The date is August 1914. The British Expeditionary Force is in France and You're in the Royal Field Artillery. You're riding alongside one of the battery's gun limbers on its way to the assigned position on the east side of Mons, Belgium. This begins your journey into the Hell they called World War One. To purchase this historical memoir go to https://createspace.com/3649268

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Liebster Blog Nomination

What an honor! I'm uncertain on how I'll repay Penny for this dubious recognition, but something will come to mind.

She thought she presented five questions for her nominees to answer but she sneaked in six by dividing the first question into two parts - shame on you.

1. How many blogs do I own: I have four blogs going; Writing My First Book, The Great Promise, Autobiography By Me and The War To End All Wars. b) What made me decide to start blogging?: I wanted to reach a wider audience with my story. Prior to blogging I developed a website and only found limited success so I thought that blogging might be more lucrative. The number of sites I have is a testimonial to their popularity - sort of a trial and error. It also offered me an opportunity to hone my writing skills.

2. What is the cause dearest to my heart?: Reaching as many Americans as I can in order to raise their awareness of the history of World War One. The majority of people in the US know know nothing about this war. I know I didn't until I immersed myself in researching the war in order to write my story. With the hundred year anniversary just two years away, it seemed important to me that Americans understand the magnitude of sacrifice other countries endured.

3. What am I most passionate about? See above question for answer. I'm also passionate about my art. I always tinkered with different art mediums and techniques. However after I forced to retire do to Parkinson's, I took an oil painting class and a whole new world opened up for me.

4. Who are my heroes? This is a tough answer because my heroes revolved around the things that are important to me. a) My friend and climbing partner is a hero because he developed MS and his positive approach to life helped me through accepting my illness. b) My grandfather has become one of my heroes for the horrors he faced during the war and was able to rise above them and created a family legacy. c) Those men and women that learned how to live with Mother Nature by respecting her power of life and death. d) My father for teaching me countless lessons of life, such as not to judge others. I could go on but you get the drift. I'll end on this note, "My heroes have always been cowboys and I guess they still are today."

5. What do I want to be remembered for? I'm an infinitely insignificant bit of flesh of humanity. My arrival and departure from this earth is known and matters by few. Even though people have entered and exited my life over time, I hope I've impacted their life in a positive way. As for greater humanity, I will not be remembered directly, but indirectly for passing down my values to my children, and they to their children.

Another Passion:

I believe that people are a summation of all the events they experience during their life. These experiences and how a person responds to them create a story. Therefore we are a conglomeration of our stories. Individuals that enter your life are but actors entering a scene in your current story. They act their part, however long that is, and exit.

In a small way each story in a person's life is a bit of history for they describe what it was like a point in time. An example of this is my grandfather's journal. Each documented war experience was a short story that described  an event significant to that moment in time, thus it represented a part of history.

This is why it is important for everyone to write down their stories so those that read them can gain a better understanding of that segment of history. In my case, "what was it like growing up in the 50s and 60s?"

Thursday, June 28, 2012

First Review

On Wednesday I received my first review located at: http://amindwandering.blogspot.com/ 
I was very pleased with how the reviewer used passages from the book to support their insightful understanding of the book's passages.

From review:
"The Book:
I opened this manuscript expecting a novel constructed around the framework of Captain (then artilleryman) Coxen. However, I found the actual journal entries, and they are more powerful than any novelist could fictionalize."

"In addition to the transcription of his grandfather's journal, Rick Coxen provides us with commentary about the battles, the war, some of the weapons Captain Coxen refers to, and his own experiences researching both the war and his grandfather's mates. Because of this, and the fact that he ad to clarify or guess at some of the entries, he originally thought to present it as historical fiction. However, this is truly a memoir and a powerful one, not only of his grandfather's experiences but his own in uncovering a lot and forgotten past."

"Despite his classic British stoicism, Coxen inwardly weeps for his mates, the obscene loss of life, the horrific, grizzly effects of modern technology pitted against antiquated battle strategies. His loneliness away from his wife and baby daughter makes it but once or twice onto the page. He peppers his observations with his dry British whit, but his yearning to end the madness and go home bleeds through as subtext. When the journal entries stop abruptly just when the German begin chemical warfare, it comes as a relief."

"Rick Coxen provides excellent back story on the war, as well as commentary on his own search for his grandfather's trench mates. Unfortunately, like the war, few definitive answers are reached, but Rick's greater understnading of and connection to his grandfather makes the journey one worth taking."

 "Bottom line:  This is not a historian's book or a novelist's book. One cannot call it brilliantly executed. However, it is a good book and one people should read, discuss, and share. They need to keep it on their shelves to be reminded of the horrors of war, the futility of sending millions of men to their deaths, and the up-close-and-personal we too often forget when analyzing battle strategies and politics and who assassinated whom."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Good News

Just received notice that the internal design for the book has been completed! Now I'm waiting on the final of the book's cover (which I already thought was finalized and approved). Once the cover is ready then a proof copy of the book will be mailed to me to review - WOW!! The horse in entering the final stretch to the finish line.

I see the light at the end of the tunnel and its not an oncoming train.


I was sitting the dinner table last night with my son-in-law. He was showing me the website he was developing for my daughter. She is starting her own baking enterprise, "Confectionally Your's".

After touring the site I wanted to show him some of the websites I've developed for, "The Great Promise". I had him click on the "journal entries" tab and he read a few of the ones I had posted, and he was intrigued by    their content. When I showed him some of the images that I had posted, he was totally consumed as he read through their passages.  

Afterwards we talked about the book and the time it took to write it and what I expected to derive financially for my efforts. On the financial discussion I told him that the time it took me to research and write the book, it would have to be on the best seller list for a year and if that happened I might make minimum wage.

From the number of books being written, I'm assuming people write for the pleasure of writing stories. I do not know the statistics on the number of profitable books written, but I assume it would be very low. It is hard knowing this fact before you start writing, but like myself there is always a glimmer of hope that just maybe your book will defeat the odds.

As for me, I had dreams of grandeur. Perhaps a way to make a little extra cash on retirement doing something I enjoy instead of bagging groceries. This concept changed when I realized that the real reason I was writing the book was to tell my grandfather's story to both my family members and the public.

I was asked once the reason I wrote the book? My answer was to offer the public a book that would heighten their awareness of World War One before 2014. A perfect example of the lack of knowledge on this subject is my son-in-law. He graduated from the Navel Academy and knew close to nothing about the War.  In the US it is pretty much a forgotten war though thousands of US soldiers lost their lives. Once upon a time November 11th was known as "Armistice Day" to remember the fallen from WWI. However, the war   slipped further out of sight when the US changed the name to "Veterans Day" in order to remember the fallen soldiers from all wars.

For my part I've committed myself to tell the story of WWI through both by book and words to anyone that will listen. The US lost over one-hundred thousand soldiers, which is a drop in the bucket when compared to the losses suffered by European countries.


Monday, June 25, 2012

For The Canadians

I had a few hours’ sleep, yet was awakened now and again when a large shell burst somewhere nearby. At daylight we were at it again. The first thing that met George this morning was a shell dropping just the other side of the hedge. It fell among what had been a Canadian Battery Wagon line.
It didn’t matter that the shell fell there, because most of the men had been killed when the Germans bayoneted them while they slept. The enemy also hung a Canadian officer to a barn and used bayonets to crucify a sergeant of the Canadian Scottish army to the barn door.
The Canadians’ wagon line once had 200 horses and now only a dozen horses remain.. If this wasn’t enough, all of the Canadian guns were captured by the enemy. All this happened when the Germans broke through our lines the previous week.
Later the Canadians were revenged through a magnificent charge by their infantry. They are considered to be fine fellows and splendid fighters. They hated the Germans and cursed them for their murderous ways of waging war.
I was told that a couple of days previous the Canadian Scottish were ordered to retire, but refused to do so. Instead of retiring as ordered, they charged the enemy on their own. It was a mad thing to do for they lost over 500 men, although they captured 100 or more prisoners.
 I dare say that not one of the captured Germans was brought down as a prisoner. All the soldiers in the Allied Armies started fighting like the enemy, no quarter given, and the Canadians gave none. As evidence of this, just to the rear of our guns, there was the corpse of a husky Prussian guardsman- a fine figure of a man who stood fully at 6 foot 3 inches in height. The Canadians had pinned him to a tree with a bayonet. They stuck a postcard on his forehead that said, “Canada does not forget!” Then someone had written, “We’ll give them crucify” next to the word “Canada”.
The cruel and barbaric happenings around this period would fill a book with horrors of all descriptions. The merciless style of war created by the Germans carried over to their enemy. The centuries that it has taken to develop the meaning behind the word “civilized” has only taken a couple of years to reduce to “barbaric.”
I was pleased with the splendid fighting of both the Canadians and the Indian troops and proud that they were fighting with us.  By the end of November, truly enough Canadians had served in the battle of Ypres as did the 7th, 8th, and 1st British Divisions. 

New Flickr Account

I created an Flickr account and posted images of some of my grandfather's documents that might interest some. The url is http://www.flickr.com/groups/thegreatpromise Add a comment if you would like to see others.

Also I'm in the process of finding a home for the journal when I mentally ready to part with it. So far the Royal Artillery Museum and Imperial War Museum are in the running. I thought I might contact the Queen but she was a little busy with her diamond celebration and the up coming Olympics.

Trying to get input on other people's successful marketing strategies, any ideas?

I'm also trying to connect with a WWI historian to review my book to establish credibility. Anyone know one?


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Almost there

I received the interior book design mock-up from Create Space and approved it. They said that it would take them 10-15 days to format the book. Why does everything seem to take two weeks?

When the book is formatted they'll send me a proof and upon approving it the book should be available for sale.

I'm having a book trailer designed that will include audio... should be interesting. I don't know if this will be ready when the book is released or afterwards...guess I'll have to find out.

Back in January of 2011 I was on APM (American Public Media) NPR program "The Story" with Dick Gordon. If anyone is interested in listening to it, here is the link http://thestory.org/archive/The_Story_8811.mp3/view it is worth it.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Research

It took over two years trying to find information on the three soldiers that were involved in the promise. There names were Pudgie Taylor, Bobby Glue and George Bramwell.

There were numerous issues to deal with, the first major hurtle was that the events took place almost 100 years ago and number two on the list was the destruction of WWI documents when the archive building was demolished during the Blitz in WWII. The other problems were minor, such as nicknames, trying to perform my research from the US side of the pond and the way the British recorded things.

What helped me was the knowledgeable people on some of the WWI forums I had joined. Many were experts on WWI and most were located in the UK. A case in point was the rank my grandfather held at one time in the Royal Field Artillery (RFA). Early in his military career he held the rank of bombardier, which in the US it conjures-up visions of a bombardier aboard an aircraft that drops bombs. With this in mind and knowing that my grandfather also served in the Royal Air Force a year and a half before the war ended. To me two plus two equaled four, but not in the British army. Bombardier was a rank within the RFA, something on par as a corporal.

In the collection of war documents within the box was a dark brown piece of what looks like scrap paper. Written in pencil there was a message scribbled on one side. It made reference to a bird that was shot down and those that observed it being hit by British anti-aircraft guns couldn't identify which AA battery actually brought it down. Again the experts set me straight for I thought it was shot down over London. Why, because my grandfather established the anti-aircraft batteries around Liverpool. With the information written on the slip of paper, the experts collaborated and agreed that the bird was shot down over Paris. I was also informed that bird referred to an airplane not a zeppelin.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Story Of The Journal

In 2008 I was given a box containing documents that once belong to my grandparents. When my grandmother died in 1965 her house in Florida and its contents were given to my aunt. Years later when she became ill, she gave several items to her only son and when he was ill he past the box of documents to my uncle.

My uncle was turning 90 when he gave the box to my sister and she passed it on to me. My sister had reviewed the contents and she told me that my grandfather's World War One journal was one of the items.

I remember opening the box and carefully rummaging through its contents in search of the journal. When I found it I picked it up and held it in my hands. Starring at the eight inch x 6 inch ledger a feeling of awe enveloped me, realizing that I was holding history. Then a flood of emotion filled my eyes knowing that the journal had belonged to my grandfather and the handwritten entries were in his.

The journal pages resembled graft-paper with 1/4 inch squares. His writing was cursive and the pencil script kept within the confines of each horizontal line of squares. The small letters added to the difficulty in deciphering the words.

To transcribe the journal entries I decided to scan each page so that I could enlarge the image. Increasing the size of the scanned page I was able to identify most of the words. This process took weeks to complete, however the time felt insignificant because the entries were so compelling.

The journal in itself would make an interesting read but without a story line it would just remain a journal. This changed when I discovered a letter written by my grandfather around 1945. It was titled, "I Had a Dream The Other Night". He described a dream he had where three of his old chums from the Royal Field Artillery came to visit him. Each had perished during the war and he recalled a promise that they made to one-another before their first battle, the Battle of Mons.

The letter provided the story line that would enable me to include the journal entries.

These two documents built the foundation for writing a historical fiction novel that transcends the reader beyond the historical depiction of the war by transporting them to the action through the experiences of one man who survived while millions of soldiers perished.

This is one of the scanned pages from the journal.

NEW Book Blog

Someone gave me some sound advice that I should start a book blog that fits the genre of other blogs. It appears that my existing one didn't have the necessary gadgets to draw interest and interact with other book bloggers.

So here is my new look! It had all sorts of neat stuff and links to faraway places.

Someone stepped up to the plate to review my manuscript and I thank her in advance of the review just in case it doesn't go well.

Please comment on the look and feel of this blog and I'm offering a Follow for a Follow. See I'm leaning the terms and what they mean.