Spring Break Photo of the Day: The End


The End








I finished my book last night.

Over ten years of research – of starting and stopping, writing and tossing.




(Literally. I’ll tell you sometime about the day I fell flat on my face in Kiev…while five months pregnant. Good times…)

454 Pages.

139, 743 words.


What am I going to do now?

I’m going to Disney World! The kids and I leave today and yes…I think this week is going to be magical.

Because I finished.

The End is Nigh…

If we were dating, I would tell you it’s not you, it’s me. I would hold your hand and tell you that we’re not breaking up – I just need a little space. I need some me-time.

That’s what I would say if we were dating.

Friends, I am *thisclose* to finishing my book. The first draft, that is. Serious edits loom before me like a massive thundercloud waiting to suck me into its vortex. I am slightly nervous, but mostly I am excited because I AM *THISCLOSE* TO FINISHING MY BOOK!

I wrapped up one character’s story a couple of weeks ago. Another character is on her way to redemption, a third character is approaching an impasse of faith and the fourth character needs only to fight to survive. I know where they’re going and, quite honestly, some days I just can’t get my fingers to type it all out fast enough.

I can’t really focus on writing well here and finishing over there so I will be writing less here until I have brought each character to where they need to go. I’ve read before of authors who grow attached to their characters as though they are real people. As crazy as it sounds, I get that. I owe it to these characters to finish their stories.

I owe it to the hundreds of World War II veterans who shared their very real stories with me both in person and through letters.

I owe it to the country that holds a large piece of my soul.

I owe it to my husband and children who have been encouraging me to accomplish this goal for a long, long, looooonnnngggg time.

I owe it to the numerous friends and family members who have cheered me on and who have waited patiently as I wade through this novel writing process like a slug in molasses.

I owe it to all of you who have read the sneak peeks and who now wait to read the missing pieces!

I owe it to the God who planted this idea and love in my heart and gave me the story to tell. Oh how I pray I do it justice.

I told you before I won’t be sharing anymore of the novel with you here. I was tempted today, but I resisted. I want you to read their stories in their entirety so you can love these characters with me. I want you to hope for redemption as I have hoped for it. I want you all to join me on this awesome journey.

I take a huge chance in putting all of this out here. Believe me, I feel the pressure of sharing this with you, because what if this book sucks? What if you all get it and start reading and end up tossing it aside in disgust and ultimately using it to balance a wobbly table? The thought makes me cringe.

I suppose every author feels this way at some point. Perhaps us first time novelists feel this pressure more, but I don’t think this fear is unique to me. There is a great risk in laying your heart out for the world to read. There is a great chance to be taken when you work as long as I have on a single work and you lay it before the public for scrutiny.

But I keep going back to the fact that this book has chosen me and I have poured all of my heart and emotion into it. I long to tell these stories in a true and authentic way and to be excellent in my portrayal of the people and history that hold my heart.

So I’m not breaking up with you. I’m really not. I’ll still be popping in and I’ve got more stories to share. But today – this week – this month – there are people who need my attention a little bit more.

Wait for me?

(This is the part where I’d give you an awkward but friendly hug to let you know that we’re all good and we will always be friends.)

A final sneak peek

I haven’t written many of my trademark witty posts lately. I’m sorry about that. I tried to think of something funny to write about today,  but I got nothin’.

Actually, I have several things…but I can’t share them. The kids are at the ages where they get all embarrassed and mortified at the thought of me sharing anything about them. I mean, SHEESH! Don’t they know we’re living in the technical age when all of life is lived under a bowl and nothing is left private?

They’re holding me back, they are.

Please note the sarcasm. I do not want any nasty notes about how I need to respect my children and guard their privacy.

Anyhoo, the kids have done and said and written some HI-LAAAAA-RIOUS things as of late. But alas, I will not share it with the world because there will be plenty of opportunity for me to drive my children to a counselor’s office, but oversharing their childhood will not be one of them.

So I’m not really feeling that funny today. I do have a couple of ideas rolling around, though, so stay tuned. I’ll make you laugh again, dear readers. I will make you howl with delight, roar in helpless hysterics, chuckle with amused glee.

Or I will bore you to death.

Today I am going to give you one last sneak peek at the novel. This is the last time I’ll let you see what I’m writing until the finished product is in your hand. I don’t want to give too much away. I want to leave you hanging a bit. To recap, here are the teasers I’ve already let you read:

Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek 2

The Novel

One More Glance

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can

Another Peek

Okay, so the final peek? Are you ready? Here it is.

A little set up: A young man named Oleg has gone missing. Hans is a German soldier who has fallen in love with Luda. He is helping the family find out what happened to Oleg. I know it sounds confusing. You’ll just have to read the rest of the book to figure it all out!

Hans looks hard at me and I nod, squeezing his hand in reassurance. He nods back, then shifts his gaze to Alexei again.

“Oleg and the other prisoners are being forced to construct a secret hide out for Adolf Hitler. It is to be a place where war time operations are discussed and where Hitler can come to vacation and hide.”

“What?” Baba Mysa gasps and she sinks down into a chair next to her husband. Katya shrinks back against the wall, her hands still clutching her chin.

“Hitler is constructing a hideout in Vinnitsya?” Alexei says, his eyes wide with shock, anger and fear.

Hans nods. “This is top secret information among the ranks,” he says and together he and I sit across from Alexei and Baba Mysa. “They are calling the hiding place Werwolf, or Vervolfy.”

“When will it be completed?” Alexei asks.

“Very soon, I imagine,” Hans replies. “The prisoners are now digging underground tunnels which will work to allow Hitler the freedom to wander from one building to another without exposing himself outdoors. I’m told that Hitler is planning his first stay for July.”

“That’s just a couple of weeks away!” I exclaim and Hans nods soberly.

“There isn’t much time,” he says quietly.

“How is Oleg?” Baba Mysa asks. Her voice is tired and her eyes drawn. This week has aged her.

Hans looks at her closely and I see him judging how much he should admit. “He is tired,” he answers. “And I believe he is sick. All of the prisoners are sick.”

Everyone sits quietly for a moment as we ingest this news. Finally, I speak. “What are we going to do?” I ask.

Hans looks at me and grabs my hand, then he turns to the rest of the group. “I am going to get him out,” he answers. “If I don’t, Oleg will be killed.”

Alexei leans forward and pressing his elbows against the table looking hard at Hans. “They will kill all the prisoners when construction is complete, won’t they?” he asks and Hans nods slowly. Katya begins to weep softly and I feel my hands begin to shake.

“Will you be safe?” I ask.

“Stupid girl!”

We all jump at Katya’s outburst. She shoves herself away from the wall and lunges toward me. Alexei manages to catch her just before her fist hits my face. “You’re worried about this…this…GERMAN while my brother is being forced to build a hide out for the devil?! I hate you! I HATE YOU!”

Alexei drags his daughter from the room as she writhes and squirms in his arms. The tears fall hot against my cheeks and Hans wraps his arm around my shoulders protectively. In the background, I hear my son begin to wail.

“I will get the baby,” Baba Mysa says, standing up slowly. She looks at Hans closely. “I believe Luda, now,” she says. “You are a good man. Forgive my granddaughter’s emotions. Thank you for what you are doing.”

Hans nods and Baba Mysa moves quickly to retrieve Sasha.

“I’m sorry, Hans,” I cry. “I’m so sorry.”

“Ssshhh…” Hans whispers. “It’s okay. I understand. I know that Katya is upset and I believe she has the right to be angry at me. But I don’t like her anger at you.”

“I’m afraid of losing you,” I weep and I bury my face in his chest, his strong arms engulfing me in a tight embrace. “I’m so afraid.”

Hans lets me cry for a moment before pushing me back. He wipes the tears from my cheeks gently and offers a small smile. “I’m afraid, too,” he says. “Which is why I have to do what I’m going to do.”

The sound of his voice stops me cold and I look up at him closely. His eyes burn bright and his jaw is set firmly. “What are you going to do?” I ask.

“I’m going to free Oleg,” he answers. “And then I’m going to kill Adolf Hitler.”

©Kelli Stuart, October 2012

Do you want to read the rest? Great! You can buy it when it comes out, hopefully sometime next year! (Yes, I’m thinking positive).