This is why it takes so long for me to write anything …

Well, it’s one reason. There are others. I’m easily distracted by other life responsibilities, reading (more about that in a second), HGTV, playing Pig-Duck-Dragon with Fergus.

Winter’s Thaw is at a really good place. The vast majority of the pre-Beta manuscript is in the can, or on the thumb drive, whatever. KB and SY are both giving it a read/revision (only the fourth at least) and adding still more content, fixing problems, giving feedback, you know – it’s what we do. We are so close! 

And I was sitting diligently at the computer the other day, building a new scene in the run up to the ending and there, in my peripheral vision, was the book. The book that a young man very dear to me had loaned me back in May when I was in Texas for his graduation from Texas A&M. It started innocuously over a big family dinner to celebrate his accomplishment. He was having a conversation about a part of his experience during one of his tours in Afghanistan. I somewhat rudely interrupted in excitement to say that a major plot line of Winter’s Thaw is placed in the Kunar province. He immediately recommended this book, Victory Point by Ed Darack, for research purposes.

I was on Amazon in the middle of dinner to order it when he said I could borrow his copy. I may have to order it anyway because it’s a great book. He has since told me it was the most factual book he could find to read before his first deployment, one that isn’t sensationalized, or, as I read this book, fictionalized or just outright erroneous. It’s starkly detailed and accurate.

Mind you, we don’t really need a great deal of this detail in Winter’s Thaw, but it’s important to get what we do include right, to do justice to the country, its terrible beauty and harsh realities, and the brave people who go there in service to a calling most of us give little if any thought to.

We three have said before that a great deal of our research is internet-based, and I don’t pooh-pooh that. There is vast knowledge out there if we’re willing to dig for it, and I can vouch for the hours one can spend chasing rabbits down holes that are often not very productive, albeit fascinating.

You’ve heard writers laugh about the consequences if any law enforcement or national intelligence agency were to monitor their search history. That is no joke. There was the afternoon I devoted to Afghanistan, its regions and politics. I have spent days reading about the dark web (a small, nefarious layer of the larger deep web), hours researching explosives, ways to kill someone with their cardio-vascular meds, and, most recently, emergency room treatment for injuries our characters have suffered traumatically. Among other things I’d rather not explain to my mother. Urban Dictionary and are just two tabs I keep open perpetually in my browser. Just sayin’.

My point, if there is one, is the entirety of our experiences inform our imaginations, our creativity, our actions and work – writing, if that’s what we choose to do – but we never stop learning, even inadvertently, and adding to the cumulative body of knowledge that then informs our future decisions and actions. Sometimes, our learning is intentional, a pursuit of education, whether in furtherance of our careers or to deepen our understanding of subjects we are interested in or passionate about. Sometimes it comes on the fly from Googling, Wikipedia and the literally billions of links to information online.

If we’re very lucky, it comes from serendipitous sources – like a brave young man who’s given so much to his country and continues to find things to engage and excite him. Like leading a writer to the perfect source of information she and her co-writers need to bring accuracy and veritas to their novel. Thank you, Rob. Love from CC, KB and SY. 💋 💋 💋

Gratuitous pic of Fergus’ sweet little feet. I just want to tickle them.

*  The full quote by Alexis Ohanian, co-founder and executive chairman of the social news website Reddit, is: “So much of Reddit as a product was built on the shoulders of giants… We did some novel remixes of it but, at the end of the day, it was that: Grit and good luck.”