So impactful was the Viet Nam War on those who were young at the time, that feelings long held in tact, are coming to the surface in books. When all else fails, these books are self-published. Two of these have recently come to my attention. One is No Fortunate Son by Philip Michaels (open), and the other is No Commitments by Val Sharp. Interestingly, both authors are retired from successful business careers and each felt compelled to tell their story.
If a story of action and political intrigue interests you, No Commitments is a book you are sure to enjoy. You will meet Clay Stoner, a young man who was born and raised in the Ozarks. He attends and graduates as a pilot from Annapolis, setting him apart from his high school classmates.
On an assignment, flying over Nice, France his plane runs out of gas causing him and his co-pilot to land and have the plane repaired. It is here, on Bastille Day, that Clay meets Marianna Haizet who is part of a renowned Swiss banking family. She has grown up attending boarding schools pursuing a career in music in a very sheltered environment.
Clay ultimately decides he cannot fulfill an assignment that involved bombing what he believes to be innocent people in Viet Nam. The story that develops takes twists and turns, through many parts of the world, into political intrigue, and into the music industry. When Sharp, who attended Annapolis and is a pilot, writes about flying, his writing is at its best. The ending will keep you on the edge of your seat. I think the main message of the book is reflected in a statement by a newsman at the end “It’s a powerful message about what the war’s done to the youth of this country”
Val Sharp shared that he was inspired to write this book after sharing several short stories he had written on this theme, which his friends like very much. Sharp stated, “I thought they could be dismantled, reshaped into the basis of a novel and a more in-depth story that I wanted to tell.”
There is no question that the ability for authors to self-publish has provided readers with a broader range of reading material than is currently provided by publishing houses. In Val Sharp’s blog TheLaValleCollection.com, he talks about his choice to self-publish. “But after wasting a few weeks querying a handful of agents I said to myself, “Self, this is dumb.” Why spend time obtaining an agent who will want an exclusive and then may spend months unsuccessfully trying to sell publishers while your book sits. And assuming a publisher is found (unless you are a Clancy or a Grisham), your book will probably go into a queue with a publication date set for 12 – 18 months in the future. I think that model for newbie authors is broken given today’s technology, and while we will always have publishing houses, I expect them to go the way of travel agencies after the advent of Orbitz and Expedia. I would not want to send a daughter to Vassar to study English with expectations of her entering the once glamorous world of publishing.” Sharp was surprised by the challenges presented by the cover design and formatting. In addition, Sharp noted that, “all communications were prompt and polite. From start to finish was about a three- month process. With what I’ve learned, I would be happy to use them again and think I could reduce the process a month. At no time were additional charges or fees imposed.”
The trade paperback was published on Amazon a month ago and it should be in stores by the end of August, 2012 and NOOK and Amazon Kindle will also have No Commitments available within the same time frame.
Photos: Val Sharp