NaNoWriMo–I Did It!


Dear Reader,

I’m happy to announce that I finished 50,000 words of my upcoming book, a memoir called Vietnam: On the Trail from Then to Now, during the month of November – thanks to NaNoWriMo!

2013-Winner-Facebook-Cover

I signed up for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year to help me finish my latest memoir. The book is now about 100,000 words long and counting, and I anticipate that the final draft will clock in at about 120,000 words once finished early next year.

The book Vietnam: On the Trail from Then to Now will explore the legacy of the Vietnam War. After my father died unexpectedly and left me a set of mysterious photographs he took during his 1968-69 tour in Vietnam, I embarked on a seven-year quest to learn his story. The book will be about my search for the truth about dad’s time in Vietnam and how the war affected him.

In April and October 2013, I spent time visiting Vietnam from Hanoi in the north to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the south and almost everywhere in between. What I found was remarkable, and I’m now trying to put it into words for readers like you.

Vietnam: On the Trail from Then to Now will honor the past, acknowledge the present, and encourage reconciliation for those who remain. It is intended to help those who have no recollection of the Vietnam War remember the veterans who served and their legacy. It will also focus on how Vietnam has changed since the war. Many books have been written about the Vietnam War, but few have focused on the years that followed and the difficult process of healing and moving on.

Vietnam Then Now

Here are now and then photos of a former American military base in Vietnam. The top photo was taken in 2013; the bottom was taken at the same location 45 years earlier, in 1968. The memoir will feature many now and then photos like these.

What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is a creative writing challenge held each year in November. Participants are challenged to write 50,000 words of a new novel from November 1 to 30. The program encourages writers to finish the first draft. Participants from around the world can join online at any time with a goal to finish 50,000 words by the end of the month. Since its founding in 1999 by San Francisco-based freelance writer Chris Baty, NaNoWriMo has grown to several hundred thousand participants who write billions of words annually.

If you’re thinking of writing a novel and need a push to get started, NaNoWriMo is for you. The challenge encourages would-be authors to write no matter how good or bad the story is. Quantity, not quality, is the name of this game. If you’re a writer, think about participating next year in NaNoWriMo! Visit their website to get started. It’s free to participate, although donations are welcome. Even if you don’t reach the 50,000 word limit, you will probably be farther along in your novel if you participate. Give it a try next year!

Vietnam: On the Trail from Then to Now will be released in 2014.

vietnam (mid)

Click here to read my previous post about NaNoWriMo.

All images property of M.G. Edwards except NaNoWriMo banner courtesy of NaNoWriMo.org. All rights reserved.

clip_image004M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra, three books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, and a 3-in-1 collection featuring the three books. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

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NaNoWriMo


Dear Reader,

I’ve been busy the past year working on my next book, a memoir called Vietnam: On the Trail from Then to Now. The book will explore the legacy of the Vietnam War. After my father died unexpectedly and left me a set of mysterious photographs he took during his 1968-69 tour in Vietnam, I embarked on a seven-year quest to uncover his story. The book will be about my search for the truth about dad’s time in Vietnam and how the war affected him.

In April and October 2013, I spent time visiting Vietnam from Hanoi in the north to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the south and almost everywhere in between. What I found was remarkable, and I’m now trying to put it into words for readers like you.

Vietnam: On the Trail from Then to Now will honor the past, acknowledge the present, and encourage reconciliation for those who remain. It is intended to help those who have no recollection of the Vietnam War remember the veterans who served and their legacy. It will also focus on how Vietnam has changed since the war. Many books have been written about the Vietnam War, but few have focused on the years that followed and the difficult process of healing and moving on.

I’ll be busy writing the memoir in November. I signed up for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) to keep me on track. If I can finish 50,000 words by the end of this month, I should be well on my way to finishing the first draft by the year’s end. Wish me luck! I won’t post many blog updates until it’s done.

nanowrimo

What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is a creative writing challenge held each year in November. Participants are challenged to write 50,000 words of a new novel from November 1 to 30. The program encourages writers to finish the first draft. Participants from around the world can join online at any time with a goal to finish 50,000 words by the end of the month. Since its founding in 1999 by San Francisco-based freelance writer Chris Baty, NaNoWriMo has grown to several hundred thousand participants who write billions of words annually.

If you’re thinking of writing a novel and need a push to get started, NaNoWriMo is for you. The challenge encourages would-be authors to write no matter how good or bad the story is. Quantity, not quality, is the name of this game. It’s not too late to participate in NaNoWriMo this year! Visit their website to get started. It’s free to participate, although donations are welcome. Even if you don’t reach the 50,000 word limit, you will probably be farther along in your novel if you participate.

Vietnam: On the Trail from Then to Now will be released in 2014…if I finish NaNoWriMo this year!

vietnam (mid)

clip_image004M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra, three books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Remembering the Diplomats on Memorial Day


“Remembering the Diplomats on Memorial Day,” a piece I wrote last year. This is dedicated to the Foreign Service officers we lost in the past year – Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, and Anne Smedinghoff. This year, please remember the diplomats and all civilians who serve their country on the front lines of freedom.

World Adventurers

Every year on Memorial Day, American flags are flown to honor members of the U.S. Armed Forces who died or were wounded in the line of duty. Their service is noble, and I appreciate that our country publicly acknowledges their sacrifices.

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Scant attention, however, is paid to the civilians who serve courageously in the line of fire. Diplomats and other civilians who work for the U.S. government are often placed in dangerous and unstable locales around the world. They have participated in every war and conflict since the Revolutionary War alongside their military colleagues. In some cases, the civilians stayed behind after the troops withdrew, as happened last year in Iraq. They were also stationed in places without the benefit of U.S. military support when unrest occurred, as happened in Libya, Syria, and in other countries that experienced upheaval during the Arab Spring.

Hundreds of American diplomats…

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Remembering the Diplomats on Memorial Day


Every year on Memorial Day, American flags are flown to honor members of the U.S. Armed Forces who died or were wounded in the line of duty. Their service is noble, and I appreciate that our country publicly acknowledges their sacrifices.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scant attention, however, is paid to the civilians who serve courageously in the line of fire. Diplomats and other civilians who work for the U.S. government are often placed in dangerous and unstable locales around the world. They have participated in every war and conflict since the Revolutionary War alongside their military colleagues. In some cases, the civilians stayed behind after the troops withdrew, as happened last year in Iraq. They were also stationed in places without the benefit of U.S. military support when unrest occurred, as happened in Libya, Syria, and in other countries that experienced upheaval during the Arab Spring.

Hundreds of American diplomats have died in the line of duty. Their deaths were caused by natural disasters, diseases, killings, assassinations, and trying to save others’ lives. Two memorial plaques in the entrance hall of the State Department list the names of the 231 diplomats who have died in the line of duty since William Palfrey was lost at sea in 1780. More recently, Brian Adkins was killed in his home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 2007, and David Foy was killed in 2006 by a car bomb in Karachi, Pakistan. This figure does not include the 52 Americans held hostage for 444 days during the 1979-80 Iran Hostage Crisis when students and militants overran the then-U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The International News offers a sobering analysis of the history of violence against American diplomats, reporting that 111 have been killed or assassinated since 1780. According to the State Department, more ambassadors than U.S. generals or admirals have been killed since World War II. The U.S. Diplomacy Project tells the tales of diplomats who were put in harm’s way while serving overseas.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA         While 231 may not sound like a large number, consider that at any given time there are only about 11,000 American diplomats versus the more than 2.5 million members of the U.S. Armed Forces. A rough comparison of casualties during the Iraq War in 2008 revealed that personnel working for the State Department in Iraq during 2003-08 had a casualty rate of about 50% that of their military counterparts. As the events of September 11, 2001, showed, you don’t have be involved in active combat to be a casualty of war and terrorism.

Civilians who serve our country overseas work for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other U.S. Government agencies or as contractors. Many support the U.S. military and diplomatic corps in hostile and dangerous conditions. They are unsung heroes who are rarely featured on the evening news or in movies. They labor in obscurity to protect the freedoms that Americans enjoy.

The Uniform Monday Holiday Act (Public Law 90-363) set aside Memorial Day as a federal holiday to be celebrated each year on the last day of May. The law, however, does not specify who or what it commemorates. That’s up to you to decide. In the minds of many Americans, Memorial Day is a day to honor the U.S. Armed Forces, but this was not always so. The holiday known in the late 1800’s as Decoration Day recognized the veterans of the Union Army who fought in the American Civil War. After World War I, the generally accepted meaning of the day was to honor all Americans, military or civilian, who died in any war. This changed following World War II. It’s time to return to the days when we acknowledged the efforts of all who serve their country bravely in and out of uniform.

This Memorial Day, amid the barbeques, car races, fireworks, and gatherings, remember the diplomats and other civilians who faithfully serve their country in harm’s way.

Happy Memorial Day. God bless America, and God bless those who serve our country.

NFATC

Click here to read my 2007 post on Memorial Day.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of State. The photos belong to the author.

clip_image001M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. His collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.