That new release I’ve been mentioning…Ta Da! 

My publisher’s graphic artist did a great job of capturing World War II headlines here…headlines and radio news reports became the mainstay of so many during this long, anguish filled time. 

Glenora Carson, the heroine of this novel, spent every evening with her father, straining for word of her brother Red’s ship, somewhere in the Pacific. She’d already lost her beau when the Arizona sank.

Other families, by the tens of thousands, practiced this same ritual. We can visualize them, with supper dishes done, knitting or mending in hand, engrossed in Edward R. Murrow or Eric Severeid’s voice coming to them from far, far away.

Ahhh….how this era grips our souls, for it was our fathers, uncles, and grandfathers who risked their lives on foreign shores.

In this story, we also meet Hank, a quiet, convalescing infantry soldier, badly wounded in North Africa. He’s glad to be alive, and thankful to find work in Glenora’s father’s garage. He never speaks of the war…why would he? But we can rest assured he thinks about it constantly as his comrades in arms still slug their way through Sicily, Italy, and up the spine of the Alps toward Germany. 

The last thing Hank has on his mind is romance…same goes for Glenora.

I hope you embrace this time period as Glenora opens her heart to you…and maybe also to love. One reader has already said, “I want another copy of this story to give my mom for Christmas.” 

Here are some purchase links. This time, besides all the other forms available, a hardback copy is also being produced. (I think just paperback can be ordered right now, but soon…)

This is a much shorter read than my usual…I hope it provides a cozy evening for you, glass of wine or cup of cinnamon tea optional. (:

https://www.amazon.com/Kiss-Again-Women-Heartland-Story/dp/1948679272/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1541781328&sr=8-1&keywords=kiss+me+once+againhttps://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/kiss-me-once-again-gail-kittleson/1129826707?ean=9781948679275

 

 

 

 

November’s Flown In

October partially undressed the flame bush near our back door,

Scattered leaves along the path south of our house…

Shone glory through what brightness remains on the branches,

And created curlicues against blue sky.

The end of October also sent us the BEST photo of our daughter and granddaughter, before the Hallowe’en night festivities in our little town.

Now, November paves the way for my latest release, Kiss Me Once Again, a World War II novella featuring a young woman used to sacrificing her dreams for the cause. Her name’s Glenora, and I’m delighted to introduce her to you. You’ll like this make-do Greatest Generation woman, and applaud her ability to do what needs to be done–even when it hurts.

This includes giving up her ISU scholarship and her dream of being a home ec teacher and grabbing a monkey wrench to work in her father’s garage when her brother joins the Navy after the Pearl Harbor attack. The fateful day the Arizona sank, taking her high school sweetheart with it, Glenora sealed off a portion of her heart.

Since I’m not one to spoil the story, I’ll let you know exactly where and when KISS ME ONCE AGAIN becomes available.

This marks my first plunge into the world of novellas with my publisher, WordCrafts Press, which also published A Purpose True. I’m so grateful to be connected with them–for one thing, the editor is a former Green Beret. You might want to check out their other publications at wordcrafts.net/

 

 

Clouds

My friend Jane posted this fascinating cloud photo from her home in Colorado:
I could study the play of light and shadows for hours –notice those lower dark clouds extending upward, too. Makes me think of a verse I memorized long ago for our sixth grade science fair… “When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars which Thou hast ordained…”
Obviously, that was back in the day when science and Scripture cohabited without rancor. A simpler time, some say.
Not knowing the appropriate technical term for this phenomenon, I turned to Wikipedia and found another photo with a description:

Mammatus clouds in the Nepal Himalayas

Mammatus (mamma[1] or mammatocumulus), meaning “mammary cloud”, is a cellular pattern of pouches hanging underneath the base of a cloud, typically cumulonimbusrainclouds, although they may be attached to other classes of parent clouds. The name mammatus is derived from the Latin mamma (meaning “udder” or “breast”). According to the WMO International Cloud Atlas, mamma is a cloud supplementary feature rather than a genus, species or variety of cloud. They are formed by cold air sinking down to form the pockets contrary to the puffs of clouds rising through the convection of warm air. These formations were first described in 1894 by William Clement Ley.[1][2][3]

So interesting, especially when I’ve been researching the weather of 1944-45, when brutal storms made such unspeakable misery for American troops in the Battle of the Bulge. Picture young men in summer uniforms trapped in those freezing foxholes under enemy fire. Supply lines created a terrific challenge, and without vital winter clothing, their bodies paid a heavy price.

Trench foot and dysentery marked these soldiers, largely 18-22 year-olds from farms and towns all across the United States. While supplies lines halted, they froze. While commanders wrangled, they froze. And when they could no longer function, they arrived at field and evacuation hospitals, where nurses and doctors did their best to care for them.  Some of these medical personnel, like the heroine of the novel I’m working on, had already given several years of their lives to the cause, across North Africa, through Sicily, up the Italian boot, through France and into Germany.

Imagine performing everything from amputations to brain surgeries, back-to-back, for eighteen hours in a row…or longer–in tents. That’s just it, we CAN’T imagine. Maybe that’s why their stories grip us. We want to comprehend how much they sacrificed for freedom’s sake.

Another friend shared an equally spectacular photo of sunset in Mesa, Arizona. Thanks, Machelle! This one adds more brightness and cheer:

 

World War II did finally come to an end, so I have to remember that even as my heroine slogs through the winter of 44-45, a future spreads before her, with love and laughter, good times with family and friends. In fact, two of her comrades from the nurse corps will remain BFFs.

On Skipping a Post, Autumn Joys, and Essential Details…

Boy, is it tough to get back into a routine, even when I’ve only missed one post. So here we go, after a week in the Deep South. Well, deep for me, anyhow! Being with my friend Patti was a joy, not to mention her family…such CUTE grandchildren! My expectations of the weather were fulfilled, hot and muggy, and that proved true of my time in Columbia as well.

But I mo tell ya, honey, the weatherman lied about the temperature in Nashville. It was nippy down there at the Nashville Book Fair! But getting to meet my publisher at Wordcrafts Press and his wife (Mike and Paula Parker), plus several other authors with this company, was worth it. Making new contacts among those who braved the cold and rain to attend the fair–doesn’t get better than that.

So now, it’s back to Iowa,  where it SNOWED while I was gone…not typical for mid-October. Today, though, it’s in the sixties, and the glories of fall are visiting us once again.

A day like this calls for some rich vegetable soup simmering on the stove. OOPS that was before I added the zucchini…

Notice the color difference? This morning our writing group met at South Square here in St. Ansgar, and one discussion point fits here…the difference one small detail can make in our creativity. The addition of zucchini in this pot brightens the whole stew…gives more of texture to the overall dish. I could add some corn, which would also have its effect.

Now that I’m hunkering down with my World War II nurse’s story again, this principle applies. In the first drafts, I may not have taken time to add all of the “small” things…the seemingly insignificant quirks about locale, habits, or sounds and sights. But these elements become vital to the overall picture for a reader.

This type of editing equals fun for me…how can I make each scene stronger, each character more vivid, each challenge more of an obstacle? On Tuesday evening, I traveled to the Nora Springs Library for a book talk, and readers reminded me of some details I’d forgotten I included in the first book of Women of the Heartland. But they remember them…those details make a difference! (Click below for a peek at the series.)

Women of the Heartland

So many readers of In Times Like These agree on one point: Harold, Addie’s recalcitrant husband, should be shot! (His personality must shine through clearly!)

Creating believable characters–that’s what writing fiction is all about, and here I am, happy to be at it again.

Autumn Leaves

It’s been co-o-ol-d here, chilly enough to wear several layers, a scarf and gloves. The other day, while walking out of a brisk wind in the fellowship hall of a nearby church, this hand-crafted sign caught my attention: 

What a great play on words, eh? 

The sentiment also describes the mental state of the hero in the manuscript I’m working on right now. It’s the middle of World War II – November 1944, and things have been VERY bad. How could they get worse, with V-2 vengeance weapons killing thousands in London? 

Well…my hero is a thinker, and he can’t imagine worse any more. In fact, he’s become almost numb–so many mass-casualty events, he can scarcely keep up with them. In his policeman’s role, he lives way too close to them. 

Can you imagine how doubts must have crept into these people’s minds as the war slogged on? Always a hope of victory by Christmas, but one Christmas after another had passed, and still, soldiers were sacrificing their lives for the cause. When would this horror end? 

Maybe that’s why this little sign struck home with me. In all seasons of history, autumn leaves have fallen, and most likely, this will continue. Summer, autumn, winter, spring. And in every century new wars have sprung up, nation against nation. The human family never seems to learn. I don’t know how people survive without the constant of a worldview including an unchanging Creator. 

Outside our back door, a few tomatoes still cling to their vines, while most have been picked and frozen or made into sauces or soup. Our daughter’s kitchen smelled SO wonderful today, with two vats of applesauce and apple butter bubbling away…it’s that time of year. 

Whatever the weather in your area (and in your life,) I hope you find time to enjoy some beauty in each day. That’s what my hero is learning to do. 

September Slips Away

Already. Anybody else feel the transience of the months…the seasons? In our ISU OLLIE  Life Memories class, I’ve been privileged to meet many talented, inspired writers. And what inspires them? All sorts of topics…intriguing people, events that shape the course of lives, family traditions, methods of making-do… In a word, experience.

I dislike saying good-bye to these folks from various walks of life and backgrounds. We were just getting to know each other, but I’m hoping some of them stay in touch. I’d like to see how their memoirs develop and blossom as they nurture words and phrases.

Such a short season together…only three class times, but thankfully, richness knows no timeline. Perhaps that’s true of nature’s seasons, as well. This year’s vivid yellow begonias may wend their way, through memory, into a story. So might the purple potatoes our daughter planted this year…

This variety boasts lovely inner designs, like paisley patterns.

Such natural wonders all around us, and so are the stories we live day-to-day. As Annie Dillard writes, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Viewing our life as memories of specific days to record gives us one story at a time to digest and share with others. I’m grateful that yesterday, our helpful granddaughter spent time with me transferring an enormous walnut crop into pails…would you believe large garbage cans? And here she is, highlighting the spectacular pumpkin in her mother’s garden.

Perhaps sixty years hence, she and her brother will say, “Remember that gigantic pumpkin Mom grew? What summer was that, anyway…?

Spinning…

Look closely at this photo of some fall veggies sitting on my counter to see a metaphor for the writing life:

On the top tomato, do you spy a whitish, fuzzy object? It’s hard to get a good shot of this. Let me have my husband try. 

 

Hmm… maybe a little clearer. Or not…

When I picked that top tomato from our vines sprawling wa-a-a-y out of control, this small caterpillar attracted my attention. Spinning away, in the business of transformation. 

That’s how my days pass–spinning stories, except when I surface to instruct a class, facilitate a writing workshop, or attend a grandchild’s ballgame. On September 10, 17, and 24 this year, I have the joy of interacting with an incredible group of writers at an Iowa State University OLLIE class. Such fun discussions–wish I lived closer! 

Spinning, spinning…that’s my task, weaving the threads of characters’ lives together. Or in the case of the WWII nurse I’m writing about now, discovering how the actual threads of her life carried her through the horrors of war.  Five long years she gave to the effort–the best of her twenties.

This past week, I had the privilege of hearing this incredible woman’s voice in a DVD as she spoke to a group in her later years. Oh my! What a memory she had…what a lovely, intriguing woman. I’m indebted to her daughter, who sent me that video presentation, along with photos and information.

In November, I get to meet this daughter, and possiblly her brother as well. I’ll be facilitating a writing workshop at the Joliet, IL library, and be able to walk the streets Dorothy walked during her post-war life, see her photo albums, touch the many campaign badges she earned…

And it will all center on spinning. 

Interesting that I’m a disaster at sewing, and after several knitting lessons, never did master that precise art.

But I am spinning, always. 

Hurry up and Wait

We’e been enjoying cool nights and mornings in northern Iowa, with more rain than the usual late August-early September. The morning glories are in their glory, climbing all over our weary clematis vines.

I’ve been remiss in blogging, but definitely not in researching and writing. And this week, I became familiar with a new word: festinate.

This word’s early recorded use was by William Shakespeare. He used it as an adjective pronounced \FESS-tuh-nut\ in King Lear, “Advise the Duke where you are going, to a most festinate preparation.”

The Latin proverb festina lente means “make haste slowly.” Shakespeare also used the adverb festinately in Love’s Labour’s Lost: “Bring him festinately hither,” Don Ariano de Armado orders. The verb festinate, meaning “to hasten,” occurs later.

So…is autumn festinating, or will we still have some hot days? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, I’m still working my way up the Italian boot with my heroine Dorothy, a real-live WWII nurse. She’s about the go to the hideous battlefield called Anzio, otherwise known as “Hell’s Half-Acre.”

It seems the Allies hurried up and landed, but then made haste very slowly in claiming the hills around the beachhead. My husband always says, “In the Army, it’s hurry up and wait.” But oh, the suffering the survivors of Anzio endured…

Until next week…don’t forget to smell the flowers still peeping their heads out before the first frost. 

The Awful Business That Goes On…

Believe me when I say that laughter up at the front lines is a very precious thing—precious to those grand guys who are giving and taking the awful business that goes on there. . . . There’s a lump the size of Grant’s Tomb in your throat when they come up to you and shake your hand and mumble “Thanks.” Imagine those guys thanking me! Look what they’re doin’ for me. And for you.—Bob Hope, 1944

This week marks no patriotic holiday, but I don’t think it hurts to once again say thanks to the men and women who earned Bob Hope’s admiration. He knew the difference between the adulation of stardom and the devotion of giving one’s life for one’s country.

But reading his history of entertaining the troops all over the world in several wars reminds us of his bravery too. He and other entertainers risked life and limb going to places fraught with danger. Wonder how many of our modern “stars” would be so courageous.

 Bob Hope with troops near D-Day, 1944

Back in the forties, a long list of actors and actresses, singers, and sports stars not only entertained the troops, but served in the military…Jimmy Stewart, Charlton Heston, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Glenn Miller, and Joe DiMaggio, to name a few. Picture Charlton Heston as a REAL aerial gunner and radio operator.

These professionals joined in “the awful business” that defeated Naziism and liberated hundreds of thousands of people–and it was a horrible process.

So what is my point? Just a general thank-you for what all of these “Greatest Generation” folks sacrificed, since I’m deep in WWII research right now. Gratitude is the key word here, since I’m deep in research right now, learning more about the battles in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and Southern France–campaigns that led to a costly Allied victory.

Because of thousands of unselfish acts, we can enjoy life today. Including photography, and  voila! Your weekly view from our little corner of Iowa. (Hummingbirds do actually sit still once in a while!)

Kindred Spirits

Last week I had lunch with another author, and we exchanged horror stories from writing conferences where we presented our proposals to an editor or agent. Marie told me how she burst into tears right in the VIP’s presence when they made a critical comment…not once, but twice.

Of course, this was years ago, when we were just beginning to believe in our work–and boy, could I ever identify. Once, an editor looked over what I had prepared to win her heart to my heroine’s saga. She sat back and said, “I don’t see any story here.”

For once, I found myself speechless.

Many of us write in obscurity and relative isolation, as do artists in other fields. We get so glued to our WIP (work in progress) that it seems more real than the actual physical world around us. Then to face rejection of what we’ve poured our hearts and souls into…it’s pretty tough.

Because I’m writing about the very real, TRULY tough world of war, I can’t feel sorry for myself for long, though. But it does help to have some camaraderie, someone who understands you’re just coming up for air when you appear out in public. Your pulse may still be racing from what happened in an LCI (Landing Craft Infantry) like this, just off the coast of Sicily in 1943.

It’s a writer’s life–it is what it is, but I’ve learned how much we need each other. I’m grateful for how easy it is to reach out to another writer these days…just type a quick e-mail and write, HELP!

Today, I’m not even going to try tying in Lance’s great photo with what I’m writing. I’m constantly making connections, integrating this into that…This time, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions, but add a hearty, “Thank you, Marie, for taking the time to meet me for lunch!”