Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Emotional Connections to Writing Military Romance

Writers live in a bubble created by our imaginations. We live with our characters in that bubble as well. We breath life into them and give them memories, families, backgrounds, experiences and before the book is completed, they have become real to us because we've experienced their emotions while we're writing them. We've asked them questions and waited for their answers.

With everything they've experienced we've drawn from our experiences to give them life. Drawn from our own emotions too.

When I first started writing my SEAL Team Heartbreakers Series I had an immediate emotional connection to the books because of my father's military service in the Marine Corps. My father had gone in at the tender age of seventeen during WWII. His mother signed the paperwork for him to go. In fact, all but two of my father's siblings went into some branch of the service at that time. The two youngest were too young to serve. My father at seventeen was on Iwo Gima when they raised the flag.

He got out for a short time after WWII but went back in. He did two tours of duty in Korea. He met my mother in the middle of that conflict and married her. She was eighteen.

We were stationed in Millington Tennessee when he got his orders to go to Vietnam. I was twelve when he returned from a three year deployment to Viet Nam and retired as a 1st Sergeant after twenty-four years. And yes you read that right. He was gone for three years, coming home for Christmas once somewhere in the middle of that long deployment.

During that time, we moved back to our hometown in Kentucky because my grandfather was very ill with lung cancer and my grandmother needed help. He died before Daddy returned.

Daddy's return was an adjustment for us all, but especially him. He loved the Corps. Semper Fi was his motto and the Corps was in his blood, but there was a lot of emotional fall out from Viet Nam in our country. Only later, after the anger and grief had calmed, would the fallout for our troops be recognized. They were held accountable for the loss of every battle and every life, instead of the powers that be that pulled the strings, and every service man felt that heavy burden dumped on their shoulders after they'd risked their lives.

As a military family we got to experience up close how his deployment there had affected my father. When he deployed he weighed around a hundred and sixty-five pounds. He weighed a hundred and thirty when he got home. His faith and pride in the Corps were still there, but other beliefs had been shaken.

I didn't realize until later how much strength and courage it took for him to walk away from something he loved so much and for him to rebuild a different life afterwards. He got a job as a maintenance man fixing machinery at the University of Kentucky while he worked toward a degree there in Architectural Drafting. He went on to work another 25 years in that field for US Steel and Arch Mineral. Climbing the mountains of Southeastern Kentucky doing surveys for them in later years, I know he found some peace. He was always laughing and talking. We joked that he'd talk to a lamp post if it could talk back.

It was only in later years he made just a few comments about some of his experiences at war. After going to the movies and seeing Saving Private Ryan he made the comment that Spielburg had done a good job depicting how the landing on Omaha Beach was at the beginning of the movie. He said it had been just like that...only worse.

Knowing my seventeen year old father had been through that...Seen the carnage, and loss of life... I can't watch that movie even now. But my heart bled for him. And I understood how strong a boy he was to have survived and how much stronger a man he had become because of his experiences.

I've poured so many of my memories of the corps and our lives during his service into my first SEAL Team Heartbreakers book especially but in every book since as well. The struggle for our service men and women to balance their calling, their duty to serve their country, with their love and loyalty to their families is as heart wrenching for me to write today as it was for me to experience then. There are times tears stream down my face as I write because I know what it feels like to watch someone you love board a plane and live with the uncertainty of whether they will return to you whole, or alive.

I remember that last deployment to Viet Nam when we took my father to the airport so he could catch his plane back to San Diego. This was back when you walked out to the plane and climbed the stairs to board. He had held us each and told us he loved us. We watched from the gate as he boarded the plane. At the top of the stairs, he turned to look back one last time and raised a hand to wave. His cheeks were wet with tears. As were ours.

All this has come back to me while I write the next SEAL Team Heartbreakers novella. Breaking Point. I thought it would be a full length book but my emotional involvement with these characters and the subject I'm dealing with has made me realize that a novella is all that's needed. It will be out early next year.

Here's a very-very rough draft of the blurb, due to change once the novella is finished:

After fifteen years of marriage Trish Marks has hit her breaking point. Her caseload as a social worker has doubled, her son is acting out, and her husband is never home. Something has to give. When she’s shot by an irate husband during a home check, it does.

Navy SEAL Petty Officer Langley Marks is five years away from retirement and his pension. He knows there’s trouble in his marriage when he returns home from a deployment to a wife who’s, distant, overworked, stressed and unhappy. He’s only seen her like this once before after she nearly died giving birth to their last child. When she’s shot he relives that experience all over again and feels just as helpless.

But he’s not flying away and leaving her to fight her way back alone this time. He’s willing to sacrifice it all to prove to her she’s the most important thing in his life. He just has to find a way to make her believe it. 

I'm sharing the cover here as well: 

I have to plug the rest of my books. You know I do. So if you're interested in highly emotional military romantic suspense here are the links to the entire series and short blurbs for each one. 

Google play:

BREAKING FREE Can a love-shy physical therapist with a fragile self-esteem and a commitment wary Navy SEAL plagued by guilt, discover the man responsible for her brother's injuries? Or will loyalties forged on the battlefield prove more binding than the truth? Or their love?

BREAKING THROUGH Ensign Brett Weaver wakes from a month-long coma to discover he is being investigated for murder.
When Brett offers Reporter Tess Kelly information about SEAL training in exchange for an introduction to her father, she jumps at the chance. But the secret she discovers about Brett is just as newsworthy. Will her feelings for him prevent her from releasing a story that could destroy his SEAL career?

BREAKING AWAY Navy SEAL Harold “Flash” Carney is neck deep in a double cross, cut off from his team, and on the run with only his training to keep him alive.
Samantha Cross is desperate to leave her past as a battered wife behind, but her ex husband has turned stalker and threatening to take her daughter.
Samantha and Flash can’t fight their attraction. Will trouble pasts destroy their love? 

 BREAKING TIES (a SEAL Team Heartbreakers novella) Navy SEAL Oliver Shaker is blindsided when he learns that not only does his wife, Selena, have a life-threatening illness, but she’s also pregnant. Can the SEAL code he follows see them through?

Navy SEAL Brett 'Cutter' Weaver is on a mission to Nicaragua when he learns his bride-to-be, Tess Kelly, has been injured in a car bombing. He rushes home to find Tess embroiled in three controversial stories, and one interview at a time, they set out to catch a murderer.

Corporal Callahan Crowes returns home missing part of a leg but pledges to live every moment to the fullest.  Reeling from her fiancĂ©’s infidelity, Kathleen O’Connor accepts a job far away from the pity of friends and family and puts romance firmly behind her. But when Kathleen’s life is threatened, she discovers there’s more to a man than two good legs—it’s the size of his heart that counts.

Navy SEAL Zach O’Connor was dumped while he was deployed on a high-risk mission. Never again will he allow his feelings to make him lose sight of what really matters. Violence and heartache have nearly shattered Dr. Piper Bertinelli’s life, and the last thing she needs is to be attracted to a military man scheduled to deploy. But when an overzealous policeman comes into their lives, they must look into the past to find the reason behind her father’s death and end the pain and guilt that’s haunted Piper for seven long years.

Thanks for stopping by and READ ON!!

Teresa Reasor