My New Book — World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans, will be released soon!

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans, will be released soon!

An author’s life is full of significant days. Whether we’re researching, writing, publishing or promoting our books, we are in some aspect of working with books.

After publishing 11 children’s books, I’m taking what some people might consider to be a 180-degree turn in writing.
For the past 3 years I’ve been interviewing World War II vets in my area. This year I decided to put some of those stories into a book.

That title, World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans, is due to be released in October! Here’s a look at the book’s cover.

It contains 28 stories of veterans living in Wells, Adams, Allen, Huntington and Whitley counties. I invite you to order a copy for a loved one for Veteran’s Day, birthdays, Christmas. The stories include personal accounts of experiences of crawling through the sand as a medic on D-Day while bullets whizzed overhead; flying over Holland during Operation Marketgarden with enemy bullet holes spewing fuel; sleeping in foxholes in freezing temps in Belgium during Battle of the Bulge; assembling a radar station in northern Africa.
Each story is the result of an interview with the vets, most of whom are still living. Each has provided permission for me to publish their stories which they have previewed.

This book should be of particular interest in 2015 as we recognize the 70th anniversary of Battle of the Bulge, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and end of the war in summer!

Please contact me to order a copy of the book. I’ll post more information about ordering the book in future posts. I’ll also include excerpts from the book, speaking engagements, tidbits of info ab the war and other books I’d recommend reading about the war.
I hope you’ll share your thoughts about your family’s experiences with the war in the Comments section. I find each story is fascinating!

Make My Faithfulness Like a Double Shot of Espresso!


coffee cup

And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping and said to Peter, “So you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour?” (Matthew 26:40)

If there had been coffee shops during Jesus Christ’s time, I’m convinced He would have taken one look at Peter’s, James’ and John’s sleepy faces at Gethsemane and said, “Hey, I need your support in the next several hours and you look like you could use some help holding your heads up. I’ll get you each a super-large caramel latte with two extra shots to go at the Bohemian Bean in Jerusalem! Let’s go!”

Unfortunately, the disciples had no legal artificial stimulant to keep them awake. As a result, they fell asleep three times, even after Jesus implored them to stay awake. Thus, they lost valuable time with their best friend during the most difficult night of His life.

My tendency is to ask, “How could they disappoint Jesus?” Then I ask myself, ‘How many times have I disappointed Jesus?’

No matter how many times I’ve disappointed Jesus, He’s given me second chances. We have a lot of lost time to make up for! Do you feel God has given you second chances? What can you do to show your love for Him?

Prayer: God, You are patient with me beyond measure. You know I’m weak and tired and don’t deserve Your patience or grace, but You extend them anyway. Give me wisdom to know when a circumstance needs my full attention for Your sake. Amen

Cuban Cooking Demonstration at Library Excites Kids!


Preparing the pina colada recipe from my Now You're Cooking: Cuba cookbook.

Preparing the pina colada recipe from my Now You’re Cooking: Cuba cookbook.

I LOVE giving cooking demonstrations for my new children’s cookbook, Now You’re Cooking: Cuba (Purple Toad Publishing). The recipes are simple and delicious!
Now You're Cooking: Cuba cookbook (Purple Toad Publishing)

Now You’re Cooking: Cuba cookbook (Purple Toad Publishing)

I’ve done a couple of demonstrations for drinks from the book and the Cuban sandwich. Both types of foods are delicious and make healthy snacks.

A few weeks ago, I returned to the Allen County Public Library Young Adult section to give a cooking demonstration from my Cuban cookbook. For the past five years the YA librarian, Cathy Lambert, has asked me to come to her home school group and present something about one or more of my books. We’ve done a Greek god costume contest for my 3 Greek gods books (Hades, Hermes, Hephaestus); a cooking demo for the Recipe and Craft Guide to Indonesia book; and a presentation from a local Fair Trade shop to connect with my book on philanthropy, Celebrities Giving Back.

Preparing Cuban sandwiches from recipe in Now You're Cooking: Cuba.

Preparing Cuban sandwiches from recipe in Now You’re Cooking: Cuba.

The 15 or so students listened as I gave a brief description about the land of Cuba and why I could not visit there to do research, due to political situation.

Then, using a blender and canned drinks, I mixed up a pina colada. It was so frothy and sweet—and completely natural with no extra sugar!

Then they patiently waited for the creation of the Cuban sandwiches. These are so simple and tasty I don’t know why more people don’t make them. They’re now my husband’s favorites!

These kids are patiently waiting while I prepare the Cuban sandwiches.

These kids are patiently waiting while I prepare the Cuban sandwiches.

The day ended with the kids tasting the foods. I think you can tell by this photo taken while they waited how anxious they were to try them!

I also recommended a great book about the Cuban Revolution: The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez. I had just finished and still remember how well this author depicted what life was like for a young boy and girl separated from their parents due to the political problems in Cuba.

I’ve also given Cuban cooking demonstrations for adults. Please let me know if you’d like to schedule such a demonstration.

Follow The Writers View for Practical Advice


newspaper stacknewspaper

If you are a Christian who is a writer or feels God has called you to be a writer but you don’t know what to do first, I recommend you join TWV1 — The Christian Writers View Group on Yahoo.
I’ve followed it for many years and have found it to be informational, biblical and best of all, written by many professional writers from across the nation! You have to apply but as far as I know, nearly everyone is accepted. Subjects are posted weekly and anyone can reply w/ pertinent information to the topic. This is not a place to sell books blatantly, although if it pertains to the subject, such as marketing, then its OK.

You must adhere to the rules, such as keeping your answers brief and on topic. The column is monitored which makes it reliable for quality posts.
There is no cost to join.
I’ve pasted my recent response to a question posted this week about newspaper writing. Since I’ve written for newspapers– Ossian Sun Riser (column), Ft Wayne News-Sentinel Features, Bluffton News-Banner– for more than a decade, I felt I could give some insight.

Do you write for newspapers? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Please leave me a comment. I love newspapers as you’ll see in my responses below.

Hello, everyone. Let’s talk about writing columns for newspapers for the
next days.

For those of you who are writing columns for newspapers, how did you get
your columnist job? What is the biggest challenge you face in writing your
column? And how has writing the column benefited both your writing and your
overall brand as a writer?

If you are interesting in writing newspaper columns, what questions do you
have that we could answer to help get you on your way?

David Thomas, Journalism Panelist

My response to the group:

1. How did you get your columnist job?

I had written dozens of Feature stories for the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel
newspaper when a columnist for a smaller newspaper, Ossian (IN) Sun Riser,
died. I contacted the editor, asking if he could use my help and attaching
several sample stories. He took me on and I’ve written weekly stories about
people, events, places in a rural community close to me for four years. The
pay is nominal, but I get paid on time and the work is easy-people are
friendly, they like my stories, and I enjoy giving honest, generous people
their 15 minutes of fame.

2. What is the biggest challenge you face in writing your column?

My biggest challenge is not finding ideas-I think everyone has a good story
inside! I work in a school library and find it difficult to establish
time/energy to write at home. Rarely does this keep me from submitting a
story by deadline. My editor is great to work with and I’m eager to make his
job easier.

3. How has writing the column benefited both your writing and your overall
brand as a writer?

Since people in my community know me/my name, I have been asked to speak and
take my 11 children’s books for author talks. The regular pay has helped me
feel productive and disciplined. Last year I wrote two weekly stories for
two papers.

I love writing for newspapers because you see the story in print so quickly!
And I know my stories are items that people put in scrapbooks.

Wayne Center Elementary School Enhances Students’ Interests with Visit from Medusa!


Reading excerpt from my book to Wayne Center Elem students during author visit.

Reading excerpt from my book to Wayne Center Elem students during author visit.

I love visiting schools to talk with students about the importance of reading for success in life. I may not look successful in my Medusa costume, complete with a wig of rubber snakes, but I’ll swallow my pride to get kids excited about books!
Wayne Center Elem students enjoy hearing Greek mythology stories.

Wayne Center Elem students enjoy hearing Greek mythology stories.

Recently I spoke to all 400 students in Grades 1-6 at Wayne Center Elementary School in Kendallville, IN. It is a beautiful building that was constructed just a few years ago. Our sessions were conducted in the spacious and sunny library! Thanks to the Wayne Center Elementary School librarian for allowing us use of the space for the morning.

It was great fun addressing all 6 grades at intervals. I tailor my talk to their maturity levels. Here are comments from one Third/Fourth Grade teacher:

Our school was treated to a visit from Medusa dressed Kayleen during our end-of-year reading celebration. Kayleen was wonderful to engage each group of students, no matter the age group, and talk about her books and what it is like to be an author. The students had a great time asking questions and learning more about her too. What a great visit!

I heard many good things from the staff after her visit and they all said Kayleen engaged the students at each grade level. Thank you to Kayleen for taking time out of her day to come join us. It was wonderful meeting her.

Dawn Jackson
The school also purchased copies of my books for their school library.
My thanks to Wayne Center Elementary Principal Karen Gandy, and teachers Patrice Abbee and Dawn Jackson for arranging my visit.

Patrice Abbee (L) and Dawn Jackson (R) helped arrange my visit to Wayne Center Elementary School.

Patrice Abbee (L) and Dawn Jackson (R) helped arrange my visit to Wayne Center Elementary School.

What is your school doing to promote students’ interests in reading? An author visit might do that!

If you are an educator or know of a school that would be interested in an author visit from me, I’d appreciate your letting me know. I want to connect with as many students as possible to let them know the value of reading and writing.

Devo: Will You Choose to Sink or Swim in Trusting God?


My husband and son frolicking in a pool.

My husband and son frolicking in a pool.

A devotional thought for summer.
‘And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.’ Philippians 2:8 New American Standard Bible

When my kids were small, I took them to swim lessons. Trained instructors demonstrated how to perform each stroke. But there was something my kids didn’t know about their instructors. They were also certified life guards. Before my kids got in the water, their instructors were prepared to save them from drowning, if needed. A simple demonstration of how to swim wouldn’t be much help to someone who was drowning.

We’re all swimmers in the Sea of Life. In the beginning we dip our toes in the water. Then we get braver and venture out further. We may even try to swim to the other side of the pool.

Suddenly we reach the middle and feel scared. Temptation, worry, and doubt drag us down. We yell for help.

Jesus, our Lifeguard, quickly swims to our side. He secures us next to his body and delivers us safely to the edge of the pool.

It wasn’t enough that Jesus gave us an example of how to live. He became our Savior by dying on the cross. He showed us that we could trust Him with our lives.

God, thank you for allowing your Son to die on the cross so that we might have life. His obedience and love for us are overwhelming. Help us to be worthy of His love. Amen.

Profile of WWII vet Gale (‘Smoky’) Baller – US Army


Smoky Baller served in the US Army during WWII.

Smoky Baller served in the US Army during WWII.

For the past several years I’ve made it a point to interview WWII veterans. Their stories are always interesting and historic. I encourage you to tell a veteran — any war– thank you for their service.

During World War II, Gale (‘Smoky’) Baller fought on the front line in Germany. “Machine gunners had high risk positions,” he said. “The Germans shot mortar shells at us because they knew we could do the most damage to them.”
Baller –he grew up with the nickname ‘Smoky’ because he tap danced with a sister as children — graduated from Bluffton High School in 1944. After being drafted into the United States Army in August, he passed a physical examination at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis. He completed basic training at Fort Blanding in Florida which pleased Baller. “I had never traveled outside of Indiana and liked Florida,” he said.

Baller disembarked with thousands of other American soldiers from New York City on the second largest British ship in the world – the Aquitania. They landed at Le Havre, France.

Baller didn’t get seasick during the nine-day voyage, but he didn’t attempt the menu. “I didn’t think I’d like British food so I packed a box of Hershey bars,” he said.

At Le Havre Baller was assigned to the 9th Infantry Division, 39th Regiment, D company. “In our unit you operated a machine gun or mortar shells,” he said. Baller carried cans of ammunition for machine guns. The cans weighed 45 pounds and were carried over a soldier’s shoulders behind the gunners. “One gunner carried the receiver for the machine gun and the other carried the tripod,” he said.

In Winnersburg Germany Baller and other American soldiers requisitioned the home of a German couple to spy on the German army. The German home owners understood English and seemed relieved when Baller and the other soldiers explained they would not hurt anyone. While Baller did guard duty from the home’s second story window, the German woman offered the Americans a treat. “She made us a strawberry pie,” he said. When the soldiers prepared to leave, Baller thanked the couple for their hospitality with chocolate bars.

The Battle of Remagen Bridge in March 1945 was vicious. “Both sides wanted that bridge which was the last remaining one over the Rhine,” he said. “The Germans tried to blow it up, but we made a pontoon for our guys to go across in jeeps and on foot.”

By the end of the war in Europe in May 1945, Buck Sergeant Baller began preparing, as did thousands of other soldiers, to fight in Japan. While waiting, Baller was assigned to work in a motor pool shop at a resort requisitioned by the Allies in Germany.

A handful of horses provided Baller the opportunity to ride daily after his work shift was completed. Unfortunately, his horse stepped in a ditch one day during a ride. Baller broke several bones in his right hand. The horse escaped uninjured.

Baller spent six months in a hospital in Munich. When the doctor said Baller’s hand would have to be re-broken, he was shipped back to Galesburg, Illinois. The war had ended in August 1945. Baller was honorably discharged in November 1946.

For his military service Baller received a Distinguished Unit Award from France. He also received the following medals: Bronze Star, Good Conduct, European Campaign, World War II Victory, Army Occupation, US Unit citation, Honorable Service, Expert Shooting and Combat Infantry.

After the war, Baller married. He and his wife, Alice, became parents to two sons, Jerry and Mark. Following Alice’s death, Baller remarried Norma in 1990.
During his lengthy work career, which ended June 2013, Baller worked for the Steury Bottling Company, Reimschisel’s Motors and Hiday Motors.

Baller’s thoughts of his military service are simple. “I went in as a soldier who was often scared to death, but I grew out of it,” he said.

The End