rd., Colville, Wa. 99114,
Or, you can read my blog:

Lebensborn Celebrities

Lebensborn Celebrities

Two Scandinavian celebrities are Lebensborn children. Abba star Anni-Lrid Lyngstad is the child of a Norwegian mother and German sergeant. She was shunned and persecuted during her childhood and found her father three decades later, saying, “I can’t really connect to him and love him the way I would have if he’d been around when I was growing up.” Her mother died before she was two and her grandmother immigrated to Sweden to raise her.
Marta Kristen was born to a Finnish mother and German soldier who was killed towards the end of WW II. A couple from the U.S. adopted her and changed her name from Bridget to Marta. She has a long list of movie appearances like Wagon Train and Lost in Space. Off screen, she tried to find her roots. In l969 she was found her real mother in Finland and has met her older sister. She continues to look for other family members, a brother in Austria and a sister in Finland.
While researching history in Germany for Lebensborn, I met a man in a suburb north of Frankfurt . He is the child of a Polish man brought like many others from Poland to work the agriculture fields in that area during WWII.
He said, “When the war was over and the German soldiers were coming home, the parish priest told mothers of the thousand babies born of the Poles to kill us. My mother put me in the kitchen stove but my grandmother pulled me out. There were only two of us children at school and we were shunned and bullied. It was a terrible childhood.”


Why did the black SS uniforms disappear?
What was the Lebensborn program? Why couldn’t an SS officer receive a promotion if they had no children?
WWII collectibles. Are they still popular?
Why was the Nazi public relations programs the most successful the world has ever witnessed?
Most Americans have little knowledge of the European geography and history of WWII. What limited history of WWII they do have comes from what source?

Following Leads

It was the first sunny day in a series of dreary weeks so I caught a ride with Bud to Chelan in his Comanche airplane to consult with a client. 

They dropped me off at the small, sunny Chelan library of many windows (this pristine lake city has 3,500 residents). I snatched up their current Writer’s Market and jotted down publications with interest in collectibles for possible article submissions.
 I put on my marketing hat to find a way to let people learn of the Lebensborn program and novel.

The second edition of my story cookbook is almost sold out. The sales ladies at Big R, a rural western ranch supply house, learned that I’m considering a third edition and are eager for the third to arrive.
The store manager asked me to show the cookbook to one of their store buyers who liked it enough to give me a vendor number. Jerrod, the store manager, told him, “People come in asking for it.” Of course, it has a spotlighted position near the checkout counters. The books are on display in a rustic wooden holder Bud crafted in his cluttered barn.