Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

HANK: Happy Father's Day Jungle Reds! And we all salute ours today.

Here's my dad--I think this is in the 1950's or so, when he was the music critic for the old Chicago Daily News--so he taught me about music, and poetry, and writing and reporting, and I have exactly his sense of humor. He lives in DC now, retired from the foreign service.

Here's ROSEMARY's dad--and this is her sister Paula.. Looks like it's in the 50's too..
ROSEMARY: He was handsome, he could fix anything - and I used to sneak his unfiltered Camels when I was a kid.

And here, in the greenery:

ROBERTA: My papa really was a rolling stone. His idea of heaven was dragging an Airstream trailer around the country visiting Army buddies and other old friends. This picture was taken at Hidcote Gardens in England, the last big trip he got to take. I was so glad to share it with him! He's utterly devoted to his family--still talks to his brother every day by phone. Happy Father's Day Pops! You take the blue ribbon...

JAN says: My father (shown here in great early 60s) was the kindest man I've ever known. He used to tell me that when you age, you have to "think" about being a better person, because if you don't "think" about it, you slide backwards. He is my example of how to grow better with age.

HALLIE: The title of his memoir is my dad (he and my mom were screenwriters) in a nutshell - he did think he could do anything. The great gift he gave to us, his daughters, was the belief that we could, too.

And heres our guest dad--Avery Aames' father . (Aren't these photos wonderful?) And Avery has a special tribure to her father--and to all of ours.

By Avery Aames

My father is gone. Has been for years. So is my mother and I miss her dearly, but this blog is in honor of fathers, so I’m going to stay with that theme, if you’ll indulge me.

I still think of my father, my good friend, and know how proud he would be that I have followed my dream. Dreams. He died so young that he wasn’t able to follow all of his dreams. How many he must have had. Would have had. I knew some of them. I would have liked to know them all.

“Believe you can!” my father said to me. And yet he was also the person who said that achieving a dream takes hard work.

Over the course of my life, I have had plenty of dreams, plenty of goals. In my early twenties, right before my father died, I began my career as an actress. I was cast in a small play in Los Angeles, and he drove down to LA to see me act, dance, and sing. When I close my eyes, I can still see his smiling face, the twinkle in his teary eyes. He had encouraged me to follow my heart, and I had done exactly that. It didn’t hurt that he had given me an old car and had driven my luggage and me to Los Angeles to get started.

Over the course of my acting career, though my father had died, he cheered me on. Every time I performed, I could feel him saying, “Way to go!” When I wrote my first screenplay for myself to star in (every actress’s dream), I could feel my father giving me a thumbs up. [Side note: I never could figure out how to raise enough independent capital to get a screenplay on its feet.]

When it came time to move out of Los Angeles (don’t shoot me women’s libbers, but my husband’s career was on the rise), I gave up on my dream of starring in a TV series or a film. I’d had a good run. I’d made a living as an actress, but becoming a star was not meant to be. My father would have been the first to tell me that not every dream comes true, and it’s the journey that matters.

So I came up with a new dream of becoming a published author. When I was a young girl, I fell in love with Nancy Drew novels. At the age of ten, I thought I could write one—not an easy task, by the way. Kudos to all writers of YA novels! I think my mother stowed my manuscript in my Memory Book. I’ll have to dig it out. I’ll bet it’s not nearly as gripping as I thought it was at the time, but that’s another story. Because of my passion for mysteries and thrillers, I decided that was the kind of novel that I wanted to write.

At our first stop on the “See America Tour”—my husband, my son, and I moved to a number of cities. Orlando, FL was the first one—I crafted my first manuscript. It dealt with my father’s death, and it was not very good. I was too close to the material. As we moved to our second stop on the tour—Charlotte, NC--I wrote my second novel. Alas, that manuscript found it’s way into a drawer, as well. I wasn’t too close to the material; I just wasn’t a very good writer yet.

At that moment of realization, I could hear my father laughing. Know why? Because for years, Miss Perfectionist—his nickname for me—thought she could do anything the first time out. Oh, sure, he encouraged my dreams, but he also encouraged me to see myself clearly. I was too serious. I was too intense. I needed to laugh. I needed to lighten up. And I needed to realize that achieving any dream took work. Hard work. Ten years of semi-rejection as an actress had taught me part of that lesson. Ten-plus years of rejection as a writer was the Master Class. Meanwhile, I took writing classes. I joined critique groups. I got involved with Sisters in Crime and its online group, the Guppies. I wrote a lot of books—more than five, less than ten--before I was finally granted the contract to write A Cheese Shop Mystery series. With each book, I’d learned something new about writing, and more important, something new about myself. I had grit. Dreamers need grit.

I wish my father—and my mother—were here to celebrate my joy as this dream comes true. I’m thrilled to be the author of The Long Quiche Goodbye. I’m thrilled to be passionate about my work, about cheese, about writing. And I’m thrilled to be one of the lucky ones who had the tenacity to keep working to achieve my dream.

Don’t give up. As my father said, “Believe you can!”

Do you have someone—a parent, a friend, a spouse, a teacher—who inspires you to achieve your dream? Care to share who and why? Do you have a dream that you are trying to achieve now? Did you have one that you let go? Do you believe you can?

HANK: Happy Father's Day to all!


Avery can be found on her website at,/ on Facebook, Twitter, and on two blogs: and She also has a booksellers page where you can purchase her book from any of your favorite bookstores: Avery Aames is the pseudonym for suspense/thriller writer Daryl Wood Gerber. For more information about Daryl, you can go to her website at:


  1. Hey, Avery - what a lovely story! Your dad sounds wonderful... I know that feeling of wanting to call up (we used to call them "the parental units) and announce GUESS WHAT!

    Cherishing memories...

  2. Hi Avery, thanks for bringing your story to Jungle Red. I'm sure your folks would be so proud! I didn't know you had Hollywood in your background--some day you'll have to come back and dish on that...

  3. Thanks for the welcome, Hallie and Roberta. Parental units...sweet. And Hollywood? Oh, yes. But that was my other personality, my other lifetime.

  4. What a great tribute to all the fathers out there, whether still here with us or gone. They would be (and are) proud, ladies!

  5. HI all..and happy fathers day!

    Yes, the "wanting to please your dad" thing. Is very powerful

  6. What a tremendous Fathers' Day column! Love the photos and the brief comments, along with Avery's marvelous tribute to her dad. Happy Fathers' Day all!

  7. Pleasing dad, pleasing mom...while at the same time making sure that we please ourselves or we won't be happy with our life choices.


  8. Thank you for reminding me of my own father who passed away a few years ago. He, too, thought his "eldest" daughter was too serious, too intense, and needed to lighten up. We may be perfectionists, but we're responsbile and accomplished.

  9. Avery -- what a lovely post. Your dad sounds great. I bet he's sending a thumbs-up today.


  10. Isn't it amazing the impact our parents have had on us? I know that I, as a parent, think about that impact every day. Did I (do I) say the right thing? Have I made a mark (good or bad) on my child, on my stepchildren? It's such a delicate balance.

  11. My father was a role model for writing - he used to write me 12-page single-spaced typed letters after I left home. And was unfailingly supportive and encouraging. Until the time I asked him, when I was in grad school, if he'd co-sign on my buying a house in southern Indiana! I still miss him. Thanks to all of you for sharing your memories.


  12. Hi Hank! Hi JungleRed-ers! Jumping over from the Romance Bandits to say hello. What a great post.

    Avery, what a wonderful story about your dad, and about your parents inspiration and faith in you. My Mom's been gone for years, but my father just passed recently. Like Jan said of her father, my father was a kind, wonderful man. A real teddy bear. And as writers, you'll all appreciate this...he was a librarian. Grins.

    Hank, when you come to visit your Dad in DC, let me know, we'll "do lunch" Grins.

    Lovely post, ladies! Thanks for sharing.

  13. I am loving hearing all the wonderful stories about dads and how they have inspired. 12 page letters? Ah, Max! Wow. My dad wrote me when I was overseas, on one of those super thin overseas pieces of paper, in the tiniest handwriting ever, and I still have that letter. It was so supportive. Special memories.

    Jeanne, I love that your dad was a librarian!! Gave you gift of reading and appreciating books!


  14. Avery said: Jeanne, I love that your dad was a librarian!! Gave you gift of reading and appreciating books!

    He did indeed, Avery! And I remember that thin, thin paper on the Air Mail things. Wow. Hadn't thought about that in a while. Grins.

  15. Hank, I just want to thank you for the opportunity of posting today. Bringing back memories of my dad and sharing them with others, as well as hearing about other dads, filled me with a sense of wonder about the bonds of family.

    Hugs to you and all of you on Jungle Red.


  16. I just realized that I didn't add my memories of my dad. He's been gone a long time, but I thought about him today. A good man, a kind man an old softy. Engineer by profession, he ran a paper factory.
    Loved his soccer and would have wept over England yesterday!
    I also realized that the only pictures I have of him are in old albums, none on my computer.

  17. Okay, I'm glad I have my box of tissues nearby because reading about all those great dads has made me really miss mine. He's been gone for 4 years now, and I still think about him so much. He had some great words of wisdom over the years for me, but what I'll never forget are these:
    "Always learn, always keep trying, Reb, because the day you stop learning is the day you start to grow old."
    Thanks, Hank. What a great post!

  18. Ah, Avery, love to you too...and we'll see you here again soon! All the best with your book--it's very very exciting.

    Paper, huh Rhys? My dad--who was in prison camp with Kurt Vonnegut in World War II--told me he and Vonnegut used to trade away their cigarettes for writing paper.

  19. Lovely idea for a Father's Day post. Lovely.