by Mary Margret Daughtridge, guest blogger and author of SEALed Forever
I’m a true pantser. I don’t think of a plot and then design a character to fit it. A character in a certain quandary just appears. The first thing I knew about Garth was that his men called him Darth Vader behind his back. It bothered him. Darth Vader might be a great warrior, but he was not a good man.
Garth accepts the dark side of what SEALs are sometimes called upon to do. SEALs have a saying: never fight fair. He wonders if his men believe he has like, Darth Vader, gone over to the Dark Side. And when he thinks of some of the things he’s done, he wonders too.
Since I wrote my first romance, I’ve thought a lot about what makes a man an alpha male, and how being in the military changes a man. For SEALed Forever, I did a lot of thinking about what makes a military man a good man.
I didn’t grow up in a military family but I grew up in an era when the draft was in force, and a stint in the military was a fact of life. All three of my brothers served. Two first cousins were career military.
None of these men are models for my heroes, per se, but they are all good men. I often ask myself, “What would this one or that one think is important in my hero’s situation?”
Because I have known them all before, during, and after, I have a sense of what being a military man for a few years or a lifetime did for them.
Okay, this is obvious, but it needs to be said. Military men are fit, and no doubt about it, a look of health and vigor makes any man sexier. But military men didn’t get that way in an air conditioned gym. Their physical training happens in the rain, the mud, the heat, and takes them far past exhaustion. They are physically ready to meet danger.
Such fitness in itself imparts a new level of confidence. And nothing is more sexy than that. But there’s more to it. Having done things no one is his right mind expects to receive pleasure from, they have found a deeper motivation—one that depends on sheer strength of will. And the fact that physical feats that would strain a man in average shape are to them just not that hard, gives them a subtly different but pervasive outlook on everything.
They don’t whine, they don’t complain, and they don’t expect accolades. One is often struck by their modest, no big deal response to praise and gratitude. To them, it really is no big deal, and they aren’t doing anything special.
Take everything about a military man, multiply it by a thousand, and you have a SEAL.
The SEALs have lots of sayings, but one of their favorites is, “You don’t have to like it. You just have to do it.” Another is “If it don’t suck, we don’t do it.”
In an early scene in SEALed Forever, Garth is confronted with a baby whose diaper is way past nasty. An unmarried man encountering a dirty diaper is a stock comedy scene with lots of wincing, cringing, his face twisted with repulsion.
Garth just deals with it.
I love that.
Another thing I love about military men is that they have been taught to work to a standard. “Anything goes” is not a military expression. Bouncing a quarter off a bunk, or measuring the distance between hangers, seems petty, and maybe it is, but the concept of not just doing something but doing it to a standard, even in personal areas of one’s life, is something successful people must learn.
Garth recognizes that his first diapering effort is less than stellar. He insists on doing it again, and this time, getting it right.
A quality present in any good man, but trained for in the military is protectiveness and caretaking. A leader looks after his men. As I read SEAL memoirs, particularly of officers, who are in the same place as their men, experiencing the same conditions, I often see “My men were cold” not I was cold. “My men needed hot food and a shower,” not I wanted hot food and a shower. Always being aware of the needs of those who depend on them promotes a largeness of vision and a degree of altruism.
Garth moves further down the slope to the Dark Side when he takes a temporary assignment to a black ops outfit. Garth has always looked after his men, but his protectiveness comes into full conflict with his mission directives when he finds the abandoned baby aboard a spy plane.
Now I want to talk about a SEAL attribute which most military men don’t share. SEALs are rule-breakers. To operate far outside the boundaries, they have to be able to decide for themselves when and how to pursue a mission and when to call it off without waiting for orders.
They are independent thinkers and you never know what they will do next. Also, they don’t respect authority. They respect competence. If they think an order is wrong, they will risk subordination. In the regular navy, SEALs are respected for the superior warriors they are, but most non-SEALs find them a pain in the ass.
I gotta admit always pushing the boundaries is what I like best about them. Maybe because I’m a rule breaker too. But even more, if the situation calls for it, my SEALs do and say the most outrageous things.
I wish I could tell you more, but I don’t want to give away too much. In Garth’s case, we have hidden baby, hidden cameras, the possibility of a ghost, and now he running a completely off the books operation.
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…
Buy: SEALed Forever
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.
GIVEAWAY: I have 2 copies of SEALed Forever. Open to US and Canada only. Enter by leaving a comment. 1 entry per relevant comment; multiple entries allowed. Last Day to Enter: June 3, 2011.