I Do Declare: A WW2 spy thriller is the best way to get past the turkey leftovers

Need a break from political discourse and turkey leftovers?

Well, who doesn’t?

I’ve got you covered right here with an excerpt from my WW2 spy thriller, Turning August.

Before you jump into the chapter, it might help to dig into some background from the back of the book:


August Wichmann had been warned.

As a young professor of linguistics at Munich University, he captivated his students with role-playing in the personas and culture of the different languages he was teaching.

It was the perfect skill set for the SS, who recruited him to gather intel on seditious acts.

But he had been warned.

His sister argued against his enlistment. Friends and colleagues encouraged him to reconsider. Brigitte, a vivacious medical student, made a compelling case against working with the regime.

But August was idealistic and dedicated in service to his country. He took on the role of rising SS officer.

Then he witnessed firsthand the atrocities committed by the Nazis.

His attempts to stop the evil were compromised by threats to those he loved. The Resistance discovered August and wanted to use his skills to ferret out information that could turn the tables on Hitler’s henchmen.

While pretending to be loyal to the SS, he had to feign indifference to the brutality so he could gather intel on Nazi activities and keep his cover safe.

Desperate in this no-win state, the only one who truly understood August’s torment was Brigitte, herself an unwitting pawn in the Nazi schemes. They both faced the haunting question that ever after steered their course:

After you discover the truth, how do you atone for believing the lie?

Set against a tangled web of Abwehr agents and double agents, broken trust and deception, and the earnest hopes and thwarted plans of the Resistance, the story treads a precarious path of conscience in the face of evil.

Many of the characters are based on real people, including seasoned spymaster Admiral Canaris and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer – both presenting a fixed star by which August and Brigitte navigate the shifting moral boundaries required to fight the Nazis from within.


That should tell you a little bit about the overall story. In this chapter, August has just returned from the Wannsee Conference, where the Nazis discussed the “final solution” of the Jews (including their plans for mass murder via gas chambers). August was required to attend because he worked for Heydrich – even though he despised the man and everything he stood for. If he refused, he and his family would be killed. At this point, he realizes how evil the SS is, but he can’t find a way out.

This chapter is the point when he is approached to work with the Resistance by none other than Admiral Canaris, head of the Abwehr. (He too was pretending to be part of a system he despised.)


Chapter 43

The car dropped August off, and he trudged up the steps. His shoulders sagged. Every breath, every movement was an effort. He felt stunned beyond coherent thought. The conference had done that to him. He wasn’t sure how he’d be able to exorcise it from his thoughts.

He went inside and locked the door. First things first. A drink.

He stopped, looked around, listened. He wasn’t alone. He pulled out his weapon and stalked his way into the living room.

Canaris was sitting on the sofa. “We have some things to discuss, so I dropped by. How was Wannsee?”

“The butcher told you? Damn it!”

“Of course he told me. He’s my asset.”

August eyed Canaris, leaning back on the sofa, a glass of scotch in his hand. There was no threat. August put away his weapon, took off his coat, and sat across from Canaris. His movements were slow and thoughtful. By the time he sat he was focused, calm, and collected.

“So you know I went to Wannsee,” he said. “What else do you know? Or want to know?”

“What else do I know? Let’s see…” Canaris took a drink and looked up. “I know your apartment isn’t bugged. We swept it this morning. So we’re free to talk.” He looked back at August. “I know you’re intelligent. And capable. We could use that.”

“We? You mean the Abwehr?”

“I mean the Resistance. A group of us who are committed to restoring honor to Germany.” He studied August. “You’ve already encountered it.”

August leaned forward and studied him. “The men at the SOE house. And the testimony from Dina and Hofer.”


“This is a lot to reveal. How do you know you can trust me?”

“I don’t know that I can yet. I’m gambling on your sense of moral outrage at what you’ve discovered.” Canaris took another drink before continuing. “And I’m paying you the compliment of not trying to deceive you.”

“How do I know I can trust you?”

“Because you have no choice. Anything you tell Heydrich I can easily prove you withheld from him. And if I have to, I’ll lie about our role in it.”

Canaris watched August take that in.

“But that’s not why you’ll end up working with us,” Canaris said in a cool, matter-of-fact tone. “You will because you want to be part of this. You want to see Germany restored.” Canaris gave a slight grin. “Actually, you’re already working with us.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’ve kept it all secret.”

“Including that I have a secret.”


“You seem to know quite a bit already. What do you not know?”

“What was discussed at Wannsee.”

August looked away. “You don’t want to know.”

“Where can I get the documents?”

“Eichmann has the only copy.”

“We’ll have the butcher get a copy.”

August started to tell him that it would be impossible to get  a copy. But then he realized how many others things Canaris was aware of. Plus the fact that he had found his apartment and gotten in. What was it Canaris had said to him on the train? There isn’t much we don’t know. August thought there wasn’t much that was impossible to this man.

Canaris stood. “Let’s go.”


“To find out about your sister.”

They walked to a car parked down the road. Oster was waiting behind the wheel. August and Canaris got in the back.

August turned to Canaris. Time to set terms.

“Admiral, if I’m going to do this, I want to be sure we can trust each other,” August said.

“I value what you can do, August. But trust costs more.”

“You value what I can do?” August gave a short laugh. “Says one professional liar to another.”

Canaris looked out the window to hide his smile. How many were bold enough to counter his statements? It was refreshing. Yes, he liked this August Wichmann very much. He hid his smile and turned back to look August in the eye.

“I will never deceive you. You have my word,” he said, his voice quiet and firm. “I expect the same courtesy from you.”

August regarded him for a moment and nodded. Terms accepted.


Ready for the whole story? It’s available from any bookstore. Or you can pop on to Amazon and grab the ebook and start reading today.

Fanthology 11.25.2020

Special Thanksgiving issue!

In light of tomorrow’s Turkey Day, here are a few things I found about the holiday’s origins:

From History.com (a site you should bookmark, by the way), a detailed list of who was at the first thanksgiving. It includes how and when the tradition took hold.

History.com also has a timeline of the holiday.

And speaking of timelines, Delish.com has details on exactly when to cook every dish for Thanksgiving Dinner. Lots of fabulous recipes included!

I Do Declare: God doesn’t want us cherry-picking our thanks

This year on Thanksgiving Day, when we have our ritual of going around the table and talking about what we’re thankful for, I will be thinking about the passage from 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (NRSV)

Reading that passage, I zero in on the word “all” and the fact that it doesn’t say “all the good.”

Yes, of course I give thanks for all the good – and there has been much, despite 2020’s attempts to bring me (and all of us) to our knees.

But it doesn’t say give thanks for all the good. It’s a directive to give thanks in all circumstances, not just the things that worked out the way I wanted. Everything. Even the things that I could’ve done without, the things that inconvenienced me, the things that hurt.

The passage doesn’t go into why – beyond the fact that this is God’s will (which should be all the “why” I need). I can guess at some of the reasoning, though.

I give thanks for the shutdowns, even though I hated having to do it. (Maybe it brought a greater awareness of the freedoms that I tend to take for granted?)

I give thanks that the case of Covid I got was relatively mild. (Maybe that will remind me to have a more mindful attitude about my health instead of my usual cavalier mindset?)

I give thanks that I was laid off earlier this year. (Maybe it nudged me into reawakening parts of my skill set that the company brushed away when I offered them?)

Yes, I give thanks for all those circumstances – and many others – though I know not why. Discovering that some people I trusted really weren’t my friends after all: Thank you. Having to dodge potshots on social media whenever I express an unpopular opinion: Thank you. Realizing that I’m going to have to endure a season of loneliness and failure and insecurity before I can push through to the other side, without knowing how long said season lasts or where the other side actually is: Thank you.

Truth be told, my show of gratitude doesn’t come without a dash of sarcasm and cynicism. That’s how I can proclaim the part of me that craves reason, the part that must know why, is sooooo grateful. Merci, Gracias. Thenk-ewe-veddy-much. Yeah, sure, thanks a lot.

And in the end, my need to know doesn’t matter. It’s not the point.

The point is that giving thanks in all circumstances is God’s will for me. All those times I cried out to the heavens asking what God wants me to do? Well, here’s my answer. Give thanks. For everything. And He does mean everything.

I’m reminded of a story about Corrie ten Boom, a Holocaust survivor who wrote about her experiences in a concentration camp. In one of the stories in her book “The Hiding Place,” she talks about how she and her sister, Betsy, smuggled a Bible into the camp, and they held Bible studies with the women in their barracks. And oh yeah, keep in mind, at that time and place, this was an executable offense.

On one occasion, they were studying this same passage from 1 Thessalonians, and Betsy pointed out they must give thanks for everything – being in the camp, the guards, the disgusting food, the fleas.

The fleas? Corrie said no, she would not give thanks for the fleas. What possible purpose did the fleas have? They were a nuisance, a bother, a pain. No need to give thanks for something like that.

Yes, Betsy insisted, give thanks even for the fleas.

Turns out, Corrie writes, the guards were aware of the fleas and this was the reason they stayed away from their barracks. Which allowed Corrie and Betsy to hold the Bible studies in relative peace.

I give thanks for this story too. It reminds me that giving thanks doesn’t have to mean we like the circumstances or want more of them. It simply means we acknowledge that God is bigger than the circumstances, and He is in control, not us.

Thank God.

And I mean that literally.

Fanthology 11.18.2020

Check out these tidbits I came across this week:

My computer went all wonky this morning, and I turned to Geek’s Advice for help. You should too, should you find yourself in such dire straits.

If you’re needing help with your ebook covers, Just Publishing Advice lists seven free book cover creators.

Also over at Just Publishing Advice, writer Derek Haines talks about how to spark your writing inspiration.

Film Courage checks in with Gordy Hoffman (BlueCat Screenplay Competition’s founder and judge) about what makes a screenplay stand out.

Good News Network shares this interesting article that posits the Lost Colony might have been found. It’s about time.

Fanthology 11.11.2020

Today’s recommendation deserves its own post.

Go Into The Story (GITS) is one of the best blogs out there for screenwriters and filmmakers. Scott Myers has hosted GITS since May 2008 and partners with Black List to present GITS as its official screenwriting blog.

The extensive archives hold a complete education in screenwriting. Check it out, you’ll see what I mean.

The item I’m highlighting today is Deep Focus: Film School on the Cheap, GITS’ post on resources put together by members of its community. It features five subject areas: movies, scripts and screenwriting, film analysis and criticism, filmmakers, and the evolution of filmmaking.

Be sure to bookmark the site. You’ll want to come back often.