What Inspires You?

Dad's Medal

My inspiration for writing has come in many forms: the loving connection I have with my husband, the vitality I see in my adult children, and the trust I have in knowing my family has my back. One particular moving memory has stayed with me for years. It’s still fresh in my mind.

As part of the Honor Our Veterans program at school, my daughter asked her grandfather to speak to her fourth grade class about his experiences during the Korean War. He agreed. With his folder of transparency pictures for his presentation, he and I arrived at Steeby Elementary. My dad rarely spoke about that time in his life, so I was eager to hear what he had to say.

In the First Marine Division of George Company, he had served as a hospital corpsman and medic in an M.A.S.H. unit. He had assisted the doctors and nurses in prepping wounded soldiers for surgery. As he talked about his duties, he showed various pictures of him and his buddies in front of their army tents. My mind flashed to Klinger, Rizzo, and Radar.

A boy asked if he had killed anyone. He hadn’t. The closest he had gotten to battle was when he had volunteered to go to the front lines to bring back injured soldiers.

“Weren’t you scared?” one of the girls asked.

“No,” he replied, “even though I volunteered, I felt I didn’t have a choice. Those injured men needed my help.” He shared a picture of him receiving a commendation medal.

I never saw that picture. I never knew about the medal. I never even heard the story. My siblings and our mother hadn’t either. When I asked him why he never shared it, he shrugged and said someone stole the medal the next day.

Medals for BlogHoping to get him a replacement, my mom contacted the American Legion. A year later, a package arrived with his commendation medal and four others he had been awarded.

That phrase stayed in my head. He did have a choice; he chose not to have one. It’s a quality my protagonists have in many of my stories—to put someone else’s life ahead of themselves. Following a long line of servicemen in my family, my son continues to inspire me by also dedicating his service to his country.

Thank you again for allowing me to share this memory. What has inspired you lately?

 

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My review of Memoirs of a Barbed Wire Surgeon

Barbed Wire Surgeon

Memoirs of a Barbed Wire Surgeon

By Elmer Shabart M.D.

Published by Regent Press, 1996

 

 

Blurb

This is a book by a survivor of the Bataan Death March in World War II who managed to continue practicing his professional all through their long ordeal, without instruments, anesthetics, antibiotics, medicines or even simple supplies like bandages and antiseptics.

Dr. Shabart, first as a young man who takes his Hippocratic oath seriously, later as a surgeon reflecting on how they somehow managed to stay alive, takes us on a frightening and revealing journey that begins before the fall of Bataan.

My Review

My dad recommended this book to me because his father (my grandfather) was also a P.O.W. in the pacific during WWII. Major John Bennett, U.S. Army Medical Corps, was stationed at a hospital in the Philippines before he was taken prisoner. Sent to the Fukuoka P.O.W. Camp, he treated fellow prisoners as well as the enemy.

In his book, author Elmer Shabart gives us a look at the horrors of the Bataan Death March as well as his life in a P.O.W. camp. He practiced medicine in barbaric conditions and improvised treatments as needed.

This is a heroic memoir about the courage, strength, and compassion of Dr. Shabart and all the P.O.W. soldiers. I loved that he dedicated his story to his wife, Louise. I didn’t know my grandfather, so I thank the author for giving me a glimpse into that part of my grandfather’s life.

 

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Past Lives & Writing

dry grassy hill 3

Some holistic practitioners believe the history of the soul’s journey is recorded and stored in the unconscious mind, available for retrieval at any time.  Looking at your past lives is thought to bring insights to your present life. All we need to do is put aside our analytical minds for a time and open our hearts. Years ago, my first past life regression (PLR) experience broke my heart.

During my session, the practitioner put me in a relaxed trance. Then she had me visualize my feet. What I saw was the tan, dirty feet of a young Hispanic woman. I was observing her surroundings through her eyes. In the mid-1800s, she lived on a poor dirt farm with her elderly father. At this particular moment in time, she watched her beloved disappear over the top of a dry grassy hill in the distance.

During my session, I sobbed at the deep sorrow I felt coming from her. She had spent hours watching the hill, her emotions fluctuating between the desperate hope that he would come back for her and the consuming grief that he had moved on without her. Every day for the rest of her lonely life, she awaited the return of this man. With no friends and no love in her life, she had only her father, who worked her to the bone. Every day was the same. As an old woman, she died not knowing if the man had ever loved her at all.

After the session, I felt a profound sadness. My body trembled in pain for this person. The only thing she wanted in her simple life was to be loved. Her story still haunts me, and I cry every time I tell her story. Was this woman made up from my imagination or was she a true past life? I don’t know. Real or not, it affects my writing.

I strive to write about those emotions that transcend all lives—to love and be loved. I’m compelled to write characters with deep backstories. I want readers to step into these lives and feel the power of their emotions as I did during my PLR session. I’d like to think the experience has made me a better writer.

Have you ever had a Past Life Regression (PLR) session? How did it affect you?

 

Walking in Their Shoes: Andrea

Walking in Their Shoes - Andrea

As a writer, I’m constantly asking my fictional characters about their motives, backstories, hopes, dreams, and fears. Over the years, I’ve become more empathetic to the choices we make in our own lives. In the segment, Walking in Their Shoes, I’ll talk with real people in an effort to learn about their personal journeys. I’m sure I’ll find inspiration through their stories.

Today, I visit with Andrea. As a twenty-four-year-old artist, she works with many mediums. Not only is Andrea my daughter, she designed the cover art for my romance novel, The Garden Collection.

Christina: Hi sweetie, I mean, Andrea. Thanks for joining me today. When were you first interested in art?

Andrea: While I was in middle school, my grandma got me interested. She painted ceramic figurines, and I’d help her. Later, she gave me a bunch of acrylic paints and canvases, so I could paint at home.

Christina: Who has been the biggest influence on your love of art?

Andrea: During class, my middle school art teacher, Ms. Patterson, was sketching a landscape of a creek under a bridge. She asked me to help with the shading of the bridge’s bricks. It changed how I viewed art … to appreciate the details.

Christina: What types of artwork have you worked with? Which is your favorite?

Andrea: I’ve worked with acrylic, watercolor, and pencil on paper, canvas, shoes, wooden blocks, and logs. I’ve painted a motorcycle helmet and designed tattoos. I enjoy all types. However, on lazy days, I prefer pencil and paper … less cleanup.

Christina: What kinds of things bring you the most pleasure now?

Andrea: I love naps. In art though, I’ve found pencil drawings easiest and more laid back. My earlier work was primarily landscapes. Now, I like doing portraits.

Christina: Do you feel differently about yourself now from how you felt when you were younger? How?

Andrea: When I was younger, I didn’t like details so my work was impressionistic. Now, I work on finer detailed work with less shading … more positive space; less negative. I think I’ve progressed. My art’s more realistic.

Christina: What’s the best compliment you ever received?

Andrea: In high school at a local art show, a couple wanted to buy my Fred Astaire painting. (I love dancing.) Instead of a paint brush, I had used Q-tips with oil-based paint on a plastic canvas. It was the first time someone loved my art outside my family.

Christina: I have your artwork on our walls; and I cherish every piece. Do you prefer to keep art as a hobby or would you like to pursue it full-time?

Andrea: I like to design my own creations so there’s less pressure as a hobby.

Christina: What are you working on now?

Andrea: I’m going in a quirky direction with an apocalyptic series of settings from around town. I’ve also had offers to design tattoos which are fun.

Christina: As a proud mom, I suggest checking out Andrea’s artwork. She definitely has the artistic talent in the family. (Let’s just say she got it from my side of the family.)

Art with Andrea on Facebook

 

The Trucker’s Cat: excerpt

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Freshly shaved and showered, Logan McCormick sipped his black coffee from a window booth in the truck stop diner. While his partner ranted through the communication piece in his ear, he watched a smoking Greyhound bus catch fire at the edge of the parking lot.

The passengers scrambled in every direction except for a young woman in a flannel shirt and jeans. She sprayed the engine with the fire extinguisher. It surprised him that she could hold it up; it was almost as big as she was.

“Mick, are you even listening to me?” Barrett asked in his ear.

“I wish I wasn’t. You’re whining again,” he mumbled.

“I am not. It pisses me off that I can’t get a decent cell signal anywhere at this damn truck stop.”

“Who are you calling? I’m your only friend.” He smirked at the non-reply.

The group from the bus raced across the parking lot knowing they’d have a long wait. Glad he already ordered his meal; he continued to watch the young woman by the pay phone. As she walked gracefully toward the diner, her heels never touched the ground. He smiled when she paused at the lowering of the flag.

When his cell vibrated on the table, he checked the caller ID, winced, and covered it with his Texas Ranger’s baseball cap. Fascinated with the young woman, he pushed his hat aside and leaned forward to see her argue with the attendant. The man nodded apologetically while she shook her finger at him.

He sipped his coffee. As he wondered about the wildcat under the cap, the waitress stopped briefly to deliver his steak and scrambled eggs. He wolfed down his meal, and the young woman disappeared into the gas station’s convenience store. The bus passengers overwhelmed the only two waitresses. It looked like the manager corralled the busboy to carry around a pot of coffee and hand out menus. He chewed his last bite as an elderly woman with a bag of red yarn trolled the diner and eyed his spot.

“How long does it take you to eat?” Barrett asked in his ear.

He set his knife across his plate. “Can I finish my coffee, please?”

Logan held out his mug for the busboy and spotted the young woman scanning the room from the doorway. His wildcat assessment fit. Her body was sleek not awkwardly skinny. The loose curls of reddish brown hair danced around her cap as she turned her head. He couldn’t see her face but knew by her confident stance that she was a spitfire. She caught him staring and moved toward him. Damn it. He didn’t need the attention.

Pulling her cap to her brow to shadow her face, she stood beside the table with her backpack in her hand. “Hello, Major.”

Barrett thundered in his ear, “What the hell? Who is that?”

“Excuse me?” he asked tensely.

“I’m guessing you were a major in the army,” she said.

He relaxed slightly. “What makes you think that?”

“Your hair is army short, your watch is military time, your combat boots are army issue, and your posture is rigid,” she said, setting her bag on the seat across from him. She slid in next to it.

“Military maybe, but an officer?”

She shrugged. “You have a superior air about you. I guessed. Was I right?”

Barrett laughed. “She’s got you pegged.”

Resisting the urge to turn off his com, he frowned and crossed his arms stretching his denim over-shirt. When he didn’t answer, she continued, “I’m looking for a ride.”

“How do you know I’m not done for the night?”

“I think you prefer to drive at night. You’re clean and you just ate breakfast.”

Barrett snickered in his ear. “Let her. She’s amusing, and you’re such a grouch.”

“No,” he replied to her and Barrett. Two could play her game. “What are you running from?”

She stiffened slightly. “What makes you think that?”

“You have leftover hair dye on your earlobe.” She gasped and rubbed her ear. He pointed at her other. “Busted,” he said with a chuckle.

“Are you joking with a woman?” Barrett asked.

He clenched his jaw at the statement. Turning her head, she tugged her cap down farther. He thought she’d completely cover her eyes. The waitress walked by and put his bill next to him. “Honey, you want anything?”

“No, thank you,” she replied. When the waitress hurried away, the wildcat stuck her foot between his legs and pressed her canvas shoe into his crotch. God, it felt good. “If you give me a ride, I can make it worth your while.”

Barrett chuckled. “Take her up on it. How long’s it been? Two years since your divorce? Mick, don’t even think about turning me off. You know the protocol.”

Calling her bluff, he leaned back, which pressed his cock firmly against her foot. “How old are you?”

“Twenty-one,” she replied, wiggling her toes through her shoe.

He was getting hard—so much for bluffing. “Let’s see your ID.”

“Nice try, Major,” she said, glancing around the room. “I’m also guessing you have a nickname like Mac.”

Enjoying the banter, Barrett laughed. “Mick, Mac, same thing.”

“It’s not,” Logan replied.

Her mouth opened with some witty reply, but she snapped it shut just as quick. Before he could follow her eyes to the TV at the counter, she applied a little more pressure with her foot. God, and it wasn’t his own pressure. He needed to focus on something else. He sipped his coffee.

“How about that ride?” Her foot continued to stroke him. “I’m not a virgin if that’s what you’re wondering.”

He choked on his coffee. “Jesus,” he said, looking around.

Thankfully, nobody paid any attention to them. Before Barrett said a word, he tapped off his com. She looked up at him, and he finally saw her eyes. He stared at her freckled face with a mesmerizing green eye and cobalt blue eye.

She quickly looked away. “I know. I’m Sam the Freak.”

When she started to pull her foot away, he held it firm with his hand. “They’re exotic,” he replied, before letting her go.

She smiled. “Thank you, Major.”

Stunned, he watched her leave the diner and wondered why he’d said it. He would have liked to take her up on her offer especially after seeing her smile. It curved at the ends like the Cheshire Cat. It seemed genuine and knocked him on his ass. God, he was hard with only a foot and a smile. It has been too damn long.

Grab your copy of The Trucker’s Cathttp://amzn.to/1fdqG6k

 

Their Rigid Rules: Review Tour with Reading Addiction

 

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Their Rigid Rules is the captivating, fast-paced romantic suspense prequel to Chemical Attraction, the first book in The Chemical Attraction Series.

Taylor Valentine, a senior at Western Michigan University, has had her life planned out since kindergarten. After her parents died while she was still in high school, she had perfected it to make them proud. Now with the help of her best friends, Joe and Eva, she focuses on graduation and a career with romance in the far distant future. However, when the visiting professor enters the lecture hall to a four-weekend Civil War seminar, her perfect plan hits a snag.

As a handsome history professor and former marine, Dr. Stuart Morgan has his own set of strict rules especially with infatuated students. He enjoys his boring yet pleasant life until he starts receiving death threats. With his unwanted bodyguard in tow, Stuart is unnerved by his reaction to Taylor. Their rigid rules discourage all but a flirtation.

As the death threats become evident, the FBI believes Taylor’s the culprit, hindering their budding romance. When Taylor inadvertently becomes the target, Joe and Stuart whisk her away to protect her. Meanwhile, Joe struggles with his feelings for Taylor. He’s loved her since grade school. He won’t let her go and stands in Stuart’s way. The men push her to choose between the lifelong love of her best friend and the true love of her new boyfriend.

With the threats from family and foe pulling them apart, Stuart wonders if they can sustain the stress. Trusting their love, he must somehow convince Taylor to break her rules and embrace a new plan.