First of all, I wish a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone who happens upon my blog. I’d also like to thank the folks at Fresh Fiction for being so gracious and supportive of my debut novel, “Love Leaves No One Behind.”
I spent several hours contemplating on what my topic of choice would be for this golden opportunity to speak to such a large gathering of readers, and after some heated debating with myself, I decided to do what I do best …and that is to simply just start talking, and see what my heart has to say.
A few years ago I decided to try my hand at writing. I knew that my endeavor would challenge my intellect (and most certainly my patience) but I had no idea of the impact it would have on my heart and soul.
My story began, believe it or not, as the result of a dream … yes, an actual dream. I remember upon awakening, thinking what a great plot said dream would make for a novel. Convincing myself that attempting to write a book was a grand idea, I set about the daunting task of creating my characters and storyline. At a certain point, I concluded that my heroine needed a friend, and by that I mean a true friend … not a love interest … but a trusted male friend. Without a moment’s hesitation, I decided that her friend would be a military man. After all, who better to represent friendship than a person who is willing to (and often does) lay down his own life for his friends? That is where my entire storyline changed … and so did my heart.
Although a work of fiction, I wanted my characters (especially my military guy) to be as authentic as possible, so I began researching the military and its soldiers. After stumbling upon a copy of the U.S. Army Ranger Creed which declares that an Army Ranger will never leave a fallen comrade behind, my “friend” came to life in the form of U.S. Army Ranger Jesse Daulton.
During research, I read about such heroes as: Jason Dunham, Paul Smith, Gary Gordon, Randall Shughart, Donald Ballard, Robert Ingram, and Roy Benavidez to name but a few. I was heartbroken with respect and admiration by their stories of selfless bravery and honor, but at the same time strengthened by their courage. I was hit with a heavy dose of patriotism, and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same. I hope not anyway. I believe patriotism is a condition of the heart … and once it’s discovered, it can never again be denied, silenced, or ignored.
To make a long story short, when I began embracing the military and its heroes (to my pleasant surprise) they embraced me right back. I was invited to participate (alongside Deborah Tainsh, award winning author of “Heart of Hawk”) in the God Bless Fort Benning Day festivities, in Columbus, Georgia on November 17, 2007. God Bless Fort Benning Day is an annual celebration to honor America’s military with more than 20,000 people in attendance. At this prestigious event, I was lucky enough to get to meet hundreds of soldiers in person, and got to speak directly to our soldiers deployed to Iraq by way of a “live feed” with Bob Calvert and “Talking with Heroes.com.” That was an awesome privilege … to get to speak to (and thank) our soldiers personally for their service and sacrifice.
To sum up … I’m often asked how I went about writing and publishing my novel. Most of the people asking this question feel as though they have a story in them somewhere just waiting to be told. I tell them to roll up their sleeves, prepare for grueling, long hours in front of a computer screen, don some thick skin (and quick) because you’re going to take some pretty hard hits when it comes to finding a publisher and/or agent … and then prepare for the greatest experience of your life … writing a novel. I highly recommend it! Just close your eyes, open you mind, and in many instances, just let your heart speak. Not only is it a discovery of words and storytelling … often it’s a discovery of something even more worthwhile … an awakening within yourself.
Coming Soon: The sequel to “Love Leaves No One Behind.”