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 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. miniG3

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. Y TRIP 5-12 3

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? IMG_1717

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.  🙂