US Navy Presidential Ceremonial Honor Guard


Take a few minutes and watch this video of the Navy’s Presidential Ceremonial Honor Guard. This is the elite of drill and ceremonies for the military, and frankly, this is awesome.

Drill and ceremonies is not easy to learn. It starts with marching in basic training, and the drill sergeants have to tell the recruits to hold up their right hand because it’s easy to turn the wrong way. I always had a terrible time marching, so much so that it was what concerned leadership the most. I have absolutely no sense of timing–I’d invariably end up out of step with everyone else. I’d try watching the feet of the person in front of me, listen to the cadence caller, and if there was a drum, try to listen to that. Somehow the timing of it never translated well for me!

5 Ways Pantsers are Different Than Outliners


NanoWrite’s coming up in a few months, and the discussion about pantsers (people who don’t outline) vs. outliners invariably comes up.  I thought I’d discuss the 5 ways pantsers are different than outliners.

  1. We often start a story, frankly, not knowing a whole lot.
    For my current project Lightkeeper, I started with a character, a setting, and a cool piece of research that I’d run across.  I’m not even sure if it’s fantasy or science fiction yet, and I have no clue how it will end.
  2. We discover what the story is about by writing it.
    I honestly don’t know how someone can map out the entire story in an outline without writing it first.  So much of what I do is tied to things that come when I do the actual writing.
  3. We write extra scenes or go off on tangents.
    That’s part of the discovery and exploring of the story.  Sometimes it’s important to try something, even if it doesn’t get used.  When I started Lightkeeper, I tried a different main character.  I wrote a few scenes, enjoyed them immensely, but it wasn’t the right main character for the story.  But it did help develop part of the story that I’m currently using.
  4. We’re writing along, and suddenly this cool surprise pops in, and it’s like “Where that’d come from?”
    I like it when this happens because it’s often something awesome that I would have never thought of if I’d outlined, and it will always be something that makes the story less predictable.
  5. Pantsing is lot like the reader’s experience.
    The reader discovers the book by reading it word by word, scene by scene.

Any other differences you can think of?

Rocking Women Army Rangers


This week, we had the historic first: Two women survived Ranger training.  I’ve obviously never been to Ranger training–nor would I have wanted to–but I knew people who went through it.  Not for the faint hearted.

Of course, it comes with an awesome action photo.

In this file photo, soldiers test their physical stamina during the Ranger Course on Fort Benning, Ga., April 21, 2015. Soldiers attend the course to learn additional leadership, and technical and tactical skills in a physically and mentally demanding, combat simulated environment. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Paul Sale

In this file photo, soldiers test their physical stamina during the Ranger Course on Fort Benning, Ga., April 21, 2015. Soldiers attend the course to learn additional leadership, and technical and tactical skills in a physically and mentally demanding, combat simulated environment. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Paul Sale

My basic training was in New Jersey, starting about May (I was actually there in April, but we didn’t have enough women for a whole class).  It was typical New Jersey weather–hot and humid.  Lots of mosquitoes.  The BDUs–similar to what you see in the photo except for the camo pattern–would get soaked through with sweat.  The uniform is fine when it’s dry, but when it’s wet, it’s like wearing cardboard.

We were out on the range one day changing these big targets and soaked through with sweat.  Just so hot out.  Then it started to pour all of sudden, and we were out there, hands raised to the sky, because the rain felt so good!

Navy has the watch today


Back to the Navy again for another great photo (hear that Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps? Where are your women service members?!).

150812-N-UY393-367 SAN DIEGO (Aug. 12, 2015) Seaman Blythe Wallace, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), executes a security simulation during Between the Lifelines (BTL) training aboard the barge. BTL is a two-week security training program that provides the fundamentals of watch standing and non-lethal weapons to Sailors. America is undergoing a post-shakedown availability (PSA) in which the ship's crew and assigned contractors make improvements to the ship's design. America's PSA will pave the way for future America-class amphibious assault ships. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William Berksteiner/Released)

150812-N-UY393-367
SAN DIEGO (Aug. 12, 2015) Seaman Blythe Wallace, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), executes a security simulation during Between the Lifelines (BTL) training aboard the barge. BTL is a two-week security training program that provides the fundamentals of watch standing and non-lethal weapons to Sailors. America is undergoing a post-shakedown availability (PSA) in which the ship’s crew and assigned contractors make improvements to the ship’s design. America’s PSA will pave the way for future America-class amphibious assault ships. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William Berksteiner/Released)

I never used a handgun when I was in the service.  They were only for officers.  All the enlisted soldiers were issued an M16A1 rifle.  That thing was hard to carry around.  It was about three feet long, which made it super easy to get into everything.

I’d hang the strap (called a sling) over my shoulder, and then as I walked the strap would slide down to my elbow, so now I had this stilt like thing banging into my leg. Pull the strap back up, and then it was back down on my elbow again a few minutes later.

 

Soldier, Storyteller Available!


My Desert Storm book is finally out! I honestly didn’t expect this would happen. I knew I wanted to write a book about my experiences even a year after the war. But it was such a difficult subject to talk about that it took almost 25 years before I could actually write about it.

Soldier, Storyteller: A Woman Soldier Goes to War

On August 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Within twenty-four hours, he controlled the entire country. Five days later, the United States was deploying soldiers and had named the military operation Desert Shield.

This would be the largest deployment of women at the time. Over 40,000 women went to war. It was so new that people questioned whether women should be there, and what would happen to the families they left behind.

Linda Maye Adams was one of those soldiers. Soldier, Storyteller is a rare inside look at war from a woman’s perspective.

Her memoir answers the question: “What was it like?”

Amazon

Drill Sergeants–Respect Them and Hate Them


I had to work pretty hard to find this photo.  I went through 15 pages of Air Force photos, and I could only find one of a woman that wasn’t very good.  Fortunately, DOD did have the photo below, though it was the same problem–a lot of awesome photos, but women were nowhere to be found.

14378351610_6ef14c0d55_zU.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Ben Sedlacek, a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft boom operator with the 350th Air Refueling Squadron, directs the boom to connect with approaching aircraft for midair refueling June 26, 2014, during Red Flag-Alaska 14-2 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Red Flag-Alaska is a series of Pacific Air Forces commander-directed field training exercises for U.S. and partner nation forces, providing combined offensive counter-air, interdiction, close air support, and large force employment training in a simulated combat environment. (DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. William Buchanan, U.S. Air National Guard/Released)

I had two male drill sergeants in Basic Training and one for the training.  Both classes were all women.

It’s quite a shock getting off the bus, and these people are screaming at you.  Their screaming prompted us to race off the bus, and then race up two or three flights of stairs in the barracks, and then race down the stairs again.

Even in the Mess Hall line, the drill sergeants stalked back and forth next to us in the line, telling us to hurry, hurry, hurry.  We’d sit down and barely get the first fork in, and then the drill sergeant was screaming at us to go, so we’d be in line to turn the tray in and still gulping down all the food.

At one time, we saw the drill sergeant’s hat on the table, and we were like cats checking out something that we didn’t trust wouldn’t attack us.  Of course, no one touched it.

But by the end of basic training, some of women were starting to imitate the drill sergeants, which was a shift in how we thought about them.  We’d survived, and they’d helped.

Typos Should Not Be Drama Queens


On one of the writing Facebook pages I’m on, a ruckus has erupted—over typos. After a writer corrected another writer for the purpose of “learning,” the moderator stepped in and said to leave the grammar police out. The purpose was to make the place a safe zone.

Of course, that outraged several writers who thought it was their job to inform others of their typos so they would know they made them and supposedly learn not to do it. (They were banned.)

I was surprised at how much that brought back old feelings of frustration over typos. Not at making them. I know I make them.

But at how some people overreact to them.

I don’t have problems when someone flags one and says, “Hey, there’s a typo in paragraph 2.” I’m cool with that.

But I’ve also had a long history of run-ins of people who are very intolerant of typos. It’s like they’re looking to be a drama queen over something unimportant. There’s nothing worse that going over something 4-6 times, running spell check and doing a final check, and that person catches the one typo I missed and yells that I’m sloppy, incompetent … well, you get the idea.

Then there’s the lecturers, which is what prompted the moderator to speak. The lecturers see writer and puff themselves up, officious tone in hand. Obviously, that writer was not smart enough to realize she was making typos and needs someone to explain the error of her ways so she can learn how to not make them.

I had one pop in on the blog. A copy editor published a lecturing comment citing “numerous typos” in one post and sternly admonished that I needed to proofread. I use Dean Wesley Smith’s cycling method on everything I write, so it’s a constant back and forth. Then I spellcheck and proofread. I make a lot of typos, but I catch most of them.  It’s still hard for me to let something go because I want to check it one or two more times for typos and make sure I didn’t miss any, though I know I will miss one.

So when I saw the comment, that old doubt caused by all the Typo Drama Queens popped up. Had I really missed that many? I was envisioning six for some reason.

The “numerous typos” was ONE typo. I’d flipped ‘or’ for ‘of,’ which is a hard one for me to spot.

I used to berate myself when someone else found a typo, wishing I could be better and wondering why I didn’t catch it. But one of my past jobs has largely broken me of that. I’ve seen a lot of paperwork with extremely embarrassing mistakes.

What’s your drama queen typo story?