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Thursday, February 26, 2015 12 comments

In Memorium...U.S. Army CSM (Ret.) William “Bill” Ryan

Sadly I received an email Wednesday that I've dreaded for some time.
"It is with heavy hearts that we inform you of the death of Command Sargent Major William F. Ryan (RET).  On the 23rd of February 2015 he quietly crossed the BAR, as he would say." --Corrine Button (daughter.)
Private Bill Ryan, 1945
I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing "Bill" on several occasions when I was a beat reporter for my first newspaper, the old Hometown News in Melbourne, Fla.
Since then, we became friends and in the years that passed, I featured him several times in my blog - and always regret that I just missed the opportunity to meet him in Arnhem, Holland during the 69th anniversary of Operation Market Garden.
With a twinkle in his eye, Bill said on occasion that he was the original Private Ryan and I will always remember him as a hero, a patriot and a class act.
I will always treasure the letters he typed and mailed to me in response to my emails over the last ten years. (It was always fun teasing him about the more than 50 chapters he'd written in what he called the "book he would never write.")

Bill, 2013 (Credit & Full Bio: Xav Van Daele)
In his honor, my last post about Bill, (June 6, 2014,) is reposted below the Tennyson poem.
Rest In Peace, Command Sergeant Major Ryan. You were truly one of the founding members of the Greatest Generation.

Crossing the Bar

by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Sunset and evening star,
  And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
  When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
    Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
    Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
    When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
    The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
    When I have crost the bar.
Seventy years ago today, the Allied invasion of mainland Europe began - and D-Day became an instant part of our global history.
From the 156,000 men who stormed the beaches or parachuted into enemy territory, I have the honor of calling one D-Day veteran a friend.

U.S. Army Command Sgt. Major (Ret.) William "Bill" Ryan (2006)

U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major (Ret.) William “Bill” Ryan is a sprightly 89, but he lives in Melbourne, Fla., and I'm out here, so I hadn't heard much from Bill this past year.

I was a little worried...

...and then, yesterday, I saw this picture (#17 of 31) on a Yahoo! slideshow...

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
(From Yahoo:
Command Sgt Major Retired Bill Ryan, who landed at Omaha Beach 70 years ago tomorrow, kisses a young French boy at a ceremony honoring the First Infantry Division above Omaha Beach June 5, 2014 in Colleville-sur-Mer, France.)

My first reaction? Talk about making my day... I punched the air in absolute and pure delight.
"You bloody well did it, Bill! You made it to the 70th anniversary!!"

(Bill's traveled back in Normandy many times, but had told me on numerous occasions that the 70th would be the last big "hurrah" for many of the remaining WWII veterans.)

PS: On D-Day last year, I shared Bill's story. If interested, click HERE.

PPS: Want to hear from Bill himself? Check out this 2-min YouTube video (from 2012.)

Cheers, Bill. A sincere and heartfelt thanks to you, and all your mates who made it home.
Like so many others, I hold dear the memories of all those who paid the ultimate price.

We will never forget. 


Wednesday, February 18, 2015 25 comments

Moving On - Moving Out


Okay, it's February 18th! Time to focus on my New Year's Resolutions.

One of my biggest failings in 2014 was my will to blog. I've decided to dust off the typewriter covers, sit my arse down and remember why I enjoy blogging in the first place.

Like many of you, I love writing, I love sharing, and by golly, blogging can be fun.

Or it's supposed to be.

I visited five random bloggers Monday, and was surprised that two were "taking an extended break," while another writer said she was "done with blogging."

"You Can't Leave Now! All That Effort..."

What's happened to so many of us in the last 12-18 months?

Saturation point in the blogging community?

Social media explosion diluting own brand, time and energy?

No "return of investment," as in followers or book/agent deals?

I don't have the answer, but perhaps it's a mixture of the above?

Obviously, there are still some amazing opportunities to grow your blog (A-Z challenge anyone?) but I think, for example, that cover reveals and book launch tours have bullied blog hops into submission.

Seriously, if I saw my old blog hop today, I would, like totally pull a Valley Girl and be like, "That was so 2013.")

However, I don't want to quit blogging.

Not after all the blood, sweat and beers spilled in the making of this little blog that could (especially now all my "Spammates" in China and Russia have lifted me over 200,000 views.)

For (the rest of) 2015, I'm going old school with new vitality (not found in small blue pills sent in little brown packages.)

I will  try reconnect with those who've given up on me (I am a recovering non-return commenter.)

I will make the effort to blog more frequently than once in every 39.7 days.

I will continue to share good news when it happens!

And now that the family is moving from HI to VA, I'll have a "blog new-name" reveal on St. Patrick's Day, (March 17) - but trust me, after the Coconut Bra/Grass Skirt incident, there's not much more to be revealed :)

SIGGY Lives :)

Happy writing, and I leave you with a quote from the smartest man who's never coached in the NFL (mainly because he's a fictional TV character.)

 "Clear eyes, full heart; can't lose."   --- Coach Eric Taylor

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 11 comments

Review: "Beyond Belief" by the Angels' Josh Hamilton (with Tim Keown)


I love Angels baseball and I love memoirs, so when I recently found a copy of Beyond Belief - Finding the Strength to Come Back by Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton, it was a no-brainer.

You see, I knew the 18-year-old left-handed slugger was the #1 pick in the 1999 baseball draft.

I knew Hamilton earned a $3.96 million signing bonus by the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

And many people who follow baseball know that Hamilton, (who co-wrote the book with ESPN's Tim Keown), had some drug and alcohol related issues in his early days of playing professional baseball.

The word "some" is, however, the understatement of the decade when it comes to Hamilton, who turns 34 in May.

I had no idea how bad, how quickly and how far Hamilton fell... and how close he came to ending up as just another dead crack head in a rundown trailer park.

Originally released in 2008 (and updated as a paperback in 2010) Hamilton is a courageous man who honestly shares his very sordid free fall from a gifted life many of us can only dream of living.

I was speechless at the end of many chapters, and kept wondering how in God's name could he ever come back from this latest self-inflicted disaster.

According to Hamilton, it was God's grace and God's timing.

Amen to that, then.

Since October 2005, when he accepted the spiritual assistance that gave him the strength to turn his back on drugs, Hamilton has worked hard and earned a second chance to live the life he was meant to lead.

Except for several well publicized relapses in 2009 and 2012, Hamilton has lived a clean, sober life for nearly ten years and continues to play in the Major Leagues. (Signed by Tampa Bay, he made his MLB debut with the Cincinnati Reds in 2007, played five seasons with the Texas Rangers and signed with the Angels in December 2012.)

A native of North Carolina, he is married to long-time love, Katie, and father to their four daughters.

Beyond Belief is a such an inspiring story, and I would highly recommend it for anyone fighting an addiction, struggling to find hope or simply wanting to see how God does indeed work in mysterious ways. (I guess there really are Angels in the outfield :)

I've always wanted Hamilton to play well in an Angels uniform, but now all I want is to share his amazing journey -- especially in the last decade.

"Well played, Hamilton, well played."


Blurb From Amazon:

Josh Hamilton was the first player chosen in the first round of the 1999 baseball draft. He was destined to be one of those rare "high-character " superstars. But in 2001, working his way from the minors to the majors, all of the plans for Josh went off the rails in a moment of weakness. What followed was a 4-year nightmare of drugs and alcohol, estrangement from friends and family, and his eventual suspension from baseball.

BEYOND BELIEF details the events that led up to the derailment. Josh explains how a young man destined for fame and wealth could allow his life to be taken over by drugs and alcohol. But it is also the memoir of a spiritual journey that breaks through pain and heartbreak and leads to the spectacular rebirth of his major-league career.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Josh Hamilton makes no excuses and places no blame on anyone other than himself. He takes responsibility for his poor decisions and believes his story can help millions who battle the same demons. "I have been given a platform to tell my story" he says. "I pray every night I am a good messenger." Also, as part of the paperback edition of BEYOND BELIEF, Josh's journey has been updated to include developments in his recovery


Found on Zimbio.com

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 19 comments

IWSG - Writing On - Moving Out


Bloody hell, it's been a while since I've posted with the Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by Mr. Alex J. Cavanaugh the incorrigible supporter of all things bloggery and writery.

Since my last literary selfie, I've finally put WIP #1 (a memoir) to bed. There may be some late-night terrors (editing) in the next few months, but I. Am. Done. (in a happy way.)

I've now switched to fiction. WIP #2 is a thriller (the writing is very, very scary), but I'm having so much fun figuring out what's supposed to happen next.

(One of my sub-heroes won't tell me what he's supposed to do next, so yes, mister, you ARE in a timeout for two chapters.)

It's also helped me realize I'm not so much a Pantser, but more, shall we say, like a Boxers-er.

My goal *was* to have a full, first draft by St. Patrick's Day (any excuse for a celebratory drink... hmmm, not that I need an excuse on Paddy's Day... #Score, but still.)

I won't make that deadline, but hope to finish by the end of summer!! (Come back to visit next month when I choose the exact year :)

I know!! Let's Dig Our Way to the Mainland!

My current insecurities revolve around moving next month.

After nearly four years, we're moving to Fairfax Co., VA, and while I know life on the East Coast is going to be a lot of fun (if not a lot of sun), it's going to be hard moving from Hawaii, where field trips to the beach are only complicated by having to choose which beach to visit.

"Hang on son, we'll boogie-board to Virginia!"

My blog name will obviously change, and I hope to be able to offer visitors a brand new look later in the spring (of this year!)

All in all, it's going to be an interesting few months!

Sincere THANKS to those who continue to comment and support me through wise words and cheap laughs.

I bow down to your generous and giving spirit, and please know I'm a better writer because of the confidence you bestow -- and the inspiration you offer.

I'm not going to miss Hawaii*                               (*That's a lie.)

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