On September 11th, 2001, two days before my 17th birthday, I woke up at 6 a.m. to go to school. My family didn’t watch TV in the morning or listen to the radio, so I got ready, grabbed breakfast, and headed out the door at 6:45am (PST) with my younger sister. We drove to my best friend’s house to pick up her and her brother, and as soon as they got in the car, our lives were forever changed.
My best friend’s family members were avid morning news radio listeners and heard all about the horrible tragedy that plagued New York City and other surrounding areas/States that entire morning. After chatting with her dad, who told us to call him if anything crazy happened, we drove to school while listening to the radio the whole time. We received the latest updates from the East Coast and were in total shock. There was nothing to say, really. We just listened.
Arriving at school was somewhat frightening. Our classmates were in a frenzy, the staff all looked worried, and feelings of depression and anxiety hung over the whole campus. Some of the kids had parents who traveled often for business and were scared that their parents would be on a plane with suicidal terrorists. Some had parents who worked in San Francisco and were worried that such a prominent city like SF would be next on the hit list. We didn’t know what to expect, but it was no use going home. Being home alone on a school day seemed worse than being at school with a bunch of people with whom to share our fears.
I was so grateful to have had awesome teachers who let us watch the news in just about every class. It’s not like they were able to concentrate on work that day, either. They were just as scared as the students, and didn’t try to hide it. And because I went to a Christian school, we said prayers in every single period. That did bring much comfort and we found solace in our faith–whatever the varied beliefs of the student body. That day, everyone prayed and had hope that things just had to get better.
During such times like 9/11, people expect prayer and words of hope. It’s amazing how someone will curse God or their neighbor until something dreadful happens. Then, it seems, God and your neighbor is all you have in the midst of trial.
That day, in California’s Silicon Valley, we made it through the last bell, and went home to our loved ones. We–at least those I knew–did not experience the 9/11 tragedy in full, like those in other parts of the country. But we all knew things would never be the same for the United States. And our hearts and prayers went out to those directly and horribly affected.
Never in my life have I witnessed such a culmination of hope, devastation, and camaraderie. People who didn’t speak to one another became friends in a day. Our cultural and racial prejudice, for a time, was dismantled. As long as you were an American, it didn’t matter what you looked like or where you came from. You were an American and you belonged in this country and you were not you–you were US.
Sadly, many negative things also developed from the 9/11 incident. Innocent people who were American but “looked a certain way,” were wrongly targeted from the springboard of people’s anger and fear. And as time went on, people forgot the camaraderie and prayers and sense of belonging to something greater than themselves, and became lost and disconnected. They became jaded at best, and cruel at the worst.
Today, though we’ll maybe watch footage of the World Trade Center or the Pentagon being crashed into, many of us will then go back to watching Honey Boo Boo, or Keeping Up with the Kardashians, or some other reality show that’s not really our reality. Don’t get me wrong–it’s nice to be entertained and become brainless for a while. But how many times do we default to that and stay disconnected from one another?
Will it take another tragedy for the citizens of this wonderful country to embrace each other and finally shed our own prejudices, judgements, and insecurities? Is that what it will take to help us accept ourselves and others–just as we are?
I am filled with so much gratitude that my family was not directly affected by 9/11. The only large-scale, traumatic event I’ve ever gone through was the big earthquake of 1989. And that was Nature’s doing–not an act of terrorism on humanity. Whenever I read about 9/11 or see video footage, I still weep like a baby. My heart swells with sadness at the thought of all those people losing their lives–especially the brave ones who prevented further damage by their acts of heroism. May we “never forget,” as the motto says.
So today, as we remember, I would like to ask you to join me in an exercise. I’m going to go “media silent,” in honor of 9/11 and its heroes and will not be Facebooking, Tweeting, Tumblring, Pinning, or anything in between. I’m always digitally connected, but today, I’m going to spend time with people I love and actually connect with them. I sincerely hope you’ll do the same. It’s not much, but it’s something we can all do as individuals that will have a rippling effect, I’m sure.
May God bless those who are especially hurting today, and may you go forward today and every day, loving yourself and others in the greatest capacity that you can.
Do you have a 9/11 story to share? Let us know in the comments below. 🙂
I JUST came back from a wonderful vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and I was able to read to my heart’s content while working on my tan. 🙂 I will share photos and news from my vacation later this week, but I do have a special treat for today’s post. A new find (for me) that was recommended to me by my lovely and talented writer friend, Robin Woods: Under the Never Sky. Let me just say…WOW. This book has so much wow factor that I actually took the time to review it.
My review doesn’t go too in depth as far as the story itself is concerned, but I do explain why I’m so in love with this book/series and can’t shut up about it. If you’re looking for a
great SPECTACULAR read, then I suggest you grab yourself a copy of this book and sit in a little cave until you’re done reading. It’s that good. Who needs food or showers? You can finish it in two days and then head back to reality. Ha!
So, ladies and gents, for your pleasure I present my Goodreads review of Under the Never Sky. Cheers!
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I could NOT put down this book. I read it right after reading Divergent, and though both books land in the Dystopian genre, they were pleasantly worlds apart. I don’t know how to completely describe what it was/is about this series that draws me in…but my one word attempt is MAGIC. This book is completely magic and I want more and more and more! There were even times I went back to parts of the book to reread sections–just because I love the MCs Aria and Perry so, so much.
En brief, this book volleys between the perspectives of the two MCs who are complete and total opposites, except for their strength. Ms. Rossi does a phenomenal job of tying everything together through their struggle and survival. A beautiful love story ensues–as any avid reader would expect of complete opposites and self proclaimed enemies. And as the chemistry evolves, so does the danger, adventure, and magnetism that is Aria, Perry, and the Never Sky. They are bound together like any other heroic couple in their quest to save the world. And who better to save the world than they?
It’s been a while since a book has completely enraptured me like this…I HAD to buy the second book right after I finished the first. Now it will be utter torture while waiting for book three to come out in 2014. Until then, I’ll be dreaming of Aria and Perry and The Still Blue.
Book Title: Star Struck
Author: Amber Garza
Release Date: June 15th
Genre: Contemporary Romance / New Adult
Length: 300 pages
Publisher: Amber Garza
Presented by: As You Wish Tours
Tour Banner by: Candy Smith
I don’t go for bad boys, or rockers.
And I don’t believe in love at first sight.
Until I see Beckett.
And things only get worse when I hear him sing.
There is no one like him.
The problem is that he wants nothing to do with me.
And I know I should stay away from him.
It’s the smart thing to do.
Only when it comes to Beckett I don’t want to do the smart thing. He makes me want to take a risk.
I just hope he decides to take a risk on me too.
Then I lower my gaze and I start playing. As I sing through the verse I’m careful not to make eye contact with Star. But when we reach the chorus and her voice rings out, my eyes lift to hers. Her lips are pressed against the mic between us and I find my gaze lingering on them. Her body moves ever so slightly as she sings and it’s damn sexy. Her lips are pursed and I’m acutely aware of the fact that if I move the microphone out of the way we would totally be making out. I wish I could say that this didn’t tempt me in the least, but then I’d be a liar. In fact, through the rest of the song all I can think about is kissing her. Ironic that the lyrics are about wanting something you can’t have. Star is someone I need to stay as far away from as possible. She’s too good for me. I hardly know her, and yet that’s painfully obvious. I won’t drag her into all of my garbage. When the song finishes, it takes me a minute to compose myself. I get a little satisfaction out of seeing how dazed Star seems to be too.
Only it’s probably more about the rush of singing on stage. I doubt she spent the entire song thinking about kissing me. It’s obvious by the dazed look on her face that she’s relishing the feeling of performing in front of a crowd. Not that I blame her. There really is nothing like it.
Amber Garza is the author of Young Adult paranormal and contemporary romance. She has had a passion for writing since she was a little girl, making books out of notebook paper and staples. Amber lives in California with her amazing husband and two hilarious children who provide her with enough material to keep her writing for years.
(1) One Winner will receive a Signed Copy of Star Struck & Swag
– US Only
(2) Three Winners will receive an eBook Copy of Star Struck gifted via Smashwords
– Open Internationally
Tour Wide Giveaway Link
Book Title: Kilingiri
Author: Janna Gray
Release Date: May 21st 2013
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction, Romantic Saga, Saga
Publisher: GMTA Publishing, LLC
Presented by: As You Wish Tours
MY INTERVIEW WITH JANNA GRAY
TH: Tell us a bit about yourself—what’s your background and how did you become a writer?
JG: I was born in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and educated at convent schools in Kodaikanal, South India and Matlock Derbyshire before training to become a teacher in London. My husband and I have lived and worked in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand and are currently in Dubai, UAE. I’ve always loved writing – I had to really, as at boarding school I was expected to write home every week (the letters were edited for whinges about the nuns and the food!) and as I grew older, before the advent of email and Skype, I continued to keep in touch with family and friends via letters. I kept diaries and wrote short stories to entertain my younger sisters so progressing to writing a book seemed like a pretty good idea!
TH: What is the genre in which you write?
JG: I write romantic sagas. Kilingiri covers two continents and thirty years.
TH: Have you published or written any other works?
JG: When in I lived in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand, I wrote articles on pretty much anything and everything for newspapers and magazines. In addition, I was the Year Book editor for NIST, a wonderful IB school in Bangkok, Thailand where I worked for many years.
TH: Name your top three favorite characters you’ve made up and explain why they’re your favorites.
JG: Nina, Cassie and Midge are my favourite characters. When we first meet Nina from ‘Kilingiri’ in the 60s, she is young, pregnant and unmarried and naïve, facing the consequences of some pretty bad errors of judgement. But she has the resilience of youth; she is great company, intelligent and loving and refuses to accept the obstacles that stand in the way of finding and keeping love. When troubles strike she goes under for a while, as we all do, but then she pulls herself up and gets on with life. She is feisty and can be bloody-minded, she is loyal, a devoted single mum and a loving daughter and friend. She learns to accept there are things she cannot change so she works around them. She also understands the healing power of forgiveness and importance of letting go of the negative aspects of life to make room for the positive.
Cassie from ‘Taprobane’ lives an idyllic life in Ceylon but learns that her paradise contains snakes. She rises above the horrendous effect of spousal abuse and just when we think she has found love and happiness it is snatched away from her. Cassie goes on to raise her daughter alone and takes on the responsibility of another child who has been abandoned by her mother. She is a good, strong woman but like so many of us she is not perfect and she too understands the healing power of forgiveness without becoming a doormat. I hope readers will meet Cassie soon.
Midge and I are getting to know each other through the pages of ‘The Scarlet Thread’, but as her character is still developing in my mind, I can’t say too much about her other than she is barely sixteen at the start of the story, has no relationship with her step mother but is loved dearly by the servants at her family’s home in Hong Kong. I like her already. Despite her learning difficulties, she is strong, adventurous, has a sense of humour and rolls with the punches. Without giving too much away, her life and the relationships she forges impact greatly on the lives of others.
TH: What projects are you currently working on?
JG: Taprobane is in the capable hands of four lovely pre-readers and a wonderful editor with an eagle eye. This has given me time to get on with planning and researching facts for ‘The Scarlet Thread’ which is based in Hong Kong between 1978 and the handover to China in 1999. I’ve knocked out three chapters in Midge’s voice … a new approach for me so I have to focus! I hope it works as I have become rather fond of her!
TH: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
JG: I’ve had two potentially soul-destroying criticisms. One I ignored as it was plain nasty … along the lines of don’t throw this on the rubbish heap yet, there are some salvageable sections. The other was to go back to the manuscript and cut out all the extraneous crap. I was hugely taken aback as I loved every word I’d written (!) but I did what the tough-as-old-boots editor suggested and the result is Kilingiri as she is today, a much better read! And with the blessed gift of hindsight, the extraneous stuff really was crap!
Choosing the best compliment is not easy as I’ve been lucky to have some fabulous reviews but this one ticks pretty much all the boxes! ‘Janna Gray’s Kilingiri was a phenomenal read that tantalizes you with the scenery but really comes through with the characters and the story. You won’t want to miss this book, but be ready to want to travel to the far corners of the world that Janna describes so eloquently.’
TH: What advice can you give to aspiring authors?
JG: Prepare, research, and write from the heart. You don’t have to restrict your writing to what you know about as I’m sure no author is best buddies with a gang of vampires, but nevertheless inhabit the world you’ve created until it becomes second nature to you and thus a believable realm for your readers.
Edit, edit edit, edit, edit, edit, edit, edit, and edit again.
And don’t give up.
TH: What’s a cool fact about you that you’ll share with us?
JG: I once sailed an Enterprise dinghy up a ramp and in to the bar of a yacht club in Ceylon. My good friend Richard who was with me in the dinghy was horrified. But not as horrified as our fathers who were faced with a rather large bill for the repair of a part of the bar, several bar stools and the dinghy. Although Richard mentioned that episode and a couple of others at my wedding, we are still great friends.
1968, Srinagar, Kashmir and Nina is devastated by the death of her new-born baby girl. Sister Angela and Father Michael at the mission hospital step in to nurse Nina back to health but when the friendship between Nina and Father Michael turns to love, Michael makes a decision which will resonate through the years.
It is 1981 and in Kinsale, Ireland, Nina, devoted to her son Joshua, lives a loveless existence, but a chance encounter changes everything. Michael is back in her life, he leaves the priesthood and happiness is within their grasp.
But when past and present collide, their whole world is turned upside down.
Only by facing the consequences of what has gone before, can Nina and Michael embrace the future.
Janna Gray guides us masterfully through this poignant story of love, loss, betrayal and hope.
Janna Gray grew up in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and was educated at boarding schools in Kodaikanal, South India and Derbyshire, England. She trained to be a teacher in London where she met and married her husband Simon. His job took them to Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand where she raised two sons, worked at British and International schools and wrote articles for newspapers and magazines.
Currently living in the UAE, Janna was the Senior Mistress (a title which caused much merriment among her colleagues!) and Head of Pastoral Care at Repton School before trading her marking pens and report cards for the world of writing novels. She enjoys travelling and sailing and had a love-hate relationship with exercise until she discovered the joy of Zumba where the trainers turn a blind eye to her inability to remember dance sequences. She sings in the shower and with choirs, has an allergy to golf and recently discovered the allure of oils and acrylics – a delightfully messy way to express her inner artist.
Tour Wide Giveaway Link