Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Author Feature and Guest Post: Mary Margaret Daughtridge
Mary Margaret Daughtridge, author of SEALed Forever, has written a fantastic guest post for my blog. I am just beside myself on what she wrote as I see elements she talks about in me and my reading/writing life. Enjoy and don't forget to comment as I have two copies to giveaway. The contest is open to US and Canada only and the winners will be chosen on May 18.
People often ask me how my many careers have influenced my writing. I have had a bunch of job descriptions, most of them working intimately with people. What might not be obvious, if I just list careers, is what drove me to constantly explore new avenues and add new skills, until the old job description no longer fit, and I had to go to a new one.
I’m a bit of an odd duck—a truth about myself I treasure now, but which I once tried to hide. After a couple of jobs that I knew weren’t right for me, I asked myself, “Suppose I stopped trying to lop off parts of myself so I could fit a job?”
That thought produced a total shift in my consciousness. I stopped wishing and hoping some perfect job would magically appear, and above all, I stopped trying to change so that I could fit in better.
I sat down with my beloved number two pencil and yellow legal pad and censoring nothing, wrote about what motivated me and what satisfied me. What I would always want to do whether anybody ever paid me or not.
I found myself remembering a time in college when a friend remarked, with a certain amount of awe, “Mary Margret, you actually like to study!”
I do. I have immense curiosity and an insatiable thirst for knowledge. I think it’s strange that people think that’s strange.
I like to know why things and people are the way they are. While I have little patience with chit-chat, I genuinely enjoy listening to people talk about themselves.
I also love to synthesize knowledge. Early on, I realized that, useful as it is, synthesizing was something that other people, even people much smarter than me, couldn’t always do. I saw it as a gift, something I could offer in service to people. But a lifetime of being misunderstood had shown me that some people (bosses especially) were profoundly uncomfortable when I produced “insights” from data they couldn’t even see, much less see the connections between.
I realized I was better off working for myself, and instead of accepting all comers, I needed to carefully screen clients to make sure they actually wanted what I had to offer.
With twenty-twenty hindsight, I can see that by refusing to specialize I was amassing knowledge and skills that would serve me well as a writer.
First of all, there’s all that reading. I don’t think you can read as voraciously as I have all my life and not develop a deep intuition for how stories work.
And then there’s my acquired knowledge about what makes all different kinds of people tick. I’ve learned to respect and honor choices people make, even if I don’t exactly approve. SEALs are not always “nice” and though they have strong ethics, they do things some people would find morally repugnant. Being able to view people with understanding and without judgment helps me create multidimensional characters with real problems.
My career path honed my skill in interviewing—crucial when I’m doing research. I quickly get rapport and I can and will ask anyone almost anything. For SEALed with a Promise, I needed close up, personal details about being a sniper. So I walked into a gun shop and asked.
Turned out, the clerk was a former Army Ranger and could tell me what I needed to know.
And that synthesizing thing? Well, just from the way he talked and reacted to my questions, I could put together the motivations and mind set of a sniper.
In fact, my ideas for SEAL stories come from synthesizing information nuggets—The nuggets are sometimes what’s actually on the page, sometimes what I’m able to read between the lines because I know people.
SEALed Forever came about from three unrelated things I read. In two separate SEAL memoires, I found accounts of a SEAL rescuing a baby or very young child. In one case, the rescue was part of a mission, in the other, the SEAL acted on his own.
What made the story important to each SEAL was that he had never felt so totally true to himself and so true to his SEAL training—and in both cases, not a shot was fired.
Some time later I was surfing the ’Net. I read that the CIA denied owning a small airstrip deep in the North Carolina sticks. The CIA spokesman pointed out that the airstrip was clearly owned by a private corporation. The locals thought, “Yeah. Right.”
It took several years, but eventually my synthesizer put those bits and pieces together will a lot of other bits, and out popped a picture of a SEAL running a black ops airstrip in Podunk NC, aka Sessoms’ Corner, who finds an abandoned baby aboard a spy plane.
I don’t think I’m unique. I think women as a whole are better than men at synthesizing and empathizing. I think women are better at following the deeper levels of a story and following what’s really happening rather than what seems to be happening. What do you think?
SEALed FOREVER BY MARY MARGRET DAUGHTRIDGE
He’s got a living, breathing dilemma…
In the midst of running an undercover CIA mission, Navy SEAL Lt. Garth Vale finds an abandoned baby, and his superiors sure don’t want to know about it. The only person who can help him is the beautiful new doctor in town, but she’s got another surprise for him…
She’s got a solution…at a price…
Dr. Bronwyn Whitescarver has left the frantic pace of big city ER medicine for a small town medical practice. Her bags aren’t even unpacked yet when gorgeous, intense Garth Vale shows up on her doorstep in the middle of the night with a sick baby…
But his story somehow doesn’t add up, and Bronwyn isn’t quite sure who she’s saving—the baby, or the man…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary Margret Daughtridge has been a grade school teacher, speech therapist, family educator, biofeedback therapist, and Transpersonal Hypnotherapist. She is a member of the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Romancing the Military Soul, and is a sought-after judge in writing contests. She resides in Greensboro, North Carolina. For more information, please visit www.marymargretdaughtridge.com and www.sourcebookscasablanca.com.