Yukiko Sugihara Widow of Japanese Schindler Meets Joseph Kempler, Holocaust Survivor

In August 2000, Joseph Kempler was invited to Tokyo, Japan, to speak before educators and experts on the subject of the Holocaust.  An unusual interview was set up with Yukiko Sugihara, the widow of Chiune Sugihara ( both now deceased). Although the Sugihara’s did not personally save Joseph or any of his family it was a momentous occasion for them to meet in person.

Joseph Kempler Tokyo, Japan 2000

Joseph Kempler with Yukiko Sugihara in Tokyo, Japan

Consul Sugihara is best known for his heroic act of saving thousands of Polish Jews with Japanese visas during World War II.  Some compare him to Oskar Schindler, a German Industrialist, who also saved thousands of Polish Jews. Schindler’s story is best told in the Steven Spielberg  movie Schindler’s List.

Chinune Sugihara was sent to Kaunas, a temporary capital of Lithuania, to set up a Japanese consul. When the Soviets invaded Lithuania in 1940, many Polish Jews, who had emigrated there after the Germans attacked Poland, were told by the Soviets that they could refugee  to the Dutch colonial islands (Curacao and Dutch Guiana, now Suriname) provided they get transit visas from Japan. In order to get to the Dutch colonial islands the refugees would have to pass through Japan. The visas were denied three times by the Japanese consul in Tokyo, however, Consul Sugihara and his wife Yukiko were compassionate people and the plight of the Polish Jews weighed heavily on their consciences. Despite his country’s decree, Chiune and Yukiko signed the visas, 300 a day for 3 weeks, that saved thousands of Jews. (You can read their story on the Jewish Virtual Library website.)

As many as 6000 refugees made their way to Japan, China and other countries, they are known as Sugihara Survivors.

Chiune Sugihara practised conscientious noncom...

Chiune Sugihara practised conscientious noncompliance in issuing visas to fleeing Jews in Lithuania in 1939 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Altered I: Meet Joseph Kempler

Joseph Kempler was born in Kraków, Poland, in 1928, to a Jewish family. When German soldiers invaded his hometown in 1939, Joseph’s life was completely turned upside down. It would never be the same again. Almost immediately the Nazi regime replaced the Polish government and Joseph and his family faced open prejudice, discrimination and hatred. Suddenly there were specific rules for Jews to abide by, or face punishment. The family business was lost and taken over by new German employers, Joseph was forbidden from attending school, and the family was forced to vacate their home.

So begins the book entitled The Altered I. This is Joseph Kempler’s memoir. It chronicles his early life as a young Jewish boy, growing up in Kraków, Poland. Joseph’s story travels through a peasant village, the Kraków Ghetto and six concentration camps, some of which were the most deadliest camps known. They were: Płaszow, Zakopane, Auschwitz, Mauthausen, Melk, and Ebensee. The story also captures what it was like when Joseph was liberated by the Americans, and what it meant to live in a displaced persons camp.  Along the way, we see Joseph transform from a precocious eleven-year-old, to a callous, numb teenager, who will do anything to ensure his own survival.

Although Joseph was raised with a belief and love of God, while in the camps he becomes a self-declared God-hater. Later,when Joseph emigrated to the U.S. in 1947, he did the most unusual thing by converting to a Christian religion. Why would he do such a thing? Was he really a betrayer of his own people? The Altered I explains it all.

Joseph Kempler and his older sister Dziunka (Judy) Laub

The Altered I by April Voytko Kempler is published by LeRue Press and scheduled for release winter 2012. Stay tuned, or follow, for release dates! To preorder the paperback (scheduled for May 2013) please click here.

To read an excerpt from the book: Altered I Sample-April Kempler

Pat Holland Conner On Writing: How to Write a Book Event

Personal Diary logo from BET

I had the recent pleasure of attending my first ever How to Write a Book seminar hosted by my publisher LeRue Press. I wouldn’t say I had low expectations, I didn’t have any expectations, but this was so awesome and informative that I just had to share what I learned with you.

Three guest speakers explained the various features of writing professionally. Pat Holland Conner started off the event. She explained the benefits of keeping a journal. I’ll be honest, ever since my mom found my personal diary written as an emotional teenager, I haven’t kept a journal. My sentiments were and have been: if you don’t want anyone to know what you are thinking, or doing, or writing about, don’t keep the evidence around in a diary!

My opinion has been changed. Pat went on to explain to us that by keeping a journal we are expressing the emperor/empress of our heart.  Through our writing we express who we are. Journal writing is the precursor to the book inside all of us.

Maybe we have a bad connotation of journal writing. Maybe it’s something our therapist recommended. So, we don’t want to do it. It’s silly. But, have you ever had something within you that you just had to get out? The journal allows you to process more about who you are. Don’t hold back, don’t be polite. These are your intimate thoughts, so who cares? You don’t have to use good grammar, you can even cuss (her recommendation, not mine!), embarrass yourself, be human.

Pat said each of us has an inner critic which can be a friend and a foe.  Then she asked, “Which will you follow to bring yourself into balance?”

Some helpful pointers when undertaking journal writing are:

  • Forget fear of self (shut up the inner critic)
  • Allow the commitment to write. This is the moment you become a writer
  • There is information in our dreams. Keep a tablet and pencil nearby, when you wake up write down the dream symbols. Pat assured us that we would go right back to sleep, however, I haven’t tested out her theory.

Why we should write in a journal:

  • Privacy with self (you will know yourself and become your own friend)
  • Our rich journal entries opens the door to the “higher self”
  • Write to enjoy (remember no punctuation, no editing)
  • Writing keeps our imagination pure (imagine= image in)
  • Honor past memories (first step to writing that memoir!)
  • Hones our senses: taste, touch, sight, sound, smell
  • First approach to healing

I enjoyed Pat’s perspective and I hope you gained something too.

Pat Holland Conner is the author of Doorways to Significance: Finding Peace, Power, and Passion available in paperback and eBook.

Spotlight: Local Reno Music The Schall Adams Band

Moving Guitars

The Schall Adams band is a rockin’ blues powerhouse band, one you should take notice of. They recently won the International Blues Challenge qualifying competition at Great Basin Brewery, in Sparks, NV, and are Memphis bound early next year for the International Blues Challenge. The International Blues Challenge, which helps advance the careers of up and coming blues artists, will be held February 29, 2013 in the Beale Street Entertainment District. The Schall Adams Band will have the chance to win cash prizes and industry-wide recognition.

I first met Schall Adams at an eWomenNetwork event. We exchanged business cards, mine as a local author, hers a local singer heading up a blues band. I quickly Facebook “friended” Schall and learned that she, too, is a local author.  I clicked on her video link and was completely blown away by her voice.

That voice! Smoky, gravelly, and soulful. Her voice naturally lends itself to the Blues genre. The other band members are just as talented: Tony Ghiglieri (lead guitar and vocals), Frankin Spicer (keyboards), Brad Robson (bass and vocals), and Chris Houghton (drums and vocals). I personally the know youngster of the group, Chris Houghton, and Franklin Spicer. Chris, I’ve known since he was a wee baby. His parents are terrific people, who raised Chris with real core family values. He displayed his talent for drums and other musical instruments early on in life, and we just knew he had natural born talent. I’ve come to know Franklin Spicer recently through business dealings. Not only is he a talented keyboardist, but he is a talented webmaster.

The Schall Adams band is a great local talent and one you should not miss if visiting Reno, NV, or if you are already a resident of our lovely city.

Cloudy with an Ounce of Sunscreen: Why You Should Apply Sunblock All Year Round

Protection of the skin through use of a beach ...

October may seem like an odd time for a blog about sunscreen, but sunscreen is my personal passion. It is what I’m known for by my friends. I always say sunscreen is the cheapest skin care there is.

Recently my father had a battle with basal cell carcinoma. He is an HVAC man, and for forty years he worked outdoors on the high rooftops of commercial buildings in Los Angeles, repairing air conditioning units. Never once did he think about sunscreen or skin cancer. One day last year, he noticed a small pimple-like bump on the side of his nose. He picked at and it sort of went away. But not really, it started growing back and got bigger and bigger. My mom and I begged him to get it checked out, which he did. The diagnosis came back as basal cell carcinoma. After some facial reconstructive surgery he looks just like himself again. To our relief he now wears sunscreen every single day.

UVA (ultraviolet rays) can damage cells and lead to melanoma. UV rays are determined little you-know-whats, and can penetrate through glass (i.e., your car, or office), smog, and clouds. So even if it looks like a cloudy day, the sun’s rays are still out there doing their job. Don’t wait for a day at the beach next summer to apply sunscreen, do it everyday and protect yourself from skin cancer.

  • Look for sunscreen that says “broad spectrum” or that covers UVA/UVB
  • Apply sunscreen indoors, and at least thirty minutes before going outside
  • For waterproof sunscreens reapply after 90-minutes
  •  Use a minimum SPF 15
  • Look for these ingredients in your sunscreen: zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone

I personally use Neutrogena brand SPF 90 with Helioplex (a combination of avobenzone and oxybenzone) and Coppertone Nutra Shield SPF 70 (it also has a combination of avobenzone and oxybenzone). Although experts say over SPF 50 it just gets silly, but I take all I can get!

Another benefit of using sunscreen as a daily part of your skin care regime is staving off photo-aging. That is the sun’s version of chronological aging. Aside from my daily walk outdoors(I always wear sunscreen and a hat), I avoid the sun like the plague!

If you want to prevent skin cancer and photo-aging then stock up on sunscreen now and apply it liberally every day.

That’s what I’ve got to say. What do you do to prevent premature aging and skin cancer?


Forty Shades of Green: Ireland Travel Tips

Recently back from a fantastic vacation (or holiday, for you on the other side of the pond) to Ireland, I picked up a few handy travel

Travel tips


  1. Make sure if you are renting a car in Ireland that you get your insurance before arriving. Once there the costs can be outrageous! We neglected this and were handed a bill  of $200 per person. Not a good way to start out our vacation.
  2. Get cash at the ATM in the airport. You’ll need coins for the tolls and parking. Check with your bank to find out additional fees and currency exchange rates. Ours charged us $5 per ATM withdrawal and $5 every time we used our debit card,plus transfer fees and the like (I personally felt nickel and dimed to death). So make that withdrawal count!
  3. Remember the motion sickness pills, especially if you are stuck in the back seat of the car. The roads are extremely narrow and winding. Or, just do what I did, close your eyes and catch up on some Z’s.
  4. Speaking of Irish roads, we purchased an SD card with GPS for Ireland. This was invaluable! We packed our Garmin and once on the road popped the card in and we were driving like locals…almost. The steering wheel is on what we in America are used to as the passenger side, and you drive on the opposite lane. It took some getting used to and it felt like we were on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
  5. It isn’t necessary to tip the hotel maid, however, tipping is a good idea in restaurants. Sometimes it will be added automatically to your bill, but more often than not, it won’t be, so don’t forget to tip!
  6. Pillows in Ireland, or at least all the hotels I stayed at, are very flat (and not very comfortable in my opinion). You’ll want extra pillows if you are used to fluffier pillows, most rooms had two or more pillows, but sometimes we had to call for more.
  7. Buy wine with a screw top. Our hotel only had one and they weren’t sure where they last placed it. We waited about an hour and a half and were about to give it up when the call came that they had located the corkscrew. Avoid the wait and buy screw top wine.
  8. And here is the best advice of all: unless you want to buy whiskey to drink over there (which is always delightful) buy your whiskey at the airport in the Duty-free shop. The tax on whiskey is nearly double the price. For example, one brand was $48 in the liquor store, but only $24 in the duty free shop. Some brands to look for that you can’t get in the States are Green Spot, Yellow Spot, Paddy (a little less refined, but tasty with one ice cube) and Powers. Of course, if you are visiting a distillery, there are always the special distillery reserves that you can’t get any where. You can only purchase them at the distillery. So, the choice is yours. One more little tip: rather than spending the 13 Euros on the Jameson Distillery tour, we opted to spend a little more and get a flight of whiskey’s. This was great fun if you just want to taste the whiskey and not learn how it is made. They pour the triple distilled, the Gold Reserve, the Twelve Year,and the Eighteen Year. Great fun.
  9.  Allow plenty of time at the airport when departing. We were thrown a couple of curve balls where customs was concerned. There will be two security checks and a customs check, this saves time upon arrival back in America, but it cut our duty-free shopping. There was another duty free after the second security check, but it was limited on stock and one of the whiskey’s we were interested in purchasing was five Euros more. Just a word to the wise.

Enjoy your trip, I wish I was going again.

That is what I have to say. What are your travel tips?

Fiction Books Set in Ireland

I’ve recently been inspired to read books set in Ireland. I wanted them to correlate to the places I had been. This is what I came up with and they all sound pretty interesting.

If your looking for Irish themed books here is a reading list to follow:

  • Dublin: A Dublin Student Doctor by Patrick Taylor. Part of the Irish Country series. This story is something of a prequel set in the 1930s. The story centers on Fingal Flaherty O’Reilly, where he goes to Dublin to study medicine.
  • Southern Ireland: The Whisper by Carla Neggars. This is a romantic suspense penned by the wonderful Carla Neggars.
  • Cork: A Cruel Harvest by Paul Reid. An action adventure romance set in 18th century Ireland. Based on a story the author heard about during a visit to his home county. A hundred villagers
    [Howth and Ireland's Eye. County Dublin, Irela...were kidnapped by North African slave ships in the 17th century. Paul Reid was intrigued by the story and recreated it many years into the next century. Prepare yourself for swashbuckling adventure and romance on the open seas.
  • Cork: Girl on the Cliffs by Lucinda Riley. Set on the rugged wind swept cliffs of Ireland a young woman finds old family letters dating back to World War I and uncovers a family mystery.
  • Limerick: Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. This is the memoir of Frank McCourt, the Brooklyn born son of Irish immigrants. His family moves back to the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Part humor, part horror, part tragedy, this is a story not to be missed.
  • Galway: Grania She-King of the Irish Seas by Morgan Llywelyn. This is the amazing story of Irish chieftain Grace O’ Malley. She was a woman ahead of her time. She didn’t sit idly by sewing and waiting for her man to return to home and hearth. Grace fought her battles on the open sea as the pirate queen. Another swashbuckling adventure story.

Happy reading!