I was honored to participate in a public reading yesterday with Ryne Tobar, a fellow veteran and an excellent writer. The event was held at Norwin Public Library and was organized by Ashley Kunsa and Brad Coffield of VetsWrite; the festivities included refreshments and a Q&A with the audience. We had a great turnout and participation. I signed a few books at the end and raised almost $100 for Operation Homefront!
Here’s a shot of me trying not to let the nerves show:
Here’s the Q&A with Ryne:
Here’s the team celebrating the success (Ryne, me, Ashley, and Brad):
And here’s me getting ready to sign some books and raise some money for Operation Homefront:
First. The Veterans Day charity pledge will continue until November 19. This year all proceeds will benefit Operation Homefront; they provide short-term and critical assistance, long-term stability, and recurring support programs to military families. Seriously a great organization. Please support them by grabbing a copy of Once in a Blue Year on Amazon.com.
Second. I am honored to participate in a public reading celebrating Veterans Day. The event is hosted by Ashley Kunsa of VetsWrite and is taking place at the Norwin Public Library on Saturday, November 12. I will be joined by fellow writer and veteran Ryne Tobar. If you are in the greater Pittsburgh area, please stop in. There will be a Q&A, refreshments, and I will be signing copies of Once in a Blue Year with all proceeds of course supporting Operation Homefront.
Third. Some random musings from this week:
- I started reading the second book in Erica Crockett’s Blood Zodiac series. It is haunting and beautiful. She is a gifted writer. I highly recommend that you check out her first book, Chemicals. After that, you should get started with book one of the Blood Zodiac, The Ram.
- I discovered that a random tweet of mine from last year was referenced in an article by The International Business Times. I was venting about the Oxford word of year being an emoji.
- I am glad I stayed up to watch the last couple games of the World Series, but I think it will take me few days to catch up on all the lost sleep. I really didn’t care who won in the end, I just love the excitement of post-season baseball.
While searching for a link to a press release, a google search revealed a website offering free PDF’s of my novel. They even provided their own book review:
Once in a Blue Year Review
This Once in a Blue Year book is not really ordinary book, you have it then the world is in your hands. The benefit you get by reading this book is actually information inside this reserve incredible fresh, you will get information which is getting deeper an individual read a lot of information you will get. This kind of Once in a Blue Year without we recognize teach the one who looking at it become critical in imagining and analyzing. Don’t be worry Once in a Blue Year can bring any time you are and not make your tote space or bookshelves’ grow to be full because you can have it inside your lovely laptop even cell phone. This Once in a Blue Year having great arrangement in word and layout, so you will not really feel uninterested in reading. Relate
Needless to say, I did not dare click the link.
For a limited time, Once in a Blue Year is available on Kindle for only 99 cents!
Reviews for Once in a Blue Year:
“In this lyrical debut novel, the lives of two U.S. Navy men take dramatic turns after they’re cut from a submarine mission during the Gulf War… Debut author Durkota writes a remarkable narrative centered on the afflicted mindsets of his Navy men… And while Durkota’s work often feels like a thriller, it’s more of a psychological study in which the characters, like flashes of lightning, are wonderfully alive for a very short time.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Durkota’s plot is inspired, and his writing is accomplished and vivid… Once in a Blue Year is most highly recommended.” – Readers’ Favorite
“The story is well-written with a lyrical style that borders on poetry at times… Really anyone who appreciates excellent writing will enjoy this one.” – Online Book Club
WALKING into a stranger’s home and climbing into a spare bed after stripping down to his underpants has landed a serviceman with a £1000 fine.
Source: Drunken sailor fined for unwanted Thurso house calls
I had my share of rough nights while I was in the Navy, but I never crashed at a stranger’s house. One such night inspired me to a pen a few lines…
From Once in a Blue Year:
A one-night port call. A blur. Rosyth, Scotland. Beer. Dunfermline, home of Andrew Carnegie. Beer. The castle at Edinburgh—William Wallace. Trevor Wallace. Coincidence? I think not. Beer, beer, beer. Scottish women with large breasts. Funky nonpasteurized milk. Strange milk, large breasts. There’s something in the milk—do they export?
Wrong-side-of-the-road passengers who were drivers. Beer—Guinness Stout, Harp, Tenant’s 80, or 90 if you dare. Fish and chips and beer. Her Majesty’s Royal Navy. HMS Revenge. Beer. Page three, girls in the newspaper. Nudity in television commercials. Beer. Girl at a bar, many beers.
How could Trevor have known she had a guy? Fists flying, stool tossing, shattered beer mugs, all-out bar brawl, yeah. Now this is living. The girl bawling; her man bloody, crumpled on the floor. Cops, cuffs, you know the routine. That guy was an asshole. He jumped me—you saw it.
Yeah, it wasn’t your fault. You boys get back to the boat. Don’t want to see you here again.
Aye, aye matey. What do you do with a drunken sailor?
I am very honored to have been awarded medalist honors for psychological suspense in the New Apple e-book awards. Congratulations to all the winners: http://newappleliterary.com/2015ebookwinners.html.
“Once in a Blue Year” started as a 13 page short story about a guy who might have fallen in love with his best friend’s wife. Navy service was only a brief mention. I expanded that part of the story and began to explore the pressures placed on young enlisted sailors, boys who were in high school one day and then at war on a nuclear submarine the next day. Essentially they are forced to come of age overnight and are unequipped to handle the responsibility. They make mistakes and the consequences are significant. They get married and have children. They don’t know how to manage their lives, loves, or their money. They don’t know their own limits, and they exceed them constantly. With only the back story actually take place at sea, “Once in a Blue Year” focuses mainly on the emotional strain to the young families. The love and loss. The waiting, and the uncertainty. It’s essentially a story about choices. Choices made, choices avoided. Some bad, some worse.
I worked on the novel for almost 15 years. I put it away for long periods at a time and worked on other things. Each time I came back to it, I had a slightly different focus. It changed a lot through the repeated revisions. I think that resulted in layering and has given it a depth it didn’t have in the early drafts.
I struggled with the title for quite some time until one night I was doing some research about the gulf war. I was reading a Newsweek article and a line about the first night of the attack caught my attention, a reference to the moonless night. With the war starting in mid-January, that put a full moon on or near New Year’s Eve, which would also make it a blue moon (the second full moon in a single month). I already had a lot of repeated imagery about night skies and the moon, and I realized the main narrative took place within a single year with that full moon in the center. I was explaining all of this coincidence to a fellow MFA student the next day and I said, “I think I should just call it Once in a Blue Year.” He agreed emphatically and I never gave it a second thought. The cover concept was really quite simple: I needed a moon, I needed an ocean, and I needed some blue. It took a little searching, but I eventually found the image; I instantly knew it was the one.
I’ve been pleased with all the reviews I have received, but the following lines from the Kirkus review make me smile the most:
“Debut author Durkota writes a remarkable narrative centered on the afflicted mindsets of his Navy men… And while Durkota’s work often feels like a thriller, it’s more of a psychological study in which the characters, like flashes of lightning, are wonderfully alive for a very short time.”