By Mary Helen Darah
Author Tom Lambert began his literary adventure by posting his daily musings with a fictitious and highly amusing houseguest on Facebook. Lambert’s character, who he refers to as ‘Earl,’insisted he was none other than Sam Clemens; the one and only Mark Twain. ‘Earl,’ who had a habit for continually quoting himself, entertained and amused Lambert’s Facebook followers until he decided their daily diatribes had run their course. Lambert quickly discovered that his loyal band of readers were not ready to say goodbye to ‘Earl.’
“The day I said that I was saying goodbye to the character, I heard from people telling me that I can’t take ‘Earl’ away,” recalls Lambert. “A friend of mine, a retired librarian, told me I needed to put my ponderings into something more durable and suggested I go back into Facebook and retrieve the material for a book. I was able to get everything but one post. Now in addition to being a carpenter and cabinet maker, I am a self-published author.”
Failure to fiction writer
“I failed English twice in high school,” states Lambert. “The dedication in my book recognize my mother and Miss Elizabeth Gelvin, my former, highly stoic English teacher whom I referred to as ‘the prison guard.’” Lambert had failed seventh and eighth grade English that was taught by the football coach. He then was assigned to Miss Gelvin’s class, a teacher known for her strict discipline and high expectations. “Miss Gelvin recognized that I was trouble. I was the class clown and the showoff,” remembers Lambert. “She had a writing assignment she gave to all of her classes. She would then read the best composition to each class. No one knew which one was going to be read. Before she read the winning entry, she prefaced by saying that the person who wrote it ‘is incredibly bright, but they refuse to apply themselves.’She hoped the writer of the composition would spend more time working than playing. Then she read MY essay to the class.” Later, Miss Elizabeth Gelvin told Lambert that he had great potential. “She told me after class, in a quiet voice—the only time I ever heard her speak softly—that I had a real talent for storytelling,” states Lambert. “Thanks to her, I always thought in the back of mind, I would write something of substance one day.”
Lambert is not a college graduate yet he audited creative writing classes at Bowling Green State University and edited a publication called, ‘The Literary Supplement.’ “Looking back, I think it is very ironic that I tended bar at ‘Old Howard’s’ where many of the English professors drank. ‘Old Howard’s’is now the Wood County Library.” Lambert’s book is a series of short vignettes between he and his Mark Twain-like character, ‘Earl.’ “I read Huckleberry Finn 50 years ago,” states Lambert. “Since I wrote my book, I have gone back and read everything Clemens ever wrote. I write ‘Earl’ as what I presume Mark Twain to be. Readers have told me that they believe it to be a very accurate depiction.”
A family affair
Friends and family have helped Lambert in his dream to be an author. “My sister, who worked for a national publication, helped me with the mechanics and editing of my writing and made a few suggestions about the flow of the book. She very carefully tiptoed around any type of literary editing.” Judy Fitzwater, a published mystery writer of a dozen books, helped Lambert format his book, and the cover design was created by a fellow classmate, Sue Ann Ladd, from Lambert’s high school in Bowling Green, Ohio.
Never too old
Lambert believes that anyone can write a book and have their voice heard. His work has been well received and he was delighted to hear that his work is making its rounds through local book clubs. “People have been receptive,” states Lambert. “It’s funny. I often get a ‘Why are you doing this?’ attitude from those in my inner circle. Strangers have been the most encouraging.” Lambert has a few works he is “chomping at the bit” to finish, most notably the sequel to ‘Living with Earl.’He would like to urge Boomers to follow their dreams. “You are never too old to create,” he states. “I don’t have to worry about sentence structure because I never learned it. If I could live for ten more years, I could write ten more books. Lose the fear and give it a try.”
The VA Hospital Challenge
A message from Tom Lambert, author of “Living with Earl”
I am a Vietnam era U.S. Army veteran. My fictional book reflects a deep emotional connection with American veterans, and my personal commitment to “give back.” I am donating two thirds of my profits from this book to a worthwhile project. My goal is to send “Living with Earl” to every VA hospital–all 142 of them. Every $13 collected sends another book to a hospital. Unlike some other veteran charities in the news lately, we care and are doing this solely for our American veterans. If you donate the entire $13, a book will be placed at a VA Hospital in your name or anyone’s else’s name or memory. I want to thank you in advance for reaching out to brighten someone’s day during very difficult times.”
For those interested, send your donation to Tom Lambert, 835 Sand Ridge Rd., Bowling Green, Ohio, 43402.