I want to share with you two new resources which motivate me as a writer from the perspectives of memoir writing and fiction writing, specifically historical fiction. I’ll share my thoughts on each in separate posts. First, I’ll be looking at Bob Welch’s Pebble in the Waterand on Thursday, September 10th, I’ll review Jerry Waxler’s new book, The Memoir Revolution. 

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Source: Bob WelchSource: Bob Welch

By: Bob Welch
Publisher: AO Creative
Published: 2008
Genre: Nonfiction, Inspiration
Source: Purchased

Synopsis: From ideas jotted on a Wendy’s napkin to twenty-six rejections to ABC’s “Good Morning America,” this is the true rags-to-riches-to-rags story of Welch’s research, writing, and promoting of the Oregon Book Award finalist, “American Nightingale.” His nearly four-year journey takes the journalist to Boston, Ellis Island, France, and beyond. But his ultimate destination is a place of truth, the realization that sometimes the treasure we find at the adventure’s end may not be the treasure we originally sought.

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Drop a pebble in the water, just a splash and it is gone
But there’s a half a hundred ripples circling on and on
Spreading from the center, flowing to the sea
And there’s no way of knowing where the end is going to be.

— James W. Foley Featured in Welch’s books,
American Nightingale & Pebble in the Water

My Thoughts:

Bob Welch’s book, Pebble in the Water, chronicles not only his experiences while writing the story of a World War II nurse nearly 60 years after she died in Belgium but also the intricacy, detail, and doggedness in Welch’s work and research. Welch believes the discovery of Frances Slanger’s story is a coincidence or, in the words of G.K. Chesterton, a “spiritual pun.” In fact, Welch really didn’t discover Slanger’s story; it literally found him.

Once Welch heard Slanger’s story and her passion to change the world in a small but significant way, he could not let go of the project that would be his next book. It is getting there that was bigger than writing the book.

Research and interviews with the few remaining survivors of the war who knew Frances Slanger took Welch from his home in Eugene, Oregon, to Boston, Massachusetts, on to Paris, France, and to the Pentagon. These trips were all at the author’s own cost, not only financially but at the expense of his family who spent many days and nights without him home.

Dogged determination is the essence of Bob Welch in whatever he commits to doing. I have seen this in action in his workshops, other writings, his newspaper column, and yes, in his passion for living.

Whether you are a writer, Pebble in the Water is an inspirational book. As the reader follows Welch in pursuit of all he can learn of this Polish Jewish woman who was caring for American soldiers when she was killed by a German sniper in October 1944, the reader learns life lessons about sacrificing to follow your dreams:

“Take that step and, yes, you risk failure.
But don’t take that step and failure is a certainty.”
p. 21, Pebble in the Water

If Bob Welch had never committed to writing Frances Slanger’s story, if his wife had never committed to being both mother and father while he traveled and to love him day in and day out, if his children had never committed to loving him and caring about his dreams, American Nightingale would have never been written.

Nor would Bob Welch ever have met the remaining survivors, few that they were, of Slanger’s unit. Or could share her story on network television. Or with you and me.

My Recommendation:

Anyone interested in writing period, or specifically historical fiction, should read this book. It is a window into the life of a man balancing family, a job with a newspaper, and the research necessary to bring Frances Slanger’s story, American Nightingale, to print. Welch has something for everyone who is passionate about writing. Bob Welch can make you feel good about the day you felt you wasted and excited about the little things that you didn’t expect.

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Meet the Author:

Bob Welch
BOB WELCH is a speakerauthoraward-winning columnist, and teacher. He has served as an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

As head of Pebble in the Water Inspiration, he has keynoted conferences, workshops, and retreats across America, tugging at hearts, tickling funny bones, and inspiring people to be ripples on life’s waters. Among his speaking highlights was being asked to keynote the dedication ceremony at the Massachusetts Statehouse for a plaque honoring WWII nurse Frances Slanger. It was Welch’s book about Slanger, American Nightingale, that convinced legislators to honor the Boston nurse.

“Forget the hyperbole,” said Julie Zander, organizer of the Association of Personal Historians conference in Portland in 2006. “Our 261 participants scored Welch a 4.81 on a 5.0 scale.”

A storyteller by nature, most of Welch’s speaking fodder comes from the 14 books he’s authored and the nearly 2,000 columns he’s written for The Register-Guard, Oregon’s second-largest newspaper, since 1999. He has twice won the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ highest award for writing. In addition, he has won dozens of other journalism awards, most recently the 2011 Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association’s “Best Writing” award. Other honors include the Seattle Times C.B. Blethen Award for Distinguished Feature Writing and the ONPA’s “Best Column” awards.

His book about a heroic World War II nurse, American Nightingale (Atria Books, 2004), was featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. A follow-up book, Pebble in the Water (AO Creative, 2008), amplifies the author’s American Nightingale experience from an idea written on a Wendy’s napkin to the four years it took before the book was published, and the life lessons learned along the way.

Read more about Bob Welch here.

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Interested in getting your own copy? Just click on the link below. I receive a small percentage if you purchase from this link, and it doesn’t cost you any extra.



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