A Writer’s Journey (Encouragement for Creators)

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“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. Yet that will be the beginning.”

John Wayne in Hondo

Louis Dearborn LaMoore, who wrote the above statement, was born in North Dakota on March 22, 1908, a time when the Great American West was beginning to fade into history. As a boy, Louis would talk to the cowboys who frequently traveled through his hometown, driving livestock to and from ranches in Montana. Louis often fantasized about the bygone days of the Wild West, played “Cowboys and Indians” in the family barn, and devoured scores of historical adventure novels.

Louis’ father was a farm veterinarian and politician who’d arrived in the Dakota Territory to make his fortune in 1882. But in the winter of 1923, following a series of bank failures that devastated the area’s economy, Dr. LaMoore headed South with his wife and seven children. During the next several years, the LaMoores worked the mines in Arizona, California and Nevada, baled hay in New Mexico, and skinned cattle in Texas. Along the way, Louis met dozens of fascinating people, from all walks of life, which would eventually inspire the colorful characters in his fiction.

LaMoore dreamed of being a writer. And although he initially found some success writing articles about his travels, his short stories were repeatedly rejected. LaMoore would eventually publish 105 books (89 novels, 14 short story collections and 2 works of non-fiction), but before then he had a long ways to travel.

LaMoore took to the road. Along the way, he spent time as a mine assessment worker. He later became a professional boxer. And as a merchant seaman, he traveled the world, visiting England, Japan, China, Arabia, Egypt, and Panama. But he returned home in 1933, settled in Oklahoma, changed his name to Louis L’Amour, and pursued his writing.

L’Amour mostly wrote novels about the Wild West, classics of the genre, many of which would be adapted for movies and television — including Hondo, starring John Wayne, and The Sacketts, starring Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott. But getting the first few published was laborious. LaMoore once wrote, “Victory is won not in miles but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later, win a little more.”

Tom Selleck & Sam Elliott in The Sacketts

L’Amour slowing gained ground with American publishers, but the writer was extremely prolific and wrote more novels than he could place with the few major publishing houses. None of these companies were willing to publish more than two of his books a year — and L’Amour had already placed novels with several of them.

Bantam Books finally took a chance on Louis L’Amour, and contracted to publish all of the novelist’s works: past, present and yet to be written. And the publisher never had occasion to regret its agreement. L’Amour was a perennial gold mine for Bantam, ultimately selling over 320 million copies, and the publisher continues to keep the L’Amour Library in print.

Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.  (Louis L’Amour)

A person’s gift opens doors for him, bringing him access to important people. (Proverbs 18:16 ISV)

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Sweet, Satisfying and Inspiring! (Encouragement for Creators)

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In the late 1800s, the American candy maker Milton S. Hershey had a dream to make chocolate both available and affordable to the general public. Despite two failed business ventures, Hershey persevered and, in 1900, he introduced the first Hersey Milk Chocolate Bar. (See our previous post.) But the candy man’s dreams and creations went further. Seven years later, he developed and treated Americans to Hershey’s Kisses! The following year he gave us the Hershey Bar with Almonds!

But Hershey’s innovations and contributions went far beyond chocolate. In his future were further creations, as well as numerous acts of philanthropy. Hershey truly wanted to help people in any way he could. Fortunately for all of us, he got his chance. But things might have turned out differently were it not for a sudden business matter Hershey needed to address on April 10, 1912. Before we explain further, we’ll continue with Milton Hershey’s accomplishments and acts of kindness.

In 1905, he completed construction on the world’s largest chocolate manufacturing company eat your heart out, Willy Wonka! — in the center of a dairy farming district in Pennsylvania. Soon after, his delicious milk chocolate became the first nationally-marketed brand of candy.

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, a character loosely based on Hershey, in the 1971 movie Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: “I’m just a fictional character, but Milton … he’s a real hero!”

But Hershey didn’t stop there: with his support, homes, shops, churches, and a transportation system sprang up around his chocolate factory. In 1909, he established the Hershey Industrial School to help disadvantaged kids. He also founded a teaching hospital with an initial endowment of $50 million. Hershey once stated, “One is only happy in proportion as he makes others feel happy and only useful as he contributes his influences for the finer callings in life.”

Hershey’s company continued to spread happiness. During WWII his chocolate factory supplied the U.S. armed forces with specially-made chocolate bars. No small feat: The bars, two types called Ration D Bars and Tropical Chocolate Bars had to meet stringent military requirements. They had to weigh one or two ounces each, and resist melting at temperatures higher than 90 degrees. No problem!

Between 1940 and 1945, the Hershey plant produced and distributed over 3 billion chocolate bars to soldiers throughout the world. At the height of production the company was making 24 million chocolate ration bars a week, and it ultimately received five Army-Navy ‘E’ Production Awards for exceeding expectations for quality and quantity. (Sorry, Charley!) And, of course, the famous Hersheypark and Hershey Museum were yet to come. Milton Hershey’s many contributions are remembered there, and kids young and old delight to tour the chocolate factory.

Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, in the 2005 movie Charley and the Chocolate Factory: “Milton, even I must tip my hat to your amazing accomplishments!”

Thank God this great man, who gave us so much, needed to attend to some last minute business affairs on the morning of April 10, 1912. You see, Hershey and his wife had booked passage from Southampton, England to New York on the maiden voyage of the ill-fated British luxury liner RMS Titanic. But something concerning the chocolate company suddenly came up, forcing the couple to cancel their reservations at the last minute! Whew!!

Hershey lived happily to the ripe old age of 88, blessing millions of people with his kindness and candy.

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