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6

K is for Knowing When to Write

I've been lucky enough to be exposed to some pretty great writers. I look at this room, which is in Pacific Grove, California, and just sitting here in this restaurant makes me want to write. I came upon this place on the trip down the night before to hear my friend, Tina Folsom, speak to the Monterey chapter of RWA. On the trip down, driving through row upon row of recently harvested fields of broccoli and cabbage, the air was thick with that smell. If you've harvested a cabbage from your own garden, you know that smell. I used it in the prequel story I was finishing, SEAL Endeavor, which was the companion to Fallen SEAL Legacy. My characters go to Monterey to visit the aquarium, on their way to look at a drone in Silicon Valley.

I also got the idea for another romance, not in the series I've written so far, and got inspired to do a couple chapters towards that one I'll finish some time this year. A just for fun tale about a second chance romance with older lovers.

My friend Susan Speers recommended a book to me, Steal Like An Artist, and in this book it talks about all kinds of ways we get inspiration. It is true, no story is ever written in a vacuum. It is one of the reasons why I decided to go ahead and go to the RT Convention this year, when my rational brain says I need to get this book finished, and have too many other things to do. I've decided I cannot afford not to. I need the time with my peers, to be inspired, to share stories and methods, and just hear the hope and fun that comes from a gathering of writers. Despite any of the bad news recently, when writers get together, it generally is a wonderful time. And you never can beat the stories.

So, when do we write? Every day. It is the sort of discipline that separates us from the hobby writers. Anyone can write, should write, has something to say. Writing helps us heal. Helps us get in touch with other readers and writers. But if writing is a profession and not an occasional thing taken on by whim, it should be done every day. The knife has to remain sharp.

Like in my SEALs, they train every day. They train even though they may not be deployed for six months or more. They train like they're going overseas next week. That's how you prepare.

Writing is the same. Who knows when this day would produce a character that you need, some secondary character who could take over and become the hero or heroine in the next book? I love it when that happens.

But again, that doesn't happen unless we write every day. Some days it is a blog. Most days, it is a chapter or two. And that's what makes it a profession. It becomes our mission. The more we do it, the better we get.

So when do we write? All the time. Every day.

Don't forget to catch the other A-Z Blog participants by clicking here.

8

H is for Hero

Welcome back to day 8 of the A-Z Blog Challenge. Did you expect that I'd do an “H”
 blog with something other than HERO?

When I first began writing, I knew that in romance the author always had to have a happily ever after at the end. DUH. I knew that there had to be a hero and a heroine, and that, since the readership is 85% female, the woman had to always win.

I pitched my Angel book to an editor at one RWA Convention a number of years ago, and she looked at me like I was crazy. “A painter? Your hero is a painter?”

“Yes, but he is really hunky (as in Rodrigo Santoro hunky good looking).”

“Nope. I want a professional athlete, a detective, or a military hero.”

“How about Navy SEALs?” I had a family connection there and thought it might come in handy for some things.

“YES! That's what I want.”

“Not an angel?”

“Hell no.”

“Not a vampire?”

“You're pissing me off.”

“Okay, okay, I'll write a SEAL book.”

That's practically how it all got started for me. Thank God she asked me to do it. Although she ultimately didn't buy this book, I wrote it for her anyway.

So, what makes up a hero? Well, if they are vamps or dark angels, they have to do something heroic. Something worthy of praise, showing some form of self sacrifice for a great cause, or to protect the innocent. I think I do that in my books. But a real-life military hero, like so many brave men and women serving in our military today, those are the uncommon ones that do heroic things and can't rely on their “special powers.” Not that they aren't great lovers. I mean, they have to be great lovers or they don't make it to the pages of my book. I write what I like to read. I think most writers do.

Gary Cooper was the perfect hero in High Noon and, similar to my SEALs, with his quiet demeanor, yet reassuring ways, he was so drop dead sexy and worthy of worship, it gives me chills every time I see it. Never the bragger, he would risk his life to save the innocent (and not so innocent) people of the town from a bully.

The SEALs commonly say, “I'm that guy that gets it done.” They are the ones you can count on, to do
the extraordinary in any condition, against any odds. I came home with some choice memorabilia from our recent trip to the SEAL/UDT Museum in Florida. We tout their efforts, but they usually don't.

So maybe the definition of hero is doing the right thing even when no one is looking, or when no one will ever know, or when no one will be around to thank you properly. They do it just because it's the right thing to do.

Thank goodness we have men and now women, who are willing to take on this task. I'll bet within the next couple of years you'll find your first female SEALs deployed. Now, won't that be something?

Don't forget to catch the other A-Z Blog participants by clicking here.

7

F is for Father, Family, Fayetteville and Florida!

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

10

C is for Courage

Welcome to Day 3 of the A-Z Blog Challenge.

One of the greatest things about being a writer is that I get to make up stories, like those in my SEAL Brotherhood series, about heroes. Today we toured the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Museum in Fayetteville, North Carolina. There were some true stories of courage plastered all over the walls of the place.

The Museum was first commissioned shortly after JFK launched the directive that created the SEALs we know of today, back in 1962. A fact I learned today was that the first SEAL Team was said to be Team 10, created so our enemies at that time would think that we had another 9 already in action.

Very inspiring to hear tales of what these brave men and women have done in spite of odds that defied logic. One story told of a captured Special Ops soldier who had convinced his captors that he was a lowly procurement officer. But when his picture and military service information was printed in Newsweek Magazine, he was heavily tortured and nearly lost his life. Another was executed because his name was released as an apology by an anti-war group in the U.S.

 I often wonder if I had what it would take to make this kind of sacrifice. I honor and respect those, as well as the families they left behind. We truly have much to be grateful for.

It was a fascinating afternoon spent reading about the past. Free to learn and honored to be able to pass it along to my friends and family.

Don't forget to catch the other A-Z Blog participants by clicking here

6

A-Z Challenge: 30 Days of Stories

Tomorrow will start the infamous A-Z Blog Challenge. This will be my third year in a row. Every day in April will be a new post on the theme I've selected. In past years, I've learned so much, and met some wonderful people.

At the side (upper right) you will see a button where you can go to the list and choose another blog to follow, read, and comment, if you wish. There are no prizes here, for the most part, just an opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, blogging about all sorts of things.

Last year I did 30 days of Gratitude. This year, I'm going to do 30 days of Stories. Some will be family stories, some character stories as I do research, some stories of things that could happen in the future. I like exploring the past while I forge ahead to the future.

Won't you come along with me on this journey?

Until then, may all your travels be joyous and your linkys continue to work.