They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans releases this week!

It’s Time to Get Excited!

The book that’s been a year in the making is just about ready to be released. Just a few more days and I can’t wait!

They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans has been a labor of love, but I’m thrilled with the 34 stories of men & women from every branch of the military, including Merchant Marine and Coast Guard.

There’s a story of a soldier who helped take more than 150 German soldiers prisoner at one time during the Battle of the Bulge. A sailor helped to sink the last German U-boat during the war. That’s just 2 of the 34 stories that are more exciting than fiction!

This is my second book of stories. My first book, WWII Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans, was published in 2014. It is available for purchase at this site and on Amazon. I’ve now interviewed nearly 200 WWII vets, some 100 years old! Each one is a joy to know.

Lefevra crew dog

Maybe you’d rather look at photos than read. That’s ok as there are dozens of never-before-published photos of veterans from their days in uniform to the present.

The book has extra features of war-related photos, military lingo, and an index to look up battles, ships and units.

They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans is a highly educational, entertaining, patriotic treasure of stories.

Nothing like tooting my own horn, is there?

I admit I’m proud because I’m proud of the people who allowed me to write their stories. They have all agreed to be in the book and signed off on their stories.

In addition, several are planning to participate in my book launch party on Saturday, November 4, 2017, at downtown Allen County Public Library from 1-3pm in meeting room C. They have agreed to sign copies of the book which will be available for purchase at the event.

Be sure to put this event on your calendar as it will be a rare opportunity to meet some of our nation’s oldest veterans who served one of the biggest conflicts in world history. I’m sorry to say but they won’t be around much longer.

I’ll let you know in a few days when the book will be available on Amazon and my website.

I hope this book will enforce patriotism in each reader as hearing the stories first-hand has done for me. I love America and the men and women who have served to keep her safe as well as the people around the world who need us.

Tell a veteran today thank you for his/ her service!

Veteran’s Day-Opp to Honor Our Heroes

241 Remember sign

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for us and many other military families around the nation. Veteran’s Day is perhaps the biggest day of the year for all vets. It gives the public the opportunity to honor them in so many ways.

Vet Day bus

John & I participated in Fort Wayne’s Veteran’s Day Parade. He rode the Air National Guard bus while I walked with the Blue Star Mothers. I had more fun handing out candy to children along the mile-long route, but guess who was more tired at the end of the parade?

Thanks to everyone in the Fort Wayne area – Boy Scouts, school bands, military groups and supporters – for going to the effort of showing our vets how much we appreciate them!

Lineberry class

Speaking opportunities for me to tell people about my World War II book of veteran stories abounded. These are pictures of some places I’ve been.

Belmont Lineberry K

Brian Lineberry allowed me to speak to his class at Bellmont High School in Decatur. The class is studying World War II and preparing to write profiles of fallen World War II soldiers from the area. Cool! I gave them tips on research and what they might discover.

Lani 2015

Lani Mahnensmith asked me to speak to a grief support group that meets at Kingston Retirement Center in Fort Wayne. Met some vets there I’ve interviewed and ate lunch with them. Double cool!

K display

The Allen County Public Library Author Fair was well attended. Several people stopped by to ask about the book and we chatted about World War II vets in the area.

Laurie Gray auth fair

It was fun seeing author friends Laurie Gray (above) and Doris Rapp (below).

Doris Rapp

We all were asked to speak on panels about writing.

Amn 241 fallen heroes display

one last thing to mention—the American Legion 241 Post in Fort Wayne hosted an exhibit that I’m sure moved everyone who viewed it.

It displays names, photos and mementos from family / friends of fallen soldiers from Indiana. The display was organized by a father who feared the public would forget his soldier son after his death. It is respectful and maddening to think of our loss because of their sacrifices on our nation’s behalf.

Hiester

The display is especially meaningful for me as there is a photo of a man who grew up in my church. See lower left.

Master Sergeant Michael Hiester, 33, was killed in Afghanistan in 2005 by a mine explosion. He left behind a wife, son, daughter, parents and two sisters, a church who loved him and many, many friends. I love them and respect them so much for carrying on. I don’t know how family get through those painful experiences. The least we can do for our fallen heroes is to show respect for every veteran we meet.

Learn more about this unique exhibit here.

If you have a chance today, thank a veteran for his/her service!

 

 

Tips to Interviewing 100+ WWII Veterans

Vernon Byer brought home flag from Japan after serving there during the Occupation.

Vernon Byer brought home flag from Japan after serving there during the Occupation.

Sometimes people want to know what happens when I interview a World War II veteran. It’s a process and always a privilege.

First, I allot two hours for the interview. This does not include the time it takes to drive to/from the place where the veteran lives.

The two hours does include my getting set up with my tape recorder, notepad, getting both of us settled across from each other and then the actual talking. That can be quite a brain strain for the veteran! They are reaching back 70+ years for details! I recently listed the questions that I typically ask—53 minimum! Whew!

Bill Yaney also served in Japan during WWII with the Army.

Bill Yaney also served in Japan during WWII with the Army.

Then there are photos—prior to the interview I ask the veteran and/or his /her family to gather mementos, photos, souvenirs, books, cap/T-shirt from an Honor Flight of Northeast Indiana trip, medals, anything brought home from the war.

 

I’ve seen Nazi flags, Hitler Youth T-shirt, guns from many countries, Japanese shoes, Navy logbooks, uniforms, photos of locales all over the world. It’s all 70+ years old and fascinating!

I then drape these items over and around the veteran for the photos. I take several shots with my digital camera and then shoot more pics with my iPad to post online.

 

Then I ask the veteran to tell me of a brief incident that happened to him/her during the war. I tape that incident in a minute or so on the ipad.

Dick Willey brought home a Hitler Youth T-shirt from his time of service in Germany.

Dick Willey brought home a Hitler Youth T-shirt from his time of service in Germany.

The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel newspaper has been publishing my World War II stories. They have sometimes used these vids on their website (News-Sentinel.com).

You can access my stories here: Kayleen Reusser WWII stories.

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

These are different stories than the 28 listed in my book, WWII Legacies: Stories of Northeast IN Veterans.

I use my handheld scanner to scan old photos (I always try to get one of the veteran in uniform and any others), documents for verification and even book pages.

 

Finally, I pack up my gear in a small suitcase, thank the veteran for his/her time and leave. By the end of the time, I’m tired but exhilarated. I think the veteran is probably tired too! The interview is quite a mind-numbing session, but totally worth it.

Here’s why.

Each interview means I’ve made a new friend. That’s how I see the vets and how I hope they view me.

I’m thrilled because another veteran has entrusted his/her story to me. That is a privilege.

I’m also thrilled because we have another piece of our national heritage documented. So far, I’ve interviewed 100+ vets from across Indiana.

They are not just a number. Each story is unique and precious. I record each veteran’s birthday and send them cards. I’m also going to send Christmas cards this year! When possible, I visit the vets.

Sure, I wish I had begun interviewing like this 10 years ago. But I was not ready then for the commitment it requires. I believe in ‘better late than never’.

Hey, we have 100 stories that we didn’t have a few months ago!

What are you doing to preserve our nation’s heritage?

 

Elmo Rieddle served in Army Air Corps during WWII.

Elmo Rieddle served in Army Air Corps during WWII.

Elmo Rieddle served in Army Air Corps during WWII.

I’d like to recognize a vet who passed away last year. Elmo Rieddle was drafted into the Army Air Corps in 1943. He worked two years as a mechanic for the 486th Bomb Squadron at Sudbury England. After he was discharged at the war’s end, he was a member of the Army National Guard for many years. “I was glad to have served,” he told me. “I would have hated to have not served.”

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

I get excited each time it works out for me to interview another World War II vet. At this point the total number of World War II vets I’ve interviewed over the past few years is 75.

 

I’m trying to average two per week, but the wintry weather is making it a challenge.

 

This week I’m averaging three interviews. If all goes well this weekend, I’ll interview a man who has been on an Honor Flight for Northeast Indiana but that is all I know of him. Can’t wait to pick his brain tonight!

His daughter will be there to also hear the stories.

 

Tomorrow I plan to interview a female who is 101 years old! She served as a nurse during the war. Her two children will be there to help with stories she has told them. She will be only the second person I’ve ever interviewed who is a centenarian! I’m looking forward to each of these interviews. My goal is to interview as many World War II vets as possible.

 

What are you doing to keep history alive? We all can do something!

In the same vein what are you doing to thank our nation’s vets of all ages/ eras for their service? I’ll say it again—THANK YOU! We appreciate your service on our behalf!

Tell a vet thank you today!

 

Follow The Writers View for Practical Advice

newspaper stacknewspaper

If you are a Christian who is a writer or feels God has called you to be a writer but you don’t know what to do first, I recommend you join TWV1 — The Christian Writers View Group on Yahoo.
I’ve followed it for many years and have found it to be informational, biblical and best of all, written by many professional writers from across the nation! You have to apply but as far as I know, nearly everyone is accepted. Subjects are posted weekly and anyone can reply w/ pertinent information to the topic. This is not a place to sell books blatantly, although if it pertains to the subject, such as marketing, then its OK.

You must adhere to the rules, such as keeping your answers brief and on topic. The column is monitored which makes it reliable for quality posts.
There is no cost to join.
I’ve pasted my recent response to a question posted this week about newspaper writing. Since I’ve written for newspapers– Ossian Sun Riser (column), Ft Wayne News-Sentinel Features, Bluffton News-Banner– for more than a decade, I felt I could give some insight.

Do you write for newspapers? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Please leave me a comment. I love newspapers as you’ll see in my responses below.

**
Hello, everyone. Let’s talk about writing columns for newspapers for the
next days.

For those of you who are writing columns for newspapers, how did you get
your columnist job? What is the biggest challenge you face in writing your
column? And how has writing the column benefited both your writing and your
overall brand as a writer?

If you are interesting in writing newspaper columns, what questions do you
have that we could answer to help get you on your way?

David Thomas, Journalism Panelist
http://www.DavidThomasBooks.com

My response to the group:

1. How did you get your columnist job?

I had written dozens of Feature stories for the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel
newspaper when a columnist for a smaller newspaper, Ossian (IN) Sun Riser,
died. I contacted the editor, asking if he could use my help and attaching
several sample stories. He took me on and I’ve written weekly stories about
people, events, places in a rural community close to me for four years. The
pay is nominal, but I get paid on time and the work is easy-people are
friendly, they like my stories, and I enjoy giving honest, generous people
their 15 minutes of fame.

2. What is the biggest challenge you face in writing your column?

My biggest challenge is not finding ideas-I think everyone has a good story
inside! I work in a school library and find it difficult to establish
time/energy to write at home. Rarely does this keep me from submitting a
story by deadline. My editor is great to work with and I’m eager to make his
job easier.

3. How has writing the column benefited both your writing and your overall
brand as a writer?

Since people in my community know me/my name, I have been asked to speak and
take my 11 children’s books for author talks. The regular pay has helped me
feel productive and disciplined. Last year I wrote two weekly stories for
two papers.

I love writing for newspapers because you see the story in print so quickly!
And I know my stories are items that people put in scrapbooks.

Grow a Master Mind Group!

My Master Mind buddies-- Tammy Van Baalen & Laurie Gray.

My Master Mind buddies– Tammy Van Baalen & Laurie Gray.

Since starting a Master Mind group, I’ve learned to appreciate how things work together to accelerate one’s career and life. For instance, I first learned about Master Mind groups last fall when I attended a Toastmasters (public speaking) meeting of which I’m a member. I joined Toastmasters because I want to promote myself as a speaker in order to tell more people about my writing career and perhaps to teach people about writing.

At the meeting, I listened to another member give a speech about the book by Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich.

I had heard of the book, but didn’t know much about it. The Toastmaster giving the speech was articulate, used visuals, and showed enthusiasm for what the book, written 80 years ago, had done for his life and career.

At the end of the speech, I wanted to read the book and start utilizing its concepts in my own life.

After reading that book, I began to think of starting a Master Mind group. I knew of none in my area and didn’t know how to find one. So I decided to form my own group.

A couple of people in my writing support group came to mind. They were interested once they heard what it was about, and the three of us put the group together.

That was a few years ago. Through the encouragement of the members of my Master Mind, I felt compelled to work on my goals as a freelance writer and set steps of progress in my life that put me miles ahead of where I would have been without the group.

Today I have 11 children’s books with my name on the cover.

A Master Mind group is a valuable way to accelerate your goals or career. Read Hill’s books (he has others) and join a Master Mind group—or form one of your own.

Share the Story (Or Two) inside of You!

Books with some of my early stories.

Books with some of my early stories.


I believe every person has a story inside of them. They may not know about the story. In many cases I’ve helped people tell their stories by interviewing them and then with their permission writing their stories, usually in magazines and newspapers.
Nowadays I’m most known for the 11 non-fiction children’s books I’ve written. But I’ve had essays in other books, including stories in anthologies.
One of my favorite stories to have written ‘as told to’ is one from Peggy Littell about the accidental death of her husband, Matt.
More books with stories I've written from my life.

More books with stories I’ve written from my life.


The incident of Matt’s accidental vehicle death took place in Philippines. I saw the news about it in a newsltr about the Littells’ mission work hanging on the bulletin board of my church.
Intrigued by the notes of Peggy’s forgiving attitude toward the person responsible for Matt’s death, I wrote to Peggy. I believed Peggy’s story could bless other people and relayed that to her.
She agreed to allow me to interview her and then write the story. We entitled it ‘Not in Vain’. It was published in the book, The Gift of Letting Go.

That story has been published in several publications, including books and magazines. This practice is legal in the publishing world. The first time the story was accepted I sold it for First Rights. The second and subsequent times I sold it for One Time Rights. Those editors who saw those words would know the story had been published previously.

My latest Chicken Soup book-- For Bride's Soul.

My latest Chicken Soup book– For Bride’s Soul.


I’ve also published my stories in four Chicken Soup books (http://www.chickensoup.com/). The website for submissions is one of the best I’ve seen for submitting stories. Very user-friendly:
Chicken Soup for The Coffee Lover’s Soul (‘A Lesson in Forgiveness’);
Chicken Soup for Christmas 2 (‘A Lesson in Forgiveness’—same story as above);
Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul (‘The Stranger’s Offer’);
Chicken Soup … Teens Talk about Getting into College (‘Endings and Beginnings’).

I don’t see many anthologies now as several years ago when I began writing. If you’re interested in getting a personal essay published, read many Chicken Soup stories. They are all well-written and have a definite beginning, middle, end. Those are components of a good story.
Search Christian Writer’s Market Guide and other market guides for current story markets.
What story do you think you have inside of you that would be of interest to an editor and readers?