It took me months to get this book done and I still don’t know why. I started it in October 2013 and I had the vision for it all mapped out. Between then and now, it changed a lot, including the names of the characters. I had days where I would get up early and come into my home office prepared to get lots of chapters written. The minute I sat down, I would turn on the news or Netflix, get hung up in something on the tube and never get to writing. After months and months of procrastinating, I finally focused and finished.
A lot happened over those several months. One thing in particular that stands out is the passing of a friend from her battle with breast cancer. Her passing really hit me hard. I met her about thirteen years ago in the office. I still remember the day we met. She had on a green and blue dress and had just come from walking around the complex getting some exercise. We introduced ourselves and started talking about work. It wasn’t until years later that we actually became more than co-workers and became friends. I admired her love for her husband and children. She was a part of a sorority that she loved dearly and I enjoyed hearing all of the stories about the various events she took part in to make the community a better place to live.
When she first became ill I was heartbroken for her. I watched her for a few years battle this horrendous disease and not once did she ever complain about getting cancer. I watched her fight a hero’s battle and I will never forget her strength. What she must have gone through hearing she had cancer and then knowing that her days were going to be made shorter because of it had to be hard. She fought til the end, even coming to work a few weeks before she took her last breath.
Several weeks before she passed away, she came around to my desk (we sat an aisle away from each other) and she held out this pretty black mesh satin satchel and asked me wasn’t I a big Baltimore Ravens fan. I told her of course and she gave me the satchel. I asked her what was in it and she said look in it. I did and inside were three handmade bracelets in Ravens black and purple colors, each having one charm of the Ravens bird head. I looked up at her and she said “they’re yours. I thought you’d like to have these.” She said she liked the Ravens but she thought that I would really appreciate them. I didn’t know it then but weeks later she would be gone and now I realize she left me with a part of her that I’ll always remember. She thought enough of me to give me something out of the blue that was hers that she knew I would appreciate. I haven’t worn them yet but they sit prominently on my nightstand waiting for the day that I’ll get up the courage to wear them without crying, missing our friendship.
I also remember one morning so clearly after her health prevented her from coming into the office. She had been on my mind heavily for a few days and early one Friday morning she called me at home. We talked a little about work and then she told me she was pretty sick, had received some really bad news and she was trying to figure out how to take it all in. I didn’t press her for her personal business. I simply said I would pray for her as I had been doing and she asked me to please do without stopping. I heard finality in her voice that day but I didn’t hear defeat. She was still fighting and I have no doubt, she did so until she breathed her last.
When I became really worried about her I couldn’t write. After she passed I was having a hard time with it, harder than I thought I would and I could not focus on writing. Then one day, out of the blue I got a burst of energy and sat down to write and the words of the three stories in Down, But Not Out: Breaking Chains finally came to me to finish each of the stories. I drew on her strength knowing if she could fight so hard against a disease as strong and deadly as cancer, I can pick myself up and get back to writing. The title of my book made me think a lot about her. I know that she had many days that she was down but she never, ever once wanted us to think that she should be counted out, I’m sure even until the end. I thank you Debbie for showing me what real strength and endurance is.
Now that Down, But Not Out: Breaking Chains is done and released I feel good about it. The book tells the story of three women, Dana Carr, Terri Bryant and Karina Joseph who have been mistreated and disrespected for far too long by the wrong men in their lives. When they each find the love and support of the RIGHT man, they prove that they may have been down, but they shouldn’t be counted out.
Dana Carr was married to a man who treated her like property. She was so in love with being in love that she put her own needs and desires on the back burner and catered to her husband and her children’s needs and wants. Even after her walked out on her and hooked up with a woman much younger, she still held hope that he would come to his senses one day and come back home. All of the things she ever wanted to do for herself in life she didn’t accomplish because her husband told her that she didn’t need too because she was just what he needed, but she never thought about what she needed for herself. One day she meets a stranger in a deli and he sparks a desire in her that she’d never experienced. She took a look at her life and realized she didn’t like what she saw and with his encouragement and unconditional friendship she started walking a path where she became the priority. He helped her find her way to herself and with an undying love, they found that they were meant to be not only because helped and encouraged her, but because she could finally see who she truly was and who she could be with him and it’s exactly where she wanted to be.
Terri Bryant dealt with issues with men for years. She tired of dating younger men or men her own age because none ever lived up to the success and maturity she wanted in a relationship. She settled for a much older man who cheated on her, never respected her and had her doing things no within her character. Into her life walks a much younger man and though he’s handsome, looks aren’t enough to draw her attention. She saw him as not matching up to the status of her current boyfriend and she walked away. A chance run in at a gym started a friendship with him that eventually turned into unconditional love, something she had been missing in every relationship she had.
Karina Joseph never thought she’d get beyond living in the hood and hood type men who wanted her for her body and nothing else. She thought using her body would be her ticket out of the life she had and into a fabulous life, but that never happened. One day she found herself on the other end of the bumper of a car driven by a local doctor. Even though there was an immediate attraction, she questioned whether he was another man after her body or if he really saw something special in her. What he sees in her is the desire to get beyond her situation and it wasn’t another man who was going to do it, but she herself. Listening to his advice was the best thing Karina ever did and when she finally woke up to what her life could be like if she stopped questioning her self-worth, the flood gates opened for her and out poured a love like she never thought she’d experience.
I’ve written several novels but I’m most proud of this one. I’m not a perfect writer and I never professed to be one, but I am a woman who loves telling a story and I hope for those of you who like stories with happy endings that you’ll enjoy the one’s that I’ve written.
In the end, this novel was meant to inspire and empower others, but what it really did was inspire and empower me to never give up on the gift of writing. Each day is a new day to continue to get it right and I’m all over it.