Liz Tolsma – The Story Behind the Story – Part 1 of 2

Shannon here: Historical romance author, Liz Tolsma shares the inspiration for her latest release, Snow on the Tulips. Bonus – Liz will be here tomorrow also! Comment on any post dated August 16 – 17 to get your name in the drawing for a copy. Deadline: August 24th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Liz:

Liz TolsmaSnow on the Tulips by Liz Tolsma

My father’s cousin, Kay vander Meer, was married on May 9, 1940, in the Netherlands. She and her new husband spent their wedding night in a town on the German border. When the Germans invaded in the early hours of May 10 and the fighting broke out, her groom, a member of the ill-equipped Dutch military, left her to join the battle. He never returned. 

On April 11, 1945, in the town of Dronrijp, Friesland, Netherlands, the Nazis drove fourteen men along the streets to the edge of the Van Harinxma Canal. Twelve of these men were Resistance workers. The other two were collaborators. They had been arrested in Leeuwarden, a larger city further north, and transported to Dronrijp. In groups of three, the men were brought to the water’s edge and executed. They were shot in retaliation for the Dutch Resistance sabotaging railroad lines further north near Leeuwarden, causing a Wehrmacht train to derail cars. 

The Germans were very nervous because Allied planes were in the air when they arrived in Dronrijp. Gerard de Jong, though wounded, survived by playing dead. Later, some of the town’s men, including Ynse Postma and my dad’s cousin Johan Feitsma, found Gerard and took him to my Aunt Hiltje’s house where she nursed him. Dronrijp was liberated only days later. Every year while my aunt lived, Gerard visited her on her birthday. Even after she passed away, he brought flowers to her grave. 

Days later, the Germans fled most of the Frisian towns without a battle as the Canadians closed in. However, they congregated in and chose to fight for Pingjum. I fictionalized the battle for the bridge there that took place on April 15-16, 1945. 

Nijmegen, Franeker, Leeuwarden, and Achlum are all real towns. Franeker does boast the famous Eisinga Planetarium. 

The story of the execution became legend in our family. My father visited the site in 1978. As he showed us the slides he took, he told us the story. We couldn’t believe our family endured such trials during the war. Nor could we believe their bravery. I wrote this book to preserve the stories of people like Gerard, Ynse, Hilje, and Johan and the many, many others who labored and gave their lives without fanfare so that this generation could enjoy freedom. May we treasure it.

About Liz: Liz Tolsma has lived in Wisconsin most of her life, and she now resides next to a farm field with her husband, their son, and their two daughters. All of their children have been adopted internationally and one has special needs. Her novella, Under His Wings, appeared in the New York Times bestselling collection, A Log Cabin Christmas. Her debut novel, Snow on the Tulips, released in August of 2013. When not busy putting words to paper, she enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family. Please visit her blog at www.liztolsma.blogspot.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter (@LizTolsma). She is also a regular contributor to the Barn Door blog. 

About the book – Snow on the Tulips:

A stranger’s life hangs in the balance. But to save him is to risk everything.

The war is drawing to a close, but the Nazis still occupy part of the Netherlands. After the losses she’s endured, war widow Cornelia is only a shadow of the woman she once was. She fights now to protect her younger brother, Johan, who lives in hiding. 

When Johan brings Gerrit Laninga, a wounded Dutch Resistance member, to Cornelia’s doorstep, their lives are forever altered. Although scared of the consequences of harboring a wanted man, Cornelia’s faith won’t let her turn him out. 

As she nurses Gerrit back to health, she is drawn to his fierce passion and ideals, and notices a shift within herself. Gerrit’s intensity challenges her, making her want to live fully, despite the fear that constrains her. When the opportunity to join him in the Resistance presents itself, Cornelia must summon every ounce of courage imaginable. 

She is as terrified of loving Gerrit as she is of losing him. But as the winter landscape thaws, so too does her heart. Will she get a second chance at true love and learn to depend on the Perfect Love that drives out all fear? Or will her new love be snatched away before it has a chance to bloom?

Come back August 17th for a bonus: Liz’s character interview!

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