A WORLD FAMOUS KISS

Arlene Eisenbise2016 ~ January 23

President Truman was declaring the end of the four year world war as Glenn McDuffie, in his naval uniform, stepped from a subway on Times Square in New York City. He grabbed a passing nurse and planted a kiss on her lips, not knowing that photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt was capturing his impulsive act on film. That day in 1945 became known as V-J Day (victory over Japan) and the photo became known as the V-J Kiss. For years McDuffie told anyone who would listen that he was the sailor in the photo.

Fifty years later when the world was to again celebrate the end of World War II, a former nurse came forward to declare that she was the target in the famous photo. The photographer had not recorded their names for he was intent on capturing responses to the announcement. After years of claiming his role in the photo, Glenn McDuffie set out to prove it. With assistance from a police sketch artist, he could claim himself the sailor. The artist became convinced because McDuffie’s ear matched that of the sailor in the famous photo. She claimed that the ear is the most complicated feature on our head. Glenn lived to the age of eighty-six, believing that he had proven his place in history.

The McDuffie story, and the stories I heard about my cousin’s experience immediately following the end of the war when he was sent to Nuremberg, planted the seed that grew to become my historical novel BIG WAR Little Wars. In time, the book sent off its own shoots to inspire the essay The Kiss That Launched A Novel which the Military Writers Society of America published in their 2015 anthology.

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FAMILIES INSPIRE STORIES

2015 ~ October 26

Over the summer months, I toiled over our family tree—every trunk, branch and leaf of it. Among the 1600 plus ancestors and recent family members, there were bound to be stories..

I learned from family records that some of our Mississippi ancestors (the Irish) fought in the Civil War. There are no records of our Wisconsin ancestors (the Germans) having fought in any of those devastating battles. With over three million American soldiers participating in the war that swept our country between 1861 and 1865, and with over 600,000 casualties, surely one of those was from my Wisconsin family. But I’m guessing.

When facts are known, authors pen memoirs. If facts are unavailable, we resort to fiction and “borrow” possibilities to create our story. I could, for example, take what I do know about an Irish relative and create a fictional Wisconsin opponent, placing them in a famous battle somewhere in the war-torn South. My Wisconsinite would have come from a large farm family and be a crack-shot deer hunter.

What if these two “ancestors” had come face-to-face in a Civil War battle and have always remembered something significant about each other? I could make that happen. What if, when the war is long over, the son of one of the former soldiers meets the daughter of the other. They fall in love—to thicken the plot. Now a problem has livened things up. Their fathers are required to make a huge choice. Should they forgive for the sake of their children? End of story. Sorry. Or should they choose not to forgive—for the sake of the developing tale?

My imagination is slipping into high gear. Now, what I need is a title.

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THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY

2015 ~ June 24

What went through the minds of the children of our servicemen after the bombs dropped on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941? At least two members of the Prescott AZ chapter of the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors who attended their luncheon meeting this month remembered that date in history. Sirens began wailing, calling the men to duty on the island of Oahu, one of them recalled, even though it was a Sunday. One can only imagine the confusion, the fear, the wait for evacuation.

Arlene EisenbiseI had been invited as guest speaker to share my presentation The-Story-Behind-the-Story of my World War II novel, BIG WAR Little Wars. The Prologue addresses the surprise of a typical Wisconsin family as the news reached them via radio.

Hearing first-hand accounts triggered my recalling a TV interview from 2014. A local World War II veteran—in his 90s—told of being on board one of the naval ships in the harbor as the bombing occurred. His eyes filled with tears as he described witnessing the incoming, laughing face of the Japanese pilot who was one of the attackers. Some memories, even those carried for more than seventy years, cannot be easily blotted out. I cannot imagine being that close to an enemy driven to that extent.

What will it take to bring peace to our planet? More wars haven’t resulted in world-wide peace. The dollars spent bought no peace. Whatever the answer is, we cannot implement it soon enough to suit me.

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ENVISIONING PEACE WILL MANIFEST PEACE

2015 ~ May 19

Those words of peace are written on an opening page of each BIG WAR Little Wars book I personalize. They were also written inside the book won by the Goodreads Giveaway winner in Japan. According to Yuuki’s book review, she learned from reading my novel how differently the Japanese and the American people lived during World War II. Yuuki didn’t find the negativity toward her people that she feared the book might contain.

I was curious about reader reaction from a country that had propelled us unexpectedly into a four-year war. Our atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war they had triggered.

In my story, the main character Milla has a Japanese-American friend who is banned from their favorite hangout. The malt-shop owner’s son is fighting for his life against the Japanese in the Pacific. It isn’t difficult to understand the shop owner’s reaction, nor Milla’s. She takes the only stand a teenager can; if her friend is not allowed in the malt shop, she won’t go there either. Milla kept her word throughout the war.

It is my belief—and my hope—that much understanding can be created among people through the exchange of ideas, even those shared through stories. If my young adult novel’s message spanned the Pacific to reach a single person, it has been well-worth my effort.

Note to readers:
The Prologue has been added to the EXCERPT section.
See additions to EVENTS

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I STAND ACCUSED

2015 ~ March 18

I’ve been accused of playing hooky or hibernating for the winter. I confess to neither. My excuse for being absent from these pages is that being a part-time author can be a full-time job.

There are groups to join. In January I joined the Military Writers Society of America (MWSA). BIG WAR Little Wars is currently in the hands of one of their reviewers.

There are contests to enter. I entered three, which involved forms to complete, books to package, and fees to submit. But contests give hope and something to look forward to.

There are prizes to offer. Three Goodreads Giveways had several hundred readers competing for a free copy of BIG WAR Little Wars. The USA winner gifted me with a Five-Star review. I await the reviews from the winner in Japan and in Germany.

There are book fairs to attend. I’m signed on for the Prescott Valley Public Library Book Festival scheduled for May 16th. Other book fairs are on the horizon. In January I was the “mystery reader” during our library’s participation in the National Readathon Day.

There are books to read. An author needs to be aware of what’s popular but, truthfully, that’s not what I write.

BIG WAR Little Wars is categorized as a young adult, historical novel. I’ve heard from readers age thirteen to ninety-three—a broad range indeed. Every age takes something different from the story—young readers are studying World War II in school; middle-age readers had family members who served during the Big War who rarely, if ever, spoke of their experiences; older readers are reminded of a time long forgotten—a time when people sacrificed for a common cause.

Wouldn’t it be uplifting if we humans would devote an equal amount of energy toward a peace effort as they did all those years ago toward the war effort?

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BEYOND BORDERS

While checking the date on my passport, I learned that it’s nearly time to renew if I plan to travel to our Sister City in Mexico beyond February. Denny and I joined the Prescott-Caborca Sister City group two years ago. We’ve learned that you can usually manage to communicate the basics even if you don’t have the language in common.

partyJust prior to BIG WAR Little Wars being published in July, we gathered with members from Caborca for a true ranch-style picnic—BIG everything. I passed a collector card portraying my book to the beautiful Lorenia–one of our guests. I asked a few members whether or not the library in Caborca accepted English-language books. No one knew the answer.

Prior to our joint Christmas Party on December 7th (the Pearl Harbor anniversary), I received an e-mail from Lorenia. She mentioned the book I’d promised. At the party, I asked Guillermo if he knew the circumstance at their library. Later, I learned that he is employed there and does inspired work with their children. Guillermo insisted on purchasing a copy. I am confident that he will place the book where it needs to be. That still left me with a copy that I’d planned to donate.

party!Before the last potluck morsel was consumed or the last dance shook the hardwood flooring, Rafael—president of the Caborca group—asked about my novel. He is a professor at the Universidad De Sonora. Could the book be used at the University when studying both history and language? As I signed a copy to be put to good use at their university, I was too elated to mention to Rafael that I would pay for that opportunity!

I still must renew my passport to physically cross the border between the state of Arizona and the Mexican state of Sonora, but my words don’t have that restriction. They are free to travel to wherever they are invited. What can match such freedom?

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, SPECIAL READERS;

YOU ARE APPRECIATED BEYOND IMAGINING! 

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Author Interview with Sue Tone of the Prescott Valley Tribune

2014 ~ December 2nd

Prescott Valley author Arlene Eisenbise was nine when World War II broke out. She was 63 when news coverage of the 50th anniversary of the war’s end triggered an idea for a story about a 13-year-old girl’s experiences on the home front.

BIG WAR Little Wars“I was really curious if teenagers would be interested in reading it. I know they study the war in school, but it could be pretty boring,” Eisenbise said.

Former teen librarian, Jolanta Feliciano, Prescott Valley Public Library, told her to bring something in, the teenagers at the library would read it and let her know. She provided a couple of chapters and received helpful comments that she used in her revision work.

“I think I probably feared their judgment. But I found that I marveled at their energy and enthusiasm,” Eisenbise, a PV resident since 1997, said. “They didn’t realize they did much, but they pushed me off the diving board into the deep end of the pool.”

For the author, that meeting was a major turning point in her life, and she listed the teens by first name in the acknowledgements. When the book came out in July, Feliciano brought the teens back for a “reunion” with Eisenbise, who said the young adults were impressed with her presentation and excited to see the finished product.

In the self-published novel, the main character is based on Eisenbise’s own experiences – except for one fact. Her editor said it would be too hard for readers to accept that the main character actually had eight cousins, not five, who served in the war at the same time. All of them came home.

A motivating factor to finish the book was to present it to the one remaining cousin, Ray “Bud” Bowers, 91, while he was still alive. He was the cousin Eisenbise interviewed in 1999 Arlene Eisenbisewho explained why it took so long to return to the States from Europe, a puzzling situation in the novel. In August, Eisenbise traveled to Oregon to give him a copy.

“At the end of the war, he didn’t come home. Nobody knew where anyone was, or even if he was dead or alive. Turns out he was sent on a secret assignment,” she said, adding that it involved the Nuremburg Trials.

One of the teens’ comments led to a change in the colors on the front cover. Another caused Eisenbise to expand on one of the minor characters that piqued the teens’ interest. When authors write about themselves, they already know the story, but may not realize the reader needs more information.

The book relates some facts about growing up during the Great Depression. Eisenbise said youngsters didn’t always realize the deprivations of the times.

“I remember my mom would pray that we would go to sleep before realizing how hungry we were. I remember my dad saying, ‘I’d give my eyeteeth for a beer,'” she said.

Her parents traveled to California to work in the fields when she was 4 or 5 years old. At one time they had a farm, but it cost more to feed the animals than what they got selling eggs or milk.

The book has received good reviews at amazon.com and goodreads.com. Eisenbise has appeared at several libraries, and will be presenting to the Sons and Daughters Survivors of Pearl Harbor chapter in April. For more information or to purchase her book, visit arleneeisenbise.com.

Interview by Sue Tone, Prescott Valley Tribune

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Author Interview with Melissa Bowersock

2014 ~ November 15th

Veteran’s Day is such an important day for so many of us, I thought it only fitting that we extend the remembrance a while longer. Today I’m getting to know another fellow Arizonan, Arlene Eisenbise, whose book BIG WAR Little Wars is a YA historical novel about growing up during WWII. I have not read the book myself, but I’m guessing there might be more than a little bit of autobiography in this story. True?

You’ve guessed right, Melissa. The novel is a blend of fact and fiction. I often say that once I write something, it becomes fact to me. The experiences that the character Raymie endured in the story were those told to me by a cousin who served during World War II. He was a sharpshooter sent on a secret assignment as the war ended. None of his loved ones knew where he was or whether he was alive or not. Eight of my cousins served in that war, but I was advised by editors to cut the number because no one would believe they all came home.

That is a pretty amazing stat, and yes, might be hard to believe if people did not know it was true.

BIG WAR Little Wars by Arlene EisenbiseThere are other fact-based accounts in the novel. The case of the waiting wife, for example, who learns her soldier husband has fallen in love with another woman in a foreign country. Such conflicts on the home front are the Little Wars in the title. The BIG WAR, of course, was World War II.

Can you give us a capsule description of the story? I’m wondering what messages you may have buried in the book for kids (or readers) to remember or discover on their own? This kind of war seems so distant to most of us, both in place and time, that it’s hard to imagine what it was like, both for the people who were directly involved and for the people back home.

It’s vitally important, in my opinion, that all ages are aware of what a war involving the world means. My favorite quote from the book is on the back cover: “Daddy said that nobody really wins a war. They only make it look that way.” I encourage envisioning peace.

I’ve heard from readers aged thirteen to ninety-one who have read or are currently reading the book. Each age discovers something different. Older readers are reminded of a time of great patriotism and/or they relive their personal experiences. One fifty-year-old reader stated she didn’t know her parents had experienced such times. And many readers say their relative who served never talked about their war-time experiences. Younger readers are studying World War II in school and characters in a novel can bring history alive for them. I claim on my website that this is a story for all ages, and that appears to be true.

There’s nothing better than telling a story that can be viewed through the lenses of people of all ages. Each generation brings its own experiences to the story, enlarging on it. It is truly a world story.

The story is of a very real time in our history. Most people made sacrifices and did what was required for a common cause. The Great Depression left families desperate—penniless, hungry, and threadbare. Suddenly, there was big money to be made in the war plants. That often meant relocation so trailer camps sprang up near the cities. The novel is set in such a camp in a Milwaukee, WI, suburb. The camps provided space for those taking advantage of the employment opportunities. Camps were also a stop-over for the colorful transients passing through, those following their own dreams.

MillaThe story unfolds through the eyes of teenager Milla Jaeger. Her family resides in what her mother labeled “a 6X14 foot cracker box on wheels.” Dreams are placed on hold. Earnings are high but items the money would buy are rationed. And yet terms such as “for the war effort” and “we have to make do” were on everyone’s lips. Soon after the bombs dropped on Pearl Harbor, five of Milla’s cousins left for European battlefields. Milla’s deep concern is for Raymie; they are connected by a long-kept secret. The secret is not revealed to Milla until her family nearly perishes early one bitterly cold Wisconsin morning. Longing for news of Raymie when the waiting becomes unbearable, Milla gazes on an evening star. She makes a promise—a deal, actually—involving her own love interest. She places it on hold until they learn her cousin’s fate.

Between the red-white-and-blue covers of BIG WAR, Little Wars can be found much more than a story. Included are a Study Guide, a Glossary, and an extensive Suggested Reading section for both books and Internet links. The book can serve as a teaching tool or as a discussion guide.

That’s what you call a multi-purpose book! On your website, you have a page dedicated to your PHOTONOPSIS (a photographic synopsis of the story). So many of the photos there are reminiscent of those in old, black photo albums we all paged through as kids. Are the photos all from your family?

familyMost of the photos are right out of the 1940s with one or two of them from an earlier time. Many of the photos were probably taken with a Brownie box camera like one of the props I use during my Story-Behind-the-Story presentation about the book. Some of them are family photos, some not. I had to restrict myself to not give away the book’s ending with too much text accompanying the photos.

I see on your web page that you have two trilogies slated as future releases. In the first, the Crystal Skull series, it looks like you’re combining Atlantis lore with Hopi legend. How is that coming along? How far are you on the three books?

The Crystal Skull books are complete except for the third one about the Traditionalist Hopi. A few of the ending chapters are still to be written. They are a trilogy rather than a series, for they are each stand-alone novels. I have it on “good authority” that the Atlantean, ancient Mayan, and Hopi cultures were connected. Readers can choose to believe that, or not.

I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to believe that so many of the ancient cultures were connected. With as many similarities as there are, it’s probably harder to believe each culture came up with similar ideas without contact.

The Lolly Fox series looks like it might be aimed at younger children, and the stories sound like teaching stories. Again, where are you on that series? When can we expect to see the books for sale?

The three Lolly Fox books are targeted for Early Readers. The main character—a red fox—matures in the series. They are stories with subtle Golden Rule messages. Characters for a fourth book, several endearing nocturnal animals, have begged for attention.

There are no publication dates for any of the other books. For now my energy is focused on BIG WAR, Little Wars. I chose to bring that novel out first because of my original goal to see the book published during my cousin’s lifetime. With amazing help, we did it. Bud is ninety-one and reading the finished product. He’d read an early version many times over.

That is wonderful to hear. I’ll bet it was an amazing process for him to be involved in the writing and publishing, to see the story come to life. That’s a great gift, for both of you.

It’s obvious that you’re comfortable writing different genres. Which do you enjoy the most? Do you find it difficult or easy to switch gears from one genre to the next?

When characters appear and begin whispering who and where they want to be, it’s time to listen. I get them started and then they take over at some point. It was different with the World War II book since it was more factual. My characters are family. The research and writing for each of the books was a totally enjoyable process. Since I only work with one manuscript at a time, there isn’t a problem with switching from genre to genre.

I think our processes are very similar. I, too, get overtaken with a character or a story and everything else falls by the wayside. I never know what genre a book will be until I’m done with it.

What else can you tell us about the world of Arlene Eisenbise?

Arlene EisenbiseI can become totally lost between the covers of a book—fiction, nonfiction, biographies, the spiritual. I’m reading The Book Thief for the second time, after seeing the movie twice, because I cannot let go of those characters and the images that take my breath away. I met with teenagers who were studying that rich book set in Germany and did a comparative of the two stories set during the same war but from opposite sides of the Atlantic.

I am a clergy member, have been trained as a Reconnective Healer, have been Vice-President of the Professional Writers of Prescott, served as volunteer for numerous worthy causes, had writings published in newspapers and periodicals. More can be found within the pages of my book or on my website. And . . . every summer I do water aerobics in an outdoor pool.

How can readers find out more about you and your books?

My website contains many “drawers” where much can be learned about me or the books. The site includes a TV interview, newspaper interview, the blog, events, where to buy, and more.

Arlene Eisenbise Links:

Amazon author page

Amazon purchase page

Barnes and Noble purchase page

Goodreads author page

Website: ArleneEisenbise.com

Blog: ArleneEisenbise.com/blog

Facebook: Facebook.com/Arlene.Eisenbise

 

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Prescott Valley Library’s Teen Readers

2014 ~ October 24th

Prescott Valley Teen ReadersThe Prescott Valley Library’s Teen Readers were there at the beginning and they returned to see the finished product.

Last December, I met with librarian Jolanta Feliciano and the teen readers. They had reviewed the first five chapters of BIG WAR, Little Wars along with other sections of my book. I was seeking feedback from teenagers to learn their interest in fiction about World War II. Our discussion triggered my decision to step into the unknown world of publishing.

The same teens gathered on October 24th for my Show and Tell presentation of the Story-Behind-the-Story. After donating a copy of the book to the library, their animated voices were heard discussing who would read the book first—music to an author’s ears.

I cannot thank the Prescott Valley librarians and the enthusiastic young readers enough for their amazing support.

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ONE WAR, TWO VERSIONS

2014~September 27th

IMG_0688While roaming with “flat Raymie” earlier in the month, an email invited me to participate in a book discussion of The Book Thief at the Camp Verde Public Library. The teen readers were studying the novel—now a highly-rated movie—which is another World War II story as seen through the eyes of Liesel, a young adult German girl. Milla, the American girl in my recently released novel, BIG WAR, Little Wars, observed the war from this side of the ocean.

To prepare for the discussion, I read the 550-page novel in two days. Both stories involve the same war, driven by characters with similar aspirations and anxieties. I think that Liesel and Milla might have been best friends under different circumstances. Having read and discussed both novels confirmed for me that, no matter where we reside on this blue planet, our values may not differ that much.

My recommendation: Read both novels, watch the movie.

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