Honoring My Father

That’s my dad with the notebook in his lap, doing what he did best: reporting.

Memory’s Child is free to download on Amazon today.

I hope some readers will take a moment to write a short review once they finish the book.

I didn’t make MC free for that, though.

Today, my father would have turned 97 years old. That’s him in the lower left of the photo above, writing in a notebook. Looks like he’s interviewing the fellow sitting nearby.

My dad was a career journalist, though most of his career was as an Army journalist in the Public Affairs Office. He wrote speeches, too, for generals and the High Commander of Okinawa when we were stationed there. He had something to do with the old documentary series, “The Big Picture,” though I don’t have personal memories of that. He moonlighted as long as I can remember, serving as copy editor and editor of various civilian newspapers near the Army posts where we lived.

He also served as editor of two post-war newspapers, one in Germany and the ComZ Cadence in France. I didn’t come along until Dad and the family were transferred back to the States.

Dad used to take me along with him sometimes to cover stories, when he needed a kid in a photo, or just to ride around and yak.

He said most reporters would be better at their jobs if they forgot half of what they learned in college. He meant they would be better at writing creatively to fulfill the five Ws without boring the reader. A news report is just a cold, lifeless body — the quality of the writing gives it warmth and a heartbeat, turns it into a story. He loved story.

He was usually serious when he talked about writing, but he had a puckish, irreverent side, too, and a great sense of humor. The photo at the right is more representative of his personality. I  have the original artwork on my wall near my desk to remind me that  you can’t always be serious or you’ll miss the thready pulse of a great tale inside the body of the who-what-when-where-why.

I learned a lot from my dad in the short time I had him. He died of a heart attack while at work in 1968, exactly two weeks before my 14th birthday. We didn’t have access to video cameras and camera phones — in fact, cassette tapes were fairly new back then! I don’t have much more than photos of my dad, the cute drawing of him, plus a rather large collection of newspaper clippings and entire newspapers dating back to World War II. He wasn’t much for writing letters, unfortunately. Not only do I have a good portion of his body of work, but I have plenty of memories. Not all perfect and pristine – he was human, after all – but mainly good ones.

As soon as I was old enough, I followed my dad into the newspaper business, and found myself working in some of the same places he had worked. People remembered him, and to me, that was a great honor.

He confided in me once that he was writing a novel. He showed me the typed pages that were in his dresser drawer, though he didn’t want me to read them. Adult stuff, I assume, like war or some other grownup-type strife. I respected his wishes, but oh, how I wish I hadn’t. The unfinished manuscript disappeared after his death. I don’t know what happened to it, though I suspect it was tossed in the trash.

As I write this post, Memory’s Child is ranked #1 in Amazon’s top science fiction list, and #25 in the Top 100 Free eBooks list. More than 7,000 potential readers have downloaded the book since it went free on Sunday.

I hope that everyone who reads the book will like it, even though they don’t know the free download is my gift to them, passed on from my father, for the love of story.

Happy birthday, Dad, and thanks for the gift.

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