We have a lot more to fear than fear itself. Our downfall will be ignorance, intolerance and complacency.

It’s difficult to put into words the emotions that still linger after the Boston Marathon bombings earlier in the week.  I’m sure we’ll all be processing it for a long time to come.  This blog is the beginning part of my process.  Thanks for joining me.

First, I’m not a native of Boston or Massachusetts.  I’m a Midwestern girl who doesn’t happen to be all that fond of cities.  When I took my current job in Boston more than eight years ago my biggest worry was whether I could stand traveling into a city everyday for work.  I thought I’d grow tired of it.  I never did.  The people who I travel with every day on the train have become good friends.  I look forward to chatting and laughing with them every day.  Boston has also gotten under my skin and into my heart.  It’s a small city loaded with character, cultural diversity, history and gritty resilience from the North End to Faneuil Hall and the Back Bay.  What I’ve come to learn about cities is that they are like an organism made up of all of its necessary parts.  Boston is a living breathing thing that was wounded when those bombs went off at the finish line of the Marathon.  It’s a wound that will hurt for a while to come, but it will heal.  I know it because I know Boston.  She’s a beautiful, strong and amazing place.

The two things I love most about the Marathon is the energy it creates and that it’s a celebration of a sport that is all about freedom.  It’s fitting that the Marathon takes place on Patriot’s day.  For those who run, you know what I mean.  I feel most free when I’m off on a good run in the woods.  With running, only minimal gear is needed and you get to go wherever your legs will take you.  You aren’t confined to a stadium or field and neither are the spectators.  It really pisses me off that that freedom was what the terrorists exploited.  As for the energy in Boston on Marathon day, it is something not to be missed.  The air is thick with the positive energy and excitement over the race from both the runners and spectators.  It’s not the kind of sport that pits team against team.  Sure, the elite runners are in it to win, but in larger part, the Marathon is about camaraderie, personal achievement and charity with the spectators there to cheer on their loved ones and friends.

In the moments, hours and days after the bombing, the mood of Boston changed dramatically from the excitement and feeling of freedom that comes with the Marathon to devastation.  Boston was heartbroken, angry, confused, scared and not so free at all.  Not only were the murderers still on the loose, military and civilian police, the FBI and swat teams filled the city.  I will never forget stepping off of the train and seeing military police officers in flak jackets carrying assault weapons.  The day the President came to Boston to mourn the victims of the bombings a swat team was parked outside my building for the most of the day.  Heavily armed police officers with bomb sniffing dogs were stationed throughout the city.  Next we had the surreal complete lockdown of Boston and its immediate suburbs as the police closed in on the men who committed the horrible murderous crimes.  While I understand and was grateful for that police presence, it felt akin to what I would imagine it would feel like to sleep with a loaded 45 under one’s pillow.  Not a good feeling at all.  And, definitely not healthy in the long run.

I’m immensely relieved that the terrorists were captured before any more innocent people were killed or hurt.  Just like everyone else, I’ll be processing this for while to come.  But, here’s the thing.  The bullshit from politicians and gun advocates is already starting and that frightens me even more than the events of the past week.  As grateful as I am for all of those heroic police officers who put their lives on the line to stay between the public and the bad guys, I don’t want to live in a society where heavily armed guards are on every street corner.  I don’t want to live in a society in which those accused of even the most heinous crimes are denied their Miranda rights.  There is even talk from some politicians that the surviving terrorist should be tried in a military court instead of the civilian courts.  This is the United States of America!  We’re supposed to give bad guys a fair trial no matter how bad they are.  That’s what makes us, us.

Now is not the time for us to give in to fear and allow ourselves to become something we don’t recognize.  I don’t want to live in a militarized society afraid of every shadow and unwilling to stand by our principles of justice.  I don’t want to live in a society filled with vigilantes armed to the teeth with assault weapons under the guise (bullshit) of keeping the peace.  Seriously?  I don’t want to live with the proverbial loaded 45 underneath my pillow.

While the heavy police presence made me nervous over the last couple of days, yes, I was comforted by their presence and immensely proud of them.  They were and are the good guys.  My heart breaks for the MIT officer who was ambushed and killed by the vicious cowards who thought nothing of killing innocent people.  The police in the immediate aftermath of the bombings were our protectors as it should be.  But going forward, our job as citizens is to educate ourselves and our children, pay our taxes so that we can afford to pay the police to do what we expect them to do and hold our politicians to the highest standards, including the rule of law as provided in our Constitution.  If we do that, we’ll be fine.  I’m not saying that bad things won’t ever happen again.  They will because the world has its share of bad people.  But, we won’t become something we don’t’ recognize.  We have a whole lot more to fear than fear itself.  Our downfall will be ignorance, intolerance and complacency.

So, let’s honor those precious lives lost or injured and the amazing everyday heroes who came to their rescue by being our best selves.  Peace.

Looking into the abyss and why I need to write about it.

When I finished my last book, I tried to convince myself that my next one should be lighter.  Why not try to write a simple romance?  Girl meets girl, girl falls in love, and then lives happily ever after.  Hawaii would be the perfect setting, right?  Warm weather, sandy beaches, yummy food and beautiful women in love would fill the pages.  I absolutely love to read romance novels.  They leave me feeling content and hopeful.  I’m so appreciative of the countless wonderful books out there that are simply and beautifully written about romance.  The world really needs a lot more love.  Romance novels have a big place on my book shelves.

“Step Into the Wind,” on the other hand, was emotionally and mentally exhausting to write.  There were days when it left me feeling depressed after having immersed myself in the subject of mental illness while creating the story.  At the time, I had to write it though.  I needed to look into that abyss in order to understand it better.  I’ve discovered, after many years of dealing with my own anxiety and depression, that the best way to learn how not to be afraid is to face the things I’m most afraid of head-on.  It’s also how I find solutions and move forward.  I hoped that with “Step Into the Wind” I could do more than just tell a story about a woman’s emotional and mental suffering, but show how she finally learned to overcome it, and be happy.  Romance, of course, was also part of the story, but only secondary.  I am and always will be a romantic at heart.  I’m also a realist.  Life is messy, and so are we.

That’s why my next book is not going to be a simple romance either.  I’m not ready to reveal the full scope of the subject matter yet.  It’s sort of like when a woman first learns she’s pregnant.  She’s hesitant to let the world know until she’s pretty sure that the baby is well on its way to being born.  What I can say is that I’m learning much from the research and I’m already starting to feel the tug of that abyss.  The abyss, to me, is a cavernous well of human messiness and emotion that drives us to be who we are in the world.  It’s raw, real, good, evil, kind and terrible, our collective human yin and yang.  It’s like walking along the edge of the Grand Canyon.  Looking into it makes my knees weak, but I can’t help myself.  I have to glimpse into it.  There’s so much to learn and say about the things I see within its expanse.  The subject that I’ll be tackling is daunting and dangerous.  Passions run high over the subject, and I suspect there are many landmines that I could easily step into along the way.  But, I don’t write to please other people or stay safe.  I write in hopes that I’ll learn something about myself and the world.  The icing on the cake is getting to share what I’ve learned with other people through the story that I create, and then they actually like it.  The reality is that some do, and some don’t.  I’m totally okay with that because it’s also a learning opportunity, every bit of it.  My desire is to continue to always learn to be a better writer, and speak from my heart about the things that move me no matter how scary the subject.   I’m ready to step back into the abyss, learn what I can, and hopefully say something that matters.

Thanks to all of my fellow authors for the wonderful stories that you tell.  You inspire me when you step into the abyss.  Authors who aren’t afraid to fail or write about the uncomfortable stories from the abyss are among my favorites.  Keep creating.

Peace.