Larry Deibert has written fourteen books.
He 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 email@example.com. Signed copies of Larry’s books may be purchased directly from the author.
Today, July 13th, 2020, is my 73rd birthday and I my topic is mortality. I have gotten farther along in my years than I ever thought I would, and this subject really hit me last August.
I took my son to a ball game on his 42nd birthday. Around the eighth inning he said, “Dad, I’m 42 and you’re 72. In 8 years, I’m going to be 50 and you’re going to be 80! What do you think you would like for your 80th birthday?” Without hesitation, I replied, “I’d like to be alive.” I think he was stunned, but I cannot honestly say that I’ll attain that lofty age. I hope I do, and in reasonably good health.
In my life I have done many things that I would never have thought possible when I was younger. I graduated from high school and business school. I went into the army, served in Vietnam, and survived. I married the mother of my two kids. When I was 39 and a half, I lost a great paying job and became a letter carrier, retiring after nearly 22 years in 2008. I helped to create a Vietnam memorial, a lasting tribute to the 126 men from Lehigh and Northampton counties lost during that war, and a place for all veterans to be honored.
In 1974, when I found out I was going to be a dad, I decided to write a book about my limited army experiences, in case Agent Orange would take my life before my children would know me. 23 rejections later, I gave up, and didn’t write again for 25 years. Since 1999, I have written and self-published fourteen books and I am currently working on a rewrite of my first vampire novel.
I think we try to guess how long we might live, based on the lifespans of our parents and siblings. Unfortunately, my mom was 71 and my dad was 76 when they died. My sister is still going strong a month and a half before her 82nd birthday, so I would certainly like to walk in her longevity shoes. One of my mother’s sisters died at 37, and her brothers died at 75 and 92. My dad’s brothers and sisters lived long lives, except for a brother who committed suicide when he was late forties; PTSD from WWII. Studying all the numbers can be overwhelming, and only God knows how long I will live, so I just try to do my best every day.
Since Covid-19 has become a part of all our lives, I hope I am fortunate to not become a statistic, having many more years to write and to watch my two grandchildren grow up. We had not seen our grandkids since March 8th, but on June 28th, we finally had the opportunity to visit with them. Seeing how much they had changed in over one-hundred days was remarkable. Cody, who turned two on July 1st, had learned more words. He had grown a little in our absence. Avery, now five and a half, talked like there was no tomorrow, and she had become so pretty while we were quarantined from them. She read out loud to me for the first time. Those are moments I will never forget. Oh, Avery was our Christmas present in 2014, being born around six PM in the evening. We had hoped that Cody would be born on July 4th, giving us two holiday grandkids, but that didn’t quite work out.
I am so lucky to be retired and able to travel with my wife, Peggy. Every year we go to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, and over the eighteen years I have known her we have traveled to England and Scotland, Seattle, California and Hawaii, and perhaps more places in the future. Travel or do whatever you enjoy as often as you can, because if you put off that trip or project until next year, next year may never come. There is way too much to do and see in this world, even if your world does not extend as far as mine has. I don’t have a bucket list on paper, but I know some of the places I want to see. I want to go to Texas to see my Cowboys play and stand in the shadow of the Alamo. I would like to see a baseball game in St. Louis, and we would someday love to go to Wales.
Do not take a single day for granted and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something without even trying.
So do your characters think about their birthdays at all?
Given that this month is my birthday month and it’s a big one for me, I thought I would go with a birthday theme for my post. I actually woke up on my birthday with a million thoughts racing through my head and one of them was my to do list and the need to find a topic for this post. And then the next thought that came into my mind, was what do the characters we write about feel about their birthday each year?
I’ll admit, it certainly hadn’t been something I’ve thought much about.
Questions such as:
I read a lot of books and I cannot recall any of recent talking about birthdays or their age that much. Not that that topic alone would be a fasinating read.
But as I had my fiftieth birthday dangled in front of me most of this year, the way it affected me was an interesting struggle. One I wasn’t expecting or knew how to deal with. I would think those parts might be interesting to incorporate some how in our character’s backstory.
I find it an interesting perspective to include your characters thoughts about birthdays and ages. Maybe no one ever celebrated their special day before. And all of a sudden they are thrown into a family that does. Or every year was made out to be “the one” special event of the year and now they’ve lost loved ones and it isn’t the same.
Also, milestones and how we celebrate them have changed. We grow older than people did a century ago, so there are more birthdays to celebrate. Or large families with ten children did not have a lot of extra funds, so gifts were not as plentiful as they are today. And today families live further away from each other than they did a century ago.
Do you think the emotions over turning, say, 50, has changed much? What about 18? Or 21? Young adults married at a very young age a century ago, but now most young people wait till they are done with college. So, the focus on what the number means has changed over the years.
For me, this year has been full of trepidation, reflection, and assessment. Having health issues there have been several times I’ve wondered if I’d passed into a new normal. Low energy, unable to eat certain foods, has made me wonder if I was aging out of my prime. It’s quite comical, actually. What if this was the beginning of the end? I know . . . dramatic, but hey! I have felt it a bit this year.
So as my birthday approached, and I was trying to answer my husband’s question of what I wanted to do for my birthday, a part of me didn’t want to even address it. A few friends had felt that way as well, and I laughed it off, but when it hit me that way too, well, that was an interesting perspective. I told myself it wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t want to burden anyone or put anyone out. But why? Why did I feel this?
And my husband, being the gem he is, read between the lines and very patiently walked through question after question, just to make sure he understood. Which was something I really needed. Bless him, he didn’t want to get it wrong!
Some people dread them, some want to celebrate them big, while others try to find something in the middle. Maybe we can take some of the birthday experiences around us and put them in our stories. Maybe not a specific scene, but knowing your characters perspective about their special day in the background may not be a bad way to incorporate why they are the way they are.
P.S. I googled “celebrating birthdays in a romance novel” after I wrote this post and did you know there are actually several stories that are centered around birthdays? I might just have to find a few and read them.
Happy Spring! I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe the first quarter of the year is done. It’s even more shocking for me, because my birthday is in the first couple of weeks of spring. I always ask myself the same thing, “I can’t believe it’s April…why is time moving so quickly? And how am I suppose to get things done, with time moving so quickly?” Then I finish it by saying, “Yeah, thank God for another birthday.”
I’m the person that likes to do everything myself. Let me rephrase that. Being a small business owner, I’ve learned that if funds are tight and it’s not possible to hire someone, I need to do the task myself. The other side of that coin is, I need to know how to do it, so when I can afford to farm it out, I know how to effectively shop for the best person. As well as how to do it, if time doesn’t permit for outsourcing.
When I released my last book, DESPERATE DESIRE, I wanted to do a video. I studied television production in college, but that was a while back. Technology has changed greatly…for the better. Hiring a production facility to create a promotional video for me wasn’t an option for several reason: cost and time. I got this brilliant idea, a few days before release day. So I looked at what I could do.
I went to YouTube for answers. Turns out, I had a major tool at my disposal…Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Creative Cloud. Adobe Creative Cloud gives you access to every piece of software Adobe provides for $49.99 per month. I like it because it’s a month to month subscription and I don’t have to worry about buying new software. [There are a few rules to adhere to.] I simply install the updates when available. In addition to Photoshop and InDesign [is InDesign to format my print books]. They recently added TypeKit…a sea of amazing fonts. Until recently, I used Muse to create my website [the reason I changed websites is a post for another day]. The possibilities with the Adobe Creative Cloud are endless.
As I was saying. I wanted to do a video for my book. Armed with an few hours on YouTube and help from my godbrother, I was able to do my first video. I’m still learning how to do these trailers, but I’m pretty excited about my first try. I found the music on a free YouTube download and added my cover image and one from another book for the eye candy. It’s a simple process with a little learning curve. I encourage you to try it at least once.
If you have a problem viewing it, go to my Instagram page www.instragram.com/readtracyreed and view it.
See you next month.
Oh, yeah, Happy Birthday to Me.
The Dog Days of Summer isn’t just an expression that indicates summer days so hot dogs are driven mad. It’s an actual astronomical event when, Sirius, the dog star rises in conjunction with the sun. The Dog Days are listed as starting on July 3rd and continuing through August 11th.
In my family, the Dog Days of Summer marked the beginning of birthday season. I have three brothers and three sisters. Then there are my children, nieces and nephews, in-laws (or as we insist out-laws) and now the grandchildren and grandnieces and grandnephews. A significant number of them have birthdays in July and August.
Birthdays around our place were always a bit different. With so many relatives we seldom had friends to our birthday celebrations. We rarely severed cake but rather baked from scratch (including the crust) birthday pie. There were favorites – quite a few apple pies, pumpkin (made three days ahead of the feast and refrigerated to the proper coldness), lemon meringue, peach, and rhubarb for my mother.
And when my mémère (French for grandma) was alive, if it was your birthday, you got your nose buttered. It was supposed to make you side through the year to your next birthday.
Now Mémère assured us this was an old French custom, but I never met any other family who practiced nose buttering –even the few friend of mine when we were growing up who also had a mémère and pépère.
So, a few years ago I googled it. Sure enough, other families butter noses, but the articles I read listed the custom is either Scottish or Irish. I suspect Mémère would be upset by these claims as she was very proud of her French ancestry even though the family arrived in the New World well before there was a United States. She and Pépère spoke French at home, and my dad and his siblings didn’t learn English until they went to school.
I must admit that she frequently got things wrong. She was also very proud of being born on June 13th and every year would tell us that she just missed being born on Friday the 13th (it happened to be a Thursday that year). But when she died my aunts found her birth certificate. She wasn’t born on June 13th, that was the day she was baptized. She was really born two days earlier and forever celebrated her birthday on the wrong day.
My aunts were upset, but I would like to think Mémère would not have cared if she had ever noticed. She was happy to have a pie baked by my mom, and she would laugh her head off when we would sneak up and butter her nose so she could slide through another year.
Does your family have different birthday customs? What are they?
Marianne H. Donley makes her home in Tennessee with her husband and son. She is a member of Bethlehem Writers Group, Romance Writers of America, OCC/RWA, and Music City Romance Writers. When Marianne isn’t working on A Slice of Orange, she might be writing short stories, funny romances, or quirky murder mysteries, but this could be a rumor.
If you want to know more about the Dog Days of Summer here are some links:
I am a very lucky duck to know book reviewer and entertainment journalist Tracy Miller Tracy is also a gifted and prolific poet who has published over 20 books of poetry! After working diligently for over two decades as a lawyer (after winning full scholarships to Temple and University of Pennsylvania Law School), she is now fulfilling her life-long dream of writing full time. And Tracy doesn’t just write poetry and reviews of books and television – she uses her talent to write birthday poems for people she knows, admires, remembers, as well. On July 4, she and her twin sister Stacy celebrated their birthdays, so I wrote Tracy her very own birthday poem and pasted it all over Facebook this past July 4 . And Here is the birthday poem I wrote for her:
A peculiar Lady stands in line
At Whole Foods and the bank.
And if you try to suss her out,
You’re sure to draw a blank.
She speaks into a hand-held mike
And says the strangest things
Of plots and tropes and characters
And poetry that sings.
Her mind’s forever active
And her heart’s always replete.
She’s composing all the live-long day
Her demons to defeat.
She celebrates the lives, the art,
The love both here and gone;
The memories she yet holds close
Their might she pushes on.
She’s like a warm and searching poker
Stirring ashes ‘neath the grate
To find the embers burning there
And make them glow. But wait-
No, not a piece of iron
To grow cold when set aside.
But a lively torch that catches flame
To light the air on which it glides.
Like a Firefly she bops along
Brightening the dark,
Building fires or fanning flames, or
Nurturing a spark.
That well sprung magic of her own …
Oh! Such poetry transports.
To be precious, mentioned, known so well ..
Or just to read these dear reports!
It’s not just about her poems though
That makes her heaven-sent.
The prose she writes in her reviews
Is truly incandescent.
To know that someone’s work reached out
And lit another fuse …
To share the secret, bounding joy
Of audience and muse!
When someone’s efforts speak to her
She tells it to the world
In such detail you’ve never read
Creation is unfurled.
Writing is her full-time gig
After decades of the law.
She made her precious dream come true.
Tracy Miller I applaud!
Tracy, Girl, I know that life
Has hurt along the way.
But know that I am grateful
You and Stacy have this day!
When she was a kid in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Geralyn Vivian Ruane Corcillo dreamed of one day becoming the superhero Dyna Girl. So, she did her best and grew up to constantly pick up litter and rescue animals. At home, she loves watching black & white movies, British mysteries, and the NY Giants. Corcillo lives in a drafty old house in Hollywood with her husband Ron, a guy who’s even cooler than Kip Dynamite.
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