Over Christmas, it was great to be home again in North Platte, Nebraska. We put almost 2,000 miles on the car between December 22nd and this morning when the wheels hit the driveway. I loved every moment with family, but it was incredibly sweet to watch Grandpa (Willard from Canteen Dreams) give Grandma (Audrey from Canteen Dreams) her first roses from him -- 61 years into their marriage! I guess he didn't give her flowers on her birthday like the Willard in the book did!
I also had the amazing honor of meeting Mrs. Ethel Butolph, one of the ladies who met her husband through the popcorn balls that were distributed at the North Platte Canteen during World War Two. She saw my interview during the 11:30 news show on KNOP (click the link to read about the book-signing) and came to my book-signing.
While it had been a blast being back at KNOP -- where I worked for two years in college -- Mr. Carlini was there and regaled Eric and me with just a couple of his World War Two stories. I have a sneaking suspicion more than one will find it's way into the future World War Two books I hope to write. But it was absolutely incredible to meet Mrs. Butolph! Then she invited me to her house to listen to some songs written by Ms. BJ Bjorkman about the North Platte Canteen and her popcorn ball. Such fun!
Walking through her home, sitting down chatting with her, it was incredible! I guess you'd have to be a history buff to understand how huge this is! One of my regrets is that I didn't get the green light or idea from God five or ten years earlier to write these World War Two stories. Then I could have attended veterans reunions and met more of the people who lived the experiences I try to bring to life in my books.
Yet with each book God has allowed me to connect with at least one person who did live it. With Canteen Dreams it was a long phone conversation with a veteran who passed through the North Platte Canteen five times during the war and still vividly remembered each 20-40 minute stop. With Sandhill Dreams, it was spending a day with Thomas Bueckner, who while he didn't live the war, he'd invested years of his life talking to the men who did and knew their stories like his own. And now, while I race to deadline for Captive Dreams, I meet Mrs. Butolph. While her story has nothing to do with Captive Dreams, it reignites that fire of passion that I'll need to make Captive Dreams the absolute best book that I can before I turn it in on January 15th.
So if you think of it, pray that I'll have a burst of creativity, passion, and endurance to finish this race well -- and it will be a race. But it's one I want to run in a way that honors God fully.