Monday, July 6, 2009

Feeling Small

Tom Schreck
Author of The Duffy Series

Yesterday I got a thank you note from Kabul, Afghanistan.

Air Force Lt. Colonel Martin Balaskas had come across one of the copies of “On the Ropes” that I sent over to the troops. He’s a big Duffy fan and when I offered to send “TKO” and “Out Cold” he said he was already a couple of chapters into “TKO” and had “Out Cold”.

He wrote and said that he liked the characters and the plot development.

Lt. Colonel Martin Balaskas

Tanya and Derek Erickson are basset hound folks. They bid $1,000 to get their hound Arthur in “Out Cold”. The money goes to the hound rescue organization in Michigan.

Tanya is stationed in Bagdhad in one of Hussein’s old palaces. The place is called “The Perfume Palace.” Derek isn’t with her because he’s in the Navy.

Do you remember that pirate incident awhile back? Derek was one of the guys that secured the pirated ship and took care of the crew. He's on the USS Bainbridge.

I sent them copies of all the books and one to Tanya’s mom, Anita who is taking care of the hounds back in the states.

There are days I feel all self-important and I take writing my crappy little murder mysteries quite seriously. I think about the pressure, the hard work and the sacrifice I put in making shit up on this laptop.

Then, I get an email from one of these people.

Talk about feeling small.

I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that said, “I’m Already Against the Next War.” That’s how I feel. I’m not patriotic and I think the government isn’t honest with us.

That has nothing to do with how I feel for these folks in the military. They are away from home, separated from the people (and hounds) they love and in harm’s way where everyday someone on the other side would consider it a good day if they got killed.

My dad had four Purple Hearts, two Silver Stars and two Bronze stars. General Patton pinned the Silver Star on my dad. And I believe my father carried the war every day of his life for the fifty years he lived after it was over. He wouldn’t let me or my two brothers consider the service.

Probably has something to do with how I feel about war and the soldiers involved.

I’ve met a new friend through the internet. Ginny Tata-Phillips is a nut and she’s another hound person. She writes Haiku books about bassets.She sent my books over to Kabul for her husband Rick to enjoy. When I found out I was honored and with her help sent more over. Colonel Richard Phillips sent me this photo of him and his buddy, Colonel Hickenbottom reading Duffy in Afghanistan.

In the meantime Ginny has been home in Florida taking care of her hounds and supporting basset rescue. She sends packages to soldiers every month.

She loves my books and promotes them all the time.

I’m not sure why. I’ve only met Ginny through the internet but I’ll tell you this—I wouldn’t mess with her. I can tell she is a strong and powerful person.

But then when your husband spends his time in harm’s way she’d have to be.

I think Ginny’s hounds will be noisy today. I’m guessing they’ll bark and bay and howl and jump up and down and do even less than they are told than usual.

I’m happy to let everyone know that Colonel Phillips arrives home today in Florida.

God Bless him, Tanya and Derek Erickson, Lt. Colonel Balaskas, Colonel Hickenbottom and everyone in harm’s way. Pray for them and their families.


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Wonderful post, Tom. Awhile back I received a request from an acquaintance who was sending books to family members in the military. I was thrilled to help. In the big scheme of things, we are pretty small with our little books. But it's nice to know we bring entertainment to people who are putting their lives on the line every day so far from their loved ones.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

What a great story, Tom. I think it's wonderful that you sent books to the troops...and that you got such a gratifying response.

Mystery Writing is Murder

G.M. Malliet said...

Great post, Tom.

Terri Thayer said...

Lovely, Tom. It's nice to offer some solace wherever we can.

Keith Raffel said...

Tom, enjoyed the post. Your dad had two Silver Stars? Amazing! Do you have citations? For those who don't know, the Silver Star is given for "extraordinary heroism" in battle.

Zibilee said...

What a humbling turn of events! I think it's great that you are so supportive of those individuals overseas, and it's fantastic that you are sending great books their way. Maybe one day in the not too distant future you will have a chance to meet these amazing people in person. Great post.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Tom, just because you don't want another war and you don't think the government is honest with us, doesn't mean you aren't patriotic. Our government was founded by people who disagreed vehemently with both the status quo, and those in charge. To be an educated citizen who disagrees is a form of patriotism, while blind agreement is not, in my humble opinion.

Derek Erickson said...

Tom, it's very encouraging when people back home are thinking about the many men and women that are serving in the military or as civilian contractors abroad. We're fighting a War on Terror, trying to keep the seas free of piracy and defending the freedoms that some take for granted. I thought that your story was very admirable, even without my own name in it. I believe that your father's own career gave him enough pride and proof to be able to make a decision like he did. If not for that, we may not have been able to enjoy One the Ropes, TKO and Out Cold. I thank you for the books and Twizzlers. I appreciate everything you've done for my family and maybe sometime you can meet Arthur and Roscoe. They'll be happy to meet you. Sincerely, D.Erickson

Tom Schreck said...


What an honor to have you comment!

I can't wait to meet you, Tanya and the hounds--and I hope soon on American soil.

I'm blown away that you and Tanya like my books and that you care enough to bid in auctions.

You got a lot of karma stored up my friend.

Please be careful and you and the family are in my prayers.



Tom Schreck said...

Hey everyone,

Thanks for all the nice feedback.

I posted this over at Facebook and Ginny wrote to me that she was moved to tears that this was the first thing she booted up and read with Colonel Phillips when they got back from the airport.

I also found out that in my original draft that I referred to him as a Lt. Colonel. Ginny corrected me and I changed the titles to Colonel phillips and Colonel Hickenbottom.

I guess when you're a Colonel the slang is "Full Bull."

I immediately dropped and did 50 pushups on general principles.

(all right, 5 push ups.)