Author Archives: JackWLondon

A noval approach

One author speaking with another, offering fabulous advice in a delightful read. — Dan Poynter, author of SUCCESSFUL NONFICTION, IS THERE A BOOK INSIDE YOU? I’ve written and published four books and working on a fifth (book). I WISH I’D … Continue reading

 
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Autumn 2017

My Autumn is filling up.  Here is where I’m scheduled to speak and to give classes and presentations during Autumn, 2017: September 7, 2017:  Writing Your Story, a one day program for veterans who want to learn to write a book, at the … Continue reading

 
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On the Nightstand: Summer 2017, and the living is easy.

Nothing says summer like a fish camp on the river, or an American flag on the 4th of July, or curling up with a good book. Welcome to On the Nightstand, where I mention a few of the books on … Continue reading

 
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Spring Bookstand Cleaning

It’s Spring again. My roses are growing up into the oak branches and the irises have blossomed for the season.  Our lawn is (temporarily) green and … the sounds of hammers and saws and boomboxes pound in my ears, the … Continue reading

 
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A Year for Travel……

December, 2016: 2016 was a year of travel. It took me to Maine and Colorado and Montana but most of my best travels were on my nightstand. If this is your first On the Nightstand, I review and rate my reads on … Continue reading

 
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From Tet to Tet in Vietnam: March 10-11, 1968

COURAGE, WITH NO HOPE:  THE MEN OF RADAR LIMA SITE 85 The last North Vietnamese attack of the January Tet offensive began on March 10, 1968, when NVA soldiers scaled a cliff at Phou Pha Thi, Laos, to destroy an American radar site … Continue reading

 
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Hope, and Courage. On this day…

The Tet, February 29, 1968 The Tet attack on Huễ became the longest battle during the Tet offensive of 1968. It began when Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops stormed the citadel, or fort, of the city of Huễ on January 31, 1968, and overwhelmed … Continue reading

 
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Hope and Courage

On this day in 1968, in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, American marines defended the assault on Khe Sanh that had begun with the Tet Offensive. North Vietnamese and Viet Cong attacked the marine air base with trenches and artillery in … Continue reading

 
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On the Nightstand: A Verdugo Winter

The word verdugo is, of course, from the Spanish office of torturer for the Inquisition. That group’s work was much admired in England by the Tudors (Henry VIII, Queen Mary, Elizabeth…), who set about to stretch the limits of the … Continue reading

 
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Touching the Past: In Honor of Veterans

The way led down a paved road, then another mile on a rough road past a farmhouse, then off the road altogether along a rutted lane that disappeared into the woods.  Two turnings later the path stopped in a forest … Continue reading

 
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St. Crispin’s Day, 600 years on: We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.

October 25 is St. Crispin’s Day, originally celebrated for a cobbler who was martyred by the Romans in AD 286 but in modern times known for the startling English victory over the vastly larger French army at Azincourt on October 24, 1415.  For … Continue reading

 
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On the Nightstand: Autumn (book) leaves….

              Autumn.  It’s a wonderful autumn, with cooler days (from the hundreds down to the nineties), changing leaves (brown, from lack of water), and wildly confused garden flowers that are uncertain whether to bloom or die, so do a bit of … Continue reading

 
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Hammock Days

Hammock days.   The roses of spring have become the scorched blossoms of July.  The view from my writing desk captures little heat waves shimmering across the lawn where deer are so languid that they sleep in broad daylight, not fifty … Continue reading

 
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Over there: Dulce et Decorum Est

Among the rows and rows of graves and amidst the linden trees of the Meuse-Argonne American Military Cemetery the cool breezes of eastern France gently suggest the lines from Horace that ‘It is sweet and right to die for one’s … Continue reading

 
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Courage, And Hope

© Jack Woodville London i. Courage      “You men stand at ease.” Colonel Henderson looked at his notepad, scribbled something, then looked back up at the pilot and door gunner standing in front of him in the LZ command post.   “You say … Continue reading

 
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On the Nightstand: This Might be a Good Story…

  It’s spring.  Roses are blooming, the irises and Copper Canyon daisies are filling out and sending musky little scents through the study window.  Junebug is crawling around the garden stalking some pitiful creature.   My nightstand runneth over.   In … Continue reading

 
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A Short History of Time, and Motion

© 2015 Jack Woodville London      “That’s no good,” he said.  “You have to stretch the ITB to open up the adductor magnus and gastrocnemius.  They’re key to glycogen replacement.”  He demonstrated, then smiled knowingly while I tried to follow.  “And … Continue reading

 
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On the Nightstand: Of Winter Days and Longer Nights

  The New Year has arrived with all its baggage.  Chill winds.  Clouds low on the horizon. Garden flowers pleading to be pruned.   Junebug demanding to be let out, then back in, then back out.  But winter is not all grim … Continue reading

 
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The Letter From a Caring Stranger– Family of Melvin Callaway, August, 1945

A town in Denmark under German occupation put itself at grave risk to honor and respect the sacrifice of Airman Melvin Callaway and, when the war ended, to find his family.
 

 
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This compilation of techniques should be within hand’s reach

“Beneficial for any skill-level of writer, this compilation of techniques should be within hands reach the next time a paper, article, or book needs to be well-written so it will stand out in the reader’s memory.”
– connywithay

 
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A Novel Approach to Writing Fiction

Apart from grammar, there are few steadfast rules for writing books. Some of the most revered works tell the ending on page one, use unconventional structures such as three line paragraphs or one paragraph chapters, or employ run-on sentences that … Continue reading

 
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Starting Your Novel: Little Things That Make a Big Difference

You have the story in your head. You’ve overcome the time / space conundrum so that you’re alone with your word processor at your kitchen table or, better yet, in your study. Now, all that’s left is to get started … Continue reading

 
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Take Your Writing Seriously

“What I find hard about writing,” Nora Ephron said, “is the writing.” There’s a difference between writing and typing. Writers produce. Typists reproduce. Okay, that’s a bit harsh. Writers believe that a story worth telling is worth telling well. Writers … Continue reading

 
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4 Ideas for Ending Book Chapters So Readers Will Kill to Know What Happens Next

Good book chapters are like bad treasure maps. They will lure you in. They will lead you through uncharted territory. Yet, at the end, they will not yield the treasure—they will just make you want to continue the search. What … Continue reading

 
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How to Plan a Story

A truth: the planning of the story continues until the last galley is ripped from your hands and the printer won’t take any more calls from the publisher, the editor, or you. It continues to the very, very end. A … Continue reading

 
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Fact or Fiction? How Novelists Can Blend Factual Research with Creative Storytelling

Readers who have some passing knowledge of literature might be startled when in reading The Three Musketeers they encounter a passage in which D’Artagnan refers to Gulliver’s Travels. The dilemma is that The Three Musketeers is set more than a hundred years before Jonathan Swift … Continue reading

 
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This day in 1918: The Battle for Saint-Etienne, France

The United States declared war on Germany on April 1, 1917. Germany had offered to return Texas and the other border states to Mexico if it would join the war on Germany’s side. Germany also announced that it would resume unrestricted … Continue reading

 
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How to Find Your Writing Voice for Fiction: Tips from Novelists and Other Fiction Writers

You may have heard the expression “writing voice” or “writer’s voice.” Perhaps an editor has even told you that you need to develop your voice as a writer. Or maybe you heard that a fresh voice can help you stand … Continue reading

 
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On the Nightstand: The Autumn Equinox….

It is the autumnal equinox, midway between high summer and dark winter, the longest and shortest days or our calendar. Entonces? Well, it means that during a long summer I have moved a bunch of books on and off my … Continue reading

 
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Western Union:… Your son, Second Lieutenant Robert E. Hanrahan, is a prisoner of war of the German government.

There is more, both for the soldier and for the family, after the dreaded telegram. Thanks to the Hanrahan Family, you may look beyond that message and into a window of the experience of being a prisoner of war.

 
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Writing Your First Novel: Five Fundamentals for Your Path to the Pulitzer

Autumn is the season when word processors develop twitches in keyboards. Writers emerge from summers abroad, agents hunger for a new voice, publishers finally release the hidden gems that will save their industry. Book reviews burst with new titles and … Continue reading

 
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On the Nightstand: Life’s a Beach (Read)

It is June.  The days are long, the sun is high, and my nightstand is groaning.   What on earth should get out from under the bed lamp and head for the beach?   Books, of course, and you.  As for the … Continue reading

 
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On the Nightstand: A Cold Wind do Blow…

It has been a cold bitter winter, to say the least.   Except in the polar north, where glaciers are melting and icebergs are falling into the Atlantic at a record pace, the rest of North America is cold cold cold. … Continue reading

 
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Jack Woodville London Talks About Learning to Write by Reading and Becoming an Instructor

By Judy Rose, Contributing Editor Jack Woodville London’s voice is that of a southern gentleman. Smooth. His life transitions appear to be equally smooth. For instance, his transition from writing legal briefs to creating fiction. At the memory, the longtime … Continue reading

 
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On the Nightstand: December, short days and long nights with a good book….

Where has the year gone?   It’s December already and here we are rushing about looking for something to read.      Well, here’s another On the Nightstand for suggestions.     I have read some superb books this year and, this last episode for … Continue reading

 
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In Honor of Veterans on Three Fronts: 1918 — Year of Battle at Home and Abroad

Very few people today know anyone who was involved in World War I.  Fewer still have heard of the French hamlet of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, rarely mentioned by name in headlines in a season in which the recapture of St. Quentin and … Continue reading

 
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Thank you very much indeed….

This was posted on the French Letters site after the Military Writers Conference in Dayton “Having just returned from the MWSA writers conference I have to say that my favorite session was led by Jack W. London.  It was about … Continue reading

 
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On the Nightstand: Rivets, and a few Winks….

  Ah, October, and the smell of burned pumpkins and crunchy leaves is in the air, a time when the sun comes up late and goes down early and the government is shut down because the 2012 Presidential Election didn’t count, … Continue reading

 
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Your Voice

 
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On the Nightstand — End ‘o Summer Reads

Well, Summertime, and the Livin’ is Easy But, Daddy’s not so rich.  Momma’s not good lookin’ (she passed away in 2003), and if I’m cryin’ Pretty Baby it’s because the nightstand is groaning from too many books.  And, to be perfectly … Continue reading

 
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On the Nightstand — An Embarrassment of Riches

Before you accuse me of being lazy let me say that from the last installment to this has been a literary feast of 78 % dark chocolate. On the personal side, I was honored to be on a panel with Alana White, … Continue reading

 
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Chapter 28: Chapter Endings

A good chapter is like a treasure map.  It will lure you in.  It will lead you through uncharted territory. And, at the end, it will not yield the treasure — it will just make you want it more. What … Continue reading

 
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Approach every problem with an open mouth….

June 6: I’ll be with Rich Simpson on Our Echo Network Radio on D-Day.  Sandy Lawrence lined this up when it became known that Rich’s mother lives in Air Force Village on the edge of San Antonio. My dear friend, General … Continue reading

 
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On the Nightstand: Of halogen bulbs and candles burnt both ends down….

Welcome back to On the Nightstand.   Instead of proverbial May flowers brought on by April showers, this month has been ‘April deeds gave time for May reads,’ and I have had some time to dig into the book stack. … Continue reading

 
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Authors (and readers) — What should be done with the bodies? ‘S’ or ‘S apostrophe’

The Corps of Engineers has a law enforcement section. While cleaning some right of way for a new project, they had to remove a small grove of trees and, unfortunately, they discovered a cemetery that was not marked on any … Continue reading

 
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On the Nightstand

Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night, covered in a cold sweat, fearful that you have not read a single book since my last installment of On the Nightstand, a clever, thoughtful, highly-regarded source of opinion in the … Continue reading

 
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Number 27: A slap from the velvet glove

  “That’s not writing; that’s typing.” Jack Kerouac was on the wrong end of that review, one spoken by Truman Capote but, nevertheless, a review. If there is anything more contentious than the relationship between author and critic it would … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: And our winners are…..

  Entering a literary contest is a bit like eating oysters, or riding a vertiginous loop-de-loop at the carnival, or taking a nip of baby food.  The experience will make one queasy, the rewards are uncertain, and somewhere in the … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 26 What do writers do?

Writers write, of course. So do engineers, judges, shop clerks, and prison guards. What writers do, however, is something different – writers tell us about the world in a new way, a previously unseen way, with a story written from a … Continue reading

 
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First Annual A NOVEL APPROACH Literary Contest

Jack Woodville London and the American Authors Association announce the First Annual A Novel Approach Literary Contest. Please join us in this celebration of your creative writing. Here are the rules. 1. JWLBooks has published on-line the writing series A Novel … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 25 Taking Research to a Higher Level

Part Two: “You are to start tomorrow as their maid. If you do well, you will be paid eight stuivers a day. You will live with them.” I pressed my lips together. Don’t look at me like that, Griet.,” my … Continue reading

 
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Virginia’s War: The first installment in a must read WW II trilogy

French Letters Virginia’s War is a fascinating glimpse into WWII on the home front. Set in the small West Texas town of Tierra in 1944, the book details what life was like for non-combatants in the dusty backwaters of America during … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 24 Research and Accuracy in Historical Fiction — In Exquisitio Veritas

Part One: Readers with some passing knowledge of literature might be startled by reading in The Three Musketeers a passage in which D’Artagnan refers to Gulliver’s travels more than a hundred years Jonathan Swift invented them. Dumas had got it … Continue reading

 
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An End to our Winter of Discontent

I am besotted with the search for the bones of Richard III. Archeologists, working from a scrap of map dug up in a dusty file, may have pinpointed the site of the Grey Friars chapel that vanished after Henry VIII’s … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 23 — Web versus Strand: The Spider’s Dilemma

A single thread can take the spider to the prey, but a web can catch more food and keep it safe until needed. What could this possibly have to do with A Novel Approach to writing? The answer lies in … Continue reading

 
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On the Nightstand

Good Morning! I slept in a bit, for the first time in months. If you’ve missed On the Nightstand, I apologize. Sometimes work gets in the way of the leisure class, and that’s my story. A coconut always falls somewhere … Continue reading

 
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Windshift, by Joyce Faulkner

Windshift by Joyce Faulkner, Red Engine Press, 2012, $17.95, is a rare look into a hidden window, the women who flew for the Army Air Force during World War II. For three years, WASPS competed with African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, and conscientious objectors for … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 22 In Subordination….

Out of Step “Somebody had decided that all these soldiers marching around town needed recreation, so the pier—a fishing pier hitherto known simply as Municipal Pier and whose claim to fame was that down at the end of it was … Continue reading

 
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On the Nightstand…

When last we looked, I had finished Homage to Catalonia and was sorting my way through Lawrence and the Arabs. My bedside lamp was being propped up by The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Let’s see how they turned … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach Number 21 ‘Elementary, my dear…’

Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon and Paris policewoman Sophie Neveu overcame one obstacle after the other in a never- ending series of lucky breaks that depended on walkie-talkies that could not work, Swiss banks whose passwords were written by Sudoku gamers, … Continue reading

 
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Bloom,

In yet another twist to my highly acclaimed series of book reviews, I give you not a book but Bloom, a funny, one-act, two character play. And, in a slight variation of the accepted practice of reviewers not actually reading … Continue reading

 
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Writers on Deck: Spain, and The Red Car

When I was about 10 or so I read a book, The Red Car, in which a boy in a farm town somehow manages to buy a wrecked MG, repair it, and go on to races and adventures. For the rest … Continue reading

 
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Writers on Deck: Naples, The Second Leg: Course Corrections

Naples, the most bombed city in Italy, is flanked by Salerno on one side, Anzio on the other. Texas’ 36th Infantry Division was the first American unit to land on mainland Fortress Europe, wading ashore under fire. After months in … Continue reading

 
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Writers on Deck: Sicily — The First Leg

“We sailed away from there with heavy hearts and reached the country of the Cyclopes…” From the Odyssey. As the plane banked around Mount Aetna and began to descend toward Catania I wondered whether my odyssey would have any semblance … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach, Number 20: Don’t harvest without first planting the seeds

“Grouard yanked his walkie-talkie off his belt and attempted to call for backup. All he heard was static…” “Au secours!” the guard’s voice yelled. … “Au secours!” he shouted again into his radio. Static. “He can’t transmit,” Sophie realized, recalling … Continue reading

 
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My Goodness: Number One! Thank you very, very much.

Over the five day period surrounding Mothers’ Day 2012 my first novel, French Letters: Virginia’s War, rose to Number One on Amazon Kindle downloads in the category of war fiction, an astonishing compliment to an anti-war novel set on the home … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 19 Dialogue and the Language of Love

Romance is on my mind — today is my and Alice’s anniversary, and all I think about are words of love. For writers, that can be a lot to think about. Writing dialogue is hard enough without having to explore … Continue reading

 
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May, Mothers, and Memorials: A Month of Unexpected Connections

On the second Sunday of this month we honor our mothers. On the last Monday we honor our fellow citizens who gave their lives in our military service. Few realize how much these two special days have in common. Our … Continue reading

 
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On the Nightstand…

Let’s do something new. Instead of more exhuastive book reviews, let’s post what’s on the nightstand. These are the books I am reading, just finished, or am about to read. And, since books are shared surprises, let us know what … Continue reading

 
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Leeanne, GoodReads Reviewer

“Jack London really understands small town life, and has done an incredible amount of research so he could add details to make this story come to life. Waiting for the 3rd in the trilogy!”

 
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Molly Martin, The Compulsive Reader

“London has crafted an intriguing tale filled with rich details, fully fleshed characters and plenty of twists and turns to satisfy the reader who enjoys character focused historical fiction. From the prologue to last page the reader is kept turning … Continue reading

 
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Mishel, P.S. I Love Books

“I’ve never really been a “war-time” reader and I’m pretty positive this is my first war-related novel. In school I sort of avoided all History classes if I could get away with it. I’m not too sure why I did … Continue reading

 
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Celticlady’s Review

“French Letters: Engaged in War has to be the first WWII book I have read in a long time. This second novel in the trilogy by Jack Woodville London pretty much takes place in the French countryside during the attempted … Continue reading

 
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Midwest Book Review

“Jack Woodville London’s French Letters: Engaged in War Normandy 1944, is the second book in the French Letters trilogy. Beginning with a distressed woman in the prologue; the reader begins to feel some of the stress washing over Shirley. The … Continue reading

 
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Jayne, “Dear Author”

“Dear Mr. London, You promised us romance in the second book in the French Letters trilogy and you delivered. You promised us characters who are “Engaged in War” as the Allies liberate France and you delivered. You promised us answers … Continue reading

 
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Simply Dawn

“Engaged in War is the story of Will Hastings, a young Army doctor from Tierra, Texas, who arrives in Normandy amidst the D-Day landings and soon finds himself walking a moral tightrope between saving lives and a growing urge to … Continue reading

 
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Rita’s Reviewers, Mommies Review

“French Letters: Engaged in War, is the story of Will Hastings, an army doctor caught up in the D-Day landings in Normandy and the drive to capture St. Lo, France. Isolated from Virginia Sullivan and the events taking place at … Continue reading

 
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Debbie’s Book Bag

“The second volume in the French Letters trilogy is written from the perspective of Will Hastings, army doctor during WWII. The first book, Virginia’s War was written from the perspective of Will’s girlfriend, Virginia at home in Texas. The events … Continue reading

 
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Readaholic

“French Letters: Engaged in War, is the second book in the French Letters trilogy. The companion to Virginia s War, it is the story of Will Hastings, an army doctor caught up in the D-Day landings in Normandy and the … Continue reading

 
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Crystal Book Reviews

“The Lunacy and Betrayals of War!” “War is definitely one of the most terrible experiences one can endure! Through the stark narration of Will Hastings, a trained doctor, the reader encounters another war story of reason and decency gone awry … Continue reading

 
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Kandace Power Graves

“Anyone who has lived in a small town, particularly one in Texas, will recognize the trappings of existing in such a fishbowl in the lives and characters of Jack Woodville London’s Tierra, Texas, in the first book of his French … Continue reading

 
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Ernie, Amazon Reviewer

“Jack, What a read! I’ve always considered you one of the most sensitive men I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing; it’s heartening to know that such awareness seems to know no bounds. Your seamless interweaving of the everyday minutiae … Continue reading

 
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Will Howard, The Texas Bookshelf

“She’s pregnant as the book opens, but you wouldn’t know it. Jack Woodville London embarks successfully on his projected trilogy exploring some delicate domestic affairs. He weaves narrative with correspondence with news flashes – revealing the difficult times of Virginia, … Continue reading

 
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Stephanie, GoodReads Reviewer

“Recommends it for: WWII buffs, historical readers, Texans, mystery lovers, and people from small towns
This is the first in a historical fiction trilogy by new Texas author Jack London. In French Letters, we find humor and a mystery with a … Continue reading

 
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Alice, GoodReads Reviewer

“This is a wonderful first novel by Jack Woodville London. The characters in this book brought back so many memories of growing up in a small town soon after the end of World War II. The impact of the war … Continue reading

 
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The Author’s Assistant, GoodReads Reviewer

“What a wonderful summer read, especially before the Fourth of July. London transports the reader to a small town in West Texas in the midst of World War II. In the beginning of the novel the reader experiences an “Our … Continue reading

 
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Cheryl C., GoodReads Reviewer

“An engaging and edgy look at life in a small town during World War II is what you’ll find inFrench Letters – Virginia’s War: Tierra, Texas 1944, the first book of a planned trilogy by Jack Woodville London. In the … Continue reading

 
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Christine Zibas, Book Pleasures

This engaging trilogy, French Letters, opens with a scene from a small Texas town, affected like most of the country, by World War II. Populated by characters both engaging and exasperating, the action is never dull. From a bump on … Continue reading

 
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Deborah Elliott-Upton, Amarillo Globe News

“Virginia’s War written by Groom native Novel is finalist for Best Southern Fiction category Jack Woodville London claims he never gives the same answer twice about why he wroteVirginia’s War the first book his French Letters trilogy. “World War II … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 18: Dialogue as Short Story

It all started with a phone call. My father’s voice, quavery with excitement, crackles down the line. “Good news, Nadezhda. I’m getting married!” I remember the rush of blood to my head. Please let it be a joke! Oh, he’s … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 17: “We need to talk.”

Dialogue breathes life into writing. People do talk. Characters must talk. It’s that simple. Dialogue can be written to do anything that omniscience can do, whether it is describing an event or moving from one scene to the next or … Continue reading

 
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Carey from The Tome Traveller’s Webblog

By 1944 the small town of Tierra, Texas was used to the war. The young boys played war games, arguing over who would be on the side of the Allies and who would be the Nazis for the day. The nearby … Continue reading

 
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Jayne from DearAuthor.com

Readers: If you are bothered by period nomenclature (Japs, Krauts, wetbacks), I would advise you to read this book with caution. Dear Mr. London, I am so glad that someone from Vire Press contacted Dear Author about reading this book. … Continue reading

 
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Viviane Crystal

“Living Up To Fiction!” WWII forced many couples to declare their love in the hopes that a beloved girlfriend would wait for her man who was off in the awful trench warfare stretching across Europe. Sandy, a young boy, who … Continue reading

 
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Lt. General Myers Recognizes French Letters

 
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Michael Singley

With Engaged in War, Jack London delivers another engrossing and well-written novel in the French Letters series. Whereas Virginia’s War told the story of the home front in a small Texas town, EIW tells the story of Captain Will Hastings … Continue reading

 
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Midwest Book Review

Even when bullets aren’t being shot overhead, the war is still being fought. “French Letters: Engaged in War” is the first novel in Jack Woodville’s World War II trilogy, following an army doctor who finds himself in Normandy and crushed … Continue reading

 
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J. Cameron Smith

This is the second instalment in the `French Letters’ trilogy, and is written from the perspective of Will Hastings, a young army doctor on the battlefields of France in World War II. Will Hastings arrives in France during the D … Continue reading

 
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Kathleen M. Rogers

Award winning author Jack W. London is a gifted storyteller! The prologue’s opening scene at a funeral sets the stage for a story that is full of small town rumors and gossip and secrets galore. Chapter One opens with twelve … Continue reading

 
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Moonbeam “of Avalon”

If anyone has ever lived in–or at least visited–a small town in the Texas panhandle, Virginia’s War will transport them back to that land in both space and time. Mr. London has certainly done a fine job of painting a … Continue reading

 
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Claudia Pemberton

Set in the spring of 1944, “Virginia’s War” chronicles six months in the life of a small Texas town as its inhabitants struggle with everyday existence in the backdrop of WWII.Although war is raging a world away for Captain Will … Continue reading

 
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Michael Singley

With Virginia’s War, Jack London paints a vivid and poignant portrait of life on the home front during World War II in the small town of Tierra, Texas. Starting with a compelling prologue, Mr. London brings the town of Tierra … Continue reading

 
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A NOVEL APPROACH Number 16: The Basics of Shooting Free Throws

In the middle of all these heavy topics about writing scenes, characters, conflicts and so on, it is easy to lose sight of the basics. This is about as basic as I can get: writing is like shooting free throws. … Continue reading

 
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Begorrah, and is it not brothers and sisters we are?

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, the celebration of all things Irish. The Irish are generally a special people. Handsome, or attractive, witty, musical, loyal, proud, and principalled. But it has not always been so easy. Well-known is the exodus of … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 15: Scenes — Writing an Impression

Imagine that you are blind. Someone is reading a story to you. It might be a news story. It might be an essay. It might be fiction. The page is turned and your reader discovers that in lieu of words, … Continue reading

 
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March Forth: Hug a Soldier

Better still, ‘Hold a Soldier.’ I was one of the very lucky ones. When I was in the Army I had pretty safe assignments. I was never to my knowledge shot at, at least not by the enemy, and my … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 14: “May I see what you have in a nice 30 caliber hollow-point?”

Characters are no more interesting than the conflict that defines them. In character-driven fiction the most interesting characters are those whose conflict is that they turn out to be different than anyone thinks they are, including themselves. Let’s consider a … Continue reading

 
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Downton Abbey — Head on Chopping Block….

Tonight is the end of the second season (in the US) of that corsets and castles gripper, Downton Abbey. Season One (spoiler alert) is fun: when the heir to the entailed title and estate joins Leonardo de Caprio on the … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 13: Characters, First Lesson

An author must be able to write characters, fiction or non-fiction, who are memorable. But — how does one do it? The answer, briefly, is that for each character who truly is worthy of being in your story or book, … Continue reading

 
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Best Fiction — Gallows Humor

My objective criteria for this category is that the humor must be such that on first reading I began to laugh while enjoying a rising sense of someone’s imminent demise. For example, one that should be on the list but … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 12 REVEILLE

Writers need more than just something to write about. We need to write those somethings in interesting ways. However, all too often we confine ourselves by the familiar, being limited by our experiences, our acquaintances, and our language. We know … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Chapter (Apollo)11 — Course Corrections

Welcome to A Novel Approach, a weekly (more or less) note about writing. Join us and follow us. I’ll post the tip on Twitter at JWLBooks and the full note on Facebook at Jack Woodville London, at the MWSA site, … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Chapter 10. Elizabeth Bennett and The Caine Mutiny

Welcome to A Novel Approach, a weekly note about writing. Join us and follow us. I’ll post the tip on Twitter at JWLBooks and the full note on Facebook at Jack Woodville London, at the MWSA site, and right here … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 9 — Cart Precedes Horse

Welcome to A Novel Approach, a weekly note about writing. Join us and follow us. I’ll post the tip on Twitter at JWLBooks and the full note on Facebook at Jack Woodville London, at the MWSA site, and right here … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number Eight. “I am born.”

Welcome to A Novel Approach, a weekly note about writing. Join us and follow us. I’ll post the tip on Twitter at JWLBooks and the full note on Facebook at Jack Woodville London, at the MWSA site, and right here … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 7: Train misses school bus: An introduction to story arc

Welcome to A Novel Approach, a weekly note about writing. Join us and follow us. I’ll post the tip on Twitter at JWLBooks and the full note on Facebook at Jack Woodville London, at the MWSA site, and right here … Continue reading

 
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Private, later Corporal, George Gobbz, 2d Battalion, 2d Marines, 1944-1946

Private Gobbz was sent to the war in the Pacific in 1944 and fought with the marines in every significant battle until the end of the war.  He then was assigned to occupation duty in Japan, including house to house weapons … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number Six: Be serious about your writing

Welcome to A Novel Approach, a weekly note about writing. Join us and follow us. I’ll post the tip on Twitter at JWLBooks and the full note on Facebook at Jack Woodville London, at the MWSA site, and right here … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach Number Five: Caution children, exciting

A Novel Approach Number Five: Caution children, exciting Welcome to A Novel Approach, a weekly note about writing. Join us and follow us. I’ll post the tip on Twitter at JWLBooks and the full note on Facebook at Jack Woodville … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Lucy and the Football

Welcome to A Novel Approach, a weekly note about writing. Join us and follow us. I’ll post the tip on Twitter at JWLBooks, and the full note on Facebook at Jack Woodville London, at the MWSA site, and right here … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number Three –The lowly paragraph…

…can leap tall tales with a single bound, is faster than a speeding gerund, is stronger than the strongest adjective. In the wrong hands, it can make your tale hard to follow. In the write hands, paragraphs can become a … Continue reading

 
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Porcelain on Steel: Women of West Point’s Long Gray Line

Porcelain on Steel, (2010), Fortis Publishing, $17.95, by Donna McAleer, is a provocative reminder that social evolution is rarely the product of intelligent design. This fine book is a pointillist image of change that is hard won but, seen in retrospect, long … Continue reading

 
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Remembering Eleven Eleven

Once, in the days before corporate sponsor naming rights, we named our sports fields ‘Memorial Stadium.’ When the national anthem was played, it was in honor of those Americans in whose memory the memorial stadium had been built. And, in … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach — Number Two: Active Voice

Welcome to A Novel Approach, a weekly note about writing. The Military Writers Society of America asked me to write a weekly note with tips on writing, cruel payment (or punishment) for honoring me as the 2011 Author of the Year … Continue reading

 
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Winners of the ‘Patriotism is More than a Bumper Sticker’ Contest

In anticipation of Veterans Day, or Armistice Day as we once named it and Remembrance Day as it still is known in some countries, we proposed a writing competition on the subject of patriotism, a trait all too often claimed … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach

Welcome to A Novel Aproach, a weekly note about writing. The Military Writers Society of America asked me to write a weekly note with tips for writing, cruel payment (or punishment) for honoring me as the 2011 Author of the Year … Continue reading

 
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Author of the Year for French Letters: Engaged in War

I did not see this coming, but I am so happy that it did. I am honored to be honored by my co-authors and the Military Writers Society of America for Engaged in War. It is the story of a … Continue reading

 
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Air Corpsman Alex Dickie, First Army Air Group, Ligny-en-Barrois, France, November 9, 1918

Corpsman Dickie was an aerial spotter in the air corps, which included machine gun as well as observation duties. He wrote this letter with strong hints about the armistice that would be declared two days later, an event that the … Continue reading

 
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Today is September 20. Welcome to Arnhem.

Operation Market Garden, in 1944, was the largest airborne invasion in history, and it failed. General Montgomery brushed aside Eisenhower’s and others objections to his plan to sneak into Germany by capturing the Rhine bridge at Arnhem. It soon became clear … Continue reading

 
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Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes — two memoirs of great courage

‘Code Name Christiane Clouet’ is a memoir, written by Claire Chevrillon, a school teacher whose family fell afoul of the Germans in occupied Paris. Translated to English by Jane Kielty Stott and published by Texas A&M Press, this is the … Continue reading

 
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This day: July 15, in Paris — Quid plura?

History and literature — for the past couple of weeks I have written (almost) daily notes on what happened on this day in history (usually military) or in literature (a la Sherlock Holmes and A Farewell to Arms). Before I … Continue reading

 
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July 12 St. Lo, France 1944

American infantry, led by the 115th and 116th regimental combat teams of the 29th Infanty Division, pushed to within one mile of St. Lo, France, a crossroads city that would become known as The Capitol of the Ruins for the … Continue reading

 
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If you had been born before 1925….

On July 11, you could have been present when Dwight Eisenhower was nominated to be President, 1952 You could have waded ashore in Saipan with marines, 1944 You could have advanced south from Carentan behind a howitzer barrage, in Normandy, 1944 Or, if you … Continue reading

 
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July 9 1943: American medicine comes to Sicily

On July 9, 1943, American and allied forces began the invasion of Europe in World War II at Gela, Sicily. It was near there that the 93d Evacuation Hospital medical unit went to the front line of the assault to provide emergency … Continue reading

 
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July 8: History that should have been fiction

In 1959, Dale Ruis, an Army major, and Chester Ovnand, a master sergeant, volunteered for a little-known unit called the South Vietnam Military Assistance Group, a collection of advisers who had been sent to Vietnam to assist the Republic after the … Continue reading

 
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July 7 “The Dog Did Nothing”

Sherlock Holmes is more real than his creator, Sir Author Conan Doyle. Holmes books and stories continue to sell over one hundred years after first published. Legions of fans troop by 221-B Baker Street in London, an address that does … Continue reading

 
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Today, July 6: Before Rosa Parks…

July 6, 1944: One month to the day after the Allied landings in Normandy, D-Day, Second Lieutenant Jackie Robinson traveled from a hospital in Temple, Texas, to Fort Hood, Texas, a distance of approximately twenty miles. He had been sent to the … Continue reading

 
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Today, July 5: Honor our veterans….

On July 5, 1932 veterans of World War I blocked the steps to the United States Capitol in futile attempts to lobby for the payment of the bonus that had been promised to them for enlisting in 1917 to serve in the war … Continue reading

 
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July 4: Was it worth the risk?

How much did your freedom cost you today? A bag of fireworks? A flag put up alongside your front porch? An hour away from the barbeque to go watch the parade or hear a John Philips Souza concert? How do … Continue reading

 
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July 3: 1942 A world in turmoil

In Paris, 1942, German authorities rounded up prominent Jews, including author Irène Némirovsky, who on July 3 wrote to her family from the internment camp at Pithiviers ‘please just let it be over.’ She and thousands of her fellows were … Continue reading

 
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This Day: July 2 The Sun Also Sets

“In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white … Continue reading

 
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This Day — July 1: The Watershed of Our history

Four score and seven years after the Declaration of Independence, all that already had happened in United States history began to draw to a close. All that would happen in a changing nation would begin to unfold. With a single … Continue reading

 
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Seventy years ago

What is happening today? There is war, or at least revolution, across North Africa and the Middle East, and we are definitely tangled up in it in Libya. And, whether it is isolation politics or party politics, as I write … Continue reading

 
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On my Nightstand

For the second time in a month, I found myself in London. Unfortunately, this was a working trip, with one evening with my friend Louis (of St. Sere’ fame) (or infamy) who took me to hear progressive jazz in the … Continue reading

 
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The Dauphine Doughboy – 1919

Letter Description: Not exactly a personal letter but still a message home from the front, The Dauphine Doughboy was published for American troops stationed near Grenoble, France. Thousands of US soldiers were kept in France after Armistice Day, usually sent … Continue reading

 
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Old Filth, (2004), and The Man in the Wooden Hat, (2009), by Jane Gardem

If I am limited to recommend only one book, I urge you to read these two books. Jane Gardem writes prose that begins gently, invitingly, leading you to the next page and the next, never permitting you to notice that … Continue reading

 
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THIS POPPY IS FOR…..

Memorial Day was begun to honor the Americans who served us when we were drawn into war. It began in 1866, beginning with ‘Reconciliation Day’ in May after the end of the Civil War. It continued through the First World War … Continue reading

 
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Letters Home from War – Part One: Anesthesia for the pain of time and distance

In this anniversary month of the commencement of the Civil War, of the battles to capture Italy and the liberation of concentration camps in Germany, it does well to reflect on the thoughts that occupied the minds of those who … Continue reading

 
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Private Thomas Rowan Smith, Co. C., 33d Engineers, American Expeditionary Force, France, 1918-1919

  Letter Description: (Letter written October 14, 1918) Private Smith was stationed near Tours, France. In the following letters, he writes to the woman who eventually he will marry. The letters begin in August, 1918 and include a remarkable letter written on November … Continue reading

 
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Private Thomas Rowan Smith, Co. C., 33d Engineers, American Expeditionary Force, France, 1918-1919

Letter Description: (Letter written November 12, 1918) Private Smith was stationed near Tours, France. In the following letters, he writes to the woman who eventually he will marry. The letters begin in August, 1918 and include a remarkable letter written on November 12, 1918 – the … Continue reading

 
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Private Thomas Rowan Smith, Co. C., 33d Engineers, American Expeditionary Force, France, 1918-1919

Letter Description: (Letter written March 8, 1919) Private Smith was stationed near Tours, France. In the following letters, he writes to the woman who eventually he will marry. The letters begin in August, 1918 and include a remarkable letter written on November 12, 1918 – the … Continue reading

 
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Private Thomas Rowan Smith, Co. C., 33d Engineers, American Expeditionary Force, France, 1918-1919

Letter Description: (Letter written August 4, 1918) Private Smith was stationed near Tours, France. In the following letters, he writes to the woman who eventually he will marry. The letters begin in August, 1918 and include a remarkable letter written on November 12, 1918 – the … Continue reading

 
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Private Thomas Rowan Smith, Co. C., 33d Engineers, American Expeditionary Force, France, 1918-1919

    Letter Description: (Letter written September 5, 1918) Private Smith was stationed near Tours, France. In the following letters, he writes to the woman who eventually he will marry. The letters begin in August, 1918 and include a remarkable letter written on … Continue reading

 
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Libya and War: No Good Deed goes Unpunished: Conclusion

On this day in April, 1941, Libya was on fire. General Rommel had begun to counterattack. British troops were about to become trapped at Tobruk. It would be another two more years of desert war before Libya was safe and would … Continue reading

 
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No good deed goes unpunished: Part Three: Penicillin, People, and Libya: No longer the safest place on earth

In the 1940’s, American production not only succeeded in building tanks and bombers, it brought life to the desert. During World War II the United States Army’s Preventive Medicine Service brought penicillin to Libya and, with it, survival against common … Continue reading

 
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No Good Deed Goes Unpunished–Part Two “Great Expectations”

Remember Great Expectations from high school English (if you were born before 1960) or the movie (Gwyneth Paltrow, Ethan Hawke, (if you were born later)? Pip, the humble farm lad, Miss Favesham, the conniving spinster, and Pip’s Uncle Joe, the … Continue reading

 
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THE LAW OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES: No good deed goes unpunished. Part One

Charles Dickens was the master of using coincidence as a literary device to portray social horrors. Oliver Twist condemned to the workhouse by greedy guardians, Sydney Carton making up for his wasted life by volunteering for a guillotine manned by … Continue reading

 
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War in Libya, nuclear devastation, and me

Sometimes I need to step down from my perch as author of historical novels, as lawyer and traveler, and just be me. That is when I think about history as it unfolds. Today it unfolds as flames of war in … Continue reading

 
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The Big Boys — My Favorite Non-Fiction 2010-2011

You know from my blog, or my reviews, or my Facebook postings, or my e-mails, that I have, shall we say, an eclectic taste in reading.    My fiction list, posted December 30, included stories about a murderous Filipino doctor, a 14th … Continue reading

 
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Robert L. (Bob) Claxton, Jr., S/Sgt, Special Agent, 441st Counter Intelligence Detachment, American Forces in the Pacific, 1944-45

Letter Description: Elegy in a Foxhole

 
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Unbroken (2010)

Unbroken (2010), Random House, $27.00, by Laura Hillenbrand is a magnificent account of an ordinary boy who became an extraordinary hero, a history and biography of an American in World War II and, by implication, of the American home front and of … Continue reading

 
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Boy oh Boy oh Boy — Best Reads of the Year

Let’s start with fiction.  To be blunt, there just isn’t enough  good fiction.  There is some rumble afoot that my next novel, due out whenever, should be named The Da Vinci Girl Who Kicked Harry Potter’s Vampire.  Pay attention here … Continue reading

 
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The Perfect Gift

  What’s the perfect gift?  That is the question, isn’t it, especially if it is better to give than to receive.  But what’s the answer?  Where to begin?  What to do?  So, I began with ‘Where to go to shop? — … Continue reading

 
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Fortress Rabaul, (2008)

Fortress Rabaul, (2008) by Bruce Gamble,  is a riveting history of two years of unrelenting conflict in the South Pacific triangle of New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and New Britain Island, on which the port, village, and Japanese military base of … Continue reading

 
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One degree of separation

It’s hard to imagine,  but I knew someone who knew someone who lived through the colonization of Texas, during the battle of the Alamo, Texas statehood (twice), the Civil War and Reconstruction, the first Great Depression (1876), and the taking of … Continue reading

 
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A Friend of the family…..

Several years ago we were away, in our adoptive home-away-from-home, when Alice conked out one afternoon.  The details are fuzzy – too many museums, too many hours wandering around London’s sights, jet lag, maybe Portobello Road had wiped her out – but … Continue reading

 
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The American Future: A History, (2008)

The American Future:  A History, (2008) by Simon Schama, is not so much a history as a magnifying glass put to episodes in our history rather that lead to the question ‘Who, exactly, are we?’ In what must have been a … Continue reading

 
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General Paul Myers

Have you ever stumbled into something that is too good to be true, but turns out to be true? Several years ago I needed a special doctor to explain an MRI, a film that showed where a brain tumor in … Continue reading

 
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Private Bud Babcock, Carson County, Texas 7th Armored Division

Letter Description: Private Bud Babcock, Carson County, Texas 7th Armored Division, served in Holland, Germany, Belgium, France, wounded near St. Vith, Belgium 1944. By permission of Ken and Linda Babcock.

 
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Private Art Clayton, B Company, 409th Infantry Regiment, France

Letter Description: Private Art Clayton, B Company, 409th Infantry Regiment, France, December 7, 1944, printed with permission of Bruce Clayton and included in his memoirs in http://mariposa.yosemite.net/mudnguts/index.htm

 
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FRENCH LETTERS: THE STORY CONTINUES

French Letters:  Engaged in War, is on the shelves and on the e-books — it’s launched? It is the parallel-quel to Virginia’s War, the 2009 finalist for BEST NOVEL OF THE SOUTH, BEST HISTORICAL FICTION, AND BEST ROMANTIC NOVELS WITH A TWIST. … Continue reading

03 Track 03
 
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Service for our country: A Meigs has been in our service since West Point was founded

I just had the good fortune to have been invited by Stewart Vanderwilt to a lunch presentation by General Montgomery Meigs. He is a retired Army general, twice commander of US troops in Bosnia during that war and most recently head … Continue reading

 
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Service for our country: A Meigs has been in our service since West Point was founded

I just had the good fortune to have been invited by Stewart Vanderwilt to a lunch presentation by General Montgomery Meigs. He is a retired Army general, twice commander of US troops in Bosnia during that war and most recently head … Continue reading

 
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FRENCH LETTERS: THE STORY CONTINUES….

French Letters:  Engaged in War, officially launches today, September 14, 2010.   It is the parallel-quel to Virginia’s War, the 2009 finalist for BEST NOVEL OF THE SOUTH, BEST HISTORICAL FICTION, AND BEST ROMANTIC NOVELS WITH A TWIST.  Engaged in War is the … Continue reading

 
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Staff Sergeant Ernest Howard

Letter Description: Staff Sergeant Ernest Howard, 429th Bomb Squadron / Second Bomb Group, Italy, Thanksgiving 1945
Contributed by his son, Derek Howard

 
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Inchon and a visit with Don Farinacci

People who write have good book lists…. My friend and fellow author Donald Farinacci wrote a fine non-fiction book, ‘Truman and MacArthur: Adversaries for a Common Cause,’ published this year by Merriam Press.   Today, September 10, is the eve of the … Continue reading

 
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The Letter Project

“Maybe Africa should never have been called the Dark Continent; I find it nice here and wish you could see the wild flowers.”  An artillery soldier in April 1943, during the drive to capture Tunisia.   “To hear their piteous crys for … Continue reading

 
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THE LETTER PROJECT

“Maybe Africa should never have been called the Dark Continent; I find it nice here and wish you could see the wild flowers.” An artillery soldier in April 1943, during the drive to capture Tunisia. “To hear their piteous crys for … Continue reading

 
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Private (soon to be Corporal) William H. Oppenheim, Co “H”, 2d Finance Training Battalion, Fort Benjamin Harrison Indiana, to Private Raul Amaya, 8th Armored Division, Fort Knox, Ky

Letter Description: September 8, 1942

 
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Lieutenant Samuel Evans, E . Co., 104th Infantry Regiment, 26th (“Yankee”) Division

Letter Description: The long hand-written letter is not a v-mail. It was written December 18, 1944 in Belgium and mentions that the “Jerries” have started up something against the 1st and 9th Divisions and he hopes that the 1st and the 9th … Continue reading

 
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Lieutenant Samuel Evans, E . Co., 104th Infantry Regiment, 26th (“Yankee”) Division

Letter Description: One of the V-mails from France is numbered ‘#3” so that family at home could keep them in order. He mentions in the v-mails that he passes through the destroyed towns near the D-Day landing beaches and then through … Continue reading

 
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Sgt. Cecil Turner

Letter Description:  “Sgt. Cecil Turner, Hq., 36th Div., Artillery, reproduced with permission graciously given by his daughter, Kathie Jackson, author of “So Great a Heritage, the inspiring WWII letters of Sergeant Turner.”

 
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W.H.Harrell to his sister February 14 1864

Letter Description: This is the Civil War Letter. It was contributed by W.H.Harrell’s descendant Mrs. Jo Pierce. The original, hand-written, is on permanent loan to the Texas State Historical Archives.

 
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Lieutenant Chester Jordan, K Company, 2d Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division

Letter Description: V Mails written to his parents in Dallas, Texas.  Four of them are remarkable drawings he made.  He was a graduate architect from Texas A&M.  The fifth is a somewhat poignant letter to his father, saying that he … Continue reading

 
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LETTERS HOME

Soldiers have written home to comfort and console their loved ones since Plutarch wrote to Timoxena during the wars of Alexander the Great. Their letters tell us of their lives, their thoughts, their fears and hopes — a window into … Continue reading

 
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War, (2010)

War, (2010) by Mr. Sebastian Junger, (http://www.sebastianjunger.com/) is a well-written and provocative book, the product of Mr. Junger’s having been embedded with an Army infantry company in a remote front line outpost in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008. The title … Continue reading

 
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Truman and MacArthur, Adversaries for a Common Cause

Truman and MacArthur, Adversaries for a Common Cause, by Mr. Donald J. Farinacci, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Scrivener-Literary-Productions-Books-by-Donald-J-Farinacci/346933663716 is an elegant political biography of two men who unwittingly reinforced a principal of the American fabric by engaging in a confrontation that ended both their … Continue reading

 
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New Dawn: The Battles for Fallujah (2010)

New Dawn: The Battles for Fallujah (2010), by Mr. Richard Lowry, (http://richardslowry.com/) painstakingly details the 2004 battles that ravaged Fallujah, Iraq. Fallujah was, before 2003, a city of some 425,000 inhabitants, physically located on the Euphrates River in Anbar Province about 30 miles … Continue reading

 
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Home Page

Whether you are here to share a letter, find a good book or learn more about Tierra, Texas and a seldom-covered side of World War II, enjoy your stay.

 
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D-Day, 2010: How Good It Is To Have Been Born On Third Base

This is a hard photograph to look at, but please do. It’s about us. One of the most blistering comments made about a recent president was that he was born on third base and grew up thinking he had hit … Continue reading

 
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A three day weekend

In Flanders fields the poppies blowBetween the crosses, row on row,That mark our place; and in the skyThe larks, still bravely singing, flyScarce heard amid the guns below.We are the Dead. Short days agoWe lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,Loved, … Continue reading

 
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Armed Forces Day

Fist. Club. Rock. Sword. Spear. Arrow. Gun. Cannon. Tank. Bomb. Mushroom cloud.Mushroom. Glade. Hollow. Grave. Tomb. Tombstone. Cemetery. Arlington. Colleville. Army. Navy. Marines. Air Force. Reserve. Mothers. Fathers. Wives. Daughters. Sons.Gone to flowers, every one.God bless those who, knowing that … Continue reading

 
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The first American in St Lo, France

Major Thomas Howie used a field telephone to tell his commanding officer that his battalion of the 116th regiment would not quit until Howie would “See you in St. Lo,” the critical French crossroads market town defended by Germany and … Continue reading

 
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Sanctuary

Flee, yes. But… where?
When the sanctuary is no longer a sanctuary. St. Lo, France, July 18,1944

 
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Ruins

Flee, yes, but where? After more than two thousand years of doing laundry in their quiet streams, a thousand years after William the Conqueror left Normandy for England, after four years of being conquered by German occupation, and a few … Continue reading

 
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Flee, yes, but … where?

Flee, yes, but … where? The laundry women may first have heard the sound of war twenty or thirty miles away at the landing beaches, but they would not have known that the war coming to them until this notice fluttered … Continue reading

 
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Rivers

Rivers not only brought boat loads of wine, grain, fruit, and construction materials (and Norsemen), they also brought people together. Every village in France had a place along the river for women to gather. In a European equivalent of the … Continue reading

 
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Engaged in War

Rivers were the roads of France since before Caesar led the Romans into Gaul. Towns were built on rivers for trade but, as the French learned, the rivers also brought disaster: the Vikings drove deep into France on the Seine … Continue reading

 
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2010

January 1, 2010, was the first New Years Day that I woke up without calling my friend Marty. Marty was my Army pilot, my Spurs buddy, and one of the Best Men at my and Alice’s wedding. Marty made me laugh, taught … Continue reading

 
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The Books of Others

Alice called me during a book festival signing last Saturday and asked a rather pointed question — “Are you bringing home more books than you took to sell?” Her concern, driven by the need for more bookshelves, neither began nor … Continue reading

 
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In Memory of Characters

My friend Mitchell, in charge of machine guns for Colt Firearms, was the first civilian flown to Pearl Harbor, arriving late on December 8, 1941. Hours before the President announced to the country that the Japanese had attacked, the Army had hustled … Continue reading

 
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If Superman’s costume was indestructable…..

…how did Clarke Kent’s mother make his costume? It took me over four years to write French Letters: Virginia’s War. Why? It’s not that long and compared to, say, War and Peace or Harry Potter, not all that complicated. Answer: … Continue reading

 
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Spending Some Time on Canal du Midi

In the mid 1600’s, days of quill pens and before there was a single paved road in America, France built the Canal du Midi, connecting the Atlantic and Mediterranean with a waterway that runs up and over mountain ranges and … Continue reading

 
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Scriptorium

Where I write….When I signed French Letters at Hastings Book Store in Amarillo a week or two ago one proud owner of a signed first edition looked at my illegible scrawl and said ‘Well, I hope you can type –you … Continue reading

 
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Where there’s a Will

Colleville sur Mer, France(Photograph taken by Ian and Wendy) The American military cemetery at Colleville is humbling, a vast, quiet, immaculate resting place for thousands of young men. Alice and I went to Colleville, to Ste. Mere Eglise, and to … Continue reading

 
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Marguerite Knisely to an American Bomber Pilot

“I do want to let you know that those planes were a welcome sight to us. We watched them on their way toward Germany and later, on their way back toward England, the stragglers which obviously had been hit and … Continue reading

 
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Returning to New Orleans After Katrina

My wife, Alice, is a graduate of Sophie Newcomb college, adjunct to Tulane University. We had plans to meet with her Newcomb and Tulane friends the Labor Day weekend of 2005 but, unfortunately, by Labor Day there was no Sophie Newcomb … Continue reading

 
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Launched

She floats! Thank you for such a wonderful launch party! Book People ran out of space for people to stand and ran out of copies for me to sign. Mindy Reed slipped out during the signing and came up with … Continue reading

 
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Number 2: February 2009

The launch : February 13, 2009, at Book People, in Austin, Texas. What’s in a name?All my life I have been asked about my name: “Are you related to the author?” “Are you Jack London?” When Editor Mindy reed and I began … Continue reading

 
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Book One Launches

Book Launch February 13, 2009 Welcome to French Letters, The Novels. I hope you will enjoy reading about the books and the people who have helped to bring them to publication. This blog is for you to share those stories and to … Continue reading

 
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