Thursday, November 22, 2012

Guest Post by Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy


Today romance author Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is here to talk about two key themes in her new book, "Devlin's Grace", PTSD and learning to deal with your past. Yesterday I posted an excerpt from, and a giveaway of, the book. Lee Ann is a full-time romance author. A native of the old historic city of St. Joseph, Missouri, one time home to both Jesse James and the Pony Express, she now lives and writes in the beautiful Missouri Ozark region.  Her romance novels include Love Never Fails, Witness Protection Program, Sing We Now of Christmas, A Patient Heart, In Love’s Own Time, Miss Good Samaritan, In The Shadow of War, Guy’s Angel, and Heart of the Ozarks, all from Rebel Ink Press.  She also has six other novels and several novellas available. Her work also appears in more than twenty anthologies and she has multiple short story/non-fiction credits.


She is a member of RWA, Missouri Writers Guild, EPIC, and the Ozarks Writers League. Her work also appears in multiple anthologies. She earned a BA degree in both English and History from Missouri Southern State University as well as an AA Degree in Journalism from Crowder College.  She worked in broadcast media for a decade and also has a background in education.  Her weekly column “Hindsight” appears each week in the Neosho Daily News.

She is married to Roy W. Murphy and the couple has three children, Emily, Megan, and Patrick Murphy. If Lee Ann – or Lee as many of her writing friends know her – isn’t writing, she’s reading or spending time outdoors. In Neosho, Missouri, the small town she now calls home, she serves on the local library board, is active in the annual Relay For Life fight against cancer, has worked with the local Arts Council, and is active in her parish.

Find Lee Ann online:

Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/author/list/4543214.Lee_Ann_Sontheimer_Murphy

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Serving our country is a family tradition.  My dad served in the Army and so did both of his brothers as well as their father.  I have great-uncles who served in both the Army and the Navy.  Many relatives served from their arrival on American shores during the American Revolution, War of 1812, the Civil War, First World War, World War II, Vietnam and even in the Persian Gulf.  So I have every respect for members of our Armed Forces.  Even in the “old country” my ancestors served in everything from Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s Royal Navy to Frederick II’s elite Prussian Reinhard Corps.

            My latest Rebel Ink Press release, Devlin’s Grace, deals with a Marine veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Devlin suffers from PTSD (post trauma stress disorder) and it’s a major part of the storyline.  I wanted to make the story as realistic as possible so I did thorough research.  And I drew not only on my own experiences as someone with a family member suffering from PTSD but from many resources as well. One of my grandfathers served in the Pacific Theater during World War II and saw some of the heaviest fighting in the Philippines.  Most of the time, he was a wonderful man and a loving grandfather but there were also times when the demons of the war haunted him.  He drank too much then and things happened – like the time he woke up from a nightmare and tried to strangle my grandmother because he thought he was back in the war and she was a Japanese soldier.  My grandmother, shortly before she died a few years ago, shared with me her belief I had the best of my grandfather.  He loved me and spoiled me.  But even so, one of our favorite games was to re-enact the Battle of Leyte on both land and sea using plastic boats in my grandmother’s deep kitchen sink.  And that’s not all. During the Vietnam war era, one of my cousins served and was back home on leave.  We were hosting a huge family picnic in his honor when a car backfired out in the street and he hit the dirt.

            Devlin’s Grace is more than just another love story.  Although it deals with the holiday season, it’s not only a Christmas tale.  It’s intended to be a realistic portrait of life between two people who learn to deal with troubled pasts and issues on a daily basis.  It celebrates the power of love and the resilience of the human spirit.

            Here’s a brief excerpt dealing with Devlin’s PTSD issues:
           
             
            Understanding dawned. “It eats you alive, doesn’t it?” Gracie asked him, voice soft and still. “The little girl plus whatever else you did, devours you.  You’re not the devil, but you’re running from him.”
            Something shone in Devlin’s eyes, ancient and heavy.  He nodded. “You got it, babe.  No one’s ever quite figured it out before now.  Oh, others who served, they know, but you’re the first civilian who understands.”
            Gracie hurt, her soul wounded by the revelation.  “You’re in a hell you made yourself,” she said, “and afraid of ending up in the real one.”
            His twisted smile shattered her heart.  “Yeah, pretty much.  Ever since I got back I’ve walked in the fiery pits, burned for my sins, and tormented myself probably more than any demon ever could.  I’ve hated every day, hated each night, and sometimes wondered why I bothered to stay alive.”
            “Devlin …”
            “There’s names for being this fucked up,” he said. “PTSD’s one of them.”
            When he broke off, Gracie opened her mouth to say something but Devlin quoted what she thought was the Bible but wasn’t, not quite.
            “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” Devlin intoned, “I will fear no evil, for I am the meanest son of a bitch in the valley.”
             As he spoke he broke away from her, Devlin came to his feet and stood, as remote as if he were on an unknown island.  He laughed, without mirth, a bitter dry hoot reminding her of rattling bones. “I don’t remember who quoted it first but I understood it.  Later on, I adopted it as my motto.  I have to be the meanest – otherwise, I’ve no doubt the devil will claim me as his own and damn me to hell, a worse place than the one I’ve made for myself.”

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4 comments:

  1. Romance as a genre gets a bad press from those who don't read it. I've read a little, out of curiosity, and I found the stereotypes of the genre were true. I was disappointed.

    But, as in all genres, there are writers who tell stories with skill, integrity, and who aren't afraid of pushing the boundaries and bending the conventions. Reading this, it seems you are one of those authors, Lee Ann. Keep up the good work!

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    Replies
    1. TJ, romance does get a bad rep and sometimes it's deserved, but not always. There are some very well written ones and many tackle serious subjects such as PTSD. As with any genre, you have to weed through to the ones worth reading.

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  2. PTSD is very serious and anything that brings understanding to it is wonderful. I like romance novels and while some offer more depth then others, I think only a small number fall into the stereotypes T. James mentions.

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