Sunday, September 30, 2012

Church People Watching & PTSD

Welcome Shaunna Gonzales

Shaunna Gonzales has toyed with writing since her teenage years but has only written in earnest since 2005. In an effort to give Dark Days of Promise an authentic feel she endeavored to include some experiences of veterans she knows and could often be found discussing the realities of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in their lives and how it could honestly be shared in this project.
On the evening of this books first promotion, she realized that the scope of PTSD reaches deep into the core of our society and includes infants, children, housewives, the working and unemployed as well as veterans; in short, all of us. In an effort to treat this subject fairly, Ms. Gonzales has altered her writing course from "romance with a twist" to helping our society, sufferers and innocents alike to becoming aware. It is more than those who experience the violence, more than the victims who experience this debilitating disease that are affected. It is their families, the bystander of violent crime and all of us who dare to care for and love them.
Shaunna currently resides in the Seattle, Washington area, with her husband, and their younger children.

Visit Shaunna at

Church, People Watching and PTSD
      My family and I sit in the same place every Sunday morning and no, the pew isn't assigned or paid for. We just get there early and that is where we sit. Members of our congregation are in their Sunday best, men in white shirts and ties, some in suits and the women in modest dresses and usually high heels.
     So one non-descript Sunday, I'm people watching. "Friend A" suffers from PTSD. He's a Vietnam Veteran. I've visited with this gentleman at great lengths in doing research for Dark Days of Promise. I know some of the things that trigger his socially unexpected and potentially violent PTSD symptoms.
     "Friend B" has attended this particular congregation a lot longer than my family has. This morning she is wearing a tight skirt. You would think that having witnessed "Friend A's" reactions on previous occasions, she would be aware. But noooo.
     During the adult Sunday school class, the roll is passed from the back, where I'm sitting to the front. The pews are not full as families have left and I watch "Friend B" stand, the roll in her hand. She advances to offer the clipboard, over the shoulder as she would any other Sunday, but this day is different, the gentleman she will be passing the roll to is my "Friend A".
     In my mind's eye "Friend B" touches his shoulder quite innocently and unexpectedly does the most amazing assisted mid-air somersault ever preformed in such an austere setting. While she is doing this astonishing feat, "Friend A" has jumped to his full 6'3" with a shocking war cry. I cringe and suck at the air in horror expecting a rather nasty landing.
     That is where my mind screeches to a blinding halt. "Focus," I tell myself. I watch intently. "Friend B" touches "Friend A's" shoulder. He flinches and instead of what I know would happen on any other day in any other place, he gathers himself, the muscles tensing. His shoulders rise and settle in the same instant he jerks around to accept the clipboard.
     I release my held breath and the incident goes relatively unnoticed by most of the people present. Not so for those of us that paid attention and are aware. The group gathers after meetings, the veterans and myself, collectively heaving a sigh of relief.
     People, please be more aware.

Thirty-four year old Vicki Laramie must learn to trust before she can love, but she might die trying.
While Vicki’s children grapple with the death of their father -- a man whom she’s successfully fabricated as loving, a lie her rebellious teenager recognizes -- she must find a way to support her family and find a role model for her boys. She never intends to fall for Staff Sergeant Chase, her best friend’s son, who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She’d much rather choose a safer man to love, but her children have a voice in the decision she makes. With two deaths to deal with, a suitor after her money, a rebellious son, and Sergeant Chase’s repeated attacks, she can only hope to survive the danger she faces. If she doesn’t, her children will be left without either parent.
ISBN: 978-1-61252-218-0

Enjoy the following Excerpt

Why him? I needed help; I even needed a rescuer, but not him. I found myself welcoming his presence in spite of the clenching fear in my stomach. My mind spiraled around the possibilities. Would I freeze to death? Would he attack me? Would I survive? I must get home to my children.
"Kelly! What're you doing out here?" My breathing came out hard.
"I don't know," he drawled. His words formed ghostly shapes in the freezing night air. "Do you want a ride or do you really plan to run home?"
I looked down the road in both directions hoping for a second pair of headlights. I found none.
The fact of my standing on ice and snow escaped me for the moment. I anchored my foot for take-off and slipped, going to my knees. Kelly moved fast, I didn't see him open the Jeep's door before he grasped my arm, lifting me to my feet.
"You okay? You went down pretty hard." He propelled me to the passenger's side. Numb feet measured each jarring step around the front of the Jeep. Why had he come looking for me? The possibility of his not looking for me in particular, but anyone -- anyone alone, screamed across my thoughts.
Afraid of a cold death at the side of the road, my thoughts stalled. He'd proven himself faster than I. I shook his hand off to climb in and settled myself as close to the door as possible. He walked around the front of the Jeep, his footsteps sure on the icy surface.
"Have to admire your spunk," he said climbing in.


Kathleen L. Maher said...

what a fascinating topic. i use a scene in my writing where my character has a flashback of battle, which a thunderstorm triggers. PTSD and all neurological issues have always gripped my imagination. Thanks for sharing your experiences and your excerpt!

Anonymous said...

Kathleen, thank you for stopping in for a visit. I'm honored when celebrities stop by. ;-)

I have story where the character is having neurological issues from a buildup of fluid.


Delores Goodrick Beggs said...

I once worked with a PTSD man; first day together he asked me not to sneak up on him - I had passed behind him in tennis shoes. After that I wore my leather boots that made noise when I walked past him and all was well.

Shaunna said...

I'm thinking this is the kind of thing we, as authors need to capture in our writing. It's tough to do from inside the head of a character, but even Delores comment brings a rather vivid picture, maybe even a memory to mind. thank you for sharing. Kathleen, isn't it interesting what triggers these emotional responses? thanks for sharing.