Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Cynthia Owens: Yesterday's Promise

A warm hello to a familiar face! Congratulations to Cynthia Owens on her forthcoming release, Yesterday’s Promise, Book 4 of her popular Wild Geese Series. Cynthia’s post today is about bullying, a poignant and topical subject pertinent to her new release. Welcome back, Cynthia.
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Good morning, Pat! It’s so lovely to be back at the Plain to celebrate my upcoming release, Yesterday’s Promise. This story is a bit special to me. It’s the fourth story in my Wild Geese Series, as well as my tenth book, released in my tenth year of writing professionally. So it’s a double celebration for me!

This One’s For the Girls

This one’s for the girls…and we know who we are. Those of us who were left out of things, who overheard the careful catty remarks made in audible undertones. Who were convinced we were not quite good enough for the so-called charmed circle. Well, it seems that, like Valerie, we were wrong. We are good enough. We just need to believe in ourselves.

The words are from the first part of the dedication of Yesterday’s Promise. I’m not a plotter (I prefer to let my characters tell me their story, rather than trying to fit them into my plot), so I didn’t plan to have my heroine be bullied. It just sort of happened. But as I wrote those scenes, I felt my own past come back to haunt me.

You see, I was one of those girls. One of the girls who got left out of shopping trips, who wasn’t invited to parties, and who was taunted throughout my school days. Not for any particular reason that I knew of, except that I was painfully shy and lived most of my life through books. And maybe because I so desperately wanted people to like me.

Bullying—especially cyber-bullying—is very much in the news these days. I’m so very, very thankful that I grew up in the days before the Internet. At least when school was over, I could leave everything behind. I could close my bedroom door behind me and lose myself in a book.

Girls nowadays aren’t so lucky, and my heart goes out to every one of those children who suffers the taunts and slurs online.

The so-called "experts" of today insist that if a child is being bullied at school, he or she should tell someone—a parent, a teacher, a friend. But it’s not quite that easy. There’s a stigma attached to being bullied that no one but a survivor can understand. Underneath all the hurt, and the wondering why you’ve been singled out, there’s shame. Shame at being singled out. Shame that everyone around you knows what’s happening. I never told my parents what was happening because I was afraid they’d be disappointed in me.

This blog isn’t intended to be a treatise about bullying. I’m a survivor, but it took me years to gain confidence in myself, to believe that I really was "good enough," to believe that people really do like me.

And yet, every time I hear of a child being bullied, it all comes back like it’s yesterday.

There’s no easy solution to the problem of kids being bullied. It’s been around probably since the beginning of time. But I can advise parents to teach their children to be kind to each other, to realize that just because someone seems "different," doesn’t necessarily mean they should be shunned or laughed at. Because underneath everything, in our hearts, we’re all the same.

If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?
~William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

And here’s a very relevant excerpt from Yesterday’s Promise:

The whispers began even before the door banged shut.

"Well, what did you expect? You know what they’re saying about Edmund Stanton."

"Oh, do tell!"

"They’re saying he’s a bit…addled…since he came back from the war."

"I heard he was tortured in that Libby Prison."

"And as for that sister of his…ran off with a soldier, is what I heard."

"My dear, they say she followed him to the front."

"But who was he?"

"No one knows." A horrified gasp. "But she’s ruined just the same, isn’t she? Wouldn’t even be here tonight if her father didn’t do business with Catherine’s daddy."

"And he never married her?"

A giggle. "Well, you don’t see a ring on her finger, do you?"

Declan heard every spiteful word. And Valerie must have heard them too. He watched her eyes grow bigger and darker, her face bleed white. Her hand clenched around her cup of punch, while the other twisted into the voluminous folds of her skirt.

He didn’t wait to hear what else the members of New York Society might say about her. He crossed the ballroom in a few quick strides and seized Valerie’s hand.

"I pray you’re not engaged for this dance, Miss Stanton. I’ve been wanting to dance with you ever since I saw you come in. Your loveliness puts every other girl here to shame." With a quick motion, he took the cup from her hand, placed it on a table, and whirled her into the dance, praying he’d not stumble over his own feet.

"Declan…" She stared up at him, her eyes clouded with tears and confusion. "What—how…?"

"Smile at me. Act as though you’re having a good time. Don’t you dare let those spiteful little cats see you cry. And for the Lord’s sake, pray I don’t trample all over your feet."
. . . . . . . . . . . .

Valerie glanced around, feeling the silence.

Feeling everyone’s gaze fixed on her.

The whispers started again.

"Could that be he? The man she ran off to?

"He’s certainly a handsome devil. But did you hear the accent?"

"Irish as Paddy’s pigs. No wonder her parents disapproved."

Her face burned. Oh, this was what she’d dreaded! The gossip, the nasty asides that were meant to be heard by all. The rumor, the innuendo.
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The Book Blurb for Yesterday’s Promise:

…Like the Wild Geese of Old Ireland, five boys grew to manhood despite hunger, war, and the mean streets of New York…
An army doctor, Declan Morrissey fought for the survival of every wounded soldier, rejoicing when they recovered, mourning bitterly when they died.

Valerie Stanton was his beautiful battlefield nurse, strong, courageous, and dedicated.

He never dreamed she was an heiress, or that she’d break his heart in a desperate gamble to save the life of another man.

Now that they’ve found each other again, can they overcome past deception and claim the happily ever after they dreamed of?
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About Cynthia Owens:
I believe I was destined to be interested in history. One of my distant ancestors, Thomas Aubert, reportedly sailed up the St. Lawrence River to discover Canada some 26 years before Jacques Cartier’s 1534 voyage. Another relative was a 17th Century "King’s Girl," one of a group of young unmarried girls sent to New France (now the province of Quebec) as brides for the habitants (settlers) there.

My passion for reading made me long to write books like the ones I enjoyed, and I tried penning sequels to my favorite Nancy Drew mysteries. Later, fancying myself a female version of Andrew Lloyd Weber, I drafted a musical set in Paris during WWII.

A former journalist and lifelong Celtophile, I enjoyed a previous career as a reporter/editor for a small chain of community newspapers before returning to my first love, romantic fiction. My stories usually include an Irish setting, hero or heroine, and sometimes all three.

I’m the author of The Claddagh Series, historical romances set in Ireland and beyond, and The Wild Geese Series, in which five Irish heroes return from the American Civil War to find love and adventure.

I’m a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. A lifelong resident of Montreal, Canada, I still live there with my own Celtic hero and our two teenaged children.
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  1. Good morning, Pat, thank you so much for having me as your guest today! It's wonderful being back at The Plain!

    1. Always a pleasure to have you, Cynthia. Best of the best to you and your new book, Yesterday's Promise.

  2. Fantastic post and I love the excerpt!!

    1. Thank you, Vonda, so pleased you enjoyed it. Thanks for visiting me here at the Plain!

  3. A very interesting post, Cynthia. Maybe we writers are so absorbed in plots and characters, we fail to be social. Your book sounds exciting.

  4. Glad you enjoyed the post, Brenda. You could be right about writers. My idea of a social event is talking with my characters! ;) Thanks for visiting!