Thursday, November 30, 2017

Another Gift Suggestion

Here is another suggestion for a book for holiday giving. Take a virtual trip to Japan. Find out what it was like to live there. Learn how we managed to do business with the Japanese. Discover the wonderful experiences we enjoyed during our stay there as well as some of the frustrations. 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park is part memoir, part business book, part travel, part theme park construction, and a lot of fun.

While we were in Japan, every two weeks or so, I wrote an essay on something we had seen or done or observed. (Today, they would probably be a blog.) By the end of our stay, I sent my pieces to over 150 people via email. I discovered some of them passed them on to other people.

When we got back, several friends said I should put them into a book. This seemed like an easy task—until I actually started to do it. I discovered the original stories didn’t translate well into a cohesive narrative. They became my source material, but with only a couple of exceptions, I ended up rewriting everything.

I finished the first couple of chapters, but then I realized I needed Larry’s input. I told him what I wanted. Then I waited. And waited. A couple of months later, he came back with something. Only his was very different from the book I had started. I couldn’t figure out any way to incorporate it into a cohesive narrative. I gave up on the project.

Fortunately, a good friend asked about the book. I told her our issue. She invited us to attend her critique group. “Bring what you have to a meeting. Maybe someone can help you figure out how to make it work.”

One of the other writers suggested we look at the material we wanted to include and see if we could identify each chapter by who wrote it. This made sense. So, we began again.

As we worked on the manuscript, we shared information. We also did two complete rewrites. During these, some of Larry made its way into my chapters, and some of me made its way into his. Yet, our unique points of view remained.

We finished the first draft after two years. We did a great deal of fact-checking with our colleagues to be sure we accurately conveyed the events.

We began to look for an agent. The one we found loved the book, but he couldn’t figure out how to market it. It was about Japan, but it wasn’t a travel guide. It was about doing business with the Japanese, but it wasn’t specifically a business book. (Although, it was on the Forbes 500 list of recommended books for several years. It might still be, as far as I know.) It was about the expat experience, but it wasn’t exclusively about it. And it was about building the theme park (Universal Studios Japan), but it wasn’t limited to the construction, either. After several months, the agent returned our manuscript to us.

By this time, the park had been completed nearly four years earlier, and public interest was waning. We decided to subsidy publish the book ourselves. I researched all the available companies and chose the one with the best reputation. They also were running a special. (This was right after the holidays, a slow period for them.)

We submitted the manuscript. The editorial review gave us several items to address—including the need to reduce the size of the book by at least 100 pages. We also faced a deadline. If the book was submitted for publication by April 1, we would receive an additional thirty copies of the paperback. We had only one weekend to complete the edit.

I stayed up for seventy-two hours straight cutting the manuscript. Larry worked for several hours, too. In the end, we made the required publication size, and the book was even better with the cuts.

We had originally intended to use a photo showing us in the park for the cover, but the publisher said it didn’t have good enough resolution. Again, we were up against a deadline. Larry made a couple of pencil sketches of the five-story pagoda in Kyoto and the entrance arch for Universal. He faxed them to me. He said he would draft them when we got home that evening.

However, I loved them just the way they were. I am a fan of Japanese sumei painting. I like its lack of precision. I showed the sketches to several of my colleagues, and they agreed with me.

When we got home, I mocked up the cover design, with the text and blue-green ombre background. We sent it to the publisher, and they approved it.

We met our deadline.

The book is still sold around the world on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Surprisingly, the hardbound version sold well on the Amazon UK website. We know it has been recommended by word-of-mouth to expats teaching English in Japan.

We returned to Japan in 2011 for the tenth anniversary of park opening. We remain very proud of the world-class park we helped create.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Aspen Grove Anthologies

When the cold weather arrives, I often think of sitting, covered in a warm quilt, reading a book. My favorites are romance anthologies. I got the idea for our Aspen Grove Romance Anthologies on just such a cold night.

I wrote the prologue for the first book and sent it to an author friend, Sherry Derr-Wille. I knew her work, and I felt it would be perfect for the project. She immediately agreed. I asked a mutual friend and another author friend, Christie Shary, to join us. Snowflake Secrets was born.

Unfortunately, our mutual friend became very ill and was unable to continue with the project, so I asked another of my author friends. She agreed, but a week or so later, decided she wouldn’t have the time. Another friend, Luanna Rugh, overheard our discussion and asked me about the project. By the time we finished our conversation, she had already written the first chapter in her head.

One of Sherry’s publishers, Oak Tree Press (now owned by Start Publishing), loved romance anthologies. We had a contract for this book even before we finished it.

We decided to create a fictional town, Aspen Grove, Colorado, as our setting. I had lived in Colorado for a year, Christie’s brother lived there, Luanna had driven through the state several times, and Sherry lived in Wisconsin, so she knew all about seasonal weather. I chose Idaho Springs and Georgetown as the inspirations, but Aspen Grove is wholly fictional.

We had so much fun with Snowflake Secrets, we all decided to do a second. For this one, each of us took a different season and wrote a novella—all of them set in Aspen Grove. In our first book, each of the novellas was written in the first-person voice of the character. For this one, Seasons of Love, we wrote in third-person. (It is the only one of the anthologies written in third-person.) My novella in this one, “Winter’s Song,” is based on a real couple, Dan and Amy. I even play a role in the story. Can you guess who I am?

We liked writing together, and our publisher asked for another. For this one, we each chose a compass direction. I set mine, “Finding Love in Paradise,” in Hawaii and Japan, both places I know well. This book, Directions of Love, won the 2012 EPIC eBook Award for best romance anthology.

I had already written about Christmas, but I felt we needed an anthology dedicated to the season. For this book, An Aspen Grove Christmas, we added Cheryl Gardarian. This was her debut as a published author. This book is Luanna’s husband’s favorite, and Larry has read it many times because he enjoys it, too.

Christie decided not to join us for the next anthology, The Art of Love, so we were back to four authors. We each took an art form, and crafted a story around it. The inspiration for my story was the last name of a friend from work: Amalfatano. It sounded as though it could have been the name of a winery. This novella, “A Shot at Love,” is set in Aspen Grove and the wine country of California and features a photographer.

Number six in the series, and probably the last, came about one day when Luanna and I were talking about the old rhyme: Something old, Something new, Something borrowed, and Something blue. I mentioned that you don’t often hear the last line: …And a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe. We called Sherry and Cheryl. Each of us had one stanza we liked best. I took “Something Old,” inspired by my mother’s wedding dress. When the cover artist couldn’t find a photo of exactly the right dress, I sent her a picture of my mother in hers. It is now on the cover of the book.

So, if you are looking for a sweet romance to warm a cold, winter night, or you know someone who enjoys romances, please consider one of these as a gift.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Cookbooks in My Life

With the holidays approaching, you may be looking for gifts. Since The Cooking Channel and cooking shows have become so popular, cookbooks have become prized gifts. I have been involved with three of these.

My first venture into the world of cookbooks occurred in 1996 when Community Presbyterian Church of San Juan Capistrano decided to collect members’ favorite recipes as a fundraiser for the Friends of Music. The result was The Gift of Christmas.
A friend and I edited the recipes, and then Larry did the layout. The completed book was copied at a local copy shop and spiral bound. A church member designed the cover. This book contains not only some of my recipes, but also those of my mother, grandmother, and mother-in-love. Many of them were favorites at church dinners and potlucks.

In 2015, a friend asked if we had an extra copy. We decided to re-publish it in both Kindle and print form as a fundraiser for the church preschool and kindergarten. So, it is available once again.

The second cookbook in my life came about when my friend and fellow author, Ilene Schneider, suggested creating a cookbook of the recipes featured in our books, to be published by Oak Tree Press. The book was to include author photos and information about our books. I did the layout for publication, but the book was put on the back burner because of health issues of the publisher.

It languished for a couple of years until we decided it was time to get it out. Another Oak Tree author, Mary Montague Sikes, allowed us to use her beautiful artwork for the cover, and Recipes by the Book: Oak Tree Authors Cook became a reality.

This one is also available for Kindle and as a print book.

The most recent one I have been involved with is the resurrection of Marilyn Meredith’s Cooking for a Big Family and Large Groups.

This one was published so long ago, even Marilyn had forgotten about it. I ran across an old copy on Amazon, or I wouldn’t have known about it. The only copy she had was a three-hole punched copy typed on a typewriter.

I scanned the old one and converted to an electronic file, then edited and formatted it for publication. The cover is a photo of our dining room table.

Larry produced the covers for all of these.

So if you are considering a cookbook as a holiday gift, take a look at these. All of them contain great recipes and much more.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Military Service of Henry LaRay Lund

My dad was only thirty-seven years old when he died, and he never spoke of the war years, so I had no idea about his service. I tried to contact the military, but I was informed all his records were lost in a fire in the 1950s. We have no detailed records at all either about his participation in WWII or his medical records.

Although his family called Dad “Ray,” short for his middle name, his friends in the service called him “Hank.” [He wasn’t called this in his family because he was named after this father, and he often used this nickname.]

According to my mother, he changed addresses in March of 1941 and received his draft notice on April 8 (eight months before Pearl Harbor.) He reported on April 21, 1941 and served through November 24, 1945. I believe he did his basic training at Fort Ord, California. I think he was transferred from there to Camp Swift in Texas for training. He was stationed there in October of 1942 when he and my mother were married.
He was transferred to Ft. Bliss, Texas, where his unit was formed. When he arrived, he made arrangements for Mom to join him. However, he became quite ill (meningitis?), and he told her not to come. By the time he was well enough, he could no longer have her with him.

These are the basic facts my mother told me, but she didn’t know any of the details.

On Memorial Day of 1994, I sent letters to three of the men my father served with in WWII. My mother had stayed in touch with them after my dad died in 1954, so I was fortunate to have their contact information. They all contacted me, and each of them provided information about Dad’s military service.

The first of his friends, Brainard “Mac” McNeil, called me. What a thrill to talk to a living link to my father. He wasn’t well but wanted me to know the basics as he remembered them:

·           They met when both were stationed at Camp Swift in Austin, TX. In June of 1944, they were stationed together at Camp Murphy in Florida. They shipped out from there. First, they boarded the Queen Mary, used at the time as a troop transport. They entered the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. [While there, Dad took a train, which stopped near my maternal grandmother’s family home in Ayrshire. Her family members went to the station and waved to Dad as the train passed.]
·           They crossed the English Channel on an LST. Dad was in the Signal Corps with HQ Company.
·            From Europe, they sailed on the SS Marseilles.

I next received a letter from Bryan Shaner, another man who served with Dad. From him, I learned the following:

  • ·            Dad was in Supply. He and John Coyle were together when the unit formed at Ft. Bliss in Texas.
  • ·            Bryan joined them at Camp Murphy in Florida.
  • ·           They left Camp Murphy as a unit at the end of October, processed as required in New York, where they boarded the Queen Mary. They sailed on November 3 with about 15,000 troops aboard. The trip took three or four days. They had no escort because the ship was too fast.
  • ·            They sailed into the harbor on the River Clyde in Scotland, anchored in the bay, and disembarked onto a small ship. It took them to the dock, where the London-Scotland train waited. Dad asked the conductor if he knew the Kennedys (my mother’s relatives). The conductor said they were his neighbors.
  • ·            The went to a camp in Hereford, England and stayed until January or February of 1944. Bryan crossed the channel in an advance party. The rest came about a week later.
  • ·            They convoyed to Brussels, Belgium where they stayed for about two weeks. They left for Charleroi, Belgium, and then on to Nancy, France, where they were assigned to Patch’s 7th Army. Patton’s 3rd was to their left, and the French 2nd army was to the right.
  • ·            They continued up through southern Germany. They were in Augsburg, Germany when Germany surrendered in April of 1945.
  • ·            They convoyed to Heidelberg, Germany and stayed there for a while, then convoyed to the Arles Staging Area, about 80 miles from Marseilles on the Mediterranean.
  • ·            In July of 1945, they sailed out of Marseilles on a Matson ship headed for the Pacific. Three Matson ships sailed out of Los Angeles and San Francisco before the war. Over 5000 sailed aboard this ship past the Rock of Gibraltar.
  • ·            They docked in Panama City and stayed overnight. Some stayed ashore, and others stayed in the Navy barracks. [Dad stayed ashore and won spending money playing poker with the drunks as they returned to the barracks.]
  • ·            They were a few days out of Panama, when Japan surrendered. They thought the ship would turn around to go back to the US, but instead, they sailed into Manila Harbor. They went to Clark AFB.
  • ·            In two groups, during September and October, they went to Japan because they had no supply lines at the time. They were among the first troops in Japan. Fortunately, they had enough food rations during their stay.

Bryan remembers Dad as quiet and unassuming. He didn’t drink or carouse like some of the others did.

John Coyle, the last of the three, sent me a letter. In it, he told me Dad was his boss from the time the 46th Signal Heavy Construction Battalion was formed at Camp Swift, Texas in 1944 until it disbanded in early January of 1946. [Dad had longer time in service, so he was discharged in November of 1945, ahead of most of the others.]

John provided a chronological and geographical record of his service during WWII. Since Dad was with him throughout, this was the Holy Grail of records! Since Dad’s service records were gone, I rejoiced when this letter arrived.

In early February of 1944, John was assigned to the Supply Office of the 24th Battalion. He had no idea what they did or what his job would entail. In the spring, a cadre of experienced non-commissioned officers arrived to help organize the unit. [By this time, Dad was probably a sergeant. He became a master sergeant by the time he left the service. They wanted to promote him, but he turned it down. He said the junior officers were targets for the enlisted men.]

The battalion consisted of two operational companies of approximately 175 men each and a headquarters company of about 50 men. John and Dad were part of the headquarters company Supply Office with one commissioned officer, one warrant officer, one charge non-com (Dad), one clerk (John), and two truck drivers. This arrangement continued during their entire deployment overseas.

Before leaving Texas, their name was changed to the 46th Signal Heavy Construction Battalion. [This site shows the movement of the battalion during WWII. Dad’s buddies had great memories!]
Dad is second from left, back row (the short one).john is at left, front row.
The function of the brigade was to build telephone lines, the type with poles, crossties, and wire. The operational companies actually used emergency cable 90% of the time to maintain telephone communications. After Germany surrendered, they built one conventional telephone line to connect Heidelberg and the Rhine River.

From Texas, their next stop was Camp Murphy, Florida for additional training. After Camp Murphy, they went to Camp Shanks, New York for a few days. Then they boarded the Queen Mary for their trip overseas. John said he slept in the cocktail lounge on an upper deck in the front of the ship. The Queen Mary put in to the Firth of Clyde, and the troops landed at Greenock, Scotland.

John’s recollection of Dad was that he was firm. He understood whatever was necessary to do the job, and was always helpful and friendly.

Here is John’s chronology for the period he was with Dad:
Camp Swift, TX – 2 Feb 1944 to Jul 1944
Camp Murphy, FL – Jul 1944 to 26 Oct 1944
Camp Shanks, NY – 26 Oct to 31 Oct 1944
Aboard the Queen Mary – 3 Nov to 9 Nov 1944
Hereford, England – 10 Nov 1944 to 26 Jan 1945
France, Belgium, Germany – 29 Jan to 21 Jul 1945
Aboard the SS Monterey – 21 Jul to 27 Aug 1945
Philippine Islands – 27 Aug to 2 Nov 1945
Aboard LST-912 [USS Mahnomen County] – 2 Nov to 18 Nov 1945
Kawasaki, Japan – 18 Nov to 24 Nov 1945 – Discharged

Here is John’s narrative of his service (parallel to Dad’s):

Left Camp Murphy 26 Oct 1944 for Staging Area at Camp Shanks, New York. Remainerd at Camp Shanks 72 hours. Loaded aboard English liner Queen Mary at Pier # BO, New York City. Sailed for Scotland at two p.m., 3 Nov 1944. An estimated 20,000 troops were aboard including Paratroops, Engineers, WACS, Netherlands women’s army axillary, and a few Canadians. The ship is 12,019 ft. long, and weighs 81,000 tons. Mounts Bophurs, 20 MM, AA, 3" and one 6" gun. Arrived 9 Nov 1944. Traveled an average of thirty knots. Bobby Breen, Mickey Rooney, and the original cast of Junior Miss were aboard.

Landed at the Firth of Clyde, Scotland. Boarded the train at Clyde in the late afternoon. Traveled all night and arrived the following morning at Hereford, England. [Several of my mother’s relatives remembered going to the station and waving at Dad as the train passed.]

Billited in Birmingham Abbey. The Game Cock Pub was the scene of much festivity.
Left England 26 Jan 1945, crossing from Southampton to LeHavre. Sailed up the Seine River to Rouen by Liberty Ship George S Randall. Stayed at Camp Twenty Grand for two weeks awaiting orders. Convoyed to Zaventem, Belgium, seven miles east of Brussels. Stayed three weeks. Moved to Château Borel de Morlanwelz for one week.

Left Belgium on 17 March for Baccarat, France, twenty-five miles from the front, as of this date. Left 23 March for Rech, a very small village in Alsace-Lorraine. We lived here in a school building. Left Rech 30 March, convoying over 100 miles to Kaiserslautern, Germany. Billeted here in a fine apartment house. Convoyed to Eberstadt, a small town five miles from Darmstadt. Darmstadt was completely demolished. Convoyed ninety miles south to Albertshofen, a village twenty miles east of rzburg. We were first enemy troops in the town and were in complete charge.

Moved to Schwäbisch Gmünd, Southeast of Albertshofen, on the 26th of April. This is in the Black Forest Region and close to Austria . Moved to Augsburg near Munich 5 May 1945. Billeted here in an apartment house. This large city was not too badly damaged.

Hostilities ceased one minute after midnight 8 May 1945. To save lives, cease fire order was given 6 May 1945.

After the end of the war, the unit convoyed from Augsburg to Heidelberg 13 May 1945. Left 7th Army attached to 3211th Signal Service Group. Still part of 6th Army Group under General Devers. Gen Patch, C.O. of 7th Army. Heidelberg was undamaged because of the University. It had been declared an open city by the Germans. All bridges, however, were blown.

Unit was awarded battle participation bronze stars for the Rhineland Campaign (15 Sep 1944 to 21 March 1945) in Belgium, and the Central Europe Campaign (22 March to 11 May 1945final date of European War in southwestern Germany).

Left Heidelberg for Staging Area on Southern Coast of France 22 June 1945. Arrived 26th June. Remained in the area until 22 July. Sailed from Marseilles, France on the Matson Liner, Monterey. Passed Gibraltar 24 July en route to Panama. Arrived at Canal Zone 2 Aug 1945. Disembarked at Balboa on the Pacific end of the canal and had entertainment and night lodging at Albrook Airfield.

Received announcement of V-J Day 14th Aug 1945. At this time, all ships’ guns were fired and the ship’s whistle was blown. Started taking Atabrlne tablets 15 Aug. Crossed International Date Line on the 17th making the date 18th Aug. Later V-J Day was considered to be 3 September officially.

Arrived at Manila 27th August. Crossing took 37 days. Camped at Lipa. Sailed from Batanges 2 Nov 1945 aboard the LST-912. Stopped in Manila Harbor to form convoy and sailed from islands for Japan 3 Nov 1945, one year to the day we sailed for Scotland. Ran into the beginning of a typhoon the second day out in the East China Sea. After damaging several ships, the convoy turned around and headed back for Manila. Storm let up, and we turned around and continued on our way. One ship lost its rudder and crashed another LST. Our ship lost its bow anchor. Rest of trip uneventful.

Arrived at Sendai 18 Nov 45. Received orders to proceed to Tokyo. Put out to sea and arrived in Tokyo 20 Nov 1945. Lived at Kawasaki, halfway between Tokyo and Yokohama in former radio factory employees’ quarters.

Dad was discharged on November 24, 1945. We have no record of how he was sent home, an no one is still alive who would know.

I just checked and Brainard “Mac” MacNeill died on May 17, 1998. His wife, Beatrice (Bea) died on February 26 of the same year. (Ellis) Bryan Shaner passed away on April 28, 2008. His wife died on March 17, 2011. John Coyle died on November 12, 2007. His wife, Myrna, is 103 years old and still living in Florida.

I owe these fellows a great debt for the information they provided.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Two Ways West - The Inside Scoop

When I started trying to locate all of Marilyn Meredith’s books, I discovered several I didn’t know about. Last week, I asked her questions about Trail to Glory: One Family’s Journey West. This week, I asked her about Two Ways West, the story of her paternal family’s journey to California.
Thanks for giving me (and my readers) the “inside scoop” on this wonderful book.

Was Rebecca really only twelve when she married John? I know life expectancies were shorter then, and women married young, but this seems especially young.
Yes, that’s a fact, she was twelve. Made it a tad difficult to write about their romance. However, I remember when I was twelve. I definitely thought I was grown up.
I had a major crush on Larry at twelve.

Did John’s family actually know Andrew Jackson? Did he actually fight in the Battle of New Orleans?
John did fight in the Battle of New Orleans. I even have a photograph of him at that time. Whether or not he knew Andrew Jackson, I’m not positive, though a likelihood. He did get a land grant from then President Jackson. I’ve seen a copy of it and the one give to William Newton Crabtree.

Did the Crabtrees really cross Mexico, sail up the coast, and jump ship in Monterey?
Yes, they really did. This is a family legend I heard from one of the old-timers, and others repeated it.

Please tell me Temperance was a real person. She is one of the most memorable characters in the book, and I want her to be real.
This much I know, there was a servant named Tempe, but I made up a lot about her.

Did Ashbel really leave his family to follow the Mormon trail to California where he filed a claim for land and built a house before returning for them? And where did his name come from?
Ashbel did follow leave his family and followed the Mormon trail and on to California. And yes, he did file a claim for land. As for the house, I’m not sure. Seemed likely, though. As for his name, I have no idea where it came from. I only know that he was born in New York.

I knew Tempe, the name of the character in your Detective Tempe Crabtree mysteries, was an ancestor. Was she really named after the family servant, Temperance? (I love the name. It sounds like an old Puritan name. And I love it for the character, too.)
Tempe Crabtree was my great-grandmother, and as I said earlier, she was name for a household servant. I love the name, too.

Was the family really attacked by Tiburcio Vasquez? Was he a real robber?
Yes, Tiburcio was a real highway robber. As far as the family being attacked by him, I really can’t remember.

Did the family really lose so many children? Did Ella die as you described? What about Sarah?
Yes, sadly, all those children died. Yes, Ella died exactly as I described. Sarah, too. And Tempe named Hope for exactly the reason I wrote. I met Hope, and she told me a lot about the family that went into the book.

I know you now live on a portion of the original Crabtree claim. How did it come to you, and why did you decide to move back to Springville?
The Crabtrees all lost their land because of taxes. They didn’t use money. They bartered for everything. When my sister did the genealogy, we talked to my dad about Springville. He told us the stories he knew. My sister, her husband, and their daughter, Hap and I, and my parents all came up to Springville and camped here. We did it several times, visiting with elderly relatives and exploring. We also went to Grass Valley, camped and explored.

When my husband began to dislike where we lived in Southern California because it became so crowded, we began to look for a place to buy in Springville. I said I’d only move there if we could find a place on the river (after all, we were leaving a beach town at the time). The only one we could afford was a residential care facility. It was for sale. We knew if we got it, we’d not only have a home but a business. I did the necessary paperwork, got the needed license, and was approved by the regional center, so we moved to Springville.

Since so many generations of your family have lived in the same area, are there any ghosts or reports of ghosts in or around your house or in the vicinity?
All the youngsters who have lived with us over the years are sure our house is haunted. Frankly, I don’t care if it is or not, I’m comfortable here.

Thanks for sharing all the “inside secrets” of these wonderful books. Anyone who loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s little house books as a child will find the same kind of storytelling in these. People actually lived these stories, and these characters are members of your own family. I am so glad you wrote them down so we all can get to know them.