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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Remembering Veterans on Veteran's Day - And Thoughts About PTSD


From the desk of Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy


 

            Today is Veteran’s Day, a day Americans honor and show respect for our military heroes.  I come from a long line of military personnel and it’s an important day for me.  There’s probably a reason why several of my romance novel heroes (Guy's Angel, In The Shadow of War) happen to be veterans – because it’s something I know.  I’m married to an Air Force veteran and I’m the daughter of an Army sergeant.  I’m also the granddaughter of men who served their country in both the Army and the Navy, related to many others who served in the Air Force, Army Air Corps, and all the way back to the Revolutionary War.  One of the issues facing veterans today is PTSD – post trauma stress disorder. In earlier decades, it was sometimes called combat fatigue, shell shock, and other names.  Today it affects many of our veterans and especially those returning from places like Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our veterans matter to me and I was inspired to write a novel focusing on this serious, very real and relevant issue.  Devlin’s Grace will be released this coming Saturday from Rebel Ink Press.  Here’s a little about how I came to write this story, the blurb, cover, and a little excerpt.

            Inspiration for me can slow simmer on a back burner until the idea develops or hit me square between the eyes with powerful force.  The idea for my upcoming November 17 release, Devlin’s Grace, from Rebel Ink Press, falls into the second category.  First, I’ll share the blurb and then just how I came up with the idea behind the story.

            Blurb: When he rides out of the fog on his motorcycle, Gracie Alloway almost mistook him for a demon rising from the smoke and steam of hell. Except she's attracted to him from the first moment. Devlin's everything she's not - wild and a little wicked. But opposites attract because good girl, college student Gracie wants more of this bad boy.

Devlin dreamed up a fantasy woman back in Iraq a lot like Gracie and she evokes a side he hasn't shown anyone in years. She also dares to enter his personal space and take liberties no other woman's dared. Although he struggles with PTSD and other issues, Gracie won’t run and she refuses to abandon Devlin.

If she can just tame him and help him battle his demons. If he can teach her how to live a little bit more, they might just have a chance at a future together.

            Now here’s how I was inspired – last spring I headed over to Springfield, Missouri, about an hour’s drive to visit with a local chapter of romance authors at their monthly meeting.  Since I now live in a small town, I enjoy getting out and about when I have time to spend in a larger one so I spent some time driving around.  At a traffic light on Kearney, a motorcycle roared up beside me in the next lane as we stopped.  I glanced over and noticed the rider’s helmet sported a pair of red devil-type horns.  Intrigued, I couldn’t help but look a little closer and I noticed the back of his jacket had Iraq combat patches.  The light turned green, he turned, I went on straight, but an idea had been firmly planted in my mind.

            I’m an Army sergeant’s daughter and a large number of my relatives have served in the military including my husband.  My romances have featured military heroes before but this time I wanted to do something with a very real issue, PTSD.  Although they didn’t call it by that name back in his day, my grandfather, a WWII veteran, suffered from it.  So did one of my cousins, my oldest first cousin in fact, who served in Vietnam. 

            By the time I returned home, I had a story building in my mind, about an Iraq veteran, a former Marine, Devlin and the sweet young woman he met.  I did a lot of research to make sure I got details correct and during edits, I was so delighted when my editor, a Marine wife, praised me for my accuracy. She even thanked me for taking time to get it right.

            Devlin’s Grace is available beginning November 17 at All Romance Ebooks, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and Bookstrand.com.

            Watch the book trailer here:  http://youtu.be/4UjJBYY6hz4

 


Blurb:


When he rides out of the fog on his motorcycle, Gracie Alloway almost mistook him for a demon rising from the smoke and steam of hell. Except she's attracted to him from the first moment. Devlin's everything she's not - wild and a little wicked. But opposites attract because good girl, college student Gracie wants more of this bad boy.

Devlin dreamed up a fantasy woman back in Iraq a lot like Gracie and she evokes a side he hasn't shown anyone in years. She also dares to enter his personal space and take liberties no other woman's dared. Although he struggles with PTSD and other issues, Gracie won’t run and she refuses to abandon Devlin.

If she can just tame him and help him battle his demons. If he can teach her how to live a little bit more, they might just have a chance at a future together.

Excerpt:

 

 

            When he held out the cup, Gracie noticed the scarring on the underside of his left arm.  Dead white skin mottled with angry red patches and rough ridges indicated he’d suffered serious burns.  She noticed similar scars on the side of his neck and wondered how much of his body had been affected.  Everything she’d learned screamed at her to say nothing, to ignore what she saw, but Gracie followed instinct.  After accepting the cup, she put it down on the end table and touched the old burn.  Her fingers brushed against the coarse skin and marveled to find it cool.  She expected heat, but it would’ve gone long ago.  Dev started to jerk away from her, but when she touched him, he stopped.  Like a bird poised for flight, he remained still as she stroked the damaged area.

            Before she could speak, he pulled his arm back and with a defiant glint in his eyes, he removed his t-shirt. “If you want to see the scars, you can see them all,” Dev said, voice harsh and hoarse. 

He revealed a torso dappled with terrible raised welts, both back and belly.  These scars were worse than the others.  Raised red ropes twined like vines over his flesh, fused and almost melted.  The agony Dev endured was beyond anything she could imagine and Gracie’s eyes brimmed with tears.  They spilled over, down her cheeks with silent hurt.  One glance at his face, set hard and as stoic as a statue intensified her empathy.  She laid her right hand on his back, his scarred flesh beneath her touch and with her left she touched the center of his chest.

Beneath her hand his heartbeat thumped, rapid but steady.  His eyes locked with hers and in them Gracie glimpsed flickers of his personal hell.   Confusion showed up, too, along with regret and maybe shame.

            Whatever she did or said now would be pivotal, she sensed.  Based on her actions he’d either leave and be gone from her forever, something she didn’t want, or a new beginning would emerge, delicate and fragile.  If she took time to think, she’d be lost so Gracie mined deep into her woman’s soul.  When words came, she spoke them, her voice soft and yet as constant as the evening stars.  “Oh, Dev, it must’ve hurt so much.”

            “I don’t want your pity,” he said, a snarl transforming his face into something wolfish, alien.  “Don’t feel sorry for me, babe.  I don’t need charity and I sure as hell don’t need you to tell me some dumb ass feel good bunch of shit.  So quit crying over me.  Maybe it makes you feel better, but it makes me mad.”

            “It isn’t pity,” Gracie told him. “I admire you.  It takes a lot of courage to overcome hurts like this.  I hurt for you, but I don’t feel sorry for you.  I hate you had to go through such pain, but I’m crying because I care.”

             His hard face softened a little. “Why?”

            In this raw moment, she could give him nothing but honesty. “I don’t know, but I do.”

            Then Gracie leaned forward and bent just enough to touch her lips to one of the ugliest lesions, the worst of the scars.  He shuddered as she kissed his chest and when she lifted her tear streaked face, Devlin grasped her arms.  He held her in place and kissed her back, full on the mouth, without remorse or mercy.   Gracie gasped with surprise.  His lips burned hers as if she kissed a devil fresh from the pit, but she liked it.  Her body answered his call and her arms moved to circle his neck as she gave him back the kiss.

 

 

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1 comment:

  1. great post! Kudos to war heroes!
    unlike you, i have no military connections, neither do i have the physique.

    would you like us to follow each other?

    lots of lovin'
    www.ohpenda.com

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