Publications for Linda Adams

Published November 28, 2013 by Linda Maye Adams

If you’re interested in my publications, please visit my publication list on my website.  I’ve identified stories that about Women at War and Women Veterans.  Enjoy!

Cover for Red, White, andTrue

Cover for Red, White, and True

Also,  if you’re interested in more veteran experiences, check out Red, White, True: Stories from Veterans and Families, World War II to Present.  This is a collection of stories from veterans, including my story, “War Happens.”  The book comes out in August, 2014, but you can preorder it.  Is that an awesome cover?

Almost a Year Off the Writing Message Boards

Published September 16, 2014 by Linda Maye Adams

It’s kind of surprising to realize that I’ve been off writing message boards for almost a year.  I woke up one day and just deleted all the links to the writing message boards, and I was done.  I’d been on the boards since at least 2007, and honestly, I haven’t missed them.

When I first signed up — early on, it was as many as six of them because I just couldn’t get enough of writing advice.  I was always like I was looking for this one piece that would help me solve problems I was having.

One of the problems though was that most of the advice was being given by beginners to beginners, so no one actually knew what they were talking about.

Over the years, that started become apparent, particularly as I started thinking about moving to indie publishing.  Going indie really changed my perspective because then it’s not about simply getting published; it’s about making enough money to live off it.  Most writers don’t fit into that category.  They want to get one book published.  Maybe it’ll be three.  But make a living at it?  Nah.

The worst and probably the silliest piece of advice I heard was “You have to know the rules to break the rules.”  A writer usually got told this when they were perceived to be doing something beyond beginner level, and if they asked what the definition of when you knew the rules, they were simply told the same thing again.  It kind of came across as “Shut up and don’t ask questions.”

Honestly, how do you get above beginner level if you don’t experiment?  I never understand it either when someone wanted to imitate a technique they’d seen in a book by a favorite author, but all the writers promptly said, “No, you can’t do that.  Big name writer can get away with it.  You can’t.  Don’t even try.”

Seriously?  That’s the best way to learn!

Over the last few years, I found myself participating less and less because of silliness like this.   But the reason I finally decided it was time was because of a writer named Lester Dent.  He wrote the Doc Savage books during the pulp era, and I don’t know, maybe I connected to how he wrote in a way. My early experience with writing was an uncle who also wrote during the pulp era, and Lester Dent reminded me that writing doesn’t need to be complicated.

He also reminded me that none of the very early writing books talked about all the nonsense we get today: three act structure; story beats; character worksheets.  It was just story, characters, and setting.  Yet, on the message boards and even in some craft books, the writing process had become enormously overcomplicated.  Everything was about following a method, and not really about the writing itself.  It’s like everyone mistook the technique for the process.

Worse, I found some of this junk getting into my writing, in spite of the fact I knew better.  There was just so much of it that it was hard for it not to get into my writing.

I also discovered how shockingly negative most of it is.  It’s a lot of “Don’t do this,” or “Kill this,” or “If you don’t do this/do this, you won’t get published.”  Where exactly does the fun in writing come in when everyone is so busy trying to follow all these mysterious rules?

So the only thing that I could do was just stop.

I haven’t regreted it.  My writing has actually improved once I got free of all the junk and the self-inflicted rules we see.  Most of it isn’t necessary.  It’s tell a good story.  Have good characters.  Use whatever needed to get to those two goals.

Desert Storm: Packing Even More Equipment!

Published September 15, 2014 by Linda Maye Adams

I was at Barnes and Noble and saw the “U.S. Army Survival Kit” they were selling. It was a box, about the size of two hardback books laid side by side. Had a blanket and and few other things in. I was kind of scratching my head it because none of seemed particularly hardy enough for what the military really has.

In additional the uniforms we would be taking, we also had a long list of individual equipment for each soldier:

  • Two blankets: These were green wool blankets, like the ones you see on M*A*S*H. Since cots were twin sized, they were twin-sized blankets. Very scratchy.
  • Sleeping bag: This was green also and looked like a caterpillar. Not like those nice rectangular ones you get at the camping stores that are more like folding a blanket in half.
  • Rain poncho: A woodland camouflage piece of plastic with a hood. It wasn’t really much protection against the weather if it was raining harder than a sprinkler.
  • Poncho Liner: Any soldier will tell you this was the most useful tool around. It was not standard issue; purchasing it came out of our own pockets, and we all bought one. It was a quilted rectangle of cloth that could be fastened to the rain poncho to create an impromptu sleeping bag. It could be also used in addition to the blankets, or to sit on, or hang up like a wall.
  • Rain jacket and pants: This was a heavy duty rain covering, rather like the yellow ones you see in rescue movies, only ours was green and stank of plastic.
  • Galoshes: These were your basic galoshes that you pulled over your own shoes and hoped you could get off when you feet sweated too much.
  • Chemical boots: Or my nickname, fish boots. They were black plastic and had this weird part on the bottom that you had to pull up and tie around your ankle with
  • Chemical clothing: A jacket and pants. We actually brought the training version (don’t ask; it’s army logic) and the real thing, which was sealed in a package. It was heavily quilted, so quite warm when we put it on over the uniform. After we got to Saudi Arabia, we received a notification that one entire lot of them was defective. The recommendation was to wear the rain jacket and pants over the top. Comforting.
  • Entrenching Tool: Army speak for a collapsible shovel.
  • Shelter half and tent stakes: The shelter half was a cotton half of a two person tent. The only place I ever used one was in Basic Training. It was just extra weight to lug around though it did make a great wall to accompany the poncho liner.
  • Duffel bags: Each soldier was given two of these as part of normal issue.
  • Ruck sack: Army speak for a backpack, but nothing as fancy as the ones you see hikers carry. It came with a frame to put the weight on your hips.
  • Footlocker: For the war, we were issued one footlocker. Pretty much like the ones on M*A*S*H, though dark brown. The footlocker was the only packing tool where we could use it for whatever we wanted.

Hardly a box the size of two hard backed books! From what I read, for the later wars, the soldiers carried even more weight. We would get cots when we got there, but those were part of the company’s inventory, rather than the soldier’s equipment.

Off next to packing all this stuff!

Desert Storm to September 11, 2001

Published September 8, 2014 by Linda Maye Adams

When we came home from Desert Storm, everyone was already saying, “We’re going back,” because we hadn’t finished what had been started.  And, of course, we know that’s exactly what happened because of 911.

I was in Washington, DC on that day, working at the same place I am now.  I was in the National Guard at the time, and I was short-timer and looking forward to getting out in December.  At that point, I was done with the military.  People were saying, “But you have twelve years in.  Why don’t you stay the extra eight and retire?”  It was something you had to be there to understand.  I’d gotten to the point where I just couldn’t take it any more.  I would end up hating it, and I hated what the military was doing to my writing.  It was not the best of environments for being creative.

When the first planes hit in New York, we didn’t really know what was happening.  Initially, I think people thought it was an accident, but once news started getting out, we were evacuated into the basement of our building in case were attacked.

Eventually, we were kicked loose, and I had to head North, into DC.  It was a 14 mile drive and took four hours.  Traffic inched along, and unlike normal DC traffic, everyone was mannerly.   I sat in that traffic, sick to my stomach, as I watched police escort convoys of cars down the shoulders.  So many rescue workers headed in that direction.

My car started to overheat, pumping out pink smoke — the fan had gone out.  I finally got over to an exit and got off, moving away from the traffic, to get the engine cooled down. I stopped in a restaurant to wait things out, and I was beyond being stunned or in denial.  How can you react to the enormity of what had happened?

I finaly got home, and over the next few weeks as the Pentagon burned, I could walk out to the sidewalk and see the black smoke in the air.  And I still had to go to work the next day.  My then boss, a retired Army colonel, wanted us to get back on the horse.  But, for me, dealing with the fan that needed to be replaced, was almost more than I could handle.  It was get by the day, minute by minute.

The first weekend, my then cowriter and I got together to write because it was important to do something normal, even if the rest of the world wasn’t.

It took about two weeks for everyone in the area to start recovering.  About two weeks after, it was like the sun came and people started emerging from hiding.

I went to my first drill after, which might have been in late September or early October.  I don’t remember any more.  I was scared because I had only a few months left, and I knew the military was going to deploy.  If the President started calling soldiers up, I would be put on stop loss and deploy, and I didn’t want to go.  I’d had one war, and that had been enough.

The route back from drill duty took me past the Pentagon.  That part of the freeway had been previously closed, but once the fire was under control, it had been reopened.  I remember this guy in front of me jamming on his brakes and pulling over to the side, and then hopping out so he could take pictures like it was tourist scenery.  The Pentagon had this big black bite taken out of the side of the building, and it was difficult to even look at.

Time slowed down to an agonizing pace as I watched the news, waiting for the call up to start.  My last day in the military was December 25, 2001, and they started deploying soldiers soon after.

When accidents happen in the army

Published August 28, 2014 by Linda Maye Adams

One of the things that a soldier constantly hears is about safety.  If you go to the firing range, you hear a safety briefing.  If you are driving a truck, you get a safety briefing.  Obviously, this is important because we’re dealing with some very dangerous equipment like rifles and trucks with 6 foot tall wheels.

During truck driver training (called Advanced Individual Training for Motor Transport Operators), this older dark-skinned man was giving us a lecture on some aspect of training.  Of course, because it was training, the army was doing it’s best to keep us exhausted, so we were all struggling not to doze off in the classroom.  Suddenly he got really upset at us, and his voice trembled in his anger.

Then he told us a story about an accident he’d seen.  He was retired military, and he had been on a convoy, following behind another truck.  The truck was a deuce and half truck, which you’ve seen in war films.  It’s the truck with a large, canvas cover draped over the back and soldiers inside.

As he watched, the truck drifted off the road and went down the embankment.  All the soldiers were killed, and he’d seen people he’d known die.

Most people don’t think much about safety.  “It won’t happen to me,” or “We work in an office.  What could happen here?”   They can happen anywhere to anyone, and sometimes they can be quite strange, like this one at an Oklahoma military base.  Someone at SciFy channel will probably now create a film about a deadly foam tornado that goes through a major city…

 

Desert Storm: A Soldier’s Daily Wear

Published August 25, 2014 by Linda Maye Adams

According to USA Today back in 1990, the average soldier deploying to Desert Shield would be carrying a total of 83 pounds. We were probably a little under that, since they listed the soldiers as carrying bayonets. We definitely didn’t have anything like that! Here’s a list of what we would be wearing in Desert Storm on a daily basis:

Uniform: The army uniform was made out of heavy duty cotton and practicality was designed in. Instead of a zipper for the fly, we had buttons. A button is a lot easier to replace than a broken zipper. The pants also had huge cargo pockets, large enough to store a meal pouch or a 2 liter bottle of water — both things we would have to do during Desert Storm.

On the jacket/blouse, the sleeves were designed to be rolled up and rolled down. We normally wore the sleeves down in fall and winter and up in spring and summer. In Desert Storm, the male soldiers wore the sleeves up and the female soldiers wore them down. That was because of Saudi nomads. In some respects, it may have been a good thing for the women since we ended up being exposed to less sun than the men.

On the pants, we tucked those into boots. You could get either blousing rubbers (a piece of stretchable string with two hooks) or a blousing strap (much wider, with velcro) to get the bloused effect. Sometimes I liked the blousing rubbers, but they also left marks in my skin. The blousing strap was more comfortable in some respects and not in others. It was too wide, probably made for someone taller.

Hat: Better known as cover. We had ball caps on the green side, and floppy brimmed boonie hats on the brown side.

T-Shirt: We always wore a brown t-shirt under our uniform jacket/blouse. It was cotton, and a lot of times it would get stretched out or the color would leach out.

Boots: We started out with the basic issue of leather boots. I remember the first time I was issued boots during Basic Training. I stood in line at the clothing issue facility, and the woman behind the counter looked at my feet and gave a pair without me trying anything on. Up until (and long afterward), I’d spent most of my life trying to get any shoes that feet. I had extra wide feet. I was amazed that they fit perfectly with room for my toes!

Prior to Desert Storm, I did purchase on my own the jungle boots. These were supposed to have originated during the Vietnam War, and they had basic leather for the for the shoe part of the boot. The part that covered my leg was green canvas. Later during Desert Storm, the soldiers would ask for these boots, though without the vent holes in it, since sand apparently got into them. I never experienced that.

Socks: The army issue was a basic green — no changes for the desert uniform. The socks were a cheap wool and very scratchy. I brought a softer wool and cotton blend. At the time, we were allowed to make substitutions of some things like socks and boots.

Kevlar with cover: That’s actually the helmet you see all the soldiers wearing. We don’t call it a helmet because the army never calls anything by it’s logical name. Kevlar is the material it was made out of. It came coverless, so we would have to put on a cloth cover that matched our uniform. Ever try putting on plastic bag over something round? Yup, it was a challenge to get on.

It also had an elastic band that fitted around the base — not to hold the cover on the helmet, but as another bit of army practicality. If you were camouflaging yourself, you could stick twigs and leaves in the band. The band was also great for storing paperwork, like your firing range qualification.

Sometimes it was known as the brain bucket.

Body armor: This was far different than the ones you see in the news today. Picture a piece of cardboard with arm holes and you’ve pretty much got the flak vest we wore. It was fitted for men (again!), so way too big on me. When I sat down, the flak vest collar pushed up the back of my helmet. It came in original woodland camouflage, so the army issued a desert camo cover — just like the helmet cover. It had velcro and straps all over and I could turn it this way and that way and could never quite figure out how to get it on.

Suspenders and ammunition belt: Our ammunition pouches, and more importantly, canteens would be mounted to this. The belts were made for men, though. I had the belt on the last notch, and it was still too big. The suspenders were clearly made for a much taller man, so the back of them was always getting twisted all over the place on me.

What we didn’t have: The goggles that you see in pictures of today’s soldiers. The army may have issued some during Desert Shield, but it would have been to the Rangers or Special Forces. The rest of us didn’t rate.

If it sounds like a lot of stuff, it was!

Military legal gets involved on the ALS ice bucket challenge

Published August 22, 2014 by Linda Maye Adams

Over the last few weeks, celebrities like William Shatner and Brent Spiner have taken the ALS Ice Bucket challenge — essentially dumping a bucket of ice water over their heads on video tweeted or Face Booked out to help draw attention to the disease that killed baseball player Lou Gehrig.

The lawyers for the military weighed in and said that personnel couldn’t do it in uniform because it constituted endorsement for the cause.  You know, that’s a shame.  This could have been a great way to see military in a positive way.  Most often, all we hear about is front page news about problems with failures in the Veteran’s Administration; homeless veterans; long lasting brain injuries; and sexual harassment.  One of the reasons I generally don’t talk much about any of those subjects is because it’s too easy to associate soldiers as only those things, instead of as diverse people.  Some soldiers have reported that it’s been hard getting a job because employers assume they will have a meltdown like the ones reported in the press.

Good publicity would make a dent in that.

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