It’s Release Day! Crossed Genres’ anthology Oomph: A Little Super Goes a Long Way has officially been released! My story, “Speak Softly” appears in this very fun collection.
It’s easy to save the day when you’re invulnerable, can fly, or can punch through steel. But what if you’re just… really calloused? Or can hover for three seconds? Or can only punch through things made of aluminum? Oomph: A Little Super Goes a Long Way explores what it takes to be a superhero with just a little bit of power, where heroes and heroines use their small gifts to great advantage. Sometimes you don’t need a big lever to move the world.
Coming soon: Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million
Coming soon: iTunes, Kobo, Sony, Smashwords
Review copies of Oomph are now available. To request a review copy or for more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m very excited to say my story “Speak Softly” is in this awesome collection. And trust me, it is awesome. No, I’m talking about the anthology, not my story (although I really like it too). It took me a few days to review the final galleys before returning them, not because it took me that long, but because I couldn’t help but be entranced by the other stories. In two words: Very cool.
But I wanted to take a little space on this blog to talk about the story behind “Speak Softly,” or perhaps more specifically about one of the characters. One of the great things about being a writer is that you get to infuse bits of your own life, both good and bad, into any piece of fiction. That might be why writer t-shirts that say, “Be nice or I’ll put you in my novel” or why tuckerizations are so popular. It is an homage to an individual or a situation or even a setting.
The character Doug in “Speak Softly” is an homage to my friend and colleague Auxiliarist Doug Smith. Doug was the FSO-CS (Translated: Communications Officer) with Flotilla 23-6, the Drum Point Flotilla of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. If you don’t know what that is, the Auxiliary is the uniformed volunteer component of the Coast Guard. Basically, our job is to “support all USCG missions except roles that require “direct” law enforcement or military engagement.” Doug was an expert when it came to looking at new ways for our District to take advantage of social media and technology to better support our mission. When I was brand new to the Auxiliary, he was someone who was doing what I wanted to do and stood as a model and example for me to follow.
I know there are Auxiliarists who are out on the water doing harbor patrols for Port Security, and marine environmental patrols, and some who work search and rescue operations, boating safety education, vessel safety examinations and so much more. What Doug and I do…what we did, seems small in comparison – Communications and Public Affairs – we shared information, talked to people online, and promoted safety on the water. It was a “small thing” but I didn’t mind. From Doug, I was always learning new ways to better reach people digitally, new ideas for web-based communication to bring to the Auxiliary, and the drive to increase our effectiveness as a support for the U.S. Coast Guard.
On October 27-31 of last year, Hurricane Sandy visited the East Coast. And during that time, Doug and I were online, using social media and other communication tools to relay notices and information including preparedness, shelter information, numbers for electrical problems, and weather updates. The sources the information came from included the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, FEMA, VaDOT, NCDoT, Annapolis PD, MD Weather, Readydotgov, USCG New York, Port of Baltimore, NC Emergency Management, NOAA, HurricaneWatch, and more. We did our “small thing” to keep people safe. In total, over the 5 days, we shared and relayed over 500+ messages.
In a lot of way’s both Dougs (fictional and real) are similar. Although Doug in “Speak Softly” is a double amputee, the real Doug also had a disability, dystonia, a neurological disorder that caused the muscles of his face to twitch. But perhaps more importantly, both men led a life of service and believed that all of us have a commitment to help others, and it is as unique to each individual as our own abilities and skills. As far as Doug (either of them) is concerned, if it can make doing the job easier, more efficient, or more impactful; if we can keep people safe…then there is no such thing as a “small thing.” 🙂
Doug Smith crossed the bar on December 10, 2012 and Doug, the Guardian, in “Speak Softly” is my homage to him.