Archive for February, 2018

HORSE-LOVING, READING, & WRITING

February 26, 2018

Cowgirl

Before you jump to conclusions, this isn’t my granddaughter, but a horse-loving reader (like my granddaughters). Her teacher asked students to dress up as their favorite character from a book, and I’m honored to say that this student chose Ellie from my BACKYARD HORSES series. In case you don’t know what a “backyard horse” is, it’s what we called horses that weren’t fancy, would never be show horses, and didn’t belong in a stable. We kept our horses in a pasture, but we also had a small pen and barn in our yard.

A horse book, a pink cowgirl hat, boots, and a stuffed horse–what could be better than that? Answer: All the similarities between this cowgirl, Helen, and my oldest granddaughter, the “star” of the BACKYARD HORSES series. Although we call her “Ellie,” our granddaughter’s real name is “Helen,” named after her great-grandmother, Helen Daley (co-star of WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE). Both gals love horses, reading, and writing. It’s amazing how many letters and emails I get from guys and gals who love these three things: horses, reading, and writing. As it happens, I’ve always loved horses, reading, and writing too!

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WRITING & BULLYING

February 22, 2018

Lara medium

Tomorrow I’m off to Columbus, OH, for the weekend to speak at a convention of teachers of English and Language Arts–wonderful people who still believe in our kids and want them to love reading and writing and to excel in both in an atmosphere of kindness, compassion, and safety. I’ve never met a teacher–or a student–who hasn’t witnessed bullying. Then one night about 3 AM, all of these concerns came together for me when I woke up and could almost hear this tough girl saying, “This is not about me. This story, I mean. So already you got a reason to hang it up.” I got up, crossed the hall to my office, and began writing what may be the most surprising (to me) book I’ve ever written. I had no idea where the story was going, and I usually do when I begin writing. In the end, it came to be about the effects of bullying, the promise of returning kindness for meanness, and the possibility of touching and changing lives in school and out. Plus, the book contains, in real time as action proceeds, just about everything I know about writing, with chapter titles like: Character; Villain, Setting, Dialogue, Opposition, Conflict, Details, Rising Action, Climax, Resolution.

If you’ve read about Lara and Laney, I’d love to hear from you. You can learn more about the book at http://www.dandibooks.com.

 

WITH LOVE, ON VALENTINE’S DAY

February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I like to imagine that these two photos were snapped on Valentine’s Day, but I really have no idea. At least, thanks in part to the letters they wrote each other during their service in WW2, I know that Helen and Frank were deeply in love when these pictures were taken. They were newlyweds, separated for months at a time, with only their letters and prayers to keep them together and in love. My parents remained deeply in love for the 52 years of their marriage. This is the last day to purchase the e-book of their story, WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE, at the sale price, $2.99.  But don’t go away. I have more photos to share.

WITH LOVE, IN FRANK’S UNIT

February 12, 2018

camp visit (2)

Toward the end of the war–and the end of the book, Helen pushed her way onto a bullet-ridden service airplane with 13 French soldiers. Everyone was waiting for the Germans to surrender. And then soldier-doctors and many soldier-nurses would board ships to the Pacific to continue to fight until the Japanese surrendered. Helen determined to see her husband before that happened. Frank had been moved to an outpost in Entzheim, France, and the couple arranged the miracle rendezvous at the eleventh hour through code letters. She spent several days there, even accompanying him on a rebuilt motorcycle to do patient rounds in villages. From later letters, I learned that Helen was quite a hit with Frank’s buddies.

WITH LOVE, IN MARSEILLES

February 10, 2018

Marseille love (2)

During their service in WW2, Lt. Helen Daley and Lt./Capt. Frank R. Daley miraculously arranged a few short rendezvouses. This one is in the book–Marseilles, France, in Southern France, on the Mediterranean. On the back of the photo, Mom (Helen) has written: “Marseilles. We climbed all of the church’s steps this day!” It would be great to have a clearer photo of the view of the city, the seascape, and landscape. But it’s pretty clear to me that Helen and Frank only had eyes for each other.

WITH LOVE, for Grandfather “Pete”

February 8, 2018

Pete 1942 (2)

Although I was barely 3 when my Grandfather Daley died, I remember him. I’m sure stories have blended with memory so that I can’t separate them, but I don’t want to. I called him “Pete,” not “Grandfather” or any variation thereof. I sensed his kindness and good humor. One story of where my “Dandi” name came from says that when I was born, Pete declared, “She’s a dandy!” I can still see him leaving our house and heading for his car, with me running after him, begging to come along. This photo from 1942 is labeled Camp Robinson. The Arkansas camp trained soldiers and housed German prisoners during WW2. And from 1942-1944, a Medical Training Replacement Center was located there to train soldiers as medical personnel. 13,500 trainees passed through in 8-week training cycles. The time was shortened if medics were needed more quickly. Pete is briefly mentioned in a couple of anecdotes in WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE. Like many of the characters in the novel, Pete deserves his own book.

FRANK’S PATIENTS

February 6, 2018

Frank and patients (2)

Captain Frank R. Daley was sent from a wartime makeshift hospital in Alsace-Lorraine to a battlefield battalion aid station inside wartime Germany . . . probably because he refused to cut his hair (Helen loved those thick curls.) and, to add insult to injury, then said to his bald commanding officer, “So it’s true then.” “What?” demanded the officer. Frank shook his head and replied, “Misery really does love company.” Frank didn’t get the haircut, but he did get a freight train to the battlefield. He joined a British unit and performed surgeries in tents with mud floors. Toward the end of the war, he was able to doctor civilians, as well as soldiers. This is a photo of just a few of those patients.

WHOEVER YOU ARE, WITH LOVE

February 2, 2018

susan deauville (2)

Not far from Paris, the seaside village of Deauville has long been considered the “Queen of the Norman Beaches.” During WW2, the German army occupied Deauville and Normandy. German forces took over villas, hotels, and even the casino until D-Day, when the Allies forced the German troops out of Normandy and Deauville. My mom, Lt. Helen Eberhart is standing next to a woman I don’t recognize, but who, on the back of the photo is called “Susan.” Nurse Helen worked with many nurses not mentioned in WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE, women who cared for their patients in such difficult circumstances. When I look at this picture, taken in 1944, I hope these two brave women are on a break, enjoying a walk by the sea. I’m sure they deserve it.

 

SALE: WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE– $2.99 for 2 weeks, the e-book everywhere

February 1, 2018

with-love

This is the day I’ve been building up to in these posts. Thanks for sticking with me this far. For the 2 weeks of the sale, I’ll be posting more war photos and hoping you’re not tired of me. . . or of my parents’ story.