Wednesday, March 03, 2010

WNW: Band of Sisters Edition

With Band of Sisters now in stores (YIPPEEEE! . . . ahem), I thought it would be appropriate to have a Word Nerd Wednesday centered around some of the words relevant to the book.

Private First Class, First Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Colonel
These are the ranks of the wives' husbands, in order from lowest to highest. I picked Sarah's brain quite thoroughly on a lot of this. (She's one of the five wives the book is dedicated to.) I had to figure out what their ranks would realistically be based on their ages, educational backgrounds, and much more. (I had no idea going in that education played such a big role in rank. Yes, I was that ignorant.)

I think the one element of the book that's probably least realistic is that this is Colonel Lambert's third deployment. If real life, he'd probably have been deployed a more than that, especially since 9/11. Otherwise, I think (hope!) I got most things right.

Supply Convoy
I purposely didn't name a place in Afghanistan where the men were stationed, and I wanted to avoid specific fighting missions because of the logistics, but I did want them to be in dangerous, stressful situations.

Sarah helped me decide that having the men protect convoys of supplies would be a good job. As convoys bring food and other necessities to the fighting soldiers, the men would be in serious peril, especially the closer to the front lines they got. It would also give the wives a false sense of security at first, because their men aren't technically fighting and therefore are "safer."

But convoys do get close to the front lines and so of course they're dangerous. Plus, they're targeted for obvious reasons (take out the supplies, and you've just crippled the enemy).

So that's what these husbands are doing. With one exception, we never see any of the husbands in the book, but we do hear from them in the form of instant messages and e-mails a few times.

Placenta Previa
I knew what this was, but I didn't know a lot of details about it. I had to consult Dr. Google as well as friends who'd been through it to get some details straight.

Morphine and Hospice
Again, two terms I knew in theory. Two issues in the plot that required research. I focused particularly on reading firsthand accounts from people who'd dealt with both.

Anxiety and Depression
Two common responses to deployment, particularly for wives whose husbands are in dangerous places, dodging bullets and literally in the middle of war. Wives wake up hoping their husbands are safe and go to bed praying that they won't wake up with bad news. And that's assuming the stress doesn't keep them up all night . . . again.

As one wife I interviewed said, people need to recognize that soldiers aren't just away; they're in harm's way. And that's where the stress, anxiety and depression come in.

Sarah coped by reminding herself that she was reacting normally to a very abnormal situation.

Communications Blackout
A miserable experience for military wives. This is when all communication lines are shut down, both to and from the military. No one can send so much as an e-mail. A blackout means a soldier has been killed, and lines won't open again until the next of kin have been notified.

When a blackout happens, your heart drops, because you know someone just lost a father, brother, husband, son.

And you pray it wasn't yours.


Kristina P. said...

I have never even heard of placenta previa. Off to Google it!

And thanks so much for posting my button. Old people everywhere will be thrilled.

CountessLaurie said...

Wahoo! Congrats. I look forward to reading this!!

Okay, so I never heard of communication blackout and it makes me very sad!

Heffalump said...

When reading the book I actually learned a lot. I haven't had much experience with Military things, so it was nice to learn some of those things even though some are sad. I know you do good research, so I knew I was getting good info.

Laura said...

This was a great way to get people excited about reading your novel. Now I know some of what to expect! Thanks for the heads up.

Melanie Jacobson said...

And now today's post has prompted a new WNW question. Why is "colonel" pronounced the way it is? Or maybe the better question is why colonel is spelled that way. See, I'm so confused that I don't even know which question to ask.

Lyon Pride said...

Perfect timning. Now I'll have something to read during spring break! Congrats!

Anonymous said...

This was one of the most fascinating and touching WNW's you've ever done. While I was familiar with many of these, I loved how you wove it in with your book. I can't wait to read it!

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Placenta Previa is what I had and why Claira was born a month early by c-section. My curiousity is naturally even higher than it was before!

Lara Neves said...

Probably too much to hope that my copy will arrive at my doorstep before I actually fly to Utah on Saturday morning. :)

My mom and brother almost died because of placenta previa. Scary stuff.

And your last paragraph totally made me cry.

Unknown said...

I am excited to read you new book even more now! Great WNW post!

Julie Wright said...

I am so excited for your new book and know it will be a smashing success!

Cranberryfries said...

Reading over this just reminds me that my husband wishes he could be in the military. It's a noble thing those folks are doing. I just can't imagine dealing with that as a wife. Can't wait to get your book!

Abby said...

I'm the wife of a retired military man, and if it helps any, they will call a communications blackout for things other than a death, too. Any information that is sensitive and shouldn't be leaked will be protected by removing the temptation to share that information with loved ones at home. So that's not the only reason com lines would be shut down.


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