Free Giveaway: Signed Paperback Copies of The Heidelberg Ghost and Menschenring

Quick Announcement

I’m holding 2 free giveaways at Goodreads this weekend for 3 signed paperback copies of each of the following books:

The Heidelberg Ghost


The German Edition of Human Circle:


Since the new editions have different covers, this is the last chance you can get a hold of paperbacks with these covers.

The giveaway ends Monday, 24 March 2014.

You can enter the giveaway by clicking on the respective buttons below. Sorry, due to postage sticker-shock after the last giveaway, I’m limiting this one to U.S. residents only.

Good luck, everybody!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Heidelberg Ghost by Nickie Cochran

The Heidelberg Ghost

by Nickie Cochran

Giveaway ends March 24, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Menschenring by Nickie Cochran


by Nickie Cochran

Giveaway ends March 24, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


Giveaway Winners Update 

The Heidelberg Ghost winners are:

  • Brenda A.
  • Debra B.
  • Susan C.

The Menschenring winners are:

  • Christopher P.
  • E. T.
  • Debbie W.

Congratulations to all the winners!

I hope you enjoy your book,


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Sneak Peek – Grumpy Poltergeist

Nickie_sm-webTo all my lovely fans: I know you’ve been waiting, so I won’t keep you in the dark for much longer. Many of you have asked me when the next book of the Do you spook German? series will be finished. Well, I’ve been working hard between my day job and night-night time to get the next manuscript written – and I’m almost done with the first draft. In the meantime, click here for a special sneak peek.


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Halloween – A Short History


Halloween – What it Really is

Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve is celebrated on 31 October, the night before All Hallows’ Day, also known as All Saints’ Day.

All Saints’ Day is a Christianized feast that is derived from Celtic harvest festivals and Scottish pagan festivals of the dead. Today it is a Christian holiday, in some countries, set aside to remember the ones that are no longer with us.

In Celtic origins, Halloween represented the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It was also a time when spirits and fairies could visit our world. Many loved ones of the deceased usually prepared a large feast and added extra place settings at the table for their visiting spirits.

The Need for Disguises

However, All Hallows’ Eve and All Hallows’ Day was seen as the last chance for the dead to take revenge on the living. For that reason, beginning in the 18th century, many people disguised themselves, so they would not be recognized by their departed enemies. Also, to ward off evil spirits, many communities used bonfires in their rituals to scare witches and to deter harmful entities.

Trick-Or-Treat Anyone?

Around the 19th century, groups of children or the poor walked door to door, singing songs and saying prayers in exchange for food. This tradition may not only come from the Celtic tradition of hiding from evil spirits, but also from the Christian tradition of souling, where people baked and shared soul cakes. A soul cake is a small round cake, representing a soul. People believed that every time a soul cake was eaten, a soul was freed from purgatory.

Jack, the Devil, and the Turnip

In the 17th century, strange lights flickering over peat bogs, were called will-o’-the-wisps or jack-o’-lanterns. In the 19th century, the Irish and Scottish used carved lanterns made of turnips and mangelwurzels and use them during All Hallows’ Eve and All Hallows’ Day. Some claim that the carvings of grotesque faces represented spirits or goblins, others claim that they represented Christian souls in purgatory.

However, there are many stories about Jack of the jack-o’-lantern, who tricked the devil and is now wandering in the realm between heaven and hell, lighting his way with a lantern made of a carved turnip. Here’s my favorite.

Halloween in North America

Since the Puritans were strongly opposed to Halloween, this tradition did not emerge in North America until the mass immigration of the Irish and Scottish in the 19th century. By the 20th century, Halloween was already so wide-spread, that people of all social, racial and religious backgrounds were celebrating the event from East Coast to West Coast.

Halloween in Germany

When I was a kid in Germany, I only knew Halloween and trick-or-treating from American movies, such as E.T. and American TV shows, that were broadcasted in German. One October in the late 90s – by then I’ve already lived in the States for several years - I received a care package from my parents in Germany. To my surprise, it included eye-ball gummies and other Halloween candy. Delighted and confused, I made a long-distance call to my mom. She said that Halloween had caught on over there and many of the stores now carry Halloween candy and monster costumes in October. Also, Halloween parties for kids and grown-ups are becoming increasingly popular. Hahaha, just what we Germans need – another reason to party!!!

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Mandatory Sweep-Week or Kehr-Woche


Kehr-WocheThe dreaded Kehr-Woche is a thorn in many renters’ eyes, who live in a multi-family apartment building in Germany. Common areas, such as stairwells, laundry rooms, basements, and sidewalks have to be cleaned eventually, but by whom?

The Solution

That’s where the Swabians in the late 1500s had a brilliant idea how to hold tenants responsible for cleanliness and order in the common areas and the front of the buildings they lived in. Every week, usually on Saturdays, the tenants of each apartment take turns sweeping and mopping the stair-wells and do other chores that is stipulated in the rental contract. Usually a sign is hung on the door of whose turn it is to do the honors that week. (Today, a simple schedule at the entrance of the building serves the same purpose).

The Penalty for Lazy Tenants

If a tenant does not comply and neglects to do his or her part, he/she will be frowned upon by the neighbors. That’s really no fun – because Germans know how to stare at people just right. And EVERYBODY knows, who the lazy person is – because the “Kehr-Woche” sign is prominently displayed on their door for all the world to see… When the landlord receives a complaint, a warning is sent to that tenant to catch up on the chores. If the tenant does not respond, a Putzfrau (cleaning lady), or a commercial cleaning team will do the work, and the tenant will be billed for the services.

What about Vacations?

Should a tenant be on vacation during his/her turn, it is their responsibility to arrange for trading turns with a neighbor, or have a friend help out. Should no-one be willing to step in, the tenant has to pay for someone to do so. Therefore, it really pays to be on good terms with your neighbors.

Real Life Experience

When I was a kid, we always lived in multi-family houses. I can remember how my grandma or other neighbors where on their hands and knees cleaning the steps of our 3 story apartment building. Personally, I would’ve just grabbed a Swiffer mop and be done with it…

I still recall how my grandparents were complaining about certain tenants not doing their part. “She didn’t clean the stairs again!” was something I heard on a regular basis.

Also, when I went out to play on a Saturday morning, all the men of the street were out, sweeping the sidewalks. Funny, I just realized how hardly anybody sweeps a sidewalk here in the States. Come to think of it, when the driveway needs cleaning, the American way is to point a garden hose to the ground and spray that sucker down. At first, I used to cringe at the thought of wasting that much water, where instead, I could just take a big push-broom and be done with the task in 10 minutes. But I have to admit, I’m guilty of occasionally partaking in a nice hose-down of my own driveway on a few hot and sticky Alabama afternoons.

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FYI: Huge E-Book Sale At Smashwords

Just wanted to let you know that if you’re an avid e-book reader, has their annual July Summer/Winter Promotion starting today, which runs, well…, through the month of July.

Tidbit: They added “Winter” in the promotion name for our Australian friends. Yes, Smashwords is available globally, so you folks in Germany can buy your books there, as well.

So what’s the big deal?

Participating authors have reduced the prices of their e-books from 25% -75% off their regular price – some even offer their books for free – for the duration of this event. So, it’s definitely something worth checking out.

Will the e-books work on my device?

The cool thing about Smashwords is that they offer their e-books in a bunch of formats, such as:

  • mobi – for the Kindle
  • epub – for the iPad, Nook, Sony and other e-readers
  • pdf – for your PC
  • plus a few others, but the ones above are pretty much the standard formats.

Any catches?

Like with any e-book retailer, such as Kobo, or B&N, you’ll have to create an account, before you purchase or download an e-book. But don’t worry, it’s free and only takes a few minutes. Of course, you don’t need to have an account to browse their catalog.

What’s next?

Click here to head on over to Smashwords and stock up on some summer reads. I’m participating, so you get to check out my booklist first. Winking smile  Use coupon code: SSW75 at checkout to get The Heidelberg Ghost for a 75% discount. Human Circle is free.

The “Home” tab will take you to the Smashwords catalog to browse through all other titles.

Final Word

I never promote anything that I do not believe in or wouldn’t use myself. Smashwords rocks and I’ve always been a happy with the books I’ve gotten from them.

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