Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day

Boots and Bugle
Painting by Irene S. Kierce

Both of my grandfathers served in World War I--one in Europe and the other on the Mexican border. They both came home. My mother and her five brothers served in World War II and the Korean War. They all came home. My father and his brother served in World War II. My father came home, but his brother did not. My brother served during the Vietnam era. He was a navigator/bombardier in an F-111 which was being tested in New Mexico. His plane crashed. He and the pilot died.

Memorial Day isn't about the beach or a great sale at the store. It's about the cost of our freedom. Please don't forget that.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

KISS OF BLARNEY Print Edition Uploaded!


Being a glutton for punishment, I decided to put out a print edition of Kiss of Blarney. I am aware that very few people will buy the print version. Why should they when the digital edition is only $0.99? Nevertheless, it is nice to have a physical book to put on the table when I go to a booksigning event. So I struggled with Word to make the correct size page with mirror image pages. Then I uploaded the file to Createspace. I looked at the preview and realized I had forgotten page numbers. I had to redo the file with numbers and upload it again. It made my brain hurt.

While it is possible to proof the book online, I have found that buying a genuine paper copy is the best method. When the paper copy arrived, I found ERRORS. I hate that. The mistakes were small, but they still annoyed me.

So I went back and fixed the errors and uploaded the book AGAIN. The inexpensive paper version should be available shortly--though there are more expensive Crescent Moon Press editions still floating around. I set my own paper edition at $5.50. I won't make much money on it, but I don't mind. Selling books is not easy. Selling high priced books is impossible--unless  you're already a celebrity.

Kiss of Blarney is a short read. The new print version is 85 pages long. Don't you want to read about an Irish princess hidden in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey?

Read some of the reviews on Amazon. (CLICK HERE FOR REVIEWS) It's a fun book. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Nostalgia

I've always enjoyed the music of Emmy Lou Harris. "Back When We Were Beautiful" is from the Old Yellow Moon album with Rodney Crowell. I listen to it frequently. This video on YouTube accompanies the song with photos the World War II era. Lovely, but bittersweet.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Evening Primroses

My sister--the one with the Masters in Horticulture, who is also a Master Gardener--gave me these primoses. She was pretty sure I could not kill them. The plants grow like weeds. They spread all by themselves. Deer don't eat them. Their abundant yellow flowers look really nice in the yard and they bloom for several weeks in June.

I sure wish all flowers were as easy to grow as these!

Friday, May 08, 2015

Gaining a Future

This is an anniversary for my father. Seventy-three years ago, he walked into a recruiting station. I am here because he did not die in combat, though his brother did. My father wrote this short article about his experience. In the photo below, he is on the right.


Gaining a Future
by Raymond Kierce 

Seventy-three years ago on May 8th, I was a twenty-year old novice journalist and college freshman, but there was a war going on. I knew that if I was drafted I would not have a choice in which branch of the service I would serve. So I caught a bus from my parents' Jersey City home and went to a military recruiting facility. I passed the physical and enlisted in the Army Air Force.

After training at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, and a golf course in Miami Beach, my fellow recruits and I were shipped to San Francisco where we boarded an ocean liner and sneaked out of port.

Racing across the vast Pacific with only dolphins as our escorts, we celebrated the Crossing the Line with King Neptune when we crossed the equator.

I soon found myself with the Fifth Bomber Command on the other side of the world in New Guinea. The Japanese government gave us an explosive welcome with an air raid by 100 bombers. It was quite a sight as our P38 fighters tore among them.

The Japs owned most of New Guinea at that point. American and Australian soldiers stopped their advance 17 miles from Port Moresby. Port Moresby is only 530 miles from Australia. Australia came very close to being overrun by Japanese forces.

For the next three years, the Allies pushed ever closer to Japan, seizing back territory, island by island.

In August, 1945, to my surprise, I was given a leave home to Jersey and ordered to return to Clark Field, Manila, in thirty days.

I learned many years later that President Harry Truman had ordered plans drawn for Operation Olympic (attacking the southern island of Kyūshū) and set November 1, 1945, for the invasion of Japan.

More than 40% of all servicemen still in uniform in 1945 would have been assigned to two amphibious assaults. At that time, it was estimated that American casualties would have totaled one million during that invasion.

Since I would have been back in the Philippines in September, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have been assigned to the invasion of Japan.

When the two atomic bombs were dropped to end the war, millions of servicemen gained a future, including me.


Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Sandy, a Little Irene Story

Little Irene 

Ever since my mother passed away, I find it difficult to walk into a card shop to buy cards for Mother's Day. It reminds me of how much I miss Mom. She was a very special woman. Fortunately, she left behind many lovely paintings and a wealth of stories. My sisters and I called the reminisces of our mother's young life the Little Irene Stories. Two years ago, I posted one of her memories on her birthday at http://penelopemarzec.blogspot.com/2013/11/a-story-my-mother-told-me.html

Mom grew up in western Pennsylvania. Her father was a coal miner and she was one of seven children. Today, I thought I post another of her stories, the one she titled "Sandy."
When I was eleven years old, my sister and I started to go to religious classes at St. Mary's so that we could be confirmed. I decided to choose Sandra, or Sandy, as my confirmation name. My sister, Grace, loved the name Allison. Unfortunately, we both had to walk many miles to go to the classes and as a result wore out our shoes. My father put new soles on using rubber tires but even those didn't last. He told us we couldn't go to the classes any longer.

"You're wearing out the shoes," he said.

It was heartbreaking that we could not complete the requirements for confirmation. Nevertheless, I decided to keep my middle name as Sandy. It seemed to fit me somehow, young and full of energy as I was at that time.

I loved the rolling hills of Pennsylvania and our small farming town. To me, it was a magical, exciting place. I learned to save shoe leather by roller-skating or cycling to my friends' homes at neighboring farms.

I used to enjoy visiting one special friend whose mother was a herbalist. The mother would show me different herbs and list the magical powers of each. Since that was more than 60 years ago, she was ahead of her time. She always wore black clothes and a dark babushka (scarf) and could be rather frightening.

She scared me when she began to recite tales of people with horrible ailments that she cured with her herbs. She seemed to relish going into great detail about their illnesses. It alarmed me to listen to her and soon I stopped visiting.

Her daughter, who had porcelain-like skin, went on to become a teacher in the local school.

I played baseball with my brothers, walked in the woods and dreamed of becoming a famous artist.

Later on, after I married, Sandy seemed like a childish name for a woman with a husband and children. Still, I had promised the priest who married my husband and I that I would be confirmed and so when my older children were ready to received the sacrament, I finally made my name Sandra official by being confirmed as well. I did not wear a gown like my daughter with a red beanie for the ceremony. I wore a light blue suit and sat in the back of the church with other adults who were being confirmed. The weather that day held all the blustery misery that March can dish out. It had snowed and then rained, so that we all had to step through nearly a foot of slush as we picked our way through the parking lot to the church.

One of our neighbors was my sponsor. I felt good about finally receiving the sacrament of confirmation, even though I had been married for about fifteen years at that point. Nevertheless, I did keep my promise to the priest.

Even so, I used my given name of Irene, which means peach in Greek. With a growing family, I wasn't the carefree Sandy I had once been.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Persistence or Talent?

Writing takes time--large quantities of it, in which the author is all alone...well, not really because there's an entire cast of characters inside his or her head and they're all arguing and carrying on because they have a problem which must be solved. Then comes the black moment when all hope is lost and the author gets all choked up and wipes away tears, trying not to get any in the keyboard since the story must be typed out letter by letter, word by word.

Once the problem is solved and the happy ending is accomplished, the writer has to go back to the very beginning of the story and fix it. Then the manuscript gets fixed again--and again. And again.

Besides all that, there's the synopsis to write, and the back cover blurb, and the art form to fill out. This takes hours and hours--and often there's no guarantee the writer will make any appreciable amount of money to compensate for all the  effort.

Talent is a very wonderful thing, but for me--and for most writers I know--persistence is what it takes to be an author.

Writers get rejections, but they don't give up. They have publishers who close up shop, editors who quit, and agents who die. Despite all of that, writers keep writing. They have more stories to tell since that cast of characters inside their heads really don't take many breaks and are rather fond of getting into terrible trouble. Sometimes, it's a calamity of monstrous proportions and takes all of 90,000 words or more to resolve the difficulty.

Writers are tenacious. They refuse to quit. Talent only goes so far. If you want to be an author, you need grit as well. Take a tip from Samuel Johnson. :-)