Tuesday, July 10, 2012

No, I'm not dead in a ditch someplace....

Sorry I have not posted in a while, but here is the situation. About a month ago I got another job, and it's one that pays money (although it's measly). It also requires a lot more energy than what I am used to, which normally involves sitting in front of a desk or computer (in other words, I didnt expend much energy at all before hand). So, while I plan on continuing to write, I have not really had to time to do it. These days when I am not working I tend to find myself sleeping, even while I'm in the midst's of visiting with friends. I am beginning to feel like a narcolepsy patient.

Again, I plan to get back to writing, but it may take a while for me to get anything done. It doesnt help that everyone else at work has been calling in sick the past two weeks. However, once I have adjusted to my more active life I will come back to my projects. When I do, I will update my sites.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Guess what I got in the mail? My requested documents from the Air Force!!

Can I just take a moment to say WOOOOHOOOO!
Ahem. I have to take a moment to re-compose myself, but I am super excited right now.

So I don't know if I mentioned this in my past posts, but for months now I have been trying to dig up solid evidence about what happened on March 28, 1944 when Lynn Drollinger (my grandfather) was shot down.

After weeks of searching on my own, which was relatively fruitless, I decided to shoot off an e-mail to the U.S. Air Force. I figured, if anyone would have information about the date in question, they would. However, I wasn't sure if they would get back to me, or how long it would take. After all, an e-mail from little ol' me asking questions about events from the 1940's is not exactly high priority. I cant remember, but I think it was a separate e-mail than from prospective Air corp. questions, but I'm sure they get more than a few e-mails in a day.

A couple weeks passed and I got an e-mail back from a well-mannered guy named Tobias. He politely informed me that the Air Force doesn't have documents from before 1947, which was when the Air Force split from the Army to become its own entity. Then he pointed me towards the Air Force Historical Research Agency website. I couldn't find what I wanted off of their site itself, so I sent them an e-mail asking if they might have any files from the events of march 28th, 1947.

Some time passed and eventually they sent me an e-mail saying that they were behind schedule in answering questions but that they had not forgotten about me.

Yesterday, I went out to get the mail and there was a beautiful orange envelope waiting for me! And boy, they sent me more information than I could have even hoped for! It looks like all of the reports from back then have been declassified. I cant wait to spend today looking them over in more detail, but its already looking like I'm going to have to re-write parts of the first chapter now that I have a better understanding of what happened. So thank you everyone in the Air Force Historical Research Agency, you have made my day!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I Wish I Were Like Tolkien

I have to say, one of my favorite book series is the Lord of the Rings. Yes, I do like them more than the Hobbit. Everyone I know argues that when the trilogy, when  compared to the Hobbit, has too much walking around and a serious lack of dragons.

I'm not entirely sure why I like the trilogy more, I just do. Perhaps its the fight scenes. Although I liked Bilbo's cleverness in keeping the trolls talking until the sun came up it's just not the same as scenes like the battle for Helms Deep. Or maybe it's the lack of female characters for me to bond with. Both Eowyn and Arwen went to the aid of the people the cared about. They didn't just sit around on their hands saying "Oh well I guess the men will handle it." I liked that about them.

When you take all of Tolkien's works together I don't think there is a single bit that isn't riveting. I think the world needs more books like his. No one cares that his works are adaptations of old fables. He created an entire world for us to wander through, which was more than any dusty fable had given us. That's especially true for modern readers.

That's why I think my next work will be one I had started years ago, but never finished. All it has right now is a shaky foundation of a story, but I am willing to work on it until it shines. I guess I shouldn't distract myself with that one yet though, since I have not finished Escape and Evasion. I'm not quite half way through writing that one and then I have to edit etc.

I'm a little torn though. I also want to work on a story involving Zombies since I miss the days my friends and I would sit around and argue about the best way to survive the zombie apocalypse... Gah! There is too much I want to do and never enough time.

I'll just have to sit down and tell myself to focus on one project at a time. And that means finishing Escape and Evasion before I even think about Tolkien-esk projects. Although, I do hope people read my books before I die...Poor Tolkien never got to see his books get truly popular. His son truly did the world a service when he dusted off his father's old manuscripts and got them published.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lynn's documents are now available!

I finally got the documents up! Now you can go and enjoy old timey photos, letters, and so forth. I'm inept with zip files, which is where most of my problems were coming from. I also didn't blur out last names like I had planed, but hopefully it wont bother anyone. Most of the images are easy to read once you have clicked on them and google zooms in. There is one article that is an exception and I'll figure out to make that one readable later.

I hope everyone enjoys looking through all of these as much as I did!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New documents

I met up with my cousin B. the other week to visit with his family. While I was there we got to talking about my work and he mentioned that after Howard (Lynn, we all call him by his middle name since he didn't like the name Lynn) died B. and his Dad went through a bunch of old wallets and things that Lynn had kept over the years. They scanned them into their computer and B. had a copy of everything.

Long story short, B. loaded all of those documents onto a thumb drive for me to take home. There is some outstanding stuff in there! Copies of Army information and paper work, certificates, more letters Howard received, etc. It's really answering a bunch of questions I had. Thank the stars Howard kept in touch with Lucien (one of the nice French men that helped him escape). Lucien was half French half British, and bless his heart, because he could write in both languages, and a LOT better than Howard. So now I know a bunch more people's names, how they are connected, and how to SPELL them. Good grief, that was driving me nuts.

I'd kinda like to add those documents to my blog as well. I don't think anyone would have a problem with that. I mean, how many of these people can still be alive to care?

The main problem is that I am still learning to use blogger as I go. So I have to figure out a nice way to organize all that stuff under a new tab. It's not like the home page where I write a post and it just tacks on to the top of the page. Then I could make each scanned document into its own post. It's more akin to making one giant post out of all those images and any text I want to add, only in a separate page that you can go look at. For all I know, I'm just not going about it the right way. I guess I'll throw those up like the letters, and if I find a better method later then I'll fix it.

Also, if the images aren't large enough for people to read then that could be a problem. I'd rather not type them out like Howard's. I'm going to throw up a little sample of his writing in there as well. Then you'll see what I was up against.

So you can look forward to that later this week, as long as everything goes according to plan...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I Swear I'm Working!

Hey there!
Sorry I haven't posted in a while, life is crazy.
I have been working on Escape and Evasion, and I have completed the first chapter. I know, it doesnt sound like much, but I am trying to get all of the facts right. There have been discrepancies between what Lynn said when he dictated his story to my Aunt and what others said when they wrote to the family years ago. I would like to just put everything down as Lynn said, but there were miscommunications when the story was dictated. Plus the boys who wrote letters back in '44 may have remembered events better than my Grandfather when he was retelling the story for the billienth time several years after the fact.
Also, parts appear to have been exaggerated. Ex: Lynn said he bailed out at 20,000ft, another guy said he was only 10,000ft. I'm not sure what height they would have flown their planes at. Your probably not worried about noise for people on the ground when you are trying to blow them up. So, I'll have to track down info on that.

Then there is the fun of "who is going to care if I use actual people's names in the book?" To be on the safe side I am not going to include last names (and occasionally I'll use made up names). Of course, the French names are going to be a complete guess. Neither my Aunt nor my Grandfather spoke any French so the names of people in the underground were written down phonetically as he understood them to be pronounced (Again, most of his story was written down many years after the war. So who knows if he even remembered them correctly). I have a feeling they are incorrect.
That is the kind of fun I'm having right now.

P.S. you cant trust the Internet for anything. I found this British site that said Col. Egenes died on march 10, but I definetly found papers indicating he had shot down enemy aircraft on the 16th of the same month and year. Pilots had to file reports after they had shot down an enemy stating how they knew the other pilot was dead. Thats how they received credit. Most of them read like this: I opened fire and took off a wing. Last I saw, that puppy was on fire and in a nose dive towards the earth with the pilot still inside. So Im thinking he didnt make it.
It's kinda hard to shoot someone down if your dead.

Anyway, I might post a bit of the first chapter later, but I have to work the bugs out.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Escape and evasion

Yes folks, this is the working title for my next project. It's a story about my grandfather Lynn, who was a WW2 fighter pilot. When he was a member of the 8th Army Air Force he was shot down over occupied France. This is the story of how he made it home safely, more or less, with all of the close calls, danger, and brave souls he met along the way.

I THINK I'm done with the outline. I have been trying to make it as detailed as possible so I wont forget anything. Most of the story was captured in Lynn's own words before he passed away. However, there were some gaps, and fuzzier parts, and he didn't usually go into detail about what happened. So I am trying to fill in the blanks with the use of research, old war letters, and the parts of the story my dad knows by heart (but for some reason they were never written down).

I only have scans of the original letters, and I have done what I could with them. My family and I did our best to translate them from Lynn's god awful left handed cursive (and the occasional poor scanning job), minus a few errors (Ex: perty to pretty). There a spots where we absolutely couldn't figure out what he had written and had to throw in an ellipses. I don't know why, but he was apparently allergic to using apostrophes, commas, question marks, etc. At least his sentence structure improved in the later years. I tried to leave all of that intact, despite the little twitch it gave me. My high school English teacher would be appalled (yes, I have taken more English classes since then, but she was finicky.)

I'm considering putting the letters up on my blog. That way anyone who feels the desire to learn more can read them. I'm a little deterred by the fact that doing so would be a lot of work, and I would be doing it for funsies. Although I am feeling burnt out right now, so I'm not as excited as I should be when it comes to starting the writing portion of the book.Plus, I find that the beginning is always the hardest part. Maybe I'll put off writing until next week and get a bit of marketing done. Then I'll think about the letters again...

Anyway, I would like to be done with Escape and Evasion in the summer. I'm really nervous about this project though. A lot more than my own pride is riding on my ability to do well. There is family honor at stake. Not to mention I have to portray tons of people that I will never meet as accurately as possible. (some of the caharacters will have to be made up, or at least fudged a little. Neither Archie [a pilot Lynn traveled with] nor Lynn talked about EVERYONE they met.]
I guess this is why these books always say "based on a true story".
Plus, I'm one of those people that finds war stories  much more depressing than exciting.
I'll be doing my best!!