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Ridge Writers discuss hybrid memoirs by veterans

Carole Wagener, a charter member of the California Writers Club Coastal Dunes Branch, will talk about her new book “The Hardest Year: A Love Story in Letters during the Vietnam War,” for the Ridge Writers Thursday, March 7 general meeting that starts at 6:30 p.m. in the meeting room of Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church, 633 W. Las Flores. Public welcome. No admission fee.

This hybrid memoir (a literary genre that combines memoir elements with other forms or styles) – based on handwritten letters, cards, and newspaper clippings sent between Carole and Bill Wagener from September 1968 to August 1969 – won a Military History Finalist Award from the International Book Awards. The idea came after Bill found a shoebox full of old letters from Vietnam in the garage, and Carole had just attended a program about turning letters into a book. She got busy organizing the material, but needed more help, hired editors, went to writers’ conferences, and went back to community college at the age of 70. It would take her seven years to complete the project.

She will give her presentation at the March 7 general meeting and will also do a “Read the Book, Meet the Author” at 2 p.m. in the Pizza Factory party room on the same day. For this, participants buy the book at Red Rock Books and read it in advance. The ticket price of $35 includes tea and scones at the event, copy of the book that the author will autograph, entry in a gift basket drawing, and convivial conversation with the author and group.

Ridge Writers is the East Sierra Branch of the 115-year-old California Writers Club (calwriters.org) that traces its roots back to Jack London and friends in the Bay Area. Admission to general meetings is free, and the public is welcome.