Conundrum: COVID19 and Books

I’m telling you nothing new regarding the rules about ‘Stay home. Wash your hands.’ These are the two that have been in my thoughts every single hour of every single day for the last two months. I even dream about it. Staying home has never been a problem for me. I have been so busy writing the long-awaited sequel to my book “We Don’t Talk About That.” When this ‘house arrest’ order came, I thought, “Now is the time to finish “Flight Into The Unknown.” Now I have the time! Well, my friends, I always had the time, but I was procrastinating. Now I had no reason to wait.

My problem was I had too much material. The “Flight Into The Unknown” would have been overbooked, overloaded with too many stories, too much baggage. What to leave out? Many months ago, Lyn Alexander, my editor, had suggested making my memoir into a series. “Series are in,” she had told me. “Divide what you have in this ‘Flight’ manuscript and write a third book.” I was fighting it.

“I don’t want to write a third book!”

During COVID lockdown, I finished book # 2 at a perfect place. There was no way I could avoid writing a third book. My final thought was,  “it’s time to set sail for life after 50.” And it became the title for book # 3, the last book in my memoir series “The Nine Lives of Gila.” Did I have nine lives? Probably more, but cats were on my mind. Cats are supposed to have nine lives. And I had lived through and survived frightening experiences just like a cat.

COVID influenced me to create the following series, “The Nine Lives of Gila.”

Book 1: “We Don’t Talk About That,” the amazing story of survival WWII and its aftermath.
Book 2: “Flight Into The Unknown,” smartly manipulated into marrying an unknown penfriend and emigrate to Canada.
Book 3: “Set Sail for Life After 50.” Realizing that age is just a number, I saw the world as my oyster.

The first two books are available as e-books and printed books on all well-known internet outlets. Expect book #3 to make an appearance in September 2020. E-books are no problem, but COVID is at fault that Canadians only have limited access to get the printed versions from – I haven’t even seen my own “Flight” in print. The ‘powers that be’ have closed the borders for large shipments of books printed in the USA. Book shops & libraries are closed. When is the restriction lifted? No idea. It depends on how COVID develops. Books are not essential!

What? Not essential? Books are very essential for locked-down people. It’s helpful to read, to avoid going crazy, to immerse ourselves in reading stories of another life.


“Flight Into The Unknown” – now published

Are you curious about an adventure into the Great Unknown? On another continent? Experience a different life with its ups and downs? Step into the shoes of an immigrant with limited knowledge of English! You will struggle to get to know the penfriend you married and deal with a lovable little stepdaughter. You will realize it wasn’t all gold that glitters, and what you innocently believed was the truth was not. Was to fulfill yourself a dream the biggest mistake of your life? Sorry, sweety, you can’t change anything; all your earthly goods are in a big container on a ship sailing the high seas to arrive in three months. You make the best of your situation, face many challenges, move from the beautiful first landing to another city – you cry more than ever in your life but grow stronger in mind and soul. You learn to pray from all your heart – and hope that one day, you get your reward.

The above is just the beginning of my story in “Flight Into The Unknown.” You’ll laugh, and you’ll cry with me; you’ll be at my side when I’m thinking of suicide. You’ll be amazed by how I build a successful business. You will be afraid of my wellbeing after an experience at a New Years’ party. Yes, it changed everything once more – but I’ll let you read about that yourself.

I finally finished the sequel to my WWII memoir, “We Don’t Talk About That.” Many of you have waited patiently, sent me occasional reminders. Thank you! The first appearance of my new ‘baby’ is in the form of an e-book since a printed version will still take some time.

The ebook is now available from Smashwords (Kobo, Kindle Nook and PDF), Kobo (Kobo only) and Kindle (Kindle only). Hard copies are available from Amazon.

My new Baby is about to make an Entrance in Spring 2020

Who said that it takes nine months to get a baby? It depends… Mine is developing for two-and-a-half years already and still isn’t quite ready to enter the reader’s world! But soon – I hope it makes an appearance in one of the earlier months of 2020. If all the helpers like doctors, nurses and midwives, sorry, I mean proofreaders, editors and publishers play along, I’ll be thrilled to let it go to experience the attention and tender love of many old and new friends.
I’ll not longer keep my secret! I’ll let you take a peek what my baby is going to look like, I even share its name with you.

Tell me how you like it! Should it come in triplets, quadruplets or even quintuplets? (with many multiplications…)  So that you can have one of them? Oh, you need to know that it is the young sister of my book-baby boy “We Don’t Talk About That” – and it will reveal all the secrets of what happened after that one grew up!

Grand Book Promotion

“Smashwords” – the largest distributor of e-books worldwide – is offering an annual huge promotion for the whole month of July. Thousands of e-books are deeply discounted at 25%/50%/75% to ‘FREE’. My books are available at 50% off – a terrific deal if you are still waiting to read about my incredibly interesting life in my memoir “We Don’t Talk About That” and the companion book “Forget Me Not”.

   NOW is the time to take a look at my books again. I have published the Second Edition of my memoir “We Don’t Talk About That” on Smashwords as an e-book. I have made slight changes within but especially with the ending, since so many of you were unhappy with the way I left it. After all the time I spent on it, I can now go back and continue writing the sequel. Actually, there will be two more books in my memoir series: This one, book I, “We Don’t Talk About That” covers my first thirty years in Germany; the second book will deal with the next thirty years in Canada, and then we’ll have to take a good look at my incredibly active ‘retirement years’ – I am not sure yet if I quite make it another thirty years! Close though…

You may even find a little ‘surprise’ when you peruse my titles! Should I tell you about it? Okay, why not! I have added a pretty little poetry book in German language. “Ein Mensch von Gestern … Heute”. A happy book! It was a reprise for me after the heavy duty topics I dealt with and it made me laugh, every time I re-read and edited it. Many of my older relatives and friends, who cannot read my English books, have been complaining. They have tried repeatedly to convince me to translate my books. That will not happen – friends, it is not a matter of translation, it will be a total re-writing. I don’t have enough years left in my life to tackle it. Therefore, this little book may be a “candy” – and I promise that many of the poems deal and tell a lot of my life! For those of you who have German friends or relatives, you couldn’t send them a better gift! However, I find a poetry book is something you have to hold in your hand, it does not read the same when it’s an e-book, so – I have another surprise:

Here is a link to my books on Amazon: Within the next three to five business days you will be able to order a printed version of “Ein Mensch von Gestern … Heute” – the Author listed is Gisela Fiting-Roeder. Since I was well known under my maiden name in Germany I decided I ought to use it. Naturally, Amazon also enrolled the book in their KDP (e-book). By the way, if you purchase the paperback copy you can obtain the e-book for free.

And now, my dear friends, happy reading!

“In My Own Words” #memoirs #books #writers

A special event to chronicle four memorable memoirs at the West Vancouver Library

“We are always excited to celebrate literary talent” said Information Services Department Head, Pat Cumming. “For this panel we gathered an entertaining range of personalities, adventures and stories. Having the always enigmatic Eric R. Brown (author of the Edgar nominated novel ‘Almost Criminal’) on hand to moderate the panel is the icing on the cake. It’s going to be a great night.”

And ‘in my own words’, it was, so much so that I was not able to sleep the following night. There was so much to process, so much to digest and so much to think about. It was exciting to meet the other writers, first for me was Judy McFarlane, a calm and quiet pleasant woman, then I was startled by the gorgeous long-legged creature Cea Sunrise Person and, luckily, meeting former Judge David Roberts brought me back to earth. The room slowly filled up, the four of us were seated facing the audience and after Eric’s welcome address and the introduction he explained the program of the evening. Each writer had to read a 5-6 minute piece of their book after which he would ask the reader questions relating to the memoir for 15 minutes. At the end of the over an hour long program there would be time for questions and answers, interacting with the audience.

Cover-8I was appointed the first to read because “your memoir goes back the longest time”. From my book “We Don’t Talk About That” I had chosen the story about the miller who had no flour but my family was hungry and I decided I should go and ask him anyway. He must have felt sorry for me because he told me to crawl under the millstones and sweep up the powdery dust. He told me that one has to eat 400 pounds of dust anyway before one dies and this stuff would still be good with the bran in it to cook soup or bake bread. Then he asked me if I was hungry. Hungry? What a question! I was always hungry. He invited me into his house to have a sandwich. I was apprehensive because if my experiences with the Russians during the invasion but he seemed so nice I wanted to trust him. While he busied himself he asked me to tell him about me. I couldn’t. He kept prodding and all of a sudden it all came tumbling out of me, it was as if some flood gates had opened. I told him about the Russian invasion, what they did, how we lost our home, the walk to nowhere next to the Russian war machinery towards Berlin, the diphtheria and the sleep in the strawberry patch, the train and the murder of the young woman and her daughter, what the murderer did to my mother and how the next morning she pushed us out of the moving train and more of the cruelties to which we were subjected. The miller had one hand on the bread, a knife in the other, stared at me and just said: “Oh my God…”

The questions from Eric, who apparently had read all the books, were about writing a memoir like this, how I remembered, how we dealt with and survived the horrors of rape and murder and starvation and how years later my life took a different turn.

Cea PersonThe next one to read was Cea Sunrise Person, the youngest of us. Cea was born into an unusual family consisting of grandparents, aunts and uncles, grew up in the wilderness and in teepees living from the land and nature during the so-called counter culture. I assume it is safe to call it the hippie time with its sexual freedom, nudity and drugs. For me a look at a totally new way of life I had never been able to comprehend. I also had never met anyone who was involved in it. She mentioned several times that even as a child “I always felt I did not fit into it”. In my mind remains the question how she, as a very young child, would know that and how and when or at what age was she able to compare her life with another? Reading several chapters of her book “North of Normal” online I was intrigued by her memoir and it was mainly “SHE” and her story that had kept me awake that night. To really understand I guess I’ll have to read her book. As a writer of a story I never told for seventy years I know it must have taken guts for her to tell all and open herself up to judgement. She says “it took me seven years…” Yes, Cea, I believe it. She read a story from her book about being invited to a birthday party, had no idea that she needed a gift and decided to give away her most beloved item, she also had no dress and on arrival naturally felt totally out of place. By chance she happened into the room of the birthday girl, saw a dream dress on the bed, took off her t-shirt and tried it on. It was too small but the picture she saw in the mirror took her breath away….It was sad how the story ended. She went home in her old outfit and took her unappreciated ‘gift’ with her. For a child of about five (?) it must have been heartbreaking. But let me tell you, Cea went on to become a model at thirteen, lived in New York, Los Angeles and Paris, she modelled in Munich and even then “I felt like a freak, never fit in.” Now she is married, the mother of three and people who read her memoir wonder “how were you ever able to become so normal?”

David RobertsDavid Roberts, a former judge and attorney wrote “Letters to His Children from an Uncommon Attorney”. Cea was a very hard act to follow but within minutes David had the attention of the audience. He had picked a humorous story to read and there was not a person in the room who did not join in the laughter! Let me try to somehow piece it together. For some reason David had to go to a liqueur store and as he entered he glimpsed a man standing not too far from the entrance holding out a cup. He briefly thought of the people needing to beg and avoided looking at him. When he came back out with a huge bag with bottles in his arms he pushed the door with his backside and then dropped the change of three quarters he had received, into the man’s cup. He was surprised and shocked when he heard a splash and now, glancing at the man, was told “My goodness, I am just holding my coffee and waiting for my wife…” The voice sounded familiar and the man was also known to him: Another judge! The 15 minute interview by Eric following the laughter was surely a release of tension in the room caused by the previous readers. It revealed that David had four children, three boys and a daughter. He often told them stories from his life and it was the daughter who had told him “to write it all down before you die.” The result is this at times humorous and at times harrowing memoir of a father, a husband and an attorney.

Judy MacFarlaneLast, but not least, it was former lawyer Judy MacFarlane’s turn to read from her book “Writing with Grace”. One could be under the impression she had written guidelines to write with ‘grace’ and be surprised to learn that it was a twenty-four year old girl with Downs Syndrome named Grace Chen who had come to seek help with a poem. The mother of this girl was in the audience and was introduced. It was heart wrenching when Judy read about Grace telling Judy “My real truth is too scary, I like to hide my real truth” when talking about her poem and Judy is taken in by the earnest desire of this girl to become “a famous writer”. When Grace was born the grandfather had told her parents ‘put her away and forget about her’. Judy traveled with Grace when she gave her own book to this grandfather. Judy read a piece about Grace’s memories about the Titanic, what happened, her fears, a helicopter coming to save the people.

The book Judy wrote about her involvement with Grace is an account of her own and others prejudices and the often dark history of Downs Syndrome. The book is called inspirational, exceptional and I am sure of great interest to all people having to deal with this disease that is no disease and not a birth defect but, according to the Canadian Down Syndrome Society ‘a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement that has always been part of the human condition’. I could tell by Judy’s tone of voice that the story of Grace is still deeply troubling her and close to her heart.

Check out the books on Google by name or title. I think reading any one of them will enrich your life. The evening when all of us writers came together will long stay with me and I am extending a big THANK YOU to the West Vancouver Library to making it possible.

Learning to Kayak #Kayaking #EastGermany

Getting that balance right

Getting that balance right

It was probably the best thing that could have happened to me: Afred, a young man in charge of the kayak racing team, came to my office to get the permission stamps for the team to go to a regatta taking place in a different city. As I asked him questions he invited me to come to a training session and see if I would like to join the club. Well, I said ‘yes’ right away and his girlfriend Christa showed me how to get in and out of a kayak. Balancing wasn’t easy as I was trying to sit in that narrow nut shell. When I mastered it without tipping over I was in love, – in love with the novelty of it and in love with the water. Christa also let me try out the KII. I became obsessed with kayaking, I was determined to be in the top group and secretly even promised myself to become better than all the other girls. And, you know what?

image1It was only a year later that I won the District Championships in the KI over 500 and over 3.000 meters. Mind you, after the 3.000 meter race I fell out of the kayak as soon as I crossed the finishing line. Christa, my trainer and also my KII partner was disappointed because up to now she had won all the races. But we won the 500 and the 3000 meters in the KII, it made up for it.

image3We became very close friends. Even now, more than sixty years later we are still close but mostly in telephone contact since we live on different continents. She saved nearly forty five years of the letters I wrote to her from Canada after my emigration. She gave them to me last time I saw her. To read them again was quite a revelation for me. In my memoir “We Don’t Talk About That” you’ll enjoy reading about my kayaking and the great love I had for my own paddle boat “Max”. The best years within my first 30 years I cover in that book have to do with the water, my boat and my desolation in leaving it behind when I had to escape from East to West Germany. As it happened, my racing abilities helped me to find a job in West Germany. I am sad to say that I never reached the top groups again. I just had to work too many hours and did not have as much time for the necessary training.

image2You might find it interesting that in East Germany every sport was very highly promoted and financially supported, it hardly cost anything for either memberships or competitions,– but in West Germany you were on your own. And as I made very little money I could not really afford to participate anymore either. When I was 5th once at a competition I dropped out. I thought it was better if people remembered me and said “oh, she was good” rather than “yaaah, she got too old and had to drop out”!


start 'em early

Start ’em early!

Did you know they now have real racing kayaks for kiddies? And train them very early? Just like Austrian kids start to ski as soon as they can walk, at the Baltic Sea where I lived the kids can start at two or three years old getting into a kayak. Amazing! Start to train early for future Olympics? Yes, the children are our future in more ways than one. Kayaking is healthy, you breath fresh air, develop muscles but mainly around the upper body. So training included running, all-body exercises and during the winters we went to gymnastics and played competitive table tennis. One more thing: The comradery. I give it ten points out of ten. It’s wonderful and becomes a big part of your life. I just LOVED it.



Two Interviews #BookPromotion #SkinCare

I want to thank Tracy Koga and Shaw TV in Winnipeg for sharing two interviews made during my recent book promotion in Winnipeg. They appear on my YouTube page but you can also see them here:

Interview 1First interview about “We Don’t Talk About That”


and here:

Interview 2


Second interview about Giselle’s Skin Care

Interview with Fiona McVie #BookInterview

Fiona McvieI was recently interviewed (on-line) by Fiona Mcvie who posts her interviews with authors on her web site. She lives in Scotland and likes to learn more about the authors of books she has read. She poses some interesting questions. Thank you, Fiona, for this great opportunity to describe how my book “We Don’t Talk About That” came to be written.

You can find the full interview here.

The Amazing All Grey City #Winnipeg #Prairie #Potholes #Bookstores


CJOB Radio interview with Greg Mackling

Once upon a time I lived in a green flower filled city alongside the sometimes peaceful, sometimes wild Pacific Ocean, deep blue with white crested, crowned waves. I was a woman living and drinking in this beauty wishing to have talent to paint until the day my mate tells me about an exciting opportunity for him to move to a city in the Canadian Prairie. He talked about Winnipeg, a city known as the Canadian Siberia with nine months of winter and the coldest corner in the whole wide world, Portage and Main and three months of hot summers with lots of mosquitos. But, – Winnipeg was also known for its “dry” cold and always blue sunny skies. Supposedly this climate was much healthier than the “wet” rainy coast and the propensity for getting rheumatism and arthritis. You can dress for the “dry” cold but the “wet” cold gets right under your skin.

We were told Winnipeg is a good place to bring up your family within the beautiful residential areas; it had large lakes for summer fun only about ninety miles away. Winnipeg was the birth place of “Winnie-the-Pooh”, the real little bear who became a mascot for the Canadian Army stationed in England before and during WWI, living out his life in the London Zoo. Millions of children still love A.A. Milne’s story about Pooh and name their teddy bears after him. Now his statue greets you at the entrance to the Winnipeg Zoo. This Prairie city of about 270.000 at that time offered lots of cultural and social life, clubs, theatre, concerts and the world renowned Winnipeg Ballet, on a par with the Moscow and the French Ballet troupes. One-hundred-and-four different ethnic groups were living peacefully together with lots of their typical eating places, loved and visited by all. Eat in a different part of the world every day! But the best: Winnipeg was well known for its friendly people! Every vehicle licence plate tells you: “Friendly Manitoba”, the Canadian province where it is located.


McNally Robinson Booksellers

Life has a way of interrupting your life; channel it into a different direction. I lived there for twenty years, became a corporate citizen, an employer, a Community Television Producer before the winds of change blew me back to my green country at the Pacific Ocean. No, I could not paint paintings but I could paint pictures with words. So I became a writer.

My recently published book “We Don’t Talk About That” is a memoir about my first thirty years of life. I tell the story of my first ten years during the Nazi period, the next ten years under Communist rule, and the next ten years, after my escape before the infamous Berlin Wall, trying to re-configure my life and hurt from being considered a second class citizen in the “Golden West” which was not so golden after all.

Chapters St Vital

Chapters, St Vital

This book brought me back to Winnipeg recently for a week long book promotion in March with a book launch and book signings in three big book stores: McNally Robinson, the largest bookstore I have ever seen, Chapters St. Vital with surely the friendliest staff and Chapters Polo Park in probably one of the most beautiful book store buildings. Winnipeggers still read and love the real thing: Books, physical books. Many mentioned that they don’t like eBooks. My book reading at a Rotary Club was well received and a CJOB radio interview with Greg Mackling reminded the listeners about my history within their fair city and many old friends, former customers and even former employees came to see me, say Hi and buy my book. And the Shaw TV’s Community Channel taped an hour long interview about my book and my history in Winnipeg when my first name was a household word.

Chapters Polo Park

At Chapters, Polo Park

Let me tell you what startled me most after arrival and the drive from the airport to the midtown hotel: Winnipeggers were driving only grey cars. All the busses were grey as well. One cornflower blue VW Beetle stood out as the only color spot as far as I could see down the road trying to avoid one pothole after another. You could not read any licence plates as they were covered with a thick grey coating. It dawned on me that nobody washed their car during the winter to avoid having their door locks frozen. I remembered! It was thirty-four years since I was living here! I learned that the winters are not Siberian anymore and climate change is taking its toll. That the previous week they still had 24 below Celsius but now for several days double digit degrees up to 18 above Celsius, the snow gone but the sand, used to sprinkle over the ice was coloring everything: Cars and buildings and roads and if you didn’t wear glasses, it got into your eyes, it covered your hair and it was impossible to keep your shoes clean longer than from the house door to your car.

My grandson Jack, born and raised in Winterpeg as the Winnipeggers lovingly call it, told me: At the entrance highway from the west used to have a sign:

Welcome to Winnipeg. I live here – what’s your excuse?

 For my stories from those first 30 years in Germany please read my book “We Don’t Talk About That” available from all major bookstores as well as on-line.

Dutch Clogs and a Nazi Flag Dress

Several years after WWII ended life ever so slowly had returned back to a bit more normal and I had become a teenager. We lived in the eastern sector of Germany, a country without shops of any kind. I had outgrown the clothing my mother had made from rags and “one dress out of two”. Would it ever have been nice if jeans had been invented already because then all the kids would have looked more alike and there would not have been so much heartbreak with the teasing and bullying for the weird clothing I and my sisters had to wear to school. I will never forget the three winters I had to wear an old torn black form-fitted ladies coat with green patches and a huge big bust typical Dutch designline, stuffed with horse hair. I was only eleven, starved and thin as a stick. There was no choice: I was lucky to have found the coat under a bush where someone had discarded it. At least I had a coat at all during the winters 1945, 1946 and 1947. Uncle Fritz did a deal by exchanging fish for some Dutch clogs and those wooden shoes kept my feet very warm. But imagine the picture:

A small, starved thin eleven year old kid with a big busted fitted ladies coat and Dutch clogs! I wish I had a photograph! Today I can smile or laugh about it but back then it caused me many tears and I refused to go to high school when the time came. I had nothing to wear. The teasing was already bad enough in the small village where we lived, – but going to a city school? I’d have died…


Modelling my “Nazi flag” dress

I got a chance to learn to sew but I had to bring my own material. You couldn’t buy anything, but a kind neighbor gave me a big Nazi flag she had found in an old trunk in her basement or attic. Her family and mine would have been arrested if anybody would ever have found out about it. To own a Nazi flag was forbidden after WWII. I undid all the seams, took the white center and the black stitched on swastika apart and my seamstress teacher helped me to design a pretty kind of ‘country dress”. The body of the dress was fashioned out of the red material with a wide swinging skirt, a white insert around the neck and small strips out of the swastika around the skirt and the insert and a black belt. It wasn’t quite Bavarian style, but very similar. I was proud and wore that dress happily. When I grew out of it my third sister Ingrid wore it. Well, – look at the pictures taken a few years down the road with my first camera, a very simple box camera. To find out how I got such a treasure

Ingrid modelling her "hand-me-down" dress

Ingrid modelling her “hand-me-down” dress

you’d have to read my book “We Don’t Talk About It”. (Chapter: ‘Berlin – here I come’)

I wish I could share several letters from a lady who picked my book up on impulse at Chapters just a few days ago. She read several hours in her car in the parking lot, “I couldn’t put it down” she writes, – “went to the gym, read while doing a workout on the bike, drove home, read some more, couldn’t sleep, and finished it the next morning”. I know that she really read every word of it because she asks questions about different things she couldn’t have known had she just ‘skimmed’ through it. So, – click on the links to the bookstores and order it now! You will be looking at the present world problems a little differently and have hours of reading to keep those little “grey cells” (as Hercule Poirot says) very stimulated.