Review of Being Krystyna: A Story of Survival.

Being Krystyna, by Carol Browne, is a story about a ninety-five year old Polish Holocaust survivor, Krystyna Porsz. It is a story that is at most times, hard to read. As I imagine every book depicting real-life accounts of the Holocaust are.

Ms. Porsz states that at first she felt her story wasn’t special because there were thousands just like her.  “So much suffering,” she said.

But she decides to tell her story, “if only to honour and remember those who were killed.”

Being Krystyna is Porsz’ life. It is poignant and heart-wrenching. Although I read this story obviously knowing that Krystyna survives every tortuous moment she is forced to endure, that didn’t stop me from clutching my pillow, wondering if this will be the moment her body finally succumbs to the deprivation surrounding her.

Ms. Porsz tells her story in such a matter-of-fact kind of a way, void of any theatrical exaggeration, her words so raw they will sting your heart. I know they did mine.

Here are some excerpts from Being Krystyna that made me catch my breath and be grateful I have the life I do.

From Being Krystyna:

“The hardest thing I ever had to do was to say good-bye to my parents knowing I would never see them again.”

“It started in small ways at first – people telling jokes about the Jews, making fun if them, making them into stereotypes. Next thing that happens people are treated differently, seen as inferior or bad in some way. Then they are dehumanized and excluded from society. They get sent to camps and gas chambers.”

“The food ration was hardly worth eating, it was so little. They wanted us to starve in there. You can imagine people did soon start to die. Thousands. And thousands more were sent to the camps.”

Krystyna reveals that she survived in camp because she went to the Aryan side of Warsaw. “I became someone else. That’s when I saw my parents for the last time…Some pain never goes away.”

“Children and old people had no economic value, they were gassed and cremated soon after their arrival at the camps.”

“Hitler just hated the Poles. I think he wanted to get rid of all of them, not just the Jews. And the Polish had stood up to him, resisted. He didn’t like that all! So the packed us all into these cattle trucks…Those wagons smelled bad enough to begin with- there was animal manure on the floor – but there were no toilets for us. People had to go where they stood or hold on…We had no food or water and just these tiny windows…You struggles to breathe, there were so many people inside and packed together so tightly. People died on the journey…old people died. Children died.”

“They were really looking to see if you had hidden anything valuable inside yourself…There  are days I can hardly believe it myself, that they could treat women with such cruelty…they were playing with is like a cat plays with a mouse, having their sport with us.”

“I know they wanted to work us to death. To kill two birds with one stone…They needed slave labourers and they also wanted all the people they hated to die.”

“There you are, stiff and cold in a bot of straw on a wooden bunk bed…You might have the edge of a blanket if you are lucky but the bunks are crammed with women, all as cold as you, and each of them desperately hungry. Each bunk has three or four women in it when it was meant for only one.”

“…because of all the overcrowding, we became infested with lice and fleas…That was the last thing we wanted, those parasites sucking our blood when we needed every ounce of strength we had merely to stay alive.”

“If they fell and didn’t get up, they were shot. That happened to many of the older women. They just left them in the snow and we had to carry on as if nothing had happened.”

“I knelt in the snow by the old woman. I just wanted to help her. He daughter was with me, trying to cradle her mother in her arms. The guard shouted at us and said he had bullets for us too, if we didn’t keep moving. The daughter was breaking her heart. She didn’t want to let go of her mother…”

So these are only a handful of the passages of the book that reached out from the pages and grabbed my soul.

If you’re curious to how Krystyna brakes free from the Nazi’s, please buy the book. It’s a story everyone should know.

Thanks for reading.

 

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Carol Browne

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A Writer in Need

I’m currently in the midst of writing a story which I had planned on being completed by the end of this month. I don’t feel confident that will happen. This is not an unusual place for me to be, struggling to finish a manuscript. I love writing, but there are moments I really hate it, too.

I sent the first hundred pages of my new story to a trusted friend who reads all of my work. She is honest. There is no blowing smoke anywhere with this woman. If something she reads is shit, she tells me it is shit.  I appreciate that about her. She’s a strong reader even though she hates to read, but she knows when a story works and when it doesn’t.

I believe she is the reason I received my latest book contract last September for the story, A Penny on the Tracks, coming out this October. When I was finished with the third draft for A Penny, I had sent the MS to her and she texted me after reading a couple chapters asking what the heck the story was about. “Where is this going?” she had asked. “I’m tired of reading about a day in the life of Lyssa and Abbey.”

It was a bit of a crushing text because by the time I had gotten to multiple drafts of the story, I had almost a year invested into the story. Now, she wasn’t telling me the story was exactly shit. She had thrown in a couple positive texts, too. She liked the writing, but the story lacked any strong direction for the reader.

Before I had given my friend the MS to read, I told her very little about the story. A Penny on the Tracks is a coming-of-age story about two young girls who find a secret hiding place in a field, near a set of train tracks, that they refer to as their “Hideout.”  They spend a summer at this secret places and take on fun adventures. They meet a high school boy there and forge a friendship with him.

The first half of the story centered around showing the girls’ daily activities, allowing the reader to get to know the characters and their friendship. The story was leading up to the deaths of Abbey and the high school boy, Derek, but I had originally written the story to not reveal their deaths until it happens.

After my friend questioned me where the story was headed, basically, what the point of the story was, I knew I had to change something. I went to bed that night a little bummed out because I already had the story written. The plot revolved around showing the path to the deaths (suicides) of these two characters.

Suddenly, I had jumped out of bed knowing exactly what I needed to do. To make the story more interesting, to give the reader the direction the story apparently lacked, I had to reveal the deaths of Abbey and Derek first. It was a two o’clock in the morning revelation that seemed so obvious I couldn’t believe I had written the story any other way.

So a story that had originally began set in 1986 with the girls being 11 years old, now begins with a Prologue set in 1993. The girls are eighteen year old, the age Abbey kills herself. The book opens with the news about Abbey’s death before the reader even knows a thing about her, other than the fact that she kills herself.

Now I have the reader’s attention.

Chapter One opens in 1986, the girls are 11. Now, there is some direction in the “day in the life of Lyssa and Abbey” scenes because the reader is now reading towards something, unlike before.

Telling the reader the fate of not one, but two, characters in the book increased their curiosity and interest in the story by giving them a reason to want to turn the page. To want to read more.

When my friend had expressed her dissatisfaction with my original story only a few chapters in, I had told her to stop reading it. Put it away. That was when I went to bed that night and realized what I needed to do. After I changed the story and sent her the revised version, it had made all the difference.  A couple chapters in, she texted me that she couldn’t wait to find out the reason Abbey and Derek both killed themselves and had spent most of the book guessing.

I am certain that had I sent my book to the selected publisher, the way it was originally written, I would not have been offered a contract. No way. Publishers are busy. They wouldn’t have wasted their time reading a story that seemed to be going nowhere.

My friend saved my previous book and now that I have sent her a large portion of my current story, I know am I asking her to save this one, too. I need her to lead me down the right path because I fear I have lost my direction with a story I’ve already spent six months writing.

 

 

Hopefully every writer has a friend like her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bad Boys are Back!

The Bad Boys of Regret Hollow are BACK. That means an all new irresistible bad boy, loads of steamy romance, and a dash of small town shenanigans are coming your way. All books are standalone and can be read in any order. If you’re new to the series, you can dive into the first one, The Bad Boy’s Gift, for free at your favorite e-retailer.

He’s supposed to be the town hero. He’s not!
Haunted by comrades he was unable to save, Drake Miller walks away from his military career for the relaxed, quiet life of running his father’s bar in Regret Hollow. Too bad no one tipped him off that his father sold the bar.
While the townspeople treat him to a hero’s welcome that he doesn’t want and doesn’t deserve, he finds one person who doesn’t fall at his feet, calls him out for bad behavior, and kisses like a fantasy. Unfortunately, she also owns the bar that was supposed to be his.
As a single mom and small business owner, Mallory Marquette takes her commitments and responsibilities seriously. She can’t give away her livelihood just because Drake thinks he’s entitled to it—even if he is the town hero and the first man in a decade who gets her blood flowing. Besides, she needs a reliable bartender much more than she needs a lover.
Can this hero turned bad boy step up to a lifetime commitment, or will the freedom he sacrificed so much for cost him everything?

EXCERPT

“Wait a second.” He held up a hand. “I know you. You’re the stuck-up high school princess who was too good to give me the time of day. Mallory Yates.” His lips curled into a sneer.

In what universe did a pizzeria waitress have anything in common with a princess? Whatever. She couldn’t reason with guys like him. She didn’t bother to correct him on her name, either. If not for Ryan, she’d have returned to the Yates surname after her divorce. “I don’t know what you’re talking about and neither do you, but thanks for showing me you’re still the same insensitive jerk you’ve always been.”

He laughed. “You’re ever so welcome, princess. Now are you going to spray me with that pepper spray or just intimidate me by waving it around?”

She glanced down at the tiny bottle in her fist. If the rumors about his capabilities were true, he could disarm her in the blink of an eye. Regardless, he sure wasn’t the least bit intimidated.

“Neither.” She shoved the canister in her back pocket and advanced on him. “I want you to think next time before you do something stupid.” She shoved his chest, which proved as solid and unmoving as a brick wall.

He grasped her hands before she could withdraw them, trapping them against his heat. His eyes glittered in the growing darkness.

“Sometimes thinking is overrated. I like to do and deal with the consequences later.” He lowered his head toward her.

No way. He wouldn’t. He had as much disdain for her as she had for him. She glared at him, refusing to call his bluff and pull away.

His lips pressed against hers, hard and demanding. He plunged his tongue into her mouth. She gasped as fire raced through her veins. Clenching her fingers around the fabric of his T-shirt, she met the demands of his mouth.

She refused to be intimidated just because he was sexier than sin and could kiss a hell of a lot better than anyone in recent memory or, um, in ever. Oh God, she couldn’t remember anyone else. She couldn’t even remember her own name.

A moan tore from her throat. She bit down on his lip then thrust her tongue, tangling it with his.

He bracketed her ribs, sliding beneath her jacket and the hem of her shirt then over her waist and up, cupping her breast.

Holy hell. Who knew being groped could feel so good? With one touch, she nearly believed she could leave behind stress and responsibility and reclaim her femininity. “Fondle me, you bastard, and make it good.”

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Sara Daniel writes what she loves to read—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She battles a serious NASCAR addiction, was once a landlord of two uninvited squirrels, and loses her car keys several times a day.

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