Korean War memoir update

Yes, I know I haven’t posted in a while, but I am too busy! The big Korean War memoir project I’ve been working on for over two years is in the final stages before publishing, and I need to get it to the printer as soon as possible for a November release to celebrate both my veteran friend and Veteran’s Day. He is excited, and so are all his friends.

The manuscript has been formatted and I’m proofreading. Unfortunately, I think the font size needs to be a bit bigger. Doc and I don’t have such good eyesight, and probably plenty of older veterans don’t either. Lesson learned, after the first chapter is formatted, get it back from the designer and print it out so you can make font decisions right away instead of after a lot of work has been done. Hopefully because the chapters are short, re-sizing a bit won’t make too much difference.

This week I will open an account with Ingram Spark and transfer over my Lightning Source book, Cherry Blossoms in Twilight. I will be uploading Battlefield Doc to both Spark and CreateSpace when it’s ready. Then I will be better able to answer some new Spark-CreateSpace comment questions on my Resource page.

After 62 years, Doc’s journal notes have been turned into a book—it’s never too late to write your memoir! Well, you do need to still be alive . . . so quit wasting time!

Click over to the new Battlefield Doc page.

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Some stories need to be shouted out loud

What a week it’s been. Besides the ugly news headlines that appear regularly these days, we’ve had the annual remembrances of the terrible suffering caused by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As controversial as the bombings were, we can all agree that war causes great suffering for civilians caught up in it. Gen. Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bombs, was so wrong when he said death by the bombs was “without undue suffering” and “a very pleasant way to die.” At what point does the extent of suffering become a war crime?

Today, on August 9, besides being the anniversary of Nagasaki’s incineration, the world remembers another controversial event—the death of Michael Brown of Ferguson, the now infamous little suburb of St. Louis. Regardless of what Mike Brown did or did not do to result in his death, we should all agree that African-Americans in the US still face discrimination and too many become lost by living amidst despairing poverty. At what point does the extent of suffering become a war cry?

St. Louis is still struggling with the results of Mike Brown’s battle cry. His story was a shout out loud that forced us to listen and think, to argue but hopefully learn something about ourselves, and maybe even to step out of our bubbles and actively work for a better world. Someone I love, a Caucasian-American mother of bi-racial children here, has her own stories to tell. With her permission, I am including this message she posted on Facebook this morning:

* * *

I can’t sleep … It’s 4:00 in the morning on the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, and I can’t sleep. The weight of having a sweet, hardworking, smart and kind, but black husband and two loving, free spirited, happy but caramel babies has hit me like a ton of bricks. It has been coming. When we were first dating at 16, babies ourselves, and people would say, “but I worry about your kids.” Or when a client I was working with would notice the picture of my husband and I gazing into each other’s eyes on our wedding day and say, “but your husband is different.” Or just the other day when I had a brief conversation with a sweet mom, who has heard these same words, and now worries about sending her children to the elementary school I went to and that we recently moved near so my children could attend, because there are no other black kids in this part of the district. Or when a lady tells me she feels like she’s living in Ferguson because there were more black people at her gas station, having no idea the man I call home could have been filling up that day. When someone argues, “All lives matter.” I’m awake. I see it. And it’s exhausting. I do not know if we are brave enough to “be the change you wish to see in the world,” but we’re rolling, full steam ahead. Let’s do this thing.

* * * * * * *

For a beautifully painted story that focuses on hope and healing and is suitable for all ages, you may like the book Painting for Peace in Ferguson by Carol Swartout Klein, an artist who grew up in Ferguson, Missouri.


Show us how through care and goodness
fear will die and hope increase.

-from the hymn “For the Healing of the Nations,” words by Fred Kaan

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Editing and the strategic marketing plan for your book

Battlefield Doc is now with the (real) editor! Nearing the end of a three-year slow journey, this collection of stories by a Korean War medic on the front lines of hell has been occupying my time lately in the big push to publish this November. That month holds Veteran’s Day and is National Lifewriting Month. I am thinking ahead for marketing purposes, to hook into these special occasions. Marketing is a plan, not a last-minute thought.

This morning I spent three hours at a strategic planning meeting for a nonprofit looking for more members and corporate sponsorship. Our facilitators described something like the business plans I am used to creating for book writing and marketing. What is the group’s mission (purpose of the book) and the most important strategic goals to help accomplish this mission (overall objectives needed to reach your specific readers). What are the benefits of being part of your group (why would somebody want to read your book). What initiatives (specific tactics) will you use to reach those goals (readers). Most writers don’t want to think about this, but they should after the first draft is completed or even before starting to write. Answering these questions can help focus the book to its audience and let you add things to the story that will help sell it. This is vital for nonfiction writers, including narrative nonfic writers (memoir authors). Even if your memoir is only for family, you want to consider the specific purpose of the book and what will interest your family.

Battlefield Doc: Memoirs of a Korean War Combat Medic is about the real life experiences of our soldiers beating back waves of enemy (and forced civilians) and how combat medics went with them trying to save lives. I have to target readers who want to know details of grunt soldier’s lives, so nobody leaves a bad review because we didn’t include what President Truman did or didn’t do or how awful General McArthur was at that time. Enough books exist about the history and politics of the Korean War, we want to offer something new. A business (strategic) plan helps identify how your book can stand out in the crowd.

As for editing, I am a ferocious editor, but this book was extremely difficult to put together from a stack of handwritten journal notes, the stories separated and with no dates. My veteran friend and I have picked the manuscript to pieces, so we both are blind to errors now. Our eyes see what they want to, not what is. I sent the “final” draft to the editor and also gave a copy to a friend who loves military stories. She is my beta reader (test reader). Within hours she had suggestions to make the important intro chapter read better (no typos—yay!). Never underestimate the importance of a second (and third) pair of eyes.

What is the purpose of your memoir? Why are you writing it and what will readers get from it?

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