Upon publication in August, 2003, Starlight Laser Express received the Tommy Award for excellence in teen fantasy. In 2009, I Visited Europe and Survived received a Illinois State Award from IWPA (Illinois Women's Press Association). In 2010, Destination Disaster recieved a first-place State of Illinois award as well as a first-place National award. In 2009, The Warmth of Opa's Blanket won a State of Illinois Award from IWPA.
IDEAS FOR MY NOVELS...
Much of my work is based on real-life experiences. For example, my children -- Dara and Jenna -- have always believed that there is a playful ghost living in our house. At the time that I wrote Starlight Laser Express, I hadn't seen the apparition; nevertheless, it inspired the concept of Smitty, the ghost. In the past years that Smitty has become "a part of my life" through Starlight, he seems to have taken the opportunity to "play games" in my house from time to time, thus, making me wonder just how much my children have been fantasizing.
The places to which J.C. and Smitty journey are European cities that I have visited and enjoyed. Each of those cities held something special for me that I wanted to share with young adult readers.
Venice means romance
Tivoli Gardens sparkle in Copenhagen
The Roman Colosseum
Eiffel Tower aglow in the Parisian skies.
In my second novel, A Ghost of a Chance, released in 2004, J.C. travels back in time to the Holocaust in Holland. The subject of WWII and the Holocaust have always attracted my attention, and the fact that I have lived in Holland gave me the basis for this novel.
In addition, I have done extensive research on Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl in hiding in Amsterdam. My interest in Anne Frank provided background information for this second novel. In the 1980s, my family and I had the honor and privilege of meeting Miep Gies, the woman who hid the Frank family in the canal house on Prinsengracht. What a thrill for my husband, two girls, and me to have the opportunity to talk with a lady that risked her life to save the Franks. Humbly, Miep insisted that she "didn't do anything special that hundreds of other good, Dutch people didn't do, also."
I must admit, however, that in the novel A Glimpse of the Netherworld, I have not actually visited the Netherworld! Many of the lands and creatures encountered are complete fantasy; however, some of the lands stem straight out of literture (The Canterbury Tales and The Legend of King Arthur)
My true inspiration for Destination Disaster was my visits to Pompeii. Learning about that devastation led me to learn more about other catastrophes that have happened in the world. All of us have lived through 9/11 and so began my fourth in the series of J.C. van Winkler.
The Bells of Europe was inspired by the beautiful cathedrals abroad, and then on my third trip to Venice -- a truly remarkable city unlike any other in Europe -- I knew that the novel had to end there. I wanted the reading audience to "feel and see" the mysterious aura that surounds Venice.
The Patchwork Quilt, A Murder Mystery came about because of my love of mysteries and my desire to put J.C. into the center of one. I did some research on strange mysteries and murders, developing the plot around an eccentric couple whom no one would believe murdered anyone. Of course, my love of Holland is again portrayed in this novel.
A Magical Christmas was inspired partially because of my love of Christmas....my favorite holiday. Also, I have been involved in genealogy (as seen in Transatlantic Journey 1852) and Five Points in NYC was a part of immigration history on the East Coast of America.
Transatlantic Journey 1852 has a special meaning to me. It is based on my mother's family, Christian and Elizabeth Pollmann, from Hummersen, Germany. I had the pleasure of visiting Hummersen in 2006 and 2007, where the Pollmann family still lives. My cousins, Edith, Peter, Ruben, and Felix Eichleiter, were gracious enough to show me the beautiful area called Lipperland where my great grandfather, Christian Pollmann, was raised. I had the opportunity to see the church in Falkenhagen where he was baptized and confirmed. We went to Schwalenburg to see the Town Hall where Christian walked to get his papers to come to America when he was only 24. The two trips were awe-inspiring for me, and I started the historical novel upon my return from the 2006 trip.
I Visited Europe and Survived, A travelogue of fun and adventure has been a book that I've been writing in my mind since 1972. Through over 30 years of traveling with students and adults in Europe, I have encountered hundreds of hilarious events that have been put into this creative nonfiction. With the help of all of the journals that I have kept through the years, I was able to put some of the best of the adventures into this book. Enjoy!!
EUROPEAN ROOTS AND BEYOND was written because so many people seemed to like I VISITED EUROPE AND SURVIVED, and I knew that I still had adventures and crazy experiences that I hadn't shared. So another book was "a given." I wanted to include in this book the insane things that happened as I tried to locate my German relatives. If you are thinking as you read this book, "This couldn't have happened".....well, yes, it did!!
THE SECRET LAND OF GOGI was inspired by my love for myths, epics, folklore, and fairy tales. It seemed the perfect book to write to share that knowledge with young readers.
PILGRIMS, INDIANS, SHAKESPEARE, OH MY! was so much fun to write. I enjoyed researching to learn more about the pilgrims and Native Americans, and, of course, my love of Shakespeare could be shared.
BEYOND THE AUSSIES AND ROOS was inspired by my trip to Australia. I loved all that I saw and experienced. Upon returning home and doing research, I KNEW that I had to write a book.
Enjoy Prairie Points -- A Civil War Sanctuary
Enjoy Catch the Watercolored Wind
Born to Travel is a creative non-fiction book
I hope that this book can be an inspiration to anyone struggling with childhood memories.
Starlight Laser Express
AWARD-WINNING BOOK -- WON TOMMY AWARD 2002 FOR BEST FANTASY OF THE YEAR
J.C. van Winkler, a girl reaching teenage years, finds a friendly ghost in her house who met sudden death during the Civil War. Needing to acquire peace within his soul after 150 years, Sergeant Lawrence Smith -- called Smitty -- needs J.C. to travel with him throughout Europe, helping people in the past, present, and future. The two travel via Starlight Laser Express
, which takes them to the most exciting, fascinating cities of old-world Europe within five seconds.
The time-warp/fantasy novel takes the readers to such places as sevententh-century London during the Great Plague; to Paris, the home of an ultra-modern artist that needs encouragement to continue his work which will soon be world-renown; and Venice to ensure the adoption of a special child who will save the beautiful Italian city from sinking one day in the future.
Throughout the time-warp adventures, J.C. van Winkler gains an education far beyond her actual years, and in addition, acquires patience and understanding of life. The teenage readers view cathedrals, centuries-old buildings, secenery, and environment through the eyes of a young person seeing Europe for the first time.
Starlight Laser Express
has been awarded the Tommy Award for excellence in young adult fantasy.
GHOST OF A CHANCE
J.C. van Winkler re-enters the time-warp and goes to Holland during the Holocaust of WWII, helping the Jews escape from the devastation of the Nazi regime. During her time in Holland, she saves her uncle -- working to hide the Jewish refugees in his home -- from being discovered and killed. The book not only educates young adults about the Holocaust, but also takes them back into the fantasy world of J.C. van Winkler as she travels through time.
This page-turner was released by Sterling House Publisher in June, 2004.
GLIMPSE OF THE NETHERWORLD
J.C. van Winkler returns to England to save her cousin from a hit-and-run driver. The two get sucked into the Netherworld, traveling through real as well as imaginary lands as they learn to fight evil. Ghosts, spirits, spectre ships, Wicker -- the epitomy of evil -- and, yes, Smitty, all appear in this fantasy/time-warp novel. This third in the J.C. van Winkler fantasy series appeared in the summer, 2005, published by Sterling House.
GLIMPSE OF THE NETHERWORLD
DESTINATION DISASTER, A FIRST-PLACE STATE AND NATIONAL AWARD-WINNING NOVEL 2010
The bells of Venice ring for J.C. and Smitty
Read J.C.'s latest and newest adventure -- a murder mystery
It was truly a Magical Christmas
Read J.C.'s latest adventure into the Secret Land of Goji
THIS NOVEL WON A FIRST-PLACE ILLINOIS STATE AWARD.
Read the exciting 10th in the series!!
BEYOND THE AUSSIES AND ROOS...J.C.'s Adventures in the Outback
J.C. and Smitty visit a new and incredibly exciting place -- they go Down Under. Yes, Australia. It has amazing scenic views of mountains, ocean, and vast areas of nothingness called the Outback. J.C. get up-close-and-personal with such animals as the cockatoo, koala, kangaroo, echidna, and many more indigenous animals of Australia and with historic figures such as Ned Kelly, James Cook, Olympic champion Cathy Freeman, and Crocodile Hunter. She and Smitty become entangled with the arduous task of stopping Tank, the evil son of Wicker. Tank is after many people, but the Aborigines is at the top of his list. Smitty and J.C. are able to weaken Tank, but where is he going? Back to the underground prisons of Venice where his father, Wicker, is being held? Will J.C. and Smitty have the power and knowledge to to stop this demonic character??
Beyond the Aussies and Roos...J.C.s Adventures in the Outback
The Warmth of Opa's Blanket is a State of Illinois award-winning novel 2009
Laugh your way through this European travelogue of hilarious adventures
A desperate murderer finds his way aboard the transatlantic journey of 1852.
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LAUGH ALONG WITH J.J. AND SOPHIE AS THEY JOURNEY THROUGH EUROPE!!!
MURDER TIMES THREE
Dane Jansen and Jenae Christianson -- both young teachers -- go abroad in the summer of 1993 in search of adventure. Being adopted by an American family, Dane's birth parents were Dutch, giving her a special incentive to visit Holland. The two become entangled in the web of mysteries and murders that are spun throughout the novel -- all taking place in the tiny seaside village of Urk, Holland. Voluntarily, the two girls try to solve the enigmatic situations, only to become seriously and deeply involved as the plot thickens. In trying to solve the murders, the most important mystery of all is unraveled for Dane....the key to her heritage and family.
MURDER TIMES THREE
You won't want to set this page-turner down!