Anatomy of Writing a Novel

You Can Only be Lucky, my soon to be published book, is historical fiction about a Nebraska, farm boy. The book starts on Saturday, March 11, 1939. The first half of the book follows him through his Junior and Senior years in high school where he experiences tragedy and finds love. Then December 7, 1941- a date that will live in infamy – thrusts him into World War II. He enlists in the Army Air Force and is sent to Santa Ana Air Force Base in Costa Mesa, California and then to bombardier school at Kirtland Air Force Base Albuquerque, New Mexico. After crew training at Rapid City Army Air Base in Rapid City, South Dakota, he is sent to England to serve in the Eighth Air Force. Along the way, he meets a cast of characters including movie stars. While flying missions for the Eighth Air Force, he faces fear and death in the frigid skies 20,000 feet over Germany and realizes that on missions you can’t be careful, you can only be lucky. Will his luck run out?

Source of my book title

The title of my soon to be published book comes from a quote by a soldier in World War II. His family was constantly asking him to be careful. His reply to them was that in combat you can’t be careful, you can only be lucky. If you are flying in a B-17 20,000 feet over Germany, you can’t be careful of the Me-109 flying right at you firing 20mm cannons at you and you can’t be careful of flak bursting all around you. At times the flak was so thick that you could almost walk on it.

Origin of the story

Over forty years ago I read Martin Caidin’s book “Black Thursday”. The book is about the Eighth Air Force’s October 14, 1943 attack on the ball-bearing factories located in Schweinfurt Germany. The bombers had no fighter protection for the last 220 miles to the target and back. The German Luftwaffe was ferocious in their attacks on the unprotected bombers. The Eighth Air Force suffered one of its worst loss days of the war. Over 1 out of 4 bombers that attacked were lost. Over 2 out of 3 bombers that attacked were lost or damaged. At the end of the day, over 1 out of 4 crew members who attacked were either wounded, killed in action or missing in action. Many of the MIA’s ended up in German POW camps for the remainder of the war. The loss data for the mission is as follows:

                         Dispatched   Failed Bomb  Attacked     Lost  % lost  Casualties

1st Air Division     149                48                   101          50      49.50%         481

3rd Air Division     142                14                   128          15      11.72%         158

Totals                   291                62                   229          65      28.38%         639

Note: failed to bomb were bombers that turned back before reaching the target because of mechanical, equipment or other reasons.

When I read the book, I thought that someday I wanted to write a novel about a B-17 crew. Over the years I read numerous books about the B-17 Flying Fortress. I visited museums to see in person aircraft from the World War II era. Busy with work and raising a family I just never got around to it. So when I retired, I decided to do as Nike says “Just Do It”.