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Monday, May 3, 2010


Dear Secret Agent:

Thank you for helping @JASouders and the rest of the #amwriting gang on Twitter with this contest. We all stand to gain from it; even if we don't win! I hope you do, as well.

I used to think my soul was all me, all my own, but a single nightmare changed that, made me want a child, and inspired me to write a novel when he was born years later. Multi-generational like BLOODROOT, in a frame similar to THE NOTEBOOK, but told in omnicient third-person, my 110,000-word coming-of-age saga, A SILVER RING, is the story of four different protagonists in a family line of pilots.

Marine Aviator Derrick Hutchinson needs everything and everyone he’s made of to resolve a crisis no pilot could handle alone, but today, he’s distracted. He’s forgotten something - the worthless heirloom at the heart of a beautiful, terrible family secret that lay buried beneath emotional rubble from World War Two: his great-grandfather's silver Army Air Corps ring. Derrick knows he’s the fourth Hutchinson to leave the ring behind before going up. He knows, because the first three never made it back.

Existence transcends time as Derrick's forbears' final struggles resolve and, through him, fulfill a collective Destiny. A hillbilly princess’ brother dies saving his bomber crewmates. His orphan learns of his noble legacy as his own son marries a strangely familiar firebrand, rekindling a forty-year-old family feud. And a prodigy born to consanguineous parents, who joined the Marines to avoid life as a target, risks it all to save those who are.

I was taught to fly by my father from age eight, became an airline pilot at age twenty, and now fly internationally for American Airlines. My writing has appeared in two aviation trade magazines. Thanks for participating in this contest and considering my entry.



Something had finally managed to kill the old bastard. Not easily, and not at all quickly, to be sure, but his mom’s e-mail told Derrick cancer had beaten the man only she and her mother had ever truly frightened - his last surviving male elder, a Medal of Honor recipient who, legend had it, could extinguish an ordinary house fire with just an axe and a glare: longtime Captain of the Cleveland Fire Department and chain-smoking Pall-Mall man, Frank Lawton.

 “Cancer’s a bitch,” Lieutenant Derrick “Toons” Hutchinson mumbled as he stared through, more than read, the rest of the e-mail from his berth aboard the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan. He’d been a young boy when the disease claimed the grandmother his father had barely gotten to know, and now it had taken his Grandpa Frank, who he’d only just met ten years before. Apparently it wasn’t for the Hutchinson men to get to keep their fathers, or grandparents, for long.

“Mmhmm. What?” Hutchinson’s cabin-mate, Lloyd “Tivo” Tenpas, a proudly devout Mormon whose callsign came from his irritating tendency to record the Mormon Tabernacle’s Sunday service on his squadron's DVR back at Pensacola, was reading his faith’s Book, something he did so often it became solid, cheap entertainment to distract him.

“Cancer. Got my Grandpa. Yesterday.” Rick had completely forgotten about the cup of yogurt he was going to finish while he read his e-mail.

Tenpas was irritated, as usual, by the interruption but, realizing Rick wasn’t just messing with him, couldn’t bring himself to say anything but, “I’m sorry, man.”