You don’t have to be American to be awesome….

Now, you don’t have to be American to be awesome (or a total bastard)…but it sure helps!

I did the ice bucket challenge and donated to ALS http://www.alsa.org/about-als/what-is-als.html I am an American. I love red meat and dislike fish. I don’t go to church. I drink a little too much. I’m going to be honest, I feel a little bad about most of these things. Apart from being an American.

I also don’t feel bad about donating to ALS. Feeling rather ashamed about my bucket challenge (water wasting) enthusiasm, I did donate to The Water Project – http://thewaterproject.org/bucket-challenge-for-clean-water.

I can’t help but notice on social websites, folks who are doing the ice bucket challenge, and those who refuse in adamant disgust.

It’s taking off in the UK (they like to have a bit of fun too…well most of them). It is initially an American craze, an American charity and U.S. folk are known for being a little ‘over the top’ at times.

Granted, even some Americans have refused to do it on the grounds of not wanting to waste water. But what some folks (like the ones at the water project) have done is find an alternative. Alternatives can be both clever and awesome.

I’m not insanely irrationally patriotic. I wouldn’t dare defend every cultural craze, every foriegn policy decision, every bomb, every shady bit of history, every shot that the country I come from is responsible for. But that does not mean I don’t have a lot of love in my heart for the place.

I still would offer my respect to ANYONE who is willing to put themselves in harm’s way in order to protect those who are vulnerable. Hence my contribution to the Bellator and Reaching Out Anthologies (two short story collections one for The Wounded Warrior Project, one for the Red Cross).

I don’t LOVE it when the marketing crazy, commercial/advert saturated madness goes a little too far. But I’m a self-published writer…I have to freaking market a little!

I’ve been living abroad for a long time, and I’ve learned to just brush it off when certain people (usually those who have never spent any significant time in the US) go on about the evils/ignorance/general distastefulness of the US at me as though I am personally responsible for it all and I should be ashamed to come from the place. Whatever.

People are suffering right now as a direct result of wasteful practices and general greed. Even within supposedly ‘rich’ countries there are huge gaps between the haves and have nots.

Then there are the parts of this earth that contain such extreme suffering, it boggles the western, well fed mind that such conditions still even exist.

Then there are the things we don’t even know about. Things there isn’t a charity for. Words are words. No doubt any of us would fall to our knees at the sight of a child suffering, going without the things we take for granted every day.

Let’s be honest, most of us don’t see real, actual, proper suffering. We just see facebook and twitter posts, and we get a little annoyed about them….*sheepish look*.

Because ALL of us, no matter where we come from, should all be aware of our actions, how every little thing we do has an affect on someone, somewhere. From how we do the dishes/washing up, how we treat our bodies, to how we interact with other people face to face. We’re never going to be perfect, we’re never going to get it exactly right.

Still, we should put a smile on our face, and fill our hearts with love instead of hate and self-righteousness. We should look around at how even just our words can affect others, let alone our actions. The more barriers that go up, the more ‘us and them’ attitude people take, the less peaceful the world gets. And THAT is something I do not want to take part in.

Advertisements

Bellator is Latin for Warrior.

Bellator is latin for warrior.

I’ve recently contributed to a collection of short stories entitled Bellator.    All the proceeds go to The Wounded Warrior Project.  My story is entitled ‘With Our Own Blood’.  The lovely Mia Darien has been coordinating capable authors in the genres if sci-fi and fantasy.

I’ve heard the phrase ‘write what you know’ many many times.  I agree with it.  It’s a bit strange to write on a topic or within a genre you have no passion for.  It’s insulting to be unwilling to do any research.  I also agree with the phrase, ‘write what you fancy reading’.  It’s unfair to subject readers to something you wouldn’t enjoy yourself.

My short story revolves around a ‘warrior witch’ called Diana.  She lives in the woods, her favorite method of killing involves using a knife (close quarters)  Diana can destroy human remains with her bare hands.  She’s cold, she’s a loner, and anyone who threatens her beloved siblings or parents is as good as dead.

So, write what you know, yes, but stories would be rather dull if authors only attempted to create characters that they themselves could perfectly imitate.

Still, when it came time for Diana to do some killing, I stopped writing for a bit.  I really needed to think and research.  Luckily I came across some great reference material, and memoirs.  I learned the distinction between ‘fantasy violence’ and ‘gritty violence’.  This was mainly thanks to Rayne Hall’s Writing Fight Scenes.

Writing gritty, brutal, realistic, detailed violence is not for me.   As much as I enjoy Lord of The Rings, the Hobbit, etc. even the fantasy violence was a stretch.  But I kept at it.

Finally Diana’s knife came out of its sheath.  Understanding from professionals and experts how men and women traditionally differ in violent situations was also a great turning point in getting Diana ‘active’.   Male fantasy warriors are cool, but I think fighting (and writing) like a girl is pretty awesome and I wanted to explore that.

I’ve read a few memoirs of military folks, special operations people, etc.  As inspiring as I find their stories, it’s a world that is way more foriegn and unknown to me than fantasy or sci-fi tales of ‘warriors’ in the Bellator anthology.

I actually live in the Middle East.  In a very expat filled, western friendly, holiday destination type of place.  Not the terrifying, religiously and politically complicated battle zones that service people risk thier lives and die in every day.  When I’m there, amongst comfy surroundings I think of what is just over the border in far less friendly countries it’s…a little strange.  Funnily enough I finished ‘With Our Own Blood’ in my native Midwest.

I’m a privileged lady who gets to escape the Middle Eastern heat and spend the summers in the US and UK.   Both countries have issues, but oh my goodness am I glad and proud to have ties to both places.  Since being back in the West, whenever I’ve seen military men and women or retired warriors who bear the scars of thier service, I want to go up and hug them.  Of course I’m a shy civilian, and I reckon hugging people who don’t know you might freak them out.

I’m not capable of doing what they do, what they have done.  But I am so grateful that they have.  I can’t imagine having a spouse who has been through what they have, so my heart goes out to wives, husbands and children connected to folks who are willing to die to keep us safe.

I’m certainly not capable of what Diana does, but I’m glad she came to life for me.  And if her story is part of a collection that benefits Wounded Warriors, I’m honored.  I think she would be too.

Bellator (edited by Mia Darien) is a great collection of short stories.  It is available on Amazon (for print and kindle) Smashwords, and Nook Press.  ‘With Our Own Blood’ is included in the collection.

nicholls quote art-2

By jmnauthor3000