Happy 4th of July! Celebrate America with a bang, not a whimper!

JohnWayneAmerica

“America is the land of freedom and that’s the way I enjoy living.” — John Wayne

I’m going to preface this with my usual I don’t get into politics in my blog, but I’m not here to talk about politics. I’m here to talk about America. I am the son of a United States Marine and a U.S. Navy Sailor. I also served for 23 years in the U.S. Navy. I have two uncles, my brother and sister-in-law who served in the Marines, my grandfather, another uncle, and a cousin who served in the Navy. Add to that my family history with the military from the Revolutionary War through World War II, and you can understand where my love of country comes from. It was taught into me since I was a kid, and it’s something I passed onto my own children as well.

It saddens me to see my country degrade into the state we’re in right now. I’m not going to talk about being liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, but rather about being an American. People in politics, the media, and all across this country talk about it as if it’s a bad word. Why? Why is being an American so bad?

People say we live in a “fascist state” because of our president. Really? I always ask this question of those who call our country terrible and evil: If America is such a bad place, then why is everyone trying to get here and become a U.S. citizen. One word… Freedom.

How would you like the government telling you how to dress, style your hair, or what music you can listen to? In Iran, men cannot sport certain hair styles other than what is prescribed in Islam. Women are not allowed to go out in public unless they adhere to certain dress codes, such as covering their head in hijab and avoiding skinny jeans. Western music such as jazz, rock, and rap are strictly prohibited.

How would you like the government controlling your phone and internet access or telling journalists what to say? In Syria, communications through mobile and landline phones and internet access are significantly limited. Syrian journalists who act against the government are tortured or, worse, end up dead.

Better yet, how would you like the government to tell you how to worship in whatever religion you practice? Situated above the Horn of Africa is the small country of Eritrea. There, no one is allowed to perform public worship and one has to apply as a member to a certain sect before they can be allowed to practice their faith.

Do you see my point? We have a Bill of Rights which guarantees all of these rights to the people. That’s what makes America great. Sure, it’s not perfect… What country is? We have to make it the best we can, but we can only do that together. Remember, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall!”

That’s what makes America worth celebrating on the 4th of July. It’s not because we’re fascists or racists. It’s because we’re Americans and proud of it. So have a party, dance the night away, watch some fireworks, and thank a veteran while you’re at it. Have a Happy 4th of July!

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

Politics makes for inspiration, both good and bad, for writers

6360551632829623031253354665_political-partiesElection Day has come and gone and many people are still scratching their heads over what we witnessed. As a rule, I normally don’t like to discuss politics because it’s too explosive of an issue. However, I’m not trying to take sides here but rather look at the benefits that elections like these have on writers like me.

Whether you voted for Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton, the next four years will be dominated by a Trump presidency. That’s a fact. That being said, it has already fueled protests, riots and comedy gold for the late night comics. In any case, we should all try to keep a level head and move forward as a nation. However, let’s consider what we can learn from this election and where do we go from here.

First and foremost, let’s put aside the “end of the world” scenarios being generated. People were saying the same thing eight years ago when President Obama was elected. President Trump does not mean the world is coming to an end, though I do imagine that many political thriller writers have already started on their first drafts. I think that it’s times like these that bring out the best in writers.

When I think about classics like “All the Presidents Men” and “The Manchurian Candidate” you really see what a changing political climate can do for a writer. I mean, Tom Clancy made a living at it. There are premonitions and scenarios that will play out from both sides of the aisle. How the writer adapts those concepts remains to be seen.

I think another big change to come out of this election is the role journalists have in our nation. I spent more than 30 years as a military journalist and public affairs officer for the U.S. Navy. During that time, I had a lot of one-on-one contact with the mainstream media. I think they were exposed by this election and many want to see them shift back to the traditional role of the media in U.S. politics. They should keep our politicians honest by reporting the facts, not cheerleading for one side or the other. I think many journalists lost their credibility with the American people. They need to build it back.

Lastly, I think an election like we experienced in 2016 can be a source of inspiration for writers. In my third book of the Forever Avalon series, The Outlander War, I bridged the gap between fantasy and reality by bringing the magical island of Avalon back into the real world. (You can read more about this in The Dark Tides: Book Two of the Forever Avalon series). I looked to politics and world leaders for inspiration for the characters I used to represent similar characters in my novel. It’s part of the ongoing research we, as writers,  have to do on a daily basis.

So don’t get discourage if your candidate didn’t win, embrace the change and let it influence you as a writer. You may be surprised by what benefits you can expect from this experience.

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.