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!
I’m over at Unleaded this week with Finding Profanity in a Book. Here’s some to get you started:
My experience with books has been that if there’s a lot of profanity, I stop reading. It often seems to signal a level of taste in the story that tells me I’m not going to like other things. But in recently reading Pieces of My Heart by Robert Wagner, I’ve come to think that maybe it’s more of a story or character issue.
I remember the first time I stopped reading a book for the profanity. It was the movie tie-in for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and it had quite a bit in the first chapter. Yikes. I didn’t realize it was that long ago — 1977. But even then, I had the sense the use didn’t add anything to the story. Hollywood was just starting to get more profanity in films …
- See more at: http://unleadedwriting.com/2013/12/10/3898/
Many years after Desert Storm, a man who was colonel in the reserves asked me why enlisted don’t like officers. He genuinely didn’t know. Let me tell you a story …
You’ve already seen the showers we had to deal with in Saudi Arabia. They were outside, and water trucks came by every morning to fill the tanks on top. The intent was to let sun heat the water up so we have hot showers.
But when we moved to the place we called “Camel Race Track,” which was near a stadium where the Saudis raced camels, we were also headed into winter. I never thought that a place hot like the desert would feel freezing at seventy degrees, but it was!
The showers, which were not warm, became ice cold. So cold that as we marched deeper into winter, the rumor mill said that a soldier had a hard attack because of the temperature. We all believed it!
The showers had never been very good to start with, but they were a brief moment to get all the accumulated grime of the day off (even if it started accumulating again seconds later). Now I had to pull the shower lever and jump back to keep from getting assaulted by icy water. My washing consisted of sticking my hand under that stream and splashing it back on me.
One night I wasn’t able to make the showers by the set hours — don’t recall the reason why — and I rode over with the officers and the first sergeant to a nearby barracks. Those were inside, and they were steamy and wonderfully wwaaarrrmmm.
Wait a minute.
We were freezing our skin off, and the officers were going off and taking warm showers?
The officers evidently saw nothing wrong with that. Maybe they even justified it to themselves by saying they worked past shower hours. But to the enlisted, it looked liked arrogance. That the officers thought they were better and more special than the enlisted. One of the big things the army was to “lead by example,” and yet, we would see stuff like that which clearly said they weren’t.
Word got around eventually, and this trip to the barracks for the officers became very unpopular. Eventually, they trucked us out to the barracks for showers, but it was a logistics nightmare trying to get everyone out there. Finally, the officers arranged to have the water heated before it was put into the shower tanks.
The problem of all of this is that they officers were the leaders and if they had been leading by example, we would have had the hot water as soon as the problem became obvious. Instead, they ignored what was going on because it didn’t affect them. Not every officer is like this. I’ve met plenty of decent ones who wouldn’t have done this (even the colonel who asked me the original question!). But it’s tough when you’re a private because you really don’t have much say and are stuck when people don’t always care.
This is week 2 of my writing one setting a day for a month. It’s nothing fancy, and in fact, the small bits are the ones I have the hardest time even remembering to get into the story. This was a “furry” week, since I ran into a dog, a cat, a squirrel, and a mouse. We had blistering cold weather (30s) and then warmed into the 60s (back to 30s today), so the critters came out for a visit.
1. It was an apartment building, but the dirty yellow brick facade and iron fence with spikes made it look more like a prison.
2. A yellow Labrador stood on his hind legs, front feet hooked over the top of the chain link fence. He was just enjoying himself, tail wagging comfortably as he watched the cable man.
3. Leaves crackled, and she caught a flash of black. One of the black squirrels drawn out by the warm day, no doubt.
4. The crackle alerted me that something lurked in the tall, dry, yellow grass. I squinted, expecting a squirrel. It was unbearably warm, and they were about. But the shape, dark brown, had stilled, watching me. A cat?
5. Red Christmas lights followed the line of the chain link fence to the end of the sidewalk.
6. The fog made fuzzy halos around the white glow of the street lights.
7. As I rounded the corner of the dishware aisle, a blur of a black shape with a tail made a dash across to the kitchen utensils display. I heard a curious thunk, and the shape was simply gone
Meanwhile, here’s a picture of the cat in #4. I was surprised to get this good a picture. This was taken at the Fredericksburg National Battlefield while I was on the Sunken Road. The ranger in the video is actually standing pretty close to where I spotted the cat.
This is the cover of a book by my cousin Donna Reiner called Historic Heritage Square, which is in Phoenix, Arizona. Donna is part of the Korean Adamses. One branch of the family were all descended from the first missionaries into Korea.
The book is coming out December 9 from Arcadia Publishing.
A rendition of “Let it Snow” with Star Trek The Next Generation characters. But I could do without that evil four letter word, snow.
Thanksgiving Weekend (after Turkey Day!), I went to my first Darkover Con in Baltimore, and also my last, since it’s undergoing a name change. The person who owned the licensing for the name recently died without passing it on, so they had to do a name change. Next year’s will be called Chessiecon, which refers to Chesapeake. Not sure I like the new name …
The con did start on a bit of a sour note for me. They were so eager to promote the new name that I thought Chessiecon was the con this year. I found flyers for Chessiecon but none for Darkover, and this was more than a year in advance. Chessiecon also had a different website, almost identical dates. This, by the way, is what happens when you’re not detail-oriented. I booked the con in advance and wound up not being registered for the actual con …
I’m still not sure what I think of the con itself. To be fair, the con was the last one, and it was a memorial for the person who had died. Since I was attending for the first time, I didn’t have the context that everyone else did. Since it was the last con with this name, they had a few workshops dedicated to variations of that theme. The result was that it seemed a little content-lite for a newbie like me.
However, I also look for specific things in a con. I like workshops on reading or reading-related, plus writing. Demonstrations are also really cool to watch, and I like it when someone sets up a table and I can handle things. I also have really enjoyed some of the science workshops (not all. The speaker’s presentation abilities really make a difference). Unfortunately, schedules are generally not available until right before the con starts.
But there were a few interesting workshops:
Military/SF. Mike McPhail and Kathy Harmon (sorry, name was too common, and I couldn’t find her site).
Well, yeah, you knew I had to attend this. Most of the panelists didn’t show up so the audience filled the void. One of the things that was surprising to me was about a book I’d gotten, called No Man’s Land. It’s a book about women soldiers in space. The editor Mike McPhail mentioned that he had trouble getting promotion for it. The SF side wasn’t interested, and the feminists decided that women in the military were wannabe men.
Hmm. Hey, feminists, you do know that I enlisted because I needed a job?
This one was on crossing science-fiction with mystery. I know of writers who never ever read outside their genre, and I read where ever the books take me. This panel discussed the appeal of mysteries, and of solving the unanswered puzzles.
I approached this one with caution because fiction writers can treat research like they’re being graded on a term paper. Story has to come first and sometimes the best tale isn’t accurate, and sometimes the facts get in the way of the story. I saw recently a writer saying you would only use 10% of what you researched – that’s a lot of time wasted researching and not writing. I’d much rather it be closer to 50-60% and then reusing the rest on another project.
It was an okay con, but if I hadn’t booked the next one accidentally, I’d probably take a pass on it, since it wasn’t quite what I was looking for.