WINNING NAMES HAVE BEEN DRAWN OUT OF THE PINK WILLIE NELSON BASEBALL CAP.
AND, THE WINNERS ARE PAT BROWNING, MARY FEATHERSTON (WHO LEFT A COMMENT AT FACEBOOK WHEN CAPTCHA WOULDN'T COOPERATE HERE), AND CARLEEN. SEND ME YOU MAILING ADDRESS, PLEASE (BARLEYKW AT APPSTATE DOT COM) AND I'LL FORWARD YOUR ADDRESSES TO SHARON SO SHE CAN MAIL YOUR ARC OUT TO YOU. AND THANKS, EVERYONE, FOR PARTICIPATING. I HOPE YOU'LL GIVE SHARON'S WORK A TRY IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY. AND LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK, PLEASE!
The Long, Long Trail Ends
by Sharon Wildwind
There’s a long, long trail a-winding
Into the land of my dreams,
Where the nightingales are singing
And a white moon beams.
There’s a long, long night of waiting
Until my dreams all come true;
Till the day when I'll be going down
That long, long trail with you.
~ Stoddard King and Alonzo (Zo) Elliott, December 1913
It’s been a long haul.
Even good things—maybe especially good things—come to an end. In three days, my publisher ships Loved Honor More, the final Elizabeth Pepperhawk/Avivah Rosen Viet Nam mystery. Five books in seven years isn’t exactly burning up the mystery world, but I’m very proud of the run, especially since I had a day job, family events happened and the publishing world got really crazy. In short, it was life as usual in the writing lane.
People ask me, won’t you miss your characters? Maybe a little, but it’s time they get on with their lives without me looking over their shoulder. When writing the final book, I faced different questions that in the other four. Did I want all of my characters to survive or was I going to polish off one or more? Was I truly finished with the series, or did I want to plant a few seeds in case I wanted to write #6,. #7, etc.?
The hardest thing was taking a dispassionate look at the fall of Saigon and the weeks that preceded it. Thirty-five years out, it still appeared to me to be an unmitigated disaster. Reading and thinking about it still inflamed old passions that I thought had died a natural death. They haven’t.
plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (the more things change, the more they remain the same)
~ Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1808 – 1890), French critic, journalist, and novelist
The most fun thing was including a character named Kaye Barley. Yes, I did this with Kaye’s full permission. She said I could do almost anything I wanted, as long as the character got to wear cowgirl clothes at some point. She does.
One thing I’ve thought a lot about lately was the age span of Viet Nam veterans. At one end of the scale I imagined a grizzled supply sergeant who finished his thirty years in the military doing a tour of duty with the initial U.S. Military Assistance Advisor Group (M.A.A.G.), which, in 1956, assumed responsibility from the French for training South Vietnamese forces. My imaginary sergeant would have been about 48 when he was in Viet Nam, which would make him 104, were he still alive.
At the other end of the time span is the eighteen year-old Marine who was on the last helicopter out of Saigon on April 30, 1975. He’d be a spry 55 today.
Smack in the middle would have been a young Captain who led troops, flew helicopters, or worked in a field hospital during the late 1960s. His or her age today would be between 65 and 75. This includes my characters, and me.
We’re all a lot older, and a lot tougher than we were back in the day.
That’s a lot of water under the bridge, a lot of marriages, families, divorces, university degrees, second and third careers, dream vacations, hobbies, moves, and just plain survival because the ones of us who are still alive are, in every sense, survivors. Thanks to that pesky social media, we’re reconnecting with one another. In the past three years I’ve been contacted by and found information to contact more of the people I served with than I did in the previous thirty years. It’s a good feeling to get caught up on what’s happened since the last time we saw one another.
So my last advice to my characters is when computers come along, get one. Learn to use it. It’s going to come in really handy in about thirty-five years. Maybe on your journey to look up your old Army buds, you’ll look me up as well. I’ll be right here, waiting, and more than a little interested in how you’ve gotten on over the decades.
My last advice to you is that I have 3 Advanced Reading Copies of Loved Honor More that I’d love to send to 3 people reading this blog. I’ve left it up to Kaye to determine how those three people are chosen. So do what she tells you. And in the words of Bob Hope, “Thanks for the memories.”
You have never lived until you’ve almost died. To those who fight for it, life has a flavor the protected never know.
~ sign over a Mike Forces bar, Pleiku, RVN
Sharon asked me to tell y'all how to win a copy of an Advanced Reading Copy of her latest and last Elizabeth Pepperhawk/Avivah Rosen mystery series. I'm going to put the comments in our famous pink Willie Nelson Baseball cap and I will draw three names. I'll do this on Monday, Nov. 12 and I'll come back here and post the names at Meanderings and Muses, so be sure you check back (and to be really really for sure for sure - include your email address with your comment).
I had to wait a day to post this (and only with Sharon's consent) because after eading Sharon's post I had a very long cry. For a number of reasons - not least of which is the fact that Sharon showed a personal side of herself here. That's a rare thing for her to do, being an intensely private person.
Sharon wrote, "Five books in seven years isn’t exactly burning up the mystery world, but I’m very proud of the run . . . "
But damn it, this is a series that SHOULD have been burning up the mystery world. It should have and it still should. No one has written about the Viet Nam war the way Sharon Wildwind has from the point of view that she has. Not many people could. And many who could have chosen not to, for a wide variety of reasons - many of them heartbreaking.
Many of us were here at home while loved ones fought a war that confused us all, including many who were fighting.
It was, and remains today, an emotional time in our lives.
I first heard about Sharon's series was from my buddy Mary Jane Maffini. She mentioned the books to me because A) she loved them, and B) because Sharon mentions Boone, NC. Well, boy howdy, that was reason enough for me to pick up the first in the series. Reading about Boone always just tickles me pink. However - this time - I was hooked. Seriously hooked. And as I am wont to do when a book touches me, I dropped Sharon an email to tell her so. And squealed about it at DorothyL where I learned I was far from her only fan. Sharon Wildwind is one of those authors that just simply has not, for whatever reason, received the attention that this series and her talent deserves. I've been an advocate of this series since I read the first chapter of the first book - and I will continue long after I've read the last chapter of this last book. I urge each of you to give this series a try. And, especially, if you're of an age that remembers Viet Nam the way I remember Viet Nam, you'll thank me for the introduction.
I've been lucky enough to have been a character in a few books. Lucky and honored to have been in some acknowledgements. These things are always a thrill. But I have to say - this honor is going to live in my heart till the day I die. Thank you, Sharon. Not just for the honor of being a character in your book (which you know I love!), but for all you've done - I salute you, with great honor and great admiration.
NOTE: Because the Blogger captcha thing is such a massive pain in the neck, anyone leaving a comment under my status about Sharon at my Facebook Page will also have their name tossed into the pink Willie Nelson baseball cap. Thanks much!