Here I Come Again

On the Wings of Grace Cover

It has been a while since I posted anything here so there’s a lot to share and I’ll get right to it.

The audio version of On Wings of the Morning  came out last October, while the fourth book in the series, On the Wings of Grace, was published in January. In addition, I’ve finished On the Wings of Faith and On the Wings of Hope, the fourth and fifth books in the series. They’ll come out in early 2018 and 2019 because I’ve written a novel about a young Confederate soldier who is captured early in the war and learns to play baseball while in prison. It’s called Diamond Duty and will be available in February of next year. I’ve also finished Mata’s Story, which recounts the events in the Beyond the Blue Horizon series from point of view of Mata, Otto’s sister. eLectio Publishing (my publisher) hasn’t set a date for the release of  Mata’s Story yet

And I just heard this week from David Draffin, who recorded the audio version of the first book, and he’ll be working on On the Wings of Eagles. I expect that will be ready in early November.

Thanks for your interest in the series and for being so encouraging. Your kindness makes writing these books a pleasure. I’ll be back with more in the following weeks.

 

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An Audio Version of “On Wings of the Morning” Will Soon Be Available!

Audio Book Cover Final

I am pleased to announce that the audio version of my novel “On Wings of the Morning” is finished and should be available on Amazon.com in a week or ten days, I heartily recommend my narrator, David Draffin. I hope you enjoy his reading of the story. (More later on the whole process.)

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A Sneak Peek at a Work in Progress

Noonday DC-3

Here are the first two chapters from Book Six in the Beyond the Blue Horizon Series, On the Wings of Midday, which should, with any luck, appear in early 2018. Mark your calendars!

Chapter 1

Dead Reckoning

May, 1964

Otto was flying. He was in one of the M & M Airlines DC-3’s, and he was in trouble. Taking the morning flight from Pioneer Lake to Minneapolis, he had run into an unexpected snow squall, and the wings were loading up with ice faster than the deicing boots could handle it. He looked over and saw his co-pilot was Pete, Mata’s dead husband. His brother-in-law’s face was gray and his eyes bloodshot. Otto saw that he kept bony fleshless hands on the control yoke “Pete!” he exclaimed. “You can’t be here! You died over a decade ago!”

Pete turned to him with a toothless grin. “You’re in trouble, Otto, and I’ve come to help you out.”

“That’s great! Thank you so much!”

“Not so fast, there cowboy! I’ve come to help you to the place where I am!” He let out a deranged laugh: “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Now I’ve got you, my friend!”

And my little dog, too, Otto thought. He had the strangest thoughts at the most inopportune times. Maybe he could click his heels and whisper “There’s no place like home,” and he’d wake up in his bed.

This is just crazy, he thought, but it’s worth a try. Pete pushed the column all the way forward, and the airliner fell into a sickening dive, Pete howling with maniacal laughter as it dropped through the clouds. Otto saw the ground rushing to meet him and thought, in for a dollar, in for a dime. He took his feet off the rudder pedals, closed his eyes, clicked his heels and whispered, “There’s no place like home; there’s no place like home…”

He opened his eyes to a white mist. He was no longer in the pilot’s seat, but somehow floating above the ground. I think I know what happens next, he thought. It will be good to see Papa again. He found himself rising, and he knew he would end up hovering at the edge of a familiar forest with a building that looked like a Greek temple at the other end, a set table in front of it. As he watched, he saw the forms of his father and friends come out of the temple and take their places at the table. Again he heard his father speak to him in his mind. “Otto, mein Sohn, come sit with us.”

Otto caught his breath. He had never been asked to do this before. Did that mean he was dead or worse? Maybe he would become like the Pete thing he had seen earlier. When he had seated himself, his father embraced him in a way that did not involve contact. He felt engulfed by a warmth from his head to his feet like nothing he had ever felt before, and he associated it with a spiritual kind of love. His father addressed him directly. “Otto, perhaps you are wondering why you are here. You came close to being with us for eternity, but your time is not yet come. There is still much for you to do. I want you to be careful, and do not neglect your family as you have in the past. Do you understand me?

Otto nodded mutely. “That is all I have to say this time. Auf wiedersehn, mein Kind, remember me…”His father and the rest faded from sight, and Otto felt himself fall. Here we go again, Otto thought. Couldn’t his father just send him a letter? It would be easier on everyone, although he knew exactly what to expect. He fell faster and faster until it seemed he would slam into the earth, but at the last moment he slowed like an aircraft flaring for a landing. He landed on something soft and then knew no more.

“Otto! Otto! Wake up! You’re having some sort of nightmare!”

Otto opened his eyes to the familiar sight of his bedroom. The lamp on Betty’s nightstand was on, and she was propped on one elbow, looking concerned. “This one must have been a bad one,” she murmured. “You were pulling on something and shouting ‘Pull up! Pull up!’”

Otto ran a hand through his hair. “Yeah, I thought I was on a flight and Pete was the co-pilot but he was different. He looked like one of those what do you call thems?”

“Zombies,” Betty said. “The girls have read about them in some of those comic books they like so well.”

“You let them read stuff like that?”

Betty sighed. “I try to save my battles with them for the important stuff.”

“Oh. Anyhow, Pete put the plane into a dive to take me, as he said, ‘to the place where I am.’ It was so scary. I tried to pull the plane out, but nothing worked. Then—“

Betty sighed. “I know. You had one of your visions or whatever they are.”

Otto nodded. “Yes.”

“What did your father say this time?”

“What he usually says, but he told me to not neglect my family.”

“I’ve been giving you that message for years, and you didn’t have to go to heaven to get it, my dear.”

“Well, either way would be preferable to going where Pete said he was to get messages.”

She laid her hand on his. “It was only a dream, Otto.”

“I’m not so sure.”

“Do you think Pete is in Hell?”

He shook his head. “No. I think the powers that be were trying to tell me something with Pete’s appearance.

“What do you think that was?”

“I have no idea. We’ll have to find out.”

She leaned over and kissed him. “I’ll help you.”

“Thank you, my love.”

“You’re welcome. Do you think I’ll be able to sleep the rest of the night?”

“I certainly hope so.”

“Good night, then. Again.

“Good night.” Otto pulled the covers up and fell into a deep sleep until morning.

Chapter 2

Troubled Waters

June, 1964

Otto had just finished his third cup of coffee when he heard someone coming up the walk. No, make that two someones, he thought. It’s either Marion or Maria. Kerchner, you’re a deductive genius. Of course, it could be someone else. I never know who’s going to show up or what’s going to happen. He thought back to his adventures in the Amazon jungle a few years ago. He shuddered and it wasn’t just from the cool air. He never wanted to go through anything like that again.

He heard steps approaching the door and then wondered if he should go into the living room. He decided it was a father’s duty to know what his daughter was doing so he stayed put. He liked this Button boy, but he had been his age once and he knew what could happen.

The steps slowed and then stopped. He heard Marion’s voice distinctly, Carlton’s less so because it was lower pitched. “I had a lovely time, Carlton,” Marion said in the particular tone of voice that young women use with young men they are trying to impress.

“I did, too, Marion. Gosh, you’re so pretty and smell so nice. And your dress is beautiful.”

Pour it on thick, Otto thought. Any thicker and I’m coming out there to break up Romeo and Juliet.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, right?”

“You bet. You’ll pick me up at 2 for the picnic?”

“I’ll be right on time.”

“You always are. You’re so wonderful.”

I may be sick right here, Otto thought. Remember they’re young, Kerchner. You were probably worse than this.

“Marion, may I tell you something?”

“Certainly.”

“I love you.”

A brief pause ensued.

“And I love you, Carlton.”

Silence again, and Otto knew they were kissing. Whoa, this was a whole new ball game, he thought, and he wasn’t thinking about baseball. Neither was young Carlton. He would have a word with little Miss Marion.

She came into the kitchen, closing the big wooden door behind her. “Daddy! Have you been sitting there all the time?”

Otto nodded grimly.

“So you heard everything we said?”

“Yes, I did. Sit down, Marion.”

She sat, looking like a cornered animal.

“What’s this business about ‘I love you’ and “I love you too, Carlton’?”

“That’s how we feel about each other.”

“You’re too young to be saying such things.”

“How old were you when you dated Mom?”

“That’s immaterial. Things were different then. Boys were different.”

“From what I’ve heard, you were about the same. And what are you doing eavesdropping on my private conversations?”

“This is my house, Marion, and I’ll damn well sit where I want and listen to what I want and do what I want. You’re grounded for the rest of the weekend to give you time to think about what you’re saying and doing.”

Daddy! That’s not fair!”

“Life’s not fair, Marion. Surely you know that by now.”

She burst into tears and slammed her purse down on the table. “I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!” and ran down the hall to her room.

A few seconds later, Betty emerged from their bedroom, wiping sleep from her eyes. “What in the world is going on?”

Otto stood and rinsed his coffee cup out in the sink. “Nothing. Just a little father-daughter chat.”

“Sounded like a big father-daughter argument to me.”

Otto shrugged. “Call it what you will. We’ll talk about it more in the morning. By the way, you’ll have the services of Miss Marion the rest of the weekend. I grounded her.”

“For what? She’s such a good child.”

“I’ll tell you in the morning.”

“You’ll tell me now, mister, or I’ll ask her.”

“All right, all right. She told the Button boy she loved him.”

“So?”

“Isn’t she too young for that sort of thing?”

Betty sighed. “Otto Kerchner, you’ve been around women all your life. To think you don’t understand them any better is simply amazing to me. Don’t you know a girl that age doesn’t know what she’s talking about, really? She couldn’t. Understanding love takes years of living, give and take, going through good times and bad, staying together and upholding each other no matter what. Of course she doesn’t understand love.”

“I’m just trying to protect her.”

“You know we can’t protect them, no matter how hard we try and how much we want to. Enough has happened to this family that you should know that. I’ll chalk this up to crazy father thinking and we’ll talk more about Marion’s punishment later. But now, to bed.”

Otto sighed. He had run afoul of one of the women in his life again. When would he learn? He simply didn’t know.

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An Excerpt from a Largely Unwritten Novel

DC-3 at Noon

On the Wings of Noontide–a novel by Dan Verner– Book Six of the Beyond the Blue Horizon Series

I was talking with a friend the other day about the different meanings of the word “love” and how they have have different connotations depending on the generation of the person using the word. Boomers (ahem) see the statement “I love you” between two people as being a romantic declaration with all its attendant implications. Not so Millenials, who see the sentence as roughly equivalent to “Love ya!” which may be said to most anyone the speaker is close to. I got to thinking about these differences and decided to write a short episode which will appear in On the Wings of Noontide (the sixth novel in the Beyond the Blue Horizon series, slated for publication in January, 2017). The writing is part of Chapter Two because Chapter One always begins with one of Otto’s dreams. Thanks to my wise and anonymous friend for pointing this out. I hadn’t noticed it. And anonymous friend, you know who you are. Thanks!

In June, 1964, Maria and Marion Kerchner are recent graduates of Pioneer Lake High School and headed for the University of Wisconsin at Madison, planning majors in art and business respectively. It’s a Friday evening the week after graduation, and Otto is sitting up in the kitchen waiting for his girls to come home. Maria is still out with her steady beau, Tom Rogers, while Marion’s boyfriend Carlton Button, a varsity baseball player for the high school, escorts her to the door. It’s a cool evening, so Otto has the door open with the screen door between him and the young couple. He can hear every word they say.

                                                   Chapter 2

                                               Troubled Waters

                                                  June, 1964

Otto had just finished his third cup of coffee when he heard someone coming up the walk. No, make that two someones, he thought. It’s either Marion or Maria. Kerchner, you’re a deductive genius. Of course, it could be someone else. I never know who’s going to show up or what’s going to happen. He thought back to his adventures in the Amazon jungle a few years ago. He shuddered and it wasn’t just from the cool air. He never wanted to go through anything like that again.

He heard steps approaching the door and then wondered if he should go into the living room. He decided it was a father’s duty to know what his daughter was doing so he stayed put. He liked this Button boy, but he had been his age once and he knew what could happen.

The steps slowed and then stopped. He heard Marion’s voice distinctly, Carlton’s less so because it was lower pitched. “I had a lovely time, Carlton,” Marion said in the particular tone of voice that young women use with young men they are trying to impress.

“I did, too, Marion. Gosh, you’re so pretty and smell so nice. And your dress is beautiful.”

Pour it on thick, Otto thought. Any thicker and I’m coming out there to break up Romeo and Juliet.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, right?”

“You bet. You’ll pick me up at 2 for the picnic?”

“I’ll be right on time.”

“You always are. You’re so wonderful.”

I may be sick right here, Otto thought. Remember they’re young, Kerchner. You were probably worse than this.

“Marion, may I tell you something?”

“Certainly.”

“I love you.”

A brief pause ensued.

“And I love you, Carlton.”

Silence again, and Otto knew they were kissing. Whoa, this was a whole new ball game, he thought, and he wasn’t thinking about baseball. Neither was young Carlton. He would have a word with little Miss Marion.

She came into the kitchen, closing the big wooden door behind her. “Daddy! Have you been sitting there all the time?”

Otto nodded grimly.

“So you heard everything we said?”

“Yes, I did. Sit down, Marion.”

She sat, looking like a cornered animal.

“What’s this business about ‘I love you’ and “I love you too, Carlton’?”

“That’s how we feel about each other.”

“You’re too young to be saying such things.”

“How old were you when you dated Mom?”

“That’s immaterial. Things were different then. Boys were different.”

“From what I’ve heard, you were about the same. And what are you doing eavesdropping on my private conversations?”

“This is my house, Marion, and I’ll damn well sit where I want and listen to what I want and do what I want. You’re grounded for the rest of the weekend to give you time to think about what you’re saying and doing.”

Daddy! That’s not fair!”

“Life’s not fair, Marion. Surely you know that by now.”

She burst into tears and slammed her purse down on the table. “I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!” and ran down the hall to her room.

A few seconds later, Betty emerged from their bedroom, wiping sleep from her eyes. “What in the world is going on?”

Otto stood and rinsed his coffee cup out in the sink. “Nothing. Just a little father-daughter chat.”

“Sounded like a big father-daughter argument to me.”

Otto shrugged. “Call it what you will. We’ll talk about it more in the morning. By the way, you’ll have the services of Miss Marion the rest of the weekend. I grounded her.”

“For what? She’s such a good child.”

“I’ll tell you in the morning.”

“You’ll tell me now, mister, or I’ll ask her.”

“All right, all right. She told the Button boy she loved him.”

“So?”

“Isn’t she too young for that sort of thing?”

Betty sighed. “Otto Kerchner, you’ve been around women all your life. To think you don’t understand them any better is simply amazing to me. Don’t you know a girl that age doesn’t know what she’s talking about, really? She couldn’t. Understanding love takes years of living, give and take, going through good times and bad, staying together and upholding each other no matter what. Of course she doesn’t understand love.”

“I’m just trying to protect her.”

“You know we can’t protect them, no matter how hard we try and how much we want to. Enough has happened to this family that you should know that. I’ll chalk this up to crazy father thinking and we’ll talk more about Marion’s punishment later. But now, to bed.”

Otto sighed. He had run afoul of one of the women in his life again. When would he learn? He simply didn’t know.

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Here’s a Link to my Instagram Account

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The Fifth in a Series

Yep, this is what it looks like.

I am pleased to tell you that I have finished the first draft of On the Wings of Faith, Book Five in the Beyond the Blue Horizon series. This book took nearly a year to write since I had to deal with my own diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer last spring through the fall, and my father underwent a number of medical crises resulting in his death in late January. I anticipate subsequent books won’t take as long, maybe more like three months. Book Five should appear early in 2017. Thanks for all your interest, encouragement and insights into plot and character. And just FYI, the word count stands at 81,115–for now. I took a week off and now it’s time to revise.

In other writing news, I’m about halfway through my retelling of the story told in Beyond the Blue Horizon from the protagonist’s (Otto Kerchner’s ) sister’s (Mata’s) point of view. It will be called Mata’s Story, and should run about 40,000 words, which is a short novel.

I’m also investigating the possibility to turning Otto’s story into a children’s book. Stay tuned!

And there’s one more project I’m contemplating, and that is a novel about a Confederate prisoner of war who plays baseball with his comrades against their guards. this book is going to take a whole lot of research. So far, I’ve learned that the sides played ball for about eighteen months and then quit because the conditions in the camps were too terrible to even think about a game. I plan to base the main character on an ancestor who was in the Georgia militia. I’ll have to find out if he was anywhere near Manassas for either of those battles.

I look forward to completing these projects and sharing them with you. Hold on!

Yep, this is what it looks like.

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“Mata’s Story”: The Beginning

Earlier this month, I blogged about a novel based on the Beyond the Blue Horizon series, which relates the adventures of Otto Kerchner, a Wisconsin farm boy who learns to fly, serves in the ETO, is badly burned and comes home to a changes post-war America. A number of readers told me that the found Mata, Otto’s sister, an interesting character, so I started a novel telling his story from her point of view. And so Mata’s Story was born.

I made the writing my contribution to National Novel Writing Month (or, as the hip kids call it, NaNoWriMo), with the intention of achieving the project’s goal of 50,000 words. That didn’t happen–I fell far short with 12,733 words, but I made a good start on the book. Now I want to turn to On the Wings of Faith, Book 5 in the Beyond the Blue Horizon series, which stands at about 23,00 words, and return to Mata’s Story every month until it’s done in September, 2015. I hope you’ll follow this blog with its periodic updates of a writer’s progress. Thank you, and enjoy!

                                                             Mata’s Story
                                                               Chapter 1
                                                    By Way of Introduction
                                                         November, 2014
      So many readers have asked me how I came to write the story of Otto Kerchner, war hero, father to a wonderful family, successful businessman and patriot throughout his life, and the answer is, I almost didn’t.
     

A dairy farm of the type Otto grew up on

The farm where much of Mata’s Story takes place.

I went to meet Major Kerchner at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Fly-In last year at Osh Kosh, Wisconsin, about a four-hour drive from Pioneer Lake where he lives, near the airport he has been associated with for so long. I wanted to interview him for a book I wanted to write about his life, but he steadfastly and politely refused to give me any more information than was contained in public records. My project would have dried up had it not been for his sister Mata. She had accompanied him to Osh Kosh that year, and I think she had grown a little bored sitting by while Otto was chatting, signing autographs, and flying off (literally) for various demonstrations and joy rides. So she talked to me through the long hours underneath the tent and on walks through the Wisconsin meadows. She was 90 then, and still firm of mind and strong of body. Over those five days and in months of talks by phone and in person, she told me all I needed to know about Otto for my book—and in so doing, she told her own story. Here it is.

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