Thursday, September 29, 2011

Gone, But Not Forgotten

As I mentioned in my last post, my freshman year in college started off by having to take fundamental courses that I was not overly enthused about.

The dreaded English 101 was at the top of my "uninterested" list.

To my surprise, Professor Mitchell was a different kind of English teacher that I had not encountered in the past. She wasn't focused on grammar, sentence structure, and the other building blocks of English, but was geared more toward creativity. She was all about writing stories, and testing our ability to tell a good story through writing, whether it be fiction or nonfiction.

I received high marks for my off-color humor and graphic detail in the stories I wrote. She never mentioned all of the misspelled words or incomplete sentences. It was all about good storytelling.

She wrote a note on my final exam (for which I got an "A"), that said, Continue writing. You're good at it.

Emeritus Grace Clayton Mitchell passed away in 2006. Although, I never saw her again after that Spring in 1972, her encouraging words remained in the back of my mind until I started my first novel, almost thirty years later.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Out of the Navy and Back to School

I managed to survive the Navy and the Vietnam War. Although, I didn't encounter any Viet Cong, thank God, there were some tense times sitting on top of 8 million gallons of jet fuel in a war zone.

Before I left Vung Tao in 1971 to be discharged from the Navy, I received a letter from my mother. Enclosed was a letter that had been sent to me from Uncle Sam. It stated that I had been drafted into the Army. The letter was a little late, so I had managed to dodge the bullet, literally.

Back home in Joplin, Missouri and in civilian status, I had no idea what I was going to do with the rest of my life. My friend, Bob, who had been discharged out of the service earlier, turned me on to college. Since Uncle Sam was graciously paying for it via the G.I. Bill, it sounded like a hell of a better idea than getting a job, so I enrolled right away.

Unfortunately, I found out you couldn't just take any courses you wanted to, because there are such things as prerequisites. English 101 was one of them, and I was definitely bummed out about that!

I had no idea this would be the class that would pave the way to a writing career many years later.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

College Student or Draftee?

I graduated from high school in 1966. With a much-needed loan from my dear mother, and behind my old man's back, I enrolled in junior college and retained my 1-A status, to avoid being drafted into the Army. Unfortunately, this plan was short-lived. Due to my love for the girls and drinking beer, I very seldom showed up for class. Therefore, I flunked out of college in the first semester. Bummer. I was back on the draft list, and expected to receive my notice in the mail within a very short time.

Many of my friends were getting married to avoid Vietnam. It was a fate worse than death in my mind, so I chose to take my chances with the Viet Cong, rather than a wife. My mother, with her ultimate wisdom, talked me into joining the Navy, to avoid being drafted as a ground soldier in the Army. I thought that was a pretty good idea because my older brother had served in the Navy some years before, and he had survived. Since I was a big believer that "misery loves company," I talked my pal, Bob, into enlisting in the Navy with me. The recruiter assured us that we were on the "buddy system," and would be stationed on the same ship together. What a liar he was! We soon found out that there was no such thing as the "buddy system." However, we were both home-ported in Long Beach, so we did get to see each other on occasion. Bob ended up marrying the hometown girl he had dated for about a year, and your's truly was his best man. Married and in the service? Double jeopardy, I concluded!

When I post next week, I'll continue with some more info on where I came from, and how I got to where I am today.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Kindle Edition of "The Monkey Toy"

This has been an exciting week! My novel, "The Monkey Toy," is now out on Kindle in the United States. It also debuted in the United Kingdom and Germany. The e-book is very affordable at $2.99 in the U.S., and is comparable in price in the other countries. I hope it brings enjoyment to all the "thriller" lovers out there. I look forward to generating more readers around the world. After reading it, I hope they will post an honest book review. The book has received several 4 and 5-star reviews that you might want to check out on the Amazon US website.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Nine Years Later

When I last posted, I wrote about being in the third grade. Nine years later, it was time to graduate from high school. Things had not improved much as far as academics, and my name was not posted on the list to graduate that year. I was making all "D's" as I had done for years, so what was the problem?

Well, some pesky math teacher had the audacity to give me an "F". His reasoning was that I had lost my math book at the beginning of the school year, so I flunked most of the tests. When I begged for mercy the day before graduation, he agreed to raise the "F" to a "D", if I found the book and turned it in.

There was a problem. I had no clue in hell where the book might be. And another problem surfaced. I was given a note from the hall monitor that said the Dean wanted to see me immediately. It just so happened that I still had half of a year of detention hall left because I had been caught cutting classes. I informed the Dean that I would not be graduating and had no intention of returning to school in the fall. Before I exited his office he told me he had something that belonged to me. He handed me the math book that had been turned into lost and found some months earlier. I immediately took it to the math instructor and he kept his end of the bargain by changing my grade to a "D". I proudly graduated with my class in 1966.

I wish now that I would have paid more attention in school. If I had, writing, editing, and proofing my novels today would sure be a lot easier for me.