Writers know what a book of the heart is. Oh, do they ever. But do readers know what we mean by that? I have two of them, the second being Once There Were Sad Songs, which was just published by The Wild Rose Press, and I was so ecstatic I did a virtual dance. Those who know me understand why it had to be virtual and why doing a dance of any kind could only happen when I’m overjoyed.
Written in 1985 about a subject I’m so passionate about, and have been since then: returning combat veterans who can’t leave the war behind. Oh, it’s a big subject now, but in 1985, all we knew was some of the returning Vietnam Veterans were getting a reputation of being violent and a bit crazy. In 1982 a big movie called Rambo had come out to back up that belief. What actually prompted me to write this book, though, was a song titled I’m Just An Old Hippy. I put it all together and came up with mentally shattered Steven Llewellyn, his combat buddy Lefty and a tag-along named Shadow, who yearns to have fought in the war but was too young. I added motorcycles to the mix and entangled them with a school teacher who runs away from home to find the life she’s always believed she should have had.
But back to my passion and my first book of the heart. I saw a man on television trying to tell
about his experiences being held captive long after all the guys came home. I looked into his eyes and experienced something I never could explain very well. A dark, lonely, haunted emotion that shook me to the bone. It haunts me still. His name was Bobby Garwood and he told how so many men were still prisoners. He was silenced quickly and hastened away. This so intrigued me that I began a six month crusade to learn everything I could about the MIAs unaccounted for long after the war (conflict) ended. The research turned into a book, but I wanted not only to tell the story of an MIA coming home, but about the woman who met him, empathized with him, fell in love with him, and how she handled living with him and dealing with not only his PTSD but the nightmares, frequent withdrawals, and psychosomatic reactions he suffered from being tortured and held captive for nine years.
New York didn’t want it because nobody was admitting to a lot of the stuff I’d uncovered. I had an agent and he liked the book so much that he was very disappointed when he couldn’t get it published. It went to Hollywood and Paramount Pictures as a manuscript–my agent also represented the Godfather author Mario Puzo, so he had connections in the motion picture industry. But soon after that Paramount was sold and we all know what happens then. Every project with the existing company is scrapped or lost in the shuffle.
Now scroll forward to 2013. All I have when I decide the time is finally right for this book, titled Beyond The Moon, is a bound copy of the manuscript. And it was printed on a Daisy Wheel Printer. So I take it upon myself to retype it, doing first edits as I go to modernize the writing a bit, using the late hours of the night after my writing day is over, to finish the project. After all I have learned a thing or two about writing since then and I wanted to fix some things. That ms is now ready for a total read through and more edits. Yes, it’s in my computer now. A true book of the heart. And today’s market is the ideal place for the book. I plan to get it published in 2014, if not with a publisher then as an E book.
And that dear readers, is what a book of the heart is all about, just in case you wondered.