Jumping into the Fray of Self-Publishing

It’s spring! What better time to jump into the fray of self-publishing. It’s a time to blossom, so I’m going for it.

Yes, I’ve decided to self-publish my book, A Cry From The Deep, a romantic mystery. I resisted at first, because it’s a hell of a lot of work and money. Also, I know there are so many books out there, at last count, over two million on Amazon alone. Yikes! You have to be half crazy to think your book is going to stand out in that pool. But then again, as my husband says, cream rises to the top. I’ve got my fingers crossed, that my story will resonate with readers.

Magnolia Blossom by Diana Stevan

Magnolia Blossom by Diana Stevan

To be honest, I wanted to go down the traditional road—be validated in that way, get that agent and book publisher behind me, cheering me on—but though I’ve had interest, it’s not to be, and maybe that’s a good thing. I can pick my own cover (daunting, as I could pick the wrong one), and any books I sell, well, the little money that the majority of authors make these days, at least more of it will find its way to my pocket.

As for not having the traditional cheerleaders behind me, there’s no guarantee they’d be there anyway in today’s publishing world. Traditionally published authors now have to work almost as hard as self-published authors in getting the word out. They can no longer rely on their agents and book publishers for that kind of support.

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Cherry Blossoms at Van Dusen Gardens, Vancouver
by Diana Stevan

 

What bothered me most about self-publishing was the fact that the market is flooded with books that haven’t been edited properly. A lot of vanity published manuscripts. As an avid reader myself, and married to someone who also reads a great deal, we are both aware of how many badly written books there are for sale. How is the reader to know what’s worth buying? At least, with traditional books, you know the story has been vetted. What I’m hoping for is word of mouth, still the best way to get your book noticed.

So, having respect for the written word, I’ve taken a number of steps to ensure my book debuts in the best shape possible. And while I’ve been doing that, I’ve been consulting books like Martin Crosbie’s How I Sold 30,000 eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle , Anne R. Allen and Catherine Ryan Hyde’s How To Be A Writer In The E-Age, and Jonathan Gunson’s Bestseller Labs website.

I also talked to J. P. McLean, a writer who threw all caution to the wind and  self-published a very imaginative The Gift trilogy. She very generously shared with me her process.

Star Magnolia Tree in our garden by Diana Stevan

Star Magnolia Tree in our garden by Diana Stevan

Here are my steps:

1)     I’ve been so blessed to have my story critiqued by River Writers, a group I belong to in my community:  Kristin Butcher, a prolific and award winning children’s and YA writer; Jocelyn Reekie publisher and writer of children’s and YA books, Shari Green YA writer with a great blog, and Janet Smith, who is writing a science fiction novel.

2)     I’ve also shown my novel to a number of beta readers who’ve given me their thoughts. One of them, Karen Dodd, has recently published her own debut book to great reviews.

3)     I’ve had it macro edited by Marnie Wooding, who’s worked for a publishing house in the past and gave me great notes on my story.

4)     And then I had it copy edited by Laurie Boris, a beautiful writer herself, just to make sure I wasn’t putting out crap with spelling errors and poor grammar.

5)     Then, came the book cover. How I’ve agonized over this one, pouring over books on Amazon, looking at bestsellers, romances, trying to find what works and what doesn’t. Time will tell whether what I’ve chosen is the best one to illustrate what’s behind the covers. My book designer is finalizing the touches.

6)     And formatting. I’m currently in the process of getting that done through Quantum Formatting Services.

7)    And then I’m planning on getting it printed through CreateSpace, which gave me a free ISBN number. And I’ll get it on Amazon’s Kindle, too. Yahoo!!!

8)     But I still haven’t decided exactly when I’ll publish both the print and e-book versions. Will it be May? As I look at my magnolia tree, already blooming, I’m wondering if I can get it out before summer sets in and everyone has already bought their beach books. Or maybe I’ll wait until fall.

If you have any questions or comments about my process, I’m more than happy to let you in on my journey. Also, if you have anything to add, I’d love to hear that, too. Thanks.

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Ukraine and the Russian Bully

from www.infoplease.com

from www.infoplease.com

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be using my blog to write about politics in the Ukraine, but what is happening there is very dear to my heart. My grandparents and parents came from there and I’ve been spending the last two years writing my baba’s story.

For those of you who haven’t been following the news, Putin, the president of Russia, and a Russian bully, has raised his power-hungry head now that his puppet, Victor Yanukovich, the corrupt and former prime minister of Ukraine, fled in the night, taking many valuables with him. Some estimate that he and his son have siphoned off as much as 70 billion dollars from the Ukrainian people. He left Kiev after he’d authorized soldiers to gun down peaceful protesters demonstrating against that corruption, leaving 82 people dead and countless injured.

It was then that Putin struck, right when the country of Ukraine was at its most vulnerable, grieving for the loss of innocent lives and struggling to put a new government in place. He struck hard and illegally, by invading Crimea, an autonomous republic of Ukraine. Since then, with the Russian propaganda machine in full swing, he’s also managed to seed violence in eastern Ukraine, where many Russian-speaking Ukrainians live.

Though I was born in Canada, I carry the Ukrainian culture in my soul. As a child, every Sunday, my baba and I would take two buses to go to St. Mary’s the Protectress Ukrainian

from www.ukrainianchurchesofcanada.ca

St. Mary’s The Protectress church in Winnipeg
from www.ukrainianchurchesofcanada.ca

Greek Orthodox cathedral. There, at the end of the two-hour mass, the congregation would stand and sing the Ukrainian national anthem—Ukraine Hasn’t Died Yet. To outsiders, singing that anthem in Canada might sound peculiar, but the church population was largely immigrant and what they had left behind was still very much a part of them. I had never been to the Ukraine but hearing the song sung with such passion, I couldn’t help but get shivers up my back. On occasion, it brought me to tears.

At the kitchen table, I heard stories of the hardships that my baba and her family had faced under Russian and Polish occupation. After too many wars and the prospect of more hunger after surviving the famine of 1921, she had emigrated with her children to Canada in 1929.

In my teens, I began to hear stories about those who had stayed behind. On our family bookshelf, that contained a Funk and Wagnall Encycleopedia, various health books, and copies of The Reader’s Digest, was the book The Black Deeds of the Kremlin. It gave details of the Great Famine of 1932-1933, now known as Holodymyr. This extermination by hunger had been brought about by Stalin’s punitive collective farm practices. This book contained horrific  pictures of Ukrainians dying of starvation. Their half-alive bodies were thrown into pits full of those who’d died before them. Estimates of Ukrainians who had perished under Stalin’s ruthless command range from 3 ½ million to 7 million. Think 12 Years a Slave and Nazi Germany and you can begin to get the picture.

When you think that Ukraine today, the bread basket of Europe, is the third largest grain exporter in the world, it’s shocking to think that at one time the farmers were not allowed to eat what they produced, or allowed to eat enough to survive.

Taken in 1988 in Lutsk, Ukraine

Man in the Orange Raincoat, taken in 1988 in Lutsk, Ukraine

When my mother took me, my husband, and our children to Ukraine in 1988 to see the village she came from, it was still under Soviet rule. Gorbachev was in charge. We were not free to go where we wanted. We had to have a Soviet guide, even when we visited the family graves. At one point, when we thought we were finally alone, walking about the streets of Lutsk, a city 16 km. (10 miles) from Kivertsi, a man in an orange raincoat showed up and started talking to us. After that, he followed us for a while. We were not sure who he was, but we had the sense that he was checking to make sure we weren’t instigating anything that would not meet with Soviet approval.

The relatives, who lived in the area and came to see us at our hotel in Lutsk, had to leave their passports at the front desk. When we sat down with them in our sparse hotel room, they would not talk of life there. They whispered and pointed to the ceiling and the small table between the twin beds, indicating a hidden microphone. Only later, on the street, away from Soviet ears, would they speak candidly about their hardships.

In a Lutsk jewelry shop, an elderly man overheard me talking to my mother in Ukrainian. It was obvious to him, because of my western dress, that I was not from Ukraine. He asked me where I had learned to speak Ukrainian. I told him I had learned the language from my baba. His eyes welled up in gratitude that his language was living on and being promoted elsewhere.

By this time, I had noticed that the Ukrainian language was slowly being obliterated from the public. All government documents were being translated into Russian.
Even the church mass we attended was in Russian. As I was an actress, I asked our Soviet guide if I could see a Ukrainian film. She arranged for me to see a film about the famous Ukrainian composer Lysenko. I was disappointed to hear the actors speak in Russian.

Then, later when I visited  Lviv, a beautiful city with Austrian-influenced architecture, I met a medical student who told me that there was an underground movement of intelligentsia—academics and professionals—who were planning to demonstrate about the Russification of their language.

So, given Ukraine’s history, is it surprising that Ukrainians would rather join forces with the European Union than with Russia? Much of its ongoing economic struggle has to do with the power Russia has wielded over Ukraine. Its people only have to look across the border at Poland to see that residents there enjoy a much higher standard of living.

But now that Russia is on the march, can Ukraine, with the help of the Western World, stop this bully? Will diplomacy and sanctions work?

I’d love your thoughts. For now, I’m hoping and praying for peace.

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Taking Stock

With a month to go before spring IMG_4329raises its lovely head. I’ve been taking stock. My husband, Robert, and I just got back from touring Machu Picchu and a trip around the Horn of South America, so it’s been a good time for reflection.

I was all set to self-publish my novel, but met an outstanding author on the cruise, who put me in touch with her agent, also outstanding.  So, I pitched my novel to her. She was intrigued and wanted to see my manuscript. Now, I’m waiting for her to get back to me. Hurry up and wait. The nature of the biz.

My Baba, Lukia Mazurec

My Baba, Lukia Mazurec

Meanwhile, I’ve completed the first draft of my baba’s story and need to start pitching that one as well. It takes place between 1915-1929, in what is now Ukraine. So, of course, the battles there have kept me glued to the TV. My heart goes out to all Ukrainians  who are hoping for a better life.

I’ve also been fortunate to audition for a couple of wonderful projects, one, a movie of the week, the other, a pilot for a new TV series. It’s been a chance for me to brush up on my acting. Carol Rosenfeld’s wonderful book, Acting and Living in Discovery, has been a big help.

Besides all that, I’ve been watching the Olympics and learned once more what it takes to be successful in any field.  Surprisingly, the athletes who failed to get a medal taught me more about success than those who got one.  Most of us know that to achieve any goal it takes passion, perseverance, and hard work. And even with that, you can still fail at getting what you want. I saw athletes fall or make an error—due to nerves, a nick in the ice, or a skier or speed skater falling down in front of them. Yes, they Olympicsfailed to get on the podium, but I also saw them pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and keep going. It’s heroic.

To do your best at whatever you try is worth celebrating. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.” Also, better to have tried and lost, then never to have tried at all.

Our human potential is boundless. We are all more than we think. What do you think?

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Philip Seymour Hoffman – A Brilliant but Tortured Artist

Philip Seymour Hoffman

from imdb.com

I was relaxing in a hotel room in Miami a few mornings ago, when my husband, Rob, looked up from his newspaper to say, “You won’t believe who just died. One of the great actors.”

Hearing Philip Seymour Hoffman had overdosed on heroin was a shock even though we knew he’d had problems with drugs from the past. We’d looked up his biography online, because we were so enamored with his work on film and stage, and had seen most of his films.

To us, he was more than a star. He was everyman, and those were the kinds of roles he picked, those were the kind that made him so memorable. He didn’t shy away from the truth in his work. When I saw him play Willy Loman in Death Of A Salesman in 2012 on Broadway, I not only left the theatre sobbing, but the play and its tragedy stayed with me for awhile afterwards as I walked to Times Square and met up with my husband who was waiting for me there on the second floor of MacDonald’s. I fell into his arms crying. That was how much Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance had affected me.

That final scene between father and son, played by Andrew Garfield, was that powerful, even though I’d seen the play twice before and I was watching two famous actors flex their acting muscles. In that final confrontation, I saw Philip Seymour Hoffman put everything into it. Perhaps his father’s background as a salesman had informed his performance, but whatever it was that propelled him to show us his character’s heart and vulnerability, it came from a deep well of emotion. One that perhaps eventually took him from us.

Love Liza

from imdb.com

In  fact, I had written about his wonderful work in my blog before, about his film Love Liza. Strangely, the title I had chosen for that post was The Curious Appeal of Tragedy.

His death and legacy reminded me of Heath Ledger and how he’d also died of an overdose, in his case, an accidental one of prescription drugs for pneumonia and insomnia. I recall crying while watching his final scene of Brokeback Mountain, in which he brilliantly portrayed a man in love, a man whose heart was broken. Heath Ledger was another actor who was generous with his feelings. His sensitivity, like Hoffman’s, was probably hard to manage. Like in Hoffman’s death, drugs won, we lost.

Since we heard the news, questions have arisen about celebrity and fame. Celebrity is not all what it appears to be. Fame does not feed the soul.

And as a wonderful article through Flavorwire by Michelle Dean points out, we think we know the famous from what we read in the tabloids and what we observe on the screen or   as in this writer’s case, what she observed on the street. But the famous are just humans like us, struggling with life’s challenges. The major difference is they have little place to hide.

On Broadway, on Feb. 5th, at 7:45 pm, the lights were dimmed for a minute in honor of Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was a brilliant but tortured artist. He’s left behind a prodigious body of work, but also a grieving family and fans. May he rest in peace.

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The Brother Roars and More

2013 was a great year on a number of levels. theBROTHERposterYes, The Brother roars and more. This short film, that I co-wrote and co-produced with Michael Stevantoni, my grandson, had its premiere in January. After that, it was selected for a number of film festivals. Michael won the Director’s Prize at the Green Mountain Film Festival in Vermont. He also won Best High School Drama at the Independent Student Film Festival Hollywood and received a Film of Merit at the Route 66 International Film Festival, Springfield, Illinois

This past year, we worked together on another short film, It Is What It Is, currently in post-production, meaning Michael is now busy editing. Anyone involved in film-making knows producing a film is not a smooth road. There are unexpected bumps along the way. Lighting issues, location headaches, and human error

James Kay in IT IS WHAT IT IS

James Kay in IT IS WHAT IT IS

can cause many a sleepless night. But you don’t give up. You find a way. Passion keeps a project afloat, even when unexpected problems surface.

Which brings me to my novel. For the past year or two, I’ve been pitching my novel to various agents—and tweaking it as well—while trying to get it out the traditional way. For those of you who know, I’ve been agented before for my screenplays, so I know the value of having an agent, even though none of mine ever sold. This time around though, I got some interest in my story but no bites. So, after much agonizing, I’ve decided to self-publish. My novel is currently sitting on a copy editor’s desk in New York and I’ve put out a request for a book cover design from someone highly regarded by a number of authors. My plan is to publish this spring. So, within the next month of two, I’ll let you know my progress, title, etc. It’s a story I’ve labored over, a story I fell in love with as I wrote it.

As well, I’m only a couple of chapters short of a first draft of my grandmother’s story, a chapter of which has already been published in Escape, an anthology. And I have plans to revisit an earlier novel, set largely on a psychiatric ward. It was one that I adapted from a screenplay I wrote, one that got me an agent.

As usual, I have many irons in the fire…from poetry, to a stage play, to short stories and children’s books. Daughter Karen and I also hope to write a book together about her incredible and courageous journey, not to be divulged just yet. All I need is time and the will to persevere.

Again, I’m reminded of how one gets things done by watching my grandson at work. It’s the fire in one’s belly that keeps projects alive. So far, mine is far from being extinguished.

Wishing you all a joyous new year! And may you be surrounded by love and the promise of better things to come.

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Counting My Blessings

At this time of year, I can get pretty sentimental, thinking of the past, and those I’ve loved and lost along the way. They may not be here to share the joy of this time, but in another way they still are, as I continue to hold them in my heart.

I’m counting my blessings as we hope to celebrate this Christmas with

Chloe and baby

Granddaughter Chloe as Mary

our two beautiful daughters, their spouses and three grandchildren. I say hope, as there’s an ice storm in Toronto and the youngest grandchild has chicken pox. So, traveling from the east to Vancouver Island, where we live, will be a challenge.

I’m also mindful that at this time of year, it’s easy to forget

—with all the running around for that perfect gift, or planning for parties, dinners, etc.—the true meaning of Christmas. It seems every year we get further away from the Christmas story and the promise within it: peace and good will toward all men.

Though Rob and I, and our eldest grandchild, Michael—he’s the filmmaker—are no longer regular church goers, our two granddaughters are still active at Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto. They play their parts in that church’s Christmas Story, as they’ve done every year since they were babies. When they were that tiny, they played baby Jesus. When they were older, shepherds, pages and angels.

This year, Chloe played Mary and Angel_Gabriel_BlueMary_header_1Mimi was an angel.

 

This season also reminds me of Christmases past. When our daughters were still at home, we’d celebrate Christmas Eve with a bible reading of the Holy birth, followed by a reading from the book, A Northern Nativity. In it, the stories were illustrated by Ukrainian Canadian painter William Kurelek, who depicted Jesus as white, black Northern Nativityor first nations—born in a boxcar, an igloo, or a shack. After the readings, we’d sing Christmas carols, ending with Silent Night with all the lights off except for the ones on  the Christmas tree.

It seems to me, that no matter what religion you are, it’s hard not to appreciate the Christmas story. Both Joseph and a very pregnant Mary were shut out when they tried to find a place to stay for the night. They were poor and unwelcome in their own land, as unfortunately too many still are in our beautiful world. The celebration of the birth of Jesus continues to leave us with hope for a better future for all mankind.  This Youtube video I found shows the love and humanity in this story, that William Kurelek illustrated so well. The composition is by Chris de Burgh. Enjoy.

Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year.

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Success Is Not A Straight Line

As I’m planning to self-publish my novel this coming spring, I’ve been thinking a lot about my journey. For those of you who’ve read my bio., it’s been one that’s taken me many places. I’ve had success in some areas, and in others, it’s eluded me. But then again success is not a straight line.

Faculty-CarolRosenfeld

Carol Rosenfeld, photo from H.B.Studio website

Years back, I took a number of master classes in Vancouver, B.C., with acting teacher, Carol Rosenfeld from H.B.Studio in New York. To say I was in awe of her talent is an understatement. She put me through my paces, demanding more (not less) when I wanted to give up, and for that, I’ve forever grateful.

In one of her scene study classes, she drew a line on a blackboard, that went straight ahead for a bit, stood still for awhile—as she made tight vertical strokes one after the other—and then backwards for a bit before going forwards again. As she said, sometimes as you progress as an actor, there is forward movement, sometimes you stand still going nowhere, and there are also times when you go backwards. It’s part of the journey.

Blackboard

Success Is Not A Straight Line

How many times have we heard stories of people who’ve failed at something they’ve tried, only to pick themselves up, learn from their mistakes and go on to become successful in their fields? It’s an old story.

This idea applies to writing as well. How many times have I stared at my pages and felt immobilized as to how to fix something. I had to keep going into my story, struggle with what my characters were trying to say, and if I stayed with it and didn’t give up, I was rewarded with a germ of an idea, a sentence I savored, or some surprise  my character hadn’t revealed before. That’s what’s delicious about writing, when you’re in the zone.

Carol's BookNow, the marvelous Carol Rosenfeld has published her book, Acting and Living in Discovery, in which she’s recorded her pearls of wisdom, gleaned from decades of teaching and directing actors and being one herself.

I recall how much she talked about specificity. How we needed to know our characters inside and out in order to inhabit them. Same with writing. How can you tell a story when the people in it are cardboard figures, no depth, no feeling, no expression? She wanted us to know what the characters we were playing had for breakfast, how they lived day in and day out, what were their dreams, what were their fears? Isn’t that what we do with the characters we write, the ones we put on the page? We have to know them inside and out to make them breathe, to come alive.

Carol taught that once you’ve done your homework, as an actor (or a writer), you can play. The magic can take place. Your work can become organic. It’s a place where you don’t have to think so much about your craft, rather you just do, you trust yourself in the part or in the story.

I am so indebted to Carol, for she gave me so much. Not only the tools for acting—which I continue to build upon, as the learning never stops—but also at a deeper level, a greater understanding of myself. When we immerse ourselves in our art, whether it’s while we are pursuing our goal of writing that next great novel, or inhabiting a great literary character on stage or one written for film, the good stuff only comes when we reveal ourselves. And to do that, it takes courage to let go and find those gems that define the uniqueness in all of us. Then, it truly can become art.

And while we’re exercising our minds and our hearts through acting or writing or whatever we pursue, it helps to keep in mind that success is not a straight line.

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A Life Lesson From Robert Frost

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On the Robert Frost Trail

There is something about a walk in the forest to calm my senses. My mind is always whirling with what I’ve written and what I want to write as well as the regular family business, you know, the worries about children and grandchildren.

On our recent trip through New England, Robert and I came upon the Robert Frost Wayside Trail by the town of Middlebury,Vermont. It’s a wonderful walk through the woods that the poet loved, the woods he captured in his poems.

The Road Not Taken

Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken is the one I recall from my childhood. His poem resonates as who amongst us has not thought about the road not taken. Not that the one we’re on is fraught with difficulty, but rather we ask ‘what if we had taken the other road?’ How would our life be different?

What takes us down one path and not the other? Sometimes, it’s because the other seems too hard, too unfathomable. Or maybe it’s too easy to take the one that we think others want us to take, rather than the one our own spirit is yearning to travel. Or maybe, as in Frost’s poem, they both look roughly the same and we choose blindly, unsure of the outcome.

For awhile now, I’ve been traveling the path that leads to traditional publishing. Though I’ve had agents in the past for my screenplays, and have one for my acting, an agent for my novel has eluded me, even though several well-known NY agents expressed some interest. But in the end, my story wasn’t one they wanted to champion, even though I’ve been told it’s intriguing and written well. It’s just not their cup of tea.

It’s discouraging to get rejections but I know I’m not alone as most established authors have experienced rejections in their writing journey. It’s the nature of the business.

Robert Frost

Beaver Pond on Robert Frost Trail

And so, I’ve decided to take the other road, and self-publish my novel in the spring of 2014 (so exciting). I am encouraged in this as many authors have blazed this trail ahead of me. At this time, I don’t expect it to be a better road. There are pros and cons for both. It’s just a different road with its own rewards.

How about you? Are there paths out there you haven’t taken? To go out on one’s own is daunting. Are you thinking of trying a new direction? Whether it’s a move to an exotic land, a gamble in business, writing about something forbidden, we all have those impulses. But fear of judgment, fear of failure, fear of the unknown keeps us locked in the same pattern, afraid to take a step on the road not taken.

My inner voice tells me it’s time to try the other path. What is your inner voice telling you? I’d love to hear from you.

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Freedom Is Not Free

Nov. 11th is Remembrance Day in Canada and others in the Commonwealth. It’s the day  we honor our veterans and those we lost.

IMG_3112It seems fitting then to tell you of my recent experience on the National Mall, in Washington, D.C., an almost two mile long public space incorporating a reflecting pool and major war monuments. To stand there and look down that mall—the Capital at one end, the Lincoln monument at the other—is an unbelievable experience. The magnificence of the design in that open space underlines the strength and beauty of America.

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World War II Memorial

The war monuments are of such grandeur that you can’t walk by them without thinking of the human tragedy of war. Lives lost and spirits crushed. Dreams dashed. Families broken. It’s stunning to read how many tens of thousands have died for their country.

Unfortunately, it’s a universal story. Every country has lost sons and daughters to war.

We first stopped at the relatively new World War II Memorial. What’s striking about it are the bronze reliefs on it, depicting scenes from that time.

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One of the bronze scenes at the WWII memorial

I had three uncles in that war. They were from a small town in Manitoba; they came from a poor family. War was adventure, a steady pay check, and a call of duty. One was in the air force, two in the army. They all came home, but were forever scarred by what they’d seen.

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Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Korean War Veterans Memorial commemorates another one where Canadians,  Americans, and their allies fought side by side.

Another war that grabbed its young, and those who made it back were older before their time.

 

 

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They Come to Honor The Fallen

The last one we visited was the Vietnam War Memorial. A massive dark stone wall with the names of Americans who didn’t return.

Canadians didn’t fight in Vietnam, but we know the story. The horrors, the sacrifices, and the madness of war played out daily on our TV screens in the 60s and early 70s.

 

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Bronze Soldiers look on the Vietnam Memorial

The Vietnam memorial touched my husband and I the most. Partly because it was the freshest war, the one in our lifetime with no easy answers. And partly, because there are still plenty of survivors and family members who visit and pay their respects.

There, I witnessed a father looking for his son’s name on the stone.

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A volunteer tries to ease the pain.

I saw a former soldier cry when a volunteer made a rubbing of his friend’s name, or maybe it was his brother’s, and a man shake with sorrow as he ran his fingers over the engraved letters.

I didn’t lose anyone in this war, but just seeing all the dead listed and the tears around me,  I couldn’t help but feel some of the pain of those who did.

At the end of the day, I was left with this thought, etched on a stone near the Korean Veterans Memorial.

Freedom Is Not Free

FREEDOM IS NOT FREE

 

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My Sabbatical

Though sabbaticals are technically two IMG_0768months or longer, I’ve decided to take a mini one, about four weeks off from my blog. I want time to reflect, research, write, and ruminate. I will miss writing my little blog, but know that I will have much to say when I return.

Like those in this photo outside the New York Public Library, I have a need to consider where I’ve been and where I’m going.

 

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