Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day, a day of Gratitude, Blessings, and Love

"Hate war. Love the warrior."

I read this quote today and realized how profound it was. I'm not a fan of war. The repercussions of the violence of the world are just too great to contemplate. Soldiers wounded on more ways the physical; families torn asunder; everyone suffering, not just those killed in action. It's awful. Movies like Saving Private Ryan or Full Metal Jacket and Hamburger Hill only touch briefly on the horrors that war brings.

But for the warriors, the soldiers who choose to serve their country to the best of their ability, for them I have the utmost respect and gratitude. I cannot do what they do. They serve despite the horrors they face. They put themselves in harm's way specifically to defend and protect so many others, people they don't even know, because it's right and honorable. That's humbling.

Not all soldiers have pure ideals when joining the military. Some go in to, as said in G.I. Jane, "blow shit up." Others go for the "free education" the military offers. Some even go to escape an awful home life. But in the end, they do the duty of protecting others.

My grandfather experienced the Second World War from the position of a civilian until March 1944 when he could no longer stand by and not help. He was inducted into active service on March 22, 1944 for the 6th Night Fighter Squadron. He worked on the turret guns for the B-29 Superfortresses, repairing and maintaining them for the flight crews to take out over Europe. He was honorably discharged from the Army two years to the day he enlisted, March 22, 1946. His rank was Sergeant, and his name is Martin E. Schumacher.

He already had a small daughter and his wife was pregnant with their second child (my mother) when he enlisted, but he couldn't stay home. He had to do his duty and offer his abilities and strengths to fight for what he felt was right.

There's a word in Sanskrit, dharma, that means "sacred duty". A longer translation of it could be "Doing what is right regardless of its ease or pleasantness" and that's what it is to be a soldier. Doing what's right regardless of its pleasantness. Most of war isn't pleasant at all. My grandfather felt strongly that it was his duty, his dharma, to join the Army and serve to the best of his ability.

This Memorial Day, take a moment to think of the men and women who are serving this country in the Armed Forces and offer them your gratitude for doing what most of us cannot. They have sacrificed all their Federal Holidays so that we might have another free three day weekend. On this three day weekend, raise your glass of lemonade, beer, wine or whiskey to all the soldiers, both fallen and surviving, and send them blessings. Thank them for performing the ultimate dharma and love them for what they've done for us all.

One last note: Right now Indie Book Collective is putting on a four day Blog Tour de Troops. Today is day 3, tomorrow is day 4. If you visit the blogs they've posted on their site, hoping from one to the next, and comment on each, not only will you receive a free ebook from the blog's author, but one will be sent in your name to the troops serving in the Armed Forces. You can choose to send the ebook to a specific soldier or just let them send it to anyone. Not only that, but you'll be entered to win a Kindle. Plus, you can donate into a fund for free Kindles for the troops. Awesome! I've heard that books are what most soldiers want in care-packages these days. Can you help out by commenting, if only to send them a free book? Blessings to you and your families this Memorial Day, and to those who serve so diligently. :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dream Heroes Part 2

I had a dream last night (no, it won't be put into another story) were I was sitting in a restaurant in Pike Place Market, downtown Seattle, being interviewed by a young reporter for the romance writers' convention. He looked like Jerad Leto, with black hair, dreamy blue eyes, and lashes long and dark, like he wore too much eyeliner. He was giving me the eye despite the ring on my left hand and it was pretty obvious he'd gotten most of his interviews by using his good-looks. He was young, probably mid-twenties and I found his seductive come-hither looks amusing.

He was trying to find out more about me and the woman I'd just been visiting; the grand Pooh-bah of the convention (I'm not sure why she was so important, but she was). He was trying to get the inside scoop on her, as if she was the Queen of England or the First Lady of the US, and I'd just come from speaking with her. It was pretty funny, but I'm not a gossip, so he didn't get much from me.

At some point during our "interview", Christina Dodd, one of my favorite romance authors, came over and sat down, listening with half an ear to our conversation. I greeted her and waited for the reporter to ask her name, but he was doing his best to focus on me, trying to draw me out. Apparently, he thought I was "hawt".

Christina finally said, "I think your ride's here," and pointed toward the door. We all turned our heads to look and there he was. He wasn't the tallest guy I'd ever seen, but he stood at about 6 feet, with long dark hair falling over his broad shoulders and a dark goatee on his face. A black Stetson cowboy hat covered the top half of his face and a black leather duster fell to his booted ankles. Water dripped off the brim of the hat and slid down his coat to pool at his feet.

"Yep, thanks, Chris. Nice to meet you," I said to the reporter. I rose, gathered my coat and laptop bag, and headed toward the sexy man in the Stetson. When I reached him, he grinned, tilted his head and gave me a sweet, sweet kiss, before taking my raincoat and helping me into it. Then he ushered me out into the rain.

The man in the Stetson is my husband and he just gets better and better looking the longer I'm with him. He's my favorite "hero". He wakes up next to me every morning and cooks me dinner each night. He also cleaned out the garage this weekend. Love you, Handsome.

(BTW, my dream continued after "I" left and Christina asked if he knew who he'd been talking to. When he said no, she said, "That was Siobhan Muir." At his blank look, she added, "You don't know who Siobhan Muir is? What about Christina Dodd? Kate Pearce? Sabrina Jeffries? Kresley Cole?" He shook his head no and she asked, "Then why are you here doing an article on a romance writer's convention?") Good question. :)

Do you have a favorite type of hero? Is he a strong, aloof cowboy? Is he a military man from the future, like the bad-ass guys from Halo? Is he a doctor, a scientist (mad or otherwise), a fireman, a cop? Is he SWAT or a Navy SEAL? A Marine or a Top Gun? Is he the Bad Boy Biker Dude or the smart, sneaky thief? Is he the "anti-hero" like Vin Diesel in The Chronicles of Riddick? What is your favorite type of hero?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Quiet Sunday Reflections

Normally I write on Mondays, but tomorrow, workers will be invading my house to mount a new ceiling fan from our 20 ft living room ceiling and that will distract me beyond measure. Not so good for reflecting or writing.

I've been thinking about technology and the modern author. Okay, not really, but I have recently joined Twitter and it made me think of the first time I started moving into the modern world of communication. It all started with a cell phone from Sprint. I resisted for as long as possible, but capitulated when I started applying for jobs where I might not be home much and I needed to stay in contact with interviewers. It was a good choice for me at the time. Now I wouldn't be caught ANYWHERE without my cell phone (although I'm no longer with Sprint).

My next big jump in technological communication (and communication is the key to every relationship) was Facebook. I was resistant because when did I have time to constantly update my status? I was busy doing stuff that I would write about as my status! But I capitulated because it was a great way to keep in contact with folks in my profession who didn't live in the same city as I did or had moved on to other places and jobs. I could stay up-to-date with what they were doing without having to be in the same university, city, or company as them. It's particularly useful for finding out their upcoming projects. :)

Then I started this blog. For a long time I looked at blogging as a way for people to fan their egos. It seemed self-indulgent to me. But after thinking about it a long time and reading a few blogs, I realized it was a viable way to get your voice out there, good, bad, or mediocre, to be noticed. I'm a writer, so getting my voice out where publishers, agents, and editors could "hear" it seemed like a really good idea; especially if I wanted said folks to become interested in my writing ability. Now I see it as yet another form of interaction and communication; a place where I can offer snippets of my writing where a lot of people can see it.

Now I've joined Twitter. I'm no expert by any stretch of the imagination and I was resistant to it because I wasn't so certain you could really put anything meaningful in 140 characters or less (that's pretty hard, actually). However, I joined Twitter for two reasons. One, many authors communicate as much as possible to as many people as possible, and Twitter is a good place to connect, at least briefly, with a lot of people (readers, reviewers, publishers, etc.). Two, with Facebook cracking down on contests and giveaways, people turned to Twitter for that information and when I start my giveaways (and there will be some, believe me), I'll be able to post it here and tweet it on Twitter.

I'm still resistant to a "Smartphone" because if I want to do computer things, I'll use my computer! I'll use my phone to make phone calls and text! *eye roll* Well, I sometimes use it to listen to music and snap photos, but that's it! Yeah, I know, not much of an excuse. I might succumb eventually. :S

The point of my reflections is any form of communication can be good or bad, but it is what you make of it. I'm trying to make my communications useful, meaningful, and well written (or at least thought-out). So I'm getting my voice out there. Come "like" me on Facebook to read my posts; follow me on Twitter to enjoy my pithy tweets; or follow me on this blog for more involved writing. And feel free to share with other folks! Happy reading, writing and communicating! :)

Friday, May 13, 2011

And We're Back!

Testing, testing, one, two, three! Is this on?

I was all hot to trot to write a new blog entry and what happened? No way to post. What? How can that be?

So now I can post, I can write, I can tell the world everything! But can I remember what I wanted to write about?

Uh, no. Hmm. What was I thinking about?

Crap. Focus, focus, focus!

Okay, the biggest news? I'm now on Twitter, though I admit to being a newbie at it. How often are you supposed to tweet? In 140 characters, what really can you tweet about? Sigh. If you want to "follow" me (sounds like an invitation to a stalker, doesn't it?) I'm @SiobhanMuir. I'll try to tweet something pithy.

Facebook is cracking down on giveaways and contests, saying authors (and anyone really) who puts a contest or giveaway up on their page, can have their page deleted without warning, banishing those folks into internet obscurity. It seems like they've shot themselves in the foot. As I understood it, Facebook was a FREE social media site, meant for communication and interaction, including self-promotion. It garnered good press for Facebook (and probably many more members) from all the readers who wanted to get their hands on books from the various authors who post there.

But Facebook made new guidelines disallowing all sorts of giveaway interactions. Just my opinion, of course, but I think it may hurt them more than help them.

As for writing news, I'm working on Jeff Lightfoot's manuscript and editing like a crazy person. I'll be going to Arizona Dreamin' in Tempe at the beginning of June to interact with other romance authors, learn new tricks to this trade (which I'll blog about when I get back) and maybe even, pitch the story to the publisher who's supposed to be there, too! :D Wish me luck!

I hope your week has been great and I hope to have a more informative blog entry on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Do you have an opinion about Facebook or Twitter or both? Which do you like better and why? Just curious.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Mothers are amazing. They put up with so much stuff and yet still manage to say they love you and tuck you in to bed each night, read you a story, and give you a kiss. They offer advice (some wanted; some unwanted) and teach you all sorts of things about males, animals, etiquette, and . . . being a mother. In addition to my own mother, I know some particularly amazing mothers, many from my own generation.

So, here are some of the very coolest mothers I know. Ladies, my hat's off to you. Thanks for sharing your "motherness" with me!

Sara is a cake decorator and a horsewoman who sees cougars and bears almost every day.  Her daughters help her make Christmas ornaments every year. So creative!

Allene is a medical doctor and loves "catching babies". She now has one of her own to teach all the great things about the outdoors and internal medicine!

Sarah now has three kids, a husband, and a full time job as a math teacher. She's amazing!

Gwyneth has taught me how to be steadfast. She's had plenty of medical challenges with her son, yet she keeps on going. She also sews ALL the Halloween costumes for her son. You rock, Gwyn!

Betsy has taught me the value of patience and reconfiguration when it comes to dealing with daughters. She has two of them who are now college aged and she's seen it all. She's also helped me when I'm stuck in a story. Marcus (and I) thanks you, Betsy! :)

And finally, my own mom, Kate, with her two granddaughters. Any ability I have with my own children came from her being a great mom. Thanks, Mom.

And to two other mothers, Lanya and Stephanie: I didn't have any awesome photos of you so I couldn't post them, but Lanya has always offered me a balanced perspective on child rearing and Stephanie has reminded me how to keep the kid in me alive even when being a parent.

To all the mothers in my life, thanks. I hope you all have a wonderful Mother's Day!

Monday, May 2, 2011

The End of a Decade of Terror

We've all heard that a special forces team found and killed Osama Bin Laden. It's the end of a decade's worth of his brand of terrorism.

But I caution against gloating.

"Convince an enemy, convince him that he's wrong
Is to win a bloodless battle where victory is long
A simple act of faith
In reason over might
To blow up his children will only prove him right"
History Will Teach Us Nothing - Sting

We've just made the man a martyr, for which hundreds will die just to add their glory in his death.

What I think what would be more productive and healthy for us all, since we must share this planet, like it or not, is to send blessings to all those who have fought and must continue to fight. Our military is extraordinary and strong, persistent and willing to do the job most of us cannot. The men and women who can do this job have my gratitude and blessings. Give thanks, gratitude, to the positive things; it's useless to glory in the hate and anger. It only shows our opponents they were right all along; it only spurs their hate and anger of us.

I'm not an idealist. I don't believe in peace at all costs. I'm a realist and it seems the most realistic to focus on the good that has happened since the first attack in September 2001. Bin Laden won no points that day from the world's perspective because his attack on the World Trade Center was indiscriminate; if he was targeting the Americans, he failed miserably and killed several people from other nations. I am glad his hate and fear mongering has ended, but to revel in his death only shows that the arrogance of which he accused us is accurate.

Perhaps, now we should show our greatness by our capacity for compassion for those people he has hurt; not just the Americans, but also those in the Middle East, who continue to suffer and hate us merely for our nationality because of his teachings. I urge everyone to count your blessings today, not only that you're alive and healthy, but that we have a strong military, the ability to see different perspectives, and we can move on from this moment, like we did from September 2001, with the intent to do better.

I encourage you to see the historical significance of today, to revel in gratitude and relief at the end of a decade of terror. I encourage you to count your blessings. And I hope that you'll find compassion in your heart instead of gloating and self-righteousness. Many blessings to you all.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Happy May Day!

I hope your May Day is glorious. May you get sunshine for the first time in weeks! Maybe you have friends and family coming to help celebrate the warming of the year. I went out and looked at my garden today and found all our flowers flourishing.

 This unusual creature is a Martha Washington geranium. I loved the rich red color.

 I had one California Poppy volunteer from last year. They always remind me of my paternal grandmother. She loved them and pointed them out to me on the sides of the road when she came to visit.

 These are called Green Leaf Daisies and when we moved into this house the plant was the size of a basketball with only twenty blooms.

This is my other Martha Washington geranium and I love its "star" qualities. Plus, it's purple! :)

 I loved the purple flowers on this desert succulent. I have no idea what kind of plant it is, but it's purple!

Mr. SM got me a rose plant last year and it barely bloomed. This year our Tropicana rose is producing quite well and they smell wonderful (I buy roses by nose).

I hope you have a marvelous May Day (and Beltane) and this gives you some of those May Flowers the April showers were supposed to bring. Happy May Day!