Gary Slaughter with wife Joanne Slaughter


Sharing Your Life’s Story:
Preserving Memories: Recollections and Recipes from Family and Friends

The Nonfiction Authors Association selected my memoir-recipe collection, Preserving Memories, for a 2020 Gold Award. Their review reads as follows.

“Joanne Fletcher Slaughter's Preserving Memories is filled with tidbits that feed your mind and soul, along with your stomach since the book is filled with luscious recipes. Fun facts of days gone by, mixed with current traditions, make this a great family you can add some of your own morsels to! This book would also make a great present for anyone who likes family history and the food that made families great to be around. The photos in this book reflect her memories of loved ones and are the reasons that I read the historical stories she wrote about how the recipes came about over the generations. The back cover was a creative way of creating a cookbook for everyone to enjoy. This is a book that will allow cooks and bakers of all skill levels a chance to share what makes their recipes special as well.”

For me, certain foods evoke memories of special times with family and friends. I’m sure that you have similar recollections.

Beginning in the 1960s, I began collecting recipes from family and friends, as well as compiling recipe booklets for various organizations. In 2018, my husband Gary and I co-authored his autobiography, The Journey of an Inquiring Mind. Then, with his urging, I decided to record my favorite recipes from family and friends. Each recipe has its associated special memory.

Without a doubt, compiling these vignettes has been one of the most exciting experiences of my life! And, in recording a friend’s recipe, I relived pleasant memories of our relationship. These recollections, in turn, recalled other past experiences. This book quite literally wrote itself. Many years from now, I envision myself rereading the vignettes to recapture my wonderful life’s experiences.

How are you planning to share your life’s experiences? Writing a memoir? Compiling a book of captioned photographs? Join me for an interactive exchange about different ways to tell your story.;




Since the launch of Cottonwood Summer in 2004, Gary has presented hundreds of book talks to groups across the United States. Audiences have included attendees of book groups, book festivals, church groups, DAR chapters, libraries, retired military officers’ clubs, schools, and service organizations. He currently is available to present the following talks:

Behind the Book Talk for Sea Stories: A Memoir of a Naval Officer (1956-1967)

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Ensign Gary Slaughter was credited with playing a key role in defusing a potential nuclear confrontation between his destroyer and a Soviet submarine armed with a nuclear torpedo. His adept handling of this dangerous situation was featured in two documentary films aired in America and abroad on the 40th anniversary of the incident in 2012. Sea Stories brings this incredible true event vividly to life in just one of the 60 vignettes comprising this book that spans his naval service during the Cold War.

As a writer, Gary has the unique skill to see humor and likability in the people and the situations he encountered during his Navy days. His writing skills are on full display in Sea Stories, as well as in his previous series of five award-winning Cottonwood novels set on the World War II home front.

German POWs in America during World War II

In his early years in Owosso, Michigan, Gary observed with boyhood fascination the German prisoners of war who were interned at Camp Owosso located on the outskirts of town. He saw POWs at the local canning factory where they worked under the watchful eye of their Army guards, standing watch with tommy guns at the ready. When two German prisoners escaped with the help of two Owosso women, his life-long obsession with German POWs began.

Finally in 2002, he put his business career on hold and sat down to write the “Great American Novel.” Predictably, his critically-acclaimed Cottonwood novels are replete with stories involving German POWs, starting with Cottonwood Summer which tells the story of a POW escape and the subsequent trial of two young women. Gary’s talk tells about POWs in American during the World War II -- a little-known chapter in the history of the war.

The Closest Call: Secrets from the Cuban Missile Crisis

Ensign Gary Slaughter was sworn to secrecy for 40 years. On October 27, 1962, as a young naval officer aboard the USS Cony, Slaughter played a key role in surfacing a Soviet submarine armed with a nuclear torpedo. The tense standoff that resulted could have easily sparked a devastating exchange of nuclear weapons between the USSR and the United States. But thanks to the cool thinking and decisive action by Slaughter and his shipmates, the exchange was averted.

As a part of the Crisis-ending agreement between Premier Khrushchev and President Kennedy, the incident was classified Top Secret. Well after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Slaughter’s role was finally revealed by the 2002 publication of Peter Huchthausen’s book, October Fury.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Slaughter was a key contributor to the 2012 PBS documentary, The Man Who Saved the World, that is regularly shown on PBS and YouTube. He also appeared on the BBS Television Network in 2013 in the BBC Productions’ The Silent War.

For more information or to schedule a talk for your organization, please complete the following form...

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