Valley of the Purple Hearts wins the 2017 BIB Award






Valley of the Purple Hearts wins the BIB Award for Literary Fiction…


The Best Indie Book Award

Valley of the Purple Hearts, Book #4 of The Vietnam War Series, has been awarded the Best Indie Book Award for Mainstream Literary Fiction for 2017. I am humbled and honored, but most of all I am grateful to you guys, my friends and readers, for your words of encouragement and the reviews you have posted. It is because of your support that my passion for writing has not waned. I am, however, taking a break.

Although rewarding in many ways, creative writing can be a tedious endeavor as well as an emotionally draining one. Writing Valley of the Purple Hearts was particularly so because the story is based on facts and the actual experiences of several friends with whom I had the honor of serving after their return from Vietnam. While in the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg I spent many a less-than-sober weekend with these men as they spilled their hearts out and related their Vietnam experiences to me; something they did with no one else and never when sober.

The story of an infantry squad in Vietnam.

I will begin a new book after the first of the year. It will be a departure from the Vietnam War Series. A western of sorts, it will begin near the end of another war that fractured our nation over a hundred and fifty years ago. Because my stories are “fact-based,” this next one, too, will require extensive research, and I have no idea how long that will take. Regardless, it will be a welcomed respite from Valley of the Purple Hearts and writing about the Vietnam War.

If you have any comments, please contact me. I do enjoy hearing from readers and friends, and if you have read one of my books and wish to leave a review on under the book title or it will be more than appreciated. Your reviews are what keep me writing.

Click here to purchase Valley of The Purple Hearts.

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Road Trip to the Tennessee Overhill

Where Melody Hill Began and The Gomorrah Principle Ended: The Tennessee Overhill…

Hiwassee River at Reliance, Tennessee

I’ve been there a few times before over the years, the Tennessee Overhill. It’s a few counties tucked in the farthest corner of Southeast Tennessee. Mountainous, hilly and with some open country, it is the place from where my protagonist characters in Melody Hill and The Gomorrah Principle come. A while back someone asked me if the town of Melody Hill and some of the rivers and creeks are actually as I describe them in the books. Yes, and no. Melody Hill is a fictional town. Some of the locations I describe, as with much good fiction, are based on similar places but don’t actually exist. Take Reliance Gorge as an example. There is a Reliance Creek, and believe me when I say there are many gorges in the Overhill that fit that description, but I intentionally made it fictitious. I do the same thing with my military units in the Vietnam Series, seldom describing them with actual unit designations below the brigade level. This keeps the fiction fictitious, so to speak while making it real enough that I’ve had Vietnam veterans tell me “Yes, I was there. I know the exact battle you described in the book.”

So, my wife and I spent several days riding the backcountry up there again. We road along the Ocoee River from Tennessee into North Carolina, across the Cherohala Skyway and up 411 to Cades Cove and Gatlinburg. The Overhill and the Smokies are magnificent in Autumn. But we came across at least two semi-suicidal groups of thrill seekers in our travels. The first group I admire. Those are the kayakers who test their skills in the Ocoee River. They threaten no one but themselves, and most are so talented that they seldom actually die. The other group, however, well…  They call themselves “bikers.” These are the motorcyclists we found in large numbers on the Cherohala Skyway. Most were okay, many weren’t.

Before I begin my diatribe on these idiots, let me say that I too once rode big bikes all over the eastern US from Northern Pennsylvania down to Florida, Louisianna, Arkansas, Missouri and South Dakota…and across Tennessee and North Carolina. I’ve ridden I-95 in New Jersey and once rode in a foot of snow back to Fort Bragg from Memphis when our unit was placed on alert. And if you’ve never ridden a bike through the Newfound Gap in snow….well. I was always polite, obeyed the law and never had a serious accident.

Newfound Gap in October

So, the big problem was that these idiots seemed to have had no interest in the mountains or the scenery. Their sole intent was to ride over the mountains as fast as they possibly could. They passed us in clots of 3, 4 and sometimes as many as 8 to 10 motorcycles at once, and the double yellow lines on the highway seemed more of an incentive to pass than a safety warning. The major issue was that after passing, the cyclists in the rear were braking hard to avoid their peers in the curve just ahead of them, which in turn led to me having to stomp my brakes to avoid running over these dumbasses. This happened several times. You simply can’t pass someone, dart back over a few feet in front of them and stomp your brakes. I mean, you can, but it’s not conducive to a long and healthy life.

Smoky Mountain Black Bear, which is the way I felt on the Cherohala Skyway.

I told my wife that it likely wouldn’t be long before we came upon some of them standing beside the road and looking down the side of the mountain for one of their peers. Well, sure enough, it happened… not exactly that way. We came up behind a line of traffic at a standstill. Up ahead there was a pickup truck nose down in a ditch on the side of the road. Pinned beneath the truck was a biker. We had to wait until a helicopter came and took him away. Seems he passed the truck then slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting the biker in front of him. I felt sorry for the driver of the pickup.

It put a brief damper on the day because you also can’t help but feel sorry for the developmentally challenged. Otherwise, it was a great road trip. We got these photos of the Hiawassee, a black bear, some whitetail deer bedded under the pines in the rain, and the Newfound Gap in its fall colors. Hope you enjoy them.

Pine Thicket Rain Shelter







You may also enjoy: Melody Hill: A Vietnam War Novel and The Vietnam Experience, Domestic Life & More

The Vietnam Experience, the Domestic Life and More

The Vietnam Experience, Exploding Clothes Hangers, and…

It’s time to write something. Yes, it’s been a while. Sorry, kind readers. I was busy doing all those macho things ex-paratroopers

Shoulder Patch 82nd Airborne Division

do, like hanging the wife’s laundry. She bought all these fancy high-dollar clothes hangers coated with sticky felt or something. It takes me five minutes just to get a blouse and all its little strings, linings, shoulder pads and other weird accouterments straightened out to go on the hanger. Then there comes that hanger. That precipitates another two or three minutes spent fighting to get past all that clingy felt.

Me, I like the simple white wire hangers that come from the dry cleaner. Slap a shirt on one and shove it in the closet. When you’re ready for it, you grab the shirt and pull. If the hanger comes off the bar, no problem. Bend and reshape it, and put it back. Don’t try that with one of those fancy hangers. It’ll explode. Then you have to hide the remains at the bottom of the trash can in order to maintain marital bliss.

So, you guys are burning through my books faster than I can write them. And to answer the question that’s already been asked several times: No, I haven’t started the next one yet. The problem is deciding which genre to go with. The Vietnam War Series is doing very well, while my first shot at Southern Fiction, Tallahatchie, isn’t exactly lighting up the best-seller lists. All the Tallahatchie reviews have been very positive, so I am hoping in time it will find its audience. With some luck, maybe late next summer I’ll have a new one for you, perhaps two. I do very much appreciate your reviews and say “thank you” many times over to those of you who have taken the time to go on and to write your comments.

As it is with most writers, your words often serve to validate the hope that I am producing something worthwhile. I hoped to accomplish that with the latest Vietnam War Series novel, Valley of The Purple Hearts, but some readers miss the point that I refuse to write “war” stories simply for entertainment. My intent is to show the entire Vietnam experience as those veterans saw it. This includes some of the life back home and the element of Post-Traumatic Stress and its effects on veterans after the war.

One particularly notable effect of Vietnam on most vets was that of going from an adrenaline-driven high at Mach-II to ZERO inside of a few days. There was no “decompression” time, no buddies to ride home with, just an almost instantaneous return to a world that they could no longer relate to, and one which could not relate to the experiences they had been through. Most compartmentalized their pain. Many couldn’t.

In other news: I have a book-signing at Novel Memphis next Tuesday (10/17) at 6:00 p.m. Please, stop by and say hello. Two more events for next spring are in the works. One is a show for my photography at a local art venue. I’ll let you know more about that after we get through winter. I’ll try to write another post sooner next time.


You may also enjoy: Rawlins: No Longer Young and Raeford’s MVP