Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Warm Welcome to Liz Tolsma

What started you on this writing journey?

When I was in fifth grade, my teacher really like the tall tale I had written. And I enjoyed the assignment. At the end of the school year, she wrote in my autograph book, “I hope to see you as a published authoress.” My life took many detours between then and now, but I finally realized my dream would never come true if I didn’t follow it.

What distracts you the easiest from writing?

The internet. We put our wireless router on a Christmas light remote and turn it off at 10 each night so the kids will get off their devices and go to bed ;) I discipline myself to not turn it on in the morning until I write 2000 words.

If you could paint like a famous painter, who would it be?

Monet. I love his use of colors, especially the soft colors he used when painting his own gardens. They have such an ethereal quality to them.

What is your strangest habit?

I talk to myself when I’m alone. And sometimes when I’m not alone! I do it mostly when I have a lot to do, to keep myself moving and organized.

What is your favorite season of the year?

Fall. After the heat of the summer, the weather cools and it feels so great to slip into a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt, not have to worry about a pedicure (!), wrap myself in a blanket and have a cup of hot chocolate while staring out the window at the brilliantly colored leaves.

What do you like most about the area where you live?

I love it because we are out in the country a bit, but not too far from my favorite stores. It’s so peaceful here, even now as I sit on my front porch. I can hear the birds sing, watch wildlife and listen to the crickets at night.

What is your favorite place to vacation?

We’ve been privileged to travel to some pretty amazing places in our lives, including Mexico, the Caribbean, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines. The consensus for favorite vacation spot, though, is the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We rented a beach house about 250 yards from the ocean and within walking distance of the small town of Duck. Mostly, we relaxed on the beach or in our private pool. We did some shopping and went out for ice cream. Our best meal was the fresh tuna and shrimp we got from the market and grilled at the house.

What is the story behind Snow On the Tulips?

My father’s cousin, Kay vander Meer, was married on May 9, 1940, in the Netherlands. She and her new husband spent their wedding night in a town on the German border. When the Germans invaded in the early hours of May 10 and the fighting broke out, her groom, a member of the ill-equipped Dutch military, left her to join the battle. He never returned.

On April 11, 1945, in the town of Dronrijp, Friesland, Netherlands, the Nazis drove fourteen men along the streets to the edge of the Van Harinxma Canal. Twelve of these men were Resistance workers. The other two were collaborators. They had been arrested in Leeuwarden, a larger city further north, and transported to Dronrijp. In groups of three, the men were brought to the water's edge and executed. They were shot in retaliation for the Dutch Resistance sabotaging railroad lines further north near Leeuwarden, causing a Wehrmacht train to derail cars. The Germans were very nervous because Allied planes were in the air when they arrived in Dronrijp. Gerard de Jong, though wounded, survived by playing dead. Later, some of the town’s men, including Ynse Postma and my dad’s cousin Johan Feitsma, found Gerard and took him to my Aunt Hiltje's house where she nursed him. Dronrijp was liberated only days later. Every year while my aunt lived, Gerard visited her on her birthday. Even after she passed away, he brought flowers to her grave.

Days later, the Germans fled most of the Frisian towns without a battle as the Canadians closed in. However, they congregated in and chose to fight for Pingjum. I fictionalized the battle for the bridge there that took place on April 15-16, 1945.

Nijmegen, Franeker, Leeuwarden, and Achlum are all real towns. Franeker does boast the famous Eisinga Planetarium.

The story of the execution became legend in our family. My father visited the site in 1978. As he showed us the slides he took, he told us the story. We couldn’t believe our family endured such trials during the war. Nor could we believe their bravery. I wrote this book to preserve the stories of people like Gerard, Ynse, Hilje, and Johan and the many, many others who labored and gave their lives without fanfare so that this generation could enjoy freedom. May we treasure it.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

My next book, the second book in the  Women of Courage series, is Daisies Are Forever. It’s due out in May 2014.
Gisela Cramer, a young, guilt-ridden American woman, is caught in her father’s native East Prussia in the closing months of WWII. As the advancing Russians close in, she must flee in the depths of winter, taking along her cousin’s two small children and the eccentric elderly neighbors. She vows to keep them safe and not abandon them, the way she did three other family members when the raping, pillaging Soviets caught them. Mitch Edwards is a charming, dashing English soldier who has spent the bulk of the war in a German POW camp deep in East Prussia after failing to protect the troops under his command. As his captors the drive the prisoners westward into Germany ahead of the Russians, Mitch escapes and meets Gisela and her little group. Together, they race toward Berlin and beyond, trying to absolve themselves from their past sins, even as they fight their forbidden and dangerous love for each other. The Russians close in, and Gisela and Mitch must learn to turn to the One who can alone purify or face a fate worse than death at the hands of the Red Army.

Back Cover Blurb

A stranger’s life hangs in the balance. But to save him is to risk everything.

The war is drawing to a close, but the Nazis still occupy part of the Netherlands. After the losses she’s endured, war widow Cornelia is only a shadow of the woman she once was. She fights now to protect her younger brother, Johan, who lives in hiding.

When Johan brings Gerrit Laninga, a wounded Dutch Resistance member, to Cornelia’s doorstep, their lives are forever altered. Although scared of the consequences of harboring a wanted man, Cornelia’s faith won’t let her turn him out.

As she nurses Gerrit back to health, she is drawn to his fierce passion and ideals, and notices a shift within herself. Gerrit’s intensity challenges her, making her want to live fully, despite the fear that constrains her. When the opportunity to join him in the Resistance presents itself, Cornelia must summon every ounce of courage imaginable.

She is as terrified of loving Gerrit as she is of losing him. But as the winter landscape thaws, so too does her heart. Will she get a second chance at true love and learn to depend on the Perfect Love that drives out all fear? Or will her new love be snatched away before it has a chance to bloom?

To buy her book:
About Liz
Liz Tolsma has lived in Wisconsin most of her life, and she now resides next to a farm field with her husband, their son, and their two daughters. All of their children have been adopted internationally and one has special needs. Her novella, Under His Wings, appeared in the New York Times bestselling collection, A Log Cabin Christmas. Her debut novel, Snow on the Tulips, released in August of 2013. When not busy putting words to paper, she enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family. Please visit her blog at and follow her on Facebook and Twitter (@LizTolsma). She is also a regular contributor to the Barn Door blog.  

To connect with Liz:
Twitter: @LizTolsma
on Pinterest as Liz Tolsma

Liz Tolsma is giving away a copy of Snow on the Tulips. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)

Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart


karenk said...

a wonderful posting/interview...thanks for the chance to read this novel :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

squiresj said...

I talk to myself too - I think because my husband doesn't listen. I love Fall best too.
Please enter me to win book. I have not read any by this author.
jrs362 at Hotmail dot com

Lis said...

That is such an amazing family history. It reminds me of how much we take for granted living in this country and in this time period.

sm said...

Such a good story here about the Netherlands and the Nazis. Sounds like an untold story. I would like to win and read this. sharon, ca wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

Amy Putney said...

Wow, that's an amazing family history! And it sounds like "Snow on the Tulips" will be a fascinating read!


aeputney [at] liberty [dot] edu

Patty said...

What an amazing part of history to have been A part of! I would love to read this story.


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful story of love and sacrifice that is told. I would love to read this book. How wonderful to hear about these unsung heroes of this family.
marypopmom (at) yahoo (dot) com

Pam K. said...

I enjoy reading books set during World War II. I think it is important to keep these stories alive because of all the lessons learned. Snow on the Tulips sounds especially fascinating since it is based on Liz's family stories. Her next book,Daisies are Forever, also sounds very good. Thanks for this interview with Liz and the chance to win her book.

Anonymous said...

Sandra, thanks for the interview with Liz. Liz, I would love to win your book but don't ask me to pronounce those words. That must have been a scary time for so many. My brother, brother-in-laws, cousins and many friends served in WW ll . Two friends didn't comeback. They were brothers of one of my brother-in-laws. There were 4 brothers serving at the same time. two lived, two died.
Also had a lot of cousins served there. They were fighting the Germans who were invading other countries. There are many thousands of men from America buried over there while fighting for other countries. This book really sounds interesting, so please put my name in for a chance to win it.
Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

Merry said...

What a beautiful heritage to honor. Snow on the Tulips sounds wonderful.
worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

Patricia Bradley said...

Great interview. Loved Liz's stories...and I've always talked to myself, answered myself...stood in Kroger one day looking for my favorite bread and muttering. "Flitter, they don't have any."
A man walked by, never missed a beat and said, "They're on the next aisle."
pat at ptbradley dot com

bonton said...

Hi, Liz!

Enjoyed your interview, & learning more about your, your books, & writing!

This sounds like such an exciting book - thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!

I live in the country near a small town, also, & likewise, my favorite season is autumn. I love the ocean, & have always wanted to go to the Outer Banks!


Boos Mum said...

Your book sounds good. The cover is gorgeous, really gives a different feel to the story. Thanks for the giveaway.

sweetdarknectar at gmail dot com

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