Old Songs | New Meaning

Short Nonfiction

As I write this—from my Pandora random station shuffle—Joan Baez is singing, ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.’ A song written by Robbie Robertson and originally recorded by the Canadian-American roots rock group The Band in 1969. It’s a first-person narrative relating the economic and social distress experienced by a poor white Southerner during […]

THE WRITING of ‘Through a Lens of Dark & Light’

The Story Behind the Story

This 23,000+ word story evolved from a writing challenge. What was planned as a short story to be called The Campfire based on a picture that was the runner-up to Union Station in one of my PICK- A-PICTURE-GET-A-STORY-WRITTEN contests. This photograph shows two teenage boys and a girl sitting in front of a campfire. I wondered who the girl was… and was she […]

The Center That Holds by Dennis Lowery

The Center That Holds (FREE SHORT NONFICTION)

I answered the phone, and after the “Hi, how’re you doing,” he had started the conversation: “I believe many of these students have already formed the way they view life. If they don’t have basic honesty as part of who they are…” It was Tom Faught, one of my clients on the phone; he’d emailed me on what he would call about. “How will what I say have any meaning to them?”

Tom—who sadly passed away last year—was a veteran (a Marine) and Harvard-educated former Assistant Secretary of the Navy and university professor. He had also been the CEO of a global company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. His book focused on corporate ethics and integrity; core values that define the responsibility of business executives as stewards and leaders of companies: a comprehensive guide on how young executives can be ethical and still achieve success in their careers. That was the topic he’d been invited to speak on by a major college. His question—an excellent one—was something I’ve given thought to and written on. We talked and I gave him my perspective, which seemed to help for his speech. After hanging up, I continued to think and looked at my notes jotted as I talked to Tom. One was a quote I had recalled and put at the top of the sheet of paper:

 “Everything is figured out, except how to live,” attributed to Jean-Paul Sartre (1905—1980)

I’m a writer and that entails a strong inclination for introspection and thought—often on the ‘Why’ of things and to see the truth and sometimes perplexity of human behavior—on cause and effect. I’m in my late 50s now… an age which includes reflecting on life so far and the first tinge of wonder about how much of it is left. It’s sobering. So, I understand what Sartre meant.

I’m also a publisher who sees that often big-name biographies and memoirs—representing success—are testimonies to a celebrity without talent, wealth without earning it, positions of power and authority without knowledge and experience as the foundation for judgment (many of our political leaders are stellar examples). The hypocrisy of them is overwhelming. Many are pages and pages of that and the books sell because of their celebrity, notoriety or money to fuel a well-oiled hype machine. While other books and memoirs—much more valuable to the reader (and to our society and nation)—stay undiscovered. I’ll share here something about such a memoir from another of my clients. It’s an email from one reader of his book:

From: Mark Faulkner
To: Richard Neal
Subject: “WHAT NOW, LIEUTENANT”—THOUGHTS

Sir,

I just finished reading your book and thoroughly enjoyed it. More importantly than being easy to read and hard to put down, it is packed full of lessons for success in life and service. What I found most impressive in your writing style was that the lessons were not delivered in an “in your face” fashion with lessons as titles of chapters or words bolded or underlined. Rather, they were delivered as part of one of your many life experiences, which, in my humble opinion, made them even more relevant and digestible. I just told Col. Woodbridge that I think this is a book that needs to get in front of CMC [Commandant of the US Marine Corps] for his consideration to be added to his professional reading list. I think it would be beneficial to our Corps’ younger officers for a number of reasons (discussion of importance of family, courage (and fright) in combat, jointness, etc.).

Semper Fidelis,
Mark
William M. Faulkner
LtGen, USMC (Ret.)

I’ll pull things from that email to touch on because I see them as the cornerstones of life. The messages within Butch (Richard) Neal’s memoir are a direct reflection of who he is: no self-aggrandizing bullshit. Not a pretentious word or phrase. No ‘secrets of leadership’ hype; its straightforward lessons learned from experience. Its teaching leadership real-time by example. The thread throughout of what’s important: Family doesn’t need elaboration or explanation, we know the benefits of having family in our lives; when there are mutual respect and love… they’re our anchor. How earned and given loyalty makes for a sense of ‘family.’ Courage in the face of consequences (such as combat, when not all come out alive or unscathed)… that’s doing the right thing when it’s needed. It’s the innate fulfillment of responsibility and accountability, two things all should live by and expect of others. The precepts of jointness when different service (military) branches work together to support and fulfill specific missions. The working together to achieve a common goal (for the public good).

Why those are meaningful requires a slight digression. There is a line from W. B. Yeats’ poem ‘The Second Coming’ (written in 1919 in the aftermath of the First World War), that has always fascinated (and concerned) me:

“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold…”

I’ve never felt more than now, how important that warning is… how much I hope it’s not a near-century-old prophesy coming true.

I wrote the following years ago. One of the countless things (some in pieces, some sewn whole) that I’ve kept for the right time and place to use. Perhaps now is the time and this article is the place:

A husk. The thing that seems to surround nothing but space. That facade that everyone sees as being the substance.

A seed. That self-contained promise that if there’s soil… if it can get enough water and light… it will grow.

Then soil, water, and light work leading to what’s next.

A push. In two directions, first downward… feeling, then setting the roots of who you are, and strengthening them. Then upward… reaching for more light… more sky… more life.

When we—humans—come upon something like that in the forest do we wonder how it happens? It’s nature. Don’t question… just believe.

A whisper. A sound… an articulation of a word. Even if barely past your lips, it breaks the silence, more compelling than a shout. Sometimes the start of a conversation. Even if it’s just saying to yourself, “I am good and can fill any void… can grow and be strong. I am the center that holds.”

Don’t dismiss Butch’s book as a mere military memoir. It’s a story about a man—once a small-town boy—whose personal philosophy and belief, his sense of loyalty to the deserving, is a center that holds. What LtGen Faulkner mentioned and what I wrote above as cornerstones… are what can keep a person, even a nation, together.

I’m not naïve. There is no easy solution to the issues we face in life. Reading a memoir as good as Butch’s won’t solve problems. And what I’ve written here won’t be of much import to people stuck in their ways or are non-receptive, but it’s not for them. This and Butch’s memoir is for those who might read and realign their thinking and for those who agree with the message and do things in their own way to further the principle. I think that is who Butch hopes to reach, too. Especially those young officers in our military who bear such tremendous responsibilities and may become senior officers shaping policy at a national level.

Mostly, what I write here is for my children to read and think about what I try to teach them… to be a responsible person: to believe in the principles of family, courage, equality, and togetherness. Those go a long way—are perhaps the only way—to create a better life and build a better world. To answer Sartre, that’s how we should live… and to Yeats I’ll say, that is the center that holds.

What Now Lieutenant - front cover 10-6-2016

# # #

Richard ‘Butch’ Neal’s book is What Now, Lieutenant? Leadership Forged from Events in Vietnam, Desert Storm and Beyond. He is a retired 4-star general (USMC) and former Assistant Commandant of the US Marine Corps.

Dennis Lowery is a writer, ghostwriter, author and founder and president of Adducent, Inc. (established in 2000). Adducent is a creative company that provides writing, story and book development and publishing services. It assists individuals and organizations with their writing needs and finds, develops, writes, ghostwrites and publishes stories and books with compelling and positive messages that are entertaining, enlightening, informative and enjoyable to read. Adducent and its founder believe in Cause-Based™ stories and not just nonfiction, fiction stories work equally well—sometimes even better—to present a compelling message. Adducent works with clients internationally, and several have appeared on PBS NewsHour, 60 Minutes and MSNBC (not to mention other TV and radio shows nationally and in their local markets).

And No… It’s Not a ‘Shipwreck’ Experience…

A glimpse of things in my day working with clients

Some of you might be interested in a little glimpse of things in my day working with clients (this one’s name–a scientist–is redacted in the following about their historical fiction project). And don’t let this post’s image fool you… it’s not a ‘shipwreck’ experience (though that is in their story)… ——– Original Message ——– Subject: RE: […]

‘To Find Her… in Time’ [scene excerpt]

from 'The Girl Who Became' | A Novel Coming Summer 2018

He studied it as he had a thousand, thousand, times; the only picture he had. He loved the strength of her shoulders and the taste-memory of kissing her lightly freckled skin, nuzzling down to slip the cloth from her breasts with only his lips.

BOX SCORE by Jack Carpenter With Dennis Lowery

BOX SCORE (NONFICTION: Booknology)

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Order Now (click bookseller logo above)

BOX SCORE Cover ConceptAbout the Book

Ladies, it’s time to gear up. To step onto the pitcher’s mound or better yet, into the batter’s box in the game of relationship improvement.

BOX SCORE—What Husbands and Boyfriends Really Want is your turn with 10 ideas of how women can make their husbands and boyfriends happier.

WISHBOOK (front) by Jack Carpenter With Dennis Lowery

Available Now

In his debut title, WISHBOOK—What Wives and Girlfriends Really Want, author Jack Carpenter offered men 10 suggestions to improve their lives with their women, and a call to action. Game two of this double-header, BOX SCORE is the companion book for women. After you read it and make your 3 For 3 choices, your happiness with your man will significantly increase, guaranteed.

So, strap your cleats on, get your grip but be loose and be ready for a fast-paced and entertaining read. You’ll be glad you did. Hey batter, batter!

Click here to read about this book’s title and its AFTERWORD.

And if you want to follow my writing, click here.

Til-the-End-A-Novel-by-Joseph-Patrick-With-Dennis-Lowery

‘Til the End… (Lexie)

“Not that I dislike the sport, but I’m not really a football fan and I was surprised at how I enjoyed the story. I felt for the characters and though sad and tragic at points it was a good read.” –Karen McCall

“When I came across this book, I was interested in the suspense that was described, although I have no liking for football what so ever. I decided to give this a try based on the reviews and I am so glad that I did. This book is a very simple read and it’s written in a lax style that allows me to enjoy this book without too much concentration. The writer wastes no time introducing the key stars in this book, Ryan, Tyler, Avery, and Jacob. I like that I knew exactly who each of the boys were right from the beginning of the book, and I was able to gauge their character and have a better understanding of their actions as the book progressed. The football scenes in the book were tolerable for me and I was continuously engaged and kept wanting to read more, especially when the action begins in the story.” –Ashlie Walton, from her Amazon review

About the story:

Ryan, Tyler, Avery, and Jacob are high school football stars. Everyone looks up to them. They’re living the life that young boys and men dream of and are right at the point of having it all: a state championship, college paid for, a chance for big money and even more glory in the NFL. It’s all there in front of them; the future they and everyone expects.

Then something happens that could bring it all crashing down. And they can’t tell the truth because it’s even worse than having to keep the secret for the rest of their lives. They make a pact to cover it up and never tell.

Hiding the truth fuels their escalating addictions and pushes them in different directions as they try to erase the past, deal with the present and hope for the future.

But at some point, in some way, there’s always a price paid for lies told.

Til the End - Amazon Review 7-31-2016 (1)

 

CARMEN LIVES In The End

If 'Times Are-A-Changin,' Should Classic Stories Change, Too?

If times are-a-changin’ should classic stories–like CARMEN–change too? No… and (sometimes) YES. In general, I say “No.” I’m against revisionism of the past or the changing of classic works—I don’t believe they should be edited, whitewashed or altered to fit modern sensibilities. Though they may not be politically correct or include what’s no longer acceptable (or […]

PLUS ONE

A Vignette

The AFTERWORD for a client project that published in February 2018. When Jack (the author) and I were talking about that book—his second and the complement to his debut title published last year—I thought it was the perfect sequel. And as we developed his first draft, the subject of conversation turned slightly to a title […]

Types of Clients Since 2010

Writing | Ghostwriting | Re-Writing / Improving / Editing | Story & Book Development | Publishing

Their book projects range from memoirs and novels to geopolitical, history (including historical fiction), military, self-help, business and career-related topics.

  • Scientist
  • President of a Nonprofit Organization
  • Plastic Surgeon, renowned Physician of the Year
  • Deputy National Security Advisor
  • Retired / Renowned Artist
  • Entrepreneur Who Sold Her Multi-million Dollar Company
  • General, US Marine Corps (retired), former Assistant Commandant of the US Marine Corps
  • US Senator (retired)
  • 3 Vice Admirals, US Navy (retired)
  • Renowned Artist/Art Historian & Art Dealer
  • Senior VP of a Fortune 500 Company
  • Gallery Owner & Art Dealer in Manhattan
  • Lieutenant Colonel, US Marine Corps (retired)
  • Major, US Army Intelligence (retired)
  • Colonel, US Marine Corps (retired)
  • Colonel, US Army (retired)
  • 3 Captains, US Navy (retired)
  • 4 Attorneys (with specialized practices)
  • Major General, US Army
  • Major General, US Air Force (retired)
  • 2 Rear Admirals, US Navy (retired)
  • 2 CIA Agents (retired)
  • 2 CEOs of NYSE/multi-billion dollar companies
  • 5 University Professors with Doctorates
  • 2 Medical Doctors
  • Graduate of the Afghanistan Military Academy and a Soviet Union Trained Fighter Pilot (defected to the US)
  • Former Assistant Secretary of the Navy
  • Former Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs
  • Former Special National Security Affairs Advisor