I Love Surprises

Many of you know that as I’ve worked on Book #4, things took a turn I wasn’t expecting. My characters, bless their sneaky hearts, create unexpected twists and turns all the time. In essence, they write the story.

And no, I’m not crazy. I’m a typical author. Well, OK…maybe that means…never mind!

Back to topic.

cool rowan picFor those of you who’ve read the first three books in the series, you know Rowan is the main guy. He’s the protagonist with his own agenda and a big-time attitude. The latest unexpected twist of the story involves Rowan’s interaction with another character, forcing that character to respond according to his own nature.

End result: Rowan finds himself in a situation he never expected, one he’s helpless to extricate himself from.

This turn of events left me flummoxed. I frowned at the screen, muttering “what the…how am I supposed to fix this?” To be honest, my first thought was to rewrite the scene and change either Rowan’s initial action that caused the huge problem, or the response his actions engendered.

Would that be an honest depiction of my characters? No. I don’t think so.

Instead I wrote a scene involving the characters most likely to help Rowan out of a tough spot. Those characters seemed to balk at the solution I was sure they’d choose, which surprised me even more.

At a complete loss (I hate even the feeling of being unproductive), I started re-reading the manuscript and creating an outline of the story so far. When I finished reading all 61,158 words, I stared wide-eyed at the screen as it dawned on me that pretty much everything I’d written led to that ONE SCENE.

To clarify a bit!

When I start a book, I know how it’s going to end, but have no earthly idea how everything will play out to achieve that ending. I just write and write and see where the story goes. The characters do their jobs and lead me along. This book was no different.

Except this time…

For the first time ever, the ending and how to get there laid itself out in my mind. It felt like I was standing on a mountain top, looking down at a panoramic view of the rest of the story, following and turning on what has become THE pivotal scene of the book.

Or maybe it’s the pivotal scene of the whole series. Could be. You’ll just have to read the stories to find out.

For TBT…on a Monday

As the old cliché goes, time flies.

I meant to post this blog for Throwback Thursday. Getting ready for the non-starter winter storm that left us with an inch of snow on top of a glaze of ice, plus my one-day-a-week “real world” job left my once-a-month blog unwritten.

Moving on.

Some of you know about my affection, well OK, love for Glock pistols. For a bunch of new readers of both my books and blog, I thought it would be fun to reminisce about how that love affair started. FAVE_PIC

So. Here goes!

In 2009 I was hard at work on Consummate Betrayal, the first book in the Rowan Milani Chronicles. My research told me that FBI agents carried Glock pistols. At that point in my life, I had never fired a pistol. I’d always thought of shooting firearms as a someday hobby.

Quick aside – my mother did tell me that when I was three or four, she found me sitting on their bed, pointing my dad’s revolver out the window. According to her, I was going to shoot a “sqrill.” Thankfully, she averted a sure disaster!

But I digress.

In order to accurately portray a gun-toting protagonist, I had to shoot a pistol. Since my protagonist, Rowan Milani, is (guess I should say – was) an FBI agent, I really wanted to shoot a Glock. A great friend took me to the range and let me shoot his 9mm pistol. But it wasn’t a Glock, so of course, that wasn’t good enough.

I had to get a Glock.

On Valentine’s Day weekend in 2010, in an almost blizzard, my intrepid husband took me to a gun show in Sioux Falls. The Ramkota Exhibit Hall was jam-packed with gun folk of all sorts. Getting close enough to actually see the myriad offerings of semi-autos, revolvers and every possible accessory, took patience and a little smiling, insistent elbowing my way between bodies.

I’ll never forget seeing that black pistol, lying among all the other offerings, on one of many tables. It was the first Glock I’d ever seen in person. I’d read somewhere that when you find the perfect pistol, it speaks to you. And so…

I picked it up.

It felt so right. The grip fit my hand perfectly. The balanced weight felt comfortable and at the same time, powerful. On that snowy Saturday afternoon, the sleek, sexy, 40 caliber Glock 22 came home with me. And that, as they say, to use one final cliché, is the rest of the story.

Or is it?

I began a new life that day. For me, carrying a gun isn’t about appearing badass and cool. It’s a huge responsibility. For anyone contemplating purchasing a gun for self-defense, I highly recommend a great book, titled Armed Response: A Comprehensive Guide to Using Firearms for Self-Defense by David Kenik.

Your answer to THE QUESTION posed at the beginning of Chapter Two will tell you whether or not you should carry a gun.

My Glock inventory has changed several times. Currently, my 45 caliber Glock 36 is my favorite, supplemented by the sweet, newish Glock 43, a 9mm baby brother to the .45 that fits nicely in my purse or ankle holster.

I’m always up for a civil, well-informed conversation about how our American culture is, indeed, gun culture and about our cherished Second Amendment, guarantor of ALL the other rights we hold dear. I am more than willing to help anyone interested in pursuing responsible firearms ownership.

Thanks, everyone, for reading my blog and books! Please give my blog a FOLLOW, and my author page a LIKE, if you’re so inclined. Here’s my fave – the Glock 36. ♥♥  


The View From Behind The Dashboard…Of The Mustang

IMG_0306Random life. That’s all I’ve got.

When I started the Rowan Milani Chronicles blog site, I was determined to post once a month. Shouldn’t be too hard to come up with something interesting, maybe book-related and fun for the lovely fans of the series to read, right? So far, I think (fingers crossed) that’s been the case.

Not so much for October.

Working away on book #4, occasionally I’d consider writing the blog. And wait. For inspiration, something meaningful or entertaining. An idea. I got nothing. A blank mind. Well, not so much blank as crammed with great scenes, dialogue and myriad possibilities for #4 and beyond. Which reminds me…

I’ve discovered Melatonin. It’s a miracle, a natural wonder. I can now actually fall asleep instead of replaying all of the above items over and over and…yeah, you get it. Otherwise, when or if I’d eventually, finally fall asleep, I’d be awake in a couple hours and start the replay again.

Tedious. Irritating. To the max.

Which makes for more restless hours staring at the ceiling and making the mistake of touching Lucy. Of course the tiny terrorist is sound asleep, claws firmly affixed to whatever part of me she settled next to. She gets grumpy when awakened from a nice night’s sleep.

Geez, devil dog! Chill.IMG_6427 (1)

On the bright side, a new resource for my endless research has revealed itself. I’ve got nothing more to say about it, because it’s embarrassing to admit I couldn’t find it for the last eight or nine years. Sometimes I am simply obtuse, or dense, or something. You decide.

This past month of random life involved a weekend in New Ulm, Minnesota to celebrate Oktoberfest with my niece Angela and her husband Erik. We had fun at Schell’s Brewery, which is the focal point, and a worthy destination, but Morgan Creek Vineyard and Winery holds a special place in my heart. Their wines are delightful.

Yet another bright spot – Blackie the Mustang has been detailed from bumper to bumper, inside and out and under the hood. After a busy summer traveling all over God’s creation, it needed it. The interior looks brand new. Daryl, aka Boomer, (his stage name) told me the interior was quite a challenge.

Then he said – What kind of dog do you have??? So far, I have found two, yes only TWO Lucy hairs in the super clean interior. Before that, you could look up and count them on the roof…like stars in a velvet sky.

But I digress.

We picked up the car last Thursday morning at 7 a.m. The exterior literally glowed in Boomer’s well-lit garage. Enter the rain. SNAFU, right?? Story of my life. A few blocks out, we met a school bus and just like that, the Mustang was filthy again.

Moving on.

One crisp evening Ernie and I walked downtown with dear friends Arnie and Becky to the Icon Lounge and Event Center. For a few lovely hours we were transported out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. As its website states: Retro upcycling meets urban minimalism with the charm of the historic downtown scene. Whatever that means, I agree. It’s a cool place.

Hey, they serve Ramen. You have to try it. Along with a Phil Collins. Best cocktail I’ve had in years. But the main attraction is a breathtaking professional Jazz quintet. Oh my!  JAS Quintet is special. Their passion and creativity raised the experience to a whole new level for me. They invited local musicians to join them on stage, which made it even more fun.

And…book #4 is progressing. I believe the arc of this particular story is established. Now it’s a matter of writing and researching and letting the characters do their thing. I’m enjoying the solitude, albeit with the above mentioned forays into the real world.

The colder the weather, the less distracted I am. (Duh!) I’m surprised to admit that I kind of enjoy getting up, shivering through a quick walk with Lucy and then camping in front of the laptop with my beverage of choice. Believe it or not, it’s ALWAYS five o’clock somewhere.IMG_0316

Like I said…random life. That’s all I’ve got. See you next month!

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.