Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Saving Lou Takes a Village to Launch

Last month I wrote to you about the launch of Tammy Sue’s book, Wounded Song, Today I’m happy to tell you about the launch of my own book, Saving Lou, held Saturday, September 23. It would have been impossible to hold an event like this by myself, so I want to give kudos to the wonderful people who made it all possible.

Barb, Maryalice, Cyndi, Bill, Clint, Edria, Jim, Marilyn, all stepped up to help with set up, sign in, picture taking, cashiering, chairs, raffle prizes, and so much more. I could write an entire blog just on the wonderful contributions each person made.  

We started with a trivia quiz with eleven questions pertaining to the ‘30s and ‘40s. No one could answer all of them, but one woman won with eight correct answers. Then four members of my writing group each read portions of my book.

Barb read from 1934, when Lou is 11. Here is an excerpt: Lou pulled out a fresh sheet of paper, held it close to his face and began to write. Dear Mom and Dad, I’m real sorry I put salt in the sugar bowl. Anna and Emma would never do that. And if Larry had lived instead of me, he probably wouldn’t have done it, either. I’m sure you wish my brother was the one who survived and not me. He wouldn’t do the stupid things I do and you’d all be happier with him than you are with me. I hope you’ll forgive me. Louis

Nancy read from 1935 when Lou is 12 and working in his dad’s dealership garage with Gus, the mechanic. Lou’s second week on the job had him working in the showroom surrounded by gleaming new Cadillacs arranged invitingly on the mirror-finish floor. Gus outfitted him with a bucket of suds and a mop and exact instructions on how to wash the floor without splashing any water on the expensive cars. . .. Lou started dancing between the cars with the mop as his partner. One moment they were bowing and twirling and the next moment Lou slipped on the wet floor. The mop went in one direction and Lou slid into the bucket of water, knocking it over and splashing water in every direction. The bucket crashed into one car and Lou crashed into another.

Ellen read from December 7, 1941 when Lou is 18 and an announcement comes over the radio that Japan had just bombed Pearl Harbor. From that moment on, all regular radio broadcasts were discontinued in an effort to keep listeners up to date on the news from Hawaii. On Monday, President Roosevelt made the sobering announcement that Congress had met and the United States had declared war on Japan. He said, “Yesterday, December 7, is a date which will live in infamy.” Three days later, while the country was still reeling from the Japanese attack, Hitler declared war on the United States. Now the country was fully involved in war on two continents.

I read a portion from 1942 where Lou, 19, having completed basic training at Great Lakes, is assigned as an aviation mechanic on the USS Hornet. After its first mission, the Hornet sails to Hawaii and Lou steps out on land to survey the devastation of charred buildings and ships and oily debris scattered across the beach. Lou thought back to when he heard the news of the Pearl Harbor attack on the radio. At that time, he was sitting safely in New Haven, now he was standing on the spot where it had happened. The full import of the event hit him that what he was looking at was more than a news item, it was tangible evidence of evil.

Jim gave the last reading, from 1945 when Lou is 21. Lou is stationed on the USS Enterprise and a kamikaze pilot is heading for the ship. Hearing a louder than usual engine noise, Lou looked around and saw a zero on course to hit the deck just a few yards away from where he was standing. For a moment, he froze as he made eye contact with the pilot, seeing fear in the young pilot’s eyes as he realized he had just seconds to live. Then Lou saw Danny standing in the plane’s path, fire hose in hand. He’s too close, thought Lou. He’ll get hit. Lou rushed over and tackled Danny, pushing him out of the way a split second before the crash. They both landed on the deck, dazed for a second, then Danny rose and scurried away to help put out the plane’s fire while Lou remained on his stomach on the deck. Suddenly a deafening boom sounded as pieces of metal and human bodies shot into the air. Lou heard cymbals crash next to his head and felt his body lift and come back down with a thud. Then everything went black.

Now for the commercial announcement. Saving Lou is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle. It’s a story for people young and old and everyone in between.

My sincere thanks to everyone who came to support and encourage me in this book launch, making it an event to remember!

Quote of the Day
:The only limits to the possibilities in your life are the buts you use today. Les Brown

Friday, September 15, 2017

Wounded Song Meets Dark Chocolate

Dear Friends,

Today I have the absolute pleasure of interviewing my daughter, Tammy Sue Willey, about her memoir Wounded Song. Considering where we were a few years ago in our relationship and where we are now, it's nothing short of a miracle that we're now sitting together, able to talk on a deep and honest level about her book. Disclaimer: I love Tammy dearly so I do this interview with just a tad bit of bias!

Hi, Tammy. Let's hear a little about your current life.

I've lived in Manchester, Connecticut for the past 25-years. I’m happily married to a wonderful man, Curtis Willey, who not only is a great husband, but is a seasoned singer-songwriter who brought music back into my life.
(I love him, too.) How about a brief synopsis of Wounded Song?
I was a child born in the 1960s who grew up in a tense household that grew physically abusive over time therefore straining personal growth and family relationships.  The 1960s were on the heels of an era where you weren’t supposed to embarrass or bring shame to your family and you certainly weren’t supposed to air the family’s “dirty laundry.” Wounded Song is my personal journey of a little girl who begins to sense fear and shut down before she has the words to describe why she’s feeling uneasy. It’s about a teenager who questions if she is really being abused. It’s about a young adult who makes poor choices because of negative messages she received growing up. It’s about a woman who is determined to make sense of her past and determined to put it behind her so that she is not forever stuck in her wound. It’s about a woman who perseveres with God for a better outcome to get away from the messy hand she was dealt. It’s a journey that finds a way to forgive again and again and as many times as it takes so that the enemy doesn’t win. It’s about restoration. I decided to embrace hope because Hope will have its way, if I let it.
What prompted you to write this book?
A long, long time ago, some friends said I should write my story. I hesitated because first of all, I’m not good with proper English. Second, abuse isn’t original, so I thought who would care. Third, I had no interest in writing a book as I wouldn’t know where to begin and I didn't feel I was qualified.
Long story short, I had a conversation with myself and asked what might my story look like if I wrote a book? I know the poignant memories, but when I thought about how I would share my story, I always got stuck in my head. Finally I decided to review my journal and miscellaneous notes from over the years and I started typing out my timeline. Unlike trying to sort it out in my head, I found that as soon as I started typing, creativity flowed through me in an unblocked manner. It felt like Divine intervention. I was encouraged by the burst of energy I had so I kept going until I actually wrote a book.
How long did it take you to write it?

I began taking my story from my head to computer and started typing in February 2009. I was making such exciting progress that I set a goal for myself to be done by the summer of 2012. However, 2012 had a series of unexpected life interruptions which intercepted my plan. Some of those events added a new dimension to my book which meant I wasn’t yet done. In addition, my husband and I were affected by the economy, suffering three layoffs between us. So…I started typing in February 2009 and I hit the publish button in July of 2017. I had a book launch for August 18, 2017 where we celebrated victory over abuse!
Do you have a favorite line from the book?

It’s hard to say what is my favorite because I have found that I actually like a few lines. Because of the topic of abuse, if it’s okay, I would like to share two of them.  
“We may be stuck with our wounds, but we don’t have to be stuck in them.”
“And we don’t discover the root unless we are willing to get our hands dirty and dig.”
How can my readers get a copy?

I’m proud to say I self-published through Createspace! If your readers don’t have an account or prime shipping with Amazon, they can buy directly from the Createspace eStore. Here is the link:

For those that prefer Amazon, go to and put in the title of my book, Wounded Song,  by Tammy Sue Willey.
What do you do, Tammy, besides write?
I'm a special education secretary in the public schools. I also enjoy hiking and taking walks with my husband. I like to sit on our patio with the string of summer lights on and watch our backyard birds. And somewhere in the mix, there is always dark chocolate!
Do you have advice for would-be writers?

To believe that their story is unique and important! I believe that we were all designed for a purpose and while our story may not be an original topic, it is original in how we will tell it because everyone’s voice is different. Our story will be filtered through our individual experiences. It may take a long time, but don’t get discouraged and don’t give up! It takes as long as it takes until you’re satisfied it’s good enough. And at some point, let it be good enough because it will never be perfect and your story needs to be told.
Also, the other thing is to listen to your own heart so that your story is authentic and in your voice. Nobody else can tell your story but you.
What do you wish you knew when you started your book?

Grammar! Sentence structure! Where to put a stupid apostrophe! But seriously, I didn’t know those things and I still wrote a book! So don’t be discouraged. Learn along the way. But I would say, hide the red pens from your husband and stock up on dark chocolate!!!!
I honestly don’t know how to answer this. I think if I knew how long it would take and how painful the editing and rewrite process would be, and that I would get laid off during it, that my laptop would die midway through my book draft (thank God I had backed up), and that my cat would get kidnapped, and the many other life things that happened, I don’t think I would’ve started. I guess it’s why people give birth to a baby and not a 9-year old.  I also decided God and my editor were out to get me. However, I had gone to my first writers conference in 2013 (four-years after starting my book), where I heard good advice. One of the authors said to be prepared to be alone a lot. That writing is solitary and you have to say “no” to a lot of things, events, the beach, the party, etc. I did that more and more. I found that advice to be helpful because at times I thought I was going insane by spending too much time alone and at other times I thought I was stupid for writing this book. But then I’d remember her words about it being solitary, so I realized I was right where I needed to be.
What’s next for you?

I started blogging in 2014 to see if my voice, my way of telling stories, would resonate with anyone. Because I received so much positive feedback, it encouraged me to keep blogging and keep going with my book.  Now that my book is finished, I’d like to get back to blogging. Also, I’m considering starting a support group. I might even use my book and follow the questions that I put in the back of the book to help readers think about their own journey.
Tammy, I know that writing this book was difficult, having to dredge up the past, but the fact that you and I are close today and that many other people have been affected by your story, is proof that it was all worth it. 

Thank you, Mom for cheering me on through my book project and for your amazing support and courage throughout my journey!

My pleasure!

Thought for the day: ...not till the wound heals and the scar disappears, do we begin to discover where we are. Thoreau