Welcome Barrett! I am excited to introduce a fascinating author and thrilled that Barrett is an RN writing fiction and romance that includes the topics of military service and PTSD. Barrett’s words not only engage and entertain they educate. I am honored that we are trading posts today – please leave a comment on this BLOG for a chance to win a copy of her novel Damaged in Service. Also check out Barretts’ BLOG (link below) and leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of my novel The Girls Club.
You could have colored me Tickled with any number of bright, shiny colors when Sally Bellerose invited me to do a blog tour.
“The Girls Club,” Sally Bellerose? “The Fish Wives,” Sally Bellerose?
Yep, that Sally Bellerose.
Well, heck fire, count me in!
Okay, ladies and gentlemen, we’re now entering ‘Daunting’ territory . . .
What can I possibly talk about that will be of the slightest interest to her readers?
Believe me when I tell you that my always-opinionated barrel of sock monkeys hotly debated that question for couple of weeks.
After much discussion and flinging about of ideas and . . . other things . . . it was agreed by a vote of 27-1 (there’s always one sock monkey that has to play Devil’s Advocate) that I should take the tried and true approach of “write what I know”.
So, unless anyone has a burning desire to learn about the correct procedure for inserting an indwelling Foley Catheter, explaining the necessity of the HIPPA standard, following the algorithm for Coumadin dosage, or maintaining a sterile field….
It means talking about my work in progress, or WIP (as it is known in the trades).
My fascinating Biography is available on both my site: http://www.wordsofbarrett.wordpress.com and my publisher’s site http://www.affinityebooks.com. For brevity sake, though, let me just say I’m a retired Registered Nurse living in the high desert of New Mexico. And, while I’ve been writing for about 13 years, I never considered publishing until about three years ago. Since that moment, let me assure you, it has been one heck of a white-knuckle roller coaster ride.
Sometime back in 2009, I sat down to write a simple romance. Ha!
That “simple romance” is now under contract for a four book series, and I’m not entirely sure there’s an end in sight. Damaged in Service, Book One of the Damaged Series, was published in July 2011; and Book Two, Defying Gravity is scheduled for publication in the first quarter of 2012.
The remaining two books will follow to complete the original Damaged Series story arc. However, I, personally, believe that Zeke Cabot and Anne Reynolds are fascinating and enduring characters, so I’ll leave it up to them to tell me at the conclusion of the Damaged Series if they have more stories to share with their readers.
If you’re not yet familiar with Damaged in Service, the cliff-notes version of the saga, reads like this…
Zeke Cabot is a seasoned and well-regarded special agent with the FBI’s Chicago Field office. Toward the end of her tour, she endured a grueling two-month undercover investigation to locate a serial killer. Events during that assignment affected her physically, mentally, and emotionally.
An extended medical leave/vacation finds her in the central mountains of New Mexico.
Anne Reynolds, a once sought after highly skilled surgical nurse, is now a shamed divorcee following a highly publicized scandal involving her husband and the city government.
The paths of these two women cross several times before either of them recognizes the underlying chemistry.
Once they connect, the inevitable questions, self-doubts, and teasing begins. They’re both mature enough to recognize the possibilities—both good and bad.
Just as they take the cautious first steps at romance, Zeke’s professional demons reappear, threatening not only their romance, but also their lives. Unanswered questions and a call to return to Chicago leave both women confused.
Book Two, Defying Gravity, begins in Chicago . . .
Someone wants something from Zeke, and is coming after her. Her only recourse is to review loose ends from her closed case in an effort to find whoever is after her and what they want.
One the romance front, both Zeke and Anne acknowledge their mutual attraction and ultimate desire to be together. So, when Zeke finally returns to New Mexico, she and Anne navigate the first steps of a shared life.
Of course, new love, new jobs, coming to terms with a new sexuality, emotional family crises, and the continued specter of danger throws Zeke and Anne off balance time and again.
Beyond that, the sometimes silent, always lurking reality of Zeke’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) keeps her physically and emotionally on quaking ground. Anne knows it. Zeke knows it. Yet, it remains the chain-smoking elephant in the room.
Quasi-spoiler alerts for Books Three and Four of The Damaged Series . . .
Book Three amps up the action, the danger, and the romance
Book Four will bring peace in resolution to the valley.
As I mentioned earlier, I started writing a simple romance.
But what happened along the way was a surprising revelation for me. The thing is, it’s not about the romance. What I found is that I have deep and growing concerns for the men and women in our country suffering from PTSD.
You see PTSD doesn’t just affect members of the armed forces, medical professionals, and first responders. There are thousands of people suffering in silence because PTSD is a lasting consequence of traumatic events that cause intense fear, helplessness, or horror, such as a sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, an accident, natural disaster, loss of a job or a home, or any other number of triggers. Families of victims can also develop post-traumatic stress disorder.
Those suffering from PTDS don’t look any different from you or me. They may not be physically disfigured, may have no visible signs at all. And yet, on a daily basis some small, unexpected memory, event, sound, or sight can trigger intensely powerful and unpredictable emotional responses.
These responses have an amazing ability to dismantle thought, logic, and reason.
My character, Zeke Cabot is suffering from PTSD – it affects her job, her relationships, and her self-confidence. Her case is milder than many, yet more severe than others. Her response is the underlying theme for this entire series.
Here is the Prologue from Damaged In Service – it provides a glimpse of Zeke’s inner demons:
The abandoned building is dank and reeks of urine. Sounds of dripping water and scurrying feet cause her to halt, mid-step, on the stairs. Then, running down the corridor, listening for every unfamiliar sound, she reminds herself the job is to locate another of the missing homeless men.
The only light filters through grime and cobwebs on the large broken windows. The only recognizable sound is the soft snoring of the building’s few illegal inhabitants.
Her heart pounds in her throat as her legs propel her through the frightening dark corridors.
A stark white lab coat appears in flashing glimpses just ahead and always out of her reach.
Then another flash of light, a new scene, a body wrapped neatly in plastic, lying beside a dumpster—headless and handless, taunting her.
Move. Keep running. Don’t stop. The deafening sound of screeching brakes and a looming truck grill bearing down. Fade to black.
This nightmarish loop of suffering never ends. Helpless frustration. Physical exhaustion. And always-smelly clothes, unwashed hair, and the sparse diet of discards.
This has to stop, just too tired to go on.
Her body aches and her mind spins like a tightly wound gyroscope.
The ominous scene fades to black again as another opens. She finds herself standing in an unfamiliar sterile-looking laboratory, this time it’s a long narrow walk-in cooler. She feels chilled and strong icy fingers tug at her weakened determination now racked with foreboding.
The shelves beside her contain plastic boxes, each with a bright white label and a contrasting black serial number.
Even knowing what she’ll find, she reaches for the closest box and in slow motion removes the lid. The strong stench of formaldehyde strikes first, gagging her. Bulging eyes in a pasty, bluish grey face are staring back at her. It is the familiar countenance of her friend and physician. This woman should never have been involved. Never.
A loud scream.
Zeke sat up suddenly, breathing rapidly, awakened by the sound of her own voice. Her worn FBI tee shirt clung to her damp, trembling body. She could smell the dank building, the urine, the formaldehyde, and her own nervous sweat. Her body shook as she covered her mouth to stifle a deep sob. The recurring nightmare is terrifying because of the too real and too recent events.
She got out of the comfortable, warm bed and stumbled across the room to patio doors that opened wide onto a balcony. Cool clean air swept across her still damp face and ruffled her hair. Burnished yellow moonbeam fingers stretched across the waters of Lake Michigan.
The months-long undercover hunt for a serial killer was over and the indicted murderer safely detained. Zeke needed to focus all of her energy on restoring her damaged body and soul to a state of readiness for active duty status.
Sadness permeated every cell and with another deep breath, she choked off the next sob. She felt so broken she didn’t know if she’d ever find herself again.
It is my dream that Zeke recover and provide us the “Happily Ever After” or HEA, as we writers like to say. As the author of the Damaged Series, I should be able to guarantee that, but the thing is, PTDS lessens over time but it never truly goes away. Zeke is a strong woman, and Anne is determined to be there with her through thick and thin. Still, they have a long way to go and a lot of hurdles to jump individually and together on their way to the HEA.
Thank you for stopping by Sally’s blog space and taking the time to read my thoughts.
If you’re interested in reading Damaged in Service, please leave a comment on this post, and we’ll randomly select one for a complimentary copy.
Damaged in Service by Barrett is available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and via the Affinity e-Book Press website.
Lastly, I want to offer my most sincere thanks to Sally, for being a most generous and gracious hostess, Marianne Martin and the Bywater Books staff for this opportunity, and to the wonderful folks at Affinity e-Books Press for taking a chance on Zeke and Anne.