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A book about an area resident's World War II experiences recently won a bronze medal in the Memoir/Biography category of the 2020 Military Writers Society of America awards.

Local author Tamra McAnally Bolton began the writing project as a way to preserve her aging father's WWII experience, told in the memoir “A Blessed Life – One World War II Seabee’s Story.”

“I was very surprised to find out that I was a finalist!” Bolton said. “A writer friend suggested I enter the book into this awards program, knowing it dealt with a military theme. I actually sent the book and entry form back in February, so I had forgotten about it.”

Her dad, Stuart McAnally, was pleased by his daughter's news.

“When I told Dad, he smiled and said, 'Well, I'm glad, you put a lot of hard work into it,” she said. “I have won some recognition for other writings and some of my photographs, but this MWSA award means more to me than anything I've ever received, because of the subject.”

According to a description on Amazon.com, “'A Blessed Life – One World War II Seabee’s Story' is the true account of Stuart McAnally, a 96 year-old veteran, and his experiences. McAnally tells of his journey from a peaceful farming community to the blood-stained beaches of Iwo Jima and how those experiences both challenged and changed him. Told by his daughter, this intriguing read is a true-to-life account of both the Great Depression and World War II era. Filled with heart-warming and sometimes tragic moments, 'A Blessed Life' is a story for all generations to share and to treasure.”

Bolton said her book was doing well, with a number of book signings and public appearances slated for the year.

“But that was before the pandemic struck and it literally killed my sales and all of my events were cancelled,” she said.

While that has posed challenges, Bolton said she is turning to virtual platforms to help continue publicizing her book.

“That the way to go now, and I'm willing to speak to clubs, classroom, and other groups via Zoom or through Facebook,” she said, adding that she hopes to eventually return to in-person meetings, book signings and other traditional forms of meeting readers.

“It will happen again, we will just have to wait and see,” she said.

Bolton's next project involves a book titled, “The Art of Story-keeping,” which is set for release sometime in October.

“It will be a small how-to book on preserving family stories and objects,” she said.

Meanwhile, “A Blessed Life – One World War II Seabee’s Story,” is available on Amazon as well as by mail order at Poverty Ridge Press, 1090 CR 3905 Jacksonville, TX 75766. The $21.95 cost per copy includes shipping and handling.

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