Memorial Day took on a whole new meaning the first time my son was deployed overseas. We weren't told where he was going, when he'd be back, and, because of the outpost he would be sent to, communication would be nil.
I found great comfort walking the paths at Santa Rosa Memorial Park, seeing all the beautiful flags posted by the local Boy Scouts on the grave of every veteran. I watched as the newly interred were honored, their families given a folded flag, and a salute from an the Officer doing the officiating that day. One of my friends had lost his son just a few days before. His grave was still covered in flowers and wreaths.
We had protestors too that day, with their nasty signs inappropriately displayed, written comments meant to send distress to this young warrior's parents. If it wasn't for the beefy bikers who do the angel runs, picking up the coffins from San Francisco and escorting them up Highway 101 in a solemn parade of pride, the parents might have seen the disgusting message. I was glad they did not.
Just like every other mother who sends her son off to war, I thought about how I would act if it was suddenly my turn to show up at a ceremony like this. I hoped I never would. And so far, he's been safe.
When my son decided to serve, I admit trying to talk him out of it. That was the job for someone else's boy to do. I even harbored the thoughts that perhaps his talents in sports and leadership would be wasted on a battlefield. What parent hasn't thought the same. I'm not proud of it.
But as he stood steadfast, unwavering, waiting for me to come around, I saw in him not the boy I raised but a man who wanted to serve. I didn't want to take that away from him. And so I honored him with his decision, by deciding then and there, I'd be a willing participant and serve alongside him. I would support him as best I could.
It is an incredible thing to put on a uniform and selflessly serve a nation or an administration that you don't always agree with. But regardless of politics, background, race or religion, the military man or woman serves by setting aside their today for our tomorrow. We can be sad about the ones who don't come home. But they'd want us to live our lives and be grateful for the freedoms we have.
And to remember, not just on Memorial Day, or R.E.D. Fridays, but every day. With all the turmoil and nastiness out there today, it is truly a miracle, washed in the blood of those who have sacrificed, that we get to live the life we have.
May your grateful nation always remember you, veterans in peacetime and in war. And say thank you for your gift of freedom.
|Bruce, Kally, J.M. MSgt Leroy Petry and Sharon, in Cincinnati|
I'm at Lori Foster's Reader/Author event #RAGT15 in Cincinnati. It's the first time I've been here. Met up with good friends J.M. Madden, Bruce and Donna MacDonald, Karen Henderson, April Allen, Sabrina York, Darynda Jones, Kallypso Masters and the lovely Charlotte, and many many others. If I try to name them all I'll forget one and it will ruin my night.
Bruce met and introduced us to Master Sergeant Leroy Petry, a proud veteran now a motivational speaker, who is a common man who did uncommon things. In fact, he was so uncommon, he was awarded many ribbons and medals, including the Army Commendation with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Purple Heart, Bronze Star with a bronze Oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit, and The Congressional Medal of Honor.
|Code Talker quilt|
If you read about him in the link provided, you will find he also attended Indian school near Santa Fe, New Mexico. A statue of his likeness is located today at the Pojoaque Pueblo. I believe this fine warrior is Native American.
As I read further, I found this:
|Tattered but still there|
I've written before about the paths we take, the steps we take in the shoes of our choice, and how our choices make us the people we are. Sometimes we surprise ourselves and we are stronger than we thought possible. Other times, we are weaker. We've done a lot of traveling, and unfortunately that took a toll on us, health-wise this season. It was unexpected and unusual for us to be so ill for so long. I'm never at my best when I'm sick, or when a loved one is sick, or hurting. I remember the last Christmas we had with my Dad, and how weak and frail he looked at the end. I see the vacant chair at Christmas morning when we open our stockings, and I miss him. This year, even though it's been 3 years now, I missed him more than ever.
IMG_6227 He'd love to see the grandkids and their sparkly faces. He'd love to see how they enjoyed seeing the Crystal Palace at Disney World, the Osborne light show at Disney Hollywood, IMG_6042 how the kids greeted me at the door at my daughter's house for Christmas morning. With a living room so filled with packages all colorfully wrapped, there wasn't room for furniture. A sea of abundance.
There was that ache in my heart, partly from missing those that have passed on, partly because I just felt something was missing. My life is truly blessed. I have everything I've always wanted, and more. And yet something was missing. I thought a lot about it during these past four days. This morning I found the answer.
My best friend sent me some music and it made me cry. I'd been staying off the internet, trying to be present with the people physically around me, trying to get over this lonely feeling something was lost or missing. But I opened my computer and saw a post from Mark Divine, who is a SEAL trainer and one of the smartest men on the planet. With the beautiful music as my background, I read his blog, “The Secrets of Resiliency.” And that was what I was missing.
Being a romance novelist I am very sensitive. When I was little, I would cry at movies and TV shows, my family often making fun of me. I was just like my grandmother Fox. When I stayed with them, we would sit on the couch and cry together. Shows like Come Back Yeller and Lassie just broke us up into pieces. Our big red puffy eyes testament to how deeply we felt things. Two of a kind. We wore our badge with honor.
Mark asked the question, “Do you tend to back off when you get overwhelmed emotionally and let fear, uncertainty or frustration derail you? I had to answer “yes” to that. I've been halfway around the world. Had a scare with my husband's health and a diagnosis I was afraid to hear. I'd just finished a book in a new genre for me, which turned out to be more work than I'd anticipated. My year was huge in terms of what I accomplished. And yes, I've been overwhelmed. Though I'm proud of all these great things, I was letting fear take a front seat in my roller coaster ride of life. What if next year is even harder? Am I prepared? Have I made the right choices?
The miracle of life, of the season, and the answer I got this morning was that yes, I have been making the right choices. Feeling emotionally vulnerable prepares me for the next big challenge. Of one thing I am certain, there will be challenges and failures next year. People will disappoint me. I will disappoint those I love. Nothing is, afterall, perfect.
But it still is. Because the perfectness of life is that we get to learn how to be more resilient by being challenged. We don't learn to walk except by falling down. We don't learn to do anything outstanding without having first experienced failure. But if we let fear stop us, we don't progress. And by progress I mean we get resilient, not perfect. We learn how to dust ourselves off and get up and try again. We get the opportunity to have a breakthrough. Without the toughness and the fears we have to face, we don't get those breakthroughs. We don't get the silver linings without the clouds.
We got to share our Christmas Eve with a couple from Croatia and their four year old daughter. What a blessing it was to see their faces light up as they watched their daughter, only here seven months, be able to speak English and share her first Christmas in a new land with an American family. It was an honor to share our home with them. It was my greatest Christmas gift.
So I have the gift this season of being emotionally challenged, overwhelmed, with my heart bursting with gratitude for all the opportunities I have now, and in the future. Oh yes, fear will still be my familiar friend, but now I can thank him for making me a stronger person. For reminding me that my job is to feel. Not just be, but to feel. And the more resilient I become, the more gifts of feeling I will be able to experience.
Nothing stays the same. Everything passes on, fades and dies. Everything. What I see now at my age is different than what I saw as a child, a young bride, mother, daughter, grandmother. I don't have to be perfect. I just have to fill my days with enough of all the good things I can stand.
Happy, Bright, Shining New Year. May it be the first of many.
12 New York Times, USA Today or Award-winning bestselling Hot Alpha Authors bring you this Military Romance Megaset for your reading pleasure:THE KISS OF A SEAL by Award-winning Author Anne Elizabeth — Jessa Grainger's world is rocked by the kiss of a SEAL, SO-1 Link Tyler. It wouldn't be a problem for an ordinary person, but being a Navy Consultant working on the Amphibious Base as well as being engaged to a SWCC man make the situation very sticky.NIGHT WITH A SEAL (Hot SEALS #1) by New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Cat Johnson –When navigating military red tape begins to present more challenges than the enemy, it makes SEAL Jon Rudnick question his future. So does Alison Cressly, the one woman he can't get out of his head.HOT BAYOU SEAL by Award-winning author Cindy Dees — SEAL Ford Alambeaux is a busted up SEAL on his way out of the teams. Trina Zarkos is being tossed out of SEAL training like every other female candidate…until they're thrown together on a way off-book mission to see if she can play with the big boys or not.DELTA: RETRIBUTION by USA Today bestselling author Cristin Harber — Fallen Navy SEAL and Titan Group's Delta recruit Trace Reeves wants nothing more than a one-night stand to forget that his twin brother was killed-in-action. But when his one-time fling becomes his high value target, the lines blur between her rescue mission and saving himself.WATCH OVER ME (An Uncharted SEAL story) by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Delilah Devlin — Deke Warrick's unsanctioned detail is to keep tabs on a congressman's niece while she vacations in the Caribbean. He's determined to keep his distance, from the beautiful Nicky Martir–until she's snatched from their hotel room.SEAL'S OBSESSION (A Take No Prisoners story) by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Elle James — Mission: Halt pirate activities off the coast of Honduras. SEAL TEAM 10's Jack Fischer goes undercover as a deck hand on a medical boat where he finds himself falling for the dedicated Dr. Natalie Rhoades.The SEAL (a Sex, Lies & Spies novella) by USA Today bestselling author Gennita Low — Mari Lords is tasked by her father to steal the seal that is an important clue in a round-the-world treasure hunt called The Game. When her opportunity comes during a party, she finds another kind of SEAL, Angel Marcello.UNBREAKABLE SEAL by USA Today bestselling author J.M. Madden — Maxwell Tate fights against a psychotic dream world, until he no longer knows what's real. Lacey Adams knows she can't save all of her cases, but can she salvage the unbreakable SEAL?MISTER BLACK A Billionaire SEAL Story, Part 1 (In the Shadows) by Award-winning author P.T. Michelle –He is Black: a deadly enforcer and masterful seducer. I am Red: a justice bleeder and willing participant. When our secrets converge in a passionate encounter, stepping out of the shadows just might be worth the risk.STONE HARD SEAL by Award-winning author Sabrina York –When Ryder “Stone” Maddox's meets Lily Wilson–a senator's daughter who is definitely off-limits–he's determined to keep his distance, despite her irresistible allure. But Lily has plans of her own…to put his heart of stone to the test.SEAL'S PROMISE by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Sharon Hamilton –Navy SEAL T.J. Talbot, SEAL Team 3's bad boy, makes a deathbed promise to protect and care for his fallen buddy's wife and child. The only problem is, she hates him.BREAKING TIES (a SEAL Team Heartbreakers story) by bestselling author Teresa Reasor — Navy SEAL Oliver Shaker is blindsided when he learns that not only does his wife, Selena, have a life-threatening illness, but she's also pregnant, stretching their marriage to the breaking point.
Thank you to everyone who stopped by on the Box Set Blog Hop! The winner has been selected and emailed,
Sandy won a Kindle copy of SEALS of Summer! If you didn't win, don't miss your chance to get this amazing box set of books for a steal of a deal: only $2.99!
SEALs of Summer: Military Romance Superbundle, Navy SEAL Style
Military Super-bundle of ten novellas and novels by New York Times, USA Today and award-winning bestselling authors: Delilah Devlin, Sharon Hamilton, Anne Marsh, Cora Seton, Zoe York, Roxie Riviera, S.M. Butler, Kimberley Troutte, Jennifer Lowery, Elle James.
IT TAKES A SEAL, An Adventure Girls, Inc. story by USA Today Bestselling author Delilah Devlin: A travel agent visiting friends in the Bahamas is stranded on a desert island with a sexy ex-SEAL after their private pleasure cruise is interrupted by men who mistake her lover for a reclusive billionaire.
SEAL OF MY HEART by New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Sharon Hamilton: Kate Morgan’s engagement is at risk the instant she sets eyes on the handsome elite warrior sitting next to her on a plane trip to visit her sister. Navy SEAL Tyler Gray had thought he knew what he wanted in life, until he meets Kate and their obvious attraction for each other sparks something deep in his soul. What starts out as innocent letters between friends turns out to be much more. Can someone fall in love deeply just with words and letters exchanged, or is this just a pleasant fantasy that will ruin their lives forever?
SMOKING HOT by National Bestselling Author Anne Marsh: When an ambush kills his teammate, Navy SEAL Tye Callahan vows to spend the summer in Strong, California, fighting fires with the smoke jumper team and looking out for Katie Lawson, his teammate's fiancée. Now, as the summer heats up, they must decide if the chemistry burning between them might just be their second chance at living their own lives… together.
THE NAVY SEAL’s E-MAIL ORDER BRIDE by National Bestselling author Cora Seton: If Mason Hall, Navy SEAL, can’t find a wife and get her pregnant—and convince his three brothers to marry, too—before the year is up, he’ll have to forfeit the ranch his family has prized for over a hundred years. Who knew one city girl and three wayward brothers could put up such a fight?
FALL OUT by Zoe York: Drew Castle is a Navy SEAL with a bad case of indifference. Until
Annie Martin shows up on his doorstep, scared out of her mind, and all of a sudden, keeping
her safe becomes the most important mission of his life. And this time, he’s on his own.
CLOSE QUARTERS by Bestselling author Roxie Rivera: Nationally Bestselling author Roxie Rivera brings you Close Quarters. Getting tangled up in Jamie Pearson's latest hot mess—or her sheets—is the very last thing Navy SEAL Leland Gates needs, but in close quarters like these, there's no denying the white-hot passion blazing between them.
KILLING HONOR by International Bestselling author S.M. Butler: Returning home after a disastrous extended deployment, Navy SEAL Brody Battles struggles with nightmares and government secrets building a wall between him and his wife, Devyn, especially when a security breach compromises his identity. While they’re adjusting to being a family again, an old enemy waits in the shadows, salivating for the sweet taste of revenge.
COMING IN HOT by Award-winning author Kimberley Troutte: For Navy SEAL Mack Riley, rescuing a family in Colombian jungles isn’t as hard as seeing the admiral’s daughter again, but since Jenna is joining the hostage rescue team, his orders are to protect her. In the heat of battle, love breaches their defenses just as missiles lock onto their coordinates …can they save the family and get out alive?
A SEAL’s SONG by Golden Heart Finalist author Jennifer Lowery: Navy SEAL Jack Taggart’s plans to catch some much-needed downtime between deployments are demolished when he risks everything to rescue beautiful wedding singer, Darci O’Shea, from a band of thieves. Will the battle between their inner demons be the hardest one to fight, or will they find rescue in each other’s arms?
SEALS’s EMBRACE by USA Today Bestselling author Elle James: Injured Navy SEAL and the critical care nurse he's attempting to woo join forces to stop a terrorist attack.
GENRE – Romantic Suspense
PUBLICATION DATE – June, 1, 2014LENTH (Pages/# Words) – Full Length NovelPUBLISHER – Al Publishing
Navy SEAL Luke Paulsen, on the verge of PTSD stemming from the death of his fiancée and a brutal tour overseas, knows he is damaged goods and unsuitable for relationships. While paying respects to a fallen comrade, he is unprepared for the chemical attraction he feels for the carefree dark-haired beauty playing in the surf one evening.
Julie Christensen befriends the troubled SEAL, motivated by her yearning to soothe the young man’s troubled soul. Fueled by intense mutual desire, they succumb to one night of mind-numbing passion. Afterwards, he is unable to shed the memory of his lost love and disappears.
When they meet again at a wedding that will forever bring their two families together, their passion and longing for one another forces them to confront their pasts in order to find a future together.
But soon the trauma of his service separates them. Julie goes back to teaching and Luke deploys for North Africa with SEAL Team 3. Upon his return, he receives a frantic call that Julie's life is in danger. Will he make it in time to save the woman he now knows he wants to marry and spend the rest of his life with?
Sharon Hamilton takes you on amazing journeys filled with such emotions and stories that touch your hearts in so many ways. Another great addition to her list of amazing books.— Pamela Reveal, Amazon Reviewer
Publish Date: March 1, 2014Publisher: AL PublishingGenre: Romantic Suspense, Military RomancePrint Length: 275 PagesBook Summary:
Marc Beale and several of his brothers from SEAL Team 3 board a cruise ship to bury a fallen buddy's ashes at sea. A risky affair with a beautiful Italian the night before they leave begins to ease his survivor’s guilt.
Sophia Negri, suffering jitters over her engagement, falls for the handsome SEAL and pretends she speaks no English, letting their bodies do the talking. When Marc finds her on the ship and learns Sophia is half American, he is angry at first, but falls for her all over again as they set sail.
Terrorists take over the ship and hold the passengers for ransom, Marc and the other SEALs are the only ones who can stop the plot. Will Marc’s actions be enough to save Sophia or will he have to sacrifice himself to save the woman he loves?
You're going to probably wonder what this post has to do with Veteran's Day, one of the holidays our family celebrates in our own quiet way. Stick with me for a few minutes.
Common to both these books is the character Calvin “Coop” Cooper, who has been one of my fan-favorite SEALs. His story is Fallen SEAL Legacy, and is included in the Dangerous Attraction. Book 4 in the series, due to come out in late November. The anthology comes out November 10th.
I hope you will continue the ride with me for the rest of the SEAL Brotherhood series.
You can listen to the music I listen to every day when I write these books:
|XTS031_15 Undying Love.mp3
6013K Play Download
No military men or women were harmed in the making of this blog post, nor in the creation of my stories. Enjoy!
I got a great quote this morning from Mark Divine, former Navy SEAL and now coach and Unbeatable Mind Academy founder, “I leaped into the dark abyss. Wind whipped by me, and the velocity of my jump picked up. With my eyes popping out of my head and a joker smile, I managed one thought: “this is either going to turn out really cool, or really shitty.”
This really spoke to me this morning. Several years ago now, our family visited a skydiving facility in the San Diego area to celebrate a great family victory. I decided to try to push my own personal boundaries, doing something that was so way over the top scary, even death-defying, that it would change my life forever.
And since I was going, the rest of my family went as well. Another one of Mom's crazy ideas.
It was crazy, crazy fun. I jumped in tandem with “Tigger” my hooked up buddy, and he showed me points on the horizon after we'd pulled the chute: Mexico, the ocean, San Diego, the training facility and cars that looked like grains of white rice. I felt the cold air against me and then felt it warm as I got closer and closer to mother earth. I have to say the welcoming she did for this scared and tired traveler was inspiring.
Coach Devine goes on to say that we sometimes need to make that leap of faith, to go for it, put ourselves in failure's way, to get the prize behind the door. The unspoken part is the small print that says, “or die trying.” This is something every elite warrior knows, but not anything we dwell on.
My relationship to the earth is very strong. Being an organic gardener for over 40 years has taught me things about life, while watching plants grow, thrive, and yes, die. So, when I jumped out of an airplane at 13,500 feet, though I was with someone who was very experienced, it was a disconnect from all the familiar sensations of my everyday life, and a leap into something else.
I have these big beautiful hydrangeas in our backyard. We're in the middle of a big project to make a space we can look at through our 13′ roll up glass garage door-cum-dining room window. We overlook a forest, but one that had to be pruned and thinned. We have sudden oak death around us, and the bay trees are the carrier. So, about ten big trees are being removed. And so now my beautiful hydrangeas, some of them over ten years old, have to be moved to a more shady location. I am concerned for their roots, and their relocation, just like I was when I jumped out of the airplane with no roots. I resist change and will miss them if they don't make it. They have become a part of me.
The transition from the familiar garden in my backyard to something new and miraculous is hard for me. Maybe all change is hard for me. Maybe that's why jumping out of a plane was hard for me. But do I want to live my life with the routine of the ordinary, “quiet desperation” as Coach Divine says, or embrace:
The more capable you are as a person, the bigger the challenge you must bring to yourself.
I have to say the answer to that question on this glorious Saturday in June is, yes. Yes. Bring it on. Now, where's the airstrip?
We live in an exciting time and place. Because of the internet, I have been able to forge friendships with people I might never meet. Luckily for me, sometimes I get that rare opportunity to meet a truly inspirational person, a fellow traveler on this writing journey. And she writes about Navy SEALs, like I do.
I can remember the evening I picked up that first book of hers, I think it was Forget Me Not. I had never read a military romance, and I'd just come from the San Francisco Writer's Conference and someone did a panel on genres. I think it was Brenda Novak who told me about military romance, and recommended Marliss and Suzanne Brockman. I bought Marliss' book first, and I was hooked.
Up until that day, all my reading had been classics,
with a healthy dose of paranormal. I was an avid fan of Diana Gabaldon, but Anne Rice was my obsession, until the latter books, when my tastes shifted. Marliss opened the door to the SEAL community I knew a little about already, and I dipped my toe in the water, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Just like anything, when one person does something, it makes it easier for others to follow. She has her heroes too. She also has a loyal following, like me, wherever she goes. It is truly an honor and a priviledge to call her friend.
None of us write in a vacuum. Yes, we compete for the same reader dollar, but not really. We give a few hours of enjoyment to people, but it takes us way more than a few hours to write a good book, have it edited and get it out to the public. So, of course, there are other writers who write the same genre and their success leads to all our success, collectively.
There are so many opportunities for writers these days. The great Diedre Knight spoke at our SF RWA meeting on Saturday. She was excited by the possibilities out there. Our future is indeed bright. Lots of stories to tell, and, thank God, lots of vehicles of delivery.
What we bring will always be in style, no matter what goes on in the world. We bring fantasy and healing to a world in need of it. There simply isn't a better job in the universe. I sometimes forget, but for today, I remember all of it.
Don't forget to catch the other A-Z Blog participants by clicking here.
Welcome to Day 6 of the A-Z Challenge Blog. I'm a little late today. Got to bed at 2 AM. Have to say we had a wonderful trip to the East Coast, in all respects.
We spent time with family in Fayetteville and I really enjoyed the town and its people. I am second generation Northern Californian (up here we think there should be two states, so we have our own North vs. South issues). My father was born in a small town in the central valley, Selma, “home of the peach” he used to say. Things were simple for their family who barely made it out of the depression. When he went to Berkeley for college, Grandpa took him to the highway and he hitchhiked. No college dorm “room decorating” like I overdid for my crew.
Dad had visited Fayetteville and liked the South. He and my mom almost retired to Tennessee, and would have, except for needing to be close to the grandkids. But they would have fit in.
I found the people in North Carolina friendly. We enjoyed the beautiful woods, little towns, small town mannerisms and courtesies we don't often get here in California. Men open doors. Women say thank you. And no one thinks it's uncool to say, “Ya'll have a great day,” because they mean it. Really mean it. It doesn't go on rich or poor lines. Humanity wins here.
We spent a late after brunch walk around old Fayetteville and her pre-Civil War buildings. Fascinating. The Airborne/Special Ops Museum was closed. Although run by mostly volunteers, has recently had it's days cut to Saturday and Sunday only. We got to walk around the park on the outside. My previous posts in this blog show pictures of that. The art piece to the right is a dog tag representation, based on the number of fallen service men and women from North Carolina. Walking under it was very moving for me.
We flew to West Palm Beach on Thursday and enjoyed the warm humid air as we toured the SEAL/UDT museum at Ft. Pierce. Again, some earlier posts have pictures. Three perfectly timed and calibrated shots freed Captain Phillips on Easter Sunday in 2009. You can see what's left of the little window those rounds went through in the center on my post from Friday. Rescue is never pretty. I found a great T shirt in the museum store: “If you want to meet a Navy SEAL, steal a ship.” ‘Nuff said.
We walked the beach in the rain. Felt good to get warmed and feel the white sand between our toes. The place was packed with “Easter Breakers” getting ready to go home to the cold. Our hotel was rumbling from little feet trying to get in the last body surf at midnight. Reminded me of my childhood days when my brother and I used to visit my Grandfather at Rio Del Mar, near Santa Cruz. Sand was everywhere. Made me remember the days when my son's entire 8 year old baseball team wound up in our hot tub. Water everywhere. Used more towels than we used in a month.
We came home to all the usual things. Our dogs, who missed us, and family drama. Of course. Life is, just life, afterall. I am extremely grateful for my family, and for those who lived a good life before me, sacrificed much, so I could live the life I have today.
And, of course, to my Dad, who loved the Navy, but I have to admit, he loved his drums probably a little bit better. I made sure he had a set of drumsticks at his grave at Christmas, just so he could make another joyful noise up there. ‘Cause that's where I know he is.
Don't forget to catch the other A-Z Blog participants by clicking here
The definition of Ethos is: Greek word meaning character, that is used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideas that characterize a community. Here is the Navy SEAL Ethos Creed:
Above picture is of red lifeboat where Somali pirates held Captain Phillips hostage for 5 days, until they were returned to the source on Easter Sunday by SEAL snipers, rescuing Captain Phillips in April of 2009.
This special tribute motorcycle was built by a Navy SEAL and dedicated to the men who gave the ultimate sacrifice in Operation REDWING, June 2005.
Don't forget to catch the other A-Z Blog participants by clicking here.
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:
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.