May 1, 2014

Colonel Aric von Schmidt

Finally! The new feature is here! I apologize for my tardiness, hero girls. I had everything I needed from Kate to be up and running on the 15th, but my best laid plans were interrupted by a major family crisis. The kind that stops life for a while & makes you wonder if you will be able to keep breathing. Needless to say it has been a very difficult few weeks. But, Huzzah! I'm finally up to the task of doing our new hero justice.
And this feature proves once again how connected Nancy and I are. Did ya'll notice the last hero's name? Ari. Add a C and what do you get? Aric. Crazy, right? Ari's story is a biblical fiction. Aric's book is a Bible story with a twist. A historical twist. I want to take a moment and applaud Kate's vision & creative genius with this book. My author self is a little green with envy at the brilliance of taking the Biblical account of Esther and reimagining it in the midst of a Nazi death camp. The parallels are undeniably similar. But there was no edict passed enabling the Jews to arm and defend themselves. And without an Esther to intercede, it became the job of common men and women to take a stand for the Jewish people, often at the risk of their own lives. I am so thankful for those who did not turn a blind eye to the suffering of their neighbors, but opened hearts and homes to the persecuted at a time when there was nowhere else to go. Some people may have a problem with portraying a Nazi SS Kommandant as a hero. After all, history is pretty clear. The Nazi regime did horrible things. They were not heroes. They were the enemy. And true to form, Aric is not a good man. He has done horrible things. But when his eyes are opened, and he sees for the first time the price others are paying for his stand (or lack thereof), his response is everything. And that is what makes Aric worthy of being here on FHF.



About For Such A Time:
In 1944, Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, her Aryan-like looks allow her to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, to maintain her cover as von Schmidt's secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz. 
Suspecting her employer as a man of hidden depths, Stella appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric's indulgence gives her hope even as she risks discovery with every attempt to help the prisoners. When her bravery brings her to the point of ultimate sacrifice, she faces an excruciating choice. God may have brought her to the camp for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she cannot save herself? 


Excerpt from For Such A Time: 
Aric couldn't understand why she mattered so much to him. The war had inured him to so much death and brutality; Stella was a stranger, who because of Gestapo malice had become merely another warm-blooded obstacle in the Reich's path. 
Yet, having returned yesterday to retrieve Stella from his cousin's house after his business in Munich, he'd lifted her into his arms and felt jarred by his own fury. It was the first time in a long while something- someone- had moved him. 
She was so thin he'd felt the protruding ribs beneath her thin cotton dress. Even this morning she seemed weak, enough so that he was glad he'd changed his plans. 
Aric hadn't intended to leave her alone, but Eichmann's early phone call had changed all that. The SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer was in Prague for a week's summit before continuing on to Berlin. When he'd suggested driving up to Theresienstadt to meet, Aric convinced him the city would be a better venue. 
Aric didn't fool himself over his motives; he meant to protect her. His wounded dove . . .
His jaded humor left him as he watched her eat. Last night she'd asked to leave. He'd all but refused her, telling her that he needed a secretary. Aric knew that wasn't the whole truth of why he'd saved her. Still, whatever his real motives, he felt compelled to finish the task, to feed her until the hollows disappeared from her cheeks, dress her in fine clothes- blue to match the shades of her eyes- and pearls to encase her slender neck. She would smell of fragrant cloves and fine cigarettes, not body odor and fear. 
He willed her to heal quickly. For the sooner she looked like one of his staff and less like a prisoner, the better. Until her hair grew out and the bruises on her face and hands faded, she was in constant danger. She emptied her bowl and then patted her mouth with her linen napkin. He noted the marked improvement in the healthy pink color of her lips. So full of promise . . .
"I'm finished, Herr Kommandant." 
A note of pride touched her voice. Aric let his report slide to the table. She sat perfectly straight in the chair with her hands in her lap, looking secretly pleased with herself. 
Her fear of him had disappeared . . . or at least abated. A promising start. 

Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.


Gallant Score:
Aric looks on Stella as a human being and not something to be used or exterminated. His respect for her life goes a long way towards earning her trust. Despite the faults of his past, he has a good heart. One that has been calloused by the realities of war- so much that he has forgotten how to care. Stella opens his eyes to see everything in a different light. She becomes a treasure to him- something worth protecting. It's no surprise, then, when Aric stands up for Stella to his peers and superiors, and defends her against the lecherous Hermann, risking his own reputation in the process. 


Wounded Score:
While there are some hard wounds in his past, the deepest cuts happen in his present.  Because of Stella, Aric gains a unique insight into how his decisions have forever changed life for so many people. Faced with this new reality, Aric has to decide how to cope. He is a monster. But he is also a man. A man whom he hopes is not beyond salvation. 


Softie Score:
Aric isn't a Softie. As you may have already gathered, he is a war-hardened Colonel, whom life and experience have not been kind to. Everything about him speaks to his profession. Only when you dig deeper into his character and examine the people he chooses to keep close to him can you see his inner soft side. Take Joseph as just one example, and you being to see that Aric is already taking small steps in the right direction, doing what he can to right the wrong happening all around him. 


Stupid Strike:
There's nothing to say here. Aric's character (aside from being a Reich member, that is) is above reproach. 


Swoon Score:
So, confession. I can't say that I really "swooned" over Aric. And it's not his fault, believe me. He has a lot going for him. I think it may be because I was so invested in his journey, I didn't have time to stand back and admire the view. I wanted Aric to succeed. I longed for the redemption- for the hope. If I may use the analogy from another great story, I wanted to see Aric shed the dragon's skin and become a man again. But like Eustace, it takes the help of a Higher power to truly transform Aric, and it doesn't happen without pain. 


A Florida girl who migrated to the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Kate Breslin lives with her husband, John, and a very spoiled cat named Coco. Kate has written several travel articles, published award-winning poetry, and her first manuscript, a Scottish historical romance, was finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart Contest. These days, when she’s not writing inspirational fiction or spending time with her author friends, she’s avidly reading books, watching anything Jane Austen on BBC, or following John’s musical career as his #1 fan. An avid  “tree-hugger” she often enjoys long walks in the forests and playing in the garden–growing all kinds of flowers and herbs, especially those that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Kate’s also a traveler–she and John have toured most of Washington state and many places in the U.S. With her intrepid mom as traveling companion, Kate’s also been abroad–Paris, Munich, Rome, Pompeii, Athens, even a day trip to Turkey. Her next story takes place in Western Europe.

FHF Exclusive Directly from the Author: 
“Aric grew up a lonely boy after his mother’s death; his father, a stern man withdrew into his grief over the loss of his wife, leaving Aric to spend his days riding out to hunt and explore the hills of his homeland. He felt different from other boys, and living out in the country he had few friends. He created his own world in the forests—as a king leading his knights into battle, or sometimes a pirate seeking buried treasure, pretending to help his father replenish what they’d lost in the first war and regain his love. Oftentimes, he came across some animal that had been left injured or abandoned in the woods and brought it home. Though he usually suffered ridicule from his father, Johann von Schmidt would nonetheless show his son how to care for the poor creature, or make a home for it at the farm. In this way they maintained their bond with one another.”

The giveaways:

One copy of  For Such A Time print or e-book (winner’s choice), goes to a randomly drawn commenter. Make sure you tell us if you want in the book drawing and leave an email address in a spam fighting format like: blue.danube.waltz (at) musicbox dot com

If you have already enjoyed For Such A Time, a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card can be yours if you leave the name of a character from the book in your comment that is not used in the excerpt or description. Again, once the character name has been used, you have to find another.

Drawings on May 14th. 

I (Joy) am super excited to announce that in 30 short days, I will be meeting my fellow FHF blogger and dear friend Nancy face-to-face for the FIRST TIME!! Everything about the trip has been God sent, and I cannot wait!!! Mark you calendars for the JUNE 1ST Feature! Not only are we going to have a FABULOUS hero (and girls, I do mean fabulous...) but it will also be during Nancy's and my time together. What kind of giveaway scheme will we have cooked up by then? One never knows..... ;) 

Also, I don't believe it's an accident that this post fell just a few short days after Holocaust Remembrance Day. What do you do to keep history alive? How does the Holocaust speak to you personally? 
Inquiring minds what to know! :) 


47 comments:

Abbi Hart said...

Yay! So happy you featured Aric! I read this book recently and was absolutely blown away! This author is sheer genius and I loved every part! Great job on this feature!
The events of the Holocaust have always always broken my heart. How people could be so cruel not just to people in general but people they'd lived with for so many years completely baffles me. Whenever I think about it it makes me want to cry that people could carry out such acts or even just sit idly by while they happened. As for how it speaks to me personally, it is a hard reminder to never look down on someone just because they are different. Just because they aren't the same as you or they do something you don't like it doesn't give us any right to treat them as anything other than one of God's creations!
Character: Helen

Stephanie Landsem said...

I love this. When I visited Dachau as a teenager, it took me days to recover. My daughter recently went to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and was deeply affected. I'd love to read this book.

Dawn Janis said...

I have this book on my to-read list. I'm really looking forward to finally getting around to it. It's possible that a trip to Lifeway is in order for me on Saturday.

I'd love to be entered into the book drawing. My email is dawn(dot)janis(at)gmail(dot)com

Lis K said...

Please enter me into the book drawing, I've read such great reviews of this book and I think it's so brilliant to re-tell the story of Esther during the Holocaust. I've been to the Holocaust museum in D.C. several times, it's quite unforgettable. Thanks for the giveaway.
garfsgirl [at] hotmail dot com

Sally Bradley said...

The more I hear about this book, the more amazing it sounds. I'd love to win it.

As for the Holocaust, I often think of a childhood neighbor three doors down who spoke broken English and had a tattoo on her arm. She was Polish and survived a concentration camp. She wasn't the friendliest neighbor and I was shy--and did I mention she didn't speak good English!--but every time I saw her, I felt a good bit of awe that she'd survived. I can still see her, and I wish now that I knew more of her story.

And then there's what's going on in Ukraine with Jews having to register. It really feels like it's happening all over again with the Olympics finishing before Putin moved and before this registration. And it's shocking that it could actually happen AGAIN, so close to WWII. It makes you angry.

Joy W. Doering said...

Always great to see you, Abbi. I know I picked a winner when it has a thumbs up from you! :) I am so glad you enjoyed the feature. And yes, the Holocaust is definitely heartbreaking. Having been to a camp myself, I struggle to grasp how people "didn't know" what was really going on behind the walls. I suppose ignorance is bliss, especially when it's willful.
We'll get you entered for the gift card drawing with HELEN.

Joy W. Doering said...

Stephanie I agree 100%. I was able to go to Auschwitz & Birkenau in 2004. It was so oppressive and overwhelming. Like you, it took days to be able to function normally again after what I had seen/felt/heard.
Still, as difficult as it was, I wish I had the funds to send everyone I know to visit a death camp. It is truly a life changing experience and something you never forget.
Thanks so much for your comment and we'll enter you in the book drawing. :)

Joy W. Doering said...

Dawn you got it! I would definitely bump this one up on your TBR. :) Thanks for stopping by!

Joy W. Doering said...

Hi Lis! I've heard really good things about the Holocaust museums, but I have never been to one. I'm so thankful for them, as it enables people who can't go to an actual camp to get a taste of the horror that was the Holocaust.
You're in for the book drawing. :)

Joy W. Doering said...

Sally, yes. It is very frightening to see the way events are moving. I hope an pray that enough people remember the past to refuse to let another holocaust happen.
I love that you remember your neighbor. I also met a survivor from Auschwitz (and one of the American GI's who liberated him!) when I was a young teenager. While he wasn't my neighbor, he was from my hometown. He was a great man who never hesitated to share his story. I am very thankful I was able to hear it.
We'll get you entered in the book drawing.

Sally Bradley said...

Thanks, Joy!

There are some things that I'm sad my kids will never get to understand firsthand. Like when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004; my kids would never understand the Curse of the Bambino. :) And they'll never get to personally talk to WWII vets or survivors like I did. It's truly something you never forget, to hear their stories and see them now.

Nancy Kimball said...

Nancy is jumping in here to wave to all the hero girls, and say YES to Sally's last comment. Part of the reason I enjoy reading (and writing) historical fiction is to immerse myself in a different time and place and experience it as best I can. Because it makes me care. And aware of things I didn't know before. Death has a tendency to linger in a place, as if the ground, bricks, and grass retain the reverence of what they experienced. History is our best teacher second only to the Word of God. I join with my hero girls in praying for the Jewish people of the Ukraine.

Rebekah said...

I borrowed my sister's copy of this book and fell COMPLETELY in love with it. The whole time I was reading it I kept going to her and gushing over the brilliance of of the plot and particular scenes. I'm so glad that you featured Aric, he was amazing and portrayed so well the character of Xerxes.
Even though I've read the book, I'd still like to be entered into the drawing for it since "For Such a Time" is one I'll definitely be rereading.
bekaboobear(at)gmail(dot)com

Marissa said...

I would love to be in the drawing for the book!! I love WWII stories.

marissamehresman(at)aol(dot)com

Kate Breslin said...

Abbi, thanks so much! I'm thrilled that you loved the story. It's still difficult for me to comprehend man's inhumanity to man, and sadly it's still happens in the world today. I pray daily for an end to the hatred and violence and welcome the advent of peace. God bless!

Kate Breslin said...

Stephanie, I can only imagine how you must have felt as a teen! Even now, after writing the story, if I read or watch something to do with the Holocaust it brings me to tears. While I did extensive research for the story, I've not yet been to the camps, but hope one day to visit them. Thanks so much for your post!

Kate Breslin said...

Dawn, thank you for your interest! Shopping at Lifeway sounds like a great idea. :)

Kate Breslin said...

Lis, I appreciate your kind words, and I hope you do get a chance to read the story! I've never been to the Holocaust Museum, either, but plan to go this fall. I'm sure it's an experience I'll never forget!

Kate Breslin said...

Sally, thank for your interest in For Such A Time. In my research, I read many first-hand accounts of Holocaust survivors, and each one left me shaken at what they'd gone through. And when I saw what was happening in the Ukraine recently, it gave me chills. We must remain vigilant; the adage that evil flourishes when good men do nothing is so true. God bless!

Kate Breslin said...

Amen, Nancy!

Kate Breslin said...

Rebekah, bless you. :) I'm so very pleased you enjoyed the story, and like me, you love Aric!

Kate Breslin said...

Marissa, thank you! I love WWII stories and the old movies, as well. Enjoy!

Kate Breslin said...

Joy, thanks so much for your great review and hosting Aric today! He's very pleased. :)

KayM said...

When I was a teen and into my early 20's, I read so many books about the WWII and the horrible plight of the Jews and others. I remember when I was first married, I was reading Exodus by Leon Uris. Every evening when my husband came home from work, I'd be crying over what I'd read that day. He threatened to take the book away, because it was making me so upset. (Not that he would have really done that, but he was concerned). It is chilling to see what is happening in the world today.
I would like to be included in the contest.
may_dayzee(at)yahoo(dot)com

Kate Breslin said...

I hear you, Kay! The research I undertook in writing For Such A Time was very emotional for me, but it only increased my passion to tell the story. I hope you enjoy it!

Pam K. said...

For Such a Time has been on my wish list for awhile. I've read many good reviews; yours reinforces my wanting to read it. I think reading historical books (including well researched fiction) can help keep history alive. It certainly can make it seem more real to us.
Please include me in the drawing for this book; I'd be delighted to win! Thanks.

pmk56[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

Kate S (4readin) said...

I would love to win and read this book. I'm so glad you chose to feature this one!

The exert was great. I can't wait to read more.

Yout time together sounds exciting! Have fun meeting!

Thanks! ks4readin (at) yahoo (dot) com

Joy W. Doering said...

Hey Rebekah! So glad you have already read & loved Aric! And I absolutely get the need to reread. I am a rereader too! I will enter you in the book drawing for sure. :) thanks for the comment!

Joy W. Doering said...

Thanks for dropping by, Marissa. We'll put your name in the hat for the book drawing. :)

Joy W. Doering said...

Kay I love that you cry when you read. It shows that the author did a great job portraying the scene on the page. Thank you so much for your comment, and we will put your name in the book drawing. :)

Joy W. Doering said...

Hey Pam! I'm so glad you enjoyed the feature. :) For Such A Time is definitely worth the read! And I agree about well-written fiction helping to keep history alive.
We'll enter you in the book drawing!

Joy W. Doering said...

Glad you enjoyed the feature and the excerpt, Kate. :) I sure enjoyed writing it for you all. We'll toss your name in the hat for the book drawing. Thanks for the comment.

Natalie Monk said...

This book has had me hooked since I read the blurb. I think I have this on my Kindle. I need to check. If it isn't, it's going to be. :)

Oh, I wanted to say thank you for the $10 Amazon gift card! Perfect timing since my laptop battery needs replacing. ;) *Thank You, Lord.*

Can't wait to read For Such a Time!

Keri-Elizabeth W. said...

I would love to be entered into the drawing for the book! This sounds really good. I absolutely love historical fiction novels! My email is keletitbe14 at gmail dot com.

Gretchen E.K. Engel said...

I really, really want to read this! WWII is one of my favorite eras for historical fiction.
As for remembering the Holocaust. I've been to Dachau, and it's sobering.

Cyndi said...

My first comment seemed to disappear so I'll try again... hopefully, it won't be a duplicate. This sounds like an amazing book! Thanks for the recommendation and the giveaway! I'd love the book if I happen to win!

cyndilou83(at)gmail(dot)com

Joy W. Doering said...

Hey Natalie! So glad that the gift card was such a timely blessing. :) Thanks so much for commenting- it's always great to see you here.

Joy W. Doering said...

Sure thing Keri. :) We love historical fiction around here too. :) Thanks for leaving a comment.

Joy W. Doering said...

Gretchen I would love to hear your thoughts on this book, since you've also been to one of the camps. Happy to see you, as always. :)

Joy W. Doering said...

Hi Cyndi! We will definitely add your name to the book drawing. :) Good to see you here!

beckie said...

I would love to be in the book drawing. I have heard such good things about this book.
rebeccalyn73(at)Hotmail(dot)com

Melanie Backus said...

Please count me in on this great book.

mauback55 at gmail dot com

Joy W. Doering said...

Hey Beckie! You got it. Thanks for leaving a comment. :)

Joy W. Doering said...

Sure thing, Melanie. Great to see you. :)

Sara Ella said...

And the winners are....

Lis K., you won a copy of For Such a Time! Watch for an email from me with more details.

Abbi H., you won a $10 Amazon or B&N Gift Card! (Please respond to this comment with your email address. You didn't post it with your original comment)

Congrats and Happy Reading!

Sara Ella said...

Hi Abbi! You won the $10 gift card! Please reply with your choice of gift card l(Amazon or B&N) and your email address. Thanks!

Sara Ella said...

Hi Lis, you won a copy of Kate's book! I just emailed you with more details!