Saturday, February 7, 2015

Grit Work for Nonfiction Finish

February 7, 2015 Update

...The American Humanitarian Spirit...1979-1986 

Authorship is about more than writing. Someone's eye must always focus ahead to a six-month publishing debut.  

With my  husband's permission, I update progress on his book manuscript, partly to honor the details of developing a book for publishing. Here is a February 2015 update, with preliminary info, also added today to post archived at My News and Views Blog, May 17, 2014. 

Jim Purcell's MS is a massive work with narrative and field accounts before and after the Fall of Saigon, April 30, 1975. Vietnamese allies that rushed to the U. S. Embassy for a helicopter on a tower on the roof were only the beginning of an unfolding tragedy. What the U. S. had to learn from the events of the Vietnam-Cambodia-Laos triangle equipped the nation to lead the world to revive its humanitarian spirit internationally within citizenry, governments, communities, churches, synagogues, and volunteer organizations.

The refugee decade, as it came to be known, required the development of policies and procedures for quick, life-saving responses in Southeast Asia, Africa (Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia), the Middle East, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Russia. Millions of lives depended on decisions and protocols made by people near and far away. Refugees would rarely see these men and women honoring and seeking to save and protect their lives. That was OK as long as the missions were accomplished.  

Files by category for the manuscript's news clippings and reports now allow faster fact-checking. End notes, the footnote-type info at the end of chapters, are fully referenced.

All MS sources have been listed according to Chicago Manual of Style formats for books, articles, journals, reports and other references according to chapters.

The list work by the author in long-hand by chapter is already typed and alphabetized in a Word document. The handwritten citations take up roughly 50 pages. I do not mind what I'm doing now, which is to type such details into pages for the end of each chapter.

Gathering publisher and copyright data online is what I volunteered for, as well as using front matter of print resources in the author's research collection.

Digital document tracking has gone along carefully, and still there are headache times for JNP and Andy Michaels. (If this interests you, use the link above, look at the graphics down the page, and see why Andy developed a system for the author.)

Two knowledgeable readers (link)--"they-were-there-too"--have digital and print copies to read and make comments. The link above goes to the sometimes underestimated Wikipedia, which has the best correct description and explanation of peer review(er) I have seen.

If the query letter (samples) succeeds in catching the interest of a key, professional, successful book agent, the book proposal (BP-sample ideas) will likely come into play; Jim's Work is not at that stage yet, but soon. The era of starting a book proposal helped additions, rethinking, and enlargement of the MS, for the better.

The author usually bears the bulk of work to gather and select resource information, as well as to keep track of the exact source of each quote, notation, or citation, including interviews by date. Plus organizing and writing the book well!

Every draft has made a better, stronger, more interesting, thrilling, and informative account of an era in U. S. history, leadership, and humanitarian response. That's my take on it.


Copyright (c) 2015 James N. Purcell, Jr. and Jean P. Purcell

Thursday, February 5, 2015

No Tide of Rudeness

JNP-in Aruba's warm get-away
We reached our island apartment due to thrifty time-share and air fare deals. I snapped a photo of JNP on the second-floor balcony, palm trees behind him.

We were in Aruba with two laptops, notebooks, and iPads, on a working vacation with a massive manuscript in progress. We could hardly believe we had reached yet another place we had never visited before. 

Aruba's friendliness, clear air, breezes and sun made the days fly. We detected the island energy and liveliness, yet there was no hint of emotional disturbances. This added to the effect of an unforgettable get-away.

We ate most meals at the time-share resort, and the dining room staff were always congenial.

When we visited the guest center for discovery ideas, staff never showed annoyance regardless of how many fast or detailed questions flew their way from other guests or us.

In the middle of the eastern coast of the United States, where I live, at times we have rudeness epidemics. In public, positions that once required patience with customers now seem to have stressed employees; customers that most likely used to hold their tongues now spew out complaints.

And, here's the thing. If you are on the bad end of an exchange, you usually have no idea if the behavior is typical of the person launching word missiles at you or if the person is having a bad day, has had a recent grief, has been disappointed or abandoned by an important someone, and so on.

If you or I launch angry-word missiles in return, in any case, a lose-lose situation has been formed, and the losing is likely to escalate into angrier words, sarcasm, or rolling of the eyes, huffing and puffing, and deep ugly frowns.

Before Jim and I left Aruba, I mentioned to one of the dining staff how kind and thoughtful everyone had been.

"We try to be," she answered, smiling. "We have problems, too...we want you to enjoy being here."

Having said that, she changed the conversation to our plans for the day.

She's right. Everyone has problems, including those on "one happy island," Aruba's tourist motto. They are committed to prove true to the island's label.

In public, we can rule out the downward trends of rudeness as a choice. We never know the difference it makes, for we do not know what burdens another carries.

What a treasure is every sign of of kindness. To give and to receive strengthens relationships--whether in the family, marriage, with friends, and at work. I don't mean pablum conversation or checking one's personality at the door, you see.

In fact, it comes down to signs of personal strength to show patience rather than quick sarcasm or outburst. I think you know what I am talking about, if this downward public trend has reached where you are. 

I like a proverb sent to me recently by someone I do not know, on Twitter. It affirmed the worth of each person. It helped my rough day, affirming that to accept one's worth is more important than others' views of you.

If I offend without knowing it, then I can only hope that someone with the strength to confront calmly and kindly will do it.

The friendliest staff in places close to where I live include: Quest Diagnostics, Whole Foods-Center city, Land's End at Sears, Giant Foods, Barnes & Noble coffee and reading area, Einstein's Bagels, U.S. Post Office at 40W, Vicki's Nails, and Twig next door.  I hope their customers are treating them equally as well. I do not dread having blood drawn, you see, because of the calm staff at Quest. Similarly, I look forward to going to the other places listed.

When in public, we never know what other people are facing or how much courage, and possibly faith, they showed by getting up and out that morning.