Dear Readers,

I am just back from a two-month trip to Melbourne Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Five years in the researching and writing, vetting by experts, constructive critiques from my two writers’ groups and rewriting, my novel of World War II is scheduled for release this June. All thanks to MadeGlobal Publishing for putting their faith in me for this project again.

The day I signed my book contract on September 5,  I started booking my flights, accommodation and site visits. In addition to the battle sites in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, where my protagonist served as an army doctor, I had been invted to attend an important event on November 13, in Melbourne. A restored statue honoring Australian doctors who died serving in World War I and World War II was being unveiled in the courtyard of the offices of the Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association. My protagonist is inspired by one of those fallen doctors, but heavily fictionalized; a maternal uncle I never met. I and two cousins were among the guests.

For three years I had been emailing back and forth with Dr. Jean Douglas, the indefatigable administrator of the statue’s resoration and inclusion on the statue’s base of each fallen doctor’s name. She was also writing short biographies of each docto and looking for personal anecdotes.  It has been stunning how pieces fell into place.

More of the statue  in another post. I can only say that it was worth the trip to stand next to it and touch its textures.

So, I am in my retirement years. But vaccine after vaccine fill my little yellow vaccination book. I pack bottles of malaria pills and all sorts of remedies for travelers’ diarrhea and pay a fortune in travel insurance. I fly out of Newark Airport on November 4. Ten plane flights, five airports and no cancelations or missed connections, I am back.

I am happy to say that Bombs Over the Bukubut Tree: A Novel of World War II  elicited high interest during my trip, including the manuscript winning a Firebird Book Award for War Fiction.

Meanwhile, please enjoy the exciting cover MadeGlobal Publishing created. The beautiful mountain and sea around Rabaul are courtesy of a photograph by Mary Adam, the mother of my close friend, Mary Clare Adam. Mary Adam visited Rabaul in 1977. The plane in the foreground is modeled after the Australian-built Wirraway fighter planes, which were really training planes. The planes in the background are pursung Japanese Zeros. Why I chose a Bukubuk Tree for the title and what they are I will explain in a coming post.

I felt compelled to write this tale of love and war to honor the dedication and courage of a volunteer army doctor in Lark Force, the lone battalion sent in 1941 to defend enchanting Rabaul, capital of Australia’s Mandated Territory of New Guinea. And to pay tribute to the fit, healthy, naive volunteers who were his mates when they faced overwhelming odds against the Japanese invaders. My passion for this tale started in my childhood, when, as an eight-year-old, I cried over the photograph of this handsome young uncle I never met.