Thursday, February 25, 2016

Remembering Desert Storm

Image from Rolling Thunder's Facebook Page
It seems this one has long been forgotten. We hear consistently about our troops coming home from the current seemingly never ending Middle East war that's supposedly no longer a war. Politics aside, they are still there fighting, and they're coming home needing a lot of assistance, physical and mental, that is falling through and failing them. We all, or many of us, agonize about that, as we should.

Yesterday, though, marked the 25th Anniversary of the start of Desert Storm, the 400 hour war after a several month buildup to be prepared, that achieved its objective quickly, freed Kuwait from Iraq's violent takeover, and then sent our troops back home.

Perhaps it's largely forgotten because it was so fast. Few troops had to lose their lives to free others. We went, drove the intruders back, and left, leaving only a small protective contingent. Yes, there are many political fallout issues that we could bring up, but that's not the point of my post.

The point is we shouldn't forget our well played quick victories. We should remember them. We also should remember that during Desert Shield and Desert Storm is when the country rallied full force for our military, starting what luckily has become an on-going "Support Our Troops" quest. In early 1991, nearly every house in rural America, and even in some city areas, flags were flown in support, often with yellow ribbons attached. People were wearing red, white, and blue. Support magnets showed up on cars everywhere you looked. The country was maybe as undivided as it has ever been, at least in troop support.

Of course there were still the protesters. There were still the ignorant civilians who spit on troops as they arrived home or went about their daily business, knowing full well our troops are not allowed to do one thing about it. We will always have ignorance. It's a part of every society.

Back then, though, if anyone heard of such an act, it fueled anger and more support.


I suppose one effect of a long drawn-out war with no clear goal has to numb the general population to some extent. It does not at all numb the troops and families directly involved, however. We mustn't forget them, no matter how long it runs. We lose ourselves as a nation when we forget those who sacrifice for us.

It's hard for me to believe Desert Storm was 25 years ago. My grandchildren are now about the age my daughter was when her father left to serve. She was nearly two when he left and just over 2 when he came home, the second birthday he'd had to miss because duty called. Watching the news casts with that huge pit in my stomach wondering just what part of the thing he was in (since my protective soldier didn't want me to worry more than necessary and wouldn't tell me until he was home), on the 24th of February, 1991 when the Storm hit, and wondering if my baby girl would ever really know her father because he was away helping other mothers and babies, is a feeling you can't understand until you're there.

Police spouses understand, of course. On a regular basis. Especially those in rougher areas. And we should never forget that, either.

These days, most of the military novels I've read or heard about deal with soldiers coming back from war with PTSD,. I understand it's an issue. I understand they are not getting the right help. Mainly, they get drugs thrown at them that often only make it worse and nothing more.

Those guys coming back from the front lines of Desert Storm didn't "have PTSD" as in, it wasn't a thing yet. They dealt with it. Their families dealt with it. It was a different time with more and less support.

But I got off track...

Not all soldiers are going in for help with mental issues that come with every war. Some of them, most of them, dust themselves off, pick themselves up (with any luck they'll have family support as they do so), and continue their paths in or out of the service. We don't hear much about them. We never hear much about those quietly dealing with their own issues and managing to live good, productive lives despite whatever personal horrors they have faced or are facing. That's sad. We should. They are the majority. We should remember that, as well.

If you want to meet one, fictionally but very realistically, you're welcome to check out my Desert Storm based book, Moondrops & Thistles. I won't link it here because that's not what this post is about. Look it up if you like. My DS vet husband read it and attests to the realism. What I didn't know from experience, I asked him or other DS vets about, in particular, the aviation parts of the story.

If you're too young to know what Desert Storm is, do some research. If you've forgotten, especially the patriotic fervor of the time, try to remember. Our history matters. It's part of us. Look beyond what history class teaches you. There's so much more out there that explains what we don't already
know. Knowing matters.

John Jakes' Kent Family Chronicles is a nice place to start.

What other American History fiction would you recommend? What do you remember about Desert Storm? (Keep in mind this blog is run by a military(RET) spouse and attack comments will be promptly deleted.)

Monday, February 15, 2016

No Pneumonia Here

"Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia." Kurt Vonnegut

Life is constant reinvention, at least for some of us intent on growing and exploring as much as possible. The same is true with writers not content to stay in a pigeon hole some publisher creates. Those who are content to do so generally do well with it, and that's great. There's a big audience for those well-promoted genres. The rest of us ... well, we have to figure out how to find an audience for our not-so-well-promoted little niches.

That's a long-winded way to say I've been playing with a new tagline for my LK books. I recently updated the artwork (headers and icon) for EMK, plus the tagline. Now it's on to revamping LK a bit. No, I've never been one to sit still well. I'm always looking for different and better. My daughter says "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" was written for me. As Loki said in in Thor: The Dark World, "I don't do satisfied." (from memory - could be a bit misquoted, but the gist is the same) I liked Loki better from that line forward. I get it.

I like my current tagline: Literary Romance with an Artsy Twist, but I don't think it's coming across well. "Literary" tends to turn people off, unless they love 700 page rambling insightful slow books (yes, I am one of those, at times). "Romance" turns people away unless they like the bodice-ripper kind of stories, or 100 page fast meet-and-fall in love books. I like romance. I'm a romantic. But I'm not really THAT kind of romantic. I'm somewhere between the two, which is what my tagline was supposed to say. I don't think it's working. So, my new tagline:

Conservative Fiction for the Intellectual Romantic

What do you think?

I put it out on my personal Facebook page to a limited group of people to ask their thoughts the other day. Most who replied loved it, said it made them stop and think, which is part of the idea. I did get some dissent, a good point that it would likely turn off more liberal readers. That's probably true, and I did consider as much, but as I explained, any reader "liberal enough" to let the tagline turn them away is likely not going to enjoy my work, anyway. Not everyone will. It is on the conservative side, although I have characters on all sides of all lines providing point and counterpoint, wider POVs than just my own. I don't like to read preachy fiction, so I don't write preachy fiction. I do write societal and cultural fiction. My main characters do tend to be on the conservative side. And why shouldn't they be? Liberal fiction is everywhere; liberality dominates current fiction. I know. I read plenty of it. One of my favorite authors has bent so far that direction, I stopped reading him. Point: not everyone wants that. A lot of us don't. Whereas we may enjoy reading different points of view that don't agree with our own, and I do think that's important, we don't necessarily want everything we read to tell us we're haughty, greedy, evil, stupid, etc. (yes, I have read plenty of fiction that says exactly that) because we're more conservative than the current tide.

I'm not trying to make love to the whole world when I write. I'm trying to tell a good, deep, well-rounded story with thoughts I ponder often and questions I constantly have. Some of it tends to be a bit more liberal and not all conservatives will agree with me. Overall, though, it is moderate conservative fiction, and I'd rather those on either extremist side not bother than to rant and rave about expecting one thing and getting something else (kind of like the new Deadpool ad that tells parents PLEASE DON'T take your minor children to see the movie and then rant about how horrible it was for them to see when it's rated R for a reason!).

Why shouldn't we have "conservative fiction" that is not "Christian fiction"? There's room for all of us.

As for the "intellectual romantic" part of the line, yes, my books are heavy on romance, but it's not genre romance. It's relationship development wrapped around a societal story. It's the why of two people coming together, how they deal with conflicts that threaten them being together, why they decide to overcome them or not, how others interfere, including family and friends. It's supposed to make a reader stop and think.

In short, I'd rather put out the call to those who want to philosophize a bit as they read, who are interested in varying viewpoints and will consider them, and who love a good story with in-depth characters who understand the value of morality and have differing ideas about how to best love one's neighbors than to attract a wider group of readers who very well won't be interested. One of my characters is fighting the effects of pneumonia, but I'd rather not.

[If you prefer shorter and a bit less philosophical/intellectual love stories, I have that in my Ella M. Kaye line. ;-) ]

Of course this means I'll need new artwork to match the new tagline...