By nature, writing can be a lonely venture... and writers can be loners. However, it's important for all of us to have a support system, a person or persons we can share the journey with, a fellow writer whose opinion we value and who we trust to be honest with us about our work. Today's post features one of those fellow writers in my life.
AMY: Tell us a little bit about yourself…who you are and what your real life is like.
TERESA:I was born in the small Southeastern Kentucky town of Harlan. We used Harlan as home base every time my father got orders to ship out. He was a Marine for twenty-three years—I was a Marine Corps brat for fourteen of them. And by the time he retired, I’d attended nine schools in twelve years.
Though I never pictured myself as a teacher, I’ve been one over twenty years. I’ve taught Art and Art Appreciation in the public school system. And been an adjunct instructor for Eastern Kentucky University for seven years teaching education classes.
I’m an artist and have had some of my art work printed and sold. But my first love is the writing. I love putting words together to tell a story. Everything to me is about the story.
AMY: We’ve talked a lot recently here on my blog about the impact that books/reading can have on young people. Can you tell us a little bit about your history as a reader and how books were a part of your life growing up?
TERESA: I learned to read in Kindergarten on post at Paris Island, South Carolina. And I took to it like a mermaid to water. Traveling from post to post, we couldn’t transport many books, but there were always libraries available. I probably had the most extensive stack of library cards imaginable. But I did have collections that I wouldn’t part with. Box Car Children, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Trixie Beldon, and those led into the YA books available. I still have them all. By fourth grade I was reading books way above my grade level. And probably some things I shouldn’t have been. And with the reading came writing.
AMY:Now talk to us a little bit about your history as a writer. When did you start writing…what genres do you write …what books have you published?
TERESA: I started writing in fourth grade. I wrote a short story about a girl diagnosed with Leukemia. A friend we were stationed with was diagnosed at that time.
In middle school I wrote a soap opera. Think Dark Shadows meets Sheena of the Jungle. It was a fantasy.
In high school I took a creative writing class and I still have my notebook filled with poetry, short stories, and journal writings.
It wasn’t until college that I began to really hone my writing skills as an adult. I wrote the first five chapters of a novel at that time, a murder mystery for an advance composition class. It was during the critique sessions in class I experienced, for the first time, hooking an audience with my words.
Under my bed I have four manuscripts written between graduating college and finished my Masters degree. During that time the writing world was going through a wonderful transition where POV was more solidified, narrative was streamlined and story lines were beginning to become deeply braided. None of those old manuscripts fit any of those criteria and thus they will never see the light of day. Unless they’re rewritten from scratch.
In 2007 I had finished two manuscripts I thought had a shot. And they were published that year by The Wild Rose Press.
"Highland Moonlight" is a Scottish Medieval set in 1328. (Available in print and e-book.)
"Captive Hearts" is set just before the Regency period in 1796 London England. (Available in print and e-book.)
And then recently "Breaking Free" my first contemporary. (Available in e-book. Print coming soon.)
AMY: Tell us a little bit about your most recent book, “Breaking Free”. What was your inspiration for it…what is it about the characters that speaks to you… are their plans for a sequel…etc.?
TERESA: Breaking Free is a contemporary Romantic Suspense. It is heavy on the romance. It’s about Lieutenant Adam “Hawk” Yazzie a Navy SEAL. Hawk has accepted that as long as he’s a SEAL he can’t commit to a relationship. Something that Zoe Weaver makes him wish he could rethink.
Zoe is a physical therapist. Her brother Brett is injured during an op and transported back to the US in a coma. She’s a Marine Corp brat like me who’s determined not to get involved with any man in uniform. But Hawk triggers feelings she’s never experienced before.
The book I hope points out that SEALs are human, not super heroes. But what makes them different is the calling they have to do the job no matter what. And Hawk has heard that calling and is dedicated to his team. But he also wants to find out why Brett ended up in a building about to blow up with his head bashed in.
The inspiration for the book came from a conversation I had with my mother about my father’s service in the Marines. And a memory I have of him leaving us for his second tour of duty in Vietnam.
We hadn’t seen him in eighteen months and he got leave to come home for Christmas. During the time he was home, we kids clung to him. We just couldn’t get close enough. The days were way too short and the time for him to return to duty getting closer by the minute.
Finally, the day came we had to drive him to Knoxville to catch a plane for California. As kids we tried not to cry because it made it harder for my mother, as well as Daddy. We walked him to the gate and said our last good-byes. I clung to him for the longest time, just breathing in his scent and holding on to this hand as hard as possible. The brass buttons on his coat pressed into my cheek so hard it left a red spot for a while afterward.
He climbed the steps to the plane and turned to wave one last time to us.
Tears were streaming down his face. And ours. That was my first understanding of how hard it was for him each time he walked away from us. He was a Marine and accepted the calling, the tradition, and the sacrifice, but he loved us---Really loved us.
The struggle between duty and love is something every service man or woman experiences every time they leave family behind and get on a plane to go to faraway places to fight for their country.
I wanted to bring the struggle, the pain and guilt it sometimes triggers to life in a way I’d never read in a book. And show the way soldiers must deal with it and continue to do their job.
This book is the first book of a series. I’ve already started the second book, "Breaking Through" ---Ensign Brett “Cutter” Weaver’s story. And have the third book, "Breaking Away", Harold “Flash” Carney’s story, plotted.
I’d love to hear from readers as to what I should title the series!!!
What a great reminder about our service men and women, and the sacrifices they (and their families) make to protect and serve our country. I loved the story about your father, Teresa, and the impact those experiences made on you. Since Navy SEALS have been in the news a lot lately, I think it's also a very fitting time to point out that they are real people - with families... feelings... strengths... weaknesses... hopes... dreams - just like everyone else. Yes, they're heroes, but if we only put them on the "super hero pedestal", it's easy to take for granted that they are people.
Thanks, Teresa, for stopping by today. I'm thrilled to help promote your latest book! And to my blog readers... as I said, I've read the book, and it is tremendous. If you love military romantic suspense, check it out. And if you've never read military romantic suspense, this is the book to start with!