Ursula Mahlendorf

Almost finished reading The Shame of Survival - Working Through a Nazi Childhood by Ursula Mahlendorf. It's a 2009 release. I chose it as background reading for my WIP. This book is fascinating: a first-person female youth's perspective. There are so many levels to this book. There's the obvious political, then the family dynamics, the war, and the growth of self. It explains so much - not by telling, but by showing. All those severe German attitudes I grew up with - and still encounter - are there in the characters of her book, and, of course, the great universal spasm between adults and young people.

It's also fascinating to see her love of literature develop - reminds me of The Book Thief - one of my all time favorite novels. She puts samples of German poetry in the book - poems I remember reading as a student when I had to go to Saturday morning German School.

I'm close to the end now, and it's growing ever more compelling.

Math Truth

What is truth?

This question haunts me a bit because on my book cover it'll say "based on a true story." What does that mean? I wonder myself. I wanted the truth to be in the historical events surrounding my character. I wanted my character to be true to the personal trauma my mother experienced - loss of home, of parents, of her dog. I wanted my character to be true to the vanities, insecurities and interests of an eleven-year-old girl (here, I'd say I relied more on my own girls & my childhood - but the imaginary girl of the book has definite character traits of my 90-year-old mother who retains a lot of that eleven-year-old fighting spirit).

The beauty and strength of fiction is that - like a math equation - you can work everything out. If it doesn't balance - if the events and the character do not come to terms with each other in some way - then the story fails. Of course, an author manipulates the plot and the character development. After all, in our finite world of the book, we are the creators. We get to choose which characters stay or go. But it's the readers who judge 'the truth' of that world. And like in math, we have 'theorems' to go along with the equations. Each piece of fiction has a 'theorem' - and that is what the author sets out to prove.

Truth? Can it be simple math? Let's see.
If a + b = c then c -b = a
If girl (a) plus dog (b) equals home (c) , then home (c) minus dog(b) equals girl (a)

But this is where math fails. Yes, we have girl - but we have a changed girl. How do you show that truth? Man, back to the books. Math and me will never get along.


I've been trying to keep myself distracted while awaiting my first book release - pub. date is Nov. 24. I've been revising a wip and have also started something completely new. But reading good books has been my best distraction at the moment. Marissa Doyle's Bewitching Season has been sitting on my bedside pile for over a year now, and I've finally read it. Wow! I so enjoyed it and must read the next in the series, Betraying Season. I see she has a third coming out called, The Waterloo Plot. Historical fiction with romance and humour. Great combination. Marissa was co-chair of the Class of 2k8 and she was a kind, level-headed and grounded leader. So good to see how her writing career has taken off.

I've also just finished reading Betsy Lerner's The Forest for the Trees. It was the right book at the right time and has got me prepared for life after publication. Listen to this quote from chapter 12: "Most books come into this world with the fanfare of a stillborn." (James Purdy). Oh. That's encouraging. Then Lerner goes on to say, "Publishing a book can be a cruel joke on the uninitiated." Well, that's me - the uninitiated. Okay, so I'm psyching myself up for postpartum depression and the cruel joke. You know, if a tree falls in the forest and there's nobody there, does it make a sound. Well, if you get a book published, and nobody reads it, does the book really exist?

My c0-BTP author, Bev Patt's, debut novel Haven, has just been born, and I wish Haven and its creator nothing but a wonderful life. Can't wait for my copy in the mail.

Let me quote from Lerner one more time: "This quixotic belief in oneself is critical for a writer's continued existence..." I hear music from Journey crowding my brain.


Check out the latest Class of 2k9 post. It's a 'marketing gift' to the class of 2k10. (And since it's on the internet, it's a gift to us all.) Great advice in there, too! Dare I sum it up? Get involved in group marketing, be bold, but be yourself. There's no right way to do this. Just believe and always keep writing.

I had to drop out of the Class of 2k8 (after spending a whole year in it). That was a sad shocker. Then I made the difficult decision of dropping out of the Class of 2k9. I still watched the class from afar - like a student who drops out of school - I'd sometimes stand on the opposite curb and watch the buzz (or is that 'hear' the buzzer?). Do I regret dropping out? Sometimes. But my reasons were reasonable and at the time it was the right decision. I learned so much just hanging out in 2k8 for over a year, and I strongly recommend group marketing for newcomers.

Publishing is a huge, confusing world. But that big publishing world seems a wee bit cozier when I recognize former classmates' books on Winnipeg bookstore shelves. Thanks fellow Blooming Tree author, Greg Fishbone!

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