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What Makes a Hero: Mini Interview with Author Jen Chandler, and A Local Firefighter

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   To inspire hope and courage, I dedicate Monday posts through the months of March and April to authors and professionals on the subject of heroes, historically defined, and also the transformation in today’s society. I like to think of this term as the Everyday Hero. Here today, I have fellow author, Jen Chandler, answering three questions on the hero topic. I’ll also end this post with my Everyday Hero of the week.

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The Feature Story, “The Mysteries of Death and Life”

Can Death die? Is Death capable of love? A young, homeless woman named Leah meets the Angel of Death in an abandoned church and discovers that he longs for a release from his eternal work. If Leah can’t uncover the reason for his despair, the souls of the dying could be doomed to wander forever.

Mini Interview with Jen Chandler

[Erika] What is your definition of ‘hero’ (historically or in today’s world)?

[Jen] A hero, traditionally speaking, is anyone who finds him/herself addressing a threatening situation either for another person or for society in general and (usually) comes out on top. There are various types of heroes. The one we’re most inundated with at the moment is the Super Hero. A Super Hero is, of course, someone who has superhuman powers in some capacity and uses them the help mankind. I like to think of this as a hero who has heroism imposed upon them because their abilities far out weight those of the average human being. My personal favorite is the Reluctant Hero, or an average person who is willing to do what no one else is, whether by choice or by proxy.

[Erika] How does your hero fit the definition?

[Jen] My story is a little complex in that there are TWO heroes (dun, dun, DUN!). Both of these heroes are Reluctant Heroes even though one of them isn’t human and definitely has superhuman powers.

[Erika] Why did he or she fall?

[Jen] Gaston, my supernatural hero, fell because of his own fault. He becomes burdened by his job or his ‘heroism’ if you will. Leah’s heroism – she’s my human heroine – is much more subtle and understated. Her original fall from grace was caused by her parents’ poor decisions.

About Jen Chandler

Born and raised in the deep, dirty South, Jen Chandler cut her story-telling teeth in the old folktales of Appalachia. She grew up chasing ghosts and gods, devouring the myths and legends of Egypt, Greece, Ireland and the British Isles. Now happily ensconced beneath the moss laden oaks of Savannah, GA, Jen delights in rummaging into the dark corners of stories, re-imaging mythology and collecting ghosts, goblins, and other strange things that tap at the back door of her imagination. When not writing, Jen can be found drinking copious amounts of tea, designing and stitching fabric patterns, studying folk herbalism, and re-reading old copies of British Country Living with frightening regularity. She may or may not be addicted to gummy candy.

You can find her via her Blog

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My Everyday Hero This Week: Firefighter/EMT

The shift of a firefighter begins at 8:00 a.m. and completes nearly 24 hours later at 7:30 a.m. Staff prepares and test the equipment. They log every piece into a computer and mark it off as checked. During the week shifts, training classes keep the morning busy. Anything from new medical techniques, to hands-on fire ground related policies. After training comes lunch, testing the fire hoses and inspecting buildings. Calls come in and out and hopefully, the current staff gets to sleep, but not always. Everyone is roused at 7:15 a.m. the following morning, and the clean up begins to prepare for the next crew. Fresh crew members filter in and the last crew clocks out for the day.  Today, I have with me Firefighter A, describing his day, his favorite and scariest moments on the job, as well as some particularly interesting historical facts.  I have to say, this is by far, is the most difficult profession I’ve talked to yet. Firefighters deserve the utmost respect, and definitely more compensation than they get.

Disclaimer: Names and certain details have been changed to protect events and individuals.

[Erika] What is your favorite aspect or responsibility of your job?

[Firefighter A] I like the actual fire-fighting piece. I like driving the fire trucks and acting in the role of the Firefighter Apparatus Engineer. I do the math to get water from point A to point B. Mathematics is critical. I determine the length and size of the hose in comparison to a certain amount of friction loss at the end of the hose. I calculate the length of the hose and the quantity of water pumped out of the truck for how it comes out the end.

[Erika] What was your deciding factor to enter the profession?

[Firefighter A] Every since I was young, I’d be in my grandparent’s yard playing with toy fire trucks. I liked watching the real trucks go by as a kid.

[Erika] What do you remember about the old station Dalmatians?

[Firefighter A] The history of the Dalmatian began in the early 1800s when towns had horse-drawn trucks. The dogs rode on those trucks to guard the equipment. Historical big towns once had several fire companies that would all answer the same fire call. The different companies would duke it out, and the winner would put the fire out while the dogs guarded the equipment against theft. It became a tradition and dogs got associated with the fire service, but we can’t do that anymore.

[Erika] What’s your proudest moment on the job?

[Firefighter A] I was pretty young, maybe 22. I was driving the engine from my station to answer a call for backup. We got to the business site. All men were in the building. No one remained to track the water. My captain said, “You go over there and get on their pump.” It was a different truck, and it took me a moment to figure out all the buttons. I did it. I got the water supply stabilized on a truck I wasn’t familiar with. I received several compliments for my act.

[Erika] What would have happened had you not been there?

[Firefighter A] If I wouldn’t have shown up, that’s a dangerous thing to have guys inside the structure and no one outside. All of a sudden they have no water if something goes wrong.

[Erika] Describe a typical House fire call and response.

[Firefighter A] If I drive the truck the other guys jump off. My job as the driver is to make sure they have water and the pressure, where the nearest fire hydrant supply is or get another truck to get to another hydrant. My responsibility is to then monitor the water flow. From the fighter side, we get to the scene and assess the situation to plan the best way to attack the fire. Sometimes you find it and put it out and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes the new type of building construction is so lightweight, and buildings fail fast. You don’t send your guys inside if it’s going to fail. In a house fire, we first get down on our hands and knees at the door because that’s where the coolest air is. Hollywood glamorizes fires. Seen backdraft? That’s not real. They make it look easier than it really is. Honestly, you can’t see anything, zero visibility. You walk into a building or room and the scene is black as night. It’s hot like 1500 and 2000 degrees. We’ll try to find the fire. Now we have thermal imagining cameras that make it easier to find the fire or victims. Modern building construction makes our job dangerous and difficult. It used to be everything was made of wood and semi-combustible material. Nowadays buildings are synthetic nasty blends and fires are more hazardous. 60% of firefighters today are likely to contract ear nose and throat cancer because fires burn hotter and faster. The smoke is poison because of the materials. In the past, the smoke rolled up the window as a byproduct of fire, but now the smoke actually acts like a fuel and the whole room will go … in a blink. You have to be trained to recognize that moment. We are continually challenged to change our tactics. How we read the smoke, how close fire is to the window, how hot the room is. Failure to recognize a flash over, which is when the whole room bursts into flame, is what kills guys.

New policies state after every fire, we launder our fire gear and get a clean one for the next incident. We all take showers because of the risk of cancer and chemicals. They have done studies on firefighters right after a job using a black light to track the chemicals and the exposure of the soot. It’s always highly concentrated around the head and neck.

[Erika] Do you have an everyday hero?

[Firefighter A] My grandfather and my great uncle. I try to model myself after them. Good men. Showed my brother and me how to be good men. How to carry on with a sense of integrity. How to love someone and to treat people nice.

[Erika] Last words to the public?

It’s a good career and it’s a good honest living. You get to help and make a difference.

[Erika] Any words of advice?

Be nice to your firefighter.

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Thank you, Jen Chandler for being here with me today. I can’t wait to read your story. And Firefighter A, you amaze me.

A Forgotten Knight, a Dragon, and Computer Technology? Spotlight on Author Renee Cheung

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   To inspire hope and courage, I dedicate Monday posts through the months of March and April to authors and professionals on the subject of heroes, historically defined, and also the transformation in today’s society. I like to think of this term as the Everyday Hero. Here today, I have fellow author Renee Cheung, answering three questions on the hero topic. I’ll also end this post with my Everyday Hero of the week.

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Her Story, “Memoirs of a Forgotten Knight”

Long ago, before the Unseen migrated into servers and networks, a hedge-knight sought to save a village from a dragon. But being a hero always has its price.

Spotlight With Renee Cheung

[Questions] What is your definition of a hero (historically or in today’s world)? How does your hero from “Breath Between Seconds,” fit the definition? Why did she fall, the theme of the Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life Anthology?

In the everyday, heroes are commonplace. The kid that shoveled snow for their elderly neighbour, that elder knitting hats for the homeless, that homeless person sharing the change they received with others who didn’t have as much luck that day – they are all heroes in their momentary acts of kindness. In reality, a hero is not an identity anyone assumes forever, but in fact, is a label applied to a moment in time when that person commits an act of greater good.

In fiction, it’s another story. I believe the hero archetype constantly carries three main attributes

  • They have a solid sense of morality and aspires to uphold values, even in ambiguous situations
  • They aspire to accomplish deeds that do not directly benefit themselves
  • They do not accomplish those deeds to seek fame or glory

Heroes in fiction are often selfless to a fault and as a result, meet a tragic end, precisely because they give so much, they have nothing left for themselves.

In that sense, Cormac is almost a typical hero, a knight, protecting a village from a dragon. I tried to incorporate some realism in that he wouldn’t mind if some fame or glory came his way from the deed, but it was not his primary motivation. Mostly, he sought to protect at the risk of his own life.

Without spoiling the story, Cormac’s fall was not his own fault. He could not have known the circumstances ahead of time. And I would say, it is debatable whether he did fall or not, for in the end, he tried to stay true to who he was. Whether he remained a hero by the end of the story or not, I will leave to the reader’s’ judgement.

About Renee Cheung

Renee uses her years of experience as a developer to write about the what-ifs of magic and technology. When she is not suspiciously peering at her computer in between her writing, she can be found roaming the streets with her family or gaming (whether it’s video games, board games or table-top RPGs) with her similar-minded friends.

Web | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

 

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My Everyday Hero this week: Public Safety Resource Officer L.

If John Wayne patrolled the streets of Kansas City today, why wouldn’t he choose education to channel his efforts and preserve and secure the safety of our children?

School Resource officers are the shadows of safety for our children. Dressed in dark colors, they blend in, patrolling school daily functions. Before the bell fires off, they are outside directing traffic, surveying parents, kids, and staff to ensure a safe arrival to school. After the first bell, they patrol the halls, checking doors and locks to secure all classrooms. They station themselves near the doors, ready and watching. They lend helpful hands in the lunchroom when kids can’t open their milk cartons. Staff trust them and students run to hug them. School resource officers teach citizenship clubs before school and model good choices when sometimes kids don’t get them from their families.

With a twinkle in his eye and a smile in his voice, Officer L. is one of a kind, the perfect balance between safety and education, much like I’d picture John Wayne if he lived today.

[Erika] What is your favorite part of your job?

[Officer L] Lunch Duty. Opening milk cartons and making kids laugh and smile is priceless. I am more lenient than I should be. But it’s a chance to give out hugs. Sometimes kids don’t get that love and support they need at home. Many of them are hungry. I let them get what they need.

[Erika]What was your deciding factor to become a public safety officer?

[Officer L.] I fell into this job by accident. At the time I worked as a Park Ranger with a friend of mine. He visited the school district, read about the job in August. He applied for that one and then another position opened up. My wife saw it and I put my application in. I’d worked with the current Director of the Public Safety Department and knew his reputation was sound. I applied for my family. My kids were entering middle school at the time and I needed to give up my weekend hours working for the county. I made the decision for my family.

[Erika] What advice do you have to the public?

[Officer L] If you love what you do every day goes by and you can’t wait to wake up and get there. When I get up I raise my fits excited and say, “I get to go to school!”

Kids say, “ugh, I have to go to school.”

I get up every day and love going to work.

[Erika] Who is your everyday hero?

[Officer L.] My wife. Everything about her is amazing. She gets up and takes care of us all. She does everything in the right appropriate way for me. If I hadn’t met her, I’m not sure where I would be, probably less off. She’s a perfect example for our kids. No bad habits. Kind. I’m for a small country town and she taught me better life skills. I completed my Masters because of her. She’s so supportive.

[Erika] Who is your superhero?

[Officer L.] John Wayne.

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Question: Have you ever experienced a moment as an Everyday Hero? Volunteered in a public school? Found your perfect job by accident?

Thank you, Renee Cheung for being here with me today. I can’t wait to read your story.

Defining a Hero: Mini Interview with Author L. Nahay

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   To inspire hope and courage, I dedicate Monday posts through the months of March and April to authors and professionals on the subject of heroes, historically defined, and also the transformation in today’s society. I like to think of this term as the Everyday Hero. Here today, I have fellow author L. Nahay, answering three questions on the hero topic. I’ll also end this post with my Everyday Hero of the week.

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Her Story, “Breath Between Seconds”

A soldier makes a split decision on the three thousandth, two hundred and sixteenth day of her country’s current war, claiming the victory for her House and bringing an instant end to the fighting. In the stillness that follows, she watches her opponent die and questions the meaning of victory, and her claim to it.

The Interview

[Erika] What is your definition of a hero (historically or in today’s world)?

[L. Nahay] A hero is someone who instinctually acts in the best interest of someone else, regardless of the outcome to themselves. This could be a grand, death-defying endeavor, or as small as saving a spider from someone’s angry boot.

[Erika] How does your hero from “Breath Between Seconds,” fit the definition?

[L. Nahay] Logic would dictate that as she ended her country’s long-running war, singlehandedly and with odds against her, that she should be regarded as a hero.  But she comes to the realization that even if she is acknowledged, it would be a short, fatal concession.

[Erika] Why did she fall, the theme of the Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life Anthology?

[L. Nahay] She fell because she was successful in someone else’s failure, and once she started thinking through her achievement, she began to question the rightness of it.

About L. Nahay

lnahayL. Nahay is an author of fantasy and an independent publisher through Midnight Tomorrow Books. She has always ever written. She is a mom to two monsters, and while she’d love to live the more wild way most of her characters do, she currently resides in Indiana. For reminders of life outside her stories, she enjoys reading, creating, camping, hiking, exploring, and time with those monsters of hers. To date, she has published the first book of her fantasy series entitled Red Moonglow on Snow, and an urban fantasy short story called The Dryad.  She has also recently stepped into the world of Steampunk and bought the monsters a telescope. Be forewarned.

Web | Blog | Twitter | Instagram

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My Everyday Hero this week: Preschool Teacher Miss M.

You enter a room full of four and five-year-olds who stare at you from a horseshoe table. They might be reviewing their letters and numbers for the week, learning to write and exploring basic identity conceptions like home address and phone number. Maybe they get up and sing, dance, or crash out on a mat at naptime. After chatting for an hour yesterday afternoon, I learned about the difficult topics of social and emotional balance with academics each individual child exhibits. How to use discipline and safe zones in the classroom. With the hugs, smiles and “good job comments,” also comes tears and tantrums.

The day is never a constant.

I am convinced, it takes a special person to handle the rapid shifts and yet, still, pulls the room of young children back together again.

wingsofindependence

What is her favorite part of her job?

Seeing the expression on a child’s face when he/she has learned something for the first time. Their eyes light up and they say, “I did it! I figured it out!”

Who is her Everyday Hero?

My mom. She’s my guardian angel. A woman who always had my back and supported me. My guiding light and my best friend.

And finally, what to remember?

Never give up on your dreams. Always believe in yourself. Learn to take criticism without taking it to heart. I didn’t know how to listen until I learned to listen to children. They know before we know.

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Question: Have you ever experienced a moment as an Everyday Hero? Smashed a spider when someone couldn’t? Calmed a child in a full on temper tantrum?

Thank you, L. Nahay for being here with me today. I can’t wait to read your story.

IWSG Post 18: How to Decide Which Story to Write First

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[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

This month’s awesome hosts are, Tamara Narayan, Patsy Collins, M.J. Fifield, and Nicohle Christopherson

Thank you so much!

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story-copy

Define sto·ry (according to Google)

/ˈstôrē/

noun

  • 1. an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment: “an adventure story” synonyms: tale, narrative, account, anecdote, yarn,
  • 2. an account of past events in someone’s life or in the evolution of something: “the story of modern farming”

Stories come from everywhere.

Scenario A: Driving in your car in the middle of rush hour traffic, some careless driver is hot on your tail. Obviously, you’re moving too cautiously with a car length of space between you and the driver ahead. In the mirror, you see the impatient driver behind you. They try to pass you on the shoulder. What do you do? You might do what I did and you block him. Then you realize his impatience has turned to rage and the next action could have been the last.

Scenario B: Maybe at work, a big management person who gets stuff done, does so by yelling and barking out orders. Maybe she is happy when tasks work out, but never hands the credit to the person who deserves it. Her teeth are razor sharp and you swear every word is laced with venom. You keep your eyes glued to your computer, praying, Not me, not today.

Outcome: Suddenly the man in the car becomes a fire-breathing demon … or an alien beamed through light, through another human body just to irritate you. The woman in the office turns Python, coiling up in the shadows in wait for you to position yourself just right. If you do, she’ll strike and you’ll bleed, then she’ll track you. Mercilessly. She plans to tear you limb by limb as you scream.

belief-and-orderSo to answer this month’s IWSG question,Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?”

I have not. However, I have kept them all and plan to revisit at least one of them once I’ve completed the stories I can’t stop thinking about. My mind tends to fill up with all sorts of ideas when I sit down and ponder.

What are the reasons stories shift?

  1. We age. We experience new things.
  2. Passion drives story. With new experience comes new passion in different topics. My characters have changed because I have changed.
  3. Stories transcend out of other stories. I tend to write the plot that has become the thorn in my side I can’t seem to heal until it’s done. As stated by Robert Jordan, “Belief and order give strength. Have to clear the rubble before you can build.” My rubble is a current story or two. They beg me to put them first.

How to Prioritize?

Largely, two things come to mind: passion and need. If you face a writing deadline or theme, certainly that story plot and character will trump any of the others you may want to write. Next, passion tends to push the creative mind to wander.  I do believe we write from our hearts and our joys, not necessarily what we consider ourselves to be experts at. I love research just as much as I love to write. Back in high school, my interests were different. I researched and wrote historical fiction topics.  Today, I explore the magical possibility in everyday life. I choose the story based on the character in my mind who speaks stronger. If worse comes to worse, I can always play a quick game of rock paper scissors with my kids over the topic, or, there’s always the option of a coin toss.

Question: How do you decide which story to write first? How do you prioritize your projects? Do you find yourself dreaming stories up through everyday occurrences and writing them out?

Blog Tour Hosts

The authors in the Hero Lost Anthology are looking for some blog tour hosts. If you’re interested and you think you have time during the month of May, please click the google docs form lovely author Sarah Foster created and sign up.9781939844361-hero-lost

Thank you and have a lovely rest of your day. 🙂