Memorial Day

Dad WWII

Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day. Today is for remembering those who died while serving this country’s armed forces. Veterans Day celebrates all who serve and served in the armed forces.

My dad didn’t die in the war, but he passed away at an early age. Every Memorial Day reminds me to make a visit to the cemetery. When we arrive, seeing all the flags by the gravestones make me proud and sad at the same time.

Dad was very patriotic. Whenever the Star Spangled Banner played on TV, he’d stand and salute or place his hand over his heart. He was a veteran of World War II, serving in Wales and England with a medical unit. His twin brother saw action in Europe. He belonged to the American Legion and had a special licence plate–one I remember to this day–AL1005. When we didn’t finish our dinner, he’d say, “Children in Europe are starving.” My sister and I would giggle, but knew he was quite serious.

So Dad, on this day, I want to tell you, you’re remembered. You were a good father. You served your country. You were patriotic. Thank you for setting the example. And hopefully you can see the salute I give you on this special day.

Dad WWII_0001

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And They Lived Happily Ever After

“If I’m Honest I have to tell you I still read fairy-tales and I like them best of all.”
–Audrey Hepburn

I love that quote. I, too, grew up loving fairy tales. Maybe that’s why I had my main character love them too. As the series continues, she becomes cynical and decides the stories are a young girl’s dream. Will she ever believe again?

We all want to believe in fairy tales and the “happily ever after” ending. Most Disney movies have show us that. Books I had when I was younger did, too. If Ms. Hepburn referred to those stories then I’m right with her. If she’s talking about the real Grimm’s Fairy Tales—maybe not.

I read an article recently that told the true stories behind fairy tales. It said people might be quite surprised by the real endings. Some were gruesome in their tellings. For example, Cinderella’s step-sisters chopped off their toes to make the glass slipper fit. I’ll spare you from the rest.

I think these stories were originally written to scare children into behaving. If you’re bad, look what happens. If you’re good, you’re rewarded. Don’t wander too far from home. The big bad wolf is in the forest. I’m sure children of the past took those stories to heart for different reasons than the children of today.

I’m glad fairy tales have been changed to sugar-coat the endings. Sure we still have the villains, and they get their due in the end. Kids need to still believe in something. I think fairy tales will do nicely. It encourages them to read and stimulates the imagination. In recent years the message has also changed. Not all princesses need to be rescued and not all have to fall in love. But the happily ever after message is still there.

Fairy tales. Whether you love them or not, they are steeped in history. Audrey Hepburn loved them as adult. So I guess it’s okay if I still love them, too.

The Sorcerer and the Apprentice

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“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
—Ernest Hemingway

Remember The Sorcerer’s Apprentice? Mickey Mouse played the part of the Apprentice in the Disney movie–Fantasia.  Mickey, the young apprentice of the sorcerer Yen Sid, attempts some of his master’s magic tricks after the man leaves for the night. he puts on the magic hat and commands the broom to do his work–carry water to the cauldron. Only something goes wrong. The broom doesn’t stop. So Mickey grabs an ax and chops it into pieces. Problem solved, right? Nope. The pieces turn into more brooms that bring in more water. He doesn’t know how to control them. Once the brooms start flooding the place, Mickey is over his head.

Sound familiar? We all say, “Oh, I could do that”, when someone else is doing it. “That looks easy” is another comeback. But is it? Mickey thought so, and look how that turned out.

Sitting down to write a book isn’t an easy task. I tried to talk myself out of it. I had an argument going on in my head as I walked to the computer. You can’t write a book. Who do you think you are? The other side of me pushed on. I have a good idea. I’ll start writing and see what happens.

The brooms kept bringing the ideas in and dumping them in my brain. Could I keep up? Sort them all out? Turn them into a book? There was no master handbook, no guide.

Well, what happened was my first published book, Waiting for Dusk. I still had a lot to learn, but I took the first step. I had no idea how many words were in a book when I first started writing, but I did know the genre—Young Adult. I thought I had a good handle of the English language, always getting good grades in the subject. But I had to look up and refresh my memory on many topics. Commas were the worst. So much to still learn!

When I finished the book, I felt proud. When I got my first edits, I cringed. How could I ever master the craft?

I don’t ever want to get overwhelmed like Mickey or in over my head. He couldn’t keep up with those brooms pouring water on the floor. Bucket after bucket kept coming. Thank goodness the sorcerer eventually showed up.

When writing a book, the sorcerer never shows up. I think that’s Hemingway’s point. There isn’t one designated master in the writing world. If there was, people would try to copy and we wouldn’t get diversity. Not everyone likes the same cup of tea.

Some people may rave over the recent bestseller, while others pan it. Writing is subjective. Everyone has their own opinions. So I say, keep writing. Strive to be the master, but never stop learning.