Working Together

This week I haven’t been feeling well. In fact, my eardrum burst in my left ear…twice, and it still hurts. So I sit here with pain shooting through my ear, trying not to think of the pain by thinking about how I can make this page better. On Tuesday, November 14, I had a marketing meeting with Lisa Frederickson about my book, Captured by the Enemy. We are working on making my Amazon page better. She suggested that I send a message to Chuck Bartok, another marketing genius who has worked with books similar to mine. My philosophy is that it doesn’t hurt to ask, so I sent him a message. Would you believe that he messaged me right back and offered to call me on the phone? A busy man with 57 years of marketing experience! He started at a young age and never quit learning. We talked on the phone for over an hour, and he looked at my FB pages and my website and gave me suggestions and advice as I tried to jot down the golden nuggets of knowledge. I have to say that I was slightly embarrassed by my lack of current posts on here. It was just the kick in the pants that I needed to get me going again. He told me to share the stories I’ve experienced through my life because those are what make us who we are. That’s important because my life does not just consist of my book, and I can share that with you. Did you know that after the landing page, the second most visited page is the “About Me” page? I didn’t, but I plan to share more life experiences through here. Then, we talked about how we all work together to make things happen, and I believe that is true. I look forward to make new collaborations with others because I have great hope for this book and any future books that are to come. When I sent Chuck a thank you message, he sent this back, “Keep me posted. Remember there are no mistakes, just better ways to get it done. That is why I am a strong advocate of “masterminding” with peers. Been doing it for 57 years.”  So my friends, that is why it is important to keep making connections, keep writing, keep sharing, and eventually sharing that great success that comes from it. We’re all in this together. Thank you for joining me on this journey.

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Captured by the Enemy Update

Just to let you know, the free Kindle book for Captured by the Enemy was downloaded 437 times from July 3-July 5. Thank you to all who took the time to share, download, and read it. I appreciate all the help that has gone into this project, and I look forward to getting feedback.

As many times as I have worked on it and read it, I still found some more minor errors. Those errors were fixed, especially the floating picture that covered a few sentences. I had fixed it once, but after making a few changes, it reverted and I missed it the second time. However, it was updated and revised on July 8. The current Kindle version reflects those changes. Therefore, if you downloaded the free version, please know that those mistakes have been taken care of (along with a few comma or word errors that were found.) I have discovered the revising process it long and endless.

It’s not too late to participate in the teacher reviews so you have a chance to win a $100 gift certificate (see details on previous blog post.) You have until Saturday, July 25, 2015, to get those back to me.

Captured by the Enemy at Amazon (Kindle Version)

A special commemoration in Italy

I have mentioned several times that through my journey of research, I have connected with many wonderful people. Recently, I was asked to write a letter for Riccardo Funari.

For those of you who are new or who don’t remember who Riccardo is, let me briefly explain. Riccardo Funari was a WWII Italian Partisan who fought for a free Italy. He didn’t want to be repressed under the Fascist rule and especially not under the rule of Hitler when Germany took control after the fall of Mussolini in 1943.

How does this relate to me? Well, my granddad, Carl Good, was captured in Sicily and ended up in a prison camp in Italy. After a mass escape, his path crossed with Riccardo’s. Many years later, Riccardo was recognized for what he had done for his country and a memorial was set up in his honor. This year, the commemoration was held today in Italy, but through Riccardo’s nephew, Ricardo Funari, and his great-niece, Vanesa Funari, I was able to be part of this special day.

Although I couldn’t be there, my letter to Riccardo was read at the church and Ricardo and Vanesa were there to send pictures and keep me updated. Vanesa sent me a message saying it was very rainy and although I’m sure it was inconvenient for the commemoration, I found it somewhat fitting. The night before Riccardo was killed, it was raining. Staying under umbrellas, they put up a beautiful wreath in Riccardo’s honor, and then moved over to the church.

Commemoration for Riccardo Funari 2015 (taken by Vanesa Funari)

Commemoration for Riccardo Funari 2015 (taken by Vanesa Funari)

Once they were at the church, my letter was read to those who had gathered for this special day. Here is what I had to say (pictures of the area were sent to me by Vanesa and Ricardo Funari today and I have added them into the letter so you can see where this all took place.)

Dear Riccardo,

My name is Crystal Good Aceves. Perhaps you will better recognize the name of my grandfather, Carl Leroy Good. When my grandfather escaped into the mountains outside of Camp 59, he had no idea where he should go. He was with five other prisoners and they only knew they had to get as far away as possible. As they climbed the mountains into the night, the adrenaline pushed their weak bodies towards Monte San Martino. After going all night, they only made it to the edge of town where they hid in grass and brush to wait through the hot day until it was safe to walk again.

Monte San Martino in 2015 (taken by Vanesa Funari)

Monte San Martino in 2015 (taken by Vanesa Funari)

View of Monte San Martino in 2015 (taken by Vanesa Funari)

View of Monte San Martino in 2015 (taken by Vanesa Funari)

The next night, they started walking and met a man who was a neighbor to your family. His name was Giovanni Straffi and although he didn’t own his land, he was a good, hardworking, Italian farmer who wanted and believed in a better Italy.

Riccardo, I know you wanted the same thing. You could have stayed home and rested after being injured in war, but you chose to fight. You knew that Italy deserved more than to be under the control of the Fascists and the Germans. You knew that to free your family from the pain and suffering, you had to step up and join the fight from a different position.

Together with your friend, Gino, you were not afraid to join with Decio’s group of Partisans in the mountains. You chose to defend your country with other men who agreed that living in fear and punishment was no way to live. You were tired of the enemy stealing your things and threatening to kill you. Although my grandfather and his friend, Jim, wanted to join you, it was too dangerous with their limited Italian and American accents.

However, you helped them when you could. They hid in a ditch across the road from your house in a hut made of plants. The hope was that they would be secluded enough that the enemy would not find them, but it would also allow them to view the lower roads and the farms of the families who were helping them.

The house where Riccardo Funari lived with his family before he was killed by Fascist (taken by Ricardo Funari in 2015)

The house where Riccardo Funari lived with his family before he was killed by the Fascist (taken by Ricardo Funari in 2015)

Looking away from the Funari house. My granddad would have spent a long and hard nine months surviving in this area.

Looking away from the Funari house. My granddad would have spent a long and hard nine months surviving in this area. (Picture taken by Ricardo Funari, 2015)

Another view of the mountain side (Picture taken by Ricardo Funari, 2015)

Another view of the mountain side (Picture taken by Ricardo Funari, 2015)

You took them food and information whenever you visited your family. You invited them to go with you to return the stolen grain the Germans had taken from the people back to the hungry Italians who deserved it. My grandfather was able to get some for the families who risked their lives to save his.

That rainy night in April when you went home, you stopped and talked to my grandfather and Jim. My grandfather said he would see you tomorrow, and he really thought he would. It tore him up when he woke up at the light of dawn to find the Fascists had discovered you at home. He could do nothing to help you as those Fascist pigs lined you up against the ox stall. They put your mother on one side of you, your father on the other side, and your brothe beside your mother. Then they shot you in front of them (this story differs from the family in that his mother wasn’t allowed to look out the window from where she watched or they would kill her too.)  Then the enemy took everything from your home, including the livestock. Your mother screamed an unearthly scream. You were her son. You were her protector. She didn’t understand why you chose to risk your life and fight with the partisans. Her agony and pain of losing you was so deep that she scratched the wooden floors with her fingernails, but that wasn’t the end.

The house where Riccardo Funari lived with his family before he was killed by Fascist (taken by Ricardo Funari in 2015)

The house where Riccardo Funari lived with his family before he was killed by Fascist (taken by Ricardo Funari in 2015)

Even after sixty years had passed, my grandfather told me about you by name. He told me that you had a heart of gold. He wasn’t able to trust many at that time while he was hiding in the mountains, living day to day, but he trusted you. I could see the look of remembrance in his face when he mentioned your and Gino’s names as he slightly smiled. He thought highly of you two and respected you for taking the positions you did. You gave the ultimate sacrifice and several months later your Italy was freed from that oppressive power against which you fought.

My grandfather survived over nine months in the mountains near where you lived. You would be happy to know he made it to Allied lines on June 21, 1944—not even two months after you were killed. He made it because like you he was a fighter, but also because you and the community you lived in worked together and helped keep him alive.

Carl Good in uniform in WWII

Carl Good in uniform in WWII

Your family moved away from Italy after the war, but you were never forgotten. Your blood boldly runs through descendants who honor your name. I am privileged to call your nephew, Ricardo, and your great-niece, Vanesa, my friends because we have a connection through you. Now, seventy-one years later, I write you this letter to tell you thank you. Thank you for helping my grandfather. Thank you for fighting for justice. Thank you for giving the ultimate sacrifice.

Sincerely,

Crystal Aceves

Coming soon there will be a book that puts all of Carl’s war experiences into one true story. I will let you know when that is ready.

Carl's book to soon be released

Carl’s book to soon be released

Exciting days

I haven’t written on here for a while, but there is plenty of exciting news to share. I have worked on writing a book about my granddad’s WWII experiences since 2008. Although I haven’t had large amounts of time to work on it at a time, I have finally finished. Thanks to a contest put on by http://www.bookbutchers.com, I won an edit to finalize it before publishing. Burning the midnight oil, I made a goal to have the book ready for edit by Oct. 1–and it was! The exciting news is that it should be edited, formatted, and ready to publish by the beginning of December. Yay!! After working so hard, I am finally putting an end to all the research and writing. I also used http://diybookcovers.com to design my own cover. It turned out Fantabulous! 🙂 Now, the countdown can begin. Here’s to a December 1, deadline. What do you think?

Here is the full book cover spread. I love it!

Here is the full book cover spread. I love it!

Based on what you see here, take this short poll. Thanks!

Facebook Awkwardness

This is something I have wanted to post about for some time. I need to know if I am the only one this really happens to, or if this is far more common than I could imagine. I will keep it short and sweet.

I try to be a good friend, but in a busy world it can be really hard. Everyone is busy. Our days are over scheduled and never-ending. No matter what I do, there is never enough time. So, I try to keep in touch by commenting on the important things that are happening in people’s lives through Facebook. However, here are two things that have happened to me that clearly show how written thoughts can be miscommunicated so very easily. Suddenly, my well wish has become a hurt feeling. Whether I wrote it in a different tone or I didn’t realize that it could be read two different ways, I think these things are happening everyday and most of the time we never even realize they happened! When we do realize it happened, we can sometimes “fix” it, but it still creates that “Facebook awkwardness” as I like to call it. Here are two examples.

I clearly remember the day a friend had posted about her five year anniversary. To me, the first five years were the hardest as I tried to adjust to a new life with another person. I wanted her to know that she had made it to the top of the hill and the rest was going to be easier. Therefore, I wrote something like this, “Congratulations! The first five years are the hardest, it’s downhill from here.” I was very surprised to receive a comment back saying, “That was a negative thing to say.” At that point, I am totally confused. What was negative about that? I responded, “Well, the hardest part is climbing up the hill, so going downhill is easy.” Ohhh…it took me a minute, but then I saw how she had interpreted it. She thought I was saying it was going to go downhill from there. That is not what I meant at all! If she wouldn’t have commented, she could have thought I was rude and insensitive when I was really trying to be encouraging. There you go–Facebook awkwardness.

My last Facebook awkward moment wasn’t that long ago. It was awful! I really messed that one up. So, this is what happened. I saw a picture of a lady I really enjoy as a person. Since we have moved to a different state, we don’t keep in direct contact. She looked great! I could tell from the picture that she had lost weight. I know that is a sensitive subject for most, but I hadn’t seen her in years, and I wanted her to know that I had noticed. So, stupid me, I wrote something like, “Wow! You look great. I can really tell you have lost weight.:)” I thought this was a compliment anyone would appreciate. Far to many times, we don’t recognize those moments people have worked hard to achieve. Losing weight takes time and dedication, and I was proud of her. I saw other people making comments and she responded to each one…except mine. I began to sweat. What if she hadn’t lost weight, and I had insulted her? What do I do? I decided to change my comment, but I knew she had already seen it. Ekkk. However, I didn’t want it to sit there awkwardly, so I did change it to just say something like, “Wow! you look great!” Now, the situation had skyrocketed to the most awkward position possible. Now, she knew I deleted the weight comment. Ok, still no response. After more sweating, I decided to just delete it all and pretend it never happened. I thought I’d just send a private message letting her know that I thought she looked great, and I wasn’t trying to be rude. OK, so now, I have created an embarrassing situation for me and her. After that, I just quit trying, which I should have done in the first place. She never did respond to me–in any form. I did see, however, that she made a post to someone else joking about being skinny. I then, made my last comment, “You are beautiful inside and out.” That was it–that was all I wanted to say in the first place. Weight has nothing to do with beauty, but I wanted to acknowledge the work that went into it. I wanted to make her feel good. Somehow, I had taken a compliment and turned it into…well, something else. Did I hurt her feelings? I don’t know, but it did hurt my ego for making such a big fool of myself. She hasn’t deleted me yet, so maybe I’m making it a bigger deal than it really was. Once again–Facebook awkwardness at its best.

I can’t imagine I am alone in having these experiences. If I am, well, I guess it is just me then. Carry on.

Jail Time, Poo, and Writing

Just let me say, I have never even scraped my knuckles with the law before. However, lately going to jail doesn’t sound like such a bad idea—as long as it doesn’t involve a lie detector test (more on that later). I know that must sound awful, but let me explain how I reached this level of desperation so you can avoid it completely.

It’s quite simple, really. It’s all because of this idea I got back in early 2008—the great idea to write a book. Not just any book, but a historical non-fiction book on a subject that was very close to my family and me. After reading a wonderful article by Derek Murphy recently, I now know why you should never, ever do this as a first book. Unfortunately, his awesome advice came about six years too late for me. Take heed, readers, take heed.

So anyways, writing this great book was my call in life. After all, I was finishing my senior year of college with three young children, a hard earned 3.87 (yes, missing summa cum laude by .03 still makes me mad), and moving every year as my real-estate involved husband flipped our houses. Even so, with me loving research and writing, it was a match made in heaven! Although, I have since learned the devil is awfully deceiving.

As my graduation approached and the ideas bounced around in my head, I excitedly awaited all the free time I just knew I would have—just me and my book. With my youngest daughter going into kindergarten soon, it sounded too good to be true—time to write was almost mine. It was so close I could smell it as I skipped across the green pastures of hope.

Turns out, there must have been some poo in the green, luscious grass because somehow my life plans were tackled to the ground…and I landed in it along with my plans. For with the fall of our local real estate market (our livelihood), I had to go out and use my hard earned education and get a job. I really, really didn’t want to get a job that would take up the few precious hours of free time (aka writing time) that had filled my dreams. However, I had no choice.

Scouring the newspaper, I found something that didn’t seem too bad and paid fair…a police dispatcher. Let the process begin, I thought. Wow! I never knew what dispatchers went through to get their jobs. As I interviewed and learned of the horrendous shift swinging schedules, including holidays, I knew I didn’t want the job. However, needs and wants are two very different things—I wanted to write, I needed to work. While the police took my fingerprints at the jail and questioned every human with whom I had ever had contact, I started researching and working on my book. Without a lot a time, I would take what I could get.

When I passed all my extensive police checks, I was taken in for the mother of all tests—the lie detector test. I wasn’t afraid. I had nothing to hide. However, being in the police station with a big, serious detective who doesn’t smile much is somewhat intimidating.

As I sat in the hard chair and he began strapping cords across my body and arms, I felt like maybe I was going to be electrocuted. Please, sir, all I want is a job.

However, that was only the beginning. At 5’2” and 115 pounds, I felt I didn’t meet the stereotype of big, burly, muscular lie detector tester. This was confirmed as the bands tightened around my body and sent throbbing pain to the areas being restricted. Maybe the detective was an EMT in a prior life and confused these bands with tourniquets. Feeling the blood pounding through my body, I thought I was going to explode—literally. Although I mentioned this to the no-messing-around detective, he wasn’t at all concerned and continued to ask me questions.

Wow! Good thing I am an honest person because I was only concentrating on making it out alive. It’s a true wonder anyone works at a police station after such questioning. I guess I may have gotten my name written on the school board in third or fourth grade?

After all the trauma of that lie detector test, I didn’t get the job. It turned out that I was just too family oriented. And to be completely honest, that was another reason I wanted to write. I wasn’t ready to be gone all the time and miss school parties and programs. I didn’t need a lie detector test to know that. Well, at least I had tried.

Interviews for my book, writing, and research could continue for a short time more until I found something else. I quickly got stuck in a familiar routine—live, work on my book, live, work on my book. Somehow, these two things don’t mesh together. You have to force it to happen as life flows in unknown directions. As I got my insurance agents license, as I taught nights until I could get enough day hours, as I moved from Kansas to Iowa, Iowa to Texas, and Texas to Oklahoma, as I had another child (almost ten years younger than the last), as the years passed, my book was still there like an unwanted, lingering, nagging hangnail. This is why I completely understand what George Orwell meant when he said, “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
This explains a lot! It is the writing demon that makes me go in public without the comfort of make-up while quickly pulling back my hair in a sloppy ponytail, all for the hope of catching some writing time. It makes me put off the extra load of laundry, cook a late supper, and procrastinate all other projects until they become a priority. It is what makes me spend a sleepless night with the idea of never quitting—the idea of finally finishing.

This brings me to today.

With only two chapters left and the research mostly complete, I can once again smell success. This time I will dodge the piles of poo and sprint to the finish line. Wait. Speaking of poo, what is this? My not-quite-two-year-old son is showing me his feet. Praying that he has found some chocolate while playing behind me in the playroom as I pound away on the computer, I smell his feet. Yep, having just gone potty, I left him diaperless for a few moments as I wrote.

Taking a deep breath (but not too deep considering the circumstances), it is almost humorous because I want to write so badly. Once again, my book gets put on hold as I take him to the bathtub… and then on to scrub the carpeted floor of the playroom. Apparently, he doesn’t mind jumping in poo. This is when I think, I need a vacation!

Knowing that a vacation by myself is not going to happen, I wonder how quiet it is in jail. What could I do to get just one week in jail? Could I just go and ask if there are any free cells for the week, or poke at an officer and make an unoriginal doughnut joke? Wait a minute. Have I really stooped this low for some quality writing time? Whoa, I can see how my creative juices may have gotten a little too creative as I sit here and think about how scoring some jail time sounds like a good idea.

Then again, I’ve already been fingerprinted, interviewed, and passed a lie detector test, so I deserve just one week of pure writing bliss—no sibling rivalry, no chores, no whining, no laundry, no crying, no cooking, no expectations, no dishes, and most of all, no poo. I will finish my book one way or another, and if I can do it—so can you.

This is an article that I wrote for a contest. If I win, I get a free book edit. I really want to win. 🙂

If you enjoyed reading this article, please share from the contest page:

http://www.bookbutchers.com/jail-time-poo-and-writing/

UPDATE: I won this contest! My book, Captured by the Enemy, will be published by December. Thanks!