Saturday, August 27 2016
August 27 Blog Hop: Your assignment, if you choose to accept it -- is to discuss how we make our stories interesting with characters who have some kind of psychological, spiritual or physical wounds. The process of healing them becomes the character’s arc, the meat in our stories. What mental, physical or spiritual wounds or scars have you used in your stories?
The idea that men, women and children can triumph over adversity is uplifting and encouraging, so it’s little wonder that such stories make for a satisfying reading experience. Whether it’s a child growing up in poverty or with abuse and rising above it to succeed as a well-adjusted adult, a soldier who comes home from war wounded either in body or spirit and finds a way to put his loss behind him and move forward, or someone who has lost faith and is struggling to find it again – sitting in the figurative bleachers, we cheer them on, groan with each setback, and celebrate every success.
One season on Dancing With the Stars one contestant, Noah Galloway, a sergeant in the US Army, had lost both an arm and a leg in combat. His motto, Never Give Up, And he didn’t. Not on himself, on the dance floor or in life. Watching him win that Mirror Ball trophy over contestants far less challenged than he, was a triumph I will never forget. We did not see the struggles he had overcoming his injuries but there’s a book out now, Living With No Excuses, and that character arc IS the story.
Two books in my contemporary romance series, The Camerons of Tide’s Way, are built around the story arc of the healing of one of my characters. In Loving Meg, Lieutenant Cameron is also a soldier, a woman who joined the Marines to get an education, never expecting to end up in a war zone. Unlike Noah Galloway, she was not physically injured. Her wounds are inside, the kind that can’t be seen, nor easily understood. The story begins when she returns home to a husband who is thankful that she’s home in one piece and back in his life and their sons’ lives. But Meg knows she is not the same woman who left a year earlier. She’s seen things, and done things that have changed her forever. She is plagued with guilt, regrets, painful losses, nightmares and the feeling she no longer fits into her old life. Ben slowly begins to realize his wife is struggling, but he has no idea how to help her. It takes patience on his part, the willingness to be whatever she needs him to be as she finds her own way back. And for Meg, it means facing the fact that she has problems and finding ways to work through them rather than trying to bury them. There is a happy ending, but it wasn’t always easy and there were scars even from the healing.
In Healing a Hero, Gunnery Sergeant Philip Cameron, nearly lost his life saving men from a bombed vehicle while being shot at. He spent weeks at Walter Reed getting put back together before he is sent to a new therapist closer to home. There, he is Elena Castillo’s most challenging patient ever. The Marine Corps is his life, and he’s not reconciled to accepting a medical discharge and life as a civilian. He’s willing to endure any amount of pain to get back to his men and his life. His usual easy-going temperament is constantly challenged by the frustrations of his limitations and the pace of his recovery. And everything is complicated by the fact that Philip and Elena had a whirlwind romance one summer while he was on a 30-day leave. They parted with every intention of being together again by Christmas, but then 9/11 happened and tore their worlds apart leaving both of them feeling betrayed and heartbroken. The struggle Philip now faces in the physical therapy gym gets tangled up in all the what-ifs from long ago, and Elena knows if she is successful in healing this wounded warrior, she will be sending him back into harm’s way and maybe have her heart broken all over again. Philip’s healing is both physical and emotional, and in the end he finds himself at peace with an ending he never realized he wanted. Meg’s wounds were psychological, what we commonly know as PTSD. Philip’s were physical. Both had to work through the healing process with acceptance, determination and patience.
I love edge-of-your-seat books like those of Lee Child and Vince Flynn, but the most rewarding stories I read are about men and women who face adversity, wounds – both physical and psychological, and heartbreak with strength and courage. Their struggle to get back to where they started or to find a new normal is what makes the triumph satisfying and memorable. I’m impressed with successful people like Michael Phelps and Margaret Thatcher. Both worked hard and achieved remarkable things. But it is men and women like Noah Galloway or Gabrielle Giffords that I admire above all others, and it is stories like theirs, fact or fiction, that restore my faith in humanity and make the book worth reading.
If you like stories like these, visit these other authors and learn about the wounded heroes and heroines in their books.
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Dr. Bob Rich https://bobrich18.wordpress.com/2016/08/27/the-wounded-healer
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com
Tuesday, August 16 2016
The Camerons of Tide’s Way - on Sale now through August 31st
Book #1 – FALLING FOR ZOE - Jake Cameron didn’t try to win Zoe’s heart. He doesn’t want to risk his own heart either. They’re good friends. And maybe that’s enough. But when disaster strikes Jake has to confront his demons and take a chance on love. Just 99 cents until the end of the month at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks and Google Play.
Book #2 – LOVING MEG - Marine Lt. Meg Cameron returns from a year in a war zone to face the toll war and regrets have taken on her confidence and her family. Ben’s unwavering love could be all she needs to mend her marriage if only she can let him into her world of guilt and pain to let the healing begin. $2.99 until August 31st at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks and Google Play.
Book #3 – TRUSTING WILL - Brianna Reagan is a war widow with no intention of falling for Will Cameron no matter how charming he is. He’s just another bigger-than-life hero who puts his life on the line every day. Loving him could break her heart all over again. $3.99 until August 31st at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks and Google Play.
Book #4 – HEALING A HERO - Philip Cameron is Elena’s most challenging patient ever. The Marine Corps is his life, and he’s not reconciled to anything but getting back to his men. He’s also the only wounded warrior she ever fell in love with. Is she strong enough to heal him and send him back even if it breaks her heart? JUST RELEASED at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks and Google Play.
First ten readers who would like a free e-copy of HEALING A HERO in return for an honest review, contact me with your email address.
Tuesday, August 09 2016
HEALING A HERO is on sale now . . .
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An expert in her field, but new in her position at Camp Lejeune, Elena Castillo is shocked to discover her first patient is the man she fell in love with fourteen years ago and got her heart broken when war tore them apart after 9/11. Gunnery Sergeant Cameron is going to be the most challenging patient she has ever worked with in more ways than one. The Marine Corps has been his whole life, and he is a long way from being reconciled to either the debilitating injury or the possibility of a medical discharge and life as a civilian. He’s also the only wounded warrior she ever made the mistake of losing her heart to. Success as a physical therapist means sending him out into the world prepared to triumph without her, but is she strong enough to set Philip free even if it breaks her heart all over again?
Philip Cameron is the oldest in a family of five - so of course, he's confident, a strong leader and a bit of a perfectionist. He excels at being in charge, but he's a good team player too, and he loves the Corps and his job. Except that now his world has been turned upside down. He's been seriously injured, he's no longer leading his men, he's no longer in control, there's a lot of gray in a world that used to be black and white. Then he discovers the therapist who is tasked with getting him back to where he wants to be is the woman he lost his heart to fourteen years ago. What is he supposed to do now?
Philip spread his damaged fingers, then tried to make a fist, but there was no strength in it. Elena uncurled his fingers again and examined them, one at a time.
“How did you manage to get so busted up?”
“I lost the fight.” Like he’d lost her. Through no fault of his own. Ah, Elena, how did it happen? I thought we had something special going. Something worth waiting for.
Elena frowned at his answer. “The fight? This doesn’t look much like the kind of damage bombs and bullets, or even fist fights leave behind.” She glanced at the battered hand crisscrossed with the scars of multiple surgeries, then back to his face.
He shook his head and pressed his lips together. “It was a fight with an overturned MRAP. It was sinking in the muck, and it outweighed me.”
She slid her fingertips along the length of each battered digit, then asked him to curl his fingers up toward his palm and not let her straighten them. One at a time, she applied pressure to each fingertip. “What were you doing, wrestling with a—? What is an MRAP, anyway?”
“Trying to save my guys.” He winced. “It’s a Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicle. They’ve got armor plating underneath to protect them from mines, but they’re top-heavy and they tip over easy.”
“Sorry,” she apologized.
He wasn’t sure if she was saying she was sorry he’d lost the fight, or was apologizing for the pain she was causing now.
She increased the pressure and the pain. “And did you? Save your guys, I mean?”
Regret lanced through him with an agony that rivaled what she was doing to his hand. “Most of them.”
Her eyes met his and widened as understanding hit. “But not all.” It was a statement, not a question.
He shook his head briefly and closed his eyes before she could notice the dampness that still came so swiftly and unavoidably whenever he remembered struggling to free the young corporal, getting his hand and shoulder crushed in the effort, and then not finding a pulse.
“I’M SO SORRY, Philip. I didn’t know.” None of the pages in his file had included that detail. Only that he’d been awarded a medal for heroism under fire. That he’d saved the lives of four Marines while sustaining wounds of his own. Wounds beyond just this crushed hand.
“You couldn’t know,” he said in a soft southern drawl laced with regret and sorrow. Without lifting his head, he glanced up at her, his eyebrows raised, his eyes suspiciously damp.
She’d been so wrapped up in her own feelings, she hadn’t once thought beyond the injustice of having to work with the man who had turned his back on her years ago to what he might be going through now. That look, filled with pain, regret, and loss cut straight to her heart.
“It wasn’t your fault,” she said, trying to banish her own callousness.
“That’s what everyone keeps telling me,” he muttered. The corner of his mouth tipped up in an effort of a smile. “So, what’s the prognosis?” He spread his fingers again.
His eyes had lost the glimmer of tears, and his tough guy façade was back in place.
Just as well. She couldn’t let herself care again. Keeping a healthy distance between them emotionally was the only way she’d get through the next few months.
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In return for an honest review, I'll gift an e-book to the first ten readers who email me to ask: skye@Skye-writer.com
Tuesday, August 02 2016
Fifteen years ago – give or take, my kids and their significant others decided to spend a long weekend at the summer place my parents built back when I was eleven. When our short hiatus was over, my son-in-law declared it the best weekend ever and suggested we do it for a whole week the following year. It has since become a tradition. The rest of my children have married now, all have kids of their own and our time together is every year more precious than the last.
The camp is tiny – originally intended as a temporary structure until my dad could build a real summer cottage on the high side of the island with a view down the lake. But then he got his first New Hampshire real estate tax bill and decided the 14’ x 14’ building was all we needed. With bunks on one wall and a small table in the opposite corner, he added a narrow porch along the front and called it done. A few years later, when my mom got tired of cooking all our meals over a campfire he added a small L-shaped kitchen on the back corner. When there were only five of us it was big enough, but today – not so much, so on the other half of the island a whole city of tents pop up every year to accommodate the ever growing family.
The fleet grows as well. Since this is an island we have to have a rowboat to get ourselves and all our gear out there. In fact, we have three rowboats, a big canoe, three kayaks and a Sunfish, and sometimes my oldest son brings his powerboat. The family grows even faster. It began with my five kids, one daughter-in-law and one son-in-law. Somewhere along the line my sister-in-law and her kids and their kids started coming and I now have fifteen grandkids. And my sister, her daughter, my brother and his son and grandson and my dad are among the crowd.
Every summer, I survey the bustle and joy going on around me and realize just how blessed I am. Unlike too many of my friends and acquaintances who live with dysfunctional families, siblings they don’t speak to, cousins they rarely see, kids who left the nest and never came back, I have it all. And everyone thoroughly enjoys being together for our annual week at the lake that we now call Mutt’s Nuts. We swim often, use all those boats in the fleet, play lots of cards, make puzzles, play a challenging game of croquet on an island with no grass and have a campfire every night. Every year we celebrate a holiday we don’t get to spend together. This year was New Years Eve, but other years we’ve had Christmas, Halloween, Easter, Valentine’s Day and more. We’ve celebrated birthdays, baby showers, wedding showers and retirements.
Cousins who all live in different states get to play together and make memories and friendships to last a lifetime. Adults kick back and spend time together while their offspring are busy making forts, hunting for fairy houses and exploring the island and the waters around it. Dinner is always great as each family puts on a feast on their night to cook. Sometimes we make ice cream. I make waffles at least one morning and my daughter treats us to crepes on another. And there are always s’mores around the campfire along with the most imaginative story-telling when the kids talk us into progressive stories and both kids and adults participate. Wild high-bush blueberries are everywhere so things like blueberry pie, cake, scones and pancakes are common, along with other home-made goodies that some of us enjoy making even on vacation.
Then comes the final day. In a whirlwind, the dining canopy comes down. The boats all get hauled and stowed for the winter. Tents get folded up, and luggage carted ashore and piled into cars. One family at a time, the goodbyes are said and the place gets quieter and quieter until everything is so still I can hear even the faintest breeze rustling in the trees. And it’s just Duffy and me. Along with another year of memories and photos, and love.
And NOW... A few folk had to leave before we got the family photo taken, but this is most of the crew this year. And most years there are even more.