A Guide to Manhood

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERABoys want men in their lives as models of what to become, as guides along sometimes shaky paths, and as companions just for sharing. Boys need men in their lives to grow into capable, confident, nurturing men for a strong and secure society. Without realizing it, fifteen-year-old Paul Hansen found what he wanted and needed to climb from youth to manhood. In Turnaround Summer, he gives us an inside peek—with humor, sensitivity, and wisdom—of the magical results from men mentoring boys. Turnaround Summer calls all men to ensure a bright future for our world by becoming that guide to manhood our boys need.

Welcome, Paul. Turnaround Summer is a memoir, a coming-of-age story about you as a teen. What made you decide to write a book about your experiences?

It was words from my faith, where God spoke to me to tell my story of how others helped me on my journey to manhood.  Though there were others in my life, this particular time was hard for me at home, and I needed a sort of wakeup call, that I could overcome the obstacles.

Tell us a little about your father, your relationship with him, and what prompted him to send you to Canada that summer in 1961.

My father was close to me all the years of growing up. He was a successful businessman and divided his time between trying to maintain a home relationship, a marriage and raising three children. The marriage ended in tragedy and reflected in his career; at the time of going to Canada, he was recalling the people and the place where he experienced breakthrough in his own battles, and that life is an adventure in so many forms. He wanted me to focus on unknown horizons, the ruggedness of the wilderness and the people that navigated it, and why they were successful.

My Dad visited there for guided hunting and fishing (with Paul’s mentor Ted Helset) over a number of years. He developed his skills in that venue, from people who did it for a living and a way of life. There reason for being up there was to overcome the hardship, learn from nature, and adapt to its complexity and beauty. It was a rugged life only for the hearty with a sense of survival. Though my Dad came from the depression era, and knew about survival in that arena, he loved the woods and wanted me to share in that, with people that lived it daily.

Paul on boat

What was the most important thing you learned that summer?

That summer, I learned that in the middle of your journey you are offered the opportunity to walk down another trail in a totally unfamiliar environment, experience that, savor the difference and add it to your list of experiences. To respect all walks of life, their loves and desires, hardships and triumphs, and their offer to share with you. Life as we see it is not necessarily the only vantage point. There are so many other opportunities to view the horizon from another perspective.

What is the message you want readers to take away from Turnaround Summer?

The message is that we have so much in our lives of value, share it with the next generation or two or three. They are the inheritors of this world, they need to know that their story will someday be of value if they seize the opportunities we can offer. They are so receptive if we reach into their hearts, and listen to their curiosities.  They only lean into the things that internalize them for lack of another outlet. Challenge them to go beyond the television, the computer, and actually live life outside the box.

Are you working on another book?

Starting a novel with a bit of emotional and romantic background based on things currently materializing in my life.  It has an aspect of relationship, adventure, crisis and tragedy. All of which we experience at one time or another in our lives if we choose to live beyond what we perceive as  “the edge”  This is definitely a work in progress as the rest of the story has not completed itself in my life as yet… But will very soon!

Paul Hansen worked for thirty years as a building contractor in western Washington. Now retired, he enjoys time with his three children, grandchildren, and extended family in the area, gardening, traveling throughout North America, but Paul makes sure he still has time to fish! Paul’s wife Linda of 44 years passed away last April. He says, “I am marrying a beautiful woman from our church, she was widowed 7 months before I was, and mentored me through the grief process. She was a friend of Linda’s, and we actually helped with her husband’s service.  We have been together since last July, and have found commonality in our lives. She is a water color artist, loves music, plays the piano as I do, and I make her laugh a lot with the rest of my stories.”

Linda's 19-lb Silver

Linda’s 19-lb Silver

Turnaround Summer is available on Amazon.com 

Published in: on February 28, 2014 at 6:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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Adeline: A Story of Memories, Growth, and Life

Adeline coverI recently read and enjoyed Adeline, a small but moving book, almost a memoir, an essay on life and its narrow winding path, and growth in maturity and spirituality. I asked Mary Ann to talk about how this book came about.

by Mary Ann Hayes

The story of Adeline has been playing in my head for so many years, I can’t even say how long. It takes place at a mountain lake in Northern Idaho where I spent my summers growing up, exploring nature with my two sisters and four brothers. There was, and still is, something magical about the place: the old cabin my dad threw together with materials scavenged from buildings one step away from the wrecking ball, the giant evergreens towering everywhere, the massive mountain arms surrounding our small body of water.

Things happened there that have stayed with me my whole life. My brother Jim died of cancer and spent the final days at our lake. His death, the significance of losing him, is depicted in the character Beanie.

The old woman Adeline herself is who I’ve always hoped I would be by the end days of my life, a person who has learned the impact and necessity of love and forgiveness. A woman who is a combination of those who shaped my life and taught me to value what is real and honest and good.

The story of the mountain lion came from a night we had an unexpected visitor on the patio outside the cabin door. The terrifying screams of the huge cat are unforgettable yet absolutely wonderful at the same time.

The mountain stream is one we would follow way up and deep into the forest to check on our water line. It was and still is our water supply for the cabin.

The actual road leading to the lake is not treacherous, yet it is windy and narrow in places. It has always been a reminder to me that life is a narrow winding road we need to travel on with patience, alertness, and awareness.

The demon and the angel were from a reoccurring nightmare I had as a child. They battled for my soul and left headshotme sleepless many a night and for many years.

I began by listing the important things I knew needed to be included in the story such as the willows, the channel, the road, and of course the bridge. I let the character of Adeline stroll through my mind as she made her way from the start to the finish, listening, and then writing down her thoughts and memories. Her memories are, of course, the memories I have when I am there, especially now as I get older.

Once I had an outline down on paper, and I knew I’d left nothing of significant importance out, I couldn’t stop writing. It just flowed! I hope I can write another story like Adeline some day. It was a dream for me.

Finding a publisher was the trick. After careful research, I sent my manuscript to Tate Publishing and Enterprises. They are one of the largest Christian publishers in the country and although Adeline is not a religious story, it certainly is spiritual. It was a pleasure working with them.

Mary Ann Hayes lives on an island in Washington State with her husband of thirty-five years and  two dogs.

She says, “My passion for writing stems from a love for the English language. Words are amazing. They are strong and powerful and must be used with consideration. Words can make or break a life, the power in their use is so great. Naturally, a love of words leads me to be an avid reader. A good novel on a rainy day is like rich dark chocolate and a fresh cup of coffee.  It doesn’t get much better.”

Mary Ann has also written A Friend Like Frank, a contemporary women’s novel, a bit of a romantic comedy, which is available in paperback and as an e-book through Amazon, or autographed through her website, http://www.maryannhayes.com  She has a sequel due out soon, The Trouble with Tony.

Writing My Memoir, TUBOB: Two Years in West Africa with the Peace Corps

 

My friend and writing colleague in Women Writing the West, Mary Trimble, has just published her memoir about her two years in the Peace Corps in Africa. Tubob means “stranger”. I’ve asked Mary to share her writing journey for this book.

by Mary E. Trimble
Writing this memoir was both scary and satisfying. It was absolutely essential for me to be true to our Peace Corps experience, yet I knew it had to be a satisfying read in order to hold reader interest. I’ve never kept a journal, but as we left for Africa we asked our families to save all our letters home. Although I vividly remembered much of our two-year experience in The Gambia, reading our letters home served as rich resource material. From our letters I was reminded of the chore of putting a meal on the table, of the hospital conditions where I worked, Bruce’s job frustrations at the United Nations well-digging shop, our friends, both African and expatriate, our sometimes too-frequent house guests, and the terror of being caught up in an attempted military coup.

Once I started TUBOB, it came together very quickly and I grew confident that what I had to share would be of interest. My husband Bruce took hundreds of slides while we were in The Gambia and he painstakingly converted many of them to digital images so that he could design TUBOB’s cover and also provide images at the beginning of each chapter, which helped set the tone of the book.

Take a look at this stirring book trailer.

An excerpt from Tubob:

MORTARS THUNDERED close to the house where 118 of us sought refuge. A particularly loud and close-sounding explosion made us jump and the house shudder. Not for the first time, I thought, Is this the end?
My Peace Corps supervisor Meri Aimes and I crouched under a small table with space only for the two of us. Others scrunched in where they could find room. My husband, Bruce, safely tucked under the desk he’d converted to a radio station, clutched the radio mic.

True, it was the American Ambassador’s house, but, though nice, it wasn’t the grand residence usually associated with a high-ranking officer’s home. At four thousand square feet, the concrete house wasn’t particularly large, not for this many people at any rate.

Our group of leaders had taken over the ambassador’s bedroom as a sort of headquarters, since the ambassador himself was “detained” at the embassy in The Gambia’s capital city, Banjul. Families occupied the other two bedrooms; otherwise, people squeezed in where they could.

Meri’s eyes were huge. Her African American face was always expressive, but never more so than just then.
This isn’t looking good, is it?” I said, trying to sound calmer than I felt.

Meri looked at me like I’d just made the understatement of the year. “Not really, no.”

“I’m wondering if Bruce and I will ever be able to get back to our village.”

“Right now I’d say it was doubtful.”

We both instinctively covered our heads at the sound of a close-by explosion. I broke out in sweat.

“I need to tell you something.”

Meri’s raised her eyebrows in question.

I waited until another flurry of rifle shots subsided. “We have about twenty-five hundred dollars buried in our chicken coop.”

“You what?”

“Well, what else can you do with American dollars? You can’t put it in a Gambian bank, we couldn’t keep it inside–we’ve already had our place broken into. We were converting our Gambian money into American cash so we’d have it when we left.”

Meri nodded. “You guys will probably be evacuated, but George and I likely will stay to get things wrapped up.” George Scharffenberger, Peace Corps Director, and Meri Aimes, Assistant Director, were the two highest ranking Peace Corps staff in the West African country of The Gambia. We were lucky they were both with us, safe. For the moment, at least.

Meri touched my arm. “I promise I’ll do everything I can to recover your money. Draw me a map showing me just where it is.” She shook her head. “Only you and Bruce would think to hide money in a chicken coop.”

A runner, gasping for breath, banged on the bedroom door. “Someone is coming!” Bruce sprang out of his shelter and, quick and smooth with practice, dismantled the radios, forbidden to us by both the rebels and nationalists. He stuffed them into boxes kept under the desk. Within seconds he crawled back under the desk, cramming himself in front of the boxes. He was good. I was so proud of him.

Bruce’s and my eyes locked. As we had joked many times in the past two years, we silently asked, “Whose idea was this anyway?”

Tom Mosier, head of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in The Gambia, and George Scharffenberger came out from their safety places to greet our visitor. “Stay right where you are, folks,” Tom said, his voice tight.
The door opened and a man strode in. He was probably an officer in charge; he reeked of authority. We couldn’t tell if he was a nationalist or a rebel from the local security force, Field Force they called it, which, together with disgruntled leftists, had started the coup several days earlier. He was a big man and to me he looked sinister. My stomach clenched. His black face glistened with sweat. He carried a rifle and wore a hand gun at his side. His eyes darted around the room. “This is good. Stay under cover. I have ordered that this house is not to be hit, but you never know…”

He nodded to Tom and George, and left. No one spoke until we heard a soft knock on the door. He was gone. Bruce sprang up and reassembled the radios just as a signal was coming through. He brought the mic with him back under the desk.

“Candyland, Lollypop. Candyland, come in. You guys okay?”

Bruce responded, his rich voice calm. “Lollypop, Candyland. Yes, we’re okay. One of the local officers just paid us a visit and…” An explosion, even closer this time, drowned out his voice.

***

Mary is also the author of three novels, Rosemount, McClellan’s Bluff, and Tenderfoot, a Western Writers of America SPUR award finalist. Her books may be found at local bookstores, on her website, and on Amazon.

 

Published in: on September 28, 2012 at 6:00 am  Comments (11)  
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My guest this week is Wilma F. Smith, author of The Esther Vice House, a memoir about her mother.

Synopsis: During the spring of 1929, a terrible accident forever changes the life course of Esther Clark, a young teacher in a rural Indiana schoolhouse. As she races out the door, she is shocked to see six-year-old Willie writhing on the ground, holding his bloody eye. A whirlwind of events carries the unwilling and skeptical Esther through revival meetings by a traveling evangelist and dumps her in despair when the school board unexpectedly fires her. What’s more, her mother shames her into an unlikely marriage that propels her on a cross-country life journey that challenges her faith, explores the hardships of poverty and loneliness, and ultimately provides testament to the perseverance of the human spirit.

Wilma, Tell us the motivation for writing your mother’s story.

I always admired my mother for her tenacity in coping with adversity and sheer poverty. She was determined to raise her three children with an appreciation for beauty, education, and caring for others. Her life was never easy, and she coped with two antagonists—her mother and her husband—while she sought ways to prepare her family for a happier life than she experienced. One day, after I had retired, Mom showed up at my Camano home with a box full of letters, keepsakes and journals. “Maybe someday you’ll write about us,” she said. “There should be some interesting stories in here.”

What made you decide to write it from first person POV?

I had a tough time writing the first chapter, about the boy who lost his eye. I had tried using the omniscient point of view, but it wasn’t working. I found a creative writing group at our RV Park in Tucson, and they were instrumental in helping me find the right “voice”—that of my mother. Once I re-wrote the chapter from her point-of-view, the narrative flowed. I became my mother.

Was that POV easier or more difficult, either by putting yourself into the character’s feelings and reactions or by trying to avoid it?

When I put myself into Mom’s character, I felt I could see clearly where the story was going and what events were important to write about. When I read her journals, I was able to “get inside her head” and recount her narrative as though I were Esther.

Did your mother read any of your manuscript before she passed on? (If so, what was her reaction?)

I am so sorry that she passed away before I wrote her story. I’ll always wonder if she would have approved of the way I presented her.  She probably would tell me I made her look “too good, too smart.” She was a humble woman, often unsure of herself.

What was your process like in researching, writing and publishing this book?

I traveled to Indiana several times over the past years, exploring the towns and countrysides where Esther and Thomas lived. I went to the courthouse and found vital records of their families, and visited a cemetery in a lonely churchyard where Thomas’ family was buried. I walked the streets of Garrett and tried to imagine Esther walking home from the interurban train stop in town. I read through years of Esther’s journals and reflections, and studied accounts of Clark siblings’ reunions that occurred from the 1970s. All five living Clark siblings wrote anecdotes of their growing-up years. And, I referred to my own journals that I have kept since high school days.

I decided to begin Mother’s story with her one-room school tragedy and to end it with her amazing adventures in retirement. What a resolution that was…a triumph over struggles, poverty, and despair.

I can’t say enough good things about the two writing critique groups I’ve experienced in Burlington, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona. Every week I had the opportunity of reading my story to a small group of authors who read critically and made helpful suggestions to make the writing better. Also, I thank my son, Antony Smith, a wonderful writer himself, who took the time to help me improve my writing. My sister, Cyd Li, read each chapter and added her perspective of our growing-up years. My husband, John, encouraged me and wouldn’t let me quit. Finally, I thank you, Heidi, for completing an early edit of my manuscript, which helped me move forward with a measure of confidence.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I submitted my manuscript to a number of agents/publishers during a two-year period, but received only rejections. In 2010 I attended the Whidbey Island “Chat House” for authors. There I was encouraged by two different agents to submit my manuscript. One agent encouraged me to consider self-publishing as an option. When I learned that the publishing process takes at least two years, I decided to go ahead with publishing it myself. I have been very pleased with Gorham Printing in Centralia, Washington. They guided me through the entire process and designed the cover as well.

Was this a good experience for you? What advice would you give authors wanting to self-publish?

Yes, it was a good experience. I researched several other printing options, and am glad I went with Gorham. For authors wanting to self-publish, I would recommend a very helpful reference, Publish Your Nonfiction Book, by Sharlene Martin and Anthony Flacco, a Writer’s Digest Book. Another worthwhile (and voluminous) reference is The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier.

How are you marketing your book?

I am working with local bookstores that take my book on consignment (The Tattered Page in Mount Vernon, The Snowgoose Bookstore in Stanwood, and The Next Chapter in La Conner). I have done readings and sold copies at art exhibits, arts and crafts shows, and book clubs. Our local newspaper, The Stanwood Camano News, published an article about my book. I have a blog (http://wilmawrites4fun.blogspot.com) where I am sharing photos and anecdotes about the people and places in the book. The blog is connected to PayPal for those who wish to purchase The Esther Vice House. Also, anyone interested can send me a check for $13.00 (includes tax and shipping) at 119 Vista Del Mar Street, Camano Island, WA 98282.

Tell us about your background and have you written before?

I spent forty years in the education field—as teacher, principal, superintendent, university professor, and consultant. I have published articles and books—but all of these were in regard to my profession. However, ever since I was in elementary school I wrote plays and short stories for fun. It wasn’t until I retired that I seriously considered writing and publishing a book like The Esther Vice House.

Do you have another project in underway?

Yes! Currently, I am working on the story of my career as a teacher, administrator, and professor. I had the privilege of serving as a principal and superintendent at a time when very few women were chosen for these positions. “What? A woman principal?” Over and over I had to prove that I was capable to fulfill those responsibilities. But mostly, my story is about the wonderful children, young adults, and fellow educators who made life interesting, worthwhile, and full of laughter and tears. I’m titling it All I Ever Wanted Was to Teach First Grade.

That sounds like a wonderful title. Thank you for joining me today, Wilma.

Wilma F. Smith is a retired educator who served as teacher, principal, superintendent of schools, consultant, and senior associate for a national network of schools and colleges. She is a member of the Skagit Valley Writers League in Burlington, Washington, and participates each winter in a creative writing group in Tucson, Arizona. She is married to John E. Smith and lives on Camano Island, Washington.

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