Novels

Novels by M.J. Brett

Margaret's Musings

How these stories were developed --
or the real story behind the stories

So many readers have asked me questions about my novels and about the characters, that it seems appropriate to elaborate a little about the process of collecting information from interviews, letters, and research and turning them into stories. I'm hoping some of you will want to write, too, and perhaps this will help you get started. This may also help you who are conducting book clubs. Your readers always want to know the background of a story.

Except to change the names to protect the innocent, or the guilty, my historical fiction is based on true stories and events.

​I'll try to tell you how each book came into being. The novels are listed here from newest to oldest. If you have any questions or comments, I hope you'll "contact the author" and I'll try to answer any concerns you may have. I'd like this to be a "dialogue" and not just a "monologue."

List of Novels

Voices Know My Name

The Voices Know My Name

Working and living around the military, including my former pilot husband, I couldn't help but be aware of the problem of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I got interested from reading letters from some young friends with the problem, and wanted everyday citizens to understand, start a debate, and perhaps find ways to help.

Truth Lies Six Foot Under

Truth Lies Six Foot Under

Visiting an old friend from Bamberg days, he asked if I'd consider writing about a cold case for whom nobody was ever investigated or punished, and they were threatened when anyone asked questions. He had me at "cold case," even though I'd not tackled a mystery before. Interviewing the family members, and having the mother of one of the murder victims send me autopsy reports that were done twenty years too late, was invaluable.

Stand Silent, Stand Free

Stand Silent, Stand Free

For centuries people who could not see, hear, or move well, were locked away in "asylums" with the insane. In the last couple of centuries, parents began hiding away their handicapped children to keep that from happening. Helen Keller's family, for instance, was probably the most recognized of that view until an Annie Sullivan came along to help little Helen break out of the mold.

Dancing in the Wind

Dancing in the Wind

When we are young, we're convinced old age will never come. And then one day we look in the mirror and see "our mother" or "father," and the day has arrived. It comes fast. What goes through the mind of an elderly person when children and grandchildren start talking about retirement or nursing homes?

I Think I Can, I Think I Can

I Think I Can, I Think I Can

What are little children thinking? Children are quite open and honest, often to our surprise at how they have interpreted our casual comments. To know the hearts of my characters, and still show them with compassion and humor became quite a task in this story. There are weak characters who can hurt, and those who help a child along the way.

Mama Told Me Not to Come

Mama Told Me Not to Come

If you know anyone accident-prone, you’ll see why the Eiffel Tower on the cover is falling down. This novel is based on true travel adventures in Europe and the Middle East. The two main characters are composites of several real people, all teachers in DoDDS (Department of Defense Dependent Schools) stationed in Germany during the Cold War, so we cannot blame all the disasters on any one person.

Street Smart on a Dead End

Street Smart on a Dead End

Sometimes we may try too hard, but we can never give up on a child. In the 1960's we teachers assumed drugs and gangs were isolated incidents--something that happened someplace else and had nothing to do with our little neighborhood of white picket fences. We were in for a rough awakening when Olivia came to our school.

Between Duty and Devotion

Between Duty and Devotion

This novel came about because, through my affiliation with the military overseas for 21 years, skiing and traveling with the people involved, we became good friends and confidants. As I watched officer rank going upward, I also noticed marriages going downward. Why should that be? Through many bull sessions at the O’Club, we came to grips with some of the difficulties of sustaining a military relationship.

Shadows on an Iron Curtain

Shadows on an Iron Curtain

A good friend, Ron Hosie, drew the cover for this novel in charcoal from a forbidden color photo I took from underneath my coat collar, of the East/West Border near .Hof, Germany. It was not a place for color. Looking across that 12 foot iron fence, with its minefield and manned, machine-gun-armed guard towers was the stark reality of a black and white, colorless world on the USSR communist/socialist side of a barrier that divided towns, farmer’s fields, and even the whole continent of Europe.

Mutti's War

Mutti's War

How well would we fair under a dictatorship? I pray we never have to find out. Not surprisingly, even living in Germany for 21 years, I found most people were reluctant to talk about World War II. Some reticence may have been collective guilt, some a fear that the interviewer might be critical, and some just because people couldn't bear to remember the sadness of that era.

ISBN # 978-0-9748869-0-4  -  previously 10 digit # 0-9748869-0-4

Mutti’s War is based on the true story of Regina Wolff, a rather delicate young German mother who is forced to smuggle her three small boys out of East Prussia when the Russians surround it in 1944.
Though the story takes place during the years of World War II, Regina could just as easily have walked off the six-o-clock news as a refugee of current wars. Whenever there’s a war, it’s the warrior about whom stories are written. But it’s the woman left behind who must find strength to protect and reunite her family when the battles are over.
Regina begins as a privileged, but politically naïve young woman who trusts her adored husband to make all decisions for the family, in the custom of Europe in the 1930’s and 40’s. But by 1944, Regina must defy Nazi authority and subject herself and her children to a dangerous trek across war-torn Europe in her attempt to survive and find her missing husband.
Alone, Regina must achieve political and emotional awakening and learn to make life and death decisions in spite of their painful consequences. This is a novel of survival under disastrous conditions, and Regina’s courage is an inspiring story for all ages. Though most have read of what Hitler did to the Jews, the POWS, the gypsies, we’ve never known what he was doing to his own people. This story from behind the enemy’s lines shows us an additional historic view of the war that shaped the 20th Century.

This book has been used for a literature class taught at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. The professor wanted to impress on cadets the many different kinds of courage.

Mutti’s War, is in its eighth printing, being considered as a movie, and won the prestigious Paul Gillette Award for Historical Fiction.

The Midwest Book Review called Mutti's War
"A vivid, unforgettable story of courage and determination...
told with fluid dialogue and heart-rending detail."

If you would like discussion questions for your Book Club
Contact the author

Letters from Readers:

"I had to let you know how much my colleagues at the Red Cross loved Mutti's War. Once started, none of us could lay it down. You are batting 1,000 here in Alexandria. Thank you for such a great book!!!" Christa L.

"This book needs to be in everyone's hands. I was particularly intrigued with the view of World War II from inside the enemy's camp and the strength Mutti gained as she fought not only her own Nazi government, but her discoveries as well. How she had the strength to make her decisions, yet keep them secret, I'll never know. There was a will of steel under that cloak of daintiness." Elaine P.

About Shadows on an Iron Curtain

ISBN # 978-0-9748869-1-6

Shadows on an Iron Curtain illustrates the clashing tensions that existed between the Soviet Union and the United States from the end of World War II through the years of the Cold War, as seen through the naïve eyes of a young widow,
Megan James.

While everyone knows of the Berlin Wall, few know of the Border that slashed across a divided and dangerous Europe.

During the 1970’s, the 2nd and 3rd Armored Cavalry troops and their support units defending this Border were on constant Alert against the threatening Soviet Army, thus increasing the pressure on soldiers, their friends and their families.

Megan’s naiveté brings her both comic and tragic learning experiences and widely disparate friends—fellow teachers Emily, a mother figure with an imaginary “Ambassador,” sophisticated, rational Abby, flirtatious Lila who cannot seem to understand the need for military security, and notorious womanizing CAV pilot, Carl, who senses Megan’s vulnerability and vows to protect her from her own fears. The women soon learn the best kept military secret--that if the Soviets cross the Border, as they constantly threaten, their officer friends must hold for forty-eight hours before help, probably nuclear, will come—i.e. a potential suicide mission.

Constant Border ‘Alert’ conditions foster a camaraderie unknown Stateside. The single officers and teachers form a ‘family’ and protect each other in the face of international danger, sabotaged ‘accidents,’ and personal crises. Under Carl’s tutelage, Megan again dates and falls in love. But her new love, Ed, is an undercover agent so deeply involved in inter-national intrigue that he is a target for Communist operatives, i.e. a "Spook." When Lila’s ‘loose talk,’ inadvertently brings the friends to a violent climax, all must learn new coping mechanisms to help each other go on. Though a novel of grief recovery, it also documents the challenge of teaching overseas for the Department of Defense Dependent School (DODDS teachers), and especially the missions of the Cavalry, Engineers, Artillery, Infantry, Intelligence, and Aviation who defended the Border between free and enslaved people for over forty years.

This novel is a journey to find hope through friendship during a period of intense pressure world wide, until the Berlin Wall fell, the Border opened, and the Cold War ended in November, 1989.

Shadows on an Iron Curtain is M.J. Brett’s second novel. For you military people to know, she DID have this book checked so as not to violate security concerns.

Comments from Readers:

"Having been an Army pilot flying the communist Border, I can only say, 'Bravo' for your portrayal of the dangers we faced in your book, Shadows on an Iron Curtain. I've found no one else who ever told our story or understood our frustrations as well. At last, someone who knows what NOE means! Others should understand that the Cold War was not as 'cold' as most Americans thought at the time. Thank you for getting it right." Frank M.

"Shadows is a great read. It seems now, that all anyone remembers of the Cold War is the Berlin Wall--never our more dangerous and secret Border. I especially liked your explanation of our aircraft being 'painted.' My kids never understood the term when I tried to tell them what it was like guarding the communist Border. Now they know. Thank you. Please do another book soon." Jake S.

A Soviet guard tower and barrier fence in one of the small towns along the Border. Anyone trying to escape East Germany would have been seen by the floodlights and shot by Soviet guards in the towers. That's IF they made it past dogs, minefields, and razor wire.

Tanks and Troop Carrier in a tank park in front of HQ US (headquarters). Former West German Kasernes (military bases) looked like these. Many now are gone with drawdowns. Tank parks got extremely wet and muddy during fall and spring rains.

A section of freeway (Autobahn) the USSR blew up to block anyone crossing their Border barriers. There were no barriers on the West side.

Border tower and Iron Curtain fencing erected by the Soviets to keep their people from escaping to the west. The blue/white pole in the foreground is the real border, but Soviets put the fence further back to cause "border violations" which became "international incidents" if somebody accidentally crossed behind the pole. A deceptive tactic. No civilian could go near the Border without an armed guard of U.S. soldiers. But we teachers went often with CAV friends.

A U.S. helicopter in the snow near the Border. Pilots flew NOE (nap of the earth - around trees rather than over them) Often they were "painted" (targeted and followed by missiles), and they flew in all weather, so it was a dangerous job.

The infamous Hof, a small town on the Border that was divided by the Iron Curtain and bridges blown up by the Soviets. We had a Kaserne there, as Hof, Coberg, and Fulda "Gaps" were the three routes by which the Soviets could have gotten tanks into the West Zone and threaten to take the rest of Western Europe.

A divided Europe for over 40 years. The dark red line is the infamous Border, and the pink is the Soviet communist area they took from Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and all other countries east of the Border. Our troops defended the Border to keep the USSR from taking the rest of Europe. Note the positions of Hof, Bamberg, Coberg, and Fulda...

Novels by M.J. Brett

About Between Duty and Devotion

SBN # 978-0-9748869-2-3
Between Duty and Devotion

Between Duty and Devotion is the story of a fast-track career military officer whose marriage is secretly on the rocks. As soldiers return from Iraq and Afghanistan even today, they find that the pressures of a military deployment can be stressful to their marriages.

When a man joins the service, the joke is, “If the Army wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued you one.” By the time he reaches the rank of Lt. Colonel, he is told, “If you can’t handle your wife, you can’t handle commanding troops.”

While millions of military families have strong marriages that survive the pressure of command, deployment separations, tension, and danger, even PTSD, some marriages, those that were weak to start with, will not make the cut.

But what choices does an officer have if his marriage is disastrous? A messy divorce can end his career. A love affair, if discovered, can bring disgrace and a court marshal. Staying married and “playing the game” may bring promotion and prestige, but it also breeds hypocrisy and perhaps, eventual hatred and violence.

This novel is one of loneliness and longing, family malice, infidelity, and betrayal. But the mystery is for the reader to determine who really betrayed whom. It is also the tale of a life-long, loyalty and devotion that nothing can tarnish.

A gifted officer, Neil Sedgwick, becomes exhausted and lonely after years of his wife’s rejection. He tells her he wants a quiet divorce so as not to destroy his Army career. While separated, he falls in love with a woman he sees as his life’s companion and naively believes he can protect the woman he loves, his children, and his next promotion. When his estranged wife threatens both his career and his children’s custody, she declares she will “…pin on his general’s stars, or be damned sure he never gets them.”

He learns that command of a military unit is not necessarily command of his own life. Where can he turn when the painful dilemma is between his duty to the military and his devotion to the woman he loves?

Comments from Readers:

"I loved this unorthodox, yet eternal, love story where characters step right out of the story and become real. I've heard their natural and sympathetic conversations in my heart. It reminds me of Bridges of Madison County, only for the military." Susan C.

"I needed to understand more of living the military lifestyle and its joys and pitfalls. I'm marrying my Army guy next spring, and I had no idea how much he would need me to be in his corner. This book sure shows what it's like to love a soldier. I'm glad I could meet 'Neil' and realize that men, too, need emotional warmth. I thought it was just the women. Thank you." Tanya J.

"I feel that I know these characters, and they represent the dilemma all military couples face. I would say they probably represent all couples, military or civilian, who have somehow lost the ability to communicate." Samuel K.

"This dysfunctional couple could be any of us, and their decisions, good or bad, become our own." Joan C.

"The story has it all, malice, incompatability, longings, betrayal...all the things that can ruin your day...but it also has the hope found in eternal friendship and loyalty to one's country." Andrew W.

A few of the "Wild Bunch" Skiers in Austria at Zigi's Ski School. (Not the main characters, though)

Novels by M.J. Brett

About Street Smart on a Dead End

Sometimes love is not enough--every parent's nightmare.

Street Smart on a Dead End

ISBN # 978-0-9748869-0-3
Street Smart on a Dead End

When Olivia, an incorrigible sixth grader, enrolls in a new school, her obscene vocabulary and aggressive behavior stymie the faculty.

Naive teacher, Kate Johnson, unwittingly becomes the "counselor of chance" as tough-minded Olivia faints in her arms with the words, "Help me!" and reveals a mindful of secrets.

With no parent to be found, Kate reluctantly takes Olivia home to her own family: husband, Phil and two daughters, plus a houseful of kids who "...sort of came to dinner and stayed...for years."

Olivia's roller coaster ups and downs practically tear apart this straight-laced family. Though all try to be supportive, her various escapades, lies, and strange disappearances go beyond everyone's level of tolerance. In addition, Olivia soon finds that her previous gang members and drug dealers jeopardize her new life and the family she has come to love, as she swings alternately from one world to the other.

This novel is based on the true story of dedicated educators fighting abusive parents, drug pushers, gangs, and ineffective laws for protecting children during a time when few resources were known or available. Ingenuity and love and hope are the only weapons Kate and Phil can find to try to help this one lost child.

But is it already too late for Olivia? Is the cultural clash of values insurmountable? The violent climax brings together all the strengths and weaknesses of any family in crisis.

If you'd like discussion questions for your Book Club, "Contact the Author" and give me your address.

Comment from Readers:

"This story walks off the front pages and challenges us all to keep trying--to never give up on a child." Martha S.

"Dealing with children with so many emotional and social problems takes more patience than most of us possess. I'd like all sixth grade teachers, parents and students to read this book, because I'm not sure all our kids truly understand the dangers inherent in drugs and gangs. Olivia teaches us all." Tony G.

About Mama Told Me Not to Come

Mama Told Me Not to Come

After four serious novels, Ms Brett felt the need of a comic interlude, and found grist for the mill among her overseas teacher friends who traveled every chance they got.

MamaTold Me Not to Come is based on true travels which, if one is accident-prone, may be from mishap to mishap.

Probably any of her DODDS colleagues could write a sequel.

Mama Told Me Not to Come

German beer fest with American teachers and soldiers on the USSR/West German Border .

You can see a You Tube Video interview about this book if you Google my name, Margaret Brettschneider, and click on the Pikes Peak Writer's Conference with my photo on it. Or paste this into your browser. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_LVD0l9K58&feature=youtube_gdata_player Worth a giggle!

ISBN #978-0-9748869-4-7 Mama Told Me Not To Come

If we turned the famed ‘Lucy and Ethel’ loose on an unsuspecting Europe or Mid East, they couldn’t do any more damage than our heroines, DeeDee Otero and Megan James. With DeeDee naively thinking she can find a husband by declaring her desire for babies to every man she meets, and Megan’s skepticism about men, these two are an unlikely pair.

DeeDee claims “Nothing ever happens to me.” So she assumes she can keep the accident-prone Megan "safe" if they travel together, while Megan tries valiantly to acquaint DeeDee with the real world of Cold War Europe, military secrets, spies, and social protocols that DeeDee ignores or doesn't understand.

Each gradually changes the other. From being trapped in a burlesque house in Berlin to PLO taking them the "wrong way home" in Bethlehem, from Athens to Morocco, these two work their own magic and mayhem, getting themselves into disaster after disaster, along with Megan’s Fiat named "Bosco," and the military members and other DoDDS teachers who people their world.

In spite of their differences, or perhaps because of them, they find a friendship to last a lifetime. These two will keep you laughing, and shaking your head.

Go ahead.... Have a laugh on us!

Comments from Readers:

"Books from M.J. Brett are like good wine, very addictive, and I really am sincere about this. However, I would like to read more of her books, if she has any on the way. Thanks so much," Richard H.

"I was, as was M.J. Brett, a teacher with the Department of Defense Dependent Schools. I also taught in Germany, but later than her and not near the border. I just met her at a DODDS reunion in Orlando, FL. She is as delightful as her books. I bought three of them and am nearly finished with "Mama Told Me Not to Come." Her adventures bring back similar experiences of my own. They are VERY realistic and made me a bit nostalgic for Deutschland. I'm looking forward to our meeting at the next reunion so I can see what else she's written this past year!" Martha E.

About I Think I Can, I Think I Can

ISBN # 978-0-9748869-5-4 I Think I Can, I Think I Can

From the relationship of an old farmer, a Victorian zealot, and a precocious three-year-old comes the advice, “Life is what it is, Child. Deal with it, or accept it and let it be.”

​But a child wants to know “Why?” Katie's coming of age revolves around her search for answers to ties broken, half-distorted memories, and irrational fears that will lead her from abandonment and betrayal only to more questions.
How do we reach goals that seem too far away to even try? Can handicaps be overcome? How do we learn to fit in someplace in the world when we feel on the outside looking in? How do we forgive what we can’t understand? Can deep wounds ever heal? Can we change love and make it new? Will a reluctant reunion set one free?

The lesson learned: by forgiving others and yourself, you can keep the past from ruining your future.

This tender depiction of a child’s mind makes us think twice about what we say when we assume children cannot yet understand, or they will not remember. We see it all the time at the supermarket. "You're so bad...stupid...I'll leave you here!" How will their innocent perceptions of what we say be revealed in a child's life choices?

Frank McCourt said of Angela’s Ashes, “Children are almost deadly in their detachment from the world ... They are absolutely pragmatic, and they tell the truth.”

Katie tells the truth as she sees it, and tries to adapt herself to its uncomfortable demands through illness, handicap, Depression, World War II, and its traumatic aftermath. Perhaps we are never meant to know the why of a matter in order to survive it. Perhaps the old farmer was right. Katie finds that forgiveness is survival.

Comments from Readers:

​"Little Katie comes alive for me, right from the first page. I find myself hoping against all odds that she can reach her tenuous goal and solve the mysteries of her heritage. I want my teens to read it so they will learn to believe in themselves and get on with life." Tanya P.

"A touching story for all of us who want to be belong. When Katie reaches for a goal, I want to cheer, or may cry." Suzanne L.

"This novel has the compelling honesty of an intimate conversation. Knowing the hearts of her characters, showing them with compassion, humor, and illuminating generosity, Katie will find her way." Dennis S.

The "pink ballerena" comes of age, still haunted by the past. For an audience of strangers, one can be anonymous and reach inside for the music.

In front of people you know, you're too vulnerable to be at ease.

“A modern ballet from “Ritual Dance of the Firebird” for the USO.

Novels by M.J. Brett

About Dancing in the Wind

A light touch with a difficult topic we all must face sooner or later

Dancing in the Wind

ISBN 978-09748869-6-1
Dancing in the Wind

When a family decides it's time to send 92-year-old Granny to a retirement home, "for her own good," of course, feisty Martha Sidony fights back.

In frustration, she tells her brood, "I'm neither incompetent, nor incontinent, and I can take care of myself, thank you very much!"

But her younger family members don't understand her little ideosyncracies--like dancing in the wind, hoarding telephones, and always "turning left" when driving. Then, there is also the matter of her falling once in awhile. What to do?

She is distressed that none of children or grandchildren want all the things she has saved over years of travel. While they send her belongings to Goodwill, often over her objections, Martha finds an old Clorox shipping box that yields case studies from forty years of her teaching on two continents. Remembering her students, Gran finds her advice to her "kidlets" from long ago just might help demonstrate her independence now.

Her life lessons from the old box serve to keep her out of the way, which the family claims is "necessary," but they also buy her time and ammunition to lobby for some choice in the matter. The old records even bring her unlikely allies in her campaign to stay free.

Growing older is not an option. It is a fact. How will we and our families handle the decisions that come with living longer and

being more active longer? When we age, we still see ourselves in the mirror as we were when we were young and "had a life," while our grandchildren think we were hatched the day they were born to make cookies. They cannot imagine us as young and in love.

How do we handle the delicate dance of keeping our aging family members safe, without interfering with the independence they fear is slipping away.

This story is meant to help start the dialogue in every family, to bring a little humor into a difficult situation. It's better for us to laugh about life's inevitable changes, than to only cry over things we cannot change.

Can Granny hold out long enough to make a difference in her family's lives and stave off the problems of her pierced and tatooed great-grandaughter?

Sooner than anyone believes, it will be time for Gran's last stand, when she feels she must step in to save others.

Letters from Readers:

"Your latest story seems so close to what our family is going through right now. We really don't know how to be helpful to our elderly parents, and still deal with the day-to-day pressures of our own jobs and growing children. Your 'Granny' is courageous and wise in this dilemma, and maybe we can learn from her. It helps to see life from the point of view of this hot-shot old lady." Sara H.

"Ten years ago, I never dreamed I'd be faced with having to help my parents. They both seemed so lively and independent. A sudden accident changed all our lives forever. Though we try, we can't seem to give them the independence they want, while trying to keep our own lives going. You seem to keep "touching a nerve" for your readers, bringing them stories in which they can see their own images. With each of your novels, I always feel like you are writing just to me." Holly S.

About Stand Silent, Stand Free

ISBN # 978-0-9748869-7-8
Stand Silent, Stand Free

Society has not always been kind to those who are different in some way. Even Aristotle, who was enlightened on so many topics, saw the handicapped as "little better than animals." In many third world countries, even today, the handicapped are left to beg in the streets. We are lucky to have U.S. laws to protect all citizens, and provide education, but it wasn't always this way. In the early days of our own country, the handicapped were placed in "asylums." By the 1800s, folks began instead to hide their handicapped children away at home so the community didn't see them or know about them. Helen Keller was one such "hideaway" child.

In 1882 rural Missouri, an epidemic kills many children under six. Two survivors, four-year-old Freeman McQuinn and his little neighbor Dolly Bellew are isolated and bullied by farmer families who do not care that they have been left "deef and dumb" (as they were known in those days,) by the disease. With Freeman's young sister, Rhoda, running interference, the three stick together despite being ostracized and denied education.

Freeman and Dolly learn to live with handicaps that steal their lives, but a hostile, "progressive" society eventually steals their family, as well.

It takes a special person to stand up to a society that calls him "teched by the devil," "spawn of sin," or just "dummy." But Freeman doesn't intend to be hidden away. He breaks out into the unfriendly farming community and makes his own way in life. Through drought, fire, and flood these frontier children grow to adulthood in a country torn by prejudice.

Freeman and his sister are stronger and more determined than anyone knows. Together with Dolly, they become representatives of love, bravery, and sacrifice.

Comments by Readers:

"From the moment little Freeman wakes up from a coma and wonders why he hears no birds and he can't make his voice work, I was in his corner. His courage in fire and flood and his thinking up ways to cope in an unfriendly world make this a solid novel of growing up under the most difficult of circumstances." Norma H.

"M.J. This is definitely one of your best novels yet. I had no idea what it must have been like for a deaf-mute person on the frontier. I was amazed by Freeman's kindness to those who treated him so badly, and by his sister's having the understanding to sacrifice. These get better and better. What's your next book?" Marilyn D.

About Truth Lies Six Foot Under

A true crime cold case mystery

Truth Lies Six Foot Under

ISBN # 978-0-9748869-8-5
Truth Lies Six Foot Under

When law enforcement bungles an investigation, or worse yet, refuses to investigate, one wonders what might be going on. And in a case that's grown cold, it's difficult to find truth at a later date. It's also difficult to find anyone who will talk about it.

A struggling student teacher, his young wife and four-year-old son are found dead, brutally murdered in their rented, rural home. Greg had been in a whirlwind of anxiety and fear for his family for about six weeks, but no one knew why. He talked only to the local sheriff, to whom he had reported a curious situation. His life was never the same from that moment on.

Secrets and lies seethe out from under this case, and it's hard to know whom to trust when everyone seems to be hiding something.

Who did the covering up?
Who staged the crime?
Who wielded the weapon?
Who burned the records?
Why is the victim's father not surprised?
What do the banker, the mafia, the reservation, the university, and the sheriff have to hide?

Though each person holds a small piece of the puzzle, it seems no one knows, or wants to know, the whole story except Lynda's family. Though threatened with the same fate, they keep searching for answers to increasingly convoluted questions.

The slip up of a moment can change lives forever.

So step over that shotgun at the door, and join us in a search for the truth that lies six foot under.

Comments by Readers:

From a family member: "You captured the personalities of all these characters to a T, and I feel better knowing the facts of the case that you found." Anonymous

"We all fell in love with the family in this story, and sympathized with their search for answers after so many years. I saw you speak at a library event, M.J., and finding that this was a true crime, and that the photo on the front of the book was the last picture of the mother and son alive, found in her camera when the family cleaned up their house, was devastating. I feel as though I knew these people. The Harmes family.

The Voices Know My Name

Voices Know My Name

ISBN # 978-0-9748869-9-2

Nobody knows why one person can survive a plane crash and hop right on another plane, while others relive the grinding impact, the dead bodies, and may never get on a plane again.

We all experience some type of trauma in our lives, from a child's loss of a pet, to an adult's diagnosis of a serious disease. The "flight or fight mechanism" is your body sending endorphins to your brain to help you survive the immediate danger. For some, this shuts off after the trauma is over, and for some, it never does.

People with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (and we are gradually getting rid of the "disorder" part, since it is not really a mental disorder) may relive that trauma painfully again and again, even though it may interfere with their daily lives. This is not only true of military people, but of all of us to some degree. We need to understand this problem better, and have a discussion about how to fix it. While the author is not a psychologist, perhaps it is a good thing for us lay people to explore the topic, too, since we so often will come face to face with it inside ourselves, or in a friend or family member.

This novel is the result of two years of research and over 150 interviews with victims of PTSD and their families. Their stories are real, but the five main characters are composites of many victims.

In this story, a young soldier with PTSD tries to kill himself, but he is stopped by a total stranger, a civilian. After the event, he remembers nothing. The rescuer has no intention of getting involved, but she soon learns that he is not the only one who hears voices, or can't cope with bad memories. Together with three other friends, they search through crisis after crisis for a way to find "normal," or at least a "new normal."

Follow the five characters in this novel as their lives entwine to search for answers and hope. They will convince the victim to seek help, and the rest of us to understand.

Comments by Readers:

"I loved that you talked to actual people with PTSD. Usually nobody wants to hear what it is really all about. You offered some hope that someday, somebody will listen to us and help." Dennis M.

"Thanks for some common sense, down-to-earth advice in this story on how friends and family members may be able to help. My husband would never talk about his experiences, but now I think I understand them a little better." Keisha P.