Today’s guest author is Larry Deibert. Larry is a Vietnam veteran and is the past president of the Lehigh Northampton Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Macungie, PA. Larry retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 2008 after working as a letter carrier for over 21 years. He and his wife, Peggy, live in Hellertown, PA., where he enjoys reading and writing. Larry’s website is, www.larryldeibert.com. You can contact Larry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 1999, I wrote two books, 95 Bravo and Requiem For A Vampire. Eventually, both were published; Bravo in 2004 and Requiem in 2007.
In 1974, after finding out that I was going to become a father, I thought it would be a good idea to write a book about my military service. Many concerns about the effects of exposure to Agent Orange, a defoliant used in Vietnam, were coming out, and the end results were devastating, including death.
The prospect of dying before my child was old enough to understand what I went through in the service, prompted me to write this story. Back in those days, there were no computers, so I had to type my story on an old-fashioned typewriter, and because errors were apt to occur, I typed several drafts before I had a copy that really shone, one that publishers would not immediately dismiss for errors, I thought.
My book was quite short at about forty-thousand words, but, then again, my experiences were limited. I had never been in combat, so what kind of war story would this be. After placing my manuscript in a plastic folder, where nothing could happen to it, I began seeking a publisher. Over the course of several months, I submitted my book to twenty-three publishers, utilizing hard copies and snail mail. Fortunately, I had a friend who worked in a printing office, and he was able to make all the copies I needed.
After sending them to the publishers, I waited various lengths of time for responses, receiving twenty-three rejection letters, finally giving up, thinking I had no talent for writing.
Fast forward to 1999. I had been involved in Vietnam Veteran groups for about ten years, hearing the stories of many combat and non-combat veterans. Some of the stories became a burden to carry, and I was advised by an Edgar (Allan Poe) winning author to rewrite my story, adding what those veterans shared with me, fictionalizing the book. I also wanted to tell the stories of what the nurses had gone through. In 1993 I was a technical advisor for a play titled Piece Of My Heart, based on a book about women veterans. One of the events during our Lehigh Northampton Vietnam Veterans Memorial weekend, was the second time I saw the play, especially proud of my daughter as she portrayed a nurse. It was the only play she ever did, saying, “Dad, I don’t think I could ever do another role as satisfying as this was.” I began to type the book on my word processor, and later, on a computer. The process took many months, and one-hundred-and-forty-three-thousand words later, completed my manuscript.
As I searched for a publisher, now being able to send digital copies, I began to write a second book.
95 Bravo was published as an e-Book in 2004, by Writer’s Exchange E-Publishing, and in 2009, the paperback was released. The rewrite came after my wife, Peggy, read the paperback. She felt that there was entirely too much unnecessary information in the book, and she wanted me to focus more on the protagonist’s love interests, making the story more female friendly.
This rewrite was relatively easy, because it was a simple matter of reading it, cutting out the unnecessary stories and when I finished, I had cut nearly twenty-five thousand words, and tightened it up quite a bit.
Late, in 2009, I self-published it with Lulu, and years later, with CreateSpace. And finally, Kindle Direct Publishing. The new title became Combat Boots dainty feet-Finding Love in Vietnam. That title came about after a co-worker of mine read the manuscript, finding that my female lead had dainty feet. He offered that I should use that in every proceeding book, which I have done.
While waiting for a publisher for 95 Bravo, I had the itch to continue writing; the juices were flowing.
Having always been a vampire fan, Bela Lugosi scaring the beJesus out of me when I was a kid, and seeing many vampire movies after that, I had come up with some ideas of what my vampire would ‘look’ like. In the 60s I became a fan of Dark Shadows, a daytime soap opera that featured a two-hundred-year-old vampire, Barnabas Collins. During my twenty-two months in the army, I was unable to watch it, so my sister sent me weekly synopses of the show. Many years later, a new TV Network, SiFi ran the entire series again. I enjoyed watching the shows I had missed. A second Dark Shadows was released about twenty-five years later, and I also enjoyed that show.
I never quite believed that a vampire, a dead creature, could be destroyed by driving a wooden stake in his or her unbeating heart. Why would garlic affect a vampire? Can a vampire actually see its reflection? Do vampires eat? Why can’t they walk in the sunlight and be twenty-four seven killers?
Coming up with my own ideas about these subjects, I began the writing process, my fingers flying over the keyboard. I probably wrote the manuscript in about three months, ending up with ninety-three thousand words, and change.
I found a publisher, Mundania Press, in 2007, and after the manuscript was edited and an amazing cover created, my book was published. Sadly, they did nothing as far as marketing was concerned, and my sales were not great. I got my rights back, and figured that someday I would rewrite the book, not caring for some of my character’s names and the story needed a little work.
For months I had been searching for the disc or flash drive that contained the manuscript, but I had no success. I tried photocopying the pages of the book, printing them out and writing as I read the page. That was a horrible experience. In May, I found the answer. I used the dictate feature on Word and began to read my entire book aloud, seeing the words appear on paper. Technology is amazing. After completing a hard copy, I began the process of editing, which is not my forte.
I purchased a program-Grammarly-and after dictating a chapter, I had to move the chapter from Word to Grammarly. After correcting the piece, I had to copy it back to Word, with every paragraph indent disappearing. That gave me an opportunity to reread my work again, and after completing that task, I used the Word editing program.
On July 20th, I finally finished the dictation process and the two editing processes. My manuscript is now in the hands of an editor, and I look forward to giving the story one more read before my wife, who has been the final reader of each book, gives it her once over.
When I was little my parents packed my brothers and sisters and me into the back of a huge station wagon and headed to Palm Springs – in August! We’re talking 110 degrees in the shade. We didn’t have air conditioning in our car and the big six motels we stayed at had window air conditioners, but there was always a pool to cool us off. It was during one of these trips that I had my first taste of what would become an obsession with suspense and thriller fiction. It was the first time I surrendered to the suspension of disbelief.
In those days there were no freeways from Long Beach to Palms Springs, so it was a long drive. On that particular trip, there was a radio-play about a man who was eaten by army ants in a jungle. It was terrifying. Even worse, my parents never flinched. They looked like zombies staring at the endless ribbon of road. My brother turned his head to look at me just as the man on the radio screamed, but it was so dark all I saw were his glittering eyes. I was literally mute with terror. I had bad dreams for a month. I LOVED IT!
This week my brother sent me a link to that radio-play. Listening to it again not only made me feel like a little girl, it made me realize there were reasons I was caught up in the story. The characters were well drawn, the place was perfectly described, the suspense built incrementally and climaxed in a scene so terrifying I felt I was there. Bravo, to the writers and actors.
When it’s dark tonight, click the link and listen. I bet you’ll get a shiver up your spine too.
P.S. This radio-play was produced in 1957. I was 5 years old. Yike!
I had planned to have completed the third post in my “How to Maximize the SEO Potential of your Website Images” this month, but things got a bit derailed for me when my mom’s health took a turn.
Instead, I found myself sitting in her nursing home room with lots of family and nurses coming and going at all hours. Even though I lugged my backpack back and forth, I never pulled out my laptop. I couldn’t write. No quiet, no time, and my mind was just mush.
How did I come up with this post, then?
I rented a car to drive home and had over 6 hours by myself. So I made good use of the time with my handy voice recorder in my Notes APP where I preceded to share my thoughts about all that happened.
I’d talk until I had nothing, then turn up the radio and sing a song. Then more would pop in my head and I’d talk some more. There was a lot. I hope to edit it and share it some day, but right now it’s pretty raw.
And once I got all my thoughts about my ailing parent and all that comes with this chapter of my life expended, my mind started to open up on my work in progress, and blog posts, and ideas for social media, and….I think you get the idea.
Remember, I had six hours.
And I probably could’ve used more.
It was green. And small. And quite cute. It made me smile, which was good because I needed to balance out the tears that kept flowing every time I thought about my mom and all that transpired.
The rental car guy even joked that no one should hit me because they couldn’t see me.
I found myself wanting to have good driving behavior because I was the only green car on the road.
I stood out.
When I stopped for a snack, I smiled. Whenever I changed lanes, I smiled. When I stopped for gas….yep, I smiled.
I find a smile leads to a grateful heart. And I am immensely grateful to have had my mom in my life for as long as I did. Yes, my mom is no longer with us, her body no longer mangled and in pain. And she is finally reunited with Jesus and my dad. And that makes me grateful, which makes me smile. Or maybe it’s the other way around. It makes me smile and then I feel grateful. Both ways work for me.
I wanted to share a poem I wrote last year in her honor. It’s all written in one syllable words, which was quite fun to put together.
To be a mom is hard work. More than I thought it would be.
It was not till I was in the role, did I know by how much.
The trials. The hurt I take on for my child. The times I have to stay strong.
Now that I know, I want to say thank you to my mom.
For all she did. For all she gave. For the love she gave me.
Her words were kind, she backed me up when I had tough days.
She taught me how to read my bible and pray.
Her love meant more than just words to me.
She poured her heart and life into all I did.
She had pluck, pep and punch. She shared in my joys and woes.
She was there for me through it all.
She told me I made her proud to be my mom.
She held my hand. She hugged me and told me she loved me. I didn’t doubt it one bit. I knew.
My mom did cool things. She was fun. She showed up to all my acts and cheered me on.
I was in awe of her and looked to be like her when I grew up.
I hope I am.
She told me she loved me, hugged me, prayed with me.
She is my mom and I love her. And I hope she knows how much I thank her each day.
Thank you, Mom
Love you Mom.
Exactly a year ago my blog post here at A Slice of Orange was called “Writers Write. Oh, Yeah!” It was about my efforts to get my mind back on track for writing after I broke my knee–and I was becoming at least somewhat successful.
So why is this post titled “Writers Still Write”? Because I’m at a different stage of my career, yet I’m once more concerned about my writing and what’s next.
You see, I just finished a manuscript that is currently in the hands of my beta reader. I believe it’s the first manuscript for which I ever had to ask for a deadline extension—mostly because of several edits coming in quickly from another publisher as well as travel and family plans. I intend to jump right in and get it ready to send off as soon as I receive comments.
The other strange thing? Recently, I’ve had a lot of deadlines to meet . . . but this is the last story I’m currently under contract for. That’s become unusual—particularly since I have four books being published this year!
And so I’m wondering what’s next.
I haven’t had a lot of time to work on new proposals lately, though I do have some ideas I’m submitting. Plus, just for the fun if it, I’m working on an idea for a story, possibly a series, that’s outside my current realm of cozy mysteries and romantic suspense.
Will it work out? Who knows? But . . . yes, this writer is still writing and giving it a try. And though I’m pretty much only traditionally published, I’ll also consider self-publishing.
I’d love to know how many of you who are reading this also have stepped outside their usual, established genre(s) and tried something else—and what’s happened.
Meanwhile, I’m giving my subconscious some new orders–or at least the kind of order I haven’t focused on much lately . . . like do something different and do it well!
Small mobs of kids surrounded our garage every Halloween when my husband carved pumpkins, not because he was especially artistic, but because he used a sawzall to carve them, and pumpkin insides and seeds sprayed everywhere while he worked. Our sprinkler system had “more power”, and when my mixer broke while I was making a birthday cake, Hunky Hubby came to the rescue by inserting a mixer beater into his electric drill. For years our three boys, took turns hiding a large plastic rat…in the dryer, in the pantry, wherever they thought it was most likely to scare me. If I left my phone unattended they would change their brother’s names on my contact list to things like ‘Ugly’ and ‘Creep’ and their own names to things like ‘Mom’s Favorite’ or ‘The Very Best Son’.
If this sounds like a season of Home Improvement, I thought so too. Hunky Hubby and the boys would prefer to eat meat off the grill and watch Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, while I wanted to see manners at the table and watch The Sound of Music. I could have written several seasons without making anything up.
In fact, of all my writing regrets, I most regret not writing an episode of Home Improvement and submitting it before the show ended.
So what is your biggest writing regret? Do you have one? Have you ever felt like your life was a sitcom, or tv drama and wanted to write a script?
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