After a dozen drafts, the first of which I started in March, I submitted my manuscript to my publisher this morning. It was accepted without his reading it. Is this guy a sucker or what?
I sent the manuscript to the editor of one my previous books, asking if she would edit the new one and she said “yes”.
I will now send the manuscript to a local historian and ask if she will review it for accuracy and authenticity; I have a lot of WWII stuff in the story. I will pay for the service.
I sent the manuscript to three friends to test the waters.
Now I’m worried.
It’s hard to let go of something that I’ve loved and hated for eight months. I’m worried that it will read like a Sweet Valley High Teen Romance Novel; I’m worried that I attributed a quote to General James Patton when I really meant General George Patton; I’m worried that readers won’t understand why I included a torture scene from Dachau Concentration Camp (it gave me a good ending); I’m worried that the IRS will refuse any of my expenses for the research trip to Europe because the book is a scam; and I’m worried that I used “your” where I should have used “you’re”.
But, if I expect my novel to be published, I have to let it see the light of day and parade it in front of several sets of critical eyes. If there’s a time for humiliation, it’s when it will remain between friends.
The bright side of letting it go for public review is now I can think about seeing my kids at Christmas. That will last about a week until my editor calls, needing a “little clarification” and then I’ll be back trying to figure out why I wrote what I wrote and what I really meant to write. Okay, well, I’ve been here before. She will find things that are opaque that I thought were perfectly clear. She’ll find a character never mentioned before, and it will a character whose name I changed three drafts ago, except for that single place. She’ll find a sentence that has 82 words and an untold number of sentences without verbs. I am in love with semi-colons.
One time, I accidentally deleted three chapters from one draft to the next. I didn’t notice for a month.
One time, I located Pittsburgh in Ohio.
One time, I accidentally deleted the back half of one chapter and the front half of the following chapter, and had put the two remaining halves together. My editor was finding the writing to be a little hard to follow before I figured out what I’d done. That’s one reason to keep all your drafts.
One time, I found 27 misspellings in the final draft because I forgot to run Spell Check. I hate failing on the easy stuff; it’s soooooo embarrassing.
One time, I misspelled my own name on the front page.
One time, I managed to reach the climax of the story in the first chapter, leaving the rest of the book surprisingly dull. It worked out though – I just moved the first chapter to the end of the book.
One time, I reviewed one of my books in print and realized that the blurb on the back cover was from the previous book.
So, I have more adventures to look forward to, but I will console myself with the idea that this is what it takes. If I want to be a writer, if I want to produce books that people enjoy reading, if I want to be showered in millions from my royalties, if I want to develop my craft to a point of satisfaction, then these are the things that I get to do.
I visited the Imperial War Museum in London. The picture on the left is the front of the museum; the big guns are from a retired battleship. It’s a fabulous museum that features equipment and weapons that I had read about but not seen up close. Who knew that they had “soup trailers”, pulled by Jeeps, that carried large caldrons of hot soup around to troop units? They also had the front half of a Lancaster bomber. It’s not as big as our B-17s and the cockpit would be cramped even for me. It was a significantly successful bomber and flying it was supposedly a dream for pilots, but the soup caldrons looked more substantial.
The Museum has a large atrium, about 5 stories tall, in which hung a Harrier fighter, a British Spitfire, a V-1 buzz bomb, and a full-size V-2 rocket. The floor exhibits included a T-4 Soviet tank and a twisted girder from the World Trade Center. Of real interest to me were scale models of the landing ships used to transport vehicles to the beaches of Normandy. My dad’s outfit would have ridden the Channel in transports such as those.
A new addition, the 4th floor led to a multi-story exhibit concerning the Holocaust, the killing of 6 million Jews by the Germans. My son and I had barely enough time to take it in, so I’m sure we didn’t get the full impact, but it had a few hundred pictures of the ghettos, the concentration camps, piles of murdered prisoners, and videos of interviews with survivors. Additionally, taking up a half-room, there was a 3D model of part of Auschwitz, showing where trains of prisoners arrived and were separated into groups of workers and non-workers. The workers were marched away to receive the striped uniforms with various badges indicating their category, taken to barracks, etc., while the non-workers (old men, women, children) were further separated in those that could be useful (women to serve in the factories or the brothels, children to be used for medical experiments) and finally into groups that would be led down the track to the gas chambers and crematoriums.
It was a sobering exhibit and had considerable impact on me. I have seen other presentations of the Holocaust, not to mention Schindler’s List and Band of Brothers, and have seen History Channel and PBS Channel presentations. I had already read about Dachau and the pre-war history of the Nazi campaigns, but being reminded of the horrors of the Nazi genocide was good. It presented an important side of World War II that should never be forgotten.
It’s too significant a chunk of history to miss, so I added a brief reference to the use of concentration camps in my current novel; it fit in well and helped the ending.
I’ve worked on my manuscript every day since coming back from Normandy and England. There was a big rush to add more “meaning” to it and I finally, to be truthful, had to admit that I had lost the story. I was trying too hard to emphasize the change that the main character experiences, and ultimately ended up with cumbersome and complicated words, dangling motives, and disjoint scenes.
I remember writing the blog about “meaning” and “motif” and the sympathy I had for my high school English teachers, but, sometimes, forcing something into a story makes it sound unnatural. Sometimes, it’s better left to the reader to find meaning rather than trying to blare it out.
In an inspired fit of simplicity, I yanked out the words and constructs where I attempted to create literature rather than just telling the story.
I am much happier. I now have told a substantial story of a man who becomes a soldier and follows along as he journeys through World War II and afterwards. There are things that prepare him for it, things along the way that affect him for good and bad, several unexpected happenings, and a finish that gives him perspective that helps him resolve the conflicts he felt.
I think that’s good enough.
I’m letting it sit for a week, will do another read through, and then will send it to my editor to read over Thanksgiving. If she thinks it’s worth publishing, then we’ll write up a contract and she’ll work on it over the Christmas holidays. She’s a high school teacher that does editing for the publisher, so she needs the holiday break to fit it in.
It’s time for a new set of eyes. Stephen King says that you should write the first draft of a new story with the door closed, then rewrite it with the door open, meaning that any story needs to be reworked with other eyes looking at it. I’m happy to move it along.
I have returned from my ten-day trip to London and Normandy, and it was almost everything I had hoped for. It was an extraordinary adventure and my son and I had a great time. In my last blog, I gave a list of what I was expecting, so let me continue in that format.
What didn’t work?
The most remarkable thing was unexpected. It had been low tide in the morning and afternoon, making the ocean almost a half-mile away, and making the beach area around the Mont St. Michel Abbey flat, muddy, and empty. You can see it by looking at the website picture. We had just finished shooting pictures and were walking into the Abbey area to find dinner. As we did, we saw a foot-high wave of water moving up the river (not down). The tide was coming in. When we came out after dinner, all the mud flats were covered in twenty feet of water and the waves were strong and aggressive. It was lapping up against the girders of the walkway we had used to come to the island (see the picture again and imagine how much water it must have taken to fill that area). It was unusual, it was powerful, and it was glorious.
Now, that’s what our soldiers were facing when they were lingering in their boats off the Normandy coast, waiting to land.
As it is with all the adventures I go on, I wanted to go back before I had even left. Maybe someday I will.
I’ve been involved in several things lately.
Regardless of all that is going on, I will try to relax and have fun, plus take a lot of pictures.
Once again, I have written enough of a new book to ask why I’m doing this.
That is, what’s the “why” of my story? What is it that I want readers to learn, or find out, or realize, or to continue to think about after they’ve finished the book? My high school English teachers would have called it identifying the “motif” or the “theme” of what I have written. It’s the “message” of the book.
Accomplishing it is not as easy as it sounds and it takes work to do it right. Some stories naturally progress from beginning to end with the message as clear as a bell; they’re called Fairy Tales. I’ve written before what I went through to find The King of Trash a coherent, congruent ending that contained the message that I wanted, and I’m hoping that my new book won’t be that hard.
I always get excited when I start creating a new story: plot, movement, action, location, history, dialogue, characters, context, conflict, drama, and all the things that show what’s happening and who it’s happening to. The story is the ride I want to experience so I know you’ll like experiencing it, too. I also like getting the story out from beginning to end before I step back to see if I’ve accomplished what I wanted. (I never do; I’m still an incessant rewriter. On the other hand, I find it easier to change and enhance a story than to begin over.)
When I do step back, I can see the various strengths and weaknesses of the story and make a decision about how to reconfigure the story to play to its strengths. The strengths should indicate the message that I’ve targeted. If it does, I need then to make it play from the beginning of the story to the end. If the strength of the story doesn’t really reflect my message, maybe my story doesn’t fit the message. If so, there’s then a decision to be made about whether I should tell a different story, or I should look for a different message.
Let’s assume that I’m happy with the message. I can then ask if my characters behave in the way that build that message. In particular, do the characters change in such ways that they demonstrate the validity of the message? Do the characters “prove” the message?
Once I figure that out, I can address the mechanics. Are the changes consistent with the plot? Do I show my main character changing by putting them in situations that cause them to change? Do I present them options of how to change so that they choose the one that fits? Do I let them crash and burn as they’re learning what fits? Do I portray the supporting cast as exerting the right pressures on the main character to convince them that he or she must change?
I have a hundred and fifty pages or so to show what my characters do when exposed to various situations, are put under different pressures, or react to other characters. Best of all, I’ve got lots of room to show the reasons for the characters’ doing what they do. I cannot leave things to chance. I shouldn’t expect a message to “accidentally” work itself out.
A few centuries of writers have formalized the idea of character change and how it centers the message in a story, but it’s still a surprise to me that I can write fifty or seventy thousand words of a great story and yet find that it’s not entirely clear that the story reflects what I thought was my message.
Alright, I can hear my audience going “Dummy! Why don’t you map out the delivery of your message before you start writing all those words?”
I accept that. But, first, in my mind, I knew the message that was being promoted and when – I just may not have written it down in the right places; and, second, I like giving my characters the freedom to change as the story goes along, and to say things that I hadn’t thought of. I like to start a story and see where it takes me. I may see a “message” developing that makes a stronger statement than what I had planned. It’s already happened early in this story and has made an incredible difference in the plot. There’s a definite interplay between the story I wrote and the message I’m trying convey.
What can I do to help myself out?
Write down the questions that my high school English teachers were asking fifty years ago and then honestly answer them.
- What’s the message of the book?
- How is that message revealed through the characters? No matter what, the message has to be driven by the characters.
- Is that message strongly conveyed by how the main character changes?
- Where are the words that show a character behaving in a certain way; where are the words that show them changing because of such things as conflict, accident, confrontation, crisis, introspection, a magic ring, or epiphany (no miracles allowed unless there really was one); where are the words that show them behaving in a different way, so that the readers know that the character has changed, and that the change they made confirms my message?
- What places in the story show a character gradually changing so that the reader is drawn along with what’s happening and, hopefully, aligns with the change?
There are more questions that need to be asked and I will ask them as I’m doing revisions. My main point is that, in the end, the words have to be in the story. I can be direct, indirect, simple or complex; I can use metaphors or imagery; I can do all sorts of things to carry out the building of a theme or a motif. But I still am the author. Nobody can read my mind. If I want the readers to get something out of a story, I have to put the words in there for them to find it.
In the summer of 1980, Larry McMurtry, Pulitzer-winning author of Lonesome Dove, was sitting in the Dairy Queen in Archer City, Texas, reading an essay by Walter Benjamin, early 20th century German philosopher, cultural critic, and essayist. It was a moment of epiphany, I guess, because McMurtry would later write a book called Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen, but he wouldn’t get around to it for about twenty years.
The subject of the essay was whether “storytelling” as a medium for conveying culture was disappearing, and McMurtry found it most interesting that he was sitting in a Dairy Queen as he read it. Dairy Queens, found in most little towns in Texas, represented a gathering place for local people who come and sit, for one reason or the other, and talk to each other. This communal watering hole, in McMurtry’s mind, represented a substitute for the back porches, family kitchens, or town square benches where people used to sit around, resting from the day, recalling people or events in the family’s or the community’s historical consciousness and sharing them in the form of memories, recollections, or full-blown stories.
This is usually how historians consider American folklore was handed down from one generation to another.
Perhaps true in the past, I’m not sure we currently have any equivalent to the back porches, kitchens, benches, or even the Dairy Queens, that serve as the vehicle for the younger generation learning about the older generation, if for no other reason than back porches (and front porches) are no longer included in modern house architecture. Or, maybe that extended families are no longer much co-located and don’t gather just to visit.
Whatever the reason, it’s worth my asking how much my oldest grandson knows about me, my father and mother, or my ancestors farther up my family tree.
Which, of course, begs the question: how much do I know about the people, places and events of my own family tree?
I’ve been thinking about this is because of the historical fiction novel I’m working on that’s centered around World War II, having taken my dad’s experience as a starting point for my story. My dad kept a list of when and where he was in Europe, from the time he left for boot camp until he returned three years later, and I am using it as a general progression of the novel.
I am kicking myself repeatedly for never asking him about it. It’s true that he didn’t volunteer anything, consistent with other veterans, and maybe he wouldn’t have even with direct questioning, but I wish I would have tried. We even lived a block from a Dairy Queen. I’m not sure my dad ever stepped inside the place, but maybe if I had forced him into a booth and plied him with chocolate malts, I would have gotten something.
As much as I can recall, my mom and dad and their families didn’t do much gathering and didn’t produce a lot of family stories; Only when perusing old photographs did my mom pass on much historical information. I can remember one instance where most of the brothers and sisters (my dad was the oldest of nine) gathered in the back screened-in porch of my grandparent’s house in Oklahoma, sat around on the floor, and spent an hour or so just visiting. I want to say that I didn’t attend because children were not invited but it was probably more a problem of there being no room.
Did they share family stories? Did they go through memories of people they’d known, or grown up with, or remember what their ancestors did when they were all farmers or such? Or, in my wish, did my dad and my two uncles, at least, talk about what they did in Europe or the Pacific during the war?
I don’t know. All I remember is that the evening did not end well, being as I was caught trying to smoke tobacco in a toy pipe, something that broke my mother’s heart.
But that’s a story that I’ve never told and I doubt that my oldest grandson will ever hear.
I was looking through my bookshelf for a book to read (as if I didn’t have enough already) when I found a book written by Ernie Pyle, titled Brave Men. I had not previously paid any attention to it, much less read it. I knew Ernie Pyle was a war correspondent of some note during World War II but that’s all. Reading the introduction, Brave Men consolidates some of his newspaper columns from the invasion of Sicily, through the invasion of Italy, then during a break when he returned to England, and then on D-Day Plus One (he was on the beach the day after the first wave of soldiers went in), followed by the invasion of France up to the liberation of Paris.
I was immediately captivated by the text. The way Ernie wrote and what he wrote about has opened up new insights into World War II. I sent off for Ernie’s War, a broader biographical treatment that looks at Ernie’s life (during the war, he and his wife had a home in Albuquerque; I took a trip to walk through his house last week. It’s now part of the Albuquerque Library System), and then uses excerpts from his columns to cover his time in England before the United States joined the war, during the invasions of Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, and then what little time he had in the Pacific. He was killed on April 18th, 1945 by a sniper on a small island off Okinawa. He was 45 years old.
Pyle was the most recognized United States war correspondent during the war, writing columns while he was with the frontline combat troops, on board a hospital ship, or sitting in the Savoy in London during the blitz (1940-41). He wrote in a very friendly, down-home way that won him the hearts of readers throughout America and especially with the troops that caught his columns in the various newspapers in which he was published. Dominated by personal talks with individual soldiers (he included their names and addresses in his columns), he gave a down-and-dirty, no-punches-pulled, this-is-the-way-it-is view of what men do during war and how they reacted to its brutality.
What he described wasn’t pretty, but it was truthful. Ernie wrote about the Army, the Navy, the Army Air Corps; tank crews, artillery crews, hospital ships, dive bomber crews; Generals, Colonels, lieutenants, privates; warriors, support personnel, repairmen, doctors, nurses, drivers, and engineers, as well as mule trains, Seabees, and his favorite subject, the men in the infantry. And when he told what they were doing, it was by direct observation – he was there when the bombers flew overhead, the incessant noise of the artillery was going off, and watched as exhausted men came out of combat with their souls hanging by threads. Ernie slept in wet foxholes, in the underground shelters in London, in Italian buildings whose roofs and walls has mostly been knocked down by artillery or bombs; he ate C-rations for weeks, sat around small stoves in the corner of tents while it snowed outside, had coffee with thousands of weary men being continually shot at, bombed, and shelled for days on end, who were getting a couple of days of rest before they returned to the line to do it all over again.
His style of writing is what I enjoy most – simple, straight-forward, good English with correct grammar, honest, full of compassion, and given to the whole truth. He wrote like his readers were his friends and, more importantly, that every reader knew someone just like he was describing and wanted to know how they were getting along.
If you have an opportunity to find one of his books, he opens up the reality of men in combat.
I consider writing fiction books easier than writing non-fiction books; readers don’t expect the same level of “truth” from the first as they do from the second. In fiction, if you need a plot development or a character flaw or a sudden relocation to a different place, you just make it up, right?
That’s about half right, in most respects, but writing a good story still demands authenticity in its characters, locations, and events, even if the “authenticity” is constructed. Science Fiction is a good example – readers are ready to believe anything if you’ve done a good job of creating an environment where it seems real.
My mystery books are true to the geography, the location, and the history preceding the events and, for the most part, succeed in making the stories more relevant, believable, and interesting than if they had arbitrary settings with made-up backgrounds. A side benefit is that any “lessons” in a story are more real because they fit into actual events, people, or cultures that the reader can easily identify with. The “authenticity” works because real history is pretty easy to reimagine, both for me and for the reader.
Ah, those were the good ol’ days.
My current project, currently called Teddy’s War, follows two brothers from 1936 to 1945 and uses World War II as a backdrop. The brothers and their journeys are fictional but the story needs to be accurate in portraying the realities of the war and what would have been the true physical and emotional experiences of typical soldiers.
This is whole new territory for me.
I expected most of my problems would concern names, places, events, and objects involved in the story. That is, I needed to use the real names of guns, armaments, tanks, planes, events, military ranks, fighting unit designations, uniforms, equipment, weather, location, geography, and a few thousand other details that real historians and history buffs would expect (and would likely complain about if I got wrong) and that would give me rock-solid authenticity for the ordinary reader. Basically, I knew that I wouldn’t want want the novel to look amateur from the “facts” point of view and I certainly wouldn’t want to get things wrong.
What I’ve discovered is not the difficulty of being true to the facts but handling all the details that makes writing about World War II interesting in the first place.
Did you know that some of the American dive bombers used in Italy were P-51 Mustangs that had special flaps attached to their wings that, when opened, kept the airplanes from going too fast? The modified wings limited the aircraft speed to less than four hundred miles an hour while flying straight down. Any faster and the pilots would never have been able to pull out of the dive. Even at that speed, the pilots blacked out for several seconds during their recovery from the dive.
Did you know that each Army Division had Grave Registration Units responsible for immediately recovering the bodies of dead soldiers, gathering all of their personal affects, establishing written information archives, including maps, and then burying them in mattress covers in temporary cemeteries until they could be reinterred in permanent locations? They were serious enough that one GRU person jumped into Normandy on D-Day with the 101st Airborne to begin gathering the bodies that he knew would soon appear. From day one, he was negotiating with local farmers to buy fields that could be used for permanent cemeteries. He carried quite a lot of cash.
Did you know that, to get fuel to vehicles as fast as possible, the Allies, immediately after the port was captured, laid three pipelines along the ocean floor that went from the coast of England to the port of Cherbourg, France? Establishing a fuel depot was faster than shipping fuel in containers on ships.
Did you know that the “invasion of Europe” occurred not just along the Normandy coast, but also along the southern border of France, in the Mediterranean? That’s where the Seventh Army came ashore. Imagine truckloads of soldiers riding across the beaches of the French Riviera.
I’ve read a dozen or so books, looked at a few dozen maps, watched Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, other war DVDs, and gone through a number of YouTube videos about the history of the war. The first result was my making a career of irritating friends by quoting obscure facts that they’ve never heard nor cared about. The second result was that I stopped working on my book.
I’ve found so many interesting and fascinating details that people should know that the “backdrop” of my story has swamped the foreground. I’m spending more time reading about the war, finding facts, and understanding strategies, than I am writing, while the overwhelming amount of information that I’m enjoying has nothing to do with the story that I started out to tell.
I expect that I will pull out of my tailspin eventually, but I’m going to have to go back to where I started.
I enjoyed reading newspaper columns and books by Erma Bombeck when I was growing up. She was funny, sometimes hilarious, and was always grounded in real life. My mom thought that Erma and Ann Landers should be required reading for teenagers.
I had never heard of Nora Ephron until I read some quotes in a writing magazine. I ordered a couple of books by her and one compendium of her work. At first, I thought she was the successor to Erma, but Nora didn’t have the simple honest amateurism of an Erma. Nora was a long-time professional columnist, her work appearing in a number of newspapers and magazines. She was funny not because she was a comedian, but because of her wit, insight, and identification with the reader. Nora died in 2012 at the age of 72.
I could repeat what I’ve read in the Nora Ephron pages of Wikipedia, but I’ll just recommend reading them yourself. I will, however, entice you with facts: Remember the movies When Harry Met Sally? Sleepless in Seattle? You’ve Got Mail? Julie and Julia? Nora not only wrote or helped write the screenplays for those movies, she directed a couple, earning Academy Award nominations doing it. Her talent was come by naturally: her parents were Hollywood screenwriters of some fame and Nora grew up meeting the movie crowd that surrounded her parents, and, obviously, watched how the craft was done. She knew most of the actors and actresses in Hollywood, and most of the newspaper and magazine elites in New York City; she lived in both places and was definitely in love with big city urbanism.
She was creative, very liberal, witty, funny, and had a definite style when it came to living. She was also well-known as a self-taught chef and many of her columns and books are filled with recipes. The compendium of essays, articles and stories that I read bear witness to the large number of personalities she knew and the decades-long writings that attracted and entertained her readers.
I enjoy her writing. If nothing else, she exudes comfortableness. That is, she’s a person that you might like to find in a booth in some out-of-the-way diner who would share the time with you, excite you, fascinate you, entertain you, all with a laid-back, comfortable way of talking. She was always opinionated, but I get the feeling that, even with a debate level topic, she’d still be a person to whom communication was important – she’d want to say something that would make you want to listen.
As you talked, you’d probably notice that she not only speaks well, but speaks in whole sentences and full paragraphs. Stephen King believes that this skill is vital to writing, that the building block of good writing is not the sentence but the paragraph. That’s where all those words and sentences, the nouns and verbs and linkages, and the fundamental thoughts come together to clearly express what the writer is wanting to say in a nice, concise package.
Listening to someone who talks in paragraphs is very much like listening to someone tell a story – individual words and individual sentences are not enough to draw in a listener. You need full-bodied paragraphs where the words and structure of the language gives you enough time, time, time to get an idea or thought or comment or explanation across.
Nora Ephron knew how to use paragraphs.
That’s the way she wrote and is how we should all learn to write.
My father died in the 1980s. I often wonder what his life would have been like if he’d lived another 30 years or so. I know my mother would have been far happier.
After his death, my mom and I were going through a trunk and discovered a list of dates and place names that chronicled my dad’s World War II experience. It detailed when and where he was located from when he signed up in Ponca City, Oklahoma, until he returned to Ponca City three years later. We also found lists of names of those in his immediate unit and a few photographs of where he had been. He was a ground-based aircraft detection radar operator in the Army Signal Corps, so he was always close to the fighting, but never in it.
My dad was in England for a year then landed on Omaha Beach on July 3rd, 1944, twenty-six days after D-Day. He traveled with the Seventh Army as it progressed through Normandy, and was close to Paris when it was liberated. He went north into Belgium and Holland, and then back down until he was in a little Belgium town call Bastogne. His radar was considered classified, so his radar unit escaped west out of Bastogne as the German army was attacking on the east.
After the Battle of the Bulge, his unit was assigned to Patton’s Third Army and went into Germany. He was in Czechoslovakia when the war ended; he returned home on the Queen Mary in November, 1945.
I was stunned by what the list revealed. I’d never talked to him about the war because, I guess, I never thought to ask. That was a great mistake on my part. I did research on the locations in the list and built a comprehensive map (using Goggle) of his route during the campaign. I also researched the kind of radar he operated and found several on-line sources describing its history and the tactical operations.
From this research, I thought of an idea for a war story.
In January, I started a new novel. It evolved into a love story set against the background of World War II. I never thought I’d write a love story, but the more I got into it, the more it moved that direction. I’ve gotten most of the plot and the scenes mapped out, but I’ve decided that it takes being there to write the realism that the story deserves.
In October, I’m on the way to Normandy. Accompanied by one of my sons, I’m spending time in London to visit the Imperial War Museum and Churchill’s war-time bunkers, and then will ride the train beneath the English Channel to Paris, and then to Bayeux, Normandy for three days. Bayeux is about six miles from Omaha Beach. I’ve scheduled tours to the different beaches, the museums, and the Allied cemetery. We’ll spend another day at Mont Saint Michel, maybe a hundred miles away. Look on the web for pictures; it’s beautiful and unique. Growing up, I had a large poster of Mont Saint Michel on the wall in my bedroom; I never thought I’d see it for real.
From this journey, I hope to find words to describe some of what my dad experienced and that those words will carry over into describing what my characters experience in the story. This is NOT my dad’s story; it is wholly fictional and the characters do not resemble him, but I do want to honor his experience and to portray accurately the substance of being a soldier in war.
The new book should be finished in December and then I’ll start working with my editor to get it into publishable form next year.
Don Willerton has been a reader all his life and yearns to write words like the authors he has read. He's working hard at it and invites others to share their experiences.