COVER REVEAL! Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I Novel

You dedicate years of your life to a book project, but it all comes down to the cover, right? I dreamed of something epic, historically accurate, emotionally gripping.

I put a check mark in each of those boxes with this fabulous cover design created by Kirk DouPonce of DogEared Design. My mother, Lynda Kay Sawyer, captured this heroic look of my brother, Jon (Johnny) Sawyer as our mixed-blood Choctaw Code Talker. Paul Porter, private WWI collector, loaned the authentic uniform and equipment worn by a doughboy in France. 

What more could you ask for?

Here is the cover at last:

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France Research Trip for the Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I Novel - Part 3

There is no way I can capture the 10 day research trip short of writing a book about the experience unless I use broad strokes and a load of pictures. I hope you've braced yourself for this blog series, because I’m firing words and photos like a machine gun.

Rat-a-tat-tat.

Or at least like a M-1917 Enfield or 1903 Springfield, both American-used rifles in WWI.

But I digress.

Before we left Reims for the rural French countryside, I searched online and found a lovely but inexpensive little hotel in Dun-sur-Meuse. When scouring lodging options, it came up with great reviews and a central location to where we were researching so we opted to stay there four nights.

It wasn’t until rolling across the Meuse river that divides the town and seeing that the bridge was dedicated by the American 5th Division did I realize we were once again smack dab in the middle of WWI history. You can’t escape it in northeastern France. 

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France Research Trip for the Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I Novel - Part 2

It was the only time I really, really wished I could speak French. 

We were traveling along the country highway with “Siri” as our navigator when Tiajuana spotted the enormous monument. We were stuck behind a farm tractor (that happened a lot) and the slow speed gave both of us time to say “yes,” let’s make the unplanned stop. 

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France Research Trip for the Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I Novel - Part 1

Jolt, bounce, jerk

The moment the plane landed on French soil, my heart went into my throat and tears welled up in my eyes. No one on that cramped plane from Dublin to the Charles de Gaulle airport was tuned into the magnitude of that moment. This was it. It was real. 

I was “over there.”

I wanted to squeal, I wanted to cry, but I settled for grinning and sniffling quietly to myself. (I’m even tearing up as I write this).

You can read about a place. You can watch films about a place. You can even write about a place. But until you’ve been to that place, it can’t become a part of you like France and World War I did during my 12-day journey over there. 

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Introduction: France Research Trip for the Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I Novel

My first thought was to say no. And I did. I couldn’t pull together a trip to France in two months. I didn’t have the money. I didn’t have the time to plan such a venture. I didn’t have the time to take off work.

But I did have a passport and a whole lot of encouragement. 

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