Category Archives: nonfiction

Alice Oldford — 10 Adventures and More in Lee and Collier Counties

Do you like the outdoors? Do you live in Southwest Florida? Would you like to learn some Florida history—see some of Florida’s flora and fauna? Buy this book and explore the trails and waterways described by the author.

A section on Florida spiders (with photos) is included in the book. The spiders are contributed by Janet Bunch who volunteers for Lee County Parks & Recreation, and leads guided nature walks at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve and various Conservation 20/20 parks.

If you are a nature-lover, this is a guide to the best places on Florida’s Gulf Coast—Lee and Collier counties. Enjoy.

James Campbell — My Korean War Stories

In December 1948, James Campbell, age 15, joined the U.S. Army. June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea. Campbell, stationed in Japan, was among the first U.S. soldiers to join the conflict. The book is a collection of stories about a young soldier’s experience in the war.

His stories run the gamut of emotions—anger, heartbreak, apprehension, comradery, even humor. Campbell lets you see and feel the horrors of war through the eyes of a boy becoming a man.

This is not a book I would pick to read. I’m not into war stories. But I helped edit and format the book and of course had to read it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. James Campbell knows how to tell a story.

Stephen King — On Writing

Without electricity after Hurricane Irma, I read the two library books I had in two days. The library wasn’t open so I perused my shelves for books to read. I went through a few books I hadn’t read, some I’d bought from authors and some people had given to me. One that I read many years ago and remembered liking was Stephen King’s On Writing. I may have gotten more out of it this time around.

The book is a combination of memoir and advice about writing. The first section, “C.V.,” is a condensed life story as it relates to being a writer—an interesting story in itself. The second section, “On Writing,” is all about the art and craft. He starts by giving us the Great Commandment, “read a lot, write a lot.”

King lists four levels of writers—bad writers, competent writers, good writers, and geniuses—and believes there is no way to make a competent writer from a bad one or to turn a good writer into a great one, but a competent writer can become a good writer. This requires a toolbox: the fundamentals (vocabulary, grammar, and elements of style) and a second level (hard work, dedication, and timely help). He also emphasizes rewriting and editing. Two of his rules:  “Omit needless words” and “2nd draft = 1st Draft – 10%.”

You’ve probably heard of the two types of writers—“plotters” who plan their books in advance and “pantsters” who write by the seat of their pants. Stephen King is the later and so am I. He claims he never plots a book. I like King’s ideas about writing is that they coincide with my own. And what he produces is very good storytelling.

The third section of the book, “On Living,” is back to memoir. He talks about his accident (he was hit by a car), recovery, and return to writing. This is followed by “And Further More, Part I and Part II.” Part I is about editing and Part II is a book list. And I forgot to mention the three forwards in the beginning of the book.

I enjoyed the first reading and again the second time around.

Teeth

A story by Judy Loose

Second Place Nonfiction in the GCWA 2016 Writing Contest.

Dan hated his new teeth. Just uppers, not lowers. He still had his own bottom choppers. The plate fit improperly and hurt when he chewed, so he liked to remove it when he ate.

Living alone, he often dined out or picked up something to go rather than cook. On this particular hot summer night, coming home late from work, he decided to stop for pizza. The pizza shop was full, so he took his food with him. Enticing smells rose from the seat beside him in the car — mushroom, pepperoni, extra cheese. He could almost taste it. For a while he resisted, but it was a long drive. Opening the box, he grabbed a slice.

Of course, the teeth were extracted before the first bite.

Cruising down the highway, he continued eating. Not the safest way to operate; worse than texting while driving. Soon the pizza box sat empty. Almost home, he spotted a Dumpster behind the grocery store across the street. He lifted the empty box and tossed it. Perfect shot, right into the trash.

Home at last, he collapsed in front of the television before his nightly ritual — shower, dress for bed, clean his teeth…

No teeth!

Dan pulled a pair of jeans over his pajama bottoms, found a flashlight, and headed for his car. He searched the seats, under the seats, in every crack and crevice.

No teeth!

There could be only one answer. He drove back to the grocery store. Did he really want to go Dumpster diving? What were his choices? Forget it and get another set of teeth? But teeth cost big bucks. He didn’t have money to throw away. Child support for five boys, two in college, helped make the decision.

Dan looked around to see if anyone was watching. The store had closed and no people roamed the streets. He tried leaning over the side of the container, shining his flashlight to see.

No teeth!

He hoisted himself up and dropped into the nightly trash. Luckily, it held mostly boxes and not much food. His pizza box sat on top, wide open and empty, so he proceeded to rummage through the debris.

No teeth!

He heard a blip of a siren and a blue light flashed against the wall of the store. A head peeked over the top of the Dumpster, and a light blinded him.

“Police.”

Dan climbed out and brushed himself off. “Looking for something I lost,” he tried to explain.

“Dan?” The policeman lowered his flashlight and laughed. “What are you doing in there?”

Dan recognized Sam, his niece Marcy’s father-in-law.

“I threw away a pizza box and tossed something with it.”

“Why no shirt?”

“I was ready for bed when it dawned on me.”

“What did you lose?”

Dan hesitated. He didn’t want to tell him. Embarrassing!

“Come on, man. What’s so important you’d go digging through the garbage in the middle of the night?”

“My teeth.”

Sam doubled over, his laughter escaping like hiccups. “Oh, man. Wait ‘til I tell the guys.”

“Don’t tell Marcy.”

Still chuckling, Sam went back to his cruiser and drove off.

Dan decided to give up and go home. Walking back to his car he spotted something shiny in the middle of the street. Taking a closer look, he realized…

His teeth!

He leaned to pick them up, but they were imbedded in the asphalt. Apparently, they’d been run over a time or two. He found a screwdriver in his trunk and dug out the teeth, only to discover a crack down the middle. He was tempted to toss them, but changed his mind.

Asphalt covered the broken teeth, but stubborn Dan dropped them into a jar and filled it with paint thinner.

The next day he examined the dentures and decided the crack could be fixed. He found some crazy glue at work, glued them together, and clamped them in a vise.

It worked. They felt better than before they broke, but a faint taste of solvent lingered for a few days.

Dan wore those teeth for three more years before getting new ones.

Note: This is a true story as told to me by Dan, who is no longer with us, so the story can’t be verified. Any embellishments on the truth are his. I did see the teeth with the crack that had been crazy-glued. No sign of the asphalt, but the teeth looked a little gray.

 

Daniel James Brown — The Boys in the Boat

Olympic rowing 1936

This nonfiction story of the Olympics-winning nine-man rowing crew is fascinating. When I lived in Boston, I always enjoyed watching the crews rowing their shells in the Charles River. What I didn’t realize was how much mental and physical work was required to make that beautiful synchronized boat skim the water.

This is a story of Joe Rantz, one of the crew of the Husky Clipper in which nine men from Washington State took the gold medal for the United States in the German hosted Olympics of 1936. But it is also the story of the whole crew, their coaches, the boat builder, a local newspaper reporter, plus the story of life in the Northwest U.S. during the great depression, the dust bowl, and the beginnings of the Nazi Regime in Germany.

I’m not usually a fan of nonfiction. I find most of it dry and boring. I’m not a sports fan, either. But a friend recommended the book and loaned it to me. I took me a couple of chapters to get caught up in the story, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. I learned a lot. It is packed with history, and it captures the effort and cooperation required of the crew in order to make the boat “swing.”

Tom Nelson – My Story and I’m Sticking To It!

Small town Anywhere, USA.

Tom Nelson writes refreshing true stories about his hometown Fennimore – the people, the places, the adventures. He writes with humor and heart. For anyone who grew up in a small town (or even a small community in a big city), Fennimore feels like home. He paints a delightful picture that takes the reader back in time and brings back memories.

Lori Flying Fish – A is for Aruba

Art in a book

The author/artist produced a beautiful ABC book about Aruba. You can see the time and effort applied to this book.  Every page is a hand-painted water color. Having visited Aruba, I feel at home with this book. This would be a great tool to capture children’s imaginations about a different place.

I wouldn’t normally read or review a children’s book, but I helped the author format and publish this book.

Alice Oldford – Recipes and Life

Good food for all seasons.

I’m not much of a cook, but I enjoyed this book. Some of the recipes brought back memories of my own. I could smell and taste the food as I read. The book has an interesting mix of recipes – from winter comfort food to summer salads, spring tonic to fall apple pie. The author even includes what to do with leftovers and gluten free goodies. (This is special to me being gluten free.)

Along with the food she gives us glimpses of her life, her family, her gardening, and her love of the outdoors – and life!