Thank you, readers, for my great launch week for Jake2. I truly appreciate your feedback and support! Loved writing this book!
Sometimes you get into a story, and it becomes deeper than you'd planned, or you get caught up in a secondary character who makes his/her appearance on stage and completely takes over the storyline for a time.
With Band of Bachelors: Jake, I had one of those occurrences. I loved writing about this dysfunctional family and all their problems. Jake, based on a real SEAL I knew briefly, had fathered four children with three different women, not because he was a bad person, but because he couldn't say no, and wasn't careful. It didn't matter to him if sex brought him more children because he loved his children.
I know there are “norms” and I get hit with occasional comments from the Reader Police, informing me about how I've bended or broken the rules. In the words of one of my delightful writer friends, “You don't have to worry about breaking the rules, just understand the rules you are breaking.” She breaks them all the time, and so do I. I think that gives variety and spice to the romance genre, and we also get to try out things that perhaps we wouldn't have been able to if we all subscribed to the same lock-step rules.
So my guy is one of those who doesn't pay attention to the seed he spawns. Okay. That still doesn't disqualify him as a hero, because he makes good on his intentions – just learns the lesson later than most. And that happens in real life, right?
So, at the end of Band of Bachelors: Jake, I already knew there had to be a Book 2. I also am aiming more toward things that could be made into TV or movie pilots, and, from talking to screenwriters and others who produce TV pilots, they usually want the same character in each episode, not different couples, like I have in the beginning of my SEAL Brotherhood Series. So, I've been testing how I could do this, and have done it now three times: with Jameson in Nashville SEALs, Fredo in Fredo's Dream, and now with Jake2.
As a writer, I try to look for new projects for me, experiments that tickle my fancy (maybe some other things too, but I won't mention them!) and keep the creative part, well, creative! In Paradise, I wrote that book in first person. In SEAL Of Time, I created a paranormal Navy SEAL, son of Poseidon, who is an immortal healer.
As a reader, you like that, right? I know as a reader of some of my favorite authors, I sure do. I love seeing new things my favorite authors can accomplish. It's like opening a new chapter on a familiar book, and discovering something you hadn't read before. Thanks for taking the journey with me!
When I was little, my parents gave me a record player with one red button on it. The arm was red, and the volume control was on the right side. It played a number of 45 rpm records such as Snow White, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, and others. The machine, like the one pictured here, had Alice in Wonderland characters painted on it.
This may very well be the exact machine I used to listen to those many many years ago. I was about 3. We had a large house in Oakland, California, and the upstairs had three bedrooms and two attic doors. We later had boarders, “the grandmothers” who helped my parents with expenses. But for a long time, I was alone in the entire top floor of this old home. My fantasy life bloomed into something so strong, I know it will always be with me forever.
We raise our kids on all sorts of stories now, such as Star Wars, Harry Potter and others. But back then, I think the very first records for children were fantasy love stories I listened to over and over again.
Alice In Wonderland is celebrating it's 65th anniversary this year. Perhaps that's why this RCA Victor record player had those characters. But my 3 year old mind and heart was stolen by the fantasy of true love. It has been something I carry with me to this day. I can still hear the songs, the music and the voices. I see the dancing. The idea of finding my handsome prince and dancing off in the moonlight is a vision for my generation that will thrill me until the day I take my last breath. I'll sail off to that other world, and hope to meet every one of my fantasy men, who will of course greet me like the queen of romance I am!
We've just spent a week in Orlando at Disney World. Children and adults from all different cultures and races can relate to the magic of family, of love, of finding a place that is safe and wonderful, and, for a few hours, forget the cares of the world and just explore their own childhood. John Lennon's words come to me, “Imagine all the people…” and I saw evidence that people could stand side by side when they have at least one thing in common. We don't ask what we don't share. We live by the things we do share in common.
I guess I could call Disney World and Disneyland (my home turf) my Mecca of sorts. We bring the grandchildren there to share with them what we shared with our kids. Our kids share their love of fantasy with their own children. It's an indescribably wonderful way to spend a few days together, memories that will last a lifetime. Because we never know when we'll be separated.
I once talked to a partner of Disney who said WD had taken his daughters to a park and found the merry-go-round animals had chipped paint and some of them didn't work. He vowed that when he built Disneyland, “It will be a place with no chipped paint and everything works.” His legacy lives on.
My worlds are internal. I am the stoker of the fire. I plant the seed and the reader takes that and grows it into a fantasy of their own choosing. Maybe I am the cage around the tomato plant, that keeps it from falling over. I losely guide the reader here and there, like a painting instead of a photograph. This is fiction. Blurry, fuzzy fiction, with enough grit, heartache and emotion to make it just real enough to ask the reader to come along on the ride.
Aside from trends, the writer in me knows I have to keep it fresh, and unlike other authors. My voice has to be unique. I have to weave universal themes such as true love, love heals, love conquers, and love everlasting. I'm not a billion dollar business (yet), but I'm inspired by the world building and that little touch of magic Disney has given me. I'm grateful my childhood was the way it was, every part of it, even the parts that weren't so much fun.
I get kind of crazy when I'm finishing a book, which usually means I'm anti-social and hermit-like. Not this time. This time, for whatever reason, I'm connected with lots of people. I've been working on Romancing The Vines, book signing at Coppola Winery on 2-20-16, coordinating things with the wonderful event staff there and making sure all of us are on the same page. There's more about that, but I best not put it in writing until after the event.
Then I fly to Hawaii to participate in an author's conference, and then another book signing in Honolulu for military writers. I'm sponsoring a trip to Pearl Harbor, and the Missouri and Arizona memorials. While I'm there, I'll be going to a swing dance (stag), but who knows? Perhaps I'll find a young officer to dance with, since my husband has to stay home this time.
End of February I'll be attending an Indie Un-Con in San Francisco. Next week I give a luncheon address for a group, talking about Navy SEALs and the heroism they display. This will not be my normal group of writers and avid romance fans, so I'm bringing to them brand new material.
We saw 13 Hours, which is a movie everyone should see, and watched some interviews with the real survivors. I finished Black Sails and Mozart In the Jungle, two new programs for me, which rival my previously favorite: House of Cards.
I've completely straightened my writing area, AGAIN! I've uncovered my gym, put material and quilting supplies that were encroaching into bins and boxes so I can see what I have. I've raided the Salvation Army and Goodwill stores in Healdsburg and Santa Rosa and walked out with every aloha shirt I could find for my quilt.
This is behavior I had when I was pregnant! Impossible now, but perhaps the birth of the book is bringing out all the nesting instincts in me. And I'm still enjoying Christmas, even though the tree is torch-like dry. I'm leaving up all the decorations until the book is done. I have other writer friends who are stressing over deadlines farther out, and I've kept my mouth shut.
And I've done all this without coffee, can you believe it? And I've stuck to my diet, and have lost about 6#, perhaps more now.
I guess what's happening is I'm organizing my whole world so my focus is sharp and detailed. I call it Fierce Writing. In the zone, as one of my good friends says. I love writing this way. When I walk in and out of rooms, I get excited because they're clean, orderly and I'm not distracted. I don't feel bad because everything else has been allowed to slide. This is a planned attack, just like my SEALs do in the books I write. Writing fiercely and clear-headed is a practice, a devotion to something hopefully greater than myself.
Interesting that when I decide to clean up my spaces, I write better. My relationships are cleaner. Even three of my kids said thank you to me for being the mother I was. Two of them actually asked for advice!
Yes, I've gone to Heaven.
Okay, now back to the book. I'm working hard, and I do it for you!
I am moved by events that happened today to some dear friends who experienced a tragedy. I know they are struggling with the pain that they must bear very privately, and how I wish I could take some of the burden from them. But I cannot.
So I thought I'd do a post on the daily inspirational message I read every morning, but on this particular morning, had such a profound impact on me. I hope that it finds its way to your heart somehow, either now, or when you stumble upon it some days or weeks or years from now.
The pain of leaving those you grow to love is only the prelude to understanding yourself and others.
I next read the message at the bottom of the devotional so I know where the message is taking me, and it read, “Today will bring both good-byes and hellos. I can meet both with gladness.”
I wasn't sure I was going to like this passage today. But I read on: Life is a process of letting go, letting go of conditions we can't control, letting go of people–watching them move out of our lives, letting go of times, places, experiences. Leaving behind anyone or anyplace we have loved may sadden us, but it also provides us opportunities for growth we hadn't imagined. These experiences push us beyond our former selves to deeper understandings of ourselves and of others.
So often those experiences that sadden us, that trigger pain, are the best lessons life is able to offer. Experiencing the pain, surviving the pain that wrenches us emotionally, stretches us to new heights. Life is enriched by the pain. Our experiences with all other persons thereafter are deeper. Instead of dreading the ending of a time, the departure of a loved one, we must try to appreciate what we have gained already and know that life is fuller for it.
My grandfather, who was probably the greatest man I have ever known, the handsome preacher who called on people to rise up above themselves, out of the flaws of this world for the possibility of a more perfect world yet to be, conducted my grandmother's funeral and called it a Victory Memorial. I can't quite go there today, especially in light of what my friends have had to bear today. But what he meant was that death wasn't the end of things.
It's a doorway to the next thing. We each see that doorway, depending on where we stand in connection to it, so that every person has their own perspective of it, experience of it uniquely their own.
My grandfather's message to us was that there were other doorways, and everyone has one we will enter when that time comes. Until then, life is to be cherished. Every minute of it. That we feel pain is evidence that we are alive, lucky to be alive, living amongst each other, and that there is sunshine ahead.
Welcome everyone to the New Years Blog Hop. There are a ton of prizes you can win, which I've described below. In addition, someone on this blog will win a set of dog tags (3 covers of my SEAL books) and my new release, Fallen SEAL Legacy.
But that's not all. EVERYONE who leaves their email address wins something: either SEAL Encounter, the prequel/short to Accidental SEAL, or SEAL Endeavor, the prequel/short to Fallen SEAL Legacy. Yup. Everyone!
Your mission, if you so choose, is to leave a comment here on this blog, with your email address. We're sorry, but the Grand Prize #3 SWAG Pack offered on the site that is won internationally may have postage charges added.
You have a lot of other great blogs to follow and enter for freebies, so this post will be short. Here are the 10 things a Navy SEAL would NEVER SAY.
1. Let's go hang out at the mall.
2. I'm not a risk taker. I like it safe.
3. I'm not really a great swimmer and don't much care for the water.
4. I have a replica DOR bell on my keychain, just to bring back the fond memories.
5. Getting wet and sandy is my idea of fun on a Saturday night.
6. I sometimes have trouble making quick decisions.
7. I can't live without 8 hours sleep every night.
8. I'm just as happy reading a book as getting into a fight.
9. Will you pack my chute for me? I'm just too tired.
10. I don't ever think about the sacrifices my family makes for me at home.
Can you add to this list? Which one is your favorite?
Good luck with the grand prizes, listed below:
There are a lot of military families out there who are separated this Christmas. Thank you for stopping by to help remember them today. It's easy to forget about our fighting men and women when we are just going about our daily lives. In this picture, my husband and I are at the wedding of our oldest son, which took place amongst the redwoods. I'm holding our grandson.
But these precious days wouldn't be possible without those that have sacrificed, and in some cases, given their all so we could have a “normal” life, free from the worries and dangers we might otherwise face.
I think about the families separated this Christmas, and my heart goes out to them especially. They are having a Christmas dinner in a temporary home, sleep on a cot, love getting letters and packages from home. They play video games and read, and they think of their families. I include them in my family. And if I could rule the world, like I do in my military romance novels, I'd bring them all home safely tomorrow. Before Christmas.
But I'm a realist. The world doesn't always have a happily ever after, like in our books. And, sadly, some must pay the ultimate sacrifice or come home wounded. I can only imagine the pain their absense causes.
And so I say thank you, for all you do for us. For giving me a Christmas and a whole life I will not squander.
Please leave your email in your comment for a free short to my new Navy SEAL Brotherhood series, SEAL Endeavor. This is the prequel to my new release, Fallen SEAL Legacy. You must also leave your email addy to be entered in the grand prize drawing.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, and be sure to share this post with everyone you know. Remember, EVERYONE who leaves a comment and their email address will win a short. Everyone.
And be sure to stop by all the other author blog sites for other free prizes to make your Christmas that much merrier:
More about this guy who never quit. We should all have it so tough. Look what he overcame. When I think of all the sacrifices others have made so I can have a “normal” life, sometimes taking for granted my health, and then someone like this comes along, well, it's a good reminder of what is important in life.
Enjoy the short video and watch it to the very end.
Nano has been a bust for me this year, and unless I pull “two-dayer”, which I don't do any longer, I will not make the word count. Of course, I could figure my edits in that, but they aren't new words, or at least half of them aren't, so that would be cheating. My new book comes out in December, and there were last-minute edits I chose to do, and I hadn't planned on them right in the middle of Nano. It was the right thing to do.
But I'm not quitting my Nano goal. I'm going on to see how many I can do. Complicated with family drama over the Thanksgiving Holiday, which always seems to happen. As someone much wiser than me said, “It rarely is a Normal Rockwell moment,” meaning, my expectations almost always exceed what happens in real time. But getting real has been what this year has been about, so I accept that. No, my dinner was perfect, was not a Norman Rockwell picture, but pretty darned close. It was Sharon's family, and that's more than fine for me.
My 3 year old granddaughter brought a stepstool into the kitchen and said, “Grandma, I help you now.” I like that she didn't ask me, she told me what she was going to do. Good going, little one. You have learned something at 3 it took me many years to master. Her sweet little face looking up at me caused me to realize that, of course, everything goes better with sugar. And of course I said yes. And as daunting as the other drama of the holidays can be, it is the beginning of her life, her memories, and I'm here and present and clear of mind to enjoy them, and help make them happy ones. What better gift can I give my grandchildren than the gift of a happy childhood? Not me alone. It does take a family. But I'm part of that family, even though parts of it don't work well.
That's what's real. That is something I am thankful for.
Welcome to the Black Friday Blog Hop event. This day is about you: the freebies, the swag, the new authors you'll get to discover. And you don't have to get out of your house or brave the long lines and crowds to do it.
I want you to be able to stop by and see all the other authors participating too, so my post will be short (for those that know me, you're gonna say, “wha?”)
We have a small gathering this year, which suits me. We've also opted out of the gift giving for Christmas, but will do some things for the grandkids. On Black Friday, I'll be participating in the Black Friday Bloghop, checking Amazon and reading instead of standing in line.
I am not in the least bit tempted by the seasonal craziness. Didn't we just have a year of that with the election? Just not feeling like being a lemming. Still recovering from the years of overdoing. Things are simple these days. I cherish the time spent with the family rather than the exchange that used to take up most the day. The excesses of the holidays starts with Thanksgiving. No wonder everyone goes on a diet in January. In more ways than one.
I bought my Willie Bird turkey yesterday at G&G Market, along with everything I'm going to use in the stuffing. Bought some special mushrooms for my famous soup and even found some 1/2 & 1/2, string beans, apples, potatoes and shrimp on sale. Bought the last jar of oysters, which we also like in stuffing.
Don and I will be making the house festive today, which is, I think, my real Thanksgiving. The more I do today, the more I get to enjoy tomorrow. All the desserts are going back with the people who bring them, so I won't be tempted. I'll save enough stuffing for my hubby, but I can have beans and mashed potatoes and the leftover turkey and stay on my food plan.
Waiting for my book to come back from the editor, and yes, I'm always nervous at this point. The last 6 months I've worked harder on my writing and the writing business than I ever have. I know I've put in the time and done the things I need to do. It's the waiting to see how it is received that is the hard part. But, need to remind myself, it's all in just doing what I love and know how to do. I just have to have trust and faith the rest will come along, in good time. Remind myself, it really isn't up to me, anyway.
I'm grateful my Dad is able to celebrate one more Thanksgiving. He will be missed. Read someone else's post about collapsing with tears and I burst into tears, too. I'm thinking about all the family meals we all shared, and all the people that are no longer with us–I hear them in my head and feel them in my heart like characters from my books. All the sights, smells and feelings of my childhood are washing over me. I wonder how I will be thought of some day, when I am gone too.
As someone much wiser than I said a few months ago, “Sharon, your job today is to just feel.”
Come back Friday for:
It makes a lot more sense spending Friday with your favorite authors than spending too much money, braving the crowds. Find some great new authors. Buy their books for your yourself and indulge in the freebies given away JUST THIS FRIDAY.
For a couple of days, my Honeymoon Bite will be free. As of this morning, it has soared in 24 hours to the #6 spot for Freebie Amazon in the Fantasy category. Almost in the top 100 overall.
So, if Edward and Bella's story has got you craving for more, take a gander at some adult entertainment. Strictly over 18 stuff, but I'm proud of the redemption through true love, which is the thread throughout all my books.
I loved writing this, my first vampire story. Book 2 is next, after lauch of the Fallen SEAL Legacy.
I know, I know. SEALs and vamps, you say? Well, these are fictionalized stories based on legend, myth and snippets of things I've either read or discussed with other people. Like any good storyteller, I take the things I didn't like from some of the vamp stories, like their plumbing issues (thank you Anne Rice for your great characters, but no thanks on the lack of sex), and their need to sleep in a coffin (love True Blood but it's getting kinda out there, still fun) and need to stay out of the sun–and I fixed those problems. Why? Because I can.
Excerpt, Honeymoon Bite:
Just like when I released Accidental SEAL, I created a short, SEAL Encounter, a prequel to the full length book. It has sold almost as many copies as the Accidental SEAL. This book was 12 weeks in Amazon's top 100 for Romantic Suspense. I have been a top 100 Amazon Romantic Suspense author almost every day since they started the program in September of 2012.
I'm doing the same promotion for Fallen SEAL Legacy. The new prequel for this one is SEAL Endeavor. Isn't the cover wonderful? I have dog tags and bookmarks for the new book, too. Posters signed by none other than Jimmy Thomas.
Edits have taken a little longer than I wanted, but that's my fault, not anyone else's. We've been a busy family over the last 2 months. And family comes first. Always.
Hopefully, the first week in December SEAL Endeavor will be out. Can you tell Cooper and Libby almost meet at the Monterey Bay Aquarium?
I hope you'll continue the journey with me. There will be some fun prizes and swag. Oh yes, I take care of you big time. Stay tuned for the big day!
Just a few little pictures to remind you of this time of year. I've been taking a bit of a break, being guested on other's blogs.
We've got rain tonight, and the Giant's parade was wet, but typically San Francisco.
But I still feel sorry for the kids. Rain really spoils Halloween, IMHO.
With all the election hoopla, I admit to being a little burned out. There is so much at stake and people are mincing over soundbites. And now with the massive storms in the east coast, so many people are hurting.
The economy sucks–can we just say it like it is instead of pretending everything is great? After all, you can't change anything unless you first acknowledge what's so. Truth is in short supply these days.
But most important, let's not forget our men and women who have to face danger every day. I know many of them wish they were home to help their families in their time of need. I hope they stay safe and understand we apreciate them, and haven't forgotten what they are doing, and why. They do it so we can have a life.
Even at our worst, we still have the best country in the world. I hope it stays that way for generations to come. Time to stand up and be strong. Tell the truth. Give thanks.
I hope that we never lose sight of that.
So, here's my blog and giveaway, and you have until October 22nd to leave your comments. If I had a big Highland Games event and I invited all the heroes of the six books I've written, who would win? Yes, I want you to pick the winner, after I give the evidence. And I'll even make it more fair. You can pick a hero from someone else's blog or book and vote for them here too.
Every comment gets entered into our Grand Prize giveaway, and every commenter will receive something, and YOU EVEN GET TO CHOOSE. Now, when were you ever given the choice of prizes on a blog hop? Be sure you follow the instructions at the end of this post.
We have 6 Alpha Heroes: Daniel DePalma, Joshua Brandon, Marcus Monteleone, Paolo Monteleone, SOC Kyle Lansdowne and SO Calvin Cooper. You get to vote for one of them (or another hero, if you must), by leaving a comment and telling us all why you think they should win, and what would you do with them to celebrate?
So, since this is election season, here are the descriptions of the candidates, and their Hollywood likenesses:
Daniel DePalma: Brazilian-born painter of colorful wall-sized jungle prints. He does not know his best friend, posing as his agent, is a dark angel who has hooked him up with a very bad girl. The relationship nearly destroys him. Not realizing there are forces of good and evil at play, a guardian angel comes to his rescue. He falls in love with her in spirit, until he falls in love with her in the flesh. He is willing to spend his life separated from his angel lover just to see her safely home.
Joshua Brandon: A colorful dark angel who was looking forward to an eternity of partying with his former best human friend, Daniel, bedding women in the Underworld as well as “on top” in the human world, until the guardian angel intervened. He has a fondness for redheads, especially redheadded guardian angels. He hates birds and detests order and rules. But he soon finds that, among other things, he has grown a conscience and finally meets a soul he cannot claim. He faces the ultimate sacrifice when he is asked to deliver that very woman to the Director of the Underworld to become a concubine. He discovers there are rules worth dying for.
Marcus Monteleone: A 300-year old golden vampire, has spent most of those years searching for his fated female, only to find her dying in his arms. He saves her life by turning her, only to be enjoined by the rules of his breed, to not interfere with her once human life. He does not believe he has fathered a child by a half vampire half witch/villainess, but he feels an obligation to take responsibility for the boy. In the end, he is willing to spend eternity without her if it means she will be safe from the jealous mother of the boy.
Paulo Monteleone: Brother to Marcus. He loves human women, and, unlike his brothers and sisters, does not take golden vampire mates and chooses to marry outside the fating, resisting a fating that went terribly wrong. He falls in love with a professor of legend and myths, who claims she knows everything about the “non-existant” golden vampires of Tuscany. He finds he is willing to sacrifice his immortal life to rescue his human lover from those that want her silenced.
Kyle Lansdowne: SEAL team leader sent on a mission to find his AWOL swim buddy, who has been kidnapped by a drug gang. The gang's intent is to get weapons and equipment from the SEAL community for their illegal use. By accident, Kyle runs into a newbie Realtor, and he finds in her the woman he has always wanted, just when she is nearly taken from him forever. He is forced to choose between her and his SEAL team buddy's life.
Calvin Cooper: Nebraska farm boy turned U.S. Navy SEAL. A specialist with gadgets, a medic and one of the tallest SEALs to ever graduate BUD/S. He is ordered to meet the family of a fallen SEAL medic, to help him heal the loss of his own family in a tornado. He helps a prominent psychiatrist protect his family, including his lovely daughter, from a psychopathic killer bent on revenge.
Now for your choice:
1. Dog Tag from Accidental SEAL
2. Amazon Kindle version SEAL Encounter.
Be sure to leave your name, AND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS, and please do so in code like: Jane Doe (at) gmail (dot) com.
Have fun, and good luck!!
Joshua Welle and Graham Plaster, I must say, it is entirely a privilege to interview the two of you. Can’t wait to spread word about your wonderful book.
We military romance novelists write stories with military heroes. Different genre than yours, of course, but our readers like to learn about heroes and heroines who do the right thing, rise to the challenge and, against all odds, achieve a happily ever after. We wish it was always so in real life for these brave men and women.
In romance, we create fictional stories, based on things that could happen, not what did happen. Our average romance reader reads 3-4 books a week. It is estimated to be upwards of 51% of the publishing market. There is currently huge interest in things military, especially Special Ops.
So, thank you not only for your service, but for your time. I've written some questions about this book I think other writers and readers would want to know. So, welcome, and let's begin.
Tell me how you got the idea to put together the stories in this book? Who came up with the idea and how did it happen?
The concept for the book was originally a solicitation to our classmates, the first class to graduate from the US Naval Academy following 9-11, asking them to write something reflecting on their experiences over the past 10 years. We received 63 submissions over the course of three years and spent a considerable amount of time processing the themes that were emerging in the short stories.
Our primary reason for writing the book was to give voice to our current generation of leaders, promoting an honest but hopeful vision for the country. We're excited about the result because the book is exceeding our expectations. Not only was there a lot of interest to write, but there has also been tremendous energy and support from those who are reading the stories.
Whose idea was it?
Joshua Welle, our class President, along with the elected leadership of the class, initiated the project. Josh deservers the lion's share of the credit for networking with veteran's groups and book endorsers, but we've also assembled a highly talented team of editors, PR and social media professionals. It has been a team effort. The four editors on the cover, Josh Welle, John Ennis, Katherine Kranz and Graham Plaster, worked with the content of the book and created the anthology which is the final product.
Who do you want to read this book? Why?
As Tom Brokaw has already said, this book is a “must read for all Americans.” We think that it is a book that can be read by young and old alike, military and civilians. The stories are short and inspirational, providing insight from up and coming military leaders. They would make great leadership case studies for any group working through particular issues.
The broader theme of the book is bigger than military service. By honoring veterans in the book, we also want to cultivate a national dialogue surrounding the enduring qualities that make America great. These qualities – cherished, defended and exemplified by our veterans, are worth discussing as we continue to grapple with strategic decisions for America.
Tell us how the book is structured and some of the tales it contains.
The book is structured thematically, starting with short stories about experiences at the Naval Academy and remembrances of 9-11, followed by war stories and anecdotes of heroism. Finally, there are several stories about life after the military, the impact of military service on community leadership and major changes to military and civilian culture over the past 10 years.
Some folks tend to think of their 20s as a carefree decade in their lives…yours was not. Would you have had it any other way?
This is a question that is best answered by reading the book. The answer is mostly no, but there are shadows in our stories. Not everything is black and white. When we applied to the Naval Academy, we were attracted to the crisp distinctions between navy blue and white, good and evil, satisfactory and unsatisfatory. These paradigms were tested. Read the book to get an inside glimpse of how we navigated those waters.
Only 1% of Americans are wearing the uniform and fighting the nation’s post-9/11 wars…should this be a concern?
There is a different opinion on this for every contributor to the book, and the editors cannot speak on behalf of everyone for questions like this, but even in leadership classes at the Naval Academy we discussed the widening culture gap between the military and civilian life. This is a concern to some people, and simply par for the course if you ask others.
There is a culture gap in any specialization, and in some cases the military does a much better job of keeping the public informed about our values and sacrifices. We rely heavily on the non-profits, civic organizations and veteran support groups to ensure this gap is bridged. We are so thankful to those who do understand military sacrifice. This book is a bridge across that gap.
How has the military treated you and your family?
The military has tremendous programs in place to support families, and the close knit communities that form on far flung bases are the bedrock of American society. Supporting families is a high priority to our leaders in the military, which is why failures in the system get so much scrutiny. It is through the difficult process of discussing shortcomings in the system of support that we make it better. We have confidence that as we raise issues, leaders from our generation will continue to rise to the challenge of supporting military families in the years to come.
And by supporting those families, we learn to heal our nation as a whole. How did you decide who to invite into this endeavor?
The entire class was invited to participate. Not everyone wanted to write, felt like they were in a position to write. Because we are still mid-career, there are many questions that go into a project like this. Am I writing for a good reason? Am I writing what needs to be said? Am I correcting a misconception? We wrestled with these questions as writers and peer editors.
Tell me your most inspirational story and why?
One of the most moving accounts is written by Lisa Freeman, mother of Matt Freeman, who was killed in action. She writes from the perspective of her son. When she was first approached to write, she was still too raw from the loss of her son. Through the process of putting words to paper, and working with the classmates of her son to edit the story, she was able to work through some of the difficult emotions. She spoke at our national book launch at 9-11 and received a standing ovation for her courage and the great work being done in Matt’s name through The Matthew Freeman Project (freemanproject.org).
Let's hope that some of our readers today can help you and Mrs. Freeman with that goal. Do you have plans for future projects along the same lines? Or, anything you felt got left out because it needs a separate book?
We have 30 more stories that will be published directly to eBook, hopefully soon. All profits from the book and eBook go to veteran charities. Our only goal is to make sure the stories get told.
What would you like readers to know about this book?
This is a really unique book. Many memoirs are written at the twilight of a career, this is a slice of life from 33 mid-career leaders. Who knows what will become of them? There may be a future government official or CEO in the mix. This hall of heroes is an exciting glimpse into the making of America’s next generation of leaders – where they are now and where they might be headed.
What would you like readers to know about you, your team of writers?
We had a few professionals help us with editing, but for the most part, the writing was done by the “doers”. We had over a hundred submissions by the time we were done, but had to edit it down to reduce redundancy in some of the themes, and find a common thread. The common elements are leadership, sacrifice and service – across the board. These are men and women who have done incredible things and will continue to serve our country in heroic ways when they are out of uniform.
Especially with what has happened with current events, why is reading this book so important? What will readers find here they won’t find elsewhere?
Hollywood and newspapers give their accounts of war, but this book allows us to speak for ourselves. We were eager to write the book to clarify certain misconceptions and help bridge the cultural gap between military families and non-military families.
I'm sure others will agree with me, it is truly an honor to have you here today, and we thank you, not only for your service, but for helping us understand what it takes to be a true leader, told by those who are living it every day.
Some of our readers may have questions and comments. We welcome one and all. Those of you who can, leave them some likes and tags on Amazon here.
Thank you both,
Excerpts are available at http://shadowofgreatness.com/lookinsid
This Friday, come back to this site for a gripping interview of the two editors/authors of the new Leadership book, In The Shadow Of Greatness.
This was the first graduating class of the U.S. Naval Academy since the 9-11 disaster. It is a non-political book about what courage it takes to be one of America's leaders and the sacrifice it requires.
In my opinion, this should be read by every American citizen. Please show these men and women your support as they shape the vision for this great nation, which isn't always about black and white, red and blue, male and female. Leaders are born and created and step up to the plate every day. And they die that way too.
I am very honored and proud to bring it to you.