Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Aloha to Heather Ashby and FORGET ME NOT


On Tuesday night, my youngest son gave a presentation about the "Battle of Oahu - December 7" to his Scout group. Although the Japanese attacked several military installations across the island, and all branches of services lost personnel, most Americans think of the Navy's bravery in Pearl Harbor. It is fitting then that I welcome Navy veteran turned romance author Heather Ashby back to SOS Aloha as we approach the 72nd anniversary this weekend. From Heather's bio,

Heather Ashby is a Navy veteran whose mother was one of the original WAVES in World War II. After leaving the service, Heather taught school and raised a family while accompanying her Navy husband around the United States, Japan, and the Middle East. In gratitude for her Army son’s safe return from Afghanistan and Iraq, she now writes military romance novels, donating half her royalties to Fisher House Foundation – Helping Military Families. She lives in Atlantic Beach, Florida with her husband and three rescue cats.


Kim:  Gotta ask about your mother - can you share any of her experiences that she may have shared with you as one of the original Navy WAVES? How did she react when you joined the Navy?

Heather:  My mother graduated with a degree in Mathematics in 1942 and joined the Navy a year later when the WAVES were formed. After Midshipman School at Smith College and training at M.I.T., she spent the duration of the war doing research on fireproofing projects, since the greatest threat on a Navy ship is fire.

Mother talked fondly about her time in the WAVES for much of my younger life, but did I listen? Nope. However, I returned from a vacation to Jacksonville, Florida when I was 21 and informed her that I had decided to join the Navy in order to finish my education. (I didn’t tell her about partying with half the Atlantic Fleet in Mayport, however.) I found my mailbox stuffed with recruiting information the next day. She was so excited, she’d called the recruiter and given them the heads-up about my interest. Both of my parents were proud of me in the Navy and were thrilled when I married a career Naval officer.

US Navy/Public Domain (link)

Kim:  Thank you for your continued service as a Navy spouse. Do you have a favorite memory from Japan and/or Middle East?

Heather:  For two years, we were stationed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the most conservative Muslim city outside of Mecca. I had to cover from neck to wrist to ankle before leaving our compound to go shopping. I would catch the compound bus with the other wives, because women cannot drive there. Before you say, “How awful!” let me tell you that because I did not have to drive my children anywhere (all transportation to school, soccer, scouts, camp, etc. was provided) I was able to work full-time for the first time since we’d had kids. I loved teaching third grade at the International School—and making money to spend on those shopping trips to the gold souk, the Oriental carpet bazaar, and the spice and antiques markets. And how many seven and nine-year-olds ride camels around the Pyramids for their Spring Break family vacation? Living in the Saudi Arabia was a real adventure!

File:All Gizah Pyramids.jpg
The Pyramids of Giza
Image by Ricardo Liberato via Creative Commons (link)


Kim:  So glad your Army son safely returned from recent deployments ... and thanks to him for his service. How did this quad-level of experience (Waves daughter, Navy vet, Navy spouse, and Army mom) shape your writing voice?

Heather:  Reading military romance was one of the things that got me through his deployments. As I started writing my own, I realized how much the Navy really does have its own language. And not just vocabulary; sometimes it’s in the syntax. My husband and I still use Navy terms for many things in our everyday language: head, deck, overhead, skivvies, Irish pennant, gig line, turn to, etc. It made all the difference in the way I write my stories. On the one hand I write to entertain the women in the fleet, so I want the lingo to be authentic. But on the other hand I write so civilian readers can vicariously join the Navy and see how our sailors live and work. Thus, I utilize many civilian beta readers to tell me when my Navy-speak is confusing or unclear. I even learned a few Army terms from my son, which are coming in handy as I’m now writing about Marines, who use many similar terms as the Army. And, yes, my characters “cuss like sailors.”


Kim:  Tell us about the LOVE IN THE FLEET series and your newest release, FORGET ME NOT?

Heather:  “Love in the Fleet” is a four-book series based on four male Naval Academy classmates. The books detail them each meeting “The One” in their late twenties when they are senior lieutenants stationed at commands out of Mayport, Florida. They appear in each other’s books, so it’s kind of fun to follow them around. I consider my books to be primarily love stories, but with suspenseful elements. So wasn’t I surprised to learn that Suspense Magazine named Book 1, Forgive & Forget, to their “Best of 2013” list. All the books take place on ships and feature Navy heroines, with the exception of Forget Me Not. Following is the official blurb:

Suffering from Peter Pan Syndrome and survivor guilt, Navy helicopter pilot and renowned playboy, Brian “Skylark” Crawford, swears he’ll never marry, uncertain he deserves happiness—besides there are too many hot chicks to choose from. War widow and veterinarian, Daisy Schneider, swears to love only animals after her Marine pilot husband is killed in Afghanistan—but work fails to ease her loneliness or the guilt that she might have saved him. Between one stray, matchmaking cat and a fiery battle with drug runners at sea, the fur flies as Sky and Daisy learn valuable lessons about life, love, and second chances.

Something exciting about this book was the research. Naval Station Mayport allowed me to go through their helicopter flight simulator and gave me access to pilots to help with cockpit technology and jargon. All personnel were glad to help since I was “writing about what their squadrons do to make the world a safer place.” Because the book details a drug interdiction at sea, I did extensive research into the cocaine trade as well. I also loved writing Forget Me Not because it stars my favorite character: zany, impulsive, irreverent, charming, honorable, loveable Sky Crawford. 


Kim:  What's next for Heather Ashby?

Heather:  I’ve almost completed “Love in the Fleet” Book #3, Never Forget, about a Naval officer exchange program with the Royal Navy. The idea came from a lovely “Wren” - Women’s Royal Naval Service. Since she was stationed on an amphibious assault ship and Mayport will soon be receiving three “amphibs,” I chose that type of ship for the next book. Amphibs carry Marines, so I’m learning about the Marine Corps, along with the Royal Marines and Royal Navy. I’ve been blessed with an awesome Marine advisor who is teaching me about both the Corps and landings from amphibious assault ships. My late father was a Marine who fought at Guadalcanal, so writing this book is reconnecting me to him. Never Forget has two love stories—about both exchange officers on the British and American ships. Hold on to your knickers for this thrilling foray into—ahem—international affairs.

Thanks for inviting me, Kim, and giving me a chance to share my military stories. Surely your readers have a fun anecdote about something unique that happened to them while being stationed, living, or traveling in a foreign country…Like the Saudi gold merchant offering me the necklace I was ogling, in exchange for my eight-year-old blond daughter—so she might marry his brother! (Yes, he was joking, but my daughter didn’t know that.) I have a copy of Forget Me Not for one lucky commenter. Happy Holidays to all!

Mahalo, Heather, for the giveaway!   To enter,

1.  Leave a comment with a fun anecdote about something unique that happened to them while being stationed, living, or traveling in a foreign country.

2.  Heather's giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, December 7, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, December 8.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

To learn more about Heather and her books, check out her social media:

www.heatherashby.com
Twitter: @HAshbyAuthor
Facebook: Heather Ashby Author

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44 comments:

  1. Thanks for inviting me today, Kim. Kudos to your son for sharing Pearl Harbor Day with his scout troop. I'm a retired teacher who substitutes frequently and it's sad to see the number of young people who know nothing about December 7, 1941. And how interesting his presentation must have been, having just moved from Hawaii. I look forward to chatting with your readers!

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  2. I've never travelled over seas. No doubt I would have all sorts of adventures.

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    1. I've learned along the way, Mary, that you don't have to go all the way overseas to have cultural adventures. Funny/strange things happen to us just traveling to different parts of this country. And sometimes even to the other side of town. Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. My husband was determined to get the best of men who specialized in slipping you fake money. He lost twice and I insisted he give up before we had no money left.

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    1. Wow! I sure hope this all worked in his/your favor! Thanks for visiting.

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  4. What was the most surprising thing you found when shopping in the souk?

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    1. A curved knife called a JAMBIA. The knife and silver scabbard are both curved so that while riding horseback (or camel back) the rider would not stab his leg. But I heard later that it REALLY was curved in order to stab and eviscerate in two swift movements. Probably more than you wanted to know.

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  5. My husband and his army buddies have way to many funny stories...but the best one was busting their friend out of the hospital to go see Uriah Heap in concert when they were stationed in Germany.

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    1. Oh, now THIS is a fabulous story!!! THESE are the stories we remember from college and/or the military! I actually have a scene like this in Book 3 - although it's not for a concert, but something more solemn. But since the hospital would not release the hero, his buddies had to do it :-)

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  6. Jean Willett was unable to post her comment here so sent it directly to me:


    ""I lived in Turkey for three years as a kid. We were under martial law most of the years there, so there were constant takeover attempts ongoing. One time, jets streamed through the concourse where we lived and broke the sound barrier, shattering all the window in the ground floor apartments. My mom was yelling at us all to hit the floor. Cool stuff for a kid. :)
    Good luck, Heather. Book number 2 is going to be a bestseller."

    Also, my dad handled SEAL team logistics in the 60's and has some great stories about hustling teams out of bars before they would have to pay for the shambles :)

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    1. WOW, Jean, great stories. Love the idea of kids getting excited about "hitting the deck" instead of panicking. My kids' favorite Saudi story was dining in a restaurant when Prayer Call was called. All businesses must close for Prayer, but some just shut their curtains. The kids loved that the curtains were closed, the lights went off, we had a candle and were told to be very quiet until Prayer was over. The religious police patrolled the streets looking for violators. Can still see the light sparkling in my children's eyes over that adventure.

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  7. When we transferred to San Diego, my youngest son was three. He didn't get the concept of states versus cities, so every time we drop past downtown San Diego, he would say, "There's California!"

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  8. My husband was in the USAF for 24 years, most of it stationed in England. We used to have a lot of parties to keep the spirits of his troops up, especially the young ones who were missing their families during holiday seasons.

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  9. Thank you and your husband for your service and for caring for the troops all those years, Diane. We try to remember/host foreign sailors when they visit here in Mayport. Funny, but on one of those fun nights, Royal Naval officers gave me the premise for Book 3 in "Love in the Fleet." (If I'm not mistaken, I believe there were multiple bottles of Pims involved.) Great to "see" you again, Diane.

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  10. Thanks, Ella. And thanks for the tweet. Hope your writing is going well.

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  11. Terrific interview Heather. Thanks for sharing and your service. My DH and I were stationed together at a joint base in Argentia Newfoundland. On one memorable occasion he drove across Newfoundland in an ancient VW Bus to pick me up at the airport (my transport was landing at around 1AM). He came up over a rise on the highway to find a moose with a 7 foot rack in the middle of the road. My DH stopped of course. The moose stared at the bus for a very long 60 seconds then decided to charge. DH did 40 miles per hour in reverse down an unlit highway in the dark. The moose chased him for about 5 minutes before getting bored and veering off into the woods. My husband didn't tell me this story until about 2 years later. He didn't want me to over react. :)

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  12. OMG! Rue, that is a FABULOUS story!!! I just laughed out loud at him driving in REVERSE with no idea where he was going. And, I know, It's not funny!!!! Love how he waited 2 years to tell you!!! We had some similar encounters with camels who refused to budge, but they never CHARGED US!!! Thanks so much for sharing your story!!!

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  13. Met my hubby of 33+ years when we were both working in a refinery in Aruba. I like to tell the story of how he tried to get me killed my first day, by taking me into a unit undergoing an experimental procedure (called pinching pigtails, a funny name for a not-so-funny operation) so dangerous that the operators were all backing up as we were heading in... Needless to say we both survived and were married just over a year later!

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    1. What a great "How I Met My Wife" story! Glad you both survived and lived happily ever after :-) Thanks for stopping by.

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  14. I remember when you talked about what a 'hardship' it was to interview those hot, young pilots, Heather. Way to take one for the team!! Looking forward to reading Sky's story!

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  15. Yeah, it was difficult taking one for the team on that one, Tammy, but a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do. You know, all in the name of research. Sky's waiting for you...sweetheart :-)

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  16. I don't have military stories but I do have a couple overseas stories. Unlike my late husband, a German who spoke six languages, I'm not the best with them, but I give it a good try. Thinking I'd learned some simple phrases, we were at an outdoor restaurant, and I wanted to order in German so I ordered coffee and cake for the two of us. The waiter looked at my husband, my husband looked at me and said, "Congratulations, you just ordered coffee and a raw chicken. In perfect English, the waiter said, "I'll bring your order, ma'am." So, a few years later, we are living an idyllic life along the Adriatic coastline of Croatia when again, in an outdoor restaurant, I wanted to place the order in Croatian. Again, my husband looked at me and said, "Congratulations, you just ordered coffee and a prostitute. I live in Budapest now. I don't even try to order in this, the second most difficult language in the world to learn.

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  17. OMG, Kathleen! I just burst out laughing! I would love to have seen that waiter's face!!! And here I thought ask the concierge in a French hotel for a "farmer" when I wanted an iron, was funny. I bet you have lots of great stories living there in Budapest! Can't wait to hear some more. Thanks for visiting today. Now go back to the writing cave *sound of whip cracking* :-)

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    1. Ha! Hungarian words are long and not pronounced anything like they look, IMO. Merry Christmas in Hungarian is Boldog Kar√°csonyt. to me, it sounds like "Bull dog carrying a chitlin'. So that's what I say to everyone and they smile and say merry Christmas back. Doesn't sound much different to me. hehehe.

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    2. Did you hear me laugh out loud all the way in Hungary!!!??? This is so funny! BTW, "Pleased to meet you" in Japanese = "Don't touch my mustache."

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  18. I really enjoyed how well you wove foreign places, as well as military terms into your books, Heather. It felt like I got to sail with so many hot guys :-)

    Catherine, Australia

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  19. LOL, Catherine! Glad I could provide a military venue for you without you having to do any push ups. But YOU are one of the reasons my books are doing so well. YOU are the best critique partner in the whole world - and I mean that, since you're 1/2 a world away! Hugs. Write On!

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  20. Ohmigosh, some of these stories just crack me up. Alas, I've had nothing quite so entertaining that I can relate.

    Great interview, Heather! Even though I work for the military, my spouse is a retired Lt. Colonel, and I've had family members who served in every major conflict since WWII, I STILL learn things when I read your novels! Here's to you and Sky and a fabulous series! May Forget Me Not fly high on the bestseller lists.

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    1. Awww, you're gonna make me cry. Thanks so much for your best wishes. And thanks also for your family's service to our country. I'm so glad you learn things from my books as I try to paint a picture of how our military men and women live and work. And thanks for being a member of the Sky Crawford Fan Club. Hugs to you, Laurie!

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  21. We've had quite a few stories back in the day. When we went to Europe my husband's bags went elsewhere - so glad they weren't mine. We wanted to go somewhere nice while in France and the cabby sent us to this club that charged us $100's of dollar for a few bottles of wine (there was a group of us) and the girls were working girls which they thought we wanted lol. And I got extremely ill after eating in a castle because the wenches kept filling our glasses and we drank mead and weird food lol and I was young in my defense lol. And I lost a contact that night. It was a very long bus trip and flight home lol.

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    1. HOO BOY, now THAT sounded like a good time. (Wait. I think I might have been there???) No, seriously, Catslady, just remember, they call them the Good Old Days because we weren't good and we weren't old! Thanks for stopping by!

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  22. What a wonderful post and such funny stories!

    I've only been to Canada and a day trip into Mexico, so I can't think of any wild story to tell. Maybe that's a good thing. LOL

    Marcy Shuler
    bmndshuler(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  23. Maybe it IS a good thing, Marcy. I still say, we can have funny misunderstandings or weird things happening just by crossing the street! Thanks for stopping by.

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  24. The only place I have been except for the US was in Canada when I was a teenager. My mom, brother, and I were taking a 3 mile hike along the bush and a sled dog came running out of the bush, circled us, and sank it's teeth in my knee, only leaving when we heard someone call him. My beloved deceased husband was in Viet Nam and he always had good stories to tell.

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  25. Oh, my goodness, Cathy! I hope you were okay. That would be so frightening! And I bet your hubby had good stories about times spent with his buddies. And with you :-) Thanks for stopping by.

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  26. Although I was an Air Force wife for eight years, I can't think of any associated humorous stories. Thought I'd share a funny bit of history instead. While researching a cavalry unit I found an insane picture. Of a uniformed man standing on his head, with legs separated wide, in the shape of a V. A cavalry officer (circa 1910) is jumping his horse through the V of the other officer's legs. Crazy guys! They had to be drinking, didn't they? I looked for the picture again just now, and couldn't find it, although I found one very similar, along with a contemporary one of the same thing!

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  27. Ah, yes, because in 1910 people did not have the Internet - or their phones to check - so they had time to do crazy stunts like that. LOL, Sheri. Were they in uniform? Just curious. More likely bored than drunk. I've heard war - and much time spent in the military - can be a few minutes of sheer terror, followed by hours of boredom. Thanks for stopping by, Sheri!

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  28. Yes, they were in uniform, at their barracks. I believe they were British.

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  29. Ha! Yes, boredom can be big in the military - between battles and all that.

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  30. Great interview Heather. Thanks for sharing all your stories....and for sharing Sky with all of us!!

    Suzanne:))

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    1. You're welcome, Suzanne, and thanks for being the president of the Sky Crawford Fan Club! Hugs, H

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  31. Nice interview; can't think of any

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