WARRIOR WEEKEND: Craig Martelle

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Hello Space Cadets! Today, I wanted to introduce you to another author from my WARRIOR WEEKEND INTERVIEW SERIES. Normally I would update you about what’s going on in my life but I’ve nothing new so Craig took the time to write his own introduction!  Cheeky, isn’t he?

 

Craig Martelle:  I’m a lifelong daydreamer and student of human interaction. I have some degrees, but those don’t matter when it comes to telling the story. Engaging characters within a believable narrative- that’s what it’s all about. I live in the interior of Alaska, far away from an awful lot, but I love it here. It is natural beauty at its finest.

Craig Martelle

 

Without further ado, let’s get this interview cranking!

 

Tell me a little about your military service?

Enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1982 and eight years later earned my commission. I retired at the rank of Major after thirteen years of commissioned time. I was a Russian Crypto linguist at the outset, spending two years at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. As an Intelligence Officer, I served all over the world, Japan, Korea, the Middle East, Russia, and Ukraine.

 

How do you feel that your military service has influenced your writing?

Most of my books have a Marine or a Marine-like character. I know the lingo, I know the mindset, and I carry those ideals to this day, almost fifteen years after I retired.

 

Do you think your military service, and more specifically your training, adds to the realism in your books?  If so, how?

It absolutely does. Combat scenes, fighting, and those things can easily be described if you’ve seen some good war movies on TV, but the emotions of the moment, the different personalities you’ll find on the battlefield, the sights, and the smells are the kinds of things that I believe I put into my work. The spurious thoughts of your life back home. The jokes one makes in life or death situations. It is very unique and a challenge to get right if you haven’t seen it for yourself.

 

When did you start pursuing your writing more seriously?

When I retired from the consulting business in September 2015. I was still way too young to sit at home and do nothing. So I sit at home and write instead.

 

Of all your work, which was your favorite to write?

I love my Cygnus Space opera. It flowed the best of all my books from the outset. It is good fun in the way that Star Trek is.

 

How many of your characters were inspired by your military service?

Many, of course, probably a quarter of the characters can trace to people that I met while serving in the Marine Corps.

 

How many of the scenes you wrote were inspired from your service?

I typed The End on my 21st book today, so trying to tally the scenes inspired by my military service? Too many to count. Nearly all the combat scenes, many times when a character is away and misses home, his girlfriend, those are all service related.

 

That is fricking awesome!!  One day I’ll get there.  But this is about you, so do you feel like your writing has served any therapeutic value for you?  Has it helped you process your experiences?

It has not. I enjoy writing and that is a value in and of itself.

 

If you could serve with any of your characters, who would it be and why?

I like the Nomad in my new series co-written with Michael Anderle. He’s a stand-up guy who is just a little better than everyone else. He uses that help people and others think of him as Sir Galahad from the Knights of the Round Table.

 

If you would want to avoid serving with any of your characters, who would it be and why?

Usually those people end up on the wrong end of lethal fire in my books. As my XO told me once, “Sir, you don’t suffer fools gladly.”

 

What are you currently working on?

This survey. Is this a trick question? The Terry Henry Walton Chronicles – Michael and I will have published five books in eleven weeks (first right before Christmas and the fifth by March 15th). My next project is the third book in my Cygnus Space Opera. I’d like to get that one done in March, so come April, I can concentrate on getting the next three books done for Terry Henry Walton.

 

How can people find you? [will insert what social media platforms with direct links]

E-Mail: craig@craigmartelle.com

Amazon

Facebook

Twitter

Website

 

If this convinced you to find out more, look up Craig Martelle.  I hope you all had a great time getting to know about Craig, don’t be afraid to say hello here or on his website.  If he don’t respond quick enough, bombard the friendly Marine with Army memes!  Mwahahaha!!

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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WARRIOR WEEKEND INTERVIEW SERIES: Sarah S. Reida

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Hello Space Cadets! Today, I wanted to introduce you to another author from my WARRIOR WEEKEND INTERVIEW SERIES.  This one will be slightly different as Sarah S. Reida is a veterans’ advocate rather than a veteran.  She is a mother, amazing author, one heck of a lawyer, and an animal lover.

 

In full disclosure, I know Sarah personally.  She was the David who helped me slay the VA’s Goliath.  My wife and I call her our ‘Lawyer Warrior Princess,’ and we are better for having her in our lives.  She used to help veterans process claims, until the VA made it dang near impossible for the lawyers to get paid.  Now she focuses on helping veteran owned business get certified to get the government contracts.

 

Sarah Reida was born and raised in the Midwest, where she read anything and everything she could get her hands on – especially scary books.  Like most of us, she read R.L. Stine’s and Roald Dahl’s books, and probably some Alvin Schwart’s “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.”  Besides the written word, movies played a huge role in her development – sitting on a cinder block at the local drive-in to watch Beetlejuice was a formative event. (I know, only in small towns do those things still exist! In Virginian suburbia those things went the way of the Dodo bird. Bask in the jealousy for a moment… okay, we can move on).

 

Sarah always knew she wanted to be a writer, but also knew that she’d have to change her name because no one can spell or pronounce it (Schauerte, or Shower-Tee).  Luckily, her husband’s last name is easy to pronounce, so she didn’t have to worry about coming up with a pen name!  However, she IS very creative so I’m sure she could create a doozy!

 

Now an Atlanta resident, Sarah lives with her husband, daughter, and their furry children.  She works as an attorney who helps veteran small business owners who work with the federal government and writes.  My eldest read and loved her debut novel, so hopefully she can crank them out fast!

 

Sarah is a traditionally published author, who has a passion for writing middle grade novels.  She is represented by the LKG Agency for literary rights and New Leaf Literary for film rights and published by Sky Pony Press, the children’s imprint for Skyhorse Publishing.  While this isn’t the science fiction I normally cover, as a veteran’s advocate she fits squarely into the theme of my Warrior Weekend Interview Series.  And I know many of you have kids, or know someone who does, so this should definitely be something to consider!

 

If I’ve piqued your interest, keep reading as I interview this lovely veterans’ advocate.

 

 

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Without further ado, let’s get this interview cranking!

 

Tell me a little about your time as working with military veterans?

My father is a veteran, and the very first disability claim I did was his. The process was absolutely cumbersome and user-unfriendly, and that made me want to help veterans navigate the process. (I’m currently developing a DIY site for veterans who are pursuing their disability claims). On the veteran business side, that also started with my father – when I was a kid, he had a business and complained that he never knew what his attorney was saying or whether a phone call would result in a bill. My practice focuses on veteran business owners because I recognize the debt our nation owes them, and I want to be able to provide affordable legal services without the legalese or the surprise bills.

 

How do you feel that your affiliation with the military has influenced your writing?

I wrote a book about a kid whose brother comes home from Afghanistan with PTSD. I thought this was an issue that should be addressed, especially because a lot of folks won’t recognize the symptoms of PTSD. Alas, that book did not sell, but I’m considering revisiting it in the future.  

 

Do you think your exposure to the military lifestyle, and more specifically your meeting all kinds of people, adds to the realism in your books? If so, how?

It sure does, and I think that’s true with any writer. You never know who you’ll meet who might be the inspiration for a character, or an experience that might lead to a plot point. Creativity all stems from something real that happens to us (regardless of how fantastical the book ends up).

 

Do you feel like there is any bleed over from your time helping veterans into your books?

Directly, no – my books are a creative element, and in a sense an escape from my ordinary world. I will say, though, that I’m passionate about both – each endeavor is something I can’t imagine myself not doing, regardless of pay or the level of difficulty. You never stop doing what you care about.

 

Now let’s transition over to your writing. When did you start pursuing your writing more seriously?

After law school, I wrote my first book. I wrote FOUR until I landed my first agent in 2012. Despite our best efforts, none of the three books we submitted to publishers sold. Then I wrote Monsterville, and, with the help of my new agent, we sold it in something ridiculous like four months. Looking back on the timeline, I’m surprised I didn’t give up. It is truly depressing.

 

Of all your work, which was your favorite to write?

Oh, all of the books are my babies. Monsterville was a lot of fun, though, because I studied screenplay writing and got to watch a lot of movies and call it research.

 

Do you feel like your writing has served any therapeutic value for you? I know that you were part lawyer, part therapist for your veteran clients and heard about the worst days in many of their lives.  Has writing helped you process your experiences with that?

Writing is definitely an escape. I love telling a story and painting characters that have the slightest resemblance to folks I know.

 

If you could serve with any of your characters, who would it be and why?

Definitely Adam. An Eagle Scout, he helps Lissa (my main character in Monsterville) navigate the monster world of Down Below, and I’d trust him in any combat situation.

 

If you would want to avoid serving with any of your characters, who would it be and why?

Atticus. He’s a monster with his own agenda, and I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him. (Which isn’t far – he’s pretty big).

 

What are you currently working on?

Monsterville, the sequel!

 

How can people find you?

 

If this convinced you to find out more, please look up Sarah S. Reida and become a fan.  She is such an amazing person, so give it a shot like I did!  I hope you all had a great time getting to know about Sarah; don’t be afraid to say hello here or on her plethora of social media platforms.  If she doesn’t respond quick enough, glitter bomb her!  Mwahahaha!!  Wait, the little birdie tells me she might like this… hmm.  Send her mislabeled DVDs of all of her favorite movies?  Would that be cruel enough to motivate contact?

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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Lazy Blogger Day

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Hey Space Cadets, I hope you’re all doing well. Today I plan on keeping my post short, I’m not where I want to be with Operation Breakout. Here we’ll give an update on the blog, and some of what I see as my basic policies.  Nothing too sexy, but it had to happen eventually.  Especially with the big plans I have for 2017, which I can’t wait to be able to tell you about.

 

First, I have several interview series I’m running because they’re fun for me.  Hope everyone else enjoys them as well!  If you want to see anyone specific, just post a comment or contact me and I’ll try to make it happen.  If you hate this series, let me know and I won’t do as many of them.  I can never tell which posts are well received and I’m still learning to read the WordPress analytics.  Regardless, I’ll continually seek to keep the interviews fun and personable but please do sound off in the comment section.

  1. Warrior Weekend Interview Series
  2. Family Friday Interview Series
  3. Sci-Fi Shenanigans Interviews
  4. Mental Health Matters Interviews

 

Now, onto a topic that has been fun for me to do!  Book reviews!!  I love books, I love to read and I love talking about what I’ve read.  I do need to explain some of my personal policies on this.  I won’t review books I don’t like or couldn’t finish.  My intent is to only review stuff I can give at least three, maybe four, grenades (stars) too.  I’ll freely admit to my tendency to support other military veterans, but that alone won’t make me blow smoke up your six.  You have my word on it.  I hope that I’m as transparent as glass, and if you need clarification please ask.  This is why I list if I was given the book as an ARC read etc.  This desire to be transparent is why I won’t review Boss Man’s books.  I love them, or I wouldn’t write in his world, but I’m not impartial enough to review them.

  1. Wraithkin
  2. Asbaran Solutions

 

Another topic I wanted to cover was a YouTube vlogger I found, Keystroke Medium.  The hosts, Josh Hayes and Scott Moon, are pretty friendly and the live events are a blast!  They’ve discussed a wide variety of topics and interviewed a lot of authors. If it’s entertaining and about the written word, they have either covered it or will be soon. It’s a lot of fun, and worth a moment of your time. I’ve mentioned before, and I don’t want to harp on it, but I really do enjoy this team. Further, their crazy style has spurred some interesting ideas for new books.  As an author, this is always a good thing!

 

 

Finally, speaking of new ideas, I wanted to recommend one last source for story ideas.  The Stuff You Missed in History podcast is a great place to mine ideas. This umbrella venue has a wide variety of podcasts for you to enjoy.  I will freely acknowledge the need to be able to tune out politics this, I sometimes they wear their extreme left ideology on their sleeve. Regardless of their politics, their topics are diverse and generate loads of ideas. I mentioned this, not because I’m getting political (I intentionally avoid doing so here) but to forewarn you. If this isn’t something you could tolerate, you might want to let this ship pass by.  The history podcast tends to be pretty neutral, and has lead me to a multitude of plots for future works.

 

 

Hopefully, you found this housekeeping session to be entertaining!  If not, then I hope that it was at least informative.  If you have any ideas for resources for writers, feel free to share them in the comments below!  Tomorrow I’m sharing another Warrior Weekend Interview with Sarah S. Reida, an attorney who advocates for veterans and right middle grade fiction. She became a family friend after she stood up and helped me slay the goliath that is the VA process.  My wife and I call her our “Court Room Warrior Princess,” after the TV show ‘Xena’ that I watched growing up.  It’ll be a hoot, so pop back over tomorrow!

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

 

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are screen shots taken by JR Handley and used under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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WARRIOR WEEKEND INTERVIEW SERIES: Cait Ashwood

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Hello Space Cadets! Today, I wanted to introduce you to another author from my WARRIOR WEEKEND INTERVIEW SERIES.  This one will be slightly different, as Cait Ashwood was an Army wife, rather than a veteran. Those who stayed at home, managing the hearth fire also served in my book.  I know it isn’t the same, but to me they’re the ones who ran the daily affairs that let the warriors do what warriors do.  I couldn’t have been as effective while serving at the tip of the spear if I didn’t know that things were solid at home.  My wife gave me that peace of mind, so I know it has intrinsic value.  Further, I’ve seen what happened to soldiers with crappy spouses.  To keep this blog as clean as this old grunt is capable of, let’s just say it didn’t end well.

 

So without getting lost in the weeds, let’s talk about today’s subject. Cait’s an amazing author, wife, mother to furry kids and works as a ‘post closer’ at a law firm specializes in real-estate. Yeah, I know… one of those titles that could be anything or nothing, but don’t shoot the messenger!! We met at my local Hampton Roads NaNoWriMo group this past year, something for which I’m grateful. She has been kind, encouraging and just generally friendly. Her 2nd Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo has been put to use helping many of our local authors perfect their hand to hand combat scenes, including one in the upcoming Operation Breakout.

 

Aside from the boring real life stuff, Cait is a writer who feels like getting her first novel published is a dream come true. I’m delighted to have her here so we can go along for the ride. When she’s the next big thing, we can all say we knew her when!  And hey, maybe she’ll slip us a free latte! OR she could pimp our books so we can be as cool as her too!  “Do you fancy my book? Awesome, then try JR’s book in a totally different genre!” Bam!  See how it’s done?  Take notes Cait, seriously!

 

So, more about this fine author!  Fantasy and science fiction have been her lifeblood since she was too young to stay up and watch the complete episode of Star Trek: Voyager.  Yep, she worships at the wrong church… a Trekie. Sigh, we will let our Force wielders turn her from such a dark and turbulent path and back to the welcoming embrace of the Church of the Star Wars. She has several fandoms that she follows with varying amounts of rabid foaming, but it’s all in good fun most of the time. Except that Star Trek part, don’t try that at home kids! According to Cait, if she had to pick a favorite, The Princess Bride would right at the top.  Subject to change of course, because who knows what’s around the corner?

 

Aside from writing, Cait’s also a classically trained violinist.  She has a few students she teaches weekly, and really enjoys working with them.  Those kids need to save their billing invoices, they could be worth money someday.  But I digress… Cait also crochets, plays D&D with friends, and, of course, reads her ‘innocent’ little heart out.  Further, she has a small menagerie she manages with her husband; including three dogs, two cats, and six chickens.  If you ever get the opportunity to keep chickens, she highly recommends them.  They’re a lot more entertaining than you might expect. Plus, you know, free eggs.

 

Finally, the all-important touchstone to judge a person by, their favorite authors.  Some of Cait’s favorite authors include: J.R. Ward, R.A. Salvatore, Anne McCaffrey, Tad Williams, Mercedes Lackey, Jean Auel, and Sherwood Smith.

 

If I’ve perked your interest, keep reading as I interview this lovely Army wife.

 

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Without further ado, let’s get this interview cranking!

 

 

JR:  Tell me a little about your time as a military spouse?

Cait:   I was a military spouse to a member of the 82nd Airborne division, with a home in Fayettenam! We married before he went to basic, so I was with him from the start, including two failed attempts at Ranger school. I have to say one of my favorite memories was being forced to jump out of the 35’ airborne training towers on Spouse Day. I was so scared my knees were knocking and his 1st Sergeant started smoking him until I jumped. As he was somewhat in the doghouse with me, I will admit to some intentional stalling at that point! While that marriage didn’t end up working out for us, I am now happily married to a veteran (again from the Army).

 

JR:  How do you feel that your affiliation with the military has influenced your writing?

Cait:   If anything, I think my time with the military lets me know exactly how much I don’t know when it comes to writing more military related or battle scenes. At least I understand the lingo and can find people to pester, and know what questions to ask. That’s a huge help when it comes to, say, wondering what kind of explosive a medieval society would have access to when attempting to penetrate an underground compound.

 

JR:  Do you think your military lifestyle, and more specifically your meeting all kinds of people, adds to the realism in your books?  If so, how?

Cait:   I do believe it’s been a great help. From observing the CoC at work, it really helps me to get into the frame of mind of my commanders, and see risk analysis from a leader’s standpoint. Being intimately familiar with the banter and camaraderie among enlisted troops is also beneficial when writing my squad’s interactions with each other. Then there’s always those pesky officer’s wives and the petty competitions there. Seriously spouses. Your spouse wears the rank, not you.

 

JR:  Do you feel like there is any bleed over from your husband’s work, into your books?

Cait:   Directly? No – I don’t have helicopters in my books. Have I been known to wander into the living room and start asking him questions to get a realistic military point of view answer to questions and issues I’m dealing with? Absolutely. I love picking his brain.

 

JR:  When did you start pursuing your writing more seriously?

Cait:   I’d have to say last summer. The first draft of The Seekers took me about two years to draft, and sat in a stagnant mire of “No, really, I’m editing,” for about six months.  I got some feedback, got fired up to write with a few motivational pages, and re-wrote the entire manuscript in two and a half months. Two months later after editing and formatting, here we are, ready to release.

 

JR:  Of all your work, which was your favorite to write?

Cait:   squints at JR     You know I only have the one book out currently…is this a trick question?

 

JR:  How many of your characters were inspired by your exposure to all things military?

Cait:   Let’s see… counts …     Named characters would probably be around six or seven. I have the Seekers in the main squad we follow, Hound, Ace, Deuce, Trio, and Quad, then the commander of the Seekers, Tops, and his second, Kendrick. There are plenty more Seekers where they come from, but those are the biggest roles.

 

JR:  How many of the scenes you wrote were inspired from your experience as a military spouse?

Cait:   There’s one really big battle scene in The Seekers, and a few others that deal with emergency evacs, tactics, and the ever-fluctuating chain of command.

 

JR:  Do you feel like your writing has served any therapeutic value for you?  Has it helped you process your experiences?

Cait:   As I’m not a veteran, most of the traumatic experiences in my life have stemmed from being a female and the nasty things that happen to women in our lifetimes. There are several issues with the main character, Audrey, and instances of sexual assault. She goes through varying stages of mental recovery from her experiences, and while the events in my life have already been processed and I feel victorious rather than victimized, I do feel that having experience in that realm myself has added an element of reality to her mental struggles.

 

JR:  If you could serve with any of your characters, who would it be and why?

Cait:   Without a doubt, Hound. He’s a hardass who doesn’t tolerate even a hint of insubordination, but you also don’t mess with his men. If I know one thing about myself, it’s that I do best in a structured environment. In a leader, you always want someone who leads from the front, and that’s where Hound prefers to be. He may have high standards for his men, but it’s nothing to his personal standards.

 

JR:  If you could pick one of your characters to be your husband’s battle buddy, who would it be and why?

Cait:   Oh.  Oh dear, this is a horrible question.  I would say Deuce, but as a medic, his combat skills aren’t as advanced as some of the other guys, and I want a good fighter with my hubby to ensure he comes home safe. Quad is the best fighter, but also young and somewhat annoying. I suppose I’d have to go with Ace. He can be serious and buckle down when needed, but also provides an element of comedic relief that I think my hubby would appreciate.

 

JR:  If you would want to avoid serving with any of your characters, who would it be and why?

Cait:   Trio. Because he’d likely be oogling the ladies too much to actually focus on his job, something Hound is always after him for…

 

JR:  What are you currently working on?

Cait:   I’m currently working on the sequel to The Seekers, Order of the Lily. I have one more book planned in this series, Raven’s Flight (working title), along with a few novellas. After that, I’m looking at a more paranormal series, but that’s at the whim of the muses as to which project I’ll tackle next.

 

JR:  How can people find you?

  1. Amazon
  2. Facebook
  3. Twitter
  4. Instagram
  5. Website
  6. E-Mail: cait@caitashwood.com

 

 

If this convinced you to find out more, look up Cait Ashwood and become a fanboy like I did!  Hey, I’ve yet to read her book but if it’s as awesome as she is she’s gonna be HUGE!  And if she can do that BEFORE the book launches today, just wait until the novel takes the literary world by storm.  I hope you all had a great time getting to learn about Cait, don’t be afraid to say hello here or on her plethora of social media platforms.  If she doesn’t respond quick enough, glitter bomb her!  Mwahahaha!!  Wait, the little birdie tells me she might’ve already used this evilness in one of her books.  Send her fake books, just to tease her?  Would that be cruel enough to motivate contact?

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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WARRIOR WEEKEND INTERVIEW SERIES: MLS WEECH

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Hello Space Cadets!  First, I wanted to thank everyone who helped make this writing dream a reality.  Seriously, it’s a blast to think so many people (like anyone NOT related to me) are reading what I write.  It has been a thrill to be able to show my sons that you don’t have to let your injuries and disabilities set you back.  I realize that my injuries pale in comparison to others but for kids who don’t understand that level of granularity, the point is simplified for them.  So again, my humble thanks.

 

Another update, I recently submitted a short story to the Roswell Anthology that was and will be the foundation to the Odera Chronicles.  I’ll have more information about that as the time comes but there is more in the works for me after I finish The Sleeping Legion Series.

 

Now, onto todays topic.  I wanted to introduce you to an author from my WARRIOR WEEKEND INTERVIEW SERIES.  This will be the debut post in my Warrior Weekend Series, and I’m thrilled that it’s with someone I consider a friend.  Matthew is an awesome guy, and a veteran of the Naval Combat Cameraman Corps.  Meh, I probably got the specific title wrong but I’m a grunt… what’d you expect?

 

So let’s get into M.L.S. Weech!  He was born in August 1979 in Rapid City, South Dakota.  He fell in love with fantasy and science fiction at an early age.  His love of writing quickly followed when he tried to write a sequel to his favorite movie.  He clearly didn’t know what copyright infringement was.  Weech can’t remember a time when he wasn’t working on some sort of project from that day forward.  He went on to write for a junior high school (mostly called middle school now) project.  The only way his freshman English teacher could get him to settle down was to let him start writing a book.  He completed what he calls his ‘first manuscript’ when he was 17.  He got a ton of feedback that was honest, helpful, and not much fun to listen to.  Instead of quitting, he simply wrote another, and then another.

 

Weech fell in love with reading in high school, despite some of the horrible texts that are often foisted upon our unsuspecting youth the day he was introduced to Timothy Zahn and the Star Wars novels.  Clearly this wasn’t an assigned bore-fests!  Then Weech was handed Anne McCaffrey, Robert Jordan, Dean Koontz, Brandon Sanderson and so many more.  He went from reading to complete homework to reading more than three books a month.  Everyone loves an over achiever, right?

 

M.L.S. Weech then joined the U.S. Navy as a journalist in 2005.  He served on aircraft carriers and destroyers.  He served in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan.  When he wasn’t taking pictures, or writing features or news stories, he was writing fiction.  Photojournalism was a hobby he enjoyed getting paid for, but writing fiction has been and remains his true dream.  He’s completed six manuscripts and is already planning a seventh.  He took his third project to Archway Publishing, who helped him turn his life-long dream into a reality.

 

Now that you’ve heard me blather on about him, all man-crushing…. Let’s get to the questions!

 

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Without further ado, let’s get this interview cranking!

 

Tell me a little about your military service?

 

I joined the Navy back in 2005 to be a journalist.  I wanted to tell stories – wanted to write every day.  Once I got out in the military, I started having more and more fun.  I deployed on a ship, and I served on two combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.  The first six years were honestly a blur for me.  Everything was such a combination of work and wonderful experience.  I was a part of history.  I was a member of the first team of Sailors to operate as a sea operation attachment assigned to a strike group.  It’s complicated, but basically when the strike group (a bunch of ships that work together) needed a team of MCs, my team went to supplement their media department.  I had the honor to document the funeral of Carl Brashear.  It was just so humbling to see someone who was such a great part of American history be put to rest.  I saw the transition of power in Iraq and Afghanistan.  My last tour in the military was as an instructor for those who do the same work I did.  I loved it so much that I left the military to keep doing it.  (Also, there was this book I wrote…)

 

How do you feel that your military service has influenced your writing?

 

For starters, because my job in the military was writing, it made me a better author.  I learned about the craft of writing, and I improved my basic mechanical skills.  But more so is the inspiration my service has had.  Most of my books have some sort of military aspect.  I often describe Caught as Wes Craven meets Tom Clancy.  I’ve seen a lot through my career, good and bad.  It created a foundational background for my writing.  This inspirational part of my life is most evident in my science fiction saga Perception of War.  The short story Sojourn in Despair is the first thing from that series readers will see.  Seeing combat makes one truly consider its ramifications.  Perception of War investigates those ramifications on an epic scale.

 

Do you think your military service, and more specifically your training, adds to the realism in your books?  If so, how?

 

Absolutely!  If I’m being honest, I don’t watch military movies or TV shows.  They simply infuriate me.  I’m also bothered by something I’ll call the impact of combat.  Sure, in fiction, readers expect characters to be able to inflict and take more punishment than the “real” world, but sometimes it just gets ridiculous.  Being in the military also gave me the opportunity to travel.  I’ve seen so many amazing places, and I’ve used them in my writing.  There’s no substitution for experience.

 

When did you start pursuing your writing more seriously?

 

I “went pro” when I was 17.  That’s when I started dedicating a minimum of an hour a day, every day to writing.  That was in 1997.  I read Stephen King’s book “On Writing,” and it challenged me.  I’ve always wanted to be a writer.  After reading that book, I chose to take that dream seriously.

 

Of all your work, which was your favorite to write?

 

That’s a tough question.  I’ll have to answer Images of Truth, the first full-length novel in the Perception of War saga.  It’s a long way out from publishing, but I’m drafting it now, and it’s amazing.  I can honestly say every book I write I enjoy writing more than those that came before it.  I think The Journals of Bob Drifter is probably closest to my heart.  It’s my first published book, so it means a lot to me, but I’m always excited to start my next project.

 

How many of your characters were inspired by your military service?

 

It would be far easier to name the characters that weren’t inspired by the military.  Caught is covered in Close Quarters Combat.  I’ve already mentioned Perception of War.  The military is a major part of my life, so it’s only reasonable that it has a dominant presence in my work.

 

How many of the scenes you wrote were inspired from your service?

 

Just like with my characters, a lot of the scenes and settings are straight out of my own military experiences.  The cool thing is it’s not just the awesome combat scenes.  One thing people don’t talk about a lot is that we veterans are masters of “playfulness.”  Sure, we fight and sacrifice, but man, I don’t think you can find a better group of people.  Those scenes, scenes of brotherhood and camaraderie are equally prevalent in my work.

 

Do you feel like your writing has served any therapeutic value for you?  Has it helped you process your experiences?

 

Writing is cathartic for me.  Sometimes I’m not even aware I’m dealing with something until I’m writing about it.  I think a professional has to eventually step out of themselves and focus on the story, but I’ll never deny that a lot of my work touches on things that matter to me.  Writing has allowed me to explore issues and come to terms with situations that were frankly hard to face at times.  I’d recommend writing to anyone, even if it’s just to find a positive outlet for times when life deals you a bad hand.

 

If you could serve with any of your characters, who would it be and why?

 

I’d absolutely serve with Dom from Caught.  You’ll see a LOT more of him in Caught’s sequel.  He’s so easy going and frankly awesome.  He’s a dedicated individual too.  There’s a lot of characters I’d like to hang out with or more, but Dom would be first on the “serve with” list.  Honestly, I’d just want to go to the range with him.  Plus, if I were a combat photographer serving with his unit, I’d pretty much be the safest journalist ever.  Sal is probably a BETTER soldier, but he wouldn’t be as much fun to hang out with after the operation.

 

If you would want to avoid serving with any of your characters, who would it be and why?

 

I’d have to say that it’s only degrees of less fun to serve with.  Steve would be hard to serve with.  He’s so demanding of his people.  There are a few other characters I wouldn’t want to serve with, but that would reveal some spoilers.

 

What are you currently working on?

 

I have a few things in the works, but my writing time is mostly divided between revising Sojourn in Despair and finishing Images of Truth.  These are both from my science fiction series Perception of War.  A lot of my projects are different from each other.  This series gives me sort of a “home base” to work with.  Perception of War is a series about a galactic war based on a blend between the War on Terror and World War II.

 

How can people find you?

  1. Amazon
  2. Facebook
  3. Twitter
  4. Website
  5. E-Mail: mlsweech@gmail.com

 

If this convinced you to find out more, look up M.L.S. Weech.  I hope you all had a great time getting to know about Matt.  Don’t be afraid to say hello here or on Matt’s website.  If they don’t respond quick enough, glitter bomb them!  Mwahahaha!!  Or, you can do something even worse… give their number to a telemarketer!!!

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

Warrior Weekend Interview Series

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warrior-weekend

Hello Space Cadets, like I mentioned yesterday I didn’t plan ahead well enough for an interview series.  I am working on playing catch-up, but let me tell you about what I envision with this.  If you missed it, I’m a combat veteran of the Late Unpleasantness in Mesopotamia.  It changed me, my world view, and the content of the stories I tell.  I’m curious how other veterans in the writing world (authors, editors, publishers, etc.) manage it.  How does it affect their process?

 

One thing that has always been important to me is to support other veterans, so this is my chance to pay it forward.  It is my thanks to the thousands who manned the lines with me.  It introduces them to the world, and lets us reminisce for a few on our shared experiences.  I hope you find this worthwhile, but on top of their military service (for any country), they are readers and writers just like us.  Maybe together we can learn from each other.

 

Since I don’t have any larger post planned for today, I wanted to recommend a book.  When I got back from Iraq my brain injury made reading difficult.  I couldn’t concentrate, the words blurred and I gave up.  Even the large print books weren’t cutting it.  I’d given up, and was listening to my neurologist lecture me again about exercising my mind when he decided to find a solution for me.  If you don’t know, your brain is like any other muscle.  If you don’t use it, you lose it.  When you suffer head injuries, the potential for the loss of said muscle down the line grows exponentially.  To combat that, they recommend brain teasers and the like, in addition to reading a lot.  After much nagging, I set a routine, I wake up and do a Sudoku or crossword puzzle with my morning coffee. 

 

My doctor wasn’t satisfied with a few minutes of mind games so he did some research about an amazing new technology called a Kindle.  It has a few neat features; backlighting, magnification and could read the book to you when you needed a break.  I was convinced, my parents ponied up the cash (gotta love supportive mothers) and I was off to the races.  I started with all of the free books available and narrowed down my searches to science fiction and fantasy.  I’m a huge fan of military science fiction and space opera, always have been since I found an old copy of Heinlein’s Starship Trooper in my local library.  It was old, battered and tucked into the back shelf.  I figured if it was good enough for someone to hide it, making sure it was there for them, I had to read it too.  Since then there have been many other good stories, jaunts through space and the like.  Now armed with a Kindle, I sought out books that fit into that genre.

 

The first successful Kindle search I made from within the device lead me to Terry Mixon and his Empire of Bones Saga.  It was great, made even better by the fact that Terry was an Army guy like me.  Let’s face it, a lot of the military veterans writing science fiction are Navy guys.  They figure SPACE ship, OCEAN going ship…. They’re all ships!  I honestly gave him a chance just because he was from the 101st Airborne too.  I wasn’t disappointed and you won’t be either.  Go check it out!

 

Empire of Bones (Book 1 of The Empire of Bones Saga) by [Mixon, Terry]

 

Finally, I’ll recommend a short story by my boss and science fiction author Tim C. Taylor!  Welcome Home, Janissary is set in the universe I’m writing in, and it is definitely worth a read!  It’s currently free, so you’ll get your money’s worth!!

 Welcome Home, Janissary by [Taylor, Tim C.]

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.