Eye Problems Have Trumped
I hope this finds you and yours safe and healthy during this surreal period. I'm sorry it's been so long since I last wrote and this email will be brief. Moreover, I probably won't be sending another until July at the earliest.
It's also not the virus that has prevented me from writing. Actually, that should have given me more free time then ever. Unfortunately, at the same time as the virus kept me home, my eyes have kept me from writing.
Several months ago I was diagnosed with a hole in the macular layer of my right eye. Because I had several book events scheduled, I opted to delay the surgery until I finished them. Then the virus hit and my book events were cancelled but, at the same time, the surgery was postponed until late June. Unfortunately, my eyesight has diminished significantly in the interim, making it difficult for me to spend any prolonged time in front of my computer screen. I have just arranged to move up the surgery to mid-june, but following the operation, I will have to keep my eye facing downward continuously for an additional one to two weeks. I am not in any significant pain, but my computer time needs to remain very limited. I thank you for your patience and understanding and I will start communicating again as soon as it becomes practical.
I want to express my deepest appreciation for readers who have taken the time to write and let me know their thoughts about Wounded Angels. Here are some I received recently:
I read your beautiful book, “Wounded Angels” and enjoyed it from cover to cover. Many, including widows and widowers, will read it and know, because of their own loss, the heartache and loneliness that Maureen experienced.
The book was filled with joyful as well as sad moments and I loved that she found another to bring happiness to her life again.
Thank you for writing such an eloquently sensitive, important story.
Beverlee M. Dania Beach, Florida
First...I loved your book Wounded Angels! Second... I am a friend of Chuck & Donna’s & I was so pleased that they let me read it right after they did. Could I purchase several autographed books from you?
I read your book in one afternoon & immediately told my sisters & my kids about it & how much I loved it.
Yes, I am a family of readers & young writers. One of my younger granddaughters has been a writer since she was age 5. Priya has already been accepted early admission (she is a high school junior) to NYU’s TISH writing program.
Thank you for reading my email & I hope that you would agree to my request.
Gini R. Freedom, PA
((In the following letter, I have included the reader’s words in normal text and my answers in italics.))
Good morning after Easter!
I hope all is well with you and Judy and family.
Yesterday I finished reading Wounded Angels on Kindle. My first read on the device (but that's another story :). I've never had the opportunity to communicate or comment to an author before and am not sure how to proceed. To say I enjoyed it and for me, it was a fast read, seems insufficient.
Thank you. I appreciate that very much.
Here goes some of my thoughts! I was struck by your use of first person and wonder how that was for you.
Actually, it was essential. I originally wrote the entire referring to Maureen and all of the other characters in the novel in the third person. When I finished however, the novel felt flat. I couldn't seem to get the emotion of what Maureen was feeling and going through down on paper. I finally came to realize that the only way I was going to fully convey those emotions accurately was to "get into Maureen's skin," to feel what she was feeling and to express those feelings in her own words. Once I did that, the entire story flowed, so I re-wrote the entire novel as her expressing herself in her own words. Funny, but it never felt forced or false and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Your characters felt very real.
Thank you. It's because they are based on real people in real situations. That was not always the case, however. In an earlier draft, a beta reader asked why all of the people at the senior center came off as so "frumpy." I realized that the reader was right. Even though I am in the "senior" category myself, when describing the senior center members, I resorted to the same old stereotypes. Seniors came off as being overweight, outdated and sedentary. So once again, I changed course. I spent one or more days each week for over three years, re-writing the entire book on-site at the Bristol Senior Center. There I found a group of people who were learning, living and loving, and fully engaged in life. People danced, took classes in art, ceramics, and woodworking, played pool, bridge and marjoram, told off-color jokes, flirted and vied for other's attention. I even got propositioned by a woman who looked like she was in her early seventies and turned out to be over ninety! That made the book and the people in it much more real.
I know that Maureen was based on your mother-in-law, and would love to know more of the "true" back story.
I invite you to go to my book website, WoundedAngelsBook.com, and click on the tab, "About Wounded Angels." There you will find pictures and narrative about the "Story Behind the Story." While it doesn't explain everything in the book, it does cover the main characters and their story line.
Which daughter, if either, is based on Judy?
Maureen's daughters are modeled primarily after my mother-in-law, Charlotte's daughters: my wife, Judy, served as the model for the older sister, Bridget, and Judy’s sister, Janet, became the inspiration for her younger sister, Megan. Remember, however, that this is a novel, so I took great liberties to fictionalize them and in some cases, reversed them completely. The emotions they express in the book however, are very similar to those Judy and Janet felt as they tried to help Charlotte through the difficult period described in the book.
Same for son-in-law. Were Ryan or Steve based on you?
Like Judy and Janet, the son-in-laws, were based primarily upon me and my brother-in-law, Eddie. Once again, however, their characters are fictionalized. While Steve is modeled more after me, some of Ryan's attributes were me as well. In particular, Ryan's back story regarding how he first met Megan and how he entered the family are all Eddie. His military background was actually mine and the argument over the chess game came directly out of one between me and my father-in-law. I need to point out however, that Frank's experience on Okinawa, although based on reports of actual events, was not based on my father-in-law's personal experience. His silence whenever the subject of the war came up, was true, as is so often the case with those who have served in combat.
I loved how Maureen finally spoke her truth to Doris and how so many of the characters, although wounded angels themselves, transformed and made a difference for each other.
That was the basis for the entire story. While Charlotte was going through the aftermath of her husband's death, there was a real-life Doris, who did befriend her, was quite eccentric, and did not allow Charlotte to drown in her despair. And the real-life Doris's background had similarities to the one in the book, although she was not nearly as "Out there" as I painted her. As I was writing the book, it became apparent to me that we all suffer wounds in life and, as the theologian, Henri Nouwen, points out in his book, The Wounded Healer, it is the wounds that Christ suffered that makes him more approachable for so many. That concept, that the wounds life inflicts upon us can make us more effective in healing others, became a cornerstone of the book’s message and so I used many of the characters as an illustration.
It's interesting, for me, that I'm not a book club person, but the possibility of a conversation with you about the book, is very appealing.
I hope this has provided a bit of the conversation you wanted. If you have additional questions, comments or insights you would like to share, please feel free to contact me to discuss. For some reason, many people from Florida have written to me about the book. At some point, when this virus is no longer a threat, I hope to schedule a book reading there. If that happens, I'll let you know where and when in case you would like to attend.
Stay well, Be safe,
You too and once again, thank you for your wonderful note.
Judy C. Sarasota, Florida
Chuck your book Wounded Angels is fabulous!!!
I waited to read it when I had some quiet time. I’m sure it’s selling well because it should. Very gentle and inspiring.
My love to you and Judy and be safe.
Sharon A. Wolcott CT
That's All For Now
That will have to do it for now. Thank you for spending this time with me. Sorry if there are typos in this but the screen is not as clear as normal. Be safe.