AN AUTHOR’S POST-SCRIPT

John Wemlinger’s Newsletter to readers

Volume 1, Edition 2

THE GENESIS OF A BOOK

In the past few months I have spoken to dozens of service clubs and spoken to half a dozen or so book clubs about my newest book, Before the Snow Flies. One of the most commonly asked questions is, “How did you come up with the idea for this book?” So let me tell you:

In the early spring of 1970, I was assigned as the personnel officer for the 1st Battalion, 68th Armor in Baumholder, Germany. Early one Sunday morning, the phone rang in my quarters and the staff duty officer told me that I was needed at the battalion’s aid station where a soldier had been found dead, a suspected suicide. I was not prepared for what I saw. A soldier, one of the battalion’s medics who had access to the controlled drugs safe, had injected himself with 19 morphine syrettes. Later we found a “Dear John letter” from a girl back home.

That experience has stayed with me all of these years. Suicide is one of the top ten leading causes of death in the US today. 47,000 people in the US killed themselves in 2017 and the rate among military and veterans of the military is 1.5 times higher than in the civilian sector. More alarming is that while 7 of the top ten causes of death are declining, suicide is among the three that are increasing.

Suicide awareness is a responsibility that all of us must share. Kevin Hines, a suicide survivor who lectures on suicide prevention says that if anyone would have said anything to him in the minutes before he jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, he wouldn’t have done it. So the lesson is clear, each of us can be that good Samaritan who says something to that person standing at the rail, sitting alone in their room for long periods of time, or expressing depression and anxiety. And then, if they don’t seek it themselves, it behooves us to lead them to proper care. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. If they won’t call, then call for them. The only way the suicide rate in this country is going to diminish is if we all care enough.

Before the Snow Flies deals with the difficult subject of suicide, but its message is one of hope. Please consider reading the book. I think you will come away with a better understanding of how people, especially our military and veterans of military service can fall into that abyss and what you can do to help pull them out.

Volume 1, Edition 1

March, 2019— Before the Snow Flies has just gone live on Amazon and Ingraham Spark and I am taking this brief moment to bask in the wonderfully warm light of accomplishment. This book has special meaning to me for several important reasons. First, I have chosen to set it right here in my hometown of Onekama, Michigan. I can hear you saying, “I don’t know where that is.” And this doesn’t surprise me. It is a small village just a mere seven miles from the start of M-22, which USA Today designated several years ago as one of America’s most scenic highways. But there’s a good chance that you still don’t have a clue where I’m talking about. So, just Google it. And then make plans to visit up here. You won’t be disappointed.

There is a second reason why this book is important to me. I am concerned about America’s increasing rate of suicide and especially concerned about the alarmingly high rate of suicide among America’s servicemen and women and her legions of veterans. I wanted to give the reader a really good story that would engage them in this dark subject while offering hope and spurring their interest in this part of the continental United States that is northwestern Michigan, or as I prefer to call it, Paradise.

So, now that I feel like I have accomplished my goals in writing Before the Snow Flies, it’s time to get on with the next step: get the book into the hands of as many readers as possible. Unlike some authors, I really enjoy this part of the “game”.

Book Clubs…men’s, women’s, couples…contact me!

Service Clubs…Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis, Lions, etc…contact me!

Veteran’s Organizations…American Legion, VFW, etc. I speak your language.

Assisted Living Facilities looking for a good program…contact me!

Church groups wanting to know more about my books…contact me!

Or email me directly: jwemlinger46@gmail.com

****************************************

Reviews of my books:

I am pleased that both Winter’s Bloom and Operation Light Switch have received favorable reviews. Here are two by professional book reviewers:

Winter’s Bloom

Review by : Tom Powers, Michigan in Books

Where to start? Frankly, this was a book I was hesitant to pick up. The cover art and blurb described the book as “a poignant tale of loss, love, and redemption” involving a war hero and a wealthy widow. Romance and heaps of sentimentality just aren't in my reading wheelhouse. Then I saw the dedication which, in part, reads, “In admiration of the citizens of Flint, Michigan, who endured the incredible corporate and governmental ineptitude resulting in the Great Recession of 2009. Now you must endure the monumental failure of government that caused Flint’s 2016 water crisis. You are America’s most resilient city!” As a Flint native, this was the first time a book’s dedication was the hook that made me turn to page one.  Ironically, only a small portion of the book takes place in Flint but it does contribute to one of the book’s major character’s development. 

Rock Graham is retired after a thirty-year career as a Flint shop rat. A few wise investments and a lot of 60-hour weeks on the line have provided him with a comfortable retirement in Flint where he lives in a pleasant apartment above the garage of his life-long friend and his wife. And although the year is set in 2008, Rock is not greatly affected by the collapsing economy or GM’s flirt with bankruptcy. Rock is also a Vietnam vet and PTSD is still a constant presence in his life. With his landlords heading to Florida for the winter, Rock decides to rent a house for the winter an hour north of Holland on the Lake Michigan shore. Within a week of moving in an injured, malnourished border collie shows up on his doorstep and is quickly adopted. 

Claire Van Zandt lives in Holland and has been widowed for three years and still occasionally considers grief counseling. She is also obscenely rich and although she owns three houses, five cars, and the money still flows in from her dead husband’s company like water over Niagara Falls, she gives millions away every year to food banks and other charities. She is especially aware of how the economic situation is hurting the poor. One daughter is planning her marriage and the older daughter is putting her job before her child and trying to make a go of a stressed marriage. On a whim, Claire decides to spend some time at the family cottage an hour north of Holland with her constant companion, a yellow lab. As fate, or the author, would have it, Claire’s cottage is next door to the one Rock has rented for the winter. 

The dogs bring the two neighbors together for long walks on the beach. Rock and Claire enjoy each other’s company and a budding friendship develops. The friendship results in thoughtful discussions of the day’s issues and glimpses into their backgrounds and lives. Each slowly begins to inhabit the other’s life, and love blossoms. And with it come a number of problems, including medical, family, and social. Wemlinger has written an often moving and sensitive book about two aging loners who find someone to share their life with without drowning the story in sentimentality or melodrama.

The author, a retired U. S. Army Colonel, has written an honest book about to two characters and their lives before and after they met. Rock and Claire seem as real as the reader’s next door neighbors. And whether they are discussing the issues and economics of 2008, dealing with friends, family problems, health, or the displeasure of Claire’s oldest daughter on her mother’s choice of a companion the book very seldom hits a false note. This is not so much a modern romance as it is a novel of two single people, on the cusp of old age, who are lucky enough to find someone to enjoy and share their lives with. John Wemlinger has written an impressive and very promising first novel.

Operation Light Switch

Review by: Foreword Clarion Reviews, 5 of 5 stars

Operation Light Switch is a superior military thriller that captures the essence of what it means to serve one’s country.

In Operation Light Switch, John Wemlinger proffers a wronged hero and a scarily plausible world scenario. It’s a meticulously written story that hits all the right notes.

 Cleveland Spires, a highly decorated and respected former US Army command sergeant major, was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. After he is released from prison, he returns to his hometown. For his greatest enemy, however, his prison term wasn’t enough. The crime’s real perpetrator is too paranoid to let Spires live out the rest of his life.

 Through a series of unusual but plausible events, Spires learns of a plot to shift the economic balance of power from a global one to strictly Asian hands. He decides that he can’t just sit back and let that happen; nor can he allow his enemy’s plan to be realized. The potential for destruction, on both personal and global levels, is too great. Spires’s personal code of honor requires him to get involved. He is written as the quintessential military hero—a person who puts in significant service, and who remains someone you’d want watching your back, no matter the tenuousness of a situation.

This is a tightly written and absorbing story, with an underdog hero and themes of injustice upended and courage maintained. Spires is a fully realized character, with insecurities despite his strong moral compass and personal righteousness. He has serious doubts regarding the possibilities for his life after prison, even as he reunites with his wife and son. He is hesitant to trust anyone. These vulnerabilities are built up believably through evocations of his tough experiences. He is always sympathetic, and cheering him on becomes natural. The forces arrayed against him are formidable, and the stakes are high on all sides.

 In the wide but well-handled cast, supporting characters are impressively fleshed out, from Spires’s loving and supportive mother to the vile and pernicious villain. Even minor characters are brought to life in a convincing manner. The story’s pacing is natural, allowing events to unfold in an easy-to-absorb manner and capturing attention ably and consistently. Wemlinger’s writing style is smooth and involving, neatly wrapping up all the threads of story by the book’s end.  Operation Light Switch is a superior military thriller that captures the essence of what it means to serve one’s country, even when that service is tarnished by outside forces.

Reviewed by J. G. Stinson, October 17, 2017 

For reviews by readers of both Winter’s Bloom and Operation Light Switch please click on the link below:

Before the Snow Flies

A Review by Mr. Tom Powers on his blogspot, “Michigan in Books”, 1 July, 2019

Before the Snow Flies, by John Wemlinger

John Wemlinger's latest engrossing book is a deeply felt and emotionally honest novel that chronicles the life-altering ramifications faced by a Michigan Afghan war veteran who loses both legs to a roadside bomb. It seemed inevitable Major David Keller would eventually wear a general's star until the day he became a double amputee with a severe case of PTSD. It changed everything, including his will to live. He decided he would rather commit suicide than live in a wheelchair, but he has to convince his army psychiatrists he isn't serious about suicide before they will let him go home. He hides the fact he went to a gun show and bought a pistol and goes home in late spring with plans to end his life before the snow flies.

Compounding his readjustment to civilian life and the loss of both legs is the fact Keller left his hometown of Onekema, Michigan for West Point under a cloud. He never returned home or communicated with his father or brother (now the county DA) from the day he left 16 years ago. Onekema welcomes home their hometown boy as a hero but David returns filled with doubt, remorse, and unexpected emotional stress. He argued bitterly with his father, a Vietnam Vet, about joining the army and discovers his dad now suffers from dementia and may not even know him.  His high school sweetheart who he cut all contact with on leaving has suffered emotional and physical abuse from an unbalanced and violent ex-husband.

It is a long difficult road to recovery and an equally painful re-entry into his family and hometown society. Keller wants to put everything right with his family and ex-girlfriend before winter but life becomes even more complicated when he has a run-in with the law.

The author is a native of Onekema and a retired army colonel. He is adept at capturing the ambiance and closeness of small Michigan towns, his characters are well drawn, and the plot is hugely involving and at times will leave readers breathless with anticipation. Wemlinger is especially effective at portraying with honesty and compassion the psychological damage of life-changing wounds and suffering from PTSD. He makes Keller's struggle to overcome his wounds profoundly and emotionally realistic. You can not read this book and be unmoved. It deserves to be on any number of lists of Best Books of 2019.

Before the Snow Flies by John Wemlinger. Mission Point Press. 2019. $16.99

****************************************

What’s next

A good friend, who also just happens to be the business agent for my publisher, Mission Point Press, Doug Weaver, told me once, “You are only as good as your next project.” Writers must keep writing. So stay tuned here for more on The Housekeeper’s Diary, a mystery set in the town of Frankfort, Michigan, on the shores of Lake Michigan.