Ahhh September…

IMG_0056You’re a melancholy month for me, with too many endings and beginnings. Because of that, I dislike you. A lot.

When I step outside at midnight with Lucy, our naughty rat terrier, I take a deep breath of air that still holds the comforting scent of long, warm days. But its chilly crispness is a bittersweet reminder of summer’s end and fall’s beginning. And we all know what comes after that. Except for my southern and west coast friends, of course.

For me, the unwelcome change of seasons notwithstanding, 9/11 is the main reason for my disillusionment with the month of September. My life and every other American’s life changed forever on that day. September 11, 2001 marked a definite end of our national complacency or perhaps willful blindness, regarding the threat of Islamic terrorism.

A whole slew of things began after that. The USA Patriot Act, the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security are the most notable to me, as an airline customer service agent at a United Express station in Sioux Falls, SD, during that chaotic time. Suffice it to say, I learned and experienced a lot, which translates to a bunch of airline stories. Hey, give me wine and I’ll tell you everything.

But I digress…

A Canadian friend told me that over time, the searing, wounding emotions evoked by watching the planes crash into the Twin Towers and seeing those two magnificent towers implode, would fade. Maybe for some that is the case. Speaking for myself, I must say, my Canadian friend was wrong.

I remember like yesterday the first time I saw Ground Zero up close and personal, in February, 2002. An NYPD angel…another story altogether…gave my friend Helen and I a behind-the-scenes tour, around the backside of the smoldering, twisted wreckage. Our police officer angel showed us things and told us stories we would never have otherwise known.

We choked back tears in the private viewing area reserved for United employees and family members. We walked the endless blocks of chain link fence bearing mementos, letters, pictures, and pleas for the lost who would never be found. We listened to the horror stories told by our hotel proprietor, who experienced the attack only a few blocks from Ground Zero.

The entire experience was heart breaking and gut-wrenching, but without it, the Rowan Milani Chronicles would not exist.

My goal in writing this series of stories has always been to utilize an entertaining plot and a flawed but compelling hero to help regular, everyday people understand the plans Islamic jihadists, empowered by the Muslim Brotherhood have for the United States. And to illustrate how our seemingly naïve intelligence agencies unwittingly (or wittingly…you do the research and decide) aid and abet them.

An ever expanding reader base gives me hope that maybe I’m succeeding. One thing is certain.

I will never stop trying.

And I will never forget. world-trade-center-67695_1920

Thanks for reading my blog! You may check out the books in the Rowan Milani Chronicles at www.MaryYungeberg.com.

Enjoy Your Life

During our seven long months of unpredictable South Dakota winter weather, I worked on book #4. By mid-May I’d glommed together 31,000 or so words of the story.

Once the weather finally warmed up, my mind went blank. I couldn’t conjure up a single scene to continue the story. I’m a fairly introspective person, so I needed to figure out what was going on in my head. Had the story line run dry? Was it done? Over? Time to move on?

One thought kept returning, almost like a mantra, whispering across my mind while I was feeling unproductive, guilty, and half depressed. Enjoy your life.

Say what?

“I do enjoy my life,” I’d retort, yet the thought persisted. Enjoy your life. When I took the time to consider, I couldn’t get past the idea that God was trying to tell me that this summer was mine to simply enjoy. It was up to me to choose to either listen to or ignore the gentle, insistent voice.

Anyone who follows my Facebook page knows I chose to listen. And it’s been a glorious summer.

It was hard at first because being productive is an integral part of my sense of self-worth. I’ve always worked hard. In High School I had three part-time jobs. During my four years at Iowa State, I worked every summer. After that came a career, a family and several more careers. On and on it goes.

It’s called life.

A couple days ago, something changed. For kicks, and because I hadn’t thought about it in quite a while, I decided to reread what I’d written for book #4. As I read, all kinds of ideas fired in my mind. I wrote a pivotal scene. I’m excited about it, although it’s kind of terrifying and sad and sets the pace for the rest of the story.

It looks like my summer hiatus is over, although a couple more adventures are in the offing. By the time summer slides into fall and the first snowflakes arrive on a brisk, 30 mph breeze, I’ll be more than ready to continue the next installment of the Rowan Milani Chronicles.

Why share this?

It was a wise choice to listen to that still, small voice. Of course it always is, but often I’m so busy and harried and concerned with being productive, that I miss things. Since I love you all, I wanted to share this in case someone is hearing that insistent, gentle voice. If you are, give it a listen.

Enjoy your life.

BT3 (2)

 

DC Reflections

Fun, crazy, intense, fascinating, eye-opening, surprising, intriguing, exhausting, hate the Metro, love the history.

Ever since I sank into my first class seat at Reagan National Airport, finally ready to head home, I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts on experiencing Washington, DC. I’ve decided it’s pretty much impossible and those thoughts will probably always remain, like that first sentence, a somewhat incoherent, colorful mess in my head.

Here goes an attempt to give you a glimpse.

The first four days with the DC Project were run-and-gun, no pun intended. Our days began around 5 a.m. and didn’t wind down until 10 p.m. or later. We shuttled between congressional office buildings…Russell, Dirksen, Hart, Rayburn, Longworth and Cannon. In one of those buildings, I discovered the world’s best mac and cheese.

We met with representatives and senators or their aides. Speaking of aides, did you know a bunch of smart, young college grads actually run Congress? I didn’t know either, until I saw them in action. My lasting impression is of their courtesy and expertise in answering constituent phone calls. Before I went to Washington I would never have considered calling my senator or representative. But now I would if an issue was important to me.

After three intensive days of meetings, I realized something that confirmed my basic perception of Congress: We are blessed with some politicians who are smart and well-spoken, with a genuine passion for our country. I met them and can attest to that.

We met some who vehemently disagreed with our advocacy for the Second Amendment. Some of them were courteous and some were not particularly kind. Some refused to see us. Cowards.

After the DC Project ended, I had four days to explore on my own. I saw the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I can’t describe the experience of actually gazing on the documents that protect and guarantee my own personal freedom. To know they were enshrined so many years ago, and have endured to this day, is awe inspiring to me. For maybe the first time, I felt a strong connection to the men who sacrificed for untold future millions of Americans. I enjoy and benefit from their sacrificial legacy every single day.

And talk about sacrifice…the Vietnam War Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Iwo Jima Memorial and finally, Arlington National Cemetery. They left me overwhelmed. Even typing this sentence, I find myself shaking my head because it’s practically impossible to comprehend the sheer number of men and women who gave everything for our country for all of us.

And they’re still doing it. Our country isn’t perfect, but we have a lot to be grateful for and proud of, too.

One of the most unexpected privileges for me was seeing the flag that flew over Fort McHenry, inspiring Francis Scott Key to write what became our national anthem. The flag resides in the American History Museum, safe and secure in a pressurized chamber, temperature and humidity controlled. Seeing that flag, knowing its history, touched me deeply. I sat and looked at it for many minutes. I will always be glad for the opportunity to see that flag.

Experiencing all the history, touring the Capitol and seeing the sights made for a special week. But the absolute best thing to come from my trip is the connections to so many accomplished women supporting our Second Amendment. I didn’t get to meet everyone but am thrilled with the friendships begun that week.

One final thing.

Before the trip, our local ABC affiliate in Sioux Falls, KSFY, interviewed me about the DC Project and upcoming trip. See interview here. While in Washington, just before our rally at the end of the week, Gray TV, KSFY’s owner, took the time to interview me again. It’s pretty cool that a regular person like me, who simply wants to preserve my right to defend myself if need be, actually has the ability to speak out and be given a voice. I never dreamed of standing in front of the Supreme Court building for a TV interview. Here’s the second interview in Washington.

 

If that’s possible, then a lot more is possible when everyday, regular Americans choose to act.

Along For The Ride

A couple days ago I received the first paperback copy of Consummate Betrayal with its updated cover. I’m incredibly grateful to Mirna Gilman at Books Go Social in Ireland for the new look. It’s great fun to see the cover in the flesh, so to speak, and I love it!

For kicks I decided to reread the book. As I met Rowan again in that first story, it got me thinking about how his character has grown. When I started writing CB in 2009, I cast Rowan as a young FBI special agent with a chip on his shoulder about being Iranian-American. A quick aside: like many authors, when I write, the characters take over. They come up with their own dialogue and literally chart their own course. Rowan, as a supremely confident, arrogant individual, did that in spades!

By the time I was eight chapters or so into the story, I made the tough decision to axe the first six chapters and rewrite pretty much the entire beginning. Another quick aside: CB is 107,791 words in length. While working on that story, I wrote over 500,000 words…yeah, more than half a MILLION. Most of it got discarded because of how Rowan and the other characters grew, and because of their growth, the story, i.e. the entire story project, became much, much more than I had anticipated.

My original goals were tied to the idea of a trilogy based on the themes of betrayal, retribution and redemption. Those themes seemed to work out pretty well in CB and Unholy. However, as I worked on the third book (of the trilogy which became a series), it dawned on me that Rowan kept resisting the redemption he’d been offered at the end of Unholy. The upheaval he experienced in both CB and Unholy left him even more wounded, both physically and emotionally, than he’d been at the start of CB.

What he wanted, more than anything, was to go back and fix everything he’d screwed up. He desperately wanted the opportunity to be a different man. Or maybe I should say, a different kind of man. But he’d been broken and the angry, über confident Rowan no longer existed. A humbled, hesitant man emerged from the screen written pages. Once again, the character took control.

I’m super excited to see where the intricate tale goes from here. The fourth installment is at 31,704 words and counting. So far, Rowan is beginning to reassert himself, becoming more confident. He has renewed hope for his future, although still grappling with who is offering redemption to him, and why. Will he accept it? Time and the words that appear on the screen will tell. I am along for the ride.

To Start…

Hey everyone!

Welcome to my first blog post for The Rowan Milani Chronicles. My plan is to have fun sharing some FAQs about my first three thrillers as well as tidbits on the fourth. Along with “book stuff” I am looking forward to engaging with my super cool readers about the things I’m passionate about, and things that I love.

Perhaps my main passion, since experiencing 9/11 while employed in the airline industry, and visiting Ground Zero many times, is to educate everyone about the threat we face from jihad carried out by fundamental and radical Islamists. In pursuit of that goal, I’ve met some amazing and courageous people involved in special operations, law enforcement, and counter-terrorism. The willingness of these special people to share information and insights has enabled me to write accurately.

Another passion near and dear to my heart are my two Glock pistols. (Sooo sexy!) When I need a writing break, you may find me refreshing my mind at the shooting range. Tied to my passion for Glock pistols is my strong advocacy for our Second Amendment. The personal empowerment of self-defense is a precious right for every American.

I am passionate about encouraging all people to pursue their dreams. We owe it to ourselves to make the most of the one life we’ve been given. Too often I’ve met folks who are consumed with daily responsibilities and obligations to the point where they themselves are lost, or invisible. I consider that a tragedy. Find a way to pursue your goals and dreams! You won’t be sorry, and may even be surprised at how much you enrich not only your life, but the lives of those you’re closest to.

Those of you who already know me have probably noticed (big DUH) that tearing up the blacktop in our Mustang convertible is definitely one of the things I love. Numerous trips are on the summer agenda, both here in Flyover Country, and a few beyond. I’m excited to share pictures and thoughts as each trip unfolds.

Of course, Lucy the rotten Rat Terrier (Rat Terrorist is more like it) is a big part of my life and she will most likely get her licks in…er, instead of bites. If you have ever met a Rat Terrier, you know they’re more than happy to give you either. No matter her mood, she is a much loved companion and member of the family. Plus she runs the house and who can argue with that?

Please reach out to chat about anything I’ve mentioned. I’m always up for a conversation. As an author I especially love talking about the characters and my continuing thriller series. Very often I’ve told my husband Ernie (he’s a long-suffering soul) that I’d much rather spend time with the people occupying the world inside my head. I’m quite certain there are days when he’d probably prefer I did that as well.  🙂