First, thanks so much to Cindy Gerard, not only for inviting me to guest here at Riding with the Top Down, but also for the amazing support she showed me while I was deployed to Iraq. When I sent up a shout out for help on school supplies, she was right here, leading the charge. Not only that, but she was also gracious with her time to answer questions and offer support in this brutal business called writing. So my hat’s off to her.
When she initially asked me to blog, I wasn’t sure what to write about that I hadn’t already covered during my year in Iraq. I blogged pretty regularly from my home blog www.jessicascott.net/blog but also spent a lot of time on other industry blogs. I noticed, however, that there was not a place for military romance readers to gather, nor was there a single spot for military romance writers to gather. I’m a member of the RomVets, a group of women writers who are all military veterans but our Yahoo Group is private. I wanted to create a public forum where military romance fans could gather and talk to their favorite authors. So, after sending out feelers to some of my favorite military romance authors to see if they’d be interested in posting on a military romance forum, I linked up with Dreamforge Media by recommendation from Stephanie Tyler and Croco Designs to come up with the design for Romance Roll Call (http://romancerollcall.com).
Cindy has joined us over there a few times already and has dates for the future. We’ve also had Catherine Mann as a regular and Stephanie Tyler is on board as well. The forum is for all aspects of military romance, from book spotlights, to writing craft to simply military life. We’re a growing community, so please stop by to check us out. Also, if you know of someone who’s written about military characters, regardless of the time period, send them our way. We’re always on the look out for guest bloggers!
And yeah, all this took place while I was in Iraq. I’m an active duty army officer whose coming up on her 15 year anniversary in service. I spent all of 2009 in Mosul, Iraq with the First Cavalry Division. People wondered how I could write during all that. In truth, there are twenty four hours in a day and when all you have to do is pull shift and go to chow, filling that twenty four hours can be challenging. So I wrote. And wrote and wrote. I’d landed an agent while I was there, which was a pretty heady feeling, but alas, that relationship wasn’t meant to be, so I’m back on the agent hunt. I’ve had some fantastic rejections on my manuscript and that’s okay. I learned so much while I was there, both about myself as a leader and myself as an author.
The hardest lesson I had to learn and finally apply was to slow down. I used to think (and tell my agent) I’ll have that revision to you in a week. Except that it was no where near what it needed to be revision wise. Learning to really revise and edit myself is the greatest lesson I took from my deployment. I drafted 11 novels while I was there, but those only count if you consider that 5 of them were complete do overs on the original drafts. Oh and none of them will ever see the light of day:)
So I had a lot of time. Being signal is like that. Once the network is established, maintaining it is the easy part. I wrote and I blogged and writing really kept me grounded. The social network of support I had from the writing community was incredible and I will always remember to say yes whenever I can to help a fellow writer out because of that support. The coolest thing I was able to do while I deployed was fly in a Blackhawk helicopter. The ride is so smooth. It’s awesome and gives me new respect for the pilots and the crews. My biggest accomplishment so far was having one of my blogs published by the New York Times. You can read about it at the At War Blog (http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/28/what-is-it-like/). I’m really proud of that piece, not only because it was accepted by the Times, but because it really was a profound moment for me in Iraq. It was the line I crossed between being a soldier and being a combat veteran. There really is a difference, one I hadn’t really fully understood until that moment.
I returned to the states in early December and am now back on full time mommy duty. It’s intense, to say the least. Getting back home as also held its own challenges. By the time I sit down to write at night, I’m exhausted. Those days where I could crank out 5000 or 6000 words are over. Some nights, I’m lucky to hit 600. But I keep going at it because the stories are in my head and they won’t let me rest.
If you’re interested in my further adventures, feel free to stop by Romance Roll Call (http://romancerollcall.com) or my home blog http://www.jessicascott.net/blog. Thanks again, Cindy, for inviting me to stop by!