May 31, 2015

Open Letter To Ray O'Conor

Open Letter To Ray O’Conor

Ray, I finished your book, “She Called Him Raymond,” yesterday. I knew I had to send you my thoughts about it. The book provided more than a great read. I realized how many life lessons I’d accumulated since  we met at Chris Millis’s writing seminar last June. I thought they were worth sharing with others. 

Here are just a few:

#1- Do your homework. It was obvious the moment I met you that you do your homework. Based on your background and successful work career I guess that would be a given. Listening to you tell about all the research and personal sacrifice you invested in your book made it clear that this was an all-in commitment. 

#2- Tell the story. You sure did a fine job with this one. You should be proud that you didn’t let this story go. I tend to lean to memoir and nonfiction reading. I can’t think of a finer story than the one you brought to the surface. It has everything a great story should have. Although it may not have possessed the happiest ending it certainly possessed a real-life one. You couldn't read the chapter titled, “The Letter,” and not feel the absolute emptiness that anyone who’s lost a loved one to war must feel. It really enveloped the devastation war places on families. 

#3- Ask for help. You surrounded yourself with knowledgeable people who excelled in their area of expertise. It was apparent by the structure and visual quality of the book you placed on the table, that a great deal of thought and effort went into the final product. 

#4- Stick with it. Something kept you marching forward with this project. Based on the look I saw in your eyes a year ago when you were telling me about writing your book and the passion you placed in your presentation at the book signing a year later, I don’t think anything could have gotten in the way of you sharing this incredible story. That’s the way it should happen. That’s what made this story even better. How many of these stories are gone forever because someone didn’t follow through with their dream. 

#5- Be honest. You told a story void of gimmicks, tall tales, or sensationalism. You revealed the deepest of human emotions from one end to the other. From birth, to love, to death, you gave us all of it in its truest form. You told it the way it happened without adding any bling. This story didn’t need it and thankfully you understood that. 

Lastly I want to thank you for what I took away from my experiences in the year between that writing seminar and finishing reading, “She Called Him Raymond.” It was much more than the list above. It reaffirmed what I’ve felt all along; that I can do this with the right toolbox. I have a story to tell and the passion to tell it, I simply need the “write” tools. You, your book, and your story have helped keep that dream of mine alive. 

Sincerely yours,
John R. Greenwood

Here is a link to Ray O'Conor's webpage : "She Called Him Raymond." 

May 25, 2015

"She Called Him Raymond": A Memorial Day Book Recommendation

“She Called Him Raymond”: A Memorial Day Book Recommendation
By John R. Greenwood

This is not a detailed review of Ray O’Conor’s book, “She Called Him Raymond.” It is a pure and simple book recommendation. I can’t think of a more appropriate book to read or buy on Memorial Day.

Ray’s book is a, “True Story Of Love, Loss, Faith and Healing.” That comes right off the cover and I can tell you it meets up to the billing in every regard. What more could you possibly pack into a book if you were looking for the ideal story for a day of remembrance. 

I’ve been deliberately taking my time reading Ray’s book because I feel a personal debt of gratitude for all servicemen who’ve died for our country. I want to absorb this story in the light that it was written. This book encapsulates the tumultuous times of the Great Depression and the war that followed. Ray has done a wonderful job mixing and distributing the highs and lows of emotion that enveloped WWll. 

I feel strongly that this is a book all of us should read. It will help us appreciate all we have and all we’ve lost. It will make you proud to know people like the author who have committed so much of themselves in sharing these stories of our veterans. In this case, the story is as personal as a story can get. 

Click here for a link to the: “She Called Him Raymond,” website. On this Memorial Day do yourself a favor and check it out. I’m certain you will leave the page thinking about the past and grateful for the present. 

Thank you to all the servicemen who have given their lives for our country. And thank you Ray O’Conor for sharing such a poignant slice of what Tom Brokaw termed “The Greatest Generation.”    

Here's Ray on May 9th at Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga

May 21, 2015

Hotel Room At Exit 37

Hotel Room At Exit 37
By John R. Greenwood

The variation of engine sounds captures my attention as I sit at the half open window in Room 204 at the end of Exit 37. 

Souped up Honda Civics play pretend as the throaty four-cylinder's rpm's reach a boiling point entering the interstate. 

A mud-caked logging truck, loaded high with pulp the size of a Buick, grumbles to an abrupt stop as the light turns red and causes a change of yellow light plans. 

Giant men with scrubby beards and shiny new Ford 150's stomp the peddle to the floor pushing a twenty dollar bill into the carburetor and forcing it out the Pep Boy's after-market tailpipe. 

Dirty haired girls with their arms out the window flick their cigarettes into the air-the red glow of ashes spraying across the blacktop.

A boisterous Harley with all the fixin's sings in the distance-- insisting everyone in Clinton County pay attention. 

Grandma and grandpa ooze onto #87 South--with any luck they'll reach Florida by fall. 

I take another sip of coffee and put my feet on the window sill. 

A slicked up red Mustang leaves the light like he has someplace to be. 

My head bobs, the noise isn't noise it's sleeping pills wrapped in horsepower. 

I push off my untied shoes with my toes. 

I'm at peace. 

My heart and my feet breathe a sigh of relief. 

May 01, 2015

April Departs

April Departs
By John R. Greenwood

April departs by gently backing away into the woods leaving sprigs of green and mossy oak. Her quiet exit requires no fanfare. Soon the deep woods nakedness will be clothed in the thick underbrush of summer. It’s not hard to imagine myself lost in the vast Adirondacks as I reach the furthest point of my walk. The loud blow of a passing Amtrak train reminds me how close to home and a Walmart I really am. It doesn’t matter though, I am here, alone, my mind free to breathe and wander the way it likes. This is an evening walk and I realize the setting sun peeks differently. It’s a softer sun, tired from a hard days work. Unlike the eye opening shouts of an eastern sunrise, the western sunset falls over you like a mother pulling a blanket over a sleepy child. Relaxation sets in as I sit there listening to moss growing in the shadows. My walk along the Neilmann Trail reaps the rewards of a fresh May start and an April departure. 

I feel better now. 

I knew I would.