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Celebrating Our Veterans

Heroes are important to writers — especially thriller and suspense writers. They are key to making a plot work, for giving us swoon worthy moments, for making our pulses race and our hearts beat faster as we turn page after page.

But no matter how well we write a character, there is nothing that compares to real life heroes. Ordinary people, sometimes with extraordinary skills, all with enormous courage to confront horrific situations and keep us safe.

NJ Coast Guard (c) Diana Belchase 2011

Today is Veteran’s Day, where we honor the men and women in the Armed Forces who so bravely serve the United States. Increasingly it’s a day we forget about. Lost in the maze of ethnic history months, pilgrims, trick or treaters, and holiday sales — all worthy events — we often disregard it as little more than a note on a pre-printed calendar.

But Veteran’s Day is important. So much so that today is also when others in the world also honor their military personnel. Canada, Australia, and Britain call it Remembrance Day but it’s the same holiday.

So often our unsung heroes are never thanked for the sacrifices they’ve made to protect us all. They receive poor pay, tremendous responsibility, dangerous accommodations, and they do it all with a smile. It’s now our turn to say, “Hey, thanks for being there, for serving, for doing for me what I cannot do for myself.”

So, to all our Vets, and also to those in clandestine service where there is no holiday — officers in the 512px-JTACCIA, NSA, FBI, Homeland Security, Secret Service, and too many others to list, I’m sending you all a huge

THANK YOU!

Each and every one of you — whether on the battlefield or behind a desk– work as a team to keep us and much of the world safe. You humble us with your sacrifice. Our debt to you will never be repaid. God bless you and keep you safe.

Please let our vets know how much they mean to you by leaving a comment HERE or below. We’ll spread the word to make sure they are seen.

Lost Heroes

Columbus Day hardly gets much notice lately. There are furniture store sales, some government offices and banks are closed, a parade in New York City that is no longer nationally televised, and he’s no longer held up like a hero to school children.

(c) Diana Belchase 2012 Palermo Museum

I feel sorriest for kids everywhere who, it seems, are only entitled to heroes out of Marvel comic books and not from real life. It’s fashionable to hunt down every mistake our forefathers made, to talk of their wrongs against society, to hold them accountable for the barbaric practices that were commonplace in their time period.

To tear them down until there is no shred of heroism left.

Granted, Columbus was far from perfect. Just like the other great men of history who entered the slave trade, unwittingly spread disease, conquered lands that were not their own, and took treasure they were not entitled to, so, too, did he. Some say he might not be the first European to find America. But whether you believe that or not, he was the first to colonize and make these lands known to all of Europe. In essence, he was the first non-native American.

Columbus_Taking_Possession-1

I think of the dangerous voyage my own grandparents made to come to this country. They didn’t speak English, didn’t have a place to stay, no job waiting, yet they crossed an ocean in a ship much like he did, taking a chance that there was someplace better in this world for them to be. Like the settlers that came after him, Columbus crossed the mighty Atlantic in a fleet of three surprisingly small wooden ships, losing one on the way. That took daring, and intelligence, and perseverance that is rare today.

How many people could do that?

I personally have trouble going out of state without GPS, how did this man do this with only the stars to guide him? No maps, no computer, no one who gave him oral directions. Out alone on a rough sea. hoping to see land, commanding a crew who believed they might fall off the edge of the world and might mutiny any moment. He did this a total of four times in the late 1400’s a remarkable 522 years ago. It was equivalent of being the first man on the moon.

Amazing.

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Columbus means a lot to me as an American of Italian descent. My culture is riddled with forced stereotypes: Mafia bosses, New Jersey Housewives, loud arrogant members of the Jersey Shore. We’re thought of as pizza chefs and mobsters. Less widely remembered are the incredible contributions people of Italian descent have made — with our hands building the infrastructure of the U.S. — tunnels, roads, and bridges — with our genius sculpting and painting the decorative parts of buildings in every major American city, and with our minds as scientists and leaders.

The magnificence of the Capitol dome, scientific inventions like the telephone (only in the U.S. do people not know the true inventor of the telephone is Meucci) are ours. We are doctors, lawyers, and teachers. We carry the culture and refinement of the Romans, Tuscans, and Sicilians in our blood. Places non-Italians love to travel and somehow snobbishly distinguish from the Italians who live in the U.S. We are Supreme Court justices and the guy who carries your mail.

We deserve a hero.

Perhaps that is why I am a suspense writer and love the RS genre so much. RS stories are at their core about heroes, some unlikely, some highly trained, all imperfect individuals who must summon an extreme level of heroism and courage few, like Columbus, possess.

columbus

Isn’t it a shame this is how we celebrated Columbus’ 500th Anniversary?

Seven percent of the U.S. identifies itself as being of Italian descent. There are probably more, but so many of us have been taught to be ashamed and try to hide the fact of our ancestry. Among us there is no unified voice that asks for a month devoted to our history. We deserve that, too.

This month is Hispanic History Month. I have been aghast at how little I know of Hispanic history — of which Columbus is a key figure.  It is right and apt that this Italian American’s birthdate falls in the midst of this particular month. Without the support of Spain, Columbus would not have discovered the Carribean and Latin America. He would not have been Governor of Hispaniola. He is as much a hero for those of Spanish descent as he is for those of Italian.

But let’s not squabble. To me, he is a hero for us all.

Brad Meltzer & The Fifth Assassin

Bestselling author, Brad Meltzer, sat down with Diana Belchase on the night his newest novel, The Fifth Assassin released at Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, DC.  Find out how Brad came up with the idea for a Presidential serial assassin, the scoop on his TV show, Decoded, and how he ended up consulting for the Department of Homeland Defense.

Share with us your favorite President and why, and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of Brad’s new book, The Fifth Assassin!  Just leave a comment below.  Check back at the end of Manda Collin’s interview on Tuesday to see who won!

For a look at the Everybody Hates Brad Meltzer funny video The Fifth Assassinstarring his grandmother, her friends and his kids’ Little League team click here.  Buy the Fifth Assassin everywhere, preferably at your favorite independent bookstore.  And to see a truly heartwarming surprise Brad received at Politics and Prose Bookstore last week in another video I shot, please click here:  Brad Meltzer’s USO Surprise.  I guarantee there won’t be a dry eye when you’re done.

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Be sure to join us next Tuesday when Sarah Andre interviews our very own Manda Collins about the third and final novel in her Ugly Ducklings trilogy, HOW TO ENTICE AN EARL.

When Maddie’s brother becomes prime suspect in a friend’s murder, she’ll do whatever it takes to find the real killer. Even work alongside the newly elevated, Christian Monteith, Earl of Gresham, who poses a real danger…to her heart.

Cherry Adair in Person!

Who doesn’t love Cherry Adair books?  She’s an incredible writer, the prolific author of over 32 bestselling, suspenseful action adventures.  In print interviews, she’s fun — but in person?  Well, this firecracker is hysterically funny, will keep you on your toes, and is absolutely not to be  missed.

Cherry sat down with me a few months ago to tell me a little about her books, her life, and how she got both her wonderful Montana accent and a life coach named Murgatroyd.  Remember to leave a comment below to be entered to win a copy of Ice Cold!

Hope you enjoy her as much as I do!

So, today’s question is do you have a secret person, real or imaginary who gives you that boost — or should I say kick you know where — when you need one?

  Thanks Cherry for stopping by!  Don’t forget everyone, to leave a comment below. One lucky commenter will win a digital copy of Cherry’s newest, hottest release in the T-FLAC series, Ice Cold! (See the trailer Here.)  So make sure you’re entered by commenting!  Cherry will be stopping by today and tomorrow to answer questions, too!

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