Vietnam Navy Novel Free on Kindle for Three Days

My Vietnam War navy novel At Sea will be free on Kindle March 18-20, 2016.

AtSeaBookCoverDescriptionEven though he wanted to dodge the draft in Canada or Sweden, David Ward joined the navy during the Vietnam War. He ended up on an aircraft carrier. Unlike the pilots, he couldn’t say he went in harm’s way unless he counted the baggage he carried with him. As it turned out, those back home were more dangerous than enemy fire.

Here’s a short excerpt to tempt you out to Amazon. . .

David stood on the back porch on a spring evening listening to the slow sweet rising and falling howl of a wolf calling her pups while the wind stilled and the dark lavender lupine flowers disappeared into the gathering twilight. Behind him, the house was empty, his dinner long gone cold on the kitchen table along with the passionate Sparrow singing his chanson favorite “La Vie en Rose” again and again, and rather than stare at the letter in the silent company of canisters and chrome appliances, he brought the telephone and pinot noir outside where the world was less closed in on itself.

At the end of the long cord, he dialed her number, wondering—while the wolf pups yipped back at their mother—if her hello would still sound like her hello.

“Davey, how nice to hear your voice. I also hear wolves. Where are you?”

“On the porch looking down toward the box elders and the creek.”

“Don’t remind me. It hurts too much.”

“How are you?”

The book was inspired by my time on board the the USS Ranger.
The book was inspired by my time on board the the USS Ranger.

“Fine. I knew you would call. While practicing my flute this morning, I found myself playing a song we once knew.”

“I’ve lost myself to the war,” he said. “The letter arrived today. I report in July.”

“Davey, no. What do your parents say?”

“Not to rock the boat.”

“I hoped you went to Sweden with Brita. Then I heard the wolves.”

“I could never come home from Sweden.”

“If you die in Vietnam, I’ll forget you. If you survive, you’ll forget yourself. Either way, the vine may kill the elm.”

“You’re cold,” he said, “and dragging out old symbolism of fruitful grapes smothering their supporting tree.”

“Then stand quiet with me again.”

The wolves were silent. He heard her breath and her heart. The first stars were out. When she was at the ranch four years ago, she said, “Night is liquid magic; we’re stirred together. You’ve taken me beyond myself, higher than the wolf trail stars, and what we have of each other, we own.”

In the great quiet, he wept for the parts of himself that were no longer his.

“David, the baby’s crying. I’ve got to go.”

“Unfair! But I love you, Anne.”

USS Ranger at sea in 1968 - US Navy Photo, cleared for publication
USS Ranger at sea in 1968 – US Navy Photo, cleared for publication

“No doubt,” she said, hanging up and extinguishing the moon’s pure light.

He carried the wine bottle up to the chokecherry tree, sat beneath white flowers and watched the night where he once watched it with her.

She knows I’m here, he thought, because she knows me well. She despises me, too, because she believes some places are sacred.

He got an axe and chopped down the tree. It was neither the best thing nor the worst thing he’d ever done, but it was close.

If you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can always read the book for free through Amazon’s program. If you’re not a KU subscriber, now is a great time to download a novel about sailors and bar girls and mountain climbing and a young man wrestling with his conscience about military service.

I hope you enjoy the story.

–Malcolm

 

Creating a Book Cover on the Cheap

Since the release of my Vietnam novel At Sea is a relatively modest Kindle production, I didn’t want to spend money for a cover photograph, artist or a cover designer. It’s a hard choice. The expense might produce a cover that increases sales or it might run the whole project in the red.

I wanted a cover that showed readers At Sea is set on an aircraft carrier. When I was in the navy, the pictures I took as a navy journalist belonged to the navy. There are many stock images of aircraft carriers on navy sites, but they cannot be used without permission for a book cover or advertising.

Many self-published books end up with little or no art work on them and rely on print, color, and a few simple graphic shapes. I don’t think these attract attention or help sell the book. Plus, they give prospective readers little to no idea what the book might be about. I definitely needed an aircraft carrier on my book’s cover.

Finally, I found an old color slide of the USS Ranger’s flight deck I took when I was part of the crew:

flightdeckA

Several issues come to mind. Although a lot of people are doing a lot of things, the picture doesn’t have the dynamic punch it would have if it showed the ship navigating a stormy sea or a plane taking off.

Even though the color was muted due to the age of the Ektachrome slide, it still brings out detail, potentially leading some readers to infer this book is nonfiction. Also, it’s a landscape rather than a portrait photo. The first thing I did was get rid of the color:

AtSeaCoverPhoto

Now it’s less busy and the black and white photo rather lends itself to older times such as a book about a war that happened in the 1960s. Whether or not this picture would “work” depended on how it was cropped, how the title displayed, and how dramatic color might be added to the resulting book cover:

AtSeaBookCover

First, the detail has been downplayed via black and white and cropping. The cropping provided a portrait format and the added color framed the image of the two planes and the ship’s superstructure. To keep the author’s name and title from looking static, I have them displayed at an angle.

I like the two planes displayed on the cover because the main character works in the ship’s aircraft maintenance department and is best friends with one of the air wing’s pilots.

The result works for me because it came together without my having to hire an artist and/or pay for an expensive stock photo. Perhaps you would have approached it differently.

Doing a cover on the cheap won’t work if it looks cheap. Perhaps my ideas here from rough photo to finished cover will give you some ideas for your next cover.

–Malcolm

Note: Another version of this story was originally published as “The Sailor,” a book that’s now out of print.