Tag Archives: #memoir

“Live more. Be less afraid.” #BHBW author @jmcgarra Jim McGarrah answers 25 Q #authorspotlight

JimPrincetonJim McGarrah:  Marine, social worker, carpet layer, janitor, bartender, race horse trainer, and college professor, McGarrah now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia.  Jim McGarrah’s poems, essays, appear frequently in literary journals such as The American Poetry Journal, Bayou Magazine, Cincinnati Review, Connecticut Review, and North American Review.  He is an award-winning poet and author of four books of poetry: Running the Voodoo Down (Elixir Press, 2003); When the Stars Go Dark (Main Street Rag, 2009); Breakfast at Denny’s (Ink Brush Press, 2013) and the Truth About Mangoes (Lamar University Press, 2016).  His memoir of war, A Temporary Sort of Peace (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2007) won the national Eric Hoffer Legacy Non-Fiction Award, and the sequel, The End of an Era, was published in 2011. He is editor, along with Tom Watson, of the anthology Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana and the former managing editor of Southern Indiana Review. His memoirs Off Track and Midemeanor Outlaw were published by Blue Heron Book Works.   

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing does both things, especially if you feel like you’re writing well. The energy that generates my creativity is often very emotionally intense and when that energy is spent, I’m drained emotionally for a time. I had a mentor in grad school years ago, a very highly respected poet, who cautioned me that the type of writing I did would cannibalize my emotions and I would need to rest from time to time and replenish that autobiographical material. I’m one of those people who live to write and write to live. This isn’t my job. It’s me.

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

No. That would defeat my purpose, I think. My identity is at the core of my writing.

  1. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers and the audience what they want?

This requires balance. Solomon said in Proverbs that there was nothing new under the sun. And, there was an Egyptian writer whose name I can’t remember and couldn’t pronounce even if I did who wrote about his battle 4,000 years ago to say something that hadn’t already been said. So, the struggle for originality lies in the “way” we say things, not the themes we reflect on. To answer the question, I want to be original in how I write and connect with my audience in what I say. But, for me that requires a certain honesty that means I can’t always give the audience what they want to hear. As a poet and an essayist, I think my function is more related to describing what it means to be human, which isn’t always pleasant and doesn’t always have a happy ending. I want what I write to be true and in a way that is accessible to others both.

  1. Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly? 

Certainly. The emotionally depth of what is written depends on context. A writer of a brilliant technical instructional book does not have to be emotional invested in the information to communicate it. On the other hand, literary writers are most assuredly and deeply connected to plot, character development, and themes in their material. And in telling a story or writing a poem, the writer needs to communicate that emotional connectivity to a reader. Literature we understand, but don’t necessarily feel, tends to be a huge sleep aid.

  1. What other authors and creative people are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I have a fairly large network of writers and poets that I stay in touch with, some whose names you would recognize instantly, and some who are better writers that you’ve never heard of and probably never will. I have two or three close friends that I rely on for “first” readings of my material because they are excellent editors as well as writers and they’re honest with me. If something isn’t working they have no qualms about saying, “Jim, this sucks.” That forces me to re-evaluate, revise, and reflect on what I’m doing and why. But, I don’t limit my association to writers. That seems a good way to limit rather than expand your thinking.

  1. What sort of projects are you working on now? 

I’m in the process now of putting together a “New and Selected” volume of my poetry from over the past twenty years for a university press. Also, I’m trying to help sell copies of my newest nonfiction work from Blue Heron Book Works – Misdemeanor Outlaw. Unfortunately for my editor Bathsheba Monk, I’m a terrible business person.

  1. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Each of my ten books so far does stand alone, but although I’m not attempting to make connections, they are inherently connected because I’m an autobiographical-type of writer. Most of my work is based, in some way, on my life experiences.

  1. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Live more. Be less afraid.

  1. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Fifteen years ago I won a national book competition with my first full-length collection of poems. One of those good writers and friends we were talking about earlier, Victoria Redel, laughed and said over a celebratory drink, “Enjoy yourself tonight because tomorrow you’ll wake up and find that the world is the same. Nothing has really changed. You just go back to work.” She was correct.

  1. Is there any one author that influenced you somehow?

I’d have to say Hemingway and Mark Twain in how to tell a story, Dylan Thomas in the use of language, Bruce Weigel and Tim O’Brien in how to write about the hard things in my life. But, I’d hope that everything I read teaches me something.

  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

The USA Trilogy by John Dos Passos

  1. As an artist, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I’m going to answer that with a poem from my latest collection of poems The Truth About Mangoes (Lamar University Press, 2016)

How to Find the Animal Inside

 

Today I took a quiz,

one of those internet pseudo-scientific lists

that some fool thought up while snorting bath salts,

and found out my past life was spent roaming

among trees and rivers in the American West.

No, I was neither cowboy nor Indian.

As it turns out my personality evolved

from Canis lupus in various tell-tale ways.

I am swift, agile, and cunning. Well,

at least I’m a cunning linguist.

If you ignore the bad knees and arthritic hip,

one out of three ain’t bad.

I value my family’s well-being above all else.

That’s true, but they refuse to believe it if I’m driving.

As far as being master of both day and night,

I nap well in darkness and light.

This quiz states that the wolf has a fiery temper,

which may explain my multiple marriages and a face

remodeled several times by knuckles. To be fair,

my father compared me more often to a catfish than a wolf.

He said, “You’re all mouth and no brains.”

Of all the answers given that prove my swap

from wolf to human, the most accurate is “not very social.”

Ask a friend of mine, if you find one. I’d like to say

this self-examination, like my last testicular one, found no

abnormality or tragedy,

but the wolf may not agree.

 

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Three

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

A better brand of bourbon

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Most of my research comes from living as vividly as I can. I will do some historical research, especially news media, when writing nonfiction (names, dates, places, etc.)

  1. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

I’m not really sure what this question means. I’ve always believed that fiction (i.e. the writing and telling of imaginative stories) is an art form that far surpasses the recording of history itself in what it reveals about the society and culture that creates it because it allows the reader into the minds of the characters. I guess some would argue that since its conception of an actually form called the novel, probably somewhere around Cervantes and Don Quixhote, novels have entertained and educated us in ways no other genre has done. And, some would argue that the form of the novel has become stagnant since Barthelme and post-modernism, that it has reached the outermost limit of its evolution. I can see both sides. My favorite period in fiction runs from Conrad and Joyce through Hemingway and Faulkner. I guess critics call that the Modernist period. Certainly, the current darlings of the critics like Jonathan Franzen bore me to death. But, I still see really good stuff, especially in historical fiction, because written well it speaks to contemporary issues as your own The Master and The Maid speaks to present roles of women in our society, how they’ve changed and how they still need to change even more.

  1. Do you read your reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Sure. Even the negative ones give the book free publicity. I deal with them like I deal with writing workshops. I listen. What improves my writing I incorporate, what doesn’t or is personal, I ignore.

  1. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Not really secrets. I deal with nonfiction-memoir events that really happened to me personally and how I remember them, so I do often change the names to keep from embarrassing the innocent and the not so innocent. Maybe in that way, I hide certain things.

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

I think the scene of combat in which I lost a very close friend and my violent reaction afterward in the book A Temporary Sort of Peace (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2007)

  1. Do you Google yourself?

Sure, when I’m drunk. It helps me remember that I’m only a legend in my own mind.

  1. What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

I don’t have the slightest idea since it is so tied with my own identity, my self as it were.

  1. What is your favorite childhood book?

As a pre and early teen I was fascinated by the romantic adventures written by authors like Alexander Dumas (The Three Musketeers) and Raphael Sabatini (Scaramouche) and Stevenson (Treasure Island) and the biographies of famous 20th century baseball players like Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and others. One I especially enjoyed was the story of Jim Thorpe, the great Native American athlete.

  1. If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

I haven’t the slightest idea.

  1. How long on average does it take you to write a book?

I’ve written ten books, twelve if you count two not good enough or ready to be published, in the last 15 years. Sometimes, I’ve worked on two at simultaneously. But, I’m seventy years old and slowing down somewhat.

  1. Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Not as most people believe in it. There is a difference between writing and writing well. There are no periods when we can’t write, but there are certainly periods when we don’t write well. I’ve learned to adjust to those periods by labeling them hot and cold in my mind. Although my shrink tells me that most writers have to deal with some bi-polar traits, I simply call them my times of writing new stuff (hot) and my times of revising old stuff (cold). My doing that, I stay busy and don’t get bogged down by inertia or existential dread.

 

 

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A fascinating scene from Ibiza, Spain – August 1977 #memoir @fredsdiary1981

Please welcome today’s RRBC RWISA guest blogger, Robert Fear:

Robert Fear - Author Pic

The Fight

by Robert Fear

Es Cana, Ibiza, Spain – August 1977

Jose took an immediate dislike to me.

He worked as a waiter at the Panorama hotel near the seafront. I had been there to see Diane, an English girl I met while at work in Grannies Bar. Petite and with short blond hair, she had a delightful personality. She was also a real head-turner.

Diane came to Ibiza on a two-week holiday with her friend, Elaine. It felt fantastic she wanted to spend time with me, but Jose thought his role was to be her protector. He glared at me every time he saw us together

Towards the end of her holiday, Diane spent a night with me and I didn’t get her back to the hotel until breakfast time. Jose was on duty and spotted us outside as we kissed. That just made things worse.

After Diane left for home, things deteriorated. The next Friday evening, as I walked to work, Jose headed towards me with a group of Spanish lads. Their intentions were obvious as they stared, raised their fists and shouted at me across the street.

Before they could catch me I escaped down the steps and into Grannies Bar. Their taunts still rang in my ears as I headed for safety.

Friday nights were always manic. Eager drinkers packed the outside terrace after a day in the sun. A queue of customers had already formed as I dived behind the bar to help serve them.

Four of us; Mick, Pat, Graham and myself, worked that evening shift. Pat was half cut and spent most of the evening with her friends. Mick’s mood was not good as a result, but the three of us got stuck in and served the eager punters.

After six weeks at Grannies, I knew the routine. We served drinks and collected pesetas in quick succession. Spirits were easier to serve than at home. Two ice cubes got thrown into a glass and the vodka, gin or brandy poured until the ice floated. Then the mixer was added.

We could drink behind the bar, provided we remained sober enough to serve. Pat loved her gin and tonics and often wasn’t! Mick, Graham and I had regular supplies of vodka and orange but remained level headed as we rushed around serving eager customers.

Willing female hands often helped out. They collected glasses and washed them up in the sink at the end of the bar. As a reward, they had drinks bought for them and got the chance to pull Graham, myself or even Mick on occasions.

Work finished at 3 am. We headed to El Cortijo for another drink and a dance. A group of Spanish lads hung around near the entrance, but I thought nothing of it. Only later did I found out they were Jose’s friends.

The disco pulsed and the dance floor heaved. Lights from the ‘disco ball’ flashed around scantily clad bodies as they cavorted to the sounds of Abba, Rod Stewart and Status Quo. We caught John’s attention, and he passed us a bottle of San Miguel each.

Graham and Mick met up with two girls they had chatted up in Grannies earlier. Pat had gone back to their villa with her friends so Mick was free for the night. Propped at the bar I sipped my beer and relaxed after a hard night’s work.

By instinct, I spun round to find Jose stood behind me. He glared at me and mouthed something. The music drowned out his words. Jose beckoned for me to come with him. Even though it was obvious he wanted a fight, I went. By the time I got outside it was too late.

My fighting skills were minimal. I had been the object of bullying at school. One lad taunted me with the repeated chant, ‘Freddy’s got a rudimentary organ’, while in the showers. This hurt me and screwed with my teenage sensibilities. I tried to avoid the shower room when he was there.

Two other lads pushed me around and sometimes thumped me. They wanted money, but I had none to give them. One time I gave in to their pressure and stole books for them from a sales exhibition held in the school hall. I never thought of fighting back. I did not know how!

Now I stood on the dusty wasteland twenty yards away from the front entrance of El Cortijo. Jose faced me, surrounded by his group of friends. The atmosphere was menacing and none of my friends were even aware what had happened.

‘So, you silly man, what you say?’ screamed Jose in broken English as he edged towards me.

‘What did I do wrong?’ I retorted.

I sweated in the heat of the August night and he must have sensed my fear.

‘You took girlfriend, English scum.’

‘No I didn’t. Diane wanted to be with me you arrogant pig.’

I amazed myself with that response. The drink from earlier in the evening gave me a false sense of courage. Things were dire and soon became worse.

Jose swung his right fist toward my head. I ducked and there was a whoosh of air as he missed.

He turned round and aimed another punch at me. This time he connected and his fist crunched into my jaw. I reeled backwards. Maybe I should have just gone to ground and admitted defeat. This time I fought back.

Well, fought might be too strong a word for it! I stumbled forward and made a dive for his midriff. Jose grabbed me by my shoulders and flung me to the ground.

I spat out a mouthful of dust before I tried to get back up. Then I saw the flying feet of Jose and his mates. It became obvious they wanted to give me a severe beating.

In defence I rolled into as tight a ball as possible with my hands wrapped around my head. The kicks and punches continued and my senses faded as protection against the pain.

Then it stopped. Shouts came from the front door of the disco and the Spanish lads scattered. John, Alan and two others screamed at the top of their voices to get them away from me. A German girl on her way to the disco had seen the scuffle and dived into El Cortijo to get help.

Worried faces peered at me as I uncurled myself. Although bruised and battered there were no broken bones. I hauled myself to my feet. With support from my rescuers, I struggled back to the disco for another drink.

An uneasy truce existed between Jose and me for the rest of the summer.

Please visit Robert’s RWISA page for more links to his work.

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5 Star Review of Nicholas DiGiovanni’s #memoir #MondayBlogs

ManNicholas Dig

5STar

How strange that a book so unrelentingly about death should contain so much life. But that’s what we have in “Man Has Premonition of Own Death,” which stands athwart decay and demands to know why.

The book title copies the headline that appeared above a 1925 story in a Yonkers newspaper about a young man who uttered something of a prophecy shortly before he was fatally injured in a gruesome industrial accident. The young man was the author’s great-uncle, and it’s fair to say that Nicholas DiGiovanni, a novelist, essayist, journalist and poetry impresario, has been obsessed with the sad uncanny tale of Thomas Crooks ever since he found the old newspaper clipping in a family Bible some 35 years ago. Popping up here and there among the dozens of short essays & stories that make up this volume, elements of the Crooks story compose the leitmotif of a man who dies before his time yet somehow knows it’s going to happen. Which is not far from DiGiovanni’s own story.

For the author is himself a man who more or less has come back from near death to tell us about it. A strikingly personal account of fear, despair, hope, love, and above all, family, the book amounts to a premonition of his own death. DiGiovanni, in his 60s, is in recovery from brain and esophageal cancer. As we learn, he twice came very close to dying, once from the cancer before it was surgically removed, and once from massive hemorrhaging due to the effects of mixing chemotherapy with medicine he was taking for a heart condition (which itself was just barely prevented from killing him some dozen years earlier). DiGiovanni has had to confront his mortality repeatedly and with an intensity that many of us will feel only when we’re close to the end. It is the certainty of death and our foggy knowledge of what comes after it that permeate DiGiovanni’s writing.

But despite the grim topic and a necessarily autumnal cast, “Man Has Premonition of Own Death” is engaging as well as defiant, spirited and even light-hearted. This is due to the author’s voice, which is warm, wry, courageous and funny. DiGiovanni’s sense of humor, which only occasionally is of the gallows type, keeps these essays from being depressingly dark. Writing about those who have died among his family and friends, about his fondness for cemeteries and the celebrities and nobodies buried there, about the beliefs and indoctrination of his Catholic schooling, about how the dead are treated, considered, feared, missed — through all of it DiGiovanni proves to be an entertaining, thoughtful and perceptive writer. It is said that philosophy begins with the awareness of death, and that’s the direction in which DiGiovanni ultimately moves, although I wish his book offered even more reflection and metaphysical contemplation of our damned mortality.

Decrying how morticians mute death’s warning to the living through their cosmetic manipulations of the faces of the dead, DiGiovanni writes, “We all would benefit … if we got up the courage to look death straight in the eye.” Indeed, his book helps us do.

Nick

Nicholas DiGiovanni is a novelist, essayist, award-winning journalist, blogger and teacher of creative writing. His novella “Rip,” a modern-day parody of Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle,” was published in 2011 by Black Angel Press. His fiction has appeared in Paterson Literary Review, Identity Theory, The Caribbean Writer, and elsewhere. 

Connect with Nick online: https://nicholasdigiovanni.com

Nicholas DiGiovanni was born at the Fort Dix Army Hospital while his father served in the Air Force at Maguire AFB. His father was then assigned to duty at a base near Lincoln, Nebraska, and his parents moved with their new baby to Fremont, Nebraska, for a year. The author has spent the rest of his life being grateful that his parents did not stay in Nebraska – where he believes he would have wound up as assistant manager of an Agway franchise – and moved back to their home town of Yonkers, New York, a gritty industrial city on the lower Hudson River where DiGiovanni grew up, went to school, and absorbed the history of his family and his city – including the strange and sad tale of his great-uncle, 23-year-old carpet-mill worker Thomas Crooks, who (according to a 1920s newspaper article) had a “premonition of his own death,” falling to his death in a vat of acid just minutes after turning to his bride-to-be after a lunchtime picnic and declaring “I am going in, but I shall be carried out!”

Misdemeanor Outlaw: #BHBW Author Jim McGarrah releases new #memoir #vietnam @jmcgarra

This article and book excerpt appeared in the Princeton Daily Clarion on May 28, 2017.

JimMisdemOutl

Misdemeanor Outlaw: Princeton native’s 10th book published in June

(PDClarion) Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Princeton native Jim McGarrah’s newest book, Misdemeanor Outlaw, a nonfiction account of growing up in Princeton and his life in the counterculture after the Vietnam War. The book (was) released by Blue Heron Book Works in early June (2017). McGarrah is the author of ten books and has received various honors for his nonfiction writing as well as poetry. In 2005, McGarrah returned to Vietnam to receive recognition for his writing and his work toward peace from The Ministry of Arts and Literature. In 2010, he was presented with a national Eric Hoffer Award for his memoir of the war entitled A Temporary Sort of Peace.

I was lucky. I came to believe the Vietnam War had been a criminal act by my government almost immediately on my return. That belief allowed me to return to the role I felt most comfortable in as a misdemeanor outlaw. Rebelling against the Establishment gave me the opportunity to perform a sort of penance and relieve some of my guilt. Oh, I had problems for many years but not nearly as severe as friends my age who tried their best to justify the war and integrate back into society as our fathers had done in World War II. It took decades for some of them to understand the true cost of these foreign policy adventures urged on by corrupt politicians and controlled by corporate interest. Many Americans ignore this cost still because we have an all-volunteer army to pay it for them.

The true cost of war is measured by intimate knowledge of blood and fire, lifting seared flesh and unattached limbs from the broken rubble of homes and schools, digging graves for mothers and babies still warm in the womb. However, the true crime of war is quantified not by death or money only but through the misery of its living participants after the fact—the emotional turmoil, the survivor’s guilt, the grief, the nightmares, the pathological dysfunction of homeless Veterans, the missing arms and legs, and the vacant souls. The families of veterans often end up broken as well, expecting their returned hero to be the same man or woman who left them for war.

JimPrinceton

I’m a story teller by trade and by spirit. Let me tell you a story. I have a very close friend, a good man, a family man, an intelligent man who paid a dear cost for his service to his country. As a matter of fact, he is paying still. You don’t know my friend and I will not embarrass him by disclosing his name, even though if I did you probably still wouldn’t know him. My friend was a great athlete and might have gone on to some serious university team if he had been blessed with no conscience. But, we were all from Southern Indiana, a place where God was good in 1968 and commies were the spawn of Satan. They hid under every rock. They lurked in every shadow. Like many of us, my friend watched a lot of John Wayne movies and from them developed a celluloid sense of duty. By that, I mean he built an emotional construct based on Hollywood rather than reality. Good guys never died, they just rode off into the sunset with a beautiful submissive woman draped across the saddle.

Believing what he had been taught from infancy forward, my friend fulfilled his responsibility and enlisted in the service. He became an outstanding helicopter pilot in Vietnam, a treetop flyer, skimming over the jungle and bravely out maneuvering the .50 caliber machine guns of the Viet Cong. He had one job, carrying young boys into battle and ferrying their torn, lifeless bodies from the battlefield back to some rear area morgue. Oh sorry, two jobs. Then, he had to flush the blood out of his helicopter with a water hose. Week after week, month after month, his life evolved into days of loading and unloading dead boys and nights of drinking whiskey to forget the days. He never killed anybody that I know of. He simply stacked up men who were already dead like he threw hay bales into the barn loft on those Indiana summer days between semesters of high school.

Coming home, he did what many others did and carried on the illusion of normalcy. He went back to college, got a job, got married, and started a beautiful family. Most of that went on during the day. His nights were given over to the dead and to the one thing that buried the dead for him in Vietnam, alcohol. Years went by; bottle after bottle was drained dry and still the dead refused to stay buried. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder didn’t exist anywhere in the 1970s except in the minds of Vietnam veterans. The government refused to acknowledge it and the VA doctors blamed the nightmares, the rage, the substance abuse and fear of intimacy, the inability to focus, the clinical depression and flashbacks on other non-military causes. It was cheaper that way. My friend didn’t have a problem with his memories of war, not really. He simply couldn’t handle the stresses of his job and his marriage. Stuff happens, right?

Eventually, he drank enough vodka and scotch that leaving for work in the morning was no guarantee for his family that he would return home in the evening. Sometimes, he stopped for a quick cocktail and woke up in a different town three or four days later with no knowledge of where he was or how he got there. Then his liver began to fail. This probably saved his life. By the time he ended up in a VA hospital, various government bureaucrats and medical people had begun to admit that maybe, just maybe, war might create residual problems for those who lived through it. Maybe the mind wasn’t meant to look at what extreme and random violence forced it to see.

I was lucky, as I mentioned earlier. I went back to school but joined anti-war organizations. I became a social activist and then a drug-addled dropout. Something in my brain finally clicked and I took flight in my mind. After years of struggle, I received a bachelor of arts degree and in two more years I completed two graduate programs and began writing books and teaching. My friend, not so much. He was, he is, smarter than me and in many ways a better person than me. But, his PTSD will sometimes not allow him to finish he starts. I don’t know why. No one can answer that, no doctors or preachers or even my friend. He went back to college in mid-life, as I did. He sat in a classroom and made A’s till the last couple of weeks of the semester and then withdrew from classes. It wasn’t a matter of work interfering. He kept too busy thinking about questions that have no answers. How did he live through war when so many men didn’t? Why did he deserve happiness and success? What made him any better than all those bodies he still carries in his mind? This is called survivor’s guilt and it’s part of the cost combat veterans who continue to live must continue to pay. It’s the modern-day result of criminal behavior by cowardly politicians.

I haven’t seen my buddy in several years, but the last time I saw him I was in some Midwest town signing copies of a new book. I met him at a bar. Yes, he was drinking again after ten years of sobriety, but he assured me only an occasional cocktail before dinner and maybe just one or two after. Everything was under control. The kids had survived adolescence and gone to various colleges to form lives of their own. Now that he could rattle around an empty house, putter in the garden, and read books without interruption, he felt well enough in his mind to handle drinking again. This is what he said, but both of us knew the truth. In the absence of the daily chaos involved with raising children and simply living, the dead were beginning to seep back into his consciousness, resurrected by loneliness.

Don’t get me wrong. This seems like a very sad story, but it has good elements along the way. My friend is making it and he’s a pretty happy guy all things considered. This is just a simple analogy on behalf of a new generation of young Americans who have been fighting in wars longer than any military in our history.

Sent into battle by a new generation of politicians, most of whom evaded the Vietnam War draft with phony ailments or by the political influence of their fathers, these young men and women serve multiple deployments in fierce, mind-altering, situations. If they live to return home, they face demons that only other combat veterans can truly understand — the highest suicide rate in military history, an unemployment rate double the national average, overcrowded psychiatric services and unsure treatment methods for PTSD, families that now see them as dangerous strangers, a public almost completely indifferent to their struggles, and a political system unafraid to use them for personal and corporateagendas. This is what real crime looks like, and it is not a misdemeanor. So, by all means, enjoy your Holiday, but please don’t forget that the flame and smoke from your Memorial Day barbeque grill or the pop and crackle of your fireworks signifies something far more important than parades and hot dogs for some.

Jim’s Website: http://jim-mcgarrah.squarespace.com

Jim on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JimMcGarrah.author

Jim on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jmcgarra

#RRBC The Benefits of Attending a Virtual Writers’ #Conference & Book Expo

RRBC-Expo-2017

(Reblogged from #RRBC’s WC&BE, ’17)

You’re a writer. You realize that there is a lot for you to learn to become a great writer…heck, even a good writer. You’ve heard about writers’ conferences but you’ve no time to attend, you’ve no money to spare, and most of them are just too darned far. You’ve heard that they are wonderful, though, and you’d really like to see what they’re all about, so, what do you do?

Well, there is such a thing as a virtual writing conference, and below I’m going to share with you some of the benefits of attending an RRBC writers’ conference & book expo.

*A virtual conference allows you to attend from the comfort of your own (living room, bedroom, bathroom, your car trunk, Starbuck’s, etc…). Writers’ conferences and book expos come a dime a dozen. I mean…just like churches and liquor stores, there’s one around every corner. But, with the busy lives that we lead, we often find it difficult to get away to one, so the next best thing is to find one online. No need to worry about the cost of travel fare (car, bus or plane), no need to worry about hotel accommodations (you get to sleep at home), or, the cost of eating away from home…you get all that you need, when you need it, right where you are. #BENEFIT

*Resources you will use forever. When you attend a virtual writers’ conference, you have the ability to archive much of the information that is shared because it is all online. The sessions and workshops presented at an RRBC writers’ conference, are all created with the purpose of educating attendees. Our sessions and workshops are on carefully selected topics, that we know authors need to grow in their writing careers. The handouts that you receive (virtually), are invaluable along your journey as a writer. No matter the format utilized to present these sessions, attendees leave our workshops enlightened with a renewed sense of having learned something that will make them a better writer and stronger marketer for their books. #BENEFIT

*A reality check. With the introduction of our “Right On The Spot” Critiquing Sessions this year, you will get an honest assessment of your writing BEFORE you publish…no sugarcoatin’ here. And, as if that wasn’t enough, the sessions are FREE to RRBC members. These critique sessions will be offered by TOP WRITING PROFESSIONALS in the literary field. You can be assured that the feedback given is going to be information that you can add to your literary tool box, to use in all your future writing. #BENEFIT

*Payment Plans. Have you priced writers’ conferences and book expos lately? Well, I have and who can afford them without skipping a mortgage payment? Geez! There again lies the beauty of a virtual conference (at least an RRBC conference). Not only are the prices lower than any others we’ve found, but, we also have payment plans to make it easier to afford an author booth to promote your books, a vendor booth to introduce and sell your wares, and all the sessions and workshops your amazing brain can handle! #BENEFIT

*Community. The RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB popped onto the scene almost 4 years ago and has offered to writers something never heard of before: a community of like-minded individuals who truly care about your success, just as much as they care about their own…no competition here. This community (or family as we like to call it), is there through the good times and the bad, there to lift you up when you’re feeling low and need the encouragement to write another page, there with advice on how to handle certain situations involving your writing, tips on how you should write, what literary services you should utilize, and so much more. We purchase, read and review each other’s books, we give our honest opinions on those books, we promote one another via our blogs and social media forums, and during the conference, we all get to commune to further our careers and friendships even more. #BENEFIT

*Friendships. Many RRBC members are surprised at the bonds of friendship they form once they immerse themselves within the club. The World Wide Web is known to be a cesspool of ‘crazies’, stalkers and any other negative label that you an attach to someone who you should be wary of on the net. But, not so here in RRBC. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some that I’m sure you should be careful of, but, I can assure you they are not within the realm of our core members…the professionals who work hard to protect and maintain their reputations as authors. We are a global organization with members around the world, which means, when you find those to call ‘friend’, you’re never without a place to rest your head along your travels. #BENEFIT

*Find great new books. Since the inception of RRBC, we hear on a daily basis how readers were introduced to amazing books they might never have found had it not been for RRBC. The traditionally published have their work plastered all over the place and sometimes, our Indie awesomeness is a little hidden…you have to dig deep to find it. That’s not the case within RRBC. We have amazing talent in our midst and their books speak for them. If you’re looking for great reads, look no further than our catalog. The conference & expo is THE place for our members to introduce their latest work and you don’t want to miss out on any of it! #BENEFIT

***

So, there you have it… the most important benefits of attending a virtual writers’ conference & book expo hosted by RRBC. What you will walk away with will far outweigh the pennies you spent to take part in it. And because 2017 is our Year of Better here at RRBC, we hope that all our members care enough about their writing and their reputations as writers, to take part in this awesome event to further their growth.

Last year’s event was amazing and it was our first year putting it on. With that year under our belt, can you imagine the things that we’re going to do this year? I don’t think you can!

Everything about this event is geared towards your success. If you haven’t registered yet, we invite you to do so today. Don’t be the lone wolf standing on the sidelines of this wonderful event, wishing after the fact that you had been apart of it. Jump right on in our boat to better. We certainly have enough room for ya!

With much joy, I introduce Robert Fear, #RRBC’s “Spotlight” Author! @fredsdiary1981

I’d like to share this wonderful post by Robert Fear that appears on Natalie Ducey’s blog as part of Robert’s #RRBC Spotlight Author blog tour.

Natalie Ducey

I am thrilled to welcome Robert Fear, Rave Reviews Book Club “Spotlight” Author, on today’s stop of his blog tour.  Robert is an amazing, supportive member of RRBC who generously promotes fellow authors. I consider it an honour to shine the “Spotlight” on him today.

With much joy, I introduce Robert Fear!

Robert Fear - Author Pic

RRBC BLOG #4 – Background to Exclusive Pedigree

A lot of my spare time over the past two years has been devoted to making my father’s dream come true.

It started for me back in 1992 when my father, John, was becoming increasingly frail and was confined to bed most of the time. Visits to the hospital became more frequent and the doctors were talking about months, not years.

John had been working on his memoirs for several years and had already typed up many of the chapters. He also had plans in place for finishing the remaining chapters of his book. Now…

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WRITERS’ CONFERENCE & BOOK EXPO, 2017! ~ #RRBC

RRBC-Expo-2017

(Reblogged from: RRBC Writer’s Conference)

Welcome!!!

Last year’s conference proved that RRBC is home to some of the greatest writers, most knowledgeable authors and avid readers from around the world! We are all coming together again, to fellowship (Gather), have fun (Enjoy) and become enlightened! (Learn!). This year’s theme is: When you know better, you produce better and in our year of BETTER at RRBC, this quote hits the nail right on the head! Newbie authors, seasoned authors, and readers of all stages and interests, in one arena…teaching, learning and growing! What an amazing opportunity to be part of an event such as this!

THIS EVENT WILL HELP YOU:
*Get inspired and get to writing
*Market your work to avid readers
*Strengthen your craft of writing
*Network with like-minded individuals
*…and so much more!

This conference and expo will have something grand in store for everyone! We will have sessions on many topics that are of interest to today’s Authors. This will be your time to learn all that you can about the literary playing field, and brush up on things that you thought you knew well.

There will be *Author booths for RRBC members to showcase, promote and sell their books, and Vendor booths for those who wish to showcase and sell their services. No event is ever complete without giveaways, so allow me to mention that our plan for our RAFFLE this year, will be even bigger and better than before, and made fully possible by our SPONSORS! Yes, all this learning, camaraderie and fun, in one place!

Fun…did you just hear me say fun, or did you hear me say FUNNNNNNN? Well, you don’t want to miss our foray into “book” Scavenger Hunting! Stay tuned for more details on this event!

**NEW** this year: FREE ‘RIGHT ON THE SPOT’ CRITIQUING SESSIONS! Bring your manuscript and we’ll let you know what we think, right on the spot! (More specific details to come!)

This event will be held for one full week, beginning October 22nd and running thru October 28th, 2017! If you are an author and have books releasing this year or around this time, this event will be a great venue to debut them!

By now, who hasn’t heard of those amazing sessions presented at our conference last year? If you haven’t, where have you been hiding? You don’t want to miss out on the 2017 sessions and you can register for them by simply clicking HERE! If you are an Author/Vendor, and would like your very own Author and/or Vendor Booth on display during the conference, we invite you to register, as well!

GET READY! WE CERTAINLY ARE!

(Author booths are available to members of RRBC only! If you’d like to JOIN US, we welcome you!)

***This event is open to the general public!***

REGISTER NOW! Registration General Info

RRBC Website: Join here