Saturday, February 21, 2015


The Word Place Blog will resume regular postings on Monday, March 2.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What came out of WW I? Everything but a lasting peace...

Almost 37.5 million mobilized forces were killed, wounded, became prisoners, or went missing in World War I (1914-1918). That comes to 57.5% of the total number of participants worldwide. 
For most people today, the first war considered a global conflict is almost ancient history. Armistice Day is no longer celebrated on November 11 but has been replaced by Veterans Day to honor all those who served in the military.  
The root causes  (military alliances, nationalism, militarism, and imperialism) are still taught in history books, and the immediate cause—the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife Sophie—makes a good (bloody!) story.  
     Of those who were not casualties of war, two lived to an especially ripe old age.  American Frank Buckles died at the age of 110 in 2011, During World War II he spent 3 years as a civilian prisoner of the Japanese in the Philippines. Though not a combat veteran, his family received special permission for his burial in Arlington Memorial Cemetery. Florence Green, who joined the Women’s Royal Air Force at the age of 17. She  died in 2012 just two weeks short of her 111th birthday! You can view a list of the last living WW I vets by country here.
More familiar to those who dwell in the 21st century may be the wealth of literature, music, and poetry which came out of these four years of death and destruction. The novel All Quiet on the Western Front by German author Erich Maria Remarque (later made into a movie staring Lew Ayers) is still popular in literary circles today. Follow these links for a list of well-known books 
In a recent blog I discussed how music reflected a particular era and harked back to it long after the years were only memories. Probably the most popular song of World War I was “Over There” written by song-and-dance man George M.Cohan. (He—or at least his statue—still keeps an eye on Broadway where he found enormous fame and fortune.) You can hear him sing it here  and watch a video of the song sung by Jimmy Cagney who portrayed Cohan in the movie “Yankee Doodle Dandy”. A bit of trivia—singing with him is Frances Langford who made innumerable trips overseas to entertain troops during World War II.  
    For more popular songs of the times, see this list from which you can link to the history/lyrics of a particular song. 
Perhaps one of the most overlooked art forms to come out of those years (at least today) is poetry.
RupertBrooke (“The Soldier”), a British poet, died of wounds in 1915. 
WilfredOwen (“Dulce et Decorum est”) died just seven days before the November 11 armistice.
JohnMcCrae (“In Flanders Field”, a member of the medical corps, died of pneumonia in a field hospital in 1918. 
American poet Alan Seeger (“Rendezvous” or “I Have a Rendezvous with Death”) joined the French Foreign Legion and died in 1916. 
Siegfried Sassoon (“The General”) survived the war and died of cancer in 1967. 
 Here’s a more in-depth look at the poets and poetry of World War I. 

     I used World War I to set up events surrounding the characters in Where Is Papa's Shining Star? Alan Ashley lost his eyesight. Lenore Seldon lost the boy next door whom she intended to marry. Albert Rycovsky lost nothing but a few months of his life but came home to circumstances which would cost him everything. You can learn more about their story here.

Get hooked on a good clean read!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

This is my beloved...

In honor of Valentine Day, here is an excerpt of a tender moment shared by Penelope and her “mystery man” Sam aka Tiny the Biker. Though it takes place at Christmas, the gift itself has its origins in and around February 14.

From The Possum Hollow Hullabaloo (Book 4)
Book 4 of the Penelope Pembroke Series


  “I made a fire in the living room,” Sam said to Penelope as he watched her light the candles on the antique buffet where several polished chafing dishes caught the flicker of the flame and added to the soft glow of the room.
  “Did you put up the fire screen?”
  “Yes. It looks nice in here, Nell. Cozy. And there’s enough food to feed an army.”
  “Wait until Mary Lynn and Harry get here with their haul. And Rosabel and Bradley.” She put the box of matches back in the drawer.    “Rosabel said they’d be a little late because Bradley had something he had to do. Hopefully he’s checking to make sure that Hadden is locked up good and tight where Santa won’t find him.”
  “How do you know he’s locked up at all?”
  “Because you said it was over, so he’s either locked up or dead.” She shook her head. “God forgive me for not minding the latter.”
  “I can tell you this much, because it’ll be in the papers tomorrow or the next day. The state police saved the school by a whisker.”
  “You’re joking! Tell me no one tried to blow up the school!”
  Sam nodded. “They brought in some bomb-sniffing dogs who found it, and this time it was the real thing.”
  Penelope sagged against the buffet. “Whoever did it wasn’t looking for buried treasure under the school, I guess.”
  “Nope. Anything else that needs bringing in from the kitchen?”
  “No, it’s all in here.”
  “Then come in the living room with me for a minute.” He held out his hand. They paused under the mistletoe between the pocket doors of the living room and shared a brief kiss, then a longer one. “I want to give you your Christmas gift from me now while we’re alone.”
  “You didn’t have to get me anything.”
  “You knew I would.”
  “I guess I did.”
  “Close your eyes, and hold out both hands.”
  Penelope did both, then closed her fingers around a small box. A jeweler’s box. A ring? Surely not. He’s never even said he loves me.
  “You can open your eyes now.”
  She looked at the small box, wrapped in some of the red paper she’d used for Bradley’s and Rosabel’s gifts. “Sam, I…”
  “Just open it.”
  Her hands shook as she untied the ribbon and peeled away the paper, revealing not a ring case but a box bearing the name of a jewelry store in Little Rock. When she fumbled with the lid, Sam lifted it off, pushed aside the layer of cotton, and took out a flat silver heart etched with something she couldn’t read.
  “It’s beautiful, Sam,” she murmured.
  He picked it up. “Mae hyn yn fy annwyl.” He showed her the inscription. “It’s Welsh.”
  “What does it mean?”
  He took her hand and led her to the sofa. “First let me tell you a story. Do you know who St. Dwynwen is?”
  “I’ve never heard of him.”
  “Her. She lived in Wales in the 5th century. According to some sources, she was the daughter of a king who forbade her to marry the man she loved. Other sources say the man betrayed her. Whichever happened, she never married and became a nun, but because she prayed for God to give happiness to all lovers, she—not St. Valentine—is the patron saint of lovers.”
  Penelope’s eyes blurred with tears. She wondered if Sam could see her heart beating beneath her red sweater. “That’s a beautiful story, but I still don’t know what the inscription says.”
  Sam fastened the thin chain around her neck. “The inscription is Welsh, and it’s from the Song of Solomon. Mae hyn yn fy annwyl means ‘This is my beloved.’”
  Her tears spilled over. “Oh, Sam.”
  He tipped her chin and extracted a handkerchief to blot her cheeks. “It’s a promise, Nell, the only one I can make right now.”
  She laid her forehead against his chest and felt him rest his chin on her hair. “It’s enough. It really is.”

Available from Amazon for Kindle and also in print

Get hooked on a good clean read!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Friday Five: "We stick together!"

After Pearl Harbor, Hollywood went to war along with America’s fighting men. Though many male “stars” joined various branches of the military, others—men and women—worked in documentaries as well as fiction films to buoy the nation’s resolve to win.

The Fighting Sullivans (1945) tells the true story of five brothers who enlisted together on the condition they could stay together. And stay together they did. None survived the sinking of the U.S.S. Juneau in November 1942. Each has a cenotaph at Arlington National Cemetery. 

Genevieve Sullivan, the boys’ sister, joined the WAVES following her brothers’ deaths.

Only one of the brothers, Al the youngest, was married. His son Jimmy was 22 months old at the time of Al’s death. His widow Katherine Mary remarried but had no more children. Al’s granddaughter, Kelly Sullivan Loughren, accepted the invitation to be “sponsor” of the third USS The Sullivans commissioned in 1997.

Visit these linked sites for more information:

Movie trailer 

Transcript of a documentary about the Juneau 

Home of the Heroes 

The Sullivan brothers are not alone in their sacrifice. Thirty-three sets of brothers are buried in the cemetery at Normandy as well as one father and son. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A True Story of Valor: A Higher Call

I don’t read anymore as much as I should, but when I fall in love with a story, I want everyone to read it and fall in love, too! The book spent 19 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List!

A Higher Call by Adam Makos wrapped my heart and squeezed and brought me to tears in more than one passage.  It’s the rare book I bought in print rather than for my Kindle because I wanted to pass it on to someone else without a Kindle.
Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler, two young men typical of their generation, find themselves in the middle of World War II, not necessarily by choice but certainly on opposite sides of the conflict. In 1943, Charlie’s B-17 gets shot to pieces on a bombing run over Germany. His tail gunner is dead, and another crew member is badly wounded. How does he get his buddies and himself back to England more or less in one piece?
Franz Stigler sees the plane has become a "straggler"--a sure death sentence. Well on his way to the Knight’s Cross (but not obsessed with getting it), he flies his own fighter in for a closer look—and literally looks through the battered plane and sees the crew tending to their wounded. Suddenly, he remembers his brother August, also a pilot and also shot from the skies, and he knows he can't add this plane to his many hits. He levels out near the cockpit of the B-17 and tries to make Charlie understand he should head for neutral Sweden where he can “sit out” the rest of the war.
Charlie doesn’t understand and prepares to die. Then he realizes his German counterpoint is escorting him right out of the line of German fire—and thinks one of them is definitely crazy. Franz watches the crippled B-17 head out over the North Sea before he returns to his base—knowing that if anyone saw his act of mercy, he could be shot for treason.
Neither man ever forgets that day and always wonders if the other survived the war.  Decades later, by nothing less than a meant-to-be miracle, they find each other. I won’t even add my review to the over 2000 five-star reviews already posted—but I will urge you to read this book.  In our present era of waffling, self-serving, and lessening values, you won’t walk away from this book without the resolve to stand strong for what you know to be right.
And we all need a good shot of resolve.

 A Higher Call is available in print and for Kindle HERE.

Watch An Extraordinary Code of Honor HERE

Also by author Adam Makos:

About the author (taken from Adam Makos' Amazon Page)
Adam Makos is a journalist, historian, and editor of the military magazine, Valor. In his fifteen years of work in the military field, Makos has interviewed countless veterans from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and present-day wars. He has flown a B-17 bomber, a T-38 fighter with the Air Force, and was one of the few journalists privileged to examine Air Force One with its pilots. In pursuit of a story, Makos has met with Presidents, had tea with Prince Charles, and toured the DMZ border in Korea with American troops. The high point of his work occurred in 2008, when Makos traveled to Iraq to accompany the 101st Airborne and Army Special Forces on their hunt for Al Qaeda terrorists. He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller "A Higher Call."

You can follow Adam's work at:

Twitter: AdamMakos