Thursday, September 22, 2016

It’s September. Soon leaves will lose their green and fall. It’s inevitable, possibly as inevitable as people falling in love. In observation of these miraculous occurrences, I’d like to share thirteen quotes.
http://res.freestockphotos.biz/pictures/9/9070-red-and-yellow-autumn-leaves-pv.jpg

1.You can’t blame gravity for falling in love. ~ Albert Einstein
2. The half-life of love is forever. ~Junot Diaz
3. We never get enough of falling in love and believing in love. ~ Shemar Moore
4. All love stories are tales of beginnings. When we talk about falling in love, we go to the beginning, to pinpoint the moment of freefall. ~ Meghan O’ Rourke
5. This thing about you that you think is your flaw – it’s the reason I’m falling in love with you. ~ Colleen Hoover
6. You will always fall in love, and it will always be like having your throat cut, just that fast. ~ Catherynne M. Valente
7. Don’t you be so nice to me; I fall in love so easily. ~ Waylon Jennings
8. Nobody is perfect until you fall in love with them. ~ Unknown
9. Don’t fall in love; rise with it. ~ Amit Abraham
10. A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. ~ Mignon McLaughlin
11. You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spirt of the fact they’re not. ~ Jodi Picoult
12. Never say love is “like” anything… it isn’t. ~ Michael Chabon
13. I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once. ~ John Green

How would you describe falling in love? Do you have a favorite quote about it? Please share and Happy Fall!


Sources





Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Organizing Your Story (and Your Life)



by Eilis Flynn
Recently, I finally picked up an appointment book after years of using a digital version, then printing out a copy of each month’s activity. Then about two years ago, for whatever reason (the wireless connection in my house has always been iffy, and the router finally died earlier this year), the printer became a solitary unit (that is, it wouldn’t connect with anything; it scans and copies, and so it will print as well, but only if I bothered to figure out where to insert a memory stick). I haven’t had a chance to figure out why; I hadn’t needed to use it, and when I need printouts, I went to the library one block away. (I’m not good with technology. Not uncomfortable, but it would take me a longer time to suss out the problem than I wanted to waste when I could have been working.) Of course, for a long time that worked fine. When I wanted something more than a few pages from the library printer, I could go to the Staples a mile away (and since I don’t have a car, I walk to, but again it has to be something I have to make sure I have an hour to waste walking there and walking home).

It’s getting to the point, though, that not having a printer is getting inconvenient. And because I don’t have a printout of my month’s goals, I was getting frustrated that I’d miss deadlines (like those for OtherWorld Diner) that I shouldn’t have. I kept telling myself I’d fix the connection or break down and call a repair guy (grr!), but I never have.

And I still haven’t. At least for the deadlines, now I have a little book made up of months, weeks, and pages on which to write notes. Just like I had...before the digital age. Like the big leather binder I still have on my desk, gathering dust. It’s shut and put in a safe place; I have no space on my desk for something that size.

My deadlines which are mine
Why hasn’t the whole “I have all the deadlines I need to remember on my laptop/phone/other device” worked for me? I had all those deadlines on my computer’s calendar, but I’d get a reminder and I’d say oh yeah I should get on that and that would be it. More often than not, the reminder would come up when I was working on a project and wasn’t at a point to work on it. With a binder of paper, small (mass market paperback size), I have it propped open to the proper month, with everything I have to do coming up not giving me a gentle reminder. No, in my own handwriting, scrawled, sometimes in CAPS. For me, that works.

I think of it in pretty much the same way authors—including me—have story binders. My life and work as a story, basically. This is particularly useful for those writing series and crucial for those writing fantasy and science fiction series. I’ve seen remarkably elaborate versions, in thick binders, color illustrations and maps, so the tiny details of a fictional world remain fresh. An organizer is the same thing for real-life folks. (And a great start for a story, come to think of it! You can see it, can’t you? “Dental appt 9am. Mktg meet 11am. Lunch/blind date 1 pm. Note: Pick up toothpaste.”)

I know someone who actually offers a service to build story binders for those who need to keep track of the details for a series. Doesn’t matter if it’s historical or fantastical or science fiction or small-town contemporary; she’ll keep all those details for you, and if you decide to insert a tiny detail, tell her and she’ll make sure she has it for you. Yessirree, it’s an organizer for your story! (If you’re curious about her service, ask me!)

Meanwhile, my life organizer is being populated by the day with projects, deadlines, workshops, and even appointments. And it works for me.

Elizabeth MS Flynn has written fiction in the form of comic book stories, romantic fantasies, urban fantasies, historical fantasies and short stories, a young adult novel, and a graphic novella (most published under the name of Eilis Flynn). She’s also a professional editor and has been for 40 years, working with academia, technology, and finance nonfiction, and mystery, science fiction, fantasy, and romance fiction. If you’re looking for an editor, she can be found editing at emsflynn.com and reached at emsflynn@aol.com. If you’re curious about her books, check out eilisflynn.com. In any case, she can be reached at eilisflynn@aol.com.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

How Daxen from Beautifully Burned is a combo of Sam and Dean Winchester -- Beautifully Burned -- A New Release Spotlight!



In case you didn’t know, I’m a humongous Supernatural fan, so of course I had to write a guest post that tied into one of my favorite all time shows. So this post is…

How Daxen from Beautifully Burned is a combo of Sam and Dean Winchester
1. Like Dean, Dax loves his pie. He won’t share, with the exception of using it to soften up his dreamcaster. He has a serious sweet tooth, and fair warning:  don’t let him near your maraschino cherry supply.

2. Dax has some book-nerdiness going on and hates it when people take his books without permission. Or destroy them without provocation. While he might not be a techie like Sam, he’s not afraid of some hard-core research.



3. Every Supernatural fan knows Sam and Dean can do a serious bromance. Once their loyalty is earned, you’re solid, but getting past the suspicion takes some hard labor. The Winchesters have nothing on Dax when it comes to distrust. Growing up in a world where abuse is the norm and backstabbing is expected can do that to a boy, and a side of growly going on isn’t surprising. Still, even the prickliest V’alkara can soften up for his dreamcaster, and anyone who messes with his inner circle should be ready for some big-time pain.

4. When it comes to fighting (with paranormal creatures or not), it’s team Sam and Dean all the way. The boys know how to use their weapons, and while the V’alkara don’t use spells, they have their own warfare specialties. Feeding off nightmares might not be the most relaxing way to survive, but taking on those same nightmare creature forms can come in handy at times…probably not if Sam and Dean happened to show up and, you know, mistake Dax for a true monster. That would be a bummer.

5. The Winchester boys have their issues. There are always kept secrets, yearnings for a different life of love and a family all their own, inferiority complexes, acceptance controversies…some major baggage. Dax isn’t any different. He wants a life he believes he can’t have, of love and acceptance. He’s emotionally damaged and fears those wounds won’t ever heal. If he thinks it’s best, he’ll keep secrets to protect the few people he cares about and sacrifice himself, no second thoughts. And just like Sam and Dean, he always chooses the hard way to learn life lessons. Sigh. Men—gotta love ‘em!

Are you a Supernatural fan? If not, what’s your favorite, must-watch show?

Hi, Mia here. I wanted you to get a taste C.J.Burright’s voice, so I put her post before introducing her. 
C.J. Burright is a native Oregonian and refuses to leave. A member of Romance Writers of America and the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal special interest chapter, while she has worked for years in a law office, she chooses to avoid writing legal thrillers (for now) and instead invades the world of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, or fantasy. C.J. also has her 4th Dan Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and believes a story isn’t complete without at least one fight scene. Her meager spare time is spent working out, refueling with mochas, gardening, gorging on Assassin’s Creed, and rooting on the Seattle Mariners…always with music. She shares life with her husband, daughter, and a devoted cat herd.
I’m privileged to call her my critique partner and friend. She has a new release that just came out this week. I asked her to share a bit about it and she sent me what you’ve just read. 




In my opinion, she’s an awesome story-teller, but you don’t have to believe me, here’s an excerpt to prove it.

Five steps from her truck, Ella skidded to a stop. The sexy, sober book lover leaned against the fence a few yards away, as if he’d been there the whole time.
Her heart somersaulted twice. She might be tired, her thoughts preoccupied, but no way had he been there a second ago. Frick. He didn’t look like the type who scared easily and her nearest neighbor was two blocks away, so screaming would be pointless. With those long legs, he’d probably won some track medals, which nixed running for it. Her best bet was to get into her truck, lock the doors, and take off. Chin lifted high, she finished the short trek to her getaway wagon.
“I must speak with you.” Whether ordering a Shirley Temple or making soft, unexpected demands in a midnight parking lot, his gravelly voice was seductive as sin.
Her nerves tightened and she steadied her hands enough to jam the key in the lock. “Look, it’s late, I’m tired, and you decimated my maraschino cherry supply. Time to go home.”
He pushed off the fence and ambled toward her.
Ella struggled to turn the ancient lock. Stupid rust. “Bartender counselor sessions are closed until tomorrow. Sorry.”
“I have questions for you.” He leaned his hip near the tailgate, too close. “They won’t take long.”
“Oh, you’re a collection agent.” Thank God her voice remained cool and steady enough for the pretense. The truck lock finally gave with a loud snap. “Check’s in the mail.”
“I’m interested in your dreams, not your finances.”
A tremor coasted her spine and she paused, fingers wrapped around the door handle. No way was his dream comment random, but the press to escape dimmed beneath the desire to hear him out, to see if someone in the wide weird world had helpful information about her curse. A little chitchat never hurt anyone, and if he tried anything shady, she knew how to handle him. Her special self-defense was always ready.
She sucked in a breath. Without knowing when or how, he had moved closer, so close she had to crane her neck to look into his face. He smelled faintly of campfire smoke, a fond reminder of the frequent overnight hiking trips she used to take with Gran and Ginny. Back then, fire had made her feel warm and safe.
“A moment. Please.” He planted a hand on the door, keeping it shut and boxing her halfway with his arm. His ‘please’ sounded more like an attempt at manners than a request.
Curiosity warred with concern. If he wanted to attack her, he could’ve already sliced her, diced her, and left her for the stray dogs to gnaw on. What did he want to talk about? What words had the man who lured her mother away used? She wasn’t a mindless sheep, no matter how beautiful the wolf may be, but there was no denying this man did something witchy to her blood. She wanted to know why. Maybe that would set her questions to rest, ease her guilt, cure her curse.
But Ginny depended on her. She had to play it safe and get rid of him.
Ella shifted and rested her back against the truck door. He didn’t move, and a secret thrill coiled in her stomach. Ignoring it, she netted all her emotions and observations, pushed them to the back of her mind, and focused on his blue sea eyes.
“Go home,” she said in the hushed, haunting persuasion voice she used on drunks and perverts. “Forget me. Forget Dany’s exists. Never come here again.”
He went utterly still.
A bewildering stab of loss staked her chest. She’d never see him again. He’d go back to his life and she’d return to hers, no harm done, no questions answered. For some insane reason, she wanted to curl up on the asphalt and have a long, hard sob-fest.
A tiny crease formed between his black eyebrows, and instead of obeying, he studied her with a scientist’s concentration. “Are you trying to compel me?” His voice was gently accusing. He leaned nearer. “I’m V’alkara. I can’t be compelled.”
Ella leaned hard on the cool frame of her truck. Compel was a good explanation for her uncanny persuasion powers, and if he recognized it, getting rid of him would be harder than she thought. “Who are you?”
“Daxen v’al Solanis.” He watched her, unblinking.
“And V’alkara?” She swallowed the sawdust in her throat. Was that another word for vampire? “What’s that?”
“Me.” His small smile made a snarling wolf look friendly. “Ready to talk now?”
“You had all night to talk to me.”
“I wanted you alone.”
A fire bell warning clanged in her head, a command to escape, yet she couldn’t peel her attention from his jaw. Stubble shadowed the hard angles, a darkness contrary to his pale neck. She had a sharp, nearly overwhelming urge to touch him there, to experience the disparity of prickly and smooth, to slide her fingers down his throat to the ridge of his collarbone.
Ella blinked rapidly and gripped the keys tight, breaking the spell. “Are you trying some hypnotic woo-woo on me? Not cool. Kindly remove your hand from my truck.”
He cocked his head and his eyes flashed. “Don’t you want help with your nightmares, Ella?”

And if the excerpt isn’t enough to convince you Beautifully Burned is worth a read, here’s the back cover blurb.  

Grandma warned me to resist him.

I know what he is. Even if he doesn't sparkle in the sun, hiss at holy water, or go by the traditional name of vampire, I know.

He doesn't want or need my blood. He wants my dreams...more specifically, my nightmares. And I've got oodles of those, so many they leak.

He's emotionally scarred, growly, dangerous, and kindles all my senses.  Love isn't on his agenda. Having him for a guardian isn't on my list of fun, either. My touch sends him into darkness.

I shouldn't want him.

I can't want him.

But I do.

If I surrender instead of escape, I'll lose everything--my sister, my will, my life. Gran forgot to tell me the most important detail of all: how am I supposed to resist him when he's everything I've ever dreamed of?

Beautifully Burned is told in dual, third person and may be read as a stand alone.


To find out more about CJ and her novels you can visit:
http://cjburright.com/

In addition, CJ has a book giveaway this week, which you can enter by following this link.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 11, 2016

In the Steps of Edgar Allan Poe-The House at 234 North Seventh St.

Poe's portrait found in the house.

Have you ever gotten a chance to check something off your bucket list?

Recently, I had that opportunity. My family and I were visiting Philadelphia. We’d seen the Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin’s print shop and Betsy Ross’s cottage and I noticed that Edgar Allan Poe’s house was within walking distance.

 I’ve been a fan of Poe even before my American Literature classes in High School because of my love of horror flicks, so I was excited to see where he lived. And if you know me even a little, you probably know that my interests inspire research. Here are some facts I discovered about his early life and the events that led up to his renting the home at 234 North Seventh St.



1.On January 19, 1809, Edgar Poe was born. His was the middle child of three. He had an older brother, William who was called “Henry” and later his sister named Rosalie arrived.
2. Edgar’s father left his family when Edgar was about two-years-old. It’s believed he died soon after.
3. Edgar’s mother, Eliza, was an actress and theater-goers thought she was good. They described her performances as “enchanting” and “pleasing.” Unfortunately, Eliza had tuberculosis and she died when she was only twenty-four-years old and Edgar was two.
4. John and Fanny Allan became Edgar’s parents. They sent Edgar to a private school, when he turned five. He was a good student. Teachers remembered him loving writing and poetry.
5. Edgar moved to England with his new family. Unfortunately, the business John Allan hoped would take off in England didn’t, so the family returned to America.
6. Edgar attended the University of Virginia, but he ran out of money and had to leave after a year.
7. He entered the U.S. Army and maybe because he had been such a good student, the army admitted him to the military academy at West Point.  Edgar didn’t like it and began to disobey orders and neglect his duties.  Needless to say, his behavior didn’t go over well. The academy kicked him out.
8. When his foster father found out, he was so upset he disowned Edgar.
9. In 1831, Edgar went to live with his father’s mother, which of course, would be his grandmother, Elizabeth Cairnes Poe, and his brother, Henry. Henry was sick with tuberculosis. They also lived with Edgar’s aunt, Maria Clemm, and her daughter, Virginia. He grew very close to his cousin, Virginia.
10. Edgar knew he had to get a job to support his family. He wanted to be a writer and in 1831 he got Elam and Bliss in New York to publish his second book called, Poems of Edgar A.  Poe. He had to pay for the publishing, so he asked his fellow cadets to help him. When they did, he dedicated the book to them.
11. In 1833, Edgar won a writing contest for a story called Manuscript Found in a Bottle. He earned fifty dollars. His writing career was growing. Soon he landed a job as an editor.
12. In 1836, Edgar’s grandmother died and rather than being parted from Virginia, he married her. She was only twelve or thirteen at the time, but Edgar and Virginia listed her age as twenty-one.
13. In 1843, the couple moved to Philadelphia and rented a house in a neighbor that used to be called the Spring Garden district. They lived there with Maria Clemm. It’s this house that I visited and here are a couple of pictures I snapped.

This is one of the closets. Notice the photo of Maria Clemm, Poe's mother-in-law and aunt.


This is the stairs to the basement, which may have been the inspiration for the poem The Black Cat.


Unlike other houses turned into museums, this house is almost empty—no curtains, beds, dressers, desks or tables or chairs to speak of.  I was told that Poe sold most of the furniture to finance his family’s move to New York.  One online site described the house as being maintained in “arrested decay.” This means that historical society that cares for it allows the paint to peel and the house to age. The caregivers perform just enough upkeep so that the house is safe. The house’s arrested decay actually seems to make it an appropriate setting for the poem, The Black Cat, which authorities believe Poe penned there.
Offerings in the gift shop
Edgar Allan Poe is an interesting person. Many people consider him to be a master of suspense. The Poe Museum credits him as being the inventor of the detective story, a pioneer of Science Fiction, and a master of the psychological horror story.  His life was a little bit like his writings. He suffered a number of tragedies and died early and mysteriously.  His house also retains that eerie quality needed for good Gothic tale.  To my mind, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Sources
https://www.nps.gov/edal/index.htm
http://www.poemuseum.org/teachers-poes-literary.php
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Allan_Poe_National_Historic_Site
Binns, Tristan Boyer. Edgar Allan Poe: Master of Suspense. New York: F. Watts, 2005. Print.
Gigliotti, Jim, and Tim Foley. Who Was Edgar Allan Poe? N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Lange, Karen E. Nevermore: A Photobiography of Edgar Allan Poe. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2009. Print.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Reaching for the Stars...


by Eilis Flynn


...And having them reach BACK.
Well, not literally. But I’m looking forward to the Perseid meteor showers, which occur every year about this time. This year it’s most easily seen this week, so I’ll have to postpone sleep for a bit to go outside to look. And considering I’m one of those annoying early-morning-rise people (and early-to-bed types), that’s a sacrifice. But these meteors won’t watch themselves (so to speak)!

So do you look at the meteor showers? Why or why not?

Elizabeth MS Flynn has written fiction in the form of comic book stories, romantic fantasies, urban fantasies, historical fantasies and short stories, a young adult novel, and a graphic novella (most published under the name of Eilis Flynn). She’s also a professional editor and has been for 40 years, working with academia, technology, and finance nonfiction, and romance fiction. If you’re looking for an editor, she can be found editing at emsflynn.com and reached at emsflynn@aol.com. If you’re curious about her books, check out eilisflynn.com. In any case, she can be reached at eilisflynn@aol.com.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Back from San Diego- Karen Miller, a Golden Heart Finalist, Reports on The 2016 RWA Convention


My guest today is a Karen Miller. She’s a Golden Heart Finalist and that’s a pretty big deal if you’re a romance writer. The Golden Heart is the biggest contest for unpublished romance writers. Every year about 500 manuscripts are entered. The competition is fierce. There are a lot of talented authors and super stories out there.
https://www.rwa.org/page/golden_heart

Karen’s book SAVING COLUMBINE RANCH was selected as one of the top ten Historical Romances. 

Karen attended the 36th Annual Conference for Romance Writers of America and she graciously volunteered to share her experience with us. 

I just got home from San Diego last night, and I’m still trying to organize my thoughts and impressions about it.  I had a wonderful time, and there are many images flipping through my mind right now, as though I am fanning the pages of a picture book.
One thing I can tell you for sure – the level of friendship and support shown by everyone there is nothing short of amazing.  I have known it for a while, but going to the conference reminded me again that the (mostly) women in the romance writing industry are the nicest, most helpful, non-diva group of people you will ever meet.  All week, I saw authors (some of them names you would recognize) freely giving of their time and talents to help other writers.  They were doing everything from volunteering for menial tasks during the conference to conducting workshops – and always with a smile.

Jaci Burton and Jill Shalvis giving a workshop
Leslie Kelly (left) volunteering to introduce Dee Davis (right) at her workshop.  (The four silver pins on Leslie’s name badge are all RITA finalist pins.)
The camaraderie was never more obvious than during the awards gala on Saturday night.  The entire room – hundreds of people – clapped and cheered for every single finalist as they were announced.  The cheering and clapping for each winner as they walked across the stage was nothing short of astonishing.  This was not polite golf clapping because it was required – it was a loud and enthusiastic outpouring of joy.  I suspect the people watching via the live stream could not get a proper sense of the remarkable energy in the room.
Sign announcing the gala.
Robyn Carr accepting her award.
I was even a little surprised at my own enthusiasm for the winners, especially for the Golden Heart winners.  This group of fantastic women bonded together in the weeks leading up to San Diego, and even more while we were there.  I didn’t win the Golden Heart in my category, but I knew the woman who did, and I was super excited for her – almost as excited as I would have been for myself.  It was the same for the winners of the other categories.  These women weren’t competitors; they were my friends.  And I was very happy to see my friends win.
I am glad I went to the RWA conference in San Diego, and not just because now I can cross it off my bucket list.  It was an incredible experience, and one I will never forget.  My biggest takeaway?  The reminder that I am surrounded by an amazing group of giving, talented, supportive romance writers.  I couldn’t be in better company.

Karen writes under the pen name Karen Marcam. To find out more about her, check out www.KarenMarcam.com,  Twitter (@Karen_Marcam) or her Facebook page www.facebook.com/KarenMarcam

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Amazing Ways Historical Reenactment Can Help You Part Two- A Caring Connection-How It Bleeds into Stories and What Molly Actually Does



Last week Molly Maka gave us a thumbnail sketch of Historical Reenacting. She mentioned that by acting as a character in time, you can more accurately portray the details, thoughts and feelings of your hero and heroine. By doing your research and having the facts right, she said, you can add plausibility to your retelling, but she didn’t elaborate on one of the biggest reasons I and many other readers are drawn to her stories, and that is her commitment. It comes across in her scenes and in her so-lifelike-they-almost-breathe characters.

She cares and we readers sense that in her prose. Molly is a self-described 1940s girl at heart. She’s been reading and researching that time period since at least the 3rd grade. For most, we might stop there, but Molly has used her interest in Historical Reenacting to help others. She is involved with the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight and she’s kindly allowed me to interview about her experiences.
What is the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight?

The Stars and Stripes Honor Flight (SSHF) http://www.starsandstripeshonorflight.org/ is a hub of the Honor Flight Network www.honorflight.org and one of five in Wisconsin.  The Honor Flight Network’s mission is to fly veterans to Washington D.C. to see the memorials built and dedicated in their honor.  SSHF flies World War II, Korean War and terminally ill veterans of other wars to Washington D.C. to see their memorials at no cost to them.

There is a great urgency to fly as many of these men and women out to D.C. as we can.  Many of them returned home with no fanfare and simply went back to work, continuing where they left off.  World War II veterans are dying at a rate of 1,000 per day.  In this final chapter of their life, we try very hard to give them the honor and welcome home they may not have received when they came home.

What do you do with them?
My role with SSHF is twofold.  First and foremost, I serve as a volunteer.  On a flight morning, you can expect to see me at the airport before dawn in a neon yellow shirt ready to help get the vets ready for their trip and boarded on the plane.  But I have helped in other aspects as well including helping at guardian training (each vet is assigned a guardian for the trip), making that very special phone call to let a vet know that he or she has been chosen to fly, serving as a guardian to walking in parades.  The other part of my role is that of SSHF Bombshell.  Remember what I said about getting up at the crack of dawn?  Well, in addition to my neon uniform, I come with a scarf on my head hiding pin curls underneath that are drying (Everyone thinks Rosie the Riveter, I prefer to think of myself as a normal 1940s civilian girl).  Before the vets come home, I make a transformation from volunteer to Bombshell.  My best friend pinup model Pamela Marie, http://pam2481.wix.com/pinuppam,  and I dress in period accurate attire all the way down to our underpinnings with our hair and makeup styled appropriately.  We walk around the airport interacting with the crowds waiting for their loved ones, but the magic begins when the plane lands.  As the vets begin their homecoming parade, Pam and I are there to welcome them home with a cookie, a personal thank you…and maybe a little red lipstick on their cheek.  It is the neatest thing to see the age drain off the boys’ faces for just a moment and give them a little bit of love and joy.

How did you get in contact with them? 
I learned about them from someone on social media and thought it would be fun to go to one of the homecomings.  Pam and I showed up dressed up to one and asked if we could hand out little Hershey’s bars (something they received in the K rations).  Long story short, they liked what we did, asked us back, and after our second flight, we were invited to become volunteers.

To find your closest hub, I recommend going to the Honor Flight Network’s website (www.honorflight.org).  They list all the regional hubs all over the country.

How long have you worked with them? 
I have had the pleasure and the honor of working with SSHF for about 6 years.

Besides the veteran, who all goes on a flight?
Besides the veterans, members of the SSHF board go along, sometimes local media, and sometimes we have local celebrities.  We’ve even had baseball player Jonathan Lucroy come on a couple flights.  There are always at least a pair of photographers from a local photography studio that donates their time to capture every flight.  Each veteran, as I mentioned above, is assigned to a guardian.

 Sometimes it’s a family member, other times it’s a stranger.  This person does just what their title states.  They are there to help the veteran every step of the way, to watch over them while ensuring they have an amazing time.

What does your participation/ getting ready for an Honor Flight involve? 
It’s funny you ask that.  We were told once that it couldn’t possibly take a long time to get ready for a homecoming.  In truth, it does.  We call it a labor of love and one we do gladly.  Flight day starts the night before.  We traditionally wet-set our hair (in either pin curls, which is preferred, or rollers).

 This can take anywhere from about an hour to longer if our hair is not cooperating.  I’m at the airport in the morning with my pin curls covered up still drying.  If I can, once the vets are D.C. bound, I come home and catch a nap.  Pam arrives about 3:30 in the afternoon where we have an early dinner and then we start ready.  Getting ready entails, getting dressed, doing our makeup and brushing out our wet set. We aim to be at the airport by 6 PM as the flight is always scheduled to arrive at 8:30 PM.  Our biggest rule of thumb is attention to detail and as close to historically accurate as we can manage.

On average, how many Honor Flights take flight from Milwaukee per month?  SSHF aims to fly 4-6 flights per year.  We had three this past spring (April, May and June) and we have two scheduled for fall (September and October).  In total, we have successfully sent 34 flights to DC and have flown almost 5,000 veterans since SSHF began flying in November 2008.

What’s a typical schedule for one of your Honor Flight outings?
After the vets leave Milwaukee, they fly to D.C. where they are met with crowds welcoming them.  They then board buses and head for the memorials.  Everywhere they go they have a police escort.  It’s a really neat experience to see traffic parting like the red sea.  The key places they go are the World War II memorial, the Korean War memorial, the Vietnam Wall, the Lincoln memorial, the Iwo Jima memorial and usually wrap up the day at Arlington National Cemetery for the changing of the guard ceremony.  Some flights deviate from that and have gone to the Air Force memorial, the FDR memorial and the Women’s memorial to name a few.  One thing to note about the World War II memorial: It is not uncommon to find Senator Bob Dole and Mrs. Dole sitting outside the memorial meeting veterans and chatting with them.  Senator Dole was one of the key players in making sure the memorial was built and I think it is such a selfless, wonderful thing he does to meet his fellow brothers-in-arms.

Once they are on the flight home, someone on the flight announces “Mail Call!”  Mail was hugely important to the soldiers because that was their one connection to their family and friends.  Families and SSHF put together packets for each veteran.  These contain letters from family, friends, and strangers, letters from elected officials, cards and drawings, and sometimes even pictures or memorabilia from the vet’s time in service.

After they land, they begin the final leg of their day’s trip with the homecoming parade.  Active duty servicemen and women line part of the concourse creating a wall on either side of the vet and offer him or her a silent salute.  There are bands, cheerleaders, the USO, etc. there to welcome home the vets.  Just before they go out into the proper airport to throngs of people (sometimes up to six to eight thousand people), they meet Pam and I for our little welcome home.  The parade concludes with the Milwaukee Police Pipe and Drum Corps.

I highly encourage everyone to go to at least one honor flight homecoming if they can.  Describing it or watching a video of it does not do justice.  The positive energy, the love and joy permeate the entire space.

Stars and Stripes Honor Flight October 2015 Credit to Visual Image Photography


Can you share an encounter with a veteran that touched you? 
Goodness, I have several.  But, I have a recent one that shook me to the core.  I’ve only had one other vet that has done that to me.  There was a Korean War vet named Jerry.  He had had a stroke and was nonverbal.  I shook his hand in the morning and told him I’d see him when he got back.  He just stared blankly ahead.  When I saw him again what a difference!  I saw him when he came through for his homecoming, gave him a great big kiss and hoped he had a good time.  His daughter remembered me from the morning and then he was off into the crowds.  When I was leaving the airport after the homecoming, I saw him sitting near the door waiting for his ride.  I knelt down and talked with him.  You could tell he wanted to tell me something and could see the frustration at not being able to.  The homecoming had had an effect as a tear had trickled down his face.  He had an American flag and kept handing it to me.  His daughter told me that he wanted me to keep it, she thought.  So I took it and kept talking with a big smile on my face.  He reached for my hand and squeezed…and squeezed tighter than I’ve ever had my hand squeezed, locking eyes with me.  I will never forget that moment.

 My mom, who is a nurse, told me that that was his way of saying thank you.  I will treasure that moment always.  And, yes, I still have the flag.

Would you like to share a scene from one of your World War II stories? 
Sure! This is from my latest story, REVENGE, which I am currently in the query stage with.  it’s about an Allied spy who is out for revenge and a deserted German soldier.

May, 1944
Somewhere over Poland

Jenny Dabrowska waited in the shadows. The belly of the aircraft that would take her back to the homeland she narrowly escaped rattled and shook so hard it wouldn’t have surprised her if it fell apart from under her jump seat. Yet under all that she was numb.

“We’re nearing the drop zone,” George Barnes, her fearless leader, yelled into her ear.

She nodded, staring at the round hole in the floor. Her exit. The landscape below her whizzed by, as shadowed as her surroundings. Soon, she would be down there, making her way towards her objective. The anger she fought so hard to control rose like bile in her throat.

Not yet. Not now. There would be time to exact her revenge.

It had been so long since she had been this close to home. The memories of that fall morning when chaos descended on her family’s tiny hamlet swirled around like the gusts of wind flowing through the cabin. If she closed her eyes, she could still hear the yelling, the shots fired, the screams. The acrid scent of smoke wafted across her nose and her stomach flip-flopped. It was the worst day of her life and all she could do was stay hidden and watch.

“Are you ready, Jenny?” Barnes’s crisp British accent never wavered, even as his voice raised to be heard. This was not his first jump behind enemy lines. She shoved the memory back into the recesses of her subconscious.

“Yes,” she called back over the deafening thrum of the propellers. She ignored the jitters she got every time she had to jump out of an aircraft. She had a job to do and she had to be in top form. There could be no error. Errors meant death. She would not fail in her task.

Where can readers find out more about you?
Readers can find out more about me at my website.  My favorite part of my page is my Pin Curl Adventures section.  It shows some of the fun things I have done as a 1940s girl.  Otherwise, I am very active on social media and you can find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Molly has used her interest in history and writing to connect to others. I hope that she’ll inspire you as she inspires me to use time and talents similarly. We can all be the positive change in our world. Thanks. Molly.

 
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