Wednesday 21 April 2021

Marketing a bear


I attend a U3A Spanish group and our group leader sends us something to read and discuss each time. We then have to prepare a short talk about something to do with the article we have read. One of our recent topics was the Berlin bear.  It was a little curious discussing something so German in Spanish. We had to prepare something about bears for our talk.

Well, it was rather obvious to me. I would talk about Bear, the brother of the protagonist in Girl in a Smart Uniform.

So, Bear.

·         His real name is Edelbert but Gisela couldn’t pronounce it when she was a little girl. So, he became Bear.

·         He became good at doing things with his hands.

·         He was sporty and athletic.

·         He joined the army more because it was expected rather than because he wanted to.

·         He was ok as a soldier.

·         He was gentler than his older brother Hans, who was anti-Semitic.

·         He had a Jewish girlfriend.

·         He was killed in Russia during World War II.

·         He never knew he had become a father.

Well, I piqued the curiosity of our group leader and she bought the book.  There you go.    

Sunday 11 April 2021

Invisible Ink by Martha Leigh



This is an account of a family separated by the World War II and the Holocaust.  It is also the story of a couple who came together despite numerus difficulties.  Martha Leigh tells her parents’ story.  Her mother Edith was an accomplished pianist and her father Ralph was a professor at Cambridge University.

Edith came from the Ukraine but from a town that felt more Austrian than Ukrainian. She spent time in France and Switzerland. She was actually interned in Switzerland but still managed to give concerts.

Her brother and sister-in-law were doctors and were stopped form practising by the Nazis.   However, her brother went on to become a doctor again and specialised in anaesthesia.

Edith and Ralph’s had a long-distance relationship during the war years and Ralph could never love her the way she loved him – he was a homosexual.

This offers us some interesting insight into life in the 1930s and 1940s, and particularly what it was like for Jewish people and for homosexuals.

It’s not an easy read: there are a lot of names to remember, the subject matter is a little harrowing and the tone a little dry. However, it is rich in information and so it is worth persevering.           

Wednesday 7 April 2021

More thoughts about Clara Lehrs


Was she a victim of the Holocaust? Certainly she mixed with people form the Holocaust.  Or is hers one of the Holocaust survival stories. Although she eventually perished in Treblinka and looked like a victim of the German Holocaust she would  not be defeated by what was being done to her. She was a feisty woman and perhaps she is someone  who defines feisty women.       

She had three fundamental beliefs:    

  • human beings are fundamentally good so this nonsense would spot eventually
  • she was more German the Jewish
  • life is worth living to the full no matter what the circumstance      

   Feisty? Mother, wife, housekeeper, landlady - always putting the needs of others before herself.  

  Is her story in fact one of the Holocaust survival stories?

Monday 5 April 2021

Getting Clara out there and a direct approach


I have a fun marketing strategy. I maintain a list of marketing activities that each takes about ten to twenty minutes and I do one a day. I start each month with the book that needs the most sales and work down my list. I adjust the list monthly according to where there has been some success.  Yes, of course, there are always a lot of unknowns. But anyway, Girl in a  Smart Uniform came up on the list as needing to be sent to a random reviewer. So, I’ve offered it to my professional actor friend who played the part of Clara Lehrs when we had a read through of it some months ago. I’m pleased to say she was delighted to be asked. I hope she enjoys it!

I often find that direct approaches like this are fruitful.

I’ve also recently attended, via Zoom, a workshop on adaptation run by the Octagon theatre.  It was certainly interesting and I was delighted that the Octagon then offered to read fifteen pages of our plays. So, fifteen pages of the play version of The House on Schellberg Street are now being read by the good people at the Octagon. It’s a little scary but also exciting. In any case, I wrote the play with their stage in mind.  However, the theatre was totally refurbished just before lockdown began so it may be different now.

We’ll see.            

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay