Before I get started, I want to thank the Author’s Lounge for the opportunity to tell readers a bit about me.
I am a single mom hoping to teach my daughter she can always attain her goals, no matter her age or obstacles. My first husband was a Civil Engineer in the Air Force deployed to Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Being the young spouse of a deployed Airman showed me the sacrifices military personnel and their families make. In the years since my appreciation for all they do has only grown.
Growing up, I was always writing. I fancied myself a future poet of fame and fortune. Life, of course, got in the way and writing took a back burner to everything else. Fast forward more years than I care to admit, and here I am. I finally published my first book. I decided to write my book Stronger Together and publish it for a couple of reasons. The first reason being that Susie and Kent were in my head, screaming for their story to be told. Neither character is your typical contemporary romance prince or princess. They both have obstacles to overcome, both physically and mentally. Both were knocked down by life and irrevocably changed by it.
Susie is a domestic violence survivor. She believed that her ex-husband Matt was her one and only, thought he would love and cherish her, protect her, and take care of her. Susie thought he would give her the love she’d never been given. She couldn’t have been more wrong, and that mistake almost cost her life.
Kent is a disabled veteran carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. The guilt he carries is more than anyone could or should bear. The only survivor of a patrol gone drastically wrong, Kent blames himself for his brothers not making it home. Add in needing to adjust to his life-changing injuries, and it’s a recipe for a drastic decision.
This brings me to my second reason for writing Stronger Together. As a nation, we have utterly failed our veterans and domestic violence survivors. They do not receive the long-term health care needed. Our veterans, in particular, come home with injuries, PTSD, and other mental health issues. They are left to fend for themselves, resulting in many thousands ending up on the streets.
To an injured veteran already dealing with self-esteem issues, depression, survivor’s guilt, and PTSD, the whispers they hear, people giving them a wide berth, the wide eyes of shock take on a whole new meaning. For them, it’s like that nightmare of walking down a hallway naked while everyone laughs, only much worse. It’s not a nightmare, it’s their life. Adjusting to new circumstances, to civilian life, is no easy thing. Holding down a job is sometimes next to impossible, and VA Disability checks are not enough to survive on.
While in my book, Kent does not have to worry about becoming homeless, he does deal with intense survivor’s guilt. His guilt, his story, the story of too many veterans pounded in my brain to be told. The plight of veterans who come home only to be abandoned needs to be brought to light. If I can bring attention to their trials and tribulations as well as their successes, if I can help one person, it will be worth it.
Veterans and domestic violence survivors have survived things most of us don’t and can’t understand. Seemingly innocuous things can trigger a flashback or a panic attack. Even years later, PTSD can rear its ugly head, sometimes well past the point that most people believe it should no longer be an issue. Community and family support can fall away, leaving them isolated and confused. I hope my book can help bring awareness to their plights. They deserve the best help they can get but are often pushed to the very edges of society.
The characters in Stronger Together aren’t the beautiful, rich, well-put-together characters found in many sweet contemporary romance novels. Stronger Together isn’t sweet. It’s full of laughter, yes, but also anger, frustration, and tears. This book is perfect for those who love a little heartbreak, angst, and humor.
Stronger Together is the first in my 6 Inc. series. While all books in this series will technically be standalones, the characters and timelines will be interconnected. I am writing the second book, which will tell the story of Kent’s sister Anna, and their best friend, Hunter. A third book is planned, as is a possible off-shoot. I hope and pray that readers will enjoy my book and have more compassion for others.
You can find me online at: