In the movie Alfie, Michael Caine is portrayed as a young dude just wanting to get laid. That was portrayed as the key to his existence. It was, for him, “what it (life) was all about.” Of course, we all know from experience that getting laid was NOT what was important to Alfie. What was IMPORTANT to him was the power he felt in “conquering”. He might as well have been Genghis Khan.
Thanks for your review, Bill! “Books in Review” runs in The VVA Veteran, the bimonthly print magazine published by Vietnam Veterans of America and contains book reviews by writers who specialize in the Vietnam War and Vietnam War veterans.
Dennis Koller’s The Oath (Pen Books, 336 pp. $14.99, paper; $4.99, Kindle) is an exciting and fast-moving mystery thriller. In November of 1966, Tom McGuire was shot down over North Vietnam and spent the next seven years as a prisoner of war, returning home in 1973 as part of the first group of POWS released.
In 2000 McGuire is a homicide detective in San Francisco when an award-winning columnist for the city’s largest newspaper, Ruth Wasserman, is murdered in an unusual manner. After being shot and killed at close-range, her arms were trussed behind her in a way that McGuire immediately realized was the manner used by the guards in that long-ago Hanoi prison.
McGuire soon recalls that Wasserman, while a writer for the Village Voice, along with a small group of female college students, had visited the Hanoi Hilton. While there, the women betrayed a handful of American prisoners…
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Think back to when early humans first began to absorb long, complex stories told orally around the campfire. Now, instead of the campfire, think car; or commuter train; or plane—or wherever you can wear a headset and get the same pleasure as those primitive cavemen did by having a story told to you.
Audiobooks — those first humans were onto something.
I ended an earlier post by mentioning how I accidentally coughed into the microphone as I was recording the first page of my audiobook. It was the beginning of many mishaps that threatened to sabotage the entire production. When I started this journey, I had the notion that reading a book out-loud into a microphone couldn’t be very difficult — after all, I’d been reading bedtime stories to my kids for years and they never complained. Not once. Not even when I coughed. Or screwed up pronunciations. Or started to yawn in the middle of a sentence. My kids never told me I sucked as a reader, so why would anyone else?
Random occurrences. They never cease to amaze me.
I finished my fourth novel in the summer of 2018. It had taken me almost two years to write it. More than double any of my previous novels. By then, I was desperate to get the damn thing in the pipeline.
BUT . . . something held me back. My Muse. She was telling me the story wasn’t right. I tried to put my finger on what it was, but couldn’t. So, I rewrote the story. It was my constant companion for the next two months.
Last week’s post was about my journey to San Antonio to meet, for the first time, my new friends from the Military Writers Society of America, and to pick up their prestigious award for my novel The Oath. This week I want to share with you some of my experiences with the MWSA.
As I said in my blog last week, the MWSA is comprised of interesting and talented people. What I forgot to tell you is what good people they are. Just one example among many: Bob Doerr, the Society’s Veep, and a half-dozen members arrived in San Antonio a day early to put on a free, all-day writing seminar at the Audie L. Murphy VA Hospital. And this was not just a random act of kindness on the Society’s part. Besides sponsoring workshops at other VA facilities nationwide, members are encouraged to donate copies of their books to VA hospitals near where they live.
The 2017 Military Writers Society of America Conference itself featured two days of discussions on various topics. I was invited to contribute to a panel whose title was: “I’ve Written My Book – Now What?” It provided experiences and thoughts by some of us who’ve written books and asked ourselves “what the heck should I do next?” I mostly kept my mouth shut and learned from a very experienced group of panelists/writers: Kathleen M. Rodgers, best-selling author of Seven Wings to Glory and The Final Salute; John D. Trudel, himself a best-selling author of Raven’s Run and The Lone Wolf Agenda; and last, but certainly not least, panel moderator Don Helin, a 2017 MWSA winner for his mystery/thriller Angel’s Revenge. I’m mentioning these books because I think you should put them on your “to read” list. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
As Don noted, the period after completing the manuscript is one of the most frustrating times for writers. And John stated, “I think it easier these days to get published, but much harder to become visible, to get noticed.” Even Kathleen noted that “despite my 40+ years in the writing business, I still feel like a beginner every time I sit down to work.”
The last night of the conference was highlighted by the awards banquet. MWSA recognizes and awards authors in a variety of genres, both fiction and non-fiction. It was a night of good food, good wine and good conversation. Oh, and my tearful acceptance of a Silver Medal for The Oath.
If you are a veteran who writes (or is thinking about writing), or a non-veteran, but who writes about things “military,” then I urge you to find out what the MSWA offers by clicking here: mwsadispatches.com. As we like to say, we’re “SAVING HISTORY ONE STORY AT A TIME.”