Playlist: Shell Shocked (Sophia’s War, #7)

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Here’s the playlist to the seventh and final installment in my Sophia’s War series, Shell Shocked! Hope you enjoy!

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All of Me – John Legend (with Lindsey Stirling)

All Fall Down – OneRepublic

Atlas – Coldplay

Baby Mine – Alison Krauss

Beautiful, Beautiful – Francesca Battistelli

Bleeding Out – Imagine Dragons

The Broken Beautiful – Ellie Holcomb

Broken Together – Casting Crowns

Busted Heart – for KING & COUNTRY

Change – Taylor Swift

Dark Days – Punch Brothers

Devil May Cry – The Weeknd

Diamonds in the Dust – Diane Birch

Dream – The Boxer Rebellion

Elastic Heart – Sia ft. The Weeknd

Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Lorde

Everytime – Britney Spears

Family – Noah Gundersen

Fight the End – Christon

Final Days – Matt Wilcox

Fire and Dynamite – Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors

Flightless Bird, American Mouth – Iron and Wine

Found – Christel Alsos

Halt dich an mir fest (Hold On To Me) – Revolverheld ft. Marta Jandová

Heart By Heart – Demi Lovato

Holding On and Letting Go – Ross Copperman

I Could Live With Dying Tonight – Emma Lee

I Don’t Deserve You – Plumb

I Need You – LeAnn Rimes

I Still Believe – Jeremy Camp

In the Stream – S. Carey

Innocence – Avril Lavigne

It Plays On – Diane Birch

It’s You – Michelle Branch

Keep Holding On – Avril Lavigne

Kingdom Come – The Civil Wars

Lights – Josh Ritter

Little House – Amanda Seyfried

Love is Marching – BarlowGirl

Love Remains the Same – Gavin Rosalie

Lullaby – Dixie Chicks

Lullaby – Nickelback

Mirror – Ellie Goulding

More Time – Needtobreathe

Mundscheinsonate (Moonlight Sonata) – Beethoven

My Immortal – Evanescence

Never Say Never – The Fray

Oblivion – Bastille

Only One – Yellowcard

Out of the Woods – Taylor Swift

Place For Us – Mikky Ekko ft. Ammar Malik

Read All About It (pt III) – Emeli Sandé

Recover – Natasha Bedingfield

Say (All I Need) – OneRepublic

Say Anything – Ashley Nite

Set No Sun – UNKLE ft. Elle J and Joel Cadbury

Silhouettes – Of Monsters and Men

Skinny Love – Birdy

Still Holding Out For You – SHeDAISY

Sweet & Wild – Dierks Bentley

There You’ll Be – Faith Hill

Things We Lost in the Fire – Bastille

True North – Jillette Johnson

Turning Pages – Sleeping At Last

Underneath – Jessica Simpson

Walking Blind – Aidan Hawken and Carina Round

What Hurts the Most – Rascal Flatts

Wheel of the World – Carrie Underwood

When I Look At You – Miley Cyrus

Whispers – Dave Baxter

Who Did That To You – John Legend

Who We Are – Imagine Dragons

The Wine We Drink – Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors

With Love – Christina Grimmie

You – Switchfoot

 

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Get Shell Shocked on Amazon here!

Adrian’s Mistake (Adrian #3, Short Story Sophia’s War Series)

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This is part 3 in a short story series I’m doing for my Sophia’s War novel series. This one contains medium spoilers for books 1-6 🙂 Hope you enjoy!

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Frankfurt, Germany

April and May, 1933

She smelled like strawberries.

He couldn’t take a breath without breathing in the intoxicating scent of her. Katherina’s arms were around him, the two of them out of sight under the stairwell. He tore his lips away from hers. “I really have to go.”

But her fingers were running through his hair, her lips on his neck, on his jaw. She pulled him close, pressing her body to his, her back against the wall.

“He’s going to yell at me,” Adrian breathed between kisses.

Katherina nibbled at his lip. “Report him.”

“For what?”

“For interfering with your duty to the Fatherland. What we are doing here is of great importance.” She simpered. “I don’t know why you worry so much about your grandfather.”

It wasn’t Opa he was afraid of. It had been a long time since he’d looked at Opa with fear instead of resentment, anyway.

She kissed him, a deep, blood-pumping kiss. “You don’t answer to him anymore. You answer to no one but the Party.”

This was supposed to make him feel better; this was supposed to empower him. Pledging his allegiance to the Party meant Opa had little to no authority over him, especially when what Opa wanted conflicted with Adrian’s commitment to the Hitler Youth. Each day, Adrian found it easier to bypass the once unmistakable boundaries of his own conscience; it was the only way he could get through the meetings with the Hitler Youth without presenting a different opinion, even for argument’s sake. Spurning his own dissent during some of the Nazi discussions allowed him to continue enjoying the military exercises and games with his friends.

And then, there were his clandestine meetings with Luther. Remaining under Luther’s tutelage allowed him to keep learning something since he had stopped putting so much effort into his regular classes. His association with Luther had begun as an act of resisting Nazism—and their activities were becoming increasingly illegal—but somewhere along the way, the zeal for their purpose had begun to slip away from him. Adrian was learning it was possible to straddle the line, able to live in and proclaim fealty to both worlds.

And then there was Katherina. While the Hitler Youth strengthened his body, Luther sharpened his mind—and Katherina made toys of them both.

Her breath was hot in his ear. “There’s a janitor’s closet down the hall that no one ever uses. Come.”

He was late. Luther was going to reprimand him. It wasn’t until she began leading him down the hall that he halted. “Not now. I’m sorry, I don’t have time. Maybe tonight?”

“I told you, I’m leaving tonight. My parents are taking us to the country for the weekend. Heinrich, please. Before I leave?”

He frowned. “Find me as soon as you get back. But I can’t right now. I have to go.”

He could tell she was frustrated. He kissed her cheek. “Heil Hitler.”

“Heil Hitler,” she returned, dispirited as she released his hand.

He shielded his eyes from the sun, stepping out of the building. With an involuntary glance at the windows to the apartment he shared with Oma and Opa across the street, he started down the sidewalk.

Luther was marking papers at his desk when Adrian burst in, out of breath. He clicked his heels from the doorway, raising his arm. “Heil Hitler, Herr—”

“You’re late, Herr Burkhardt,” he said without looking up. “We were to meet at precisely five pm. What time does the clock read?”

Eyeing the large clock on the wall behind Luther’s desk, Adrian shut the door behind him. “Seven after, Herr. My Opa found the books hidden under my bed. He was threatening to throw them into the stove.”

“That, Herr Burkhardt,” Luther said, setting aside the papers as he stood, “is a lie.”

Adrian stared at him, sinking into one of the desk chairs. Luther limped around his desk with his cane. “You never volunteer information. And to tell a convincing falsehood, you have to make eye contact. You are supposed to already know that. Someday, your very life may depend on it.”

Adrian sighed, gritting his teeth. He refrained from looking away in annoyance. Neither Luther nor Karl, his Hitler Youth leader, allowed such displays of exasperation toward authority.

Luther observed him without blinking, leaning on his desk. “A report on your conduct in the Hitler Youth has reached me. I found it troubling. Herr Althaus—your squad leader—says he’s impressed with the progress you’ve made. Apparently, you’ve gone from the bottom rung of the ladder to the very top.”

A smile flickered across Adrian’s lips. He’d been able to tell that Karl was pleased with his prowess in their exercises, his determination and quick thinking when they played football or any sport, for that matter. Lately, he’d even been getting the better of Rolf. It was making Rolf more aggressive, and it probably didn’t help that he was courting Katherina.

Katherina had taken to waiting on the corner for Adrian after his meetings at the Hitler Youth headquarters, when she wasn’t meeting with the BDM. The first time she’d done this, Rolf had thought she was there for him. Adrian hadn’t missed the shock, the affront in Rolf’s expression as she wrapped her arm around Adrian’s, walking down the sidewalk. Rolf became more formal with him at school afterward, though it wasn’t until the next exercise with the Hitler Youth that Rolf’s brewing rage found an outlet. During a scuffle to remove the blue bands off the sleeves of their opposing team, Rolf had punched him in the jaw in the confusion—though they were on the same team—removing Adrian’s red band, thus removing him from the game. One of the younger boys had seen, as Adrian had, that this was deliberate, and Adrian wouldn’t stand for being made to appear weak; there was no place in the Hitler Youth for the weak. He tackled Rolf, the two of them fighting, rolling around on the ground. Suddenly, the focus wasn’t on the exercise anymore as the other boys cheered them on. Karl let it go on for a while before separating them, and they were subsequently punished at the next meeting by scrubbing the entire sidewalk with brushes and a bucket of suds. After that, Rolf seemed to accept that Katherina would never be his, ceding her to Adrian. Their friendship resumed after that.

Luther lifted his chin. “You must be very proud.”

Adrian smiled. “I am.”

He jumped in his seat as Luther slammed his cane down on Adrian’s desk with a heavy thwack. “Have you learned nothing that I have been teaching you? Have you so easily abandoned the whole purpose to these meetings?”

Where he would have cowered before, Adrian straightened in his seat. “I have not. I thought you would be pleased, Herr Luther. Karl says I could very well be Bannführer in a few years.”

Luther raised his head. Adrian had never seen his eyes so wide before. His teacher’s stunned silence enlivened him. “That, I accomplished all on my own, even with the pins your tailor leaves in my uniforms, poking me every time I move. Sometimes, I think she leaves them in just to sabotage me.”

“That’s the first logical assumption to come out of your mouth today,” Luther replied. “Frau Hutmacher does indeed leave in her pins, but only under my instructions.”

Adrian’s brow tightened. “What? Why?”

“Because you are getting far too comfortable in that uniform, Herr Burkhardt,” Luther answered in a menacing whisper. “You are forgetting everything I’ve taught you, forgetting all you were trying to escape before. You think your Opa is bad? He is nothing! There is a war coming—”

“I know that,” Adrian said. Lately he had taken to Karl’s speeches about the might of the German Army over Luther’s sly, deprecating remarks toward Herr Hitler’s plans for Germany. “Karl talks about it all the time; that those of us who fight for Germany will be honored and praised. That someday, we will all be given plots of land when we retake the borders .”

That thought alone appealed to him most; he had nothing, and Oma and Opa would leave him nothing once they were gone.

Luther stared at him. He gripped the handle of his cane with both hands. “Does our great Führer have this land already, Herr Burkhardt? If so, why isn’t he giving it to you now?”

Adrian alone knew Luther only referred to Hitler as ‘our great Führer’ when he was being sarcastic. “No. He doesn’t have the land now.”

Luther’s jaw muscles were bulging. “And it sits well with you that he intends on taking this land from someone else? You can justify taking someone else’s property simply because you want it?”

Adrian wavered. He shrugged. “Karl says it was always ours; that the Russians, the Poles, the Volksdeutsche…they took it from us and it’s our right to get it back.”

“Whose right?”

Adrian swallowed. He’d felt a surge of pride when Karl spoke, but now, regurgitating it back to Luther to justify his feelings, he felt a twinge of guilt. “Those of us with pure blood—Aryan blood. Those of us who bring Hitler glory on the battlefield.”

Luther didn’t move. It startled him when Luther suddenly tucked his cane under his arm, pulling up his pants leg.

Deep scars delved underneath Luther’s gray socks. It looked as if his leg were a lump of clay someone had dropped and then gripped too tightly to pick it back up. His calf was almost completely missing, sunken in like a shriveled peach behind his knee, extending all the way up past his thigh. Adrian hadn’t realized how evident his disgust was in his expression until he met Luther’s gaze.

“Make no mistake, Adrian,” Luther muttered. “There is no glory; there is only this.”

While Adrian was still recovering from the sight, Luther began their lesson, interrogating him about his day first in German, followed by English, French and Russian.

It was dark outside when Luther deemed their lesson over for the night. “We made a contract, Adrian. A verbal one, but one that is based on honor and keeping your word.”

He was still too distracted by the thought of Luther’s maimed leg to feel offended by the implication that he wasn’t. “I’ve kept my word.”

Luther peered at him over his glasses. “You’ve been reading your Bible every night? As I asked you to?”

Adrian blinked. “Most nights.”

Luther gave an admonishing tilt of his head.

“I didn’t think it was as important—”

“It is of absolute importance! The Bible doesn’t change, Adrian. No matter what the condition of the world, the morality of the Bible stays the same. It is of absolute importance in times like this, when what is lawful is not always what is right. It is of absolute importance when the riddle of what is true is in question.”

“I don’t always have time to read it. I have work to do.”

This,” Luther said, closing his eyes, “is your work.”

“I’m tired, Herr Luther. I’m not even trying to fail my classes anymore; I am legitimately failing. Between this and the meetings and my duties with the Hitler Youth, I don’t always have time.”

Luther studied him. As stern and serious as Luther often was, Adrian detected a flicker of dismay in Luther’s countenance. He watched as Luther stood, and he clenched his jaw as Luther pulled yet another book from his desk drawer.

As if he didn’t have enough to read already. Each night he read a chapter of Pushkin, of Frost, of Dumas—in their native tongues—into the early morning hours. He hadn’t even read from his collection of Heinrich Heine’s works lately, as he used to so often. It was only when he wasn’t falling asleep while reading the others that he bothered to read his Bible.

He felt cross as Luther handed him the book, though that irritability evaporated upon seeing it was a history book. “I know how much you love learning. I know it bothers you that you haven’t been able to dedicate time to it anymore. This is for you to read and study as you wish. It’s the ‘old stuff’; the past our beloved Führer deems irrelevant compared to the history he’s making.”

Adrian flipped through the pages. This simple gesture touched him, though he said nothing.

Luther spoke quietly. “I understand how important it is to you to do your very best. I know the idea of being mediocre is detestable to you. Under normal circumstances, that would be admirable—enviable even. I know all that Karl says sounds good, but…you must learn to listen beyond what he is saying to hear the things he’s not saying. I am not asking you to give your second best because I don’t want you to succeed; I’m trying to save you, whether you see that yet or not. Stop being so outstanding at what you do for Karl, Adrian. Someday, you will thank me for the foresight you don’t yet have.”

As hindered as he had felt by Luther’s guidance lately, he felt only gratitude as he looked at the book. Perhaps it was the fact that he respected and trusted Luther that made him want to please him; perhaps it was the fact that he could hear how much Luther believed in what he was saying. It seemed too mawkish to think he wished to obey Luther, in spite of himself, because he could hear the sincere care in Luther’s voice for him. Oma and Opa never spoke to him like that.

Luther sighed. “There is an excellent lesson in Judges sixteen. Read it. Tonight.”

Luther was scrutinizing him as he did during their simulated interrogations. Adrian wondered what he was looking for. The moment he was in the privacy of his bedroom, he found the passage in the Bible, skin prickling as he read about Samson and Delilah.

How did he know? How could he know? If there was one secret Adrian kept well-concealed from Luther, it was Katherina.

He laid his head on his pillow, contemplating it—contemplating her. She hadn’t been detrimental to his work with Luther. Perhaps this was just another unfounded fear of Luther’s; an unnecessary, eccentric precaution. As long as he wasn’t telling Katherina what he was doing, he couldn’t see why he should end the relationship.

In nearly every interrogation session with Luther, it had been Katherina he’d kept as his secret. He’d kept secret the way the kissing had escalated to touching; how the touching had escalated to taking off clothing; how the nakedness had escalated to…

He blinked, rolling over to face the wall. It was going to be a long weekend without her.

The following Tuesday, he stepped out of the Hitler Youth headquarters with Rolf, starting down the street. Just on the corner, he could see Katherina’s silhouette as the Adler family car pulled up next to them.

Rolf opened the door, pulling his gaze away from Katherina. “I take it you don’t need a ride home.”

Adrian shook his head. “No. Thank you.”

Rolf nodded. “See you tomorrow.”

Even in the darkness, Adrian could make out Katherina’s smile. She gripped his face in the dark, kissing him. “Are your grandparents home?”

“They’re always home.”

“I want to be with you,” she whispered in his ear.

He couldn’t go home; he was supposed to meet Luther. “I don’t really have time right now.”

Her fingers locked with his, tugging at his hand as she stepped into the street. “Walk me home. We can stop by the alley—”

He wrenched free of her with a flash of annoyance. “I can’t go home. I have…I have remedial arithmetic and have to meet Herr Luther now.”

“Remedial arithmetic?” She snorted. “Heinrich, please. I haven’t seen you in almost a week.”

He looked around, conscious of the fact that he was going to be late for Luther again. Luther was bound to punish him for it this time. He grabbed her hand. “Come with me.”

She giggled with anticipation. “Where are you taking me?”

He didn’t answer, taking her down the road, paying for her tram ride towards the Gymnasium. The school was deserted as always, Katherina tittering at his side from the thrill of it all. Adrian shushed her, seeing the light spilling out from Luther’s classroom at the other end of the hall. Turning down another hallway, he took her into the library, shutting the door without a sound.

They weaved around tables, trotting down to one of the aisles of books in the back. He could feel the heat of her breath on his neck in the darkness, meeting her lips with his. Lowering onto the floor, the warmth and softness of her body beneath his was beckoning. Unbuckling his belt, he lifted the skirt of her dress.

He put a hand over her mouth as she reacted to him. When it became too difficult to keep himself quiet, too, he sealed her mouth with his own, when someone gripped his shoulders, ripping him off of Katherina.

There was a click, and the bright beam of a flashlight seared through the darkness. Katherina gasped. Adrian covered himself, looking up from the floor, squinting from the light. The light stayed on him for a second before roving over to Katherina, who had gotten to her feet, fumbling to straighten her dress.

“Fräulein Huber,” a familiar voice said. “I should write your parents for this.”

Katherina stared past the light, jaw quivering as her eyes filled with tears.

Luther’s voice was threateningly low. “I should notify the principal. He would move quickly to have you expelled from this school.” The light shook. “Get out.”

Katherina didn’t spare Adrian a second look, stepping over his legs and heading out of the room. Luther lowered the light to his side only when they heard the library door open and close. “Correct yourself, Herr Burkhardt. Then I want you in my office. Now.”

Adrian sat alone in the dark, listening to the door open and close as Luther left. Heart racing, he fixed his clothes, smoothing his hair before leaning on a shelf to steady his breath, to calm himself, to ready himself with explanations his brain was too disorganized to construct.

Luther was leaning against his desk, head down and arms crossed when Adrian entered. He was looking at Adrian over the frame of his glasses.

“Herr Luther, I…I can explain—”

“Sit down.”

Adrian swallowed. With a self-conscious gait, he headed up the aisle, lowering into one of the desk chairs.

Luther was glaring at him. “What were you thinking?”

“I didn’t…it was just…Herr Luther, I wasn’t—”

“Do you realize what you’ve done?” Luther asked roughly.

“Herr Luther, please, it wasn’t—”

“You have taken everything we’ve worked for, everything we are working toward, and spat on it,” he snapped.

“No—”

“I want you to answer a question, Adrian, and believe me, I will know if you’re lying.” Glowering, Luther gripped the desktop. “Are you a Nazi?”

Adrian stared at him, agape. “No…no, Luther, it was just…it was stupid. It was just to relieve some stress.”

Luther raised his head. “As if that excuses what you were doing? You are taking advantage of that girl—”

“No, I’m not. Herr Luther, she likes me. She’s mine.”

“What do you mean, she’s yours?”

“I won her from Rolf and she wants to be with me. She’s mine.”

The sudden red rage on Luther’s face stunned him. He watched as Luther yanked his Bible off his desk, limping without his cane toward him. Adrian threw up his hands to shield himself as Luther struck him with it.

“What are you…what is wrong with you?” Adrian shouted.

“You. Do. Not. Own. That. Girl!” Luther bellowed as he battered him. “She is not a piece of property for you to do with as you please!”

“Luther!”

He landed two more blows before the assault seemed to stop. Adrian peered over his hands, slowly dropping his arms. Despite the attack, Luther looked calm, as if he were merely having a serious discussion. Luther tossed his Bible on his desk, hobbling back. “That is all she is to you; a method for release. She is not like you; she is one of them, indoctrinated with their values. You were supposed to be a thinker, not a follower. You were supposed to resist Nazism—”

“I’m not a Nazi—”

“But you are using the ideology to excuse your behavior! You are using her belief in it as a tactic to take advantage of her. Tell me you’ve at least been using prophylactics.”

Adrian gulped, before shaking his head. Luther bowed his head, rubbing his eyes. It was a moment before Luther spoke again. “And what will happen when you find out she is in the family way? What will you do about the child?”

Adrian stared at him, giving a halfhearted shrug. He hadn’t thought that far ahead. Karl said it was their duty to perpetuate the race; Katherina said it was her duty to bear children. Until now, his responsibility for a child she might carry hadn’t occurred to him. It was her job to be a mother; it was his job to be a soldier.

Arms crossed, Luther was shaking his head. “I am so disappointed in you, Heinrich. Very disappointed.”

That stung. Luther hadn’t called him Heinrich since their first meeting a year ago.

“These skills I’ve been helping you acquire, this position I’ve been preparing you for, is for someone with paramount dedication; for someone with unfaltering focus and the commitment to follow through. I thought that was you. You need to decide who and what you are loyal to, Heinrich. Until then, I see no reason for us to continue.”

Eyes down, Adrian swallowed. “My name’s not Heinrich.”

Luther sat at his desk, straightening the sleeves of his jacket to write. “It’s not Adrian, either. I don’t know who you are. If I was right about you, you know where to find me. If I was wrong, then we part ways here, never to speak of this again. You will be free to go to your stress reliever and start producing Aryan babies for the Reich; to die for your Führer. Either way, keep the Bible. You’re going to need it.”

The silence that followed scalded Adrian. Luther continued writing at his desk as if he were the only person in the room. Even as Adrian stood, Luther didn’t speak, didn’t even look up to tell him goodbye.

Oma was knitting in the living room when he arrived home. Opa was reading the newspaper, though he never looked up from it or his cigarette.

“Heinrich,” Oma said. “You’re home early. Dinner’s on the stove.”

“Danke, Oma. I’m not hungry.” Uninspired, he meandered down the hallway to his room. Locking the door, he sat on the edge of the bed. What was he supposed to do now? Where did he go from here?

Fingers tapping the wooden frame of his bed, he thought of the books underneath it. It had been a long time since he’d had this much time to himself. Ordinarily, he would spend it reading, or…

A light came on across the street. He watched from the dark of his bedroom as Katherina sat at her vanity, unraveling the braids in her long golden hair. The image used to move him, used to make him dream of greater things. Looking at her now, he felt none of that. He wondered how long it had been gone, and what exactly it was that was fueling him now.

She got up, walking over to the window to close the curtain. For a moment, he thought she could see him, freezing as she looked toward his window. He didn’t move, even as she lowered her gaze, closing the curtain until no light leaked out.

He closed his own curtain before changing out of his uniform and getting into bed. He was going to have to think about things; his moral compass had been tampered with, his desires and ambitions rerouted. His ship had stopped using its sails to take him where he wanted, allowing the current to lead him astray, carrying him according to its own whims. So he dropped his anchor for the time being, to reassess who he was becoming and who it was he wanted to be.

*****

Weeks passed. Without the late lessons with Luther, he was going to bed earlier, feeling rested each morning when he awoke. That was perhaps the only thing he was grateful for.

Despite his natural disposition, he stopped being so tenacious in the Hitler Youth, purposely becoming unexceptional. He stopped offering opinions or comments unless asked directly. He no longer strove to outsmart the other boys during their military exercises or outshine them while playing sports. It was a tricky balance, as he feared the repercussions if Karl or any of the other leaders noticed that he was deliberately irresolute during their activities.

Luther went back to regarding Adrian as insignificant as the next student. His gaze never lingered on him—often never even wandered in his direction during lectures—and he never addressed Adrian, even to answer questions. However, Luther’s aloofness was easier to handle than Katherina’s confusion at his own detachment from her.

He had stopped going straight home after school, walking along the Main or visiting the Zoological Garden just to avoid confronting her at home. He’d even snuck out the back of the Hitler Youth headquarters a couple of times, walking in the opposite direction he usually did.

She finally outsmarted him, waiting outside the headquarters when he arrived. She greeted him with a tentative smile. “I can’t help but feel like you’ve been avoiding me.”

When he didn’t deny this, her smile faded. “You have been avoiding me.”

He looked down at the dusty leather of his shoes.

“Is it…?” She looked around, shuffling her feet. “Is it because of what happened in the library?”

She was still so beautiful, and yet her charm had been lost to him for some reason. It made him feel even worse; they’d been together for a long time. He still remembered the first time she’d given herself to him. She’d told him about a conversation she’d had with her mother; how her mother had asked if she and Adrian would marry in a couple years. Though she’d laughed about it, he knew this was to bait him; to hint to him that it was what she herself wanted. Even then, he hadn’t been sure that was what he wanted, but he’d disregarded that, pleasure inundating his principles. In her mind, she was already his, and so she handed her body over to him as a promise of things to come; he took it, never once promising anything in return.

The Nazi doctrine was teaching him that women were for the sole purpose of procreation, yet looking at Katherina now, he saw a person he had consumed; a person who was a casualty of his own selfishness.

“Katherina,” he said, “I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent with you…”

He wasn’t sure how to proceed. Her eyes had filled with tears and she took a step back, hugging herself. “What are you…what are you doing?”

“I just…I need to focus on other things right now. I’m sorry.”

She gulped, avoiding his eyes. It was a moment before she spoke again. “Forever?”

“I don’t know,” he answered sincerely.

She sniffled, shoulders slumped as she stood in front of him. Even as she shuddered from her tears, all he could offer was another apology, heading back toward the headquarters.

He resumed the former reading assignments from Luther in his room. As alone as he felt, Frost’s poems were like conversing in front of a warm fire with a friend who understood him. Pushkin’s The Captain’s Daughter gave the Russians a much more humanistic quality than what he was hearing about in his Hitler Youth meetings. Dumas’ The Three Musketeers transported him to another time and place, giving him an escape from Opa, from Katherina, from Luther, from Herr Hitler. Sometimes, he even read from the history book Luther had given him and his Bible. It became the favorite part of his day, disappearing into his room after school, after the meetings, to read. Now that he had such a sufficient command of three other languages, it excited him, rendering him awestruck to think of how many other books in the world were available to teach him more.

It had been almost two months since his last conversation with Luther. Even when Adrian handed in his assignments, Luther hardly spared him a glance. Adrian lingered by his desk, wishing for something—a thoughtful look, a word—but Luther was already grading papers, having forgotten him. Out in the hallway was no better. Seeing Katherina was always unavoidable. Today, she was talking to a friend, though her smile dwindled upon seeing him and she looked away, turning to her friend as if she hadn’t noticed him at all.

He walked straight home to change into his uniform to be ready for when Rolf and Mena showed up. Opa didn’t even knock as he opened the door to his room. “Why is Rolf Adler here?”

Adrian didn’t look at him, tying his shoes. “There’s an event at the Römer tonight. We are going together.”

“That’s a boy whose father must be proud,” Opa grumbled as he shut the door. Adrian sat up, glaring at the door. At least Luther was proud of him.

He paused at the thought. Or used to be.

Rolf was standing in the kitchen, back straight, chin up with his hands behind his back. Karl had recently promoted him to Obergefolgschaftsführer, the three pins and fine lines decorating the shoulder straps on his uniform indicating his new position. Adrian had begun using Rolf as a landmark, intending to always remain at least one rank below him.

Rolf clicked his heels, raising his hand upon seeing Adrian, giving him the Hitler greeting. Adrian mirrored him.

Mena was already in the car, scooting over as he and Adrian got in. She looked just like her older brother; white hair and icy blue eyes. “Heil Hitler, Adrian.”

He slammed the door shut, looking at her. “Heil Hitler.”

His eyes fell behind her through the window. A soldier in a gray green uniform paced the sidewalk, hands behind his back. He was older than Adrian, and since he was in uniform, Adrian assumed he must have been eighteen or nineteen. The soldier took off his cap as Katherina appeared through the front door in her BDM uniform, beaming. Adrian became aware of a strange sensation—or rather, a lack of one. He felt no sense of loss in seeing her twinkling gaze, directed at the soldier as he accompanied her down the street. He didn’t even feel wounded to see she had moved on to such an older, more appealing man in a Wehrmacht uniform, compared to a boy transitioning from boyhood to manhood in a Hitler Youth uniform.

“Looks like an Oberschütze, judging by his arm patches,” Rolf commented, following Katherina and the soldier as they drove past the couple. He looked at Adrian. “She’ll be sorry one day.”

Adrian gave an appreciative grin in reply, though more than anything, he felt relieved.

“Did Rolf tell you?” Mena asked, leaning forward to look at him. “He passed his exams. He’ll be going to the Napola in Naumburg soon.”

“That’s great,” Adrian said to Rolf.

Mena was looking at him the same way Katherina used to. “Did you take the Napola exam, Adrian?”

He had thought about it. They only accepted the best of the best—but Luther had said to maintain mediocrity, and upon hearing that Rolf was trying to get in, he regarded that as an indicator that he should take a different path. “No. My grades are more appropriate for the Wehrmacht.”

Mena’s smile flickered as Rolf chuckled. “You aim low. The Wehrmacht takes anyone, unless you’re a Jew.”

Adrian rested his arm on the door. “Where are you aiming?”

Rolf smirked. “The SS.”

The chauffeur dropped them off near the Römerberg, Rolf instructing him to pick them up in a few hours at the same place.

“Stay with me,” he heard Rolf tell his sister. “Father said if you leave my side, I’m to take you home straightaway.”

“You are not Father,” Mena retorted, though she got between him and Adrian. Her arm kept brushing against Adrian’s and he stepped aside, just out of contact.

The bright red Nazi flags and banners with the black Hakenkreuz looked spectacular against the beige and gray buildings. Adrian, Rolf and Mena wandered the area until nightfall, as the people around the square seemed to multiply. Some were carrying torches. Voices resounded off the buildings, men, women and children alike singing “Die Fahne Hoch” at the top of their lungs.

“Come on,” Rolf urged, leading the way.

They melded in with the rest of the group, joining the parade. They added their own voices to the chanting and singing, all the way to the square.

There was a huge bonfire up ahead in the town square, encircled by the swarm of people. One of Chopin’s sonatas was being played by an orchestra somewhere nearby. A strange electricity, a billowing power was coursing through the crowd. It seemed to charge their fervor, and in spite of the order of the people, it felt on the edge of a chaotic riot. It made Adrian uneasy.

Mena was standing on her toes. “I can’t see anything.”

Rolf took hold of her arm, pushing through the people in front of them. Adrian brought up the rear. It wasn’t long before they emerged at the front of the crowd. The image caused Adrian to stop dead in his tracks.

A mountain of books was in flames before him, in the center of the ring. Men in the SA, college students, and boys in the Hitler Youth were adding armful after armful of books to the billowing flames, reducing them to cinders. Adrian fought the impulse to run toward the fire, to rescue the blackened books still intact on the edges. They were destroying more than just pieces of wood and paper; it was knowledge going up in flames. It was the ability to empathize that was filling the square with smoke. It was adventure and escape that was reduced to nothing but ash.

The possibility of ever understanding all things different was being wiped out throughout Germany tonight.

Mena and Rolf were a couple people down, their voices blending with the chants of the crowd. Katherina and her soldier were smiling across the burning pile of books as they chanted. More books were thrown into the pile, sending hot, scorching gusts into the crowd as embers floated in the air. Karl had said this night was to rid Germany of all the un-German filth, making it pure again, but all Adrian could think about was Heinrich Heine. His books, too—all of them—had been reduced to nothing but kindling; all but one, hidden in the wooden frame of Adrian’s bed at home. The black letters of Heine’s words blinded him, overpowering the chants that fought for an equal place in his head:

“Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings.”

The sudden unadulterated fear of such a future engulfed him, and he began to run, leaving behind Rolf and Mena, leaving behind Katherina, leaving behind the crowd and their dazzling flags. His lungs narrowed in his chest, heart pounding, feet hammering against the pavement. Stopping only upon reaching the Gymnasium doors, he yanked on the handles only to find them locked this time. Sprinting around the school, he found Herr Luther’s classroom window, peering into a hopeless black pit devoid of all light.

Disheartened, he wondered if Luther was at the square tonight, too. Finding this unlikely, he dashed off down another street. The apartment building was only a few blocks away, and he jogged up the stairwell upon reaching it, banging on the door.

It was a moment before the door thrust open. Luther appeared on the other side without his tie and vest, wearing a scowl that loosened upon seeing Adrian. Adrian still hadn’t caught his breath, the two of them surveying one another.

His voice cracked as he spoke. “I never wanted this. Any of it.”

The door creaked as Luther released his hold on it. “I know.”

He sniffled, looking away to blink away the tears. “I just…I want to do what’s right. More than that…I want to be a good person. But I don’t even know what either of those are anymore.”

Though he avoided Luther’s eyes out of what felt like shame, he could feel Luther studying him. “Do you like photography, Adrian?”

Hearing Luther refer to him by his chosen name, a smile teetered on his lips. “Do you want me to like photography? Because if you want me to like photography, I will like photography.”

This merited a laugh out of Luther. He stepped back, opening the door wider to invite Adrian inside. “I have been thinking. I found something I’d like for you to be the very best at.”

———-

Get more information on the Sophia’s War characters here!

Get started on the series today!

Sophia’s War: The End of Innocence (#1)

Sophia’s War: Lies and Allies (#2)

Sophia’s War: Stalemate (#3)

Sophia’s War: Hidden Halos (#4)

Sophia’s War: Veil of Secrets (#5)

Sophia’s War: Death Knell (#6)

In The Defense of Naive Characters

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iStockphoto

Like most people, I always read the good and bad reviews on a book I’m curious about reading, or even books I already love (just because I like to see how other people perceived it), and I’m often taken aback by how hostile some readers are toward naive characters.

Don’t get me wrong. There is absolutely nothing more frustrating than a character who just doesn’t learn; a character who, after plenty of opportunities, just doesn’t get it. But why is the general state of innocence so repellent to some?

That’s a conundrum with naive characters because they don’t yet have the capability to make insightful decisions⎯⎯otherwise and they wouldn’t be called ‘naive.’ Their perspective is often fallacious because of their lack of understanding and lack of empathy for the world around them. So how do you, as a writer, redeem these types of characters?

I read an article on K.M. Weiland’s page (if you’re a writer and aren’t already following her blog, do yourself a favor and DO!) that said the number one way to write an unlikeable character is to continually make them oblivious to their own personality, or their circumstances, or other characters, or their environment; they persist in making the same gullible decisions with the same immature thought processes. You can construct a totally rude, jerky, selfish character, but as long as they are aware of who and what they are, the reader is more likely to be sympathetic to them than a character who is good but ignorant.

The way to save your naive character from being reviled is to showcase their ability to change. I personally LOVE when a character starts off ingenuous and over the course of the story, we see their thought processes and reactions to certain events evolve. They may face a considerably traumatic event that alters their perspective, or they may experience a close call that awakens them to all the what-ifs and could-have-beens, catapulting them into a state of self-examination.

Both innocence and experience possess their own kinds of beauty, though. I personally love naive characters, but only if I see them develop and learn over the course of their stories; I value that, I relate to that, I love that. I also love characters that begin damaged and scarred, because we get to watch them discover their own strength and that past mistakes or past shames don’t have to define them; I value that, I relate to that, I love that.

We all come from different points of view as readers, and none of them are necessarily wrong. I just want to plead a case for naive characters. I think a lot of readers dismiss them out of frustration (which is understandable), but sometimes, it’s not about the character; it’s about the way they grow.

So writers, beware: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a naive protagonist. But if you keep your character and their innocence on a pedestal, preventing them from developing over the course of your book, you are inviting readers to remember them for the wrong reason⎯⎯because of how much they hate them.

 

Who is your favorite naive character?

 

Who is your least favorite?

Playlists and New Character Bios!

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I wanted to share my playlists for those of you who are enjoying Sophia’s story, as well as introduce some new characters on my Character Bio page! Check them out!

Sophia’s War Playlist

Your Next Favorite Book Characters: Sophia’s War

Why You Should Read Sophia’s War

A Special Valentine’s Day Post For My Single Friends

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As an author—and a romantic—one of my favorite things to write about is love. I love taking two characters and watching them interact, watching the foreshadowing of things to come between them. Sometimes they fall quickly and passionately in love, knowing the instant they see one another that they’re meant to be together. Other times, they fall in love slowly and cautiously, holding back out of circumstances or fear, until barriers are broken and they find themselves in each other’s arms at last.

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iStockphoto

Being an author has given me more than just a passion to pursue and an aspiration for a career. As a Christian, it has given me insight to the way I think God must view us. My methods of writing are what most consider to be an obstruction to creativity. I write out timelines and outlines before starting a novel. I know exactly what is going to happen from beginning to end before I even pen the first word. I do an extensive 20-60 page interview with all of my integral characters before I begin writing them. By doing this, I know everything there is to know about who they are, from the trivial favorite color to their most guarded, darkest secrets that sometimes, even my readers never discover.

Putting these characters into the prearranged storyline is like stitching two bright new colors of string in an already completed cross-stitch pattern. I get so much joy seeing their lives materialize the way I see them in my head. Writing well—constructing not only a great story but weaving in an alluring romance—will cause readers to gain an interest in me as an author and seek more of my work in the future.

It is the same way with God.

Single or married, right now, He is writing your romance; He is writing the story of your life. Before you were even born, he already knew every single detail about you, from your favorite color to the secrets that haunt you. He delights in watching the story He crafted transpire; He wants you to see that it points back to Him, to show that the Great Creator has gone to painstaking efforts to shape every aspect of your life for a grand purpose.

Don’t feel sad or miserable this Valentine’s Day, if you’re single for the first time in days or months or years. No matter the circumstances, He is writing your life story—a story conceived by Him to bring Him glory. There is even foreshadowing in your life; little hints He’s dropped along the way of things to come, showing that a great tale is being written by a great God.

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Lightstock

Focus on that today. Don’t spend it gorging on pity chocolates and crying by yourself as you watch Noah and Allie smear vanilla ice cream on each others’ faces, or Elizabeth turning down Mr. Darcy’s proposal in the rain, or as Jack lets Rose “fly” on the deck of the Titanic. Spend time with God; that’s what this time is for:

“I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 7:32-35

See? Every Christian couple is a delegator of their time—time spent with their husband or wife, and time spent with God. Your single years are the period of your life where God is setting up your story, developing you as a character—a character who knows and loves Him. This process is not the same as in a great romantic book or movie, though; you are not being prepared for an epic finale of a culminating romance. Your life is a bright string being added into a story that has already been planned out. Perhaps an element of your role will include a significant other character someday, but that is not the purpose of your existence…

God is. Spend today with the One who shaped your heart and spent time getting to know who you are before you were even born. Later, when you’re trying to divvy up time between God, a date night with your spouse and finding a baby sitter, you’ll wish you had used this time a little more wisely.

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If you like this blog post, check out my book series!

Why I Wrote the Sophia’s War Series and Why You Should Read It

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As some of you already know (that is, if you read my article on Harry Potter), I’m a huge J.K. Rowling fan. I consider her one of my greatest inspirations as a writer. I have always been a reader, but the Harry Potter series gave me an experience I’d never really had before. It was my first time reading a book(s) where I didn’t feel like I was a mere observer to someone’s life through a one-way mirror; I felt as if I was there in Harry’s world, being faced with the same challenges and emotions as Harry. I felt like the characters jumped off the pages and into my life in such a way that they were my friends—characters with redemptive qualities and flaws that I treasured. I loved them. I still do.

Another huge inspiration to me is Jane Austen. I love not only the romance of Austen’s novels, but being swept into such a curious time period that was early 18th century England (actually, I love any time period in England). Austen’s heroines are independent and generally selfless and good-natured, while her heroes are handsome (so handsome) and complex. I would gush to myself while reading, eager for when the stubborn heroine would come to her senses and for the hero to come rushing in at the most perfect, exquisitely romantic moment possible. Austen’s twists and turns—the way she makes her heroines as well as her readers think one thing only to discover another—was one of my favorite things about her novels. It’s my favorite thing about any novel, really. When I’m reading, I love being surprised. I love being wrong.

Magic book with bright light coming from its open pages

I didn’t plan on being a writer. From the time I was 4 until I was probably 20, I wanted to be a singer. I’ve sung in too many competitions, events, talent shows and auditions to count. I even made a couple of albums (covers for friends and family) and I’m a songwriter. When I was inspired to write a novel, it never occurred to me that it would evolve into a passion that would consume my life.

It began while I was in college. Since elementary school, World War II has always been an intriguing era to me, though not nearly to the degree it is now. At 19, I got a hankering for a particular kind of romance set during WWII. I can’t even describe to you, really, what it was I was searching for; I just knew I’d know when I found it. I looked in local and chain bookstores. I looked online. I couldn’t find the book I was looking for anywhere, so I thought, “Hey! I know! I’ll write it! If I can’t find it, that means other people can’t find it either! It obviously needs to be written.”

It started out lighthearted enough. I’d never written more than poetry and songs (and a couple of short stories in elementary school). I began researching World War II in depth and contemplating what I wanted my novel to be about—what lessons I wanted to leave with anyone who read it. (Fun Fact: The first storyline I intended on pursuing for Sophia’s War is TOTALLY DIFFERENT from what it was to become…probably going to use that original idea in a future novel, though…) I watched and read every single thing I came across that had to do with World War II. If there was paper nearby, I was jotting down ideas and quotes. If I was walking around outside, I was watching scenes play out in my head. The concept for Sophia’s War slowly began to come to fruition in my mind. Daily, I was getting visions of new scenes that propelled the story forward and experiencing all the emotions I wanted to evoke for my readers. Initially, I drew most, if not all, of my inspiration from Rowling and Austen. I wanted to write a novel that made readers feel as if they were standing right next to Sophia, experiencing it all with her. Romance was a must, though it ended up not being the focus, and I wanted to play tricks on people—make them think one thing before turning their worlds upside down with something totally unexpected…

The more I learned about the war, though, and the more I immersed myself in German history, my writing style and writing philosophies began to mature and expand. Though what I gleaned from Rowling and Austen is still a priority to me, I discovered I have a passion to write about “real” characters. I mean “real” as in genuine, not necessarily “alive” (though they are all very much alive to me!) I couldn’t take the light from Austen’s novels and use it in mine; not during a period as dark as 1940s Germany, when millions of people were being systematically murdered, Nazism was running rampant like a cancer throughout Europe, and war was turning good men and virtuous women into people who must do anything to survive.

I am a Christian. Unabashedly. Though one of the novels I have already written (and a couple I have simmering in my mind) could be classified as Christian fiction, most of my work that’s set in WWII is not. Because of my faith, I often write from the perspective of a Christian character, but the fiction itself I do not feel belongs in the Christian genre. I appreciate Christian fiction and feel that it is fulfilling a demand in the industry, however, I have a few issues with a lot of Christian novels I read. They don’t feel “real” to me—genuine. I love seeing God move, even in a novel, but what drives me insane about a lot of Christian novels is that the main character often makes bad decisions only because they are the victim of someone else’s sins. Or, let’s say they haven’t made bad decisions at all; let’s say they are good all the way around. They make almost all the right decisions (oh, besides that ONE time he looked too long at a woman in a bikini or she skipped that woman’s prayer meeting, but she had gotten caught up in a hilarious scene where a series of unfortunate events caused her to be late, so it wasn’t really her fault after all…) The people who don’t know Jesus are often portrayed as stereotypical, or pitiful and ignorant, though they almost always open up to God and you can count on them accompanying the main character to church at the end. You can always point out the Christians in the book and also the non-Christians—clearly. I’m not saying these are necessarily bad things, as it is geared toward a certain group of people within the industry (and even a certain group within Christianity, in my opinion), but that’s not really what I wanted people to think about my work. I wanted to be something different.

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The truth is, I don’t really know where my work belongs. I’m proud of that, but it’s also a little scary. My characters don’t always make the right decisions. My characters aren’t always principled. Being at war, my characters will find themselves guilty of doing much worse than missing a prayer meeting. Some of my characters get drunk; some of my characters curse. My characters have sex, in and out of wedlock; sometimes by choice, and unfortunately, sometimes not. Some of my characters know God, some of them don’t. Sometimes my Christian characters find themselves far from God because of the choices they’ve made. Even the most moral of my characters will find themselves coming to terms with sins they once thought they were incapable of engaging in BECAUSE THEY ARE IN A WAR. I write them like that because it is what’s real. And I love them for it. All of them.

I love even the most sinister of my characters because I know them inside and out, and without them, the heroes and heroines of my novels would not be the same. (Fun Fact: One day, while musing over this and acknowledging the fact that I have a deep affection for some of my villainous characters, I suddenly realized that’s the way God feels about us. He handcrafted every one of us, chose us for parts in His story. Does that mean I believe God intends for some people to be evil and others to be good? No. It’s like the story of the prodigal son; the righteous son stayed with his Father, tending to the sheep, but there was a great celebration and mercy was shown when the prodigal son returned out of repentance, regardless of his sins).

I write like this because it’s “real”. It’s life. Our life—yours and mine. I don’t write about Christians; I write about people. The reason I said it’s scary not knowing where I belong as a writer is because, as a Christian, I’m afraid my Christian readers might go into my novels with a certain expectation of flowers and butterflies. But we do not live in a Christian world, so it’s unrealistic to me to write about a main character who somehow has an indomitable, constant faith and somehow makes it through life unscathed, or with sins that are mere “surface scratches” instead of wounds that have pierced their very souls. At the other end of the spectrum, I have already experienced the fact that non-Christians will see the Christian influences in my writing and automatically assume that my work is “just another Christian work of fiction,” when it’s not. The Christians in non-Christian works are often portrayed as legalistic, hypocritical and insensitive, so when a Christian character comes along that loves Jesus but is not any of those things, they are disregarded and automatically categorized as “Christian fiction.” Both of these notions, in my opinion, are shortsighted. No, we do not live in a Christian world, but we do not live in a world without compassionate Christians who follow Jesus, either. I have tried to keep my work in that narrow area in between, because I feel that there is a literary void between these two mindsets.

I had an epiphany last year. I was sitting there, dwelling on a scene (in a future series, actually), and I remember stopping for a moment and thinking, “Whoa. That’s disturbing. Someone who isn’t like me—someone who has no interest in even fictionally witnessing a horrendous act of war—isn’t going to understand why I put something like this in here.” I began to pray, because I didn’t want to compromise the truth of the darkness in war, but I didn’t understand how portraying some of these “sins” had any redeeming value. Was it all for entertainment? What was the purpose? Was I going too far?

In the midst of my prayer, it hit me, and this is something I remind myself of often now:

“You have to show them how bad war is so they can see just how great God is.”

We don’t serve a mediocre God. We serve a powerful, awe-inspiring God who has the ability to wipe clean the black on our hearts from things much worse than missed prayer meetings.

I always cringe when I hear a song or read a book where faith in God comes across as corny. God is not schmaltzy and clichéd, and regrettably, it is my opinion that most Christian fiction is. That is not to say that I think all Christian fiction is clichéd. In particular, I find Francine Rivers’ work to be fantastic and a welcome exception to the rule. And I’m not saying that my work is somehow better than anyone else’s just because I have different goals as an author—I respect and admire anyone who pours their tormented, impassioned heart into words. Besides, who am I, but a budding author with a dream and a fiery heart? I suppose all I want is an opportunity to explain my writing philosophy and my purpose in writing so you might see what makes it unique—so it might appeal to you enough to take a chance and dive into Sophia’s world.

Sophia and all the people she meets and builds relationships with have come a long way since I started this journey almost eight years ago. Originally, I wrote it as one giant manuscript before deciding to come back to it and turn it into a series. Though I love the characters and the story, I felt that it was written so poorly (first endeavor to write a novel, remember!) and it was so long that I didn’t think it would ever find its way into readers’ hands. It needed a lot of work, and I’m constantly moving from one project to the next, so I didn’t think I would ever make time to go back to it. It had been five years since I had even looked at Sophia’s War, when one day last year I began to reminisce about the dynamic between Sophia and another character in the series. I suddenly realized the world had to know about them. It didn’t matter how long it took, what other projects I needed to put off or how much work needed to be put into it. It had to be done!

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So that’s where I am now. I have been improving on the series for the past 8 months. Book 3 in the series, Stalemate, will be released in February and I’m currently in the middle of editing and rewriting scenes in Book 5. There’s still more to come and I can’t wait to relive it all again with Sophia.

Today, I invite you to meet Sophia and the others who bring this story to life. Sophia’s War is a series with vivid characters, romance, suspense and surprises that will draw you in and make you cheer for every small victory and fear what comes next with every step Sophia takes. It’s a perilous adventure that will be on your mind long after you’ve finished reading it.

You never know. It might be just what you’re looking for.

Get started today!

Want to meet the characters in Sophia’s War first?: Your Next Favorite Book Characters

Purchase Sophia’s War: The End of Innocence (#1) here!: The End of Innocence

Purchase Sophia’s War: Lies and Allies (#2) here!: Lies and Allies

Free Book!!

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Hi everyone! The first book in my series, Sophia’s War, is currently available as a FREE download from now (Friday 8/16/13) until Tuesday (8/20/13). I need and would appreciate reviews 😀 Thank you!

http://www.amazon.com/Sophias-War-End-Innocence-ebook/dp/B00E7KT3HA/ref=sr_1_2_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1376651769&sr=8-2&keywords=sophia%27s+war