Memorial Day with guest SS Hampton

Folks, Memorial Day is coming up, so I thought it appropriate to share a wonderful post by my friend SS Hampton, Sr. to remind us all what this holiday is really about.

Thank you, Stan, and everyone else who has served.

Em

__

Memorial Day. It is a 3-day weekend for much of the country—a weekend of family get-togethers, BBQs, and great sales. That is fine.

 

But please do not forget the real meaning of Memorial Day. Though there had been several local observances, a national Decoration Day was created by “an organization of Union veterans” on 5 May 1868, to be observed on 30 May of that year by the nation in “decorating the graves of war dead with flowers.”

 

240px-Graves_at_Arlington_on_Memorial_DayIt was after World War I that Memorial Day came to recognize all of those who fought and died in America’s wars. From the American Revolution (1775-1783) to Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990-1991), the total American combat deaths number 651,031; the greatest number of war dead was 291,557 suffered by the Greatest Generation during World War II (1941-1945).

 

As for the Global War On Terrorism (2001-), or the Long War as some may call it, according to the Defense Casualty Analysis System, 5,363 men and women have died in combat.

 

Unfortunately, the world is not a safe and secure place. Yet, we know that in our nation there will never be a shortage of uniformed volunteers willing to stand between unarmed men, women, and innocent children, and the senseless evil in the world.

 

On Memorial Day this year remember the “National Moment of Remembrance”—at 3:00 PM local time across the country, everyone is encouraged to take a moment to reflect on those who have given their lives for our country. Whatever war they fought in, all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice have names, whether those names loom large in history books or are known only to their families.

 

And some of us know the names of comrades who made that sacrifice during the GWOT.Stan w Flag

 

Finally, if you have never heard Taps, the final farewell to fallen comrades, take a moment to listen.  Take a moment to remember, and to whisper, “Good bye. And thank you.”

~Stan

 

SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, and a published photographer and photojournalist. He retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Nevada Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007) with deployment to northern Kuwait and several convoy security missions into Iraq.

 

He has had two solo photographic exhibitions and curated a third. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.

 

In May 2014 he graduated from the College of Southern Nevada with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis. A future goal is to study for a degree in archaeology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology (and also learning to paint). He is currently enrolled as an art student at University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

 

As of April 2014, after being in a 2-year Veterans Administration program for Homeless Veterans, Hampton is officially no longer a homeless Iraq War veteran.

 

Hampton can be found at:

Dark Opus Press https://www.createspace.com/3685965  –  Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing http://www.edgewebsite.com/books/dansemacabre/dansemacabre.html  –  Melange Books http://www.melange-books.com/authors/sshampton/index.html 

MuseItUp Publishing https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/museitup/mainstream/better-than-a-rabbit-s-foot-detail  –  Goodreads Author Page http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6888342.S_S_Hampton_Sr_

Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/SS-Hampton-Sr/e/B00BJ9EVKQ  –   Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/SS-Hampton-Sr/e/B00BJ9EVKQ

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It’s That Time of the Year … Convention Time!!

2015-05-16 09.27.02

My table at the book signing.

Just back from the Romantic Times Bookclub convention in Dallas.  Man, I had forgotten how crazy crowded and noisy that convention can get.  There were ravenous readers everywhere.  As a people watcher, it was fun to sit and take in all the different types of people who love romance novels.

Everything went fairly smoothly, although I think the help at the hotel really weren’t prepared for the huge crowds. The line at the Starbucks in the morning and at lunch time was like a 100 people long!!!  Glad I do not have a coffee habit.  :)

What I really loved were all the posters featuring books and hunky cover models and more books.  They were everywhere — on the pillars, the elevator doors and the walls.

Swag, you ask?  Oh hell yeah, lots and lots of swag.  Promo alley was filled with everything you could think of and some I had never thought of before – -Kennedy Layne had a unique hand sanitizer — it looked like a pen, but it was a spray instead of a gel.  The germaphobes among us grabbed those quickly.  The goody bags had books and pens and cute little notebooks (and I really need to find out where they got those, because I lurrve little notebooks). There was a dearth of candy this year – I sort of missed my candy fix.

But the best thing about RT was seeing my friends such as Becca Jameson, Terri Schaefer, Kay Sisk, Paige Tyler, Pauline Jones, Linnea Sinclair, and Janet Snell, my crit buddy Cherise Sinclair, and, of course, all my fans.

Now I am gearing up for Lori Foster’s RAGT June 4-7.  After that, I will be in the revising cave and working on Storm Warning, SSI Book 4.

Me and my crit buddy Cherise Sinclair

Me and my crit buddy Cherise Sinclair

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So Much Swag…So Little Room

My office is filled with swag!…and it’s driving me nuts.

I assure you, I am NOT a neat freak. Notice there are no pictures of my actual desk.

But I have limits.

2015-05-20 13.55.34I am in between conferences so I have bags and bags of goodies that will promote my books at the next conference. In three weeks I will be attending the Lori Foster Reader-Author Get Together outside Cincinnati, Ohio. It’s my fourth year at this con so I am excited about seeing many of the “regulars”, both my author friends and those readers who make the trek every year.

ragt-signing-2015Since RAGT15 is primarily a reader conference with only 100 authors and 400 readers—which sells out within minutes by the way—I need LOTS of swag. I’ll be in the Liquid Silver Boardroom for most of the three-day conference playing Sweet Twisted BINGO, giving a workshop on Social Media, and helping the other LSB authors with their allotted time slot.

I have items to create prizes for the winners of BINGO, like old-fashioned Coke glasses filled with Mentos. Get it? Coke and Mentos is an Explosive Combination…my first book. Do you have any idea how much space those glasses take up?

palm tree Charms-Silver-PlatedFinished-Silver---p2083fxb

I will be giving out the Palm Tree charm for my Cancun series

On top of that, I am partaking in the Charming Authors where each LSB author will be giving away charms to 200 lucky readers. Once their charm bracelets are completed, they can enter to win a Kindle Fire, beautiful jewelry, books, and swag. Luckily, thanks to the wonderful Wendi Zwaduk, I don’t have to store the charms here, but I do have the bookmarks with the instructions.

postcard-4.5inx6.5in-h-front

Readers will collect 14 cards, one from each participating author, then they can be entered to win prizes

Then there’s the Brag Book of Awesome Authors where 100 readers will collect cards from the fourteen participating authors, then enter to win prizes. Not only do I have the books themselves, but I also have the cards that go into the front and back covers. Some assembly required.

As with most conferences, authors make baskets to be raffled off, the money going to charity. I have committed to two for the main conference and several for the LSB Boardroom. One will contain Coke and Mentos and the other will promote my Cancun series with Margarita glasses, flip flops, beach ball, and beach related items. Did I mention the wine? Yes, there will also be some of my family’s wine.

Last, but certainly not least, I have to take books. I will be selling and signing books on Saturday from 3:00-5:00.

But none of that is for three weeks. Until then, all that swag fills the space beside my desk overflowing into the seating area in my office.

Maybe if I just don’t look in that direction, I won’t see it. Yeah, right, like that ‘s going to happen. NOT!

Speaking of swag –  COMMENT below and you are entered to some of my swag. 

Authors: What do you give away as swag?

Readers: What do you like to get as swag?

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Giveaway: Seducing Kate

Okay, I confess. I don’t have a lot to share with you this week, so let’s just give away two signed copies of Seducing Kate. Sure, this was originally released a year ago. Sure, it was re-released in March. Sure, it’s now May. But, it’s never too late to give free books away, right?

Right! Happy weekend folks!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Seducing Kate by Emilia Mancini

Seducing Kate

by Emilia Mancini

Giveaway ends May 20, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to Win

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It’s Convention Time!

rtbooklovers-150x82Yes, that is where I’ll be next week, May 12 -17, in Dallas, Texas.

I don’t go to the RT convention every year — mostly because it takes too much time away from life and my writing schedule.

It’s only a week, you say?  Well, nope, it’s not really. I have been preparing for this convention for most of this year — in between hubby’s open heart surgery, moving son to his new job, and trying to finish SSI 4.  This entails swag bags, promo items, coordinating with booksellers and panel assignments — and then, last but not least, the pre-con beautification rituals so I don’t look like a hag. It’s okay to look like a hag while sitting in front of the computer, but not when meeting the public.

Also, this year I am flying.  So, I am dealing with pre-flight jitters; they began a month ago. I’m leaving my broom at home and flying Southwest Airlines into Love Field on the 12th.  So, please pray for clear, non-tornadic, non-wind-sheer weather. I am not a good flyer.  I haven’t been on a plane since October of 2008.

I am on two panels this year. Oddly enough they are both on Wednesday afternoon. One is science fiction romance and the other is romsuspense.  I am also a table captain for Linnea Sinclair’s Intergalactic Bar and Grille on Friday afternoon.  Then I will be in the Giant Booksigning on Saturday and will make an appearance Saturday night at the FANtastic Day Party.

Here is my schedule:  Monette Michaels Events

After I return, I won’t be home for long since I will turn around and drive to Cincinnati for Lori Foster’s RAGT convention from June 4-7.  Driving is good.  :)  I will be hostessing along with my fellow Liquid Silver Books authors – Eve Langlais, KaLyn Cooper, Wendi Zwaduk, Kelli Evans, Maddy Barone, and Lynne Rae.  We’ll have all sorts of fun and games in the room.  The biggest game will be the Charmed Author Hunt.  The first two hundred attendees who visit the LSB Board Room on Friday morning, June 5th, will receive a bangle bracelet and an instruction card  for hunting down all seven LSB Charming authors to complete a bracelet.  Once the bracelet is completed, the owner of the bracelet can then come to the room, show they have been “charmed,” and get an entry for a drawing.

charm bracelet less beadsThis is the picture of what the finished bracelet will look like.

So, if you are already registered for Lori’s RAGT– please remember to get to the LSB boardroom early to play the game.  Of course, this is not the only game, so be sure to check the print program.

I will be signing Friday, June 5th, 3-5 PM, at the Cincinnati Marriott, West Chester, Ohio.  This signing is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.  So, if you live in the Cincy area, come see me. I will have all of my current SSI and Prime books there in print.  My current WIP, Storm Warning will not be completed in time for this convention. I apologize – life just got in the way.  So, it will be done sometime this summer.

After all this convention excitement is over, and I recuperate, I will then be concentrating on Storm Warning.  :) And if fate, karma, and all the gods are good, I will have a nice string of uninterrupted weeks to get the book done!!

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Lovin’ Those May Flowers

Thank God May has finally arrived!

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Azaleas in bloom and hostas are already huge next to my porch swing where I drink coffee and watch the sun rise over the Smoky Mountains

2015-05-05 11.57.03

Rhododendron and trilliums are blooming between the porch and the garage in my Appalachian Garden

I’ve always loved May. Not just because it’s my birthday month, but because the earth seems to rejuvenate in a flourish of color. My red and white dogwood blooms have fallen to the ground, replaced by the light green of budding leaves. The red-salmon azaleas came back full this year and should bloom again later this summer. Macho Marine likes the many hostas we have planted in all the beds–mostly because they cover so much space it’s less to mulch. My Appalachian garden is so strong this year with my trilliums doubling and ferns loving the long cool spring we’ve experienced.

With Mother’s Day this weekend, I expect Favorite Daughter and Favorite Son (I only have one of each) to do something nice. I’m pretty sure FD bought me a Mother’s ring. FS will forget until the last minute then spend the weekend in the garage with his forge (finally) making me the wine stand I asked for at Easter.

Mother’s Day has always caused a problem for Macho Marine, from the beginning of relationship. My birthday is in the middle of May and Mother’s Day is always the second Sunday of the month. Occasionally, they fall very close together. Too close that first fragile year of dating.

YellowRoseBouquetMM knew I’d never received roses from any “boy” I’d dated, so ordered red roses for my birthday. But thanks to Mother’s Day, the florist was out. So they delivered yellow roses.

I thought they were beautiful. Bright, reminding me of spring. They arrived with apologies from the delivery guy for being late…and, yes, you guessed it, a Mother’s Day card attached to the plastic stick. Thinking he’d sent them for my Mom, and they truly were late, I placed them on the dining table for the entire Cooper Clan and neighborhood to see through the giant picture window what a wonderful boyfriend I had that would send flowers to my mother, albeit late.

When MM called me on my birthday, he didn’t get the gushing response he’d expected for the expensive dozen red roses. Instead, he got a “Thank you for thinking of Mom.” He was confused. So was I. The next morning two dozen red roses arrived, delivered by the shop owner who sincerely apologized for the mistake. I placed the red ones on the table and took the yellow ones to my bedroom.

They were my first real roses. I still prefer yellow roses.

If you read the first book in my Black Swan series, title yet to be finalized, you will see a slightly different version of this story.

What’s the best (or worse) birthday gift you’ve ever received?

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When bad habits resurface.

I would never call myself a writing expert. For one thing, it sounds rude. More to the point, it’s the sort of activity one can always improve.

In fact, if I’ve learned anything since embarking on this career, it’s that each new manuscript teaches me so much about myself and my writing. Yes, I may be at the point where I can trust myself not to make obvious mistakes, but that doesn’t mean a seasoned writer can’t fall back into old patterns. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been the sort to break a habit and feel I’m cured, only to lapse back into it again. It’s sort of like nail biting. I can stop it here and there, but every so often, I find myself taking a nibble when no one’s watching.

In other words, it’s very easy to forget what we’ve learned.

bad-habits

Take my recent manuscript for Predator’s Trinity, Gemini Island Shifters 6. Our friend Monette Michaels recently shared her time and expertise and critiqued my finished story. And boy, am I glad she did! Like any good critique buddy, she pointed out my mistakes. I already knew many were there, but I was surprised to see how many old bad habits I’d fallen into. For instance, I made way too much use of the passive voice. This is easily fixed, thank goodness. A sharp pen and a sharper eye and off we go.

So why would I make so many mistakes that I thought I’d corrected? In this case, I was writing under a bit of duress due to my family situation. With my head in the clouds, I probably couldn’t identify my own bad habits. It was also very important to me that I get this story down and perhaps I rushed a bit. Rushing our writing is never wise but I found solace in writing over the past couple of months, and must not have been paying close enough attention to my technique. It was enough for me, just to get the story down on paper.

How do we correct these errors? The first step is to put the manuscript aside for a while. Let it breathe and take a breather as well. You’ll return fresher, more able to spot problems and inconsistencies. And make sure you have another trusted set of eyes. Monette spotted my problems and was able to communicate them in a clear, caring fashion. Tackle one issue at a time, so as not to get overwhelmed. Little by little, we all get there.

Most of all. Don’t sweat it too much. If you’re able to identify your problems, you can fix them.

Oh, and if you’re tempted to bite your nails like I am, sit on your hands.

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