Monday, August 30, 2021

Dawn Knox: The Great War

Hawaii Fiction Writers welcomes its newest member, Dawn Knox!  Dawn lives and writes in the UK (we may have to change our name to Hawaii Fiction Writers International).  We asked Dawn to share her experience writing about World War One.  The Great War (2016, available on Amazon) is a well researched, remarkable collection of 100 stories.  Each story is exactly 100 words, a prose narrative with the emotional power of poetry.

Thank you, Dawn, for this gift, and for sharing your experience!

The Great War – 100 Stories of 100 Words Honouring Those Who Lived and Died 100 Years Ago wasn’t a book I set out to publish – it came about by accident. If anyone had suggested it to me, I’d have doubted I’d be able to write 100 stories of exactly 100 words. I actually intended to write about two or three 100 word stories – or drabbles – to give to some friends who ran the Forget Never Project which was set up in 2014 to commemorate the centenary of the Great War but the ideas flowed and the more I wrote, the more ideas I had.

I thought I’d simply pick those I liked best to give to my friends. However, once I’d written about fifty, it occurred to me it would be interesting if I could make it to one hundred. To my amazement, I achieved that.

I set out to write about various aspects of the war, both abroad and at home from different viewpoints – male, female, young and old. I wanted to show that ordinary people of all sides shared the same horrors and pain and so, as often as I could, I didn’t reveal the nationality of people in the stories. The agony of a mother losing a son would have been the same wherever she lived and for whichever country her son had fought.

Some of the stories are based on real events, such as ‘Outstanding Courage’ which I think is my favourite. I like it because it shows the bravery of the British officer and the compassion of the Germans who applauded his courage. This true story reminds me that despite the killing and savagery, the goodness of humanity was not extinguished.

Outstanding Courage

 Armed with a revolver, the officer climbs over the parapet and marches, as if on parade, across the ravages of No Man’s Land.

Friendly eyes follow his progress, wide in disbelief, whilst enemy eyes line him up in their rifle sights.

He’s aware of the danger, but bravely strides towards the injured infantryman, hanging wounded and broken on the barbed wire.

Such an easy target.

But as the officer disentangles the soldier and carries him to safety on his shoulder, cheering is heard from the enemy lines.

And there, amidst the slaughter, enemies forget their differences and salute outstanding courage.


The book has been a finalist in three book awards: Readers Favorite 2016, The Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2017 and The Independent Author Network 2018

The Great War – 100 Stories of 100 Words Honouring Those Who Lived and Died 100 Years Ago -

Friday, August 20, 2021

John E. Simonds: "In a Roundabout Way"

With In a Roundabout Way: Quick Words, Curious Years, Long Miles (2021), available on Amazon, Hawaii Fiction Writers member John Simonds gives us a look at the world and events of our times. 

As I read these poems I imagined a voice reading aloud to us, word by word, line by line, at a slow pace, letting each image and each thought settle in our ears and in our minds. 

When I reached my favorite poem in the collection, "RFK's Last Ride," I did stop and reread it aloud, slowly, mournfully, as it told the story of Bobby Kennedy's funeral train arriving in D.C.'s Union Station as the speaker waits for its arrival. 

The final stanza is perfect: "Vehicles of sympathy move slowly/ with the famous and comforted/ sharing tragedy from inside./ Strangers on the outside wave/ signs of hope, their faces of sorrow/ bearing trust in a journey's message." 

Thank you, John!

And here are some of John's thoughts on the book:

As in my two earlier books of poetry, “In a Roundabout Way” shares a writer’s eclectic thoughts about the big and small universes in which his personal planet travels and twirls. And, like previous efforts, it combines current observations, past reflections and suggested links from headline topics to ordinary moments. 

The prospect of a life-ending health crisis with its prescribed solitude added urgency to getting this book published while both history and its survivors were sill warm and breathing. Anyone reading these words hopefully has had much the same good fortune as this writer (sound of knuckles on koa) and may sense my gratitude on every page. 

Also evident in many of the poems is a continuing quest for meaning among competing values and random forces, as in the lines from "Objects in Motion." 

…”Which stone to choose,

which token to mount or cradle,

loom into view as Earth approaches.

The person browsing beliefs

may value rocks’ roots as remnants of fortune

anchored as links to soil within us,

as the planet we open to mine

yields fragments of light everlasting.”

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Gail M. Baugniet: Developing Traits For a Novel Character


Hawaii Fiction Writers member Gail M. Baugniet shares her experience on developing traits for a novel character.  Her blog post also includes an excerpt from her latest book, Shards of Memory: Oral History In a Heartbeat.  Congratulations, Gail!

Here's the blog post and excerpt:

And here's the description of the book on Amazon:  

A novel based on family history research: SHARDS OF MEMORY - Oral History in a Heartbeat presents a heartwarming experience of emotional healing through storytelling, with a touch of romance and mystery woven throughout. Four grandparents offer an eclectic variety of tales to a grandchild healing from a tragic accident. As they relate tales concerning the hardships of ancestors in homelands across the Atlantic - Belgium, Ireland to Quebec, Bavaria and Prussia and Bohemia - each adult comes to accept the unpredictability of life.

 A touching travelogue, tender romances, a bit of mystery, with intent to entertain, and to entice others to record their own histories. Young Gahlen spends an inordinate amount of time with both sets of grandparents after a tragic accident permanently disfigures the child's leg. Eager to assure their grandchild of the lasting bonds of heritage, each grandparent shares tales of ancestors from Europe, Ireland, or Quebec, Canada. Their stories reveal hardships and joys along several branches of two families, from life in their homelands before 1838 and emigration, to a 1938 wedding uniting the two families. A plan designed to entertain and educate Gahlen brings solace to the grandparents as they relate family stories, recall poignant memories, and ultimately come to terms with grief in their own lives.