Bowman’s Inn Book Cover Release

book cover

I am SO EXCITED for the book cover reveal for the latest in the Bowman’s Inn anthology series! Why am I so excited?

  1. The Bowman’s Inn has a fantastic group of authors contributing their own romance short stories that I LOVE to read. Seriously, these ladies rock the romance writing!
  2. These lovely authors took a chance on a newbie author…ME! Yes, that is my name on the cover alongside the incredible Roxanna Haley, DL Hungerford, RA Winter, and ED Vaughn. ***happy dancing here***
  3. To be included in an anthology with such powerhouse romance writers is thrilling and humbling. I can’t thank them enough for allowing me into their world of Cupid-inspired cocktail drinks and colorful characters.
  4. After being a ghostwriter for so long, it’s AMAZING to finally see my own name on a book cover.

So, friends, be on the lookout real soon for the book release. It’ll be a wild and wonderful celebration!

And if you haven’t already, check out the previous editions of the Bowman’s Inn anthology series. 

A Lesson Learned – Luckily Not Too Late

Hello, Readers!

I’ve missed you. I’ve missed writing lately. To say that I’ve been lax on my blogging duties would be an understatement. I’ve been lax on a couple other things, too. Namely…my own writing.

But this is not a lament about writer’s block. This is my Public Service Announcement to all the hard-working folks out there that allow themselves to get caught up in the right here/right now/hustle&bustle lifestyle. We all have a ticking time bomb in our lives…our own bodies. Misuse or mistreat your own body and more than you will pay the price.

I’ll admit. I’m not in the best shape of my life, in the latter half of my forties, and with a lot of responsibilities…5 kids, elderly mom, hard-working husband, and a dog that still tries to trip me up or down the stairs every day. The world around us is going to h.e.double hockey sticks in a handbasket – just turn on the news…it’s awful out there!

I will also admit I have a very blessed life (see second sentence of previous paragraph). There is a lot to be grateful for, and a lot to worry about on a daily basis. I won’t bother listing them all here.

However, with all the hustle and bustle and 24/7 chaos of my life I did something that almost cost me it all. Technically, you could say it was more something I didn’t do.

I didn’t take care of myself. You know how when you go on an airplane, the flight attendants are specific about if the plan were to crash, affix the oxygen mask to yourself first before trying to help others? If you’re incapacitated, you can’t help others. Common sense, right?

Same goes for your health. If you’re sick, who takes care of the kids? Who takes care of your job? Who does all the things you normally do?

If you’re like me, you completely forget those questions and dive into the chaos every day regardless of how you are feeling. Who has time to be sick? Not me! Not anyone I know of.

That mentality could’ve cost me, and my family, dearly.

For over a week I felt like garbage. You know the commercial for the asthma medicine with the bear walking behind the guy with his arms around his chest making it hard for the man to breathe? That was me. I would wake up at night unable to breathe. Tried my husband’s asthma inhaler…nothing. Did I call the doctor? Well, of course not. I don’t have time to go to the doctor for myself. Instead, I have to take two of kids (2 separate days) to the orthodontist. There’s no time for me to take myself to the doctor. That would be crazy!

Until it wasn’t. Now, I thought I simply had caught hubby’s chest cold from a couple weeks ago. The theory made sense. So I finally carved out some time and drove myself to the urgent care center. They’d diagnose me with the same thing as my husband, give me some meds and send me on my way. Right?

Nope. That’s not what happened. Turns out my lungs were perfectly clear. My blood pressure on the other hand…out of this world high!

If I had not gone to the doctor…okay, I’ll be honest, I went under duress from my husband (sometimes he’s such a nag)…things could’ve gotten much worse. Unchecked, my bp could’ve led to a cardiac event (not sure why the doctor just didn’t come out and say heart attack) or a stroke. And, he’s not even sure I didn’t have a “cardiac event”. Still waiting on more scheduled tests to determine for certain. For the time being, the doctor prescribed bp meds. Funny thing…one day later (after a migraine) my bp bottomed out. Now, I’m not on the meds unless my bp shoots back up. Even my blood pressure is chaotic, just like my life.

Not looking for sympathy here. It’s my own gosh darn fault for not taking better care of myself. After a knee injury and suffering with carpal tunnel, I allowed myself the excuses to stop working out on a regular basis. Hence, I was not taking care of me. Also, I’m totally a Type A personality that is stressed to the hilt everyday with the chaos of running an 8 person household, while also trying to follow my dream of becoming a published author. Really, rest & relaxation are not common words in my vocabulary when they should be.

The lesson here, that I hope to pass along to my readers, is that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. Now, I’m not saying to drop all your responsibilities at the door, and go for a spa weekend every week; or stop doing all that you do for your family, your friends, your job/career. I am most definitely not saying that.

What I am saying is to carve out a little “me” time. Perhaps take a 30 minute walk daily, alone or with a friend. Perhaps take five minutes before heading the door to meditate or do some yoga stretches. I bought my husband a FitBit a couple years ago that he doesn’t use…I’m gonna snag that for myself.

Most importantly…if you don’t feel well…GO TO THE DOCTOR! Stop by the local pharmacy and check your bp (most have the bp monitors and some have Minute Clinics where you can be seen by a nurse or doctor to evaluate your symptoms). You and your health are paramount! Treat yourself as well as you treat others that you care for. If your child or spouse or parent were not feeling well, you’d take them to them to the doctor. You wouldn’t ignore their symptoms. Well, then…stop ignoring your own health.

Truth is, if you don’t care of you, then you cannot take care of others.

And that, dear readers, has been my PSA for today. Love to all!

 

Exciting Announcement: Check out the release of PE Kavanagh’s latest book

I didn’t want my readers to miss out on a fantastic new novel by PE Kavanagh.

PE Kavanagh’s author page on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/PE-Kavanagh/e/B00MMM92BW/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Follow the below links to check PE’s work out for yourself. You will not regret a hot second.

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Here’s a blurb about the first book in the series, “The Price of Desire”

The Price of Desire: Book 1 of The Price Series by [PE Kavanagh]

All Lalune wants to do is sing. 
Problem is, she’s underwater. Literally.
This despairing mermaid needs a way out. Only a miracle will do.

Monique’s exit from her blazing culinary career has left her heart raw and cold.
A sizzling weekend with a sexy stranger melts her defenses. But is it enough to light her fire once again?

These two stories travel from the dark depths of the ocean to a Las Vegas penthouse, connecting in a deliciously surprising twist

The Price of Desire is a steamy, standalone novel with a blend of contemporary romance and fantasy elements.

Previously released as Fish Tails & Lady Legs.
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The latest release is the second book of the series, “Sex, Money, and the Price of Truth.
Sex, Money, and the Price of Truth (The Price Series Book 2) by [Kavanagh, PE]
*** Sex, Money, and the Price of Truth is a steamy, standalone, full-length contemporary romance with a sprinkling of suspense and a splash of magic. A guaranteed happily ever after and no cliffhanger.

She wasn’t looking for love. He wasn’t supposed to find it.

Lola and Aidan would have been the perfect match, if not for the lie that brought them together.

When a stunning man appears at her local coffee shop, Lola knows better than to engage him. Her romantic history is littered with men who were too good to be true. But Aidan deftly takes down her guard, leaving her with only one option – go out with him.

The supposedly chance meeting quickly develops into a passionate affair, despite the secrets that hold them back. 

As the deception is revealed, so is the threat that puts more than just their relationship in jeopardy. Aidan and Lola are forced to confront the deceit in their pasts, the desire of their present, and the price they’re willing to pay for a future together.

Back in the Saddle Again…

Good Almost Weekend, my Friends! Yes, it is that lovely time of the week where we all wistfully gaze out our office/house/school windows and dream of all the fun things we’ll do this weekend.

It also happens to be the first day of Autumn.

Or mostly celebrated as this…

And for those of us in the southern portion of the United States…

But where was I? Oh, yes. Back in the saddle.

The imagination horse threw me off during the summer (see previous blogs) and I’ve had a bit of difficulty climbing back on. I figure if there’s ever a good place to kickstart my writing again, why not jump on the new season bandwagon.

So today, I set aside the errands that need to be run, the chores that need to done (scratch that – I had to fold the four buckets of towels that have been staring at me for almost a week), the spreadsheet with my son’s college application status checkpoints (yes, I’m completely Type A – I made a spreadsheet) is at least minimized on my laptop but taunting me because one friggin’ school needs an official certified vaccination record for the application process to commence, and the dog is staring up at me with those big brown eyes wanting to play outside

…but I am going to write today.

Greylyn, the guardian angel who is the heroine of my urban fantasy trilogy, adores Autumn. She, and I, prefer to call the season autumn rather than fall. To us, fall is not a good term. Perhaps due to all the fallen angels that make her existence difficult. Besides one can name a child Autumn, but not Fall. That would be borderline child abuse.

So Autumn is my Restart button.

In order to get this party kicked into gear, I thought I’d offer up an excerpt or two from the trilogy. It also serves to remind me what has transpired so far in the story so I can continue without re-reading the whole 2 1/2 books because that will just get me caught up in editing and I need to finish the draft of book 3 before editing anymore.

So here goes…

Book 1: Rekindled Prophecy Synopsis

Rekindled Prophecy details the adventures of Greylyn, a guardian angel. Once human, she now roams the earth saving and protecting those afflicted or endangered – either from their inner demons or more nefarious real ones. Her destiny will be challenged, as a notorious fallen angel threatens innocent lives in order to force Greylyn to consummate a dormant, but deadly prophecy.

To complicate matters, Greylyn must face a lethal enemy who has plagued her heart and soul for centuries. Circumstances force her to work with the dashing dark guardian, Kael, to unveil the prophecy and protect human lives. However, in the process, she may lose her own heart.

Based in the magnificent Shenandoah Valley, at a quaint vintage Irish bed and breakfast, Greylyn fights her attraction to Kael, while doing whatever it takes to save a young bride. Her adventures lead her into the heart of nearby Washington, DC where the fallen archangel, Olivier, gives her an ultimatum…Fulfill your role and bring about the prophecy or innocents die.

Excerpt:

Greylyn still wasn’t quite ready to turn in for the night. Instead she decided to lounge in the rocking chair on the porch attached to her suite in the Carriage House. The resident bull frogs were in rare form, drowning out any other noises. Strangely, she found the incessant croaking rather relaxing.

She stretched out in the old-fashioned rocking chair. Her eyelids grew heavy. The wine mixed with the sultry smells of early summer flowers and the caressing cool breeze on her skin lulled her into a light doze. Greylyn’s thoughts drifted. She was blessed, a force for good. Kael was a power for evil. Immortal enemies. He was there to cause trouble. She was there to stop him. It was that simple. If she just knew what the trouble was.

Long, thin, cold fingers curled around her throat. Her eyes shot wide open. There was nothing there. She bolted up out of the chair, but the invisible force threw her back down, tightening its grip. Her hands clutched at her throat…at nothing.

That’s when she noticed the darkness surrounding her. Darker than the night. A shadow. More precisely, a shadow demon.

She flailed around in an unsuccessful attempt to throw it off of her. There was nothing for her to grab onto. Nothing to hit, punch, or kick. It was a shadow, a translucent demon without substance. Shadows were simply that…shadows.

She writhed and wriggled under the immense strength of the dark tendrils squeezing her throat shut like a vise. Her lungs burned. Her eyes searched desperately for a weapon. Nothing could fend off a shadow though. Nothing except…light or water.

Clouds obliterated any illumination from the night sky. Still clutching at her own neck to remove the shadow’s grip, Greylyn realized it would have to be the water. Using all her energy, she pushed herself out of the rocking chair and stumbled towards the koi pond. Though made of air, the shadow was strangely heavy, like a barbell weighted down with iron plates. It resisted her with uncanny strength, slowing her progress, at times jerking her backwards. All the while continuing to tighten its grip on her throat.

Her field of vision shrank into a tight tunnel. Deprived of oxygen, she’d soon black out. A fire burned in her chest burned. What she needed was enough momentum to fling them both into the murky pond. But did she have the strength?

Using the few precious seconds she may have left in this world, Greylyn centered herself in order to gather all her strength. Lumbering forward, she tapped into a well of energy. One final push propelled her over the rocks and into the frigid, aphotic water. The instant her body broke the lily-pad-covered water’s surface, the pressure on her throat released, followed by a shattering pain as her head struck a protruding rock. The shadow had let go in time to avoid the water. The relief was great, but she still could not take a breath to refill her lungs. She was under water. The icy water shocked her senses like a defibrillator to her chest.

She was part angel, but her body was still human and would need oxygen soon. Also, too late she remembered…she didn’t know how to swim.

Under the water’s surface, she tried to peer up to see what the shadow was doing. All it had to do was wait for her to re-emerge, or simply let her drown. The black form hovering just above the surface made it clear. The shadow planned to wait her out.

Panic began to set in as seconds dragged into minutes. Her chest ached so much as the pressure built up in her lungs. Silently she chided herself for not thinking through this particular course of action.

The water? She chose the ice-cold, algae-infested water. Splendid idea! And yet, what else could she have done? Why had she not turned on the porch light? Why wouldn’t the clouds part for just a few moments so she could escape? A lot of questions, and no good answers. Everything was in complete and total darkness. She had been so distracted by the playback reel in her head of Kael and his umber eyes, and his firm derriere, she hadn’t sensed the inevitable danger of the pitch-black night, nor had she felt the shadow’s presence until it was too late.

Looks like he will be the death of me.

Her vision narrowed further as she contemplated something she’d seen on a cartoon once – the cartoon character used the stem of a lily pad to breathe while in the water. All she needed was a one well-positioned ray of light and she could make a break for safety.

Suddenly, another shadow appeared beside the creature. This one had more substance to it. Probably Kael checking on his pet. A moment later, the first shadow disappeared.

Unable to hang on to consciousness any longer, as her lungs burned for air, Greylyn was a second away from succumbing to the blackness.

Someone grabbed her hands and hauled her to the surface. Startled koi swam past. As her head came above the water, she gasped. Strong muscular arms pulled her up and over the edge of the rocks lining the pond to lay her gently down in the grassy area in front of the Carriage House. After retching up as much water as she could from her lungs, she pushed herself up to a sitting position with trembling arms. Covered in algae, with a stray lily pad wrapped around her leg, Greylyn glared up at Kael.

He knelt beside her with what looked like a genuine expression of concern. She waited for him to spring his trap since she was in the perfect weakened position for him to take advantage. If he had been biding his time, waiting for his moment…this was it! The shadow had nearly drowned her. Now he could finish the job.

“Wish you had told me you liked moonlit swims, darling. I would’ve brought my swim suit,” he chuckled. “Second thought, skinny dipping would be more fun.”

Ah, there’s the smartass demon I know all too well.

“Seriously, though, could you please explain to me what you were thinking jumping into the koi pond to get rid of the shadow? It could’ve waited all night for you to re-emerge while you would’ve drowned in the meantime.” After a pause, he asked, “So why didn’t you simply swim away?

Gulping in more fresh air, she stared down are herself and picked a lily pad off her leg before answering…truthfully.

“I don’t know how to swim.”

Kael reached down and grabbed her chin, forcing her to look into his deep eyes. His voice filled with laughter. “You’ve been walking this Earth for 450 years and you still can’t swim?”

Offended, she retorted, “Well, I’ve kinda been busy doing other things.”

“You mean to tell me that you simply couldn’t find the time to take a lesson or two at the local YMCA or something? Really? That’s just so…you.”

Her first impulse was to push herself up and stomp away. Too bad her knees buckled as she took her first step, and she fell back, right into the strong upper body of her ‘rescuer.’

“Steady there, love,” his amused voice whispered into her ear.

A minute ago, she was chilled to the bone from the pond, now a bolt of extreme heat scorched every place her body touched his. Unable to move, Greylyn’s mind went foggy again. Kael stood up, carrying her body along with his own. His arms turned her around so they were face to face.

Mesmerized, she allowed him to guide her over to a wooden bench where they both sat down. Still, she couldn’t look away. It was as if he held her in a trance. Perhaps he did. At the moment, she’d have given anything to be able to discern what lay behind those swirling chocolate pools.

They sat on the bench, silent. Seemed like it could’ve been for seconds, or for hours. Their eyes remained locked until he moved to shrug off his shirt. Then her gaze fell to his smooth, ripped pectoral muscles and abs.

Oh, dear Lord. Help me now.

The tips of her fingers twitched as she fought the urge to reach up and trace the outline of his pectoral muscles. The moment was broken only when he dabbed at the blood dripping down her forehead with the shirt. She’d completely forgotten she hit her head on the side of the pond. A blow to the head of that magnitude would’ve caused a human to lose consciousness, resulting in, at best, a bad concussion.

That’s why I’m acting so strangely. Must be a concussion.

But Greylyn knew better. She didn’t get concussions, and the gash in her forehead would heal by morning. There would be no evidence of the incident when she saw Maureen for breakfast.

As it was, she was certain the dizzy sensation she experienced was more from Kael’s proximity than from the head injury. Not exactly a reassuring revelation.

She didn’t understand. A shadow creature had just attempted to kill her. It was perfectly reasonable to assume Kael had employed the shadow. But now, here he was tending to her injuries.

To make the situation worse, her body started shaking as if from severe cold. The temperature wasn’t the problem. Of that, she was positive. His face was bare inches from her own as he inspected the cut on her forehead. She could feel his breath on her cheek. It felt as warm and soft as a caress.

Satisfied the wound was healing, Kael began to briskly rub both her arms. “You could be cold in the Sahara Desert, I swear.” The contact only caused her to tremble more violently. Not able to withstand the intensity any longer, she wrenched herself away.

He let go of her arms. The warmth evaporated instantly. Looking up, Greylyn saw his expression change. The grin he wore while teasing her transformed into something else she couldn’t quite place. Hurt? No, that couldn’t be it. Whatever it was, it spooked her out of her reverie and back to reality.

He was the bad guy. They were enemies. There was a strange comfort in the truth. Clinging to that thought as if it were a life preserver in a raging storm at sea, she tried to indignantly march back to her suite in the Carriage House without so much as a “thank you.”

****

Well, I hope that entices you to want to read more. It certainly inspires me to write more.

Until next time, when I may tease you with a snippet from Book 2 and/or Book 3.

When Life Gets in the Way

Considering everything going on in the world today, I can’t complain about my life. Actually, I think I have a pretty sweet deal here. But, alas, things are not always peaches and cream.

Yes, stress! It’s every…freaking…where! My sources of stress are minimal compared to some. I did not just have my house blown away by a hurricane. My child’s school did not collapse in an earthquake. No subways being fire-bombed here. All in all…I’m eternally grateful for all aspects of my life.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t stress. A lot. It’s in my DNA. It’s my nature as a mom. However, the one place I could leave my stress behind for an hour or two every day has been under assault. The time I write my stories. If you are an author, you understand. Stories bounce around in your head all day and night. The stories and the characters demand to be heard. Relinquishing them to the written page (or the computer screen in this case) is the ONLY way to get any peace of mind.

What happens though when I don’t have time to write? Like this summer when the kids were home and I had zero time for myself (Disclaimer: I’m not complaining about not getting “me” time. I love my kids and spending time with them) so all creative writing came to a screeching halt. Well, there was always the promise of “tomorrow”…

or, in that particular case, the promise of August 28 when school started back. But this case is different.

How? The kids are in school. I have ALL this time to write, right?

Now the real stress kicked in and as a result, kicked out all my creative mojo. Where the H.E.Double hockey sticks did it go?

Stress? What stress? Why stress? Things should be smooth sailing.

Well, after lots of pulling out my desperately-in-need-of-a-color-and-cut hair, lots of digging sharp fingernails into my palms because I haven’t taken time to even file my nails much less give myself a manicure, lots of trips to the gas station for all the running around town I have to do during the marathons of after-school activities…I may have discovered the problem.

I’m overbooked. Brain is on overload. 24/7 our family schedule plays out in my head. Can I get such-n-such there while also attending curriculum night at the middle school while getting the other such-n-such kid across town to his/her practice while attempting to help an 8th grader with math (the new “Core” math that is incomprehensible to me – seriously, I could learn three languages before I figure out the new way to do algebra), …and the list goes on and on and on and on and on….well, you get the picture.

The everyday, mundane tasks of running this family have zapped every ounce of creativity and energy I ever had. There’s no room left in the gray matter tucked inside my noggin to equate to a paragraph of creative writing.

Then why am I here…writing? This isn’t exactly creative writing. It’s me flinging words onto the screen in the hopes of jarring loose some figments of imagination. After all, as my fellow authors and friends on Scribophile will attest…my heroine in the Greylyn the Guardian Angel trilogy has been stuck in Hell for months now in Book 3. It’s time to free the poor girl so I can write the ending of the trilogy. At this point, I need a jackhammer to break up the concrete wall in my head that has trapped all creativity.

In essence, this blog is my therapy in an effort to release the story, the plots, the sub-plots, the twists and turns, and spirals of the stories banging on my frontal lobe to get out.

Some may see this as complaining. In a way I guess it is, but I see it as venting my frustrations at my own inability to block out the everyday stresses of life so I can write. Ultimately, my goal is to provide to the world an epic urban fantasy series with lots of hot sex appeal and supernatural fun. A kickass heroine for the ages! I can’t do that if all I’m thinking about is…did Son X fill out the proper forms and turn those in to get his official transcript sent to the college that gave him a provisional acceptance for next year based on him getting them an official transcript within the next two weeks; or if Son X and Dad are out of town again this weekend at another college, can I get Son Y to his team’s party on Saturday after his game but during Son Z’s game; or should I sign up Daughter W for the out-of-town swim meet in Atlanta when I don’t know if Son X, Son Y, or Son Z will have playoff football games that weekend yet; or….well, you get the picture.

My point, dear readers, and I hope you stuck with me through all my ranting…I love my life. I love my family. I love writing. I want to get back to writing and feel that sharing my story with you may help trigger my imagination again (Greylyn isn’t writing herself out of Hell). Also, and more importantly…I want you to feel welcome to vent your own frustrations to free yourself from what stress weighs you down. Maybe you’re a writer, too. Maybe you’re facing writer’s block too and you feel you have no place to turn…

You do have someplace to turn. Vent to a friend, or feel free to vent your frustrations here. I want my readers to know that we are all infallible, we all need a way to break free of our everyday stresses. Otherwise, it will weigh us down and take away that which gives us strength, pleasure, purpose outside of the daily grind of life.

Don’t let the everyday dilute or swipe away your happiness. Some workout to battle the stress. Some meditate. Some go on wine-drinking binges with other like-minded moms and dads. Well, I probably should try that exercise thing again – maybe that will work. Meditate? Who’s got time for that? Drinking? I get a headache after half a glass of wine and had to give up beer years ago when a sip of the stuff started giving me migraines. Besides, I’m also an introvert (see previous blogs) so the group drinking thing isn’t really me.

Instead, I’ll tick through the calendar playing on repeat in my head. And after venting my thoughts on the matter here, I feel a tickling behind my eyes. Maybe that’s my heroine trying to escape Hell, or maybe it’s one of the characters from another story chipping away with an ice pick and trying to break free. Or maybe it’s something I forgot like Son Z’s orthodontist appointment this morning…

 

We Will Never Forget…

Last night I felt it. Realization dawned of what the morning would bring. Sorrow gripped my heart and tears fell like rain. For when I awoke, it would be September 11.

Every American has their story, their memories of that fateful day. Every American shares in the pain of that day and the remembrance of the horrific loss of life. We came together as a nation. The world came together in support of the USA. Sadly, the togetherness did not last.

However, every year on this day, all Americans put aside their political views and grasp their neighbor’s hand or give them a hug because in remembrance of 9/11/2001, we all feel the agony, the grief, and we all mourn those lost on that day.

I invite all my readers to share their 9/11 stories today. We all have them. Not one person, unless not born until after 2001, doesn’t have a story, a memory of what they experienced that day. Every experience has value, shows a connection with your fellow Americans. Nothing prepared us for that day, but it is with the memory of that day that we, as Americans, go on and come together as a nation. I just wish that togetherness would last beyond the one day of remembrance.

As I invite you to share your stories of September 11, 2001, I will share my own. It is not something I talk about or share with others often. My family has heard the story. Some friends know it, but it is something I like to keep private as the pain still rips my heart 16 years later. My hope is that sharing it with you will help to purge the turmoil raging in my own mind and heart this morning, as despite the passage of years, the emotions remain fresh as if I’ve scraped off a scab that wasn’t quite healed and the blood is pouring from the wound.

September 10, 2001 – I was at work late that night preparing to depart Washington, DC for New York City on the early morning shuttle for a business meeting at our company’s headquarters. I had been there before. It was a tall building adjacent to the World Trade Center towers and part of the WTC building complex. Previous trips had been day trips, but this was going to be an overnighter with colleagues flying in from Boston as well for a huge conference. I was particularly excited about the trip because it was an opportunity to show a colleague and friend the WTC and we planned to visit the observation deck during a break in the meeting. She was from another country and was enthusiastic about the prospect of standing on the rooftop and looking down over the entire city of New York.

As I was wrapping up work, everyone else had gone home for the day, my phone rang. The Boston folks couldn’t make the trip after all due to an emergency there. So the meeting was rescheduled for Wednesday, September 12. The travel department took care of all the arrangements and I called all my DC colleagues to let them know of the delay.

The meeting never happened.

September 11, 2001 – Due to my late night at the office, I determined it was fine to sleep in just a bit. Driving down Route 50 into Arlington, VA I was listening to my favorite morning radio show. They interrupted their usual comedic banter with the news that a plane had collided into one of the World Trade Center towers. At the time, they imaged it was a small tourist or commuter plane. Still horrific, but not even close in comparison to the truth. It wasn’t until I walked into my office (about 1 mile from the Pentagon where my father-in-law and many friends worked) that I heard the truth as I watched in horror as the second plane smashed into the other tower on a co-worker’s computer screen.

Just a few minutes later, there was an ear-shattering explosion that rocked our building. I, along with many others, ran over to the windows and saw the billowing black smoke coming from the Pentagon. Knowing my father-in-law and many friends and former colleagues are there, my heart seemed to stop beating. I could only stare with tears streaming down my face. A young girl, just out of college, tearfully asked, “What is happening?”

I remember my words to her. It’s funny (not ha ha funny) that much of the day after that is a blur, but I clearly remember what I said. “Someone declared war on us. We are at war.”

We waited for what seemed an eternity. I contemplated a number of times leaving the building and running over to the Pentagon, but security stopped everyone from leaving. Not sure what I thought I could do at the time. My thoughts and prayers were with my family and friends in the Pentagon, as well as our colleagues in New York. I desperately wanted to do something…anything. There was nothing to do. We could only wait.

We stood riveted to our computer screens when the announcement came over the intercom…evacuate NOW, but they stated we should all take the Metro which was a block from our building, but do not take your cars. Well, apparently, I don’t listen very well.

I rounded up my team and shoved them all into my compact SUV. We were packed in tight. The roads were jammed and it took hours to get everyone home. But we all made it home safely. Sadly, thousands from New York and the Pentagon did not.

At the time my husband worked from home and our baby was in daycare just down the street. I knew they were safe. Before leaving my office building, I finally got a call out to him. He relayed news that sunk my heart even further. My parents had called, frantic. My mom had known of my planned trip to NYC, my plans to take my colleague to the towers. She did not know the trip was rescheduled. When my dad called from his office to tell her about the terrorist attacks, her words to him were “Oh my God! Karen is there.”

Having children, I now understand just how terrifying those words can be for a parent. For a few minutes, my parents lived through hell, waiting to find out if I was okay. My heart goes out to the parents, spouses, siblings, and friends of those who were not so lucky. Those who waited for hours and days to find out their loved ones did or did not make it out of New York or DC alive. My heart aches for those who had family and friends on Flight 93 and knew of their fates as the news reported the passengers’ attempt to take control of the plane and it crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside. My thanks go out to the souls of those passengers whose actions spared the lives the thousands in DC at the United States Capitol. Many friends are alive today due the selfless acts of those on Flight 93.

For those that lost loved ones on that day, please know that every American’s heart is with you today and we share in your grief. We honor their lives, although our actions may seem inadequate to do justice to your pain.

As a survivor of that day, by the grace of God I was not in New York and I no longer worked for the Defense Department so I was not at the Pentagon, I feel a kind of guilt. Words cannot adequately describe my emotions when it comes to 9/11. I know where I was supposed to be. I know where I wasn’t. I know that I was lucky. My father-in-law and other friends made it out of the Pentagon that day. Each knew someone who died that day. Each grieved separately and collectively. My colleagues in New York escaped but their building, a stone’s throw away from the towers, was destroyed in the aftermath of the towers collapse. My guilt lies in knowing so many who were not so lucky.

As I lay in bed that night, no sleep came. Our home at the time was right in the flight path for Dulles International Airport. We were accustomed to the roaring engines overhead as planes prepared to land. That night…silence. For many nights afterwards…silence. I never knew that silence could be so deafening.

For those whose lives were lost, for those who lost loved ones, I mourn with you. My greatest wish would be that I could’ve done more that day than simply drive my co-workers safely home. For those that did do more, for those who ran into the inferno raging in the Twin Towers and for those who ran towards the wreckage at the Pentagon…God bless you. You are the true heroes of this country. Your bravery and strength are models for the rest of us.

As I mentioned above, everyone has their 9/11 stories. Mine is nothing compared to the heroic and those intimately impacted by the events of that day. If you would like to share your story here, please message me. I believe I can receive messages via this blog page. If not, look me up on Facebook at KC Freeman.

We all share in the grief and hold onto the memories. Our nation mourns those who died that day, those that died since then who have fought to bring about justice and to rid the world of the scourge of such hate. The battle continues, in the name of our fallen.

 

 

When It’s Your Child Lying on the Ground in the Middle of the Football Field

Confession Time.

I’ve been a multiple sports parent for years. Having five very active children, this was my destiny. I shuttle to and from practices. I sit out in all sorts of weather for practices and games. The start of the season may be hot as Hades, but it’s guaranteed that by the end of the season Old Man Winter has arrived with his Arctic blasts. And vice versa depending on the sport and season.

One thing has always been difficult for me. Not the weird sunburns from sitting out at a baseball field all day for two or more straight days in the blistering heat or the mounds of nasty smelling sports gear in my laundry room,

although I can, and do gripe about those things. No, the absolute worst thing is seeing a kid down on the ground during a game or a practice. With kids in football, I see this more often than I care to count. Every time my heart jumps into my throat and I do the only thing I can do…pray.

Kids get injured walking down the street, or trip over their untied shoelaces, or just about anything.

But seeing a child take a baseball to the chest because the batter hit the ball just so or seeing five big dudes pile up on a little pip-squeak carrying a football or seeing a child twisted into a proverbial pretzel in a wrestling match…as a momma, that’s hard to see.

Now some folks would simply say…Take your kid out of the sport. Kids shouldn’t play tackle football…haven’t you heard all the hazards from the NFL? Some folks would wrap up their little sweetpeas in bubble-wrap. (Yes, I’ve considered that at times) I even know folks that do not allow their children to play ANY sports. Not because the child doesn’t want to. Most children do at some point want to try at least one sport.

Speaking from experience here…my parents didn’t allow me to play a sport. No, I got piano lessons. “But Mom! I want to play soccer!” Nope. That fell on deaf ears. My resolution, as a result…I vowed to let my children try out any and every sport they wanted. And they took me up on it…literally, aside from hockey, not much these kids haven’t played.

Fast forward this story to the main crux…

Like I mentioned above, seeing an injured player on the field (any sports field or venue) hurts my heart, whether it’s my kid or not. But last weekend, I got a big dose of heart-stopping Momma-fear as I watched my son play in his high school football game. He was having the game of his life. It was almost halftime and our team was rocking!

That is until I watch in horror as my son, after getting piled on by a bunch of defenders from the other team, laid on the field a few moments too long. His teammates helped him up and he walked over to the sideline and …collapsed.

His father and I waited at the fence separating the stands from the field. And waited. The trainers and coaches tended to him while time ran out for the first half of the game. Players and coaches went to the locker rooms while the sports trainers evaluated my child. He was awake, but we didn’t know what was going on.

To say my heart stopped would be the most accurate description. I didn’t dare breathe or turn my eyes away from my son a few yards away. Finally, the trainer and coach came over to tell us about his condition…most likely a concussion. My son didn’t recall coming off the field and just remembered waking up already on the sideline. He’d blacked out but somehow made it off the field under his own power.

The trainers sent us to an Urgent Care facility. The doctors there sent us to the Emergency Room to get a CT scan to check for brain swelling or bleeding. Thank the Lord all was well. Still…concussion.

It’s been a hard week watching my son recover. No tv, no phone, no electronics, no computer, no Xbox, no practice, no driving, and just a few hours of school a day. He still experiences headaches, and his vision and hearing are sensitive, can’t focus for more than a few minutes at a time, ….basically, all the classic concussion symptoms. The worst for him? Being told that he could NOT practice and he absolutely could NOT play in the game this week.

He’s on the road to recovery and we are blessed he is doing as well as he is.

A week later, I wanted to reflect on what I felt as we prepare to go to the game tonight. My son will be safely tucked away on the sideline, but there is always the risk of injury to other players. As a sports mom, I feel I’ve adopted each and every one of my son’s teammates. I go to this game tonight less light-hearted than prior games. There’s almost nothing I love more than a football game. There’s almost nothing I love less than seeing a young athlete injured on the field, or in any sport.

Parents, and those of you thinking to become parents one day, I want you to know if and when your child is injured, you are not alone. Every parent, every teacher, every coach, every friend, is with you, feels for you, cries with you, and stands to support you as fear clutches your heart over your child. I have never felt so much love, support, and kinship as I have this past week. Fellow parents called and texted endlessly asking “What can I do?” Every day his friends and their parents have called and texted to check on my son. Everyone at that game, I truly believe, felt their own hearts jump into their throats when they saw my son on the ground.

Little kids that he coaches on the middle school team have been constantly badgering his younger brothers for updates. They look up to him. They admire him and some outright adore him. To them, he’s a football hero. It warms my heart to see just how great an impact he’s had on their lives as their coach and a positive role model. If he’d never played football, that would have been lost.

The answer is not to stop your children from playing sports, or only allowing them to play “safe” sports. Children find amazingly new and creative ways to get hurt every day. Sports adds a certain degree of danger, that is for certain. But I truly believe that to keep them from playing a sport they wish to try out, or a sport they already love, would be a disservice to the child.

Every sport has layers of protection in place to keep the children as safe as possible. But nothing is ever absolute. My son had all the protections and precautions during his game. Shoulder pads? Check. Cleats? Check. Sports cup? Check. Expensive, 100% dental guaranteed mouthguard? Check. Expensive helmet mom paid extra for? Check. Badly covered turf field with concrete under the thin top layer at the other team’s stadium? Sadly, check.

My son is on the road to recovery. We go back next week for a re-evaluation. In the meantime, we are going to the game tonight and will cheer on our team. And if any player is injured, no matter what team, our hearts will go out to him and his family and friends. We will wait with bated breath, holding hands with our fellow team parents, and silently (or not) pray for that child.

Being a sports parent is hard. Usually, it’s just the chaotic schedules and traveling. Sometimes, it’s heart-wrenching fear that clutches your chest and doesn’t ease until the player leaves the field of his own accord or flashes a thumbs up to let the crowd know he’s okay. When it’s your own child, reach for the hand of the parent next to you. You may not even talk much outside of games, but I guarantee they will be there to support you and will be praying right alongside of you.

Because every parent of a child on a team “adopts” every other child on that team. I am the proud “mom” of well over a hundred kids (3 football teams, 2 wrestling teams, 1 swim team, and 1 baseball team), even though I only gave birth to five. And after this past week, I know my children have many more “moms” and “dads” out there supporting them and caring for them. My children have tons of “brothers” and “sisters”, usually called teammates. I’ve witnessed these teammates bond over the years and know they are more than teammates, more than friends…they are family.

So, as the parent of a child currently recovering from a concussion and the parent of children who have had other injuries throughout their childhood from sports, I urge you to not prohibit your child from playing a sport out of fear of injury. Children’s lives are so enriched by being active, learning new skills, but the best part is…their family grows exponentially.

Thank you to all my Mavericks parents and my son’s teammates for your love and support. Thanks to the coaches and trainers that have taken special care of him during his recovery. And thanks to his teammates for always being there for him, and basically keeping him sane while he has to lay off the electronics, and getting him to school, inviting him to dinner to get him out of the house while not over-doing it. You guys are the absolute best!

***And a special shout-out, Thanks, to my own wonderful support system of writers (Vicious and Delicious Scribbers – you totally rock) who have put up with my inattention, lack of focus, and listened to me whine all week. My creativity has been null and void this week. My children say that I have a phantom concussion, because there have been times I couldn’t put two words together, much less a complete sentence.***