Sandy Brehl A Middle-Grade Historical Novel of Norway, a War, a Girl, and an Elkhound Sun, 11 May 2014 22:19:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A Blog Hop: Character Notes Sun, 11 May 2014 12:00:00 +0000 Last week I was tagged in Elizabeth Caulfield Felt’s blog to participate in a “Meet My Main Character” blog hop. Her link is here, where she wrote about  her current project, Snow White and the Queen.

She writes that it  is being submitted to agents at the moment and a publication date will hopefully be forthcoming. So, thanks, Elizabeth, for letting me introduce you and other readers to Mari, of ODIN’S PROMISE.


Here are the blog hop questions, with my responses:

What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person? My main character is Mari, an eleven-twelve year old girl. She is entirely fictional, but her development was very much shaped by the research I did on the history surrounding her.

When and where is the story set? ODIN’S PROMISE takes place in Ytre Arna, a small village near the west coast of Norway. It spans the first year of the German occupation of her country during World War II. Hitler’s troops took complete control of Norway under the guise of being “friends” to “protect” them from the Allies. Although some Norwegians welcomed the Germans and cooperated, Mari and her family recognized this control as an invasion and loss of freedom. A side note: This was written long before the current Ukrainian/Crimean/Russian events.  The daily news has eerily mirrored much of my research about the German/Norway relationship at that time in history, and my book released just this month.

What should we know about him/her? Mari is quiet and timid, a decade or more younger than her brother and sister. She has grown up relying on older, protective adults in a safe, quiet community. The occupation forces her to give up her “little one” nickname to make difficult decisions, assume responsibilities, and protect secrets. She relies  on her faithful Norwegian elkhound, Odin, to share those secrets, to protect her, to never leave her.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life? As if these challenges weren’t enough, Odin makes an enemy of a pair of German soldiers who routinely patrol her village and surrounding mountains. The growing awareness of her family’s involvement in resistance efforts also requires her to examine her view that choices are always black and white. What is the personal goal of the character? Mari must find her voice, then decide when, where, and how to use it. She must also face the fact that choices and decisions are never as simple or clear cut as she used to think. Ultimately, she must make her own choices and live with them.

Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it? ODIN’S PROMISE  is available for sale now (here), with an official publication date of May 17. An excerpt is on this website, and a giveaway is being offered until May 25 in connection with a review on Renee Cromier’s Mother-Daughter Book Review blog, here.

Now it is my turn to tag some other authors:


First tag goes to Wendy Orr

“I’m a Canadian born Australian author, mostly of books for children and young adults. My books include: Nim’s Island (the book that the film was based on), Nim at Sea, Peeling the Onion, Ark in the Park, The Princess and her Panther and Raven’s Mountain For a complete list, see my website,” Wendy’s post on this hop will be delayed a few weeks due to travel commitments, but that gives you time to check out her prior posts and website.


Next tag goes to Sally Spratt:

“I’m a writer, reader and lover of all things silly. I have two children’s picture books available on the MeeGenius app and a middle grade novel in the works.”


My final tag goes to Lili Wilkinson

“I studied Creative Arts at Melbourne Uni, and then went and taught English in Japan for a while. When I came back, I got a job at the Centre for Youth Literature, at the State Library of Victoria, where I managed a website called, about books for teenagers. I’m now studying for my PhD and writing full time. I live in Melbourne.”


So there you have it, my character responses and some links that should offer peeks into the lives of very afferent characters, too. I know I’m looking forward to reading what Wendy, Sally, and Lili have to say about their characters.

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Catching My Breath: Grateful for Such Support Tue, 06 May 2014 14:00:19 +0000 Wish I could say this is me, but none of my childhood pictures come close to this cute!

Wish I could say this is me, but none of my childhood pictures come close to this cute!

Even though I’m still digging out from under the tasks I set aside during recent weeks, I’m rarely doing so without a smile on my face. That’s because I feel the constant glow of support from the recent party, emails, calls, and other contacts. The warmth with which Odin’s Promise has been welcomed to the world is not only heartwarming, it truly surprises me. After years and years of steeling myself for rejection letters and “not quite right”s, it’s almost too hard to believe.


I’ve been feeling the same about the  virtual support I’ve received through the amazing cyber-world of children’s literature. I shared individual links as reviews, guest posts, and interviews appeared in the past couple of weeks. Now I want to thank those hosts (and cheerleaders) in one place.

April 21 – Erik at

April 21- Suzanne Warr Review

April 22- Guest post/Rochelle Melander

April 28- Suzanne Warr interview

April 29- Alex Bough

April 30- Margo Tanenbaum interview

May 1- Heidi Grange

May 6- Nerdy Book Club Blog -guest post

If you’ve been buried under must-do tasks, too, I hope you’ll come back to this list when you have time and click on each post. In every case these are blogs I follow, respect, and learn from with each post they share. It’s a privilege to join their space, and I urge you to follow their posts, too. You’ll find your to-be-read lists and piles growing, and that’s always a good thing!

Compact, strong, and ready for anything, right?

I can just imagine Odin’s tail wagging at the welcome he’s received!

From Odin, Mari, and me…

to Erik, Rochelle, Suzanne, Alex, Heidi, Margo,

and the Nerdy Book Club Crew (Colby),


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Traditions: Syttende Mai and Families Mon, 05 May 2014 02:31:21 +0000 Since ODIN’S PROMISE became available, readers are being introduced to a variety of Norwegian foods and holiday traditions. That includes Christmas, (Jul) of course. The delicious cookies and kranse kake  pictured and described in previous posts are wonderful examples of that. Other occasions, like weddings, confirmations, and birthdays, incorporate treats like these, as well as lefse, favorite meals, and family-specific practices.

The national celebration of Constitution Day, the 17th of May (Syttende Mai), also has distinctly regional practices. These varied over the decades and across the vast expanses of the regions of Norway.

As with our Fourth of July, the size and scope of the celebrations in the capital, in Norway that’s Oslo,  are some of the most elaborate.  Click this link for an example from YouTube:    Oslo, Syttende Mai, 2012


The 2014 Stoughton "King and Queen" of Syttende Mai.

The 2014 Stoughton “King and Queen” of Syttende Mai.

 I’m excited to be spending Syttende Mai in Stoughton, Wisconsin this year, signing books at the Nordik Nook Gift Shop. Stoughton is well known for its annual three day celebration, falling on the weekend of May 16, 17, and 18 this year.

If you’re at all intrigued by the customs, costumes, foods, music, and traditions of Norway, plan to visit Stoughton. Not in Wisconsin? Do an internet search to see if other communities near you might be celebrating, too.

Kathleen Ernst has a helpful post here describing practices old and new.

Nancy (of cookie and kransekake fame) was kind enough to share more thoughts about her own family’s traditional practices.

Nancy, how important was your Norwegian heritage while growing up and did that carry over while raising your own family?

Nancy: I grew up in the Wind Lake area which at one time was settled by Norwegians when they came to America so there were a lot of traditional foods and celebrations. Norway Lutheran Church was one of the first Norwegian churches in America. They held Lutefisk dinners and still do today although the population is more diverse. We had all the Norwegian bakery including lefse at our holiday functions.

My grandparents taught us some of the Norwegian language but mainly spoke it to each other when they didn’t want us to understand what they were saying. When my husband (also Norwegian) and I were married at the church our reception was a traditional smorgasbord and we had a kransekake (celebration cake).  

We have always emphasized the Norwegian culture. Both of his parents are Norwegian (his father came to this country as a young man). So when our children were born we named them Erik Bjorn and Kari Ingrid. During the years, we have celebrated Christmas Eve every year with the same foods and traditions. The grandchildren have embraced the Norwegian traditions but I wonder if they’ll continue to appreciate their heritage after we are gone.


Hardanger lefsa (wheat base) served in western Norway.

Hardanger lefsa (wheat base) served in western Norway.

Our granddaughters love the Hardanger lefse (different than potato lefse) that I make around Christmas. So shortly before our youngest turned five, I asked her what she wanted for her birthday. She replied that she would like me to make “that salsa” that she liked. I was puzzled as to what she was referring to. She said, “Grandma, you know……the stuff with sugar and cinnamon on that you make for Christmas!” Then it dawned on me that she was referring to lefse. It has been a birthday treat ever since.   Grandpa does the baking and I do the rolling.

Potato lefsa, commonly served throughout Norway.

Potato lefsa, commonly served throughout Norway.


What would you most like people to know about Norway and Sons of Norway?

Nancy: The country of Norway is considered one of the best places in the world to live and the Norwegian people are wonderful. Although our trip to Norway was some time ago, I found the people so friendly and unassuming and that made me proud to come from that “stock.”   Sons of Norway membership provides us the opportunity to remember our roots and be proud of them.

Thank you once again, Nancy, for a view into the world of your national and family traditions. I assure everyone that this attitude of welcome and hospitality extends to the Norwegian immigrant population in this country. Everyone is welcome to attend holiday events, Sons of Norway activities, and ask questions freely. Give it a try!

In the coming days I’ll be back with more colorful stories and visuals about Syttende Mai!


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Kranse Kake Recipe: and another Giveaway! Wed, 30 Apr 2014 13:05:22 +0000 I can’t think of a few ways my  launch party for Odin’s Promise could have been better. That’s due in large part to the generous efforts of my friends, including Nancy, baker extraordinaire. She not only baked THIRTY DOZEN specialty cookies, she set up a display of the tools of her trade, so to speak.

Kransekake baking rings and kransekake strip cookies.

Kranse Kake

(Ring Cake)Traditional Norwegian Celebration Cake

Flaky almond cakes in concentric rings are stacked and “glued” with thin powdered sugar frosting. Traditionally a bottle of aquavit (anise flavored alcohol) or a bottle of wine is placed inside the stack.

To serve, the glazed rings are removed one at a time and broken in small pieces to share.

Norwegian flags on the Kranse Kake are traditional.

I asked Nancy about how she came to be such a skilled  baker of these traditional delicacies.

Nancy: My husband and his brothers had been involved with Sons of Norway  years ago when we were a young married couple. At that time it was mainly men… the women had their own organization but I really wasn’t interested as it seemed mostly social. About ten years ago (we had both been retired a while) we decided to join as the Lodge was in its new building.   I was already in a number of other activities, but at the first meeting, one of the ladies was going around getting people to sign up to make cookies for the International Folk Fair. My hand shot up like a space launch at Cape Canaveral. I baked about 30 dozen colored and decorated Spritz cookies. That was the beginning of very active involvement.

Nancy, you’re tireless and talented. How have you put those assets to use in Sons of Norway?

Nancy: I have worked regularly at the monthly Torsk dinners mostly as a server in the kitchen. I love meeting all the people as they come through the line and then working with members to clean up after the dinner. I have also served on the Cookie Committee. We bake and sell thousands of ethnic cookies each fall. It takes about 7 weeks of baking to fill preorders and enough cookies to sell at the November and December Torsk Dinners. I served as an assistant secretary, did some baking demonstrations at meetings, and served on various committees.  


Sandbakkel cookies and kransekake strips.

Sandbakkel cookies and kransekake strips.

Kransekake, the traditional celebratory cake, is featured in Odin’s Promise. Nancy was kind enough to share her recipe and special directions. She also made kransekake strips, small spritz strips make with the same dough as the ring cake. Ask anyone who was there, they are truly delicacies. So you don’t even need to have the ring forms to experience the deliciousness of kranse kake. No excuses now, give it a try!


Nancy’s Recipe for Kranse Kake

3 – 8 ounce cans SOLO pure almond paste (this brand works best)

1 cup granulated sugar

2 egg whites

            Mix together in mixer until well-blended. Spray tins well with PAM for baking with flour. Use flat star template in cookie press to make a ring of dough in each section of the tins. Use a blunt tool such as a plastic orange peeler to press ends together. Be sure the ring of dough is perfectly round.

            Bake tins (2 or 3 at a time) in a 325 degree oven for 17-22 minutes. Check at 15 minutes. Do not let the rings get too brown. They should be just turning and be golden brown on the edges. Remove from oven and let cool before removing from pans. (I take my orange slicer tool and gently lift here and there to make sure they aren’t sticking.)

            After rings are completely cold, remove from tins and arrange in order on a counter. Begin with the largest and stack “gluing” them together with frosting:

                                         1 egg white slightly beaten

                                          3 drops white vinegar

                                           1 cup powdered sugar

Put the “glue” into a strong zip-lock bag and when you are ready to assemble the cake, snip a very small piece off one corner of the bag. Pipe a solid band of frosting all around the top of the layer and then immediately set the next layer on top. Repeat until all layers are used.

            If you wish, you may pipe “scallops” of frosting around the cake to decorate. Store the cake in an airtight container. It may also be frozen.

Norwegian flags or wrapped candies may be stuck into the cake for decoration. For special occasions, I have used a wired ribbon bow atop the cake.

This recipe makes an eighteen layer cake. You will likely have dough left over which can be used to make fingers. (Just pipe out long lines of dough on a cookie sheet and cut into uniform pieces and then bake.)

If you double the recipe (which we do for weddings) it will make a 36 layer cake and about 200 fingers.

Note: I always use the SOLO almond paste because it works the best. I have used other brands (Odense) and the cake does not turn out as well.

 Good luck!

Thank you, Nancy,  for all you did to make this celebration so authentic and memorable.

Thanks, too, to Alex Bough who shared a review of Odin’s Promise on April 29 at The Children’s War blog. The post includes a giveaway opportunity until May 6, so be sure to stop by.

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Photos, an Interview, and a Giveaway! Mon, 28 Apr 2014 11:30:34 +0000

April 24 is a night I’ll always remember,  and here are just a few glimpses at what I mean:

Just waiting for the first guests to arrive… looking good enough to eat!

Just waiting for the first guests to arrive… looking good enough to eat!

Best volunteers and friends anyone could have: Pat, nanacy, Barbara, Mary, and Celine!

Best volunteers and friends anyone could have: Pat, Nancy, Barbara, Mary, and Celine!

I’ll get busy creating a page dedicated to party pictures and comments, but for now here are just a few more:

Such a wonderful turn out- beyond my best estimates.

Such a wonderful turn out- beyond my best estimates.

Friends, neighbors, writers, teachers, history-lovers, and former students joined me that night.

Friends, neighbors, writers, teachers, history-lovers, and former students joined me that night.

I’m equally excited to “go visiting” with cyber-friends like Suzanne Warr, who wrote such a lovely review last week (here). Today I’m honored to be interviewed by her and her delightful pet-family (here)! Take a few minutes to join us at her blog, Tales From the Raven.  Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for TWO chances to win a copy of Odin’s Promise.

Thanks, Suzanne, for helping me keep this celebratory spirit rolling!

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Norway House, Here We Come! Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:52:33 +0000

Tomorrow (Thursday) is the Book Birthday party at Norway House. (Details here) The location couldn’t be a more perfect match for this story, and I’m thrilled that it was available. Norway House is a busy place. It is used regularly for Sons of  Norway events, rented for events by a wide range of other organizations, and is also booked for wedding receptions, parties, and events like the Rosemaling Show.  The Sons of Norway Lodge also offers scheduled public events that are very popular. One of these is their fabulous TORSK SUPPER, which is  not lutefisk, but boiled cod. They offer this eight times a year, and the last opportunity until fall will be Saturday, April 26. 

6653570_origNorway house


Here’s the buffet menu:

Boiled Cod Fish

Norwegian Meatballs

Boiled Potatoes

Cranberry Sauce

Pickled Beets

Flat Bread, Desssert, and Coffee

If all my talk about Norwegian culture, food, and hospitality has you interested, click the link for details and ENJOY!

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Countdown: Three Days to Norway House Party! Tue, 22 Apr 2014 01:23:12 +0000 Three days from now I will be at Norway House in Milwaukee (details here) to celebrate the “Book BIrthday” of Odin’s Promise. It’s available for sale now, even though the official publication date is May 17. That’s when I’ll be in Stoughton, Wisconsin, to sign books and celebrate during their annual Syttende Mai (Norwegian Constitution Day, May 17) festival. I expect to meet lots of people with an interest in Norway there, but I know very few folks in that part of the state. This local “birthday party” is an opportunity to share the fun with long time friends, other writers, former students and their families, neighbors, and anyone who has an interest in Norwegian history, World War Two, books, door prizes, and Norwegian culture (including sampling delicious food!). The public is invited, so come see this beautiful venue- I’d love  to see you there.

Lobby of Norway House in Milwaukee.

Lobby of Norway House in Milwaukee.


This will take place at Norway House, the home of Sons of Norway Fosselyngen Lodge #82. Those tasty delicacies I mentioned will be Norwegian specialty cookies baked by a true master baker, and even better friend, Nancy. She is also a longtime member of Fosselyngen Lodge, along with her husband, Milt. Somehow, in the midst of all her baking, family responsibilities, and living a busy life, she managed to answer a few questions for me. During these “countdown days” I’ll share some of her answers here.


Sons of Norway is social/fraternal organization (Yes-there was a time when women were not allowed full membership), but it is NOT limited to those with Norwegian heritage. I discovered this while exploring their website and wondered about their mission statement:

“The mission of Sons of Norway is to promote, preserve, and cherish a lasting appreciation

of the heritage and culture of Norway and other Nordic countries

while growing soundly as a fraternal benefit society

and offering maximum benefits to its members.”

SB: Nancy, what are some specific ways this is accomplished? Which of these hold a special place in your heart?

Nancy: The Sons of Norway (SofN)was started as an insurance company to serve Norwegians who had come to this country in about 1903. Lodges began forming shortly after. It was for men only until some of the lodges formed women’s lodges and they eventually combined into one lodge such as our Fosselyngen. The lodges are social groups with an emphasis on our Norwegian culture and heritage. Sons of Norway is a very good insurance company and many of our members purchase insurance and investments from SofN.

As members of SofN, we are offered the opportunity to research our family tree; develop skills in Norwegian arts such as needlework and cooking; and learn the Norwegian language. Pins are awarded as participants achieve each level of competence. I have enjoyed most sharing my love for cooking and baking. Growing up in a Norwegian community provided a natural transition to sharing with many new-found friends in the Lodge.

Thanks, Nancy. I’ll share other Q/A responses in coming days, but for now I hope anyone who attends give some thought to the organization you described. My limited interactions with members at events makes it clear that Milwaukee’s Fosselyngen Lodge members are a welcoming and supportive group who remind me of the people I met in Norway, in that they make strangers feel right at home.

* * * *

Beginning today a bog tour of various reviewers will feature their thoughts about Odin’s Promise and some guest posts or interviews with me. I’ll provide links here as they become available along with Nancy’s notes. Many include giveaway raffles for a copy of the book. Two are live today:

April 21 –             Erik at THIS KID REVIEWS BOOKS  or copy and paste this link:

April 21-             Suzanne Warr’s TALES OF THE RAVEN blog, or copy and paste this link:  

Thank you to Erik and Suzanne for such glowing reviews to help welcome Mari and Odin to the world!

Also scheduled:

April 24-             Guest post/Rochelle Melander ‘s

April 28            Suzanne Warr interview at (follow up to April 21 review)

April 29            Alex Bough at

April 30            Margo Tanenbaum at (interview)

May 1-              Heidi Grange at  

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Book Birthday: Door Prize Preview! Sun, 20 Apr 2014 11:30:57 +0000 It’s exciting to hear from so many friends who hope to attend the book  birthday party for Odin’s Promise on April 24, 2014 at Norway House. (details here) My hard working, enthusiastic, classy friend Barbara has made huge contributions to the prep work for this party. Now she’s packaged up the door prizes to make sure they are even more appealing. This isn’t a raffle, just a chance for everyone who attends to enter for the prize of their choice and a chance to have their name drawn.


Party Door Prizes

Party Door Prizes


Check out the details below:

The Kitchen Package

The Kitchen Package

The Kitchen Package ” includes:

Towel/hot pad set

Chocolate-raspberry jam  and crackers

Scandinavian Sweet Treats cookbook

Sandbakkel Tins

Expert-made Norwegian Cookies

Book Package One

Book Package One

“Book Package One” includes:

Odin’s Promise

Snow Treasure, by Marie McSwigan

$10 Barnes and Noble gift card

Norwegian artist notecards

Book Package Two

Book Package Two

“Book Package Two” includes:

Odin’s Promise

Shadow on the Mountain, by Margi Preuss

Klipfish Code, by  Mary Casanova

Norwegian art notecards

Metal clip frame

party prize kids

“Kid Packages” (2 chances) include:

Odin’s Promise

Zip-it pencil case

Art pencils

Norway flag keychain

Friendship neck cord

So, here’s hoping you’ll make it to the party. It’s an even bigger hope that you, too, have the kind of friends in your lives who step forward to share their incredible talents when needed, as well as mirroring your enthusiasm and joys.  Thank you to Barbara for her party organizing, to Nancy for her master baking skills, and to so many others who I’ll mention in days to come.

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Reviewers: The Ones Who Matter Most Thu, 17 Apr 2014 19:24:46 +0000 Nothing has humbled me more than the responses of the first school readers of Odin’s Promise  this week. I’ve played it back in my mind so often that I’m sure I’ll never forget them or our time together. (Maybe I should use that strategy when trying to recall where I parked in the lot or left my keys, but somehow the emotional component just doesn’t measure up.)

I even have proof of their enthusiasm in the copies of the reviews they presented to me at the end of our meeting. With their permission, I’ll share them here, transcribed just as they were written. They thrill me in their words of praise for the story and characters, of course. But, as a teacher, I’m equally excited about the quality of their writing. Their teacher explained how reviews are structured, urged them to read a few others, and left it to them to write. These are clearly the voices of younger readers, but the writing rises to a level worthy of any professional publication, I’m sure you’ll agree.

2014-04-17 22.19.02

First, by Ryan:

Recently I finished the book Odin’s Promise by Sandy Brehl. It is a historical fiction novel about an 11 year old girl named Mari and her dog Odin. It is set during WWII in the small village of Ytre Arna. German soldiers have occupied Norway and Mari and her family are part of the resistance.

I thought this was an amazing book. I liked how the author developed the character of Mari. At the beginning of the book she relied on her family and friends for protection. Throughout the book, her family and Odin taught her to stand up for herself. I thought the glossary in the back of the book was very useful, also.

I would recommend this book to anyone 8 and older. I enjoyed it and hope everyone who reads it will too.


Next, by Emma:

Odin’s Promise is a historical fiction book by Sandy Brehl. The book took place during World War II, when the Germans occupied Norway. The main characters are a young girl and her faithful elkhound, Odin.

The book is touching, happy, sad, and even funny. I usually don’t read historical fiction, but this book was excellent. It made me feel many emotions – even triumph. I liked many, many things about Odin’s Promise. My favorites include the relationship between a person and their pet rather than a person and their family member/friend/parents, because sometimes people are more attached to an animal than another person. It also made me feel pride for Mari, the main character, because she works up the courage to become more independent.

In conclusion, I absolutely recommend that you read Odin’s Promise – nearly everything about it was excellent.


Now, from Elliot:

World War II was a horrible time, but in this historical fiction tale called Odin’s Promise by Sandy Brehl, a little girl named Mari discovers her inner-voice with the help of her faithful Norwegian Elkhound, Odin. Mari develops from a small girl that looks to her parents for protection, to a strong Norwegian fighting against the cruel reign of Hitler.

In this book, many exciting and terrifying events take place starting with a trip up the mountain for berries to discovering secret Norwegian resistances. With the help of her family, Mari finds courage and strength to face reality of this difficult time. Over the course of this fantastic novel, you will marvel at the friendship and bond between many of the characters especially Odin and Mari.

I can tell you firsthand you will love this book because the action, adventure, and fun. For all readers out there, I would recommend this book so you, too, can experience the bonds, changes in characters, and life lessons in Odin’s Promise!


And Megan says this:

The book Odin’s Promise by Sandy Brehl is about a young girl named Mari who lived in Norway during the time of World War II. She and her dog Odin go through many hardships in this historical fiction novel.

Odin’s Promise definitely goes into the category of one of my favorite books. It was one of the best books I’ve read in years. It made me laugh, smile, and cry. Relating to Mari and the other characters is incredibly easy. Readers will experience how it must have felt with the depression of war. I believe it’s the extraordinary detail, the exquisite storyline, and character development that made me feel this way.

Odin’s Promise is as well or better written than other famous books like Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling or Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan. I definitely think everyone should read this book. It’s wonderful!


And finally from Lily:

A little girl named Mari is picking berries on a mountain side with her dog Odin. Mari sees her neighbor Mr. Meier with two soldiers. He’s injured. When the two soldiers ask Mari if she knows him, she pretends not to know him. Why do you think she did that? What do you think happens next? Find out in the Historical Fiction book Odin’s Promise by Sandy Brehl. This book takes place in Norway during World War 2 and tells the story of Mari and her journey through a difficult time.

This book is very good. I give it 4 1/2 stars. The author paints a picture of what it’s like I Norway during German occupation. When reading this book, I experienced a wide range of emotion. I felt sad, happy and upset when reading it. I strongly recommend this book to discover how the promise relates to the story.

Roth HCE groupThere you have it, The kind of praise a writer would only imagine  in a dream sequence, written by young readers who happen to be impressive writers themselves.

Ryan, Emma, Elliot, Megan and Lilly, the way you took Odin, Mari, and their story into your lives is a gift beyond measure. Thank you all, and thank you to Colleen Roth for wanting to share Odin’s Promise with you. I’ll spend every writing minute trying to live up to your high praise in all future work. Yours are the opinions that mean the most to me.

Quick note: ahead of schedule the book is now available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, although the last I checked IndieBound doesn’t yet have a link set up. You can use the “BUY THE BOOK” tab in the top menu bar to find active links, if interested.

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Happy Hour: Time Spent with Readers Wed, 16 Apr 2014 02:24:52 +0000 This afternoon I met with teacher Colleen Roth and five delightful readers. Months ago Colleen asked when she could share Odin’s Promise with a group of students. It was only natural to invite her to use advance reading copies with her group to pilot the use of my study guide. For the past few weeks Lily, Emma, Megan, Elliot, and Ryan have been reading Odin’s Promise with Mrs. Roth,  discussing the book, responding in notes and book talks, and making connections with their own lives. Colleen sent me brief updates as they went along to let me know they were enjoying it, which allowed me to uncross my fingers. (It’s hard to get any work done with fingers crossed!)

Roth HCE group Odin's pilot readers with Mrs. Roth

Writing is a solitary process, internal and reflective. Only later does it involve  critique partners and beta readers. Eventually a manuscript makes its way to an editor’s desk. That’s a lot of people to satisfy along the way to publication.

When it comes right down to it, though, there are only two people I write for:  myself and the reader.

This was the first true test of Odin’s Promise.

This afternoon I met with the group to share some background on the book and answer questions. I heard they were nervous about meeting me, but  they couldn’t possibly have been as nervous as I was! It turned out nerves were unnecessary on either side, since we seemed to hit it off from the start.

Writers do have interactions with readers, but not with all readers and not often face to face. Visiting with Lily, Emma, Megan, Elliot and Ryan, hearing their  interest and enthusiasm for the characters and story, is an experience I’ll never forget. They’ve given me permission to share the reviews they wrote, and I will do that here in the next few days. I’ll even post some photos of the originals with their signatures so you know I’m not making it all up!

I hope that Odin’s Promise finds many friends in schools in the years to come, but this was the first time through the doors. Being new in school can be difficult, especially when you’re from another time and place in history. Even though I’ve spent my life in schools, as a student and as teacher, this was my first trip through the doors as an author. I’m so grateful to these bright and eager school readers for the warm welcome they gave to Odin and and Mari  in the last few weeks, and to me today.   Then, just when I thought my grin couldn’t get any bigger, this happened:

Flowers HCE 2 Flowers HCEI was floating by the time I left.

Tusen takk fra mitt hjerte:  A thousand thanks from my heart!


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