Saturday, December 19, 2015

Writing Time

All authors seem to have a different method when and how they arrange a time to write. Some write a precise number of hours at a certain time each day. I am not that disciplined, but I can see where this would help a writer to consistently create work. I cannot follow this framework, especially at this time of year. Holidays mean family and friends, visits, long to-do lists, and keeping up at work. Plus, other life events intervene, and these must take precedence.

Besides, I have to have a story sizzling in my mind to stay working on it until it reaches a fairly complete stage. Right now, three are bouncing around in my brain, but my logical and creative viewpoints are arguing about how to make them different, how to make them suspenseful, and how to make them interesting, so the developmental stage is dragging on. Plus, two finished manuscripts are waiting, in need of a final revision. Yet, it seems like I haven't really written in months, and I’m not sure this pre and post-production stuff counts. As of now, actual writing will have to wait until after December 25th, but this time of year is productive in other ways than writing—it does stimulate my imagination.

All this separation from creating manuscripts is useful. As much as fiction writing is all in the mind, the details that make the story connect with readers depend on an author’s interaction and experience with others.

Anyway, I usually write best in summer, so when I'm stuck on details and plot, I can go walk or garden both of which busies my body but allows my mind to zone out and then focus in.

Skye Taylor
Diane Bator
Beverley Bateman
Connie Vines
Anne Stenhouse 
Rachael Kosinski
Marci Baun
A.J. Maguire 
Bob Rich     
Hollie Glover
Judith Copek

Friday, December 11, 2015

Monday, December 7, 2015

To Honor a Pearl Harbor Survivor

Johndean Jacobs
An excerpt from my Dad's account of December 7, 1941. I'm very glad he survived.

Hickam Field -- US Air Force Base, middle of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Sunday morning, December 7th, I arose early and after breakfast, I went to the orderly room to type some letters. The orderly room was the headquarters of the squadron, one officer for the commander and the Adjutant, another for the 1st sergeant, the clerk typists (me) and a file clerk. I was now officially not going to radio-gunnery school. I got a small promotion and was now a ‘paper pusher.’ I didn’t enlist to push paper. I was going to fly! Ride in an airplane. Be a hero. Boy, was I dumb.

Shortly before 8 o’clock, I heard some explosions and felt the building shake. This was a large building. Living quarters for a thousand men, and a center mess hall for feeding twelve thousand each meal. Believe me, I had spent a solid month on KP, I knew how many men ate there. I ran outside to see what the commotion was, and saw fighter planes buzzing all around, and what sounded like firecrackers. Then I saw the rising sun emblem and realized they were Japanese. My god, they were trying to scare us with firecrackers like they did the Chinese. Ha!

Then I saw some tracer bullets fly across the field and hit the hospital, a quarter-mile away. And, out of the corner of my eye, I saw four or five guys running around the flag pole suddenly fly apart into pieces like ragdolls. I turned, ran inside to alert the guard. The phone was dead but the field phone rang. “This is Colonel Somebody or other, who am I talking to?”

“Jacobs, Johndean, Private, 16012660.” Boy, was I military. Also dumber than hell. “Private Jacobs, this phone is your post. This is war. Leave your post and you will be shot. Orders will follow.”

Suddenly a bomb blast blew in part of the outside wall of the office. I pulled the staples holding the wire to the baseboard around the walls and took the phone outside into the hall. Now I had two walls between me and the outside. I could still hear the firecrackers overhead and decided it was bullets striking the copper-clad cement roof.

Later, while on Guadalcanal, the only notice of bombs falling was the sound of them whistling through the air. I could tell within a small area just where they would fall. I knew if I should roll out of my cot into a slit trench or go back to sleep. One night I stood up and watched one fall, then heard another one close, and I hit the fox hole. I immediately popped out and… all hell broke loose. I slammed back into the hole and then stuck my head out and, low and behold, there was another string of firecrackers floating down with a paper parachute. Ha! Scared me just as they did the Chinese!

I could still man the phone and see out the doors of the building. I saw a fellow running zig-zag across the parade ground holding a World War I helmet full of beer. Seems the Snake Ranch, the beer hall, had been blown up. A Jap plane was zig-zagging right after him. He must have made it. I saw him a week later, still alive; sober, but alive. He was one of the outcasts or one whose parents paid for him to stay in the Army in Hawaii. There were quite a few of them around. They all got a monthly check, with a bonus to re-up when their enlistment was up.

One of the new men ran in one door and a bomb blast blew him across the hall and out the other door. Lt. Workman, the Adjutant, told a couple of fellows to take him to the hospital. He sure looked dead to me, but they picked him up and ran out. Three or four men ran in and wanted mattresses from the supply room that was in the center of the room. It seems they had broken into the armament room and had a 30 caliber machine gun with bullets out on the parade ground. Well, the Japs let them get all set up with the mattresses for protection and blew men, mattresses, and all away. They dropped daisy cutters on them—anti-personnel bombs that exploded just above the ground and either cut you all up or killed you, usually both.

The First Sergeant of the 72nd Squadron ran by pointing and shouting, “Get out, get out, bombs overhead.” Willie Workman made a dash outside and dove under some burning cars in the parking lot. He got shrapnel in the ass and a Purple Heart. Corporal Jack Reynard rushed out and dove behind the bushes next to the building. Shrapnel took off the top of his head. Purple Heart. Posthumously. He had replaced a hot-shot serial gunner as Charge of Quarters that morning. Later, we did get up three of our B-18 bombers and when they pulled up into formation, the hot-shot shot up the tail of one of our own planes. Claimed he saw a Jap plane out there. No one else did. I don’t remember him after this, maybe they dumped him.

The Squadron Commander rushed in and slid down the wall beside me, real scared looking. “Hell, Captain, wait ‘til our fighters from Wheeler Field get up.”

“Oh haven’t you heard? There is no more Wheeler Field,” he sobbed. My, I did, too!

He didn’t smoke, but I offered him one of my Camels. He took it, and between us, we smoked up two packs in about two hours…

The bombing slowed, and he told me that he relieved me of my post and to get out if I could. So, out I went. Across the parade ground, I saw a guy trying to stick an arm back on and an older fellow trying to stick guts back inside his stomach. On the ramp, our pretty line of airplanes was a shambles. One of the new B-17s that had landed from the States during the raid was broken in half. The huge hangers were all wrecked except one that had hardly any damage. The flag on the pole was shredded. Quite a few bodies and pieces were lying around.

Soon a Colonel came by in the sidecar of a motorcycle with a megaphone shouting the Japs had landed in the mountains wearing cotton khaki clothes. Anyone in CKC’s in one hour would be shot. We all had either CKC’s or civilian clothes on. There was a mad dash to get changed into blue fatigue clothes. Another motorcycle, another Colonel: “Japs have landed on the beach wearing blue coveralls. Anyone in blue in one hour will be shot. More than one GI walked around in his underwear. If some hot-shot had of thought of that, bare naked was the only next move. By evening, guns had been set up all around. There was a theory you had to fire a short burst about every half hour to keep the gun ‘cleared.' Everyone did. Shortly after dark, about five or six Navy planes came in across the ramp flashing their landing lights on and off. Some damn fool cleared his gun, sending tracers near them. Then everyone was shooting at them. I doubt if even one of them made it—looked like a solid wall of fire. I jumped under a barracks to protect myself from falling lead.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Demure Miss Manning -- Amanda McCabe

Harlequin Historical
ISBN-13: 978-0-373-29858-7
November 2015
Historical Romance

London, England 1805

Mary Manning is the daughter of one of England’s diplomats. Since her mother’s death, Mary has acted as her father’s hostess, staying in the background, always remaining polite, and helping her father at all the locations he is asked to go. Right now they are in London, where a vivacious friend of Mary’s leads her through society’s gatherings. Here she meets the man being proclaimed heroic, Sebastian Barrett. Upon first meeting this soldier, his demeanor, along with his extreme handsomeness, draws Mary’s attention. Then, at a gathering, he draws Mary to a balcony. They share a passionate kiss that Sebastian’s friends witness. It seems his romantic move was a wager. Mortified, Mary leaves. At home she finds her father packing, and she is pleased to learn they are going to Portugal immediately.

Lisbon, Portugal, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 1807

Mary has recovered from her humiliation at Sebastian’s instigation, but she has never forgotten the passion of the kiss they shared. She has sworn never to be so vulnerable again. However, at the moment, danger looms. Napoleon is invading Portugal, and the English delegation of diplomats, including her father, are working hard to convince the monarch to move his dysfunctional family and adherents to Brazil for safety. To her surprise, Sebastian is part of the delegation working with her father. He has left the army and is a diplomat in training, now one with some experience. As the court moves to Rio, Sebastian is a great help, not only to Mary’s father, but also to her. She has hardened her heart to his advances, but every touch, every stolen kiss, weakens that resolve.

While the story is largely from Mary’s viewpoint, the reader learns some of Sebastian’s thoughts. He knows what he did to Mary was wrong, but in London he had just returned from war, from seeing friends and comrades dead and dying. Those memories had affect him. In Portugal, he hopes to win Mary back, but if he can’t, he will still see to her safety in the morass of complications involved in moving the court to Brazil. Although he hopes he takes her to safety, there are those who do not want to leave their home in Portugal, and do not want an alliance with the English.

The historical background of this story is well researched and fascinating, and while it forms the background of the story, it does not overpower the story between Mary and Sebastian, partly because they play integral parts (fictional) in that history. Emotional suspense, suspenseful action, interesting characters, and vastly different landscapes set this historical romance apart; in a word: captivating.

Reviewed for Romance Reviews Today

Amazon link