Thursday, February 27, 2014

Neighborhood Book Exchanges

I’ve become intrigued this week with a new type of library that has sprung up since 2009. These are boxes mounted in front yards to hold books for people to help themselves to and leave other books. They go by a variety of names including Neighborhood Book Exchanges. Little Free Libraries. Community Libraries, book trading posts, pop-up libraries, libraries in a box, and take a book return a book.

What I like is the free spirit of these small libraries. I have visited several in my city and they are colorful and offer an eclectic set of books.

Here are a few pictures:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Keeping Balance as a Writer

Writing can be a lonely avocation. Nearly every morning, I sit down at my laptop and delve into a world I create in my own mind. There are adventures, pathos and humor discovered there, but I do this with no human interaction. This inner world can be fascinating, but it needs to be balanced with contact in the outer world.

Consequently, I take a break at midday to go outside. I play a sport called platform tennis two to three times a week. This allows me to enjoy an interesting activity and spend time with friends. Other days, I take walks. This gets me in touch with nature. Since I live close to the mountains in Colorado, I can enjoy nature with all its sights, sounds and aromas.

In the afternoon I do promotional work, often engaging with other writers or doing events. Afternoon and evening are also time for family activities.

I follow this schedule unless we’re traveling to visit our grandkids. During these excursions, I put my writing aside.

For a writer I find it important to keep this balance. I enjoy the solitude of writing but also the interaction with nature and other people.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Harry Truman

While doing research for the non-fiction book I’m writing, I came across an interesting story about Harry Truman and his response to a critic’s review of a performance by Harry’s daughter, Margaret.

Washington Post Music Critic Paul Hume's December 6, 1950, review of Margaret Truman's singing performance at Constitution Hall, stated, "Miss Truman is a unique American phenomenon with a pleasant voice of little size and fair quality . . . cannot sing very well . . . is flat a good deal of the time . . . more last night than at any time we have heard her in past years . . . has not improved in the years we have heard her . . . still cannot sing with anything approaching professional finish." 

Harry Truman responded, “I've just read your lousy review of Margaret's concert. I've come to the conclusion that you are an ‘eight ulcer man on four ulcer pay.’ It seems to me that you are a frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful. When you write such poppy-cock as was in the back section of the paper you work for it shows conclusively that you're off the beam and at least four of your ulcers are at work. Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!”

Thursday, February 6, 2014

V-mail During World War 2

Okay, so we have email today, but during World War 2 there was V-mail. I had never heard of this until I started writing the biography of a World War 2 veteran and came across an example of this form of communication.

V-mail was short for Victory Mail. Here’s the way it worked. A soldier wrote correspondence on a small sheet that was photographed, sent in negative microfilm and printed upon receipt. The infantry man I’m writing about sent this V-mail on December 20, 1944, from the Vosges Mountains in France to his girlfriend back in the United States: “Hello, Sugar. This is just to let you know that I am still kicking and will punch hell out of the U.S.O. commando or 4F who’s making you forget me. They just brought hot chow out to us and I am feeling pretty good. It’s very cold right now and hard for me to hold the pen. How are you? How is school, and what are you doing with yourself? Do you ever see my father, my loving brother? Write soon. Love, Eddie.”

Thirteen days later he was captured by the Germans and spent three months in prisoner of war camps until liberated by the Russians.