I'm pleased to announce that I've completed novel #2! Titled For Two Cents I'll Go With You, it's based on the true story of my grandfather's experiences in France as a WWI Army medic. Right now it's around 31,000 words, which makes it far shorter than my first novel. Part of that is timeframe: Granddad was in the Army for about twenty months, whereas my first novel covers approximately twenty years. I'm hoping that will translate into greater desirability for a publisher. I have a few writing contests lined up for later in the year, but for now I'm working to locate someone famous to read my story and write a blurb because my agent said it would smooth the path to acceptance. I've written emails and delved back into the Twitterverse, because experience has shown that if you want to get something done you have to work the network. I thank my friends and colleagues in advance for their kind indulgence.
I learned a lot writing my first novel, so the composition of For Two Cents went much faster: it only took about a year and a half, not including some preliminary research with my dad. I spent much of one visit back home talking to him and recording his memories of Granddad's experiences, which I then incorporated into my novel. I also edited Granddad's many letters home to his mother. Because of wartime censorship restrictions he wasn't able to say much, which was where the novel took off. This time I found the Internet to be a great resource. The Army has a website http://history.amedd.army.mil/books.html with a digital copy of the entire history of the Medical Department in WWI that was extraordinarily helpful, as was Google Books. Interlibrary loan was also useful, as was the judicious purchase of a few texts online. Finally, my parents have carefully preserved a photo album that one of Granddad's buddies put together documenting their adventures from Fort Oglethorpe, GA to Coblenz, Germany that I used to guide my imagination along the way.
I think I learned a lot about my grandfather in imagining his adventures. Granddad never talked to us kids about the war, nor to Grandma. He only ever told my dad what he did, most likely because my dad was also a veteran. As in my first novel, I thought about who he was and who he became as a result of what he went through in the war. Like most of our soldiers in the Great War, he was a country boy, having never left the state of Michigan before volunteering. He traveled thousands of miles and experienced many things before returning home to Elsie in 1919. It's been a fascinating journey for me, too, and one I hope others will want to travel with me.