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Playing Soldier by F. Scott Service is a Binge-Worthy Festival pick #memoir #nonfiction #giveaway

Title: Playing Soldier

Author: F. Scott Service

Genre: Nonfiction/Memoir

Book Blurb:

As an only child isolated within a troubled family, F. Scott Service found solace in fantasy and imagination, until a fateful day led to the discovery of his father’s Korean War field jacket hidden in a closet. What began as innocent emulation and approval, eventually spiraled into the calamitous loss of everything he had built as an adult. Faced with a grievous divorce, post-traumatic stress, homelessness, substance abuse, and the failure of everything he had willed himself to believe was truth, one night communing with a loaded pistol became the mechanism for self-clarity. From that darkest time, only elemental deconstruction and reconstruction of identity would allow him to forge a reclamation with his true, original self. Visceral, with breathtaking candor, Playing Soldier powerfully captures the unlearning of expectation, the celebration of individuality, and the nourishing of self-acceptance once buried by cultural stamps of approval and societal convention. Braided with humor, courage, fear, despair, and hope, his unflinching, evocative story of passage into adulthood, the Iraq War, and beyond, speaks to anyone who has confronted adversity from without and grappled for their dreams from within.


“So, you’re an Iraq War veteran.”

A statement. I’m wondering if he wants to know more about my time in camel country. What it was like to have my boots in the sandbox. How I felt. What I did. Who I knew. Did it change me in a positive way? Did it broaden my perspectives on life? Does he want to know what I feel is the best thing the Army gave me?

I take a deep breath, then a sip from my glass. “Yes. I was stationed at an airbase about thirty-five miles north of Baghdad for a year, my whole tour lasting almost a year and a half.”

He pauses. “Umm. Yes, I see. It’s here in your résumé.”

I feel an urge to stare him down.

“Tell me. Do you have post-traumatic stress disorder?”

The conference room air feels thick. I swear I see the Human Resource woman’s jaw drop. She begins playing with her pencil, twirling it between her fingers. The other engineer bows to his paperwork, cocking his head as if he’s found something interesting that he overlooked.

Eyeballs anywhere, but the engineer or me.

I take another deep breath and let it out very slowly. I’m embarrassed, angry, and nervous. And a queasy feeling that makes me want to hide far away, elsewhere, somewhere, anywhere in a corner of darkness spreads over my body. I’m defective in some way I can’t explain. I don’t belong here, don’t want to be seen, and should be locked away. Now, all I want to do is go back to my apartment and make myself a Martini.

“Yes, I do. I was diagnosed with it after I came home.”

The HR woman clenches her pencil end-to-end between her hands. She leans forward, her gaze leveled at her fellow company person.

“Tom, that really isn’t a question you should be asking. Why would you do that?”

He looks at her, then shakes his head. “I only wanted to find out if he was going to go ape shit one day and gun us all down.”

Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):

What’s the first binge-worthy book you read and why was it a must-read?

Well, other than Tom o’Vietnam by Baron Wormser which I mentioned in my Lines in the Sand information, I would have to say Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. The language just carried me away to a moving, visual place that happens only when you have an excellent story in your hands.

What makes your featured book a binge-worthy read?

It’s easy to view Playing Soldier as a war memoir, the title implies that. It’s even easier to view it as yet another Iraq War book because the market’s been saturated with veteran’s writing in recent years. However, the story goes deeper than that. In a nutshell, learning through living is the centerpiece of the book. While the war is a character, an influential one to say the least, what’s important to understand is that at the heart of this story is the unlearning of expectation, the dispensing of edicts dictated by the mechanism of society as to how one should live life.

I tried to show how I learned to be free from what is often a humdrum prescription. All my life I followed the rules. I went to college. I got married. I got a job. I bought a house. I enlisted with the Army. I stayed within the lines of precept, despite my inner self begging me to do something different. In other words, I ignored my true dreams for what I wanted to be, who I wanted to be, and how I wanted to present myself to the world, for the sake of approval and to be a well-oiled cog. And that’s really what the war is all about in this book. It’s an instrument of central release, along with the events that followed, that allowed me to return to my original, childhood self. The one who wanted to create stories and write books, to go my own way and be myself without inhibition, to be liberated from an inner pressure rooted in endorsement.

Following your dreams can often be an act of reconciling your pain and making peace with your demons. I’m pretty sure most people can relate to these notions and I hope that by reading this book, they will not only be moved by the story, but that it will broaden their minds, enlighten them with something they may not have thought of before.

Giveaway –

One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon gift card

Open internationally.

Runs August 1 – 31, 2023.

Drawing will be held on September 1, 2023.

Author Biography:

His second, Playing Soldier, takes on a broader scope capturing his lifelong journey of unlearning expectation, celebrating individuality, and nourishing self-acceptance once buried by cultural stamps of approval and societal convention. It has won the 2021 IndieReader Discovery Award for Memoir. It was also awarded Finalist in the 2021 National Indie Excellence Awards for New Nonfiction, the Book Excellence Awards for Memoir, the Wishing Shelf Book Awards for Best Cover Design and Adult Nonfiction, the Independent Author Network (IAN) Book Awards for Autobiography/Biography, the N.N. Light Book Awards for Memoir, and won the Honorable Mention Award in the 2021 Readers' Favorite Book Awards.

Having earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Professional/Technical Communication and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, he has also had experience with editing, journalism, and desktop publishing.

He lives in New England and you may connect with him at:

Social Media Links:


Rita Wray
Rita Wray
Aug 23, 2023

Sounds good.


N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Aug 23, 2023

Thank you, F. Scott, for sharing your book in our Binge-Worthy Book Festival!

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