Some time ago, I started doing research into US Navy SEALs, for RIDERS. That took me to a family friend, who is a Colonel in the Army Reserve now, but who served in the 75th Ranger Regiment. We have exchanged several emails. We've had dinner together. He was graciously opened the door for me to visit Fort Benning, where the Rangers train, and where one of the Regiment's Battalions is headquartered. He also referred me to a younger Ranger, who is currently deployed overseas, but who also always takes the time to answer my emails. Neither of these men ever make me feel dumb, when I ask for them something for millionth time. They are never anything less than completely supportive and encouraging (and they know I'm writing a YA Fantasy!) This is from two men who are deeply engaged in the protection of our country, whether it be on the front lines of conflict, or in steering critical decisions and the training of personnel.
Switching gears for a moment. I have a neighbor named Norm. Norm is about 85 or so, and every day he drives his motorized scooter past my house and goes downtown. I think he meets some friends at the Veteran's Hall. On the back of his scooter is an American Flag, and a Marine's flag. I always stop to talk to him. (He likes my dog.) A few days ago, I mentioned to him that I was writing about an Army Ranger. He comes over just now with magazines, books, (pictured) and get this: a business card for a man who is local, and who has three sons who are Rangers.
"Call him anytime," Norm says, pointing at this paper clipped card with his ancient fingers. "He'll help you however you need."
Guys. I have NO idea how RIDERS will do out in the Official Book World. There are so many factors that influence sales. At times I really worry about it. There is this pervasive notion in publishing that teenage boys don't read, which is a problematic bias on many levels (imagine if we only read books about people who were EXACTLY like us - horrible, right?) not to mention my decision on subject matter. It's a little daring. A little out there. But here's the thing. I have been so incredibly blessed by this book. It has given me so many brushes against true patriotism and sacrifice, to say nothing of the extraordinary character I've been privileged to see in our military professionals, time and again. It's a thing of wonder. Honestly, book sales matter. I help keep my family fed and housed because of them. My editor and publisher will also be very happy with good sales. *fingers crossed* That said, the rewards I've already reaped in writing this book have been nothing short of profound.