Tag Archives: A to Z Blog Challenge

H is for Hidden as a Boy #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2Z

Working on 2nd edition cover of My Years Hidden As a Boy

Working on 2nd edition cover of My Years Hidden As a Boy

The why for Irene posing as a boy for 3 years is fairly obvious after F is for Fear of Rape. What about the how? In the post war Russian occupied area where she lived, how does one pull that off?

For me, I’m always asking myself how does a second book in a series out sell the first twice over? What seems to do it is the title of Irene’s 2nd memoir, My Years Hidden as a Boy. Of course, I encourage anyone interested to get all three of her memoirs together in one volume, Survive Little Buddy.

The following excerpt spans Book 1 and Book 2. Irene’s story in her own words (Edited for space. All rights reserved.):

A refugee family with eight daughters, fleeing from Latvia, stopped in Euba and was assigned living quarters….When I mingled with these people, I realized how shabby my clothes had become compared to the pretty dresses worn by the refugee girls. Of course they were able to brin things with them. We had lost everything in the fire. There was absolutely no clothing of any kind for sale in the remaining stores.

The mayor decided to take the only existing, broken down truck Euba had and try to drive to a uniform factory in Chemnitz. This was the only hope that we had to get something warm to wear….He asked a few of us from Chemnitz along, since we were familiar with the location of the factory. [Diving bombing adventure follows]

….I was given more than one whole outfit, black coats, and felt boots, enough clothing for everyone in our family….From that time on, I wore the black uniform with no military rankings, shirts and everything else. [My World War 2 Childhood excerpt, Book 1 of The Iron Curtain Memoirs]

….One day Mama said, “Irene, with your slight build you look more like a boy than a girl in those black SS trousers and your felt boots.”

I laughed. “Maybe I should get a man’s haircut.”

“Not a man’s cut, but with a shorter cut and that cap pulled down, you’d look more like a 14-year-old-boy than a 16-year-old girl.”

“I’d feel a lot safer from the Russian soldiers if they thought I was a boy.”

"Refugees Crowding Trains" Visit War History Online for this and other images.

“Refugees Crowding Trains”
Visit War History Online for this and other images.

Thus I assumed the disguise of a boy. Mama cut my hair shorter and I kept part of it hanging over my forehead. The poorly fitted black pants and shirt, along with the oversized boots, made it possible….I often made it a point to have a runny nose to further my disguise. This pretense as a boy was to serve me well for a few years.

….Since few women went out during evening hours or at night because of the danger of rape, my boy disguise gave me some protection and much greater freedom to move about. With Krista in the role as my sister she was not bothered by the Russians. We became skilled at bartering as we roamed the countryside and the railroad stations looking for food. We traded some of the Meissen porcelain figures that Grandma had given us for food. Of course Meissen figurines were valuable antiques, but hunger hurts. We bartered everything away. [Excerpt from My Years Hidden As a Boy, Book 2 of The Iron Curtain Memoirs]

Irene’s bartering took her further afield. West Germany had so many more supplies, and her heroic border crossings brought the necessities for he family to survive. She traveled with her younger brother’s identity papers, an option many others did not have and which aided her ruse. Encounters with Russian patrols, frequent train searches, and other heroic adventures were Irene’s as she struggled to provide for her family.

Would you like to meet Irene, the woman herself? Stay tuned then for your face-to-face via videos.

I is for Interviews with Irene.

Meanwhile a big shout out to these fellow AtoZers:

Check out Amish Humor at A Joyful Chaos.

Enjoy a hot cup of Kaapi while reading Lata Sunil’s story from India.

Drop by Miss Andi’s unconventional music blog.


Kristin King is an NGO co-founder, author, publisher, and finished this post while on the sidelines of her younger sons’ soccer practice. In her living room you will find a Meissen collectible, a miniature cup and saucer, given to Kristin by Irene. Another small treasure among the many Irene’s given.



Posted by on April 9, 2016 in Memoirs & History


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C is for Crazy Kids (#AtoZChallege Historical Treasure) @AprilA2Z

(All April you’ll find A to Z Historical Treasures here)

Photo Credit to

Photo Credit to

I’m all too aware of what crazy activities children get up to when adults aren’t aware. In mild cases, our four sons may show us video afterwards of what they did. Other times we may end up taking yet another ride to the E.R (It usually IS broken). Some stories they won’t tell till they are adults. Of course, we all think we’re invincible till a certain age or incident forces us to face reality.

Irene was no different–except she lived during World War 2, a time that offered decidedly different risks. Excerpted from Before the Iron Curtain: My World War 2 Childhood when Irene was 12 years old:

By 1941, two air raids were coming each night and at least one by day. Familiar places became heaps of rubble.

Hannelore’s parents had a bookstore where most of the parents bought their children’s school books. Hannelore was my age and we occasionally did our homework for school together. I was at her house one afternoon when an air raid started. Being alone in the apartment, we decided not to let the house warden know we were there when he struck alarms. From the window we watched the planes passed over our building and we tried to count them. They were heading toward the ammunition factories further south of the city. We saw them dropping their bombs, already some overhead, and heard the whistling sound as they were carried by the air to their destination. We heard many close and distant explosions that rocked the building. Smoke and flames boiled up into the sky. Then still another wave of planes came, their wings glistened in the warm afternoon sun.

“They’re coming toward us!” we both screamed. Our faces turned white, we crouched down, sure that we would be bombed. Then the sound of the motors diminished and we knew they were flying away. The bombs whistled through the air before they exploded on the steel mills. Shaken and frightened we waited out the alarm. We never disobeyed an air alert again.

Irene's World War 2 Childhood, (teen)Years Hidden As a Boy, and Escape to Freedom (East to West Berlin)

Irene’s World War 2 Childhood, (teen)Years Hidden As a Boy, and Escape to Freedom (East to West Berlin)

Crazy Kids alright. Irene heeded the call of the air raid signals after that, but tomorrow (D is for Dreams) she recounts another adventure where she talked her way past guards into an area restricted by the Nazis.

Till then…

Shout out to these fellow AtoZer’s:



Kristin King is author, publisher, speaker, mom, dog lover, military spouse, and NGO president. She has never stayed outside during a bombing but did as an adult confess other things to her parents. Irene is her hero.


Posted by on April 4, 2016 in Memoirs & History


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A is for Anne and Irene in World War 2

April is the A to Z Blog Challenge – 26 posts in one month. My theme this year is Historical Treasure.

You know Anne. Now meet Irene.


Image Copyright AP

Irene 6 years old headshot

Image Copyright Three Kings Publishing

In 1929 two girls who later wrote about World War 2 were born in Germany, they were Anne Frank and Irene Kucholick. Anne’s dream was to become a famous writer. Irene’s dream was to become a nurse. Both their dreams were achieved in unexpected ways. Both of their lives were changed in profound ways by the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party in their native homeland. Both were oppressed because they were not pure Aryans: Anne was Jewish and Irene was half Polish.

Anne is world famous. Irene is virtually unknown. However they both wrote about a time in history that should not be forgotten or brushed under the rug. People tend to forget that Anne was a German Jew. People tend to forget that the first people Hitler oppressed were his own.

Anne’s family fled Germany and still ended up living under Nazi rule in The Netherlands, where she began her writing career in earnest at the age of 13 while in hiding. Irene’s family stayed in what became East Germany, where she began her nurse training at the age of 14.

anne frank quote about writingThough Anne did not live to see it, she is one of the most famous writers of WW2 and one of the most famous holocaust victims. Anne died in 1945 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp just weeks before the camp was liberated. In her diaries she said, “I can shake off everything if I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” 

Irene’s sorrows lived on, haunting her years later. She suffered from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) until she began writing about her life and experiences, exorcising the grip of the past from her present. On Saturday, June 20th 1942, Anne said, “I feel like writing, and I have an even greater need to get all kinds of things off my chest.”

Irene had the same need.

Before the Iron Curtain: My World War 2 Childhood

Before the Iron Curtain: My World War 2 Childhood Memoirs by Irene Kucholick

Anne and Irene’s books are historical treasure troves. Where Anne’s writings end on August 1, 1944, Irene’s writing goes on describing daily life and survival through end of the war, through her 3 years hiding from Soviets as a boy, through her young adult nursing career on the dark side of the Iron Curtain, and through the actions leading to her spy accusations that sent her fleeing across the border from East to West Berlin in 1953.

Irene lives to this day.

Read her story.

Send your questions in the comments.

Living history of those times is getting harder to find.

Follow along this month as we dive into this treasure trove with excerpts and commentary from A to Z.

(Coming Soon…B is for Bolsheviks)


Kristin King is one of Irene Kucholick’s biggest fans and  the unexpected publisher of her memoirs. Kristin is currently working on a recording of Irene’s story for audiobook release. She hopes to visit Irene and hold a book signing in Maryland Thanksgiving 2017.




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B is for Bolsheviks (A to Z Historical Treasure)

April is the A to Z Blog Challenge – 26 posts in one month. My theme this year is Historical Treasure.

Publishers get to do things like update cover designs. This mockup might be on the 2nd edition of Irene's first book.

Publishers get to do things like update cover designs. This mock-up might be on the 2nd edition of Irene’s first book. Need to work in a swastika or other Nazi symbol.


Not a title I expected to have. Even after sending my husband’s first novel and my own into the world, I did not expect to work on getting others’ books into the hands of readers.

Then came Irene. Her complete manuscript came into my hands at church on a Sunday night. It was obviously photocopied from a typed original. Having never been a huge fan of biographies and history, I nonetheless agreed to look it over. Almost from page one I knew I was holding a historical treasure.

Here is an excerpt (copyright 1996 by Irene L. Emmerich Kucholick):

Around the time of my birth in 1929, in the industrial city of Chemnitz, Bolshevism had established itself in Russia. The Nazi party catapulted into power, teetering Europe on the brink of great turmoil.

My father, fluent in many languages, worked as a foreign correspondent for industrial firms. During evening hours refugees from Russia–members of the old white Russian nobility (anti red) crowded into his study to learn the German language. His attraction to a Russian countess and subsequent unfaithfulness to my mother caused her to leave him while she was pregnant with me, her first child. She later divorced my father.

….After dinner, strange people in elegant clothes began to arrive. Father took them immediately into his study. They spoke harsh-sounding words I could not understand.

“Russian,” Father told me.

When they took off their coats, I saw fashionable dresses of fine wool. They wore jewelry and I saw large rings reflecting bright colored lights from moving hands. Long earrings and necklaces held brilliant jewels.

“This is the wealth they brought from Russia,” Father said, “and they keep much of it on them. They are slow to trust others.” When the men removed their coats, I noticed medals of rank and honor, awarded by the Czar.

From this point forward, Irene’s memoirs had me. My fascination with the story of Anastasia, much encouraged by the 1970’s movie with Amy Irving as the supposedly still surviving Russian princess, and with the fate of the Tzar’s family prior to World War 2 urged me on.

3 Memoirs in 1: World War 2 Childhood, Years Hidden As a Boy, and Journey to Freedom (East to West Berlin)

3 Memoirs in 1: World War 2 Childhood, Years Hidden As a Boy, and Escape to Freedom (East to West Berlin)

Story after story of Irene’s young life in tumultuous times played out as I read straight through her childhood and young adult life in three days. History came alive for me in a way it never had before. Irene’s straight forward accounts, written without emotionally charged embellishments, brought the era closer home to me than had my visits to historical sights such as the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the Dachau contraction camp, and the battle fields of Bastogne.

“We have to publish this,” I told my husband. And we did.

I’ve gotten to know Irene who is one of my heroes. Getting her story into the hands of readers became a labor love from the days of transferring typed pages into digital format via three softwares to the audio recordings I am making this month.

This is the historical treasure for you to catch glimpses of throughout the A to Z Blog Challenge this month. What episode of history fascinates you? Do you have a question for Irene? Tell us in the comments.

(Next up: C is for Crazy Kids (World War 2)


Kristin King is a publisher with Three Kings Publishing, but she does not accept manuscripts for review…normally. Three Kings Publishing is a mom and pop publisher of Christian writers, not necessarily Christian books.


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A is for American in Congo

In a lone tree I see a continent, a people, a child springing up with joy.

In a lone tree I see a continent, a people, a child springing up with joy

(The A to Z Blog Challenge: Back to Africa)

How does your heart become attached to a place so far away? How do you lose your heart?

For me it was bit by bit and then all at once. As a child, I loved all things furry, and most anything on four legs. Africa and Australia were frequently in my thoughts, so distant and exotic. As a youth I learned about peoples and cultures, fascinating and far-flung. I did not know I was being wooed “little by little, part by part.”

Then as an adult, I met people who became my friends, the one who is my soul-sister, and I learned about the plight of a place so removed and so worth the effort. My heart went before I did, and then we landed together in lush beauty, crushing struggle. Every where I saw hope, courage, compassion.

An American in Congo is me. So I’ll write about it A to Z.

One life makes a difference. One child learning. One youth with a vision. One person like me who never imagined they would start a nonprofit, be president of anything after failing to make the student council in High School.

Here I am and to Africa I go, Back to Africa, because Future Hope Africa is not just a nonprofit. It is touching lives right now,

changing what can be,

raising a banner today to build tomorrow.

This I pray.


Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of Future Hope Africa, an educational mission located in East Congo (DRC) and dedicated to spreading hope in the name of Jesus Christ.

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A Blog Event Sure to Cause a Stir (A to Z Blog Challenge)

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My blog is relatively young (i.e. less than 300 posts) and the numbers of followers I have is commiserate. So how does a blogger like me generate more traffic? One activity that worked really well for me last year was to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge. I’m the 900th writer on this year’s list!

Essentially what you do is press 26 posts out during April, one for everyday with Sundays off. The posts correspond to a letter of the alphabet, you visit other blogs that interest you from the list, leave comments, Share great finds, and enjoy the blog-o-sphere in a new way.

My theme last year was my Writing Issues and Books, a nebulous category that allowed me to generate content chasing the rabbits of my author career. What does that mean? Well, take a look at some of the posts. C is for Cards: Issues for a Blind Character discussed the research and challenges of developing a character for my second novel, Death Taint. I (or my husband) wrote  few genre focused posts such as P is for Post-Apocalyptic and R is for Romance.  Popular cultural influences got a nod last year in X is for X-Men and Superheroes and T is for Top Fiction of the Twentieth Century. I also took the opportunity to go public with excerpts from some of my WIP’s (Works in Progress) such as  F is for Faery Lands and  Z is for Zombies.

Really, I was all over the place and learned a lot of basics about what makes some blog posts more popular than others and how to improve my posts in the future. That was back in the dear old USA.

Now I live in Europe, am adjusting to a new culture, travel more extensively, and my blog topics have followed my transition. Now my most viewed articles are Holland Expat – The Dr. Said What?!, Sinter Klaas w/Black Pete and Racism News, and Congo Christmas – Dengue Diet.

Which leads me to today and the time to reveal my blog theme for A to Z 2015……(drum roll please)….

“Back to Africa” the A to Z Observations of a White Woman in East Congo and West Rwanda. Expect never before seen photos, travel insights, unusual moments and heart wrenching tales from my recent travels.

There were so many posts I couldn’t fit in during my Congo Christmas series and getting the word out about my nonprofit, Future Hope Africa, is a big part of this effort. So here’s to Blogging for Your Cause.

Are you a blogger too? Become the 1083rd blogger to take up the A to Z Challenge for April 2015 and see your readership and expertise grow.


Kristin King is an author, publisher, and president of of the nonprofit, Future Hope Africa. She lives with her family in the Netherlands as an expat, loves Jesus, all sorts of people, travel, reading and animals.


Posted by on March 23, 2015 in A to Z Blog, Travel


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R is for Romance – In Every Genre

Kindle version here.

Kindle version here.

Inspired by the A to Z Blog Challenge.

Check out my Goodreads “Read” list and you’ll find a lot of romance. Maybe it’s my favorite genre or at least quick read genre. I do like every book to have a bit in it. While enjoying a sci-fy like Ender’s Game, dystopian like Divergent, or post-apocalyptic like Glimmer of Hope, I can’t help imagining where a romance might be or where the hints of one is going. (Did anyone else think Petra liked Ender? And by “like” I mean like-liked.) 😉

Sometimes I even get to influence the making of romance. While I write Romantic Suspense, my husband’s stories are more graphic Adventure. Glimmer of Hope is the first novel in his Land of Tomorrow series and the main character is married. Nathan loves Bethany…that’s great, BUT they also have two teenage sons. (Spoiler Alert) As the family treks across post-nuclear North American, the sons help rescue a group of female slaves.

Read Divergent here to see what the movie missed.

Read Divergent here to see what the movie missed.

In my mind that is the perfect opportunity for budding romance. Unfortunately, Glimmer of Hope was already huge (2  books in 1 essentially), so the romance had to wait till Book Two, Children of Wrath, and even then it takes a sideline. At least it is there, though.

Then in No Kinda Life, hubby’s Texas Ranger rides into town and finds a beautiful woman under the thumb of the suspect Mayor (kinda Book of Eli-esque), and I see the opportunity for romance. Again, it’s a sideline and doesn’t turn out the way one expects, but somehow I am very proud for encouraging this extra element in the story. The battles he creates are terrific, there is just this one thing that was missing and now isn’t as often.

Visit the post-apocalyptic Republic of Texas.

Visit the post-apocalyptic Republic of Texas.

What I learned when I joined Romance Writers of America is that the genre is defined by the lovers getting together in the end (see RWA genre elements here). But is that the end of the first book or the end of the series? RWA seems to say the end of the book. I can’t quite get on board with that, although I see the importance of drawing the line.

Still I tend to want to see the barest hint of romance in whatever I read, and indeed do see it when it might not even exist. The possibility of romance improves every genre, in my opinion. It is an element that even hard-core action writers should consider including. Why is it important in the larger scheme of life and literature? Check out Wild At Heart to find out.


Kristin and Ryan King are married authors who hope to someday meld their writing strengths in a zombie romance with great battles.

Click photo to connect with me on Goodreads.

Click photo to connect with me on Goodreads.


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