Friday, September 7, 2007

Can A Novel Change A Life?

by Cassondra Murray
I’m supposed to have an article written for the blog, darn it. Tomorrow (today as you read this--Friday Sept 7, 2007) is my blog day. But I’m pacing about the house at nearly midnight, restless. I’ve splattered some watercolor paint across a piece of paper —ruined what might have been a decent painting—in my effort to focus and write about something of interest to my Bandita sisters and to you who visit our lair, but I can’t quite muster light and fun tonight.

I know why. It's almost September 11th.

Flash back with me, six years ago today. Are you there?

In exactly four days, the WTC towers will fall. In exactly SEVEN days—NEXT Friday, I will be on my way to New York with my Search & Rescue Dog Team to search through rubble and pick up pieces of people.

We were there for only a week, but it was a week that shifted my soul.

In the aftermath our team and our dogs went through massive depression and slow healing. We spoke to group after group of people who longed to help and yet felt helpless. They thought their efforts small—giving blood, sending food, clothing, or money. But their efforts were not small.

In times like that, every person counts.

Every flag waved, every song written, every prayer said helped us as individuals, a nation, and a world, get through an awful time. In a lot of the talks we gave, a particular question came up repeatedly. They asked, “Cassondra, why did you get into K-9 Search & Rescue?”

The answer I gave—and still give--makes some people laugh out loud, but I’m betting you’ll understand.

Seventeen years ago I was a devoted reader of category romance. And in one of those category novels all those years ago, the heroine was a Search & Rescue professional. I loved her story. Somewhere in my piles and boxes of books, I still have that novel. I can’t tell you the title or the author, because I couldn’t find it on short notice—I hadn’t planned to talk about it, or SAR dogs. But even today I could tell you the heroine's story. That’s how good it was. I searched for it tonight because I wanted, right here in the Bandit lair, to thank that writer publicly.

I’d never heard of Search & Rescue until I read that book.

Her story showed me a way I could give back to my community. I love animals, so K-9 SAR became my volunteer passion for the next fifteen years. Our team trained with the best and brightest SAR professionals. We searched for drowning victims, murder victims, lost kids and old folks with Alzheimer’s disease. We were placed on standby after the bombing in Oklahoma City, earthquakes in Peru and floods in Asia. We trained and we searched as though we had a world to save. And on 9-11-01 we did.

We were ready. I was ready. Because of that category romance I’d read so many years before about a sheriff’s deputy in the southwest—a tortured heroine who was a SAR professional.

I could list a long bibliography of books which have changed my life. In truth, I think every one I read changes me somehow.

But none so much as this one. It wasn’t the biggest plot, nor the darkest nor most complex I’ve read. But it was honest and it touched me. Because of that book I made a decision--took a direction in my life that would, years later, put me on a plane with a dog draped across my lap, headed toward an awful pile of twisted steel, concrete, and people. And because of that book, every September about this time, my heart goes back to NYC and I can't think about much else. So since it's my day to blog, you, my sisters, friends, and readers, get to hear the story.

Nowadays when I say I write romance, and certain people get little smirks on their faces, I don't much care. They don’t know the half of it. They've no idea the power that lies in stories of loss and love and happy-ever-after. But I do. I know their power first hand.

Has a book ever changed your life?

Where were you this time six years ago?

And when you needed to escape it, to believe and hope again, did you, perhaps, read?

And was it, by any chance, a romance?


Christine Wells said...

What a wonderfully moving post, Cassondra. I think people like you who volunteer to deal with an incomprehensible disaster like 9-11 are remarkable human beings. Thank you for telling us your story.

Anonymous said...

Cassondra, I haven't had the same kind of life-changing experience you did, but there's no doubt that romance novels shaped who I am and the way I feel about love.

Thanks for telling your story. It brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of the sacrifice of hundreds of people like yourself.

Joan said...


I cannot even begin to imagine what it was like to be there the day the world stopped turning.

I've made it a point since then to go up to police officers, firefighters, soldiers and thank them for the service they gave on that day and the service they give every other day. And now, to you one of the key people needed in that type of situation, I say thank you.

This time last year my critque partner and I went for a 4 day weekend in NYC. That Monday was 9-11.

There was a lot of activity down at Ground Zero and while I had seen the exhibit there in the church SO close to the scene (Cannot remember it. I don't think it was Trinity Church. I just know it is very, very old and it is boggling to see how it was not damaged and the one tower was less than 10 feet from its back door)but it was even more moving to be there that weekend.

I met a woman who was there to remember her daughter. I saw pictures of people from all over the world who had perished and prayed for them.

I also had to put up with two different groups making loud, obnoxious and confrontational political... and in the case of one freak...psychotic protests about everything.

And I got angry.

That weekend, that DAY was about remembering and honoring those who would never see their families again. Never meet friends, hug their parents, raise their children live their lives. It was not the place or time for black ballons, conspiracy theories or beating drums.

I will always remember that day and every year I will pray that that kind of hatred is defeated.

Hellie Sinclair said...

This was a beautiful post. Thank you.

Yes, books have changed my life. I think one of the ones that changed me was "Ode to Billie Joe"--not in the same way as you though. :) I read romance all the time--just for those reasons you describe--and I think they all contribute to my growth, my direction I take.

Yes, I do remember where I was...I was on my way to work, and all was normal. (I live in the Midwest.) By 9 a.m.--nothing was normal. We kept hearing bits and pieces of news...and none of it seemed real. You just stared at the television and the computer and just went, "WTH?"

Andrea said...

Wonderful post, Cassondra!

I was actually at work when this happened (9-11) and we were all glued to the little TVs and the radio. It was just unbelievable.

And yes, I read romance to escape into another world where there will always be a happily ever after.


jo robertson said...

What a poignantly beautiful post, Cassondra!

September 11 is one of those days on which no one ever forgets the tiny details of where she was and what she was doing. The same with John Kennedy's assassination. They are dates that forever change the face of the nation.

The summer before ninth grade I read Gone with the Wind. I'd been a tomboy and not much given to books in general, but I couldn't put that one down. I think that was the first time I truly realized the power of the written word to heal, soothe, and transport you away from the here and now.

Kate Carlisle said...

Cassondra, this touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. Yes, I know exactly where I was when I heard the news. Here on the West Coast we were just waking up to the nightmare. You brought it all back, the horror and shock and fear and disbelief.

And yet, how wonderful and healing of you to be able to relate it all back to a romance novel you once read. You are an amazing writer and story teller! I'm in awe, choking up and smiling at the same time.

I'll be stopping by a few more times today, just to read your words over again and remind myself how very lucky I am to be a part of such an astonishingly talented and generous group.

Cassondra said...

Thanks Christine.

It's not remarkable really at all. Kind of like the Nike ads say. You're trained for it and you "just do it."

Kirsten, novels shaped the way I feel about love too. Or the way I believe it's supposed to be. (grin) Sometimes I think that's the reason we're so voracious. We BELIEVE IN THAT possibility that not everyone gets to experience but that we celebrate in our books.

Cassondra said...

Joan, thank you for telling your story. Last year was the first year I haven't gone back for the ceremonies. Part of why my heart is there I guess.

You're right. Seems like no matter how sacred the ceremony or how much in bad taste the intrusion, some folks can't let it rest, even for a day. And yet one reason we're free is that they have that right.

Gosh, this subject is one that tears me all up again. The first year we went back for the ceremonies, we were in the Times Square Toys-R-Us, and the clerk who checked us out and saw our SAR team ID badges started telling us the people who died deserved it and all that. I called security. I didn't confront her, but it made me angry.

I wish there was a way to let go of that at least for the good of the families who still miss their loved ones--maybe just for that day.

And yet, I wouldn't give up the freedom to protest for those who feel the need.

Cassondra said...

mshellion, I was getting ready for an appointment with the dentist. :0/

Everywhere I went, the tv or radio was on, but I remember registering the thought that "the people who did this don't realize how big this country is, and how we WILL carry on no matter what." It was a bracing thought.

Cassondra said...


Me too! Even still! Just because I write it, that hasn't stopped me from enjoying it and USING it as an escape!

So different from a lot of jobs where the magic get ruined--you know, how if you work at Pizza Hut in college, you never want their pizza again?

Cassondra said...

JoMama and Kate:

Thanks so much for the comments. I really REALLY didn't want to write a downer post that would make folks sad. Yet if I'd tried to set it aside and write something light, it would have been drivel....ah well.

And the thing is, even once K-9 Search & Rescue was so much a part of my life that it was a part of my identity (it became that way after a couple of years) I never forgot what first sparked the interest--in doing it, and doing it RIGHT. In that book, the heroine's father had been allowed to die on a mountain because of incompetent SAR techniques. She was driven by this, and determined to change the face of SAR everywhere.

Her determination to be good at it became mine. It's no small connection--the one from her book to where I was when I went to New York for the first time.

Cassondra said...

Oh, and Joan--I meant to say about that church--when we were there, the pile of rubble still TOWERED over that teeny, tiny little church. You cannot imagine how small it was as compared to everything around it. But it wasn't touched. NOT EVEN TOUCHED. Every building around and on either side of it suffered heavy damage. But nary a window was broken in that tiny church--one of the oldest--if not THE oldest--on Manhattan I think. We stood and stared at the devastation all around it, whle there it stood, unharmed.

Buffie said...

Great post!!!

Six years ago I was off from work and on my way to my church to work on a newsletter when I heard about the first plane. I detoured to my parents' house (with my 3 year old) and watched the disaster unfold on tv. Time stood still -- and I believe my heart stopped. I cried for all those lives cut short, I cried for all those hurt and confused, and I absolutely bawled for all those children who lost those who loved them most. I went on to church and prayed and held my baby close.

Thank you for all your work in serving the people in NYC.

Cassondra said...


Thanks for your comment. We did so little as compared to those who live there--those who, even after we left--were still there working night and day.

And I can so relate to wanting to just holding your baby close--I just needed to BE with loved ones--I think family can be kind of a security blanket we wrap around ourselves in times of trouble.

As I watched, I kept waiting for Aaaaaahnold or Bruce Willis to run out of the devastation, carrying the woman, and for the credits to roll. I mean I knew it was real, but I couldn't quite process that.

I think the way every person rallied is a tribute to our strength as people.

Suzanne Ferrell said...


I can't imagine the impact seeing that much devestation caused your soul. God bless you for what you did. It's hard to take care of those dealing with loss, but to be able to use your skills to find even one person alive in that mess, and believe me everyone watching across the country and world were praying you would find more people who survived it, is something to be admired.

As for where I was, I'd just gotten home from work and was headed to bed. The plane that hit the pentagon hit a little close to home. My cousin works there. She's deaf, so the family had to wait for her to contact us so we'd know she was alright. I was so thankful when my mother called to tell me she was okay.

Christie Kelley said...

What an inspiring and poignant post, Cassondra. I have been moved by many books (mostly romance novels) but I can't remember any book that had the impact on me that it did on you.

I will always remember where I was on 9/11 and even days after. I'd passed throught the WTC many, many times when I traveled up there for work. A few days after the fall, I remember watching the TV as they talked about concerns that the AMEX tower might collapse. I'd worked for them and had been in that building many times. It brought more tears to my eyes then and it is right now just remembering it all.

Cassondra said...

Wow Suz.

I can't imagine that waiting for word from your cousin in the Pentagon! That must have been gut wrenching. There's nothing worse than waiting like that, and not knowing, and wondering...

You know, I actually think people who see loss every day--as you often do--and help others through it--are the stronger ones. We almost tune it out. It affects us, but we become hardened to "the moment," if that makes sense.

It's the only way to be able to do the work. We weren't searching for "people." It was "evidence." It's a learned skill, and one I'm betting you have to use every day--not letting it get too personal--at least not while you're doing it.

Later you can let it sink in a little at a time, but while you're on the site, you're just doing your job. Assess the situation and take the necessary steps.

You do that every day at work. I'm not sure I could do it as you do, for a living.

Cassondra said...


It must have been very personal for you--even knowing people who worked there or near there.

I've heard SO many stories like yours--of those who were so regularly there--had JUST been there, or were headed there but didn't go for whatever reason.

I'd never been there until I went to search. That's a loss to me--that I never saw the towers standing. Wish I had.

Trish Milburn said...

I remember I was at work when my boss came in and said, "Did you hear a plane just hit the World Trade Center?" Of course, we didn't know at that point what was really happening. But once we all went in the conference room and started watching the TV courage, the horrible truth began to sink in. We were on deadline for the magazine that day, and it was really difficult to concentrate. We'd work a little, then go back to the TV to see what the latest info was. I live near my city's airport, and it was so weird not to hear planes.

I hadn't been to NYC at that point, but when I went two years later I visited Ground Zero. It was a surreal and powerful moment to come up out of the subway station and that giant hole in the ground be right there.

Cassondra said...


At least you understand my lack of focus! :0)

I really did try to write something lighthearted for this blog today. Couldn't do it.

I've never missed a deadline in my life, but I'm thinking I might have missed that one that day if I'd been in your shoes.

That's some writing discipline you've got there girlie.

Joan said...

I was at home that morning and remember watching Good Morning America showing footage of the first tower burning. And then watching with mouth hanging open as the second plane hit.

I remember Charlie Gibson stammering "A plane has accidently hit the second tower". I thought...nope that was no accident..they were aiming for it.

I had to wait that day for the carpet cleaners to come but called my brother to insure he was ok...and he was working here in KY. After they left I went down to the chapel at our church where many of the members had gathered with our pastor to pray.

I was just beginning to get into my writing career, just beginning to get serious and the shock that went through my soul at this level of violence and hatred made me scared that I'd never be able to write again.

But after that initial phase when grief and disbelief turned to anger and resolve I knew I would not let the terrorists win. I was not going to let my life be shaped by their maniacal perception of what our world should be.

I buckled down. I finshed TPD. I began to submit and enter contests.

I went on with my life.

Anna Campbell said...

Cassondra, that was a wonderful post. Thanks so much for putting it up here. I must have been one of the last people on the planet to find out about WTC tragedy. I'd been to a concert with my best friend the night before and we'd (unusually as it was a week night and we usually went straight home) popped over to have cocktails at the Westin Hotel near the concert hall as a special treat. I went home, I went to bed and then woke up to my classical music station which doesn't have a lot of news to hear about "the terrible events in America." What terrible events in America? I turned on the TV and just couldn't believe it. There honestly was a gap of horror in my mind when I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

Thank you, Cassondra, for all that you've done for people with your special skills. And I'm proud to think a romance novel gave you the impetus! I've learnt so much from romance novels. About honesty and courage and persistence and steadfastness and loyalty.

Cassondra said...


Amen sister.

I think that's what the terorists didn't understand then, and don't understand now. That resolve that they won't win.

Unfortunately, when I found out it wasn't a small plane--private pilot error--but a jetliner--I knew. My thought was. "It's here. The time that America has to become like the rest of the world." It made me sad then, and like you, I got angry.

And I'm proud of the collective determination of much of the world--to not let fear control us. To live our lives.

And I'm so glad you didn't quit writing!

Cassondra said...


I think that gap was the same for every one of us. That sitting there, staring at it, thinking, as mshellion said "WTH?"

And ANNA!!!! THANK YOU for what you've brought to your own writing of that honesty, courage, loyalty and other amazing qualities. That's what makes CTC so amazing for me! It's all IN THERE! A good book can change a person. I believe it!

Anna Campbell said...

Cassondra, that was lovely. Thank you!

Joan, that thing about America being like the rest of the world really struck me. I was in Scotland when the Glasgow Airport terrorist attack happened (thank goodness, it was botched). But everyone I met over those few days just couldn't believe that this had happened in Scotland. And someone said exactly those words to me. And it was so sad.

Must go! I have HUGE writing plans for today!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Well, Cassondra, I have to confess that I worked at Pizza Hut in college and still love pizza. :> Hated those awful polyester uniforms though. Ugh.

On books, I think every one I read changes me. Sometimes its the way I see a profession or view an issue; sometimes its just the deliciousness peeking into a world or job about which I previously knew nothing. I LOVE that about reading. As to books that are life changers, there are a few key ones for me.

In Jude Devereaux's book Legend, the heroine is a writer and describes the way authors' minds work. (Different from the norm!)I realized I thought that way. I decided then and there that my dream of BEING a writer wasn't so crazy after all. :>

After my divorce which coincided with my mother's sudden death and the Christmas holidays (and my b-day too. Bleeech!) two books changed my life: The Magic of Believing by Claude Bristol and Anthony Robbin's Awaken the Giant Within. Books of all kinds were what kept me out of the loony bin, because my "real" life was pretty crappy at that point.

As to 9/11 I had just dropped off my son at daycare and gone for a long walk with the dogs. It was such a gorgeous day, I remember that. Perfect blue skies. I got back in the car just before the second plane hit. They were still thinking the first had been an accident. When the Pentagon plane hit and the PA plane, I called my dh, asked him to come home. But he was the only senior staffer in the office on 9/11, the rest were either IN Vegas, prepping for a convention, or in planes on their way there. He stayed until everyone got out of their building, two blocks from the White House. I think everything in me stood absolutely still until I saw him in the flesh, terrified that somehow another plane would get through, miss the White House and hit their building.

Sounds melodramtic now, but then? Awful. We know so many people who work in or around the Pentagon. One friend was on the I-395 bridge in gridlock traffic and watched as the plane crashed into the building. She's still living with nightmares over that sight. As for me, I contine to set out candles in memory on the night of 9/11 as we did on the first anniversary. My neighbors make no comment, but most years, within an hour or two, there are several more candles along the street.

Its good to remember how our nation pulled together, responded with the mighty roar of our collected empathy, that no matter what we would search for survivors until there was no more chance, mourn our dead, remember those of all nations who died, and most of all, rebuild.

Like the heroes and heroines we read and write about as romance authors, there is that core of emotional steel in the heart of our country and so many democratic nations. We may be kicked down, divorced, burned out, bombed out, but by God, we're never defeated, not while there is one shred of hope for HEA. Which is what makes me proud to read romance and write it too. :>

Oh, and on a lighter note, Remind me to tell you about the uniform tags we had to wear when Pan Pizza came out...THAT's the only reason I don't like Pizza Hut Pizza.

Cassondra said...


Girl you are our cheerleader today! I stood up from the computer and pumped my fist as I read what you wrote! YES!!!!

To all of it.

And for those of us who live further from the events themselves, even WE needed to see our loved ones in the flesh. For folks who had people in the air, or in the buildings or who worked near them...I can only guess that you lived without a heartbeat until you saw them safe again.

And I can't forget the heroes who kept that plane from hitting the White House, and instead took it down in a PA field! THOSE are heroes indeed.

And good on you for your candles. And that you're not alone on your street. I think I may just do that this year.

jo robertson said...

I hope no one minds if I post again after reading the touching responses to Cassondra's article.

That was a school day, and I was up early, walked by the television on the way to the kitchen and saw the plane hit the first tower. We sat down devastated, thinking what could've gone wrong that the plane's instrument panels were so off? How can you miss a huge tower like that? Then, of course, the second tower was hit and we watched as they both collapsed almost in slow motion.

I went to school. I'm a teacher and know from experience that events such as these are tremendously hard on teenagers. They're old enough to understand the implications, but often not mature enough to handle the emotions. We watched televsion all day in every class. That was the hardest part for me, seeing how the event affected these young lives. They'd never had such a national disaster in their lives.

Our innocence as a nation was lost forever.

When Kennedy was killed, I was a 19-year old college student on the way to a Medieval History midterm and the PA system announced the event. I went on to my class. The professor waited for us. He said, "Anyone who can think of taking a test at a time like this isn't a true American."

I still remember that.

Helen said...

A very moving post Cassondra here in Australia it was night time and I was in bed I rembember my daughter running in and telling me what had hapened and we watched on the TV very upset, and I always read to take away my worries it lets me go to another place where I can enjoy and I am sure reading romance has changed the way I think about a number of things in life.
Have Fun

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Cassondra, you're right. In the emergency situation or major catastrophe, we shove everything out our minds but "doing the job" so we don't make mistakes that compound the problem. But afterwards we "decompress". For some its talk about it, others its go drink heavily. Me, I have to find an isolated place, usually the supply closet, and cry for 5 minutes. Then I can continue to function.

Cassondra said...

Jo, thank you for telling this.

And of course nobody will mind!

When we were there, we worked through our assignments, and once our tour on the piles was finished some of us had to wait for flights to return home (we came home in twos and threes with volunteer Angelflight pilots. None of us had any money, and there were few commercial flights at that point).

At the volunteer center where we were fed and housed, the walls were lined with cards made by school children of all ages. They ranged from touching to funny. The kids had also packaged treats for the rescue workers and for the dogs. One treat was a pack of biscuits that happened to be the favorite of Zeke, one of the labs on the team. Zeke's dad, Chris, was so touched that he commented he'd love to meet the little boy who'd sent the gift.

With the help of NYPD, the volunteer staff at Homeport Naval Base, and some amateur sleuthing, we got to take the dogs on our last day there and go to the boy's school and do a talk about our dogs.

All the kids were asking "what happened to all those people." We waited for the teachers to answer, but nobody would answer the students. They just directed their attention elsewhere. And I thought. "These kids know something is wrong. You can't just ignore this. To ignore what they're feeling and pretend nothing is wrong will damage them forever!"

Now I'm no teacher, and no child psychologist. Don't even have kids of my own. But I remember being a kid, and I KNEW when something was wrong even if people wouldn't say.

Jo, teachers like you had such a powerful responsibility. I don't envy your having to choose the words that would help rather than harm.

Maureen Child said...

Cassondra, that was a very touching and very timely post. I do believe we should each take the time every year to remember what happened--not only the horrible tragedy of that awful day, But how our country came together over it. How during the worst times, we tend to shine as a people.

I'm on the west coast and a writer friend called to wake me up and get me to turn the tv on. And then it wasn't turned off for nearly a week. Being so far away, all we could do was watch and somehow feel that we were there with our brothers and sisters.

Turning off the tv seemed somehow a betrayal of sorts. So we donated money and prayed.

Cassondra said...

Helen, hello!

Good to see you checking into the lair. And how poignant that your daughter woke you to see something so awful.

I guess if the world has ever watched anything as "one" in its horror, it was that event. I can't remember how many nations were represented by natives who died in that disaster, but not many developed countries went untouched.

Cassondra said...

Suzanne, we do have our ways of decompressing don't we.

After searches before this, all our team would gather at a predetermined location--a restaurant or pub--laugh raucously, joke rudely, and generally be on terrible behavior--it's how we decompressed and let off steam--you know the jokes about medical people, Law Enforcement, Fire and Rscue workers and our awful, sacrilegious senses of humor. But since then, we haven't done that. It's as though we each retreated into our own space and have dealt with it as individuals. I'm not sure that's a good thing. But this went beyond what we'd faced before as a team or as individuals I think. I still admire those who can do what you do for a living--some of the things you see would be more than I could handle, I think, and still keep on smiling for the next patient!

Cassondra said...

Maureen, thank you for your comments, and for stating what so many feel still--that they needed to be there but couldn't.

Even those in NYC who were not directly involved in the search felt the need to just "do something" and often could not. I remember being in a restaurant eating at a buffet on the last day. Some of the NYPD officers we'd worked with had asked if they could take us to lunch before we left. We were all saying "we should be taking YOU to lunch. You'll be staying here, fighting it out, while we're back home sleeping in our beds." But they insisted.

Of course we were all in our team uniforms because that's all we'd brought. Believe me we were a little smelly by then too! :0/

A local person came over and said thank you and handed each of us a little American Flag sticker. He said, "This is for those of you who are doing something, from those of us who aren't."

I've never been more humbled in my life. Every one of us cried. If he'd only understood that he HAD done something. Something very important, just with his thoughts, his support, and with that little sticker. I still have that tiny American flag sticker. It's a bit wrinkly now, but it's one of my most treasured possesions.

Joan said...

Ok, tearing up here Cassondra over the little flag.

That man may have thought it was a "little thing" but it is the cumulation of "little things" that make a difference.

Yesterday, I was in Walgreens looking for a candy bar (yes, Weight Watcher using up points but CRAVING chocolate)and there was this elderly man just looking and looking. I asked him what candy he was looking for and he said "There was a big bag of these (he had a bag of Tootsie Rolls in his hand) on sale for $7." He just kept looking and looking. Finally I figured it out and went over to the Halloween aisle and there was the ginourmous bag for $6.99. When I brought it to God, you'd have thought I'd handed him the world. The look on his face is my little crinkled flag.

But I digress.....

The day after 9/11, I went down to donate blood. By this time I knew that it would be a miracle if anyone else were found alive. That they were not going to need the blood in NYC> But I HAD to do something!

The sense of union among all those strangers lined up and sticking out their arms to donate was a wonder. I wish...really wish...that more Americans could remember what that unity felt like and stop all the political bickering.

BTW, listen to Alan Jackson's song "Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning". It'll send chills down your arms.

p226 said...

Yes. A novel can absolutely change your life and your perspective. There's no question about it. While reading anything *should* shift your perspective, at least a little, sometimes, a novel can cause a major philosophical change. I read one such novel about a year ago. The world has not looked the same to me since.

I don't read romance, and I come to this blog via a different road. But the written word is the written word. And the best writing, fiction or nonfiction, is that which causes you to look inward, and then take that insight, and look outward. Often, it's clear that the author is communicating their own perspective, their own experience, and their own philosophies via fictional work. They're infusing them. They're wrapping the story around and within them. To me, that means the writing comes from the heart. It is those writings which have the most power to change perspective... to change a life. The particular shelf it calls home in the local bookstore is irrelevant.

Cassondra said...

Joan, exactly so. Everyone felt the need to do something, and all did what they could, and it congealed into triumph over something horrid. Not cowering, which is what the terrorists want.

And I am SO LOL about that wonderful little man and his HUGE bag of tootsie rolls! Heck, I'd light up over a huge bag of chocolate myself! (very big grin) And thank you for that smile. Gosh, I hate that my blog has made everyone go teary and sad. I was afraid of that. :0/

We did have a unity that I've not seen before. When I've spoken to groups that are made up mostly of senior citizens, the folks who've attended have, almost to a one, told me they haven't seen our country pull together that way since Pearl Harbor. I don't remember Pearl Harbor, but I sense that it changed us in that same way. I hope that as many years down the road, we'll still be pulling together as they were/are.

And talk about a gifted, poignant writer--Alan Jackson is one.

Cassondra said...

p226, welcome to our lair!

And you're right. The genre is irrelevant.

And I do indeed admire your choice of weapon! ;0)


Joan said...

I echo Cassondra's welcome to the lair P226.

Your post was well said. I suspect you to be a writer yourself and if should be!

And Cassondra, despite the strong emotions brought out by your blog they aren't all sad...they remind us of the strength we have, the pride we hold and the meaning of what we are...

Keira Soleore said...

An excellent post, Cassondra, and kudos to you for your involvement and succor.

Where were you this time six years ago?
I was fast asleep on the morning of the 11th and was awakened by a frantic phone call by my husband's mother to turn on the TV. The shock of being awoken from a sound sleep to the horror on television made me feel like I was in the middle of a nightmare that I couldn't wake out of.

And when you needed to escape it, to believe and hope again, did you, perhaps, read?
Always. I read to celebrate, to cheer me up, to keep boredom at bay, and to learn.

Cassondra said...


I can only imagine the shock of that just awake state, combined with the surreal images of the attacks on the towers!

I was up getting ready for my appointment and my husband called, and his voice broke as he said "turn on the tv." We were staying with my MIL at the time, while we gutted and renovated our present house. I had to go into her room, wake her and ask her to turn on the television. We watched it together. I'll never forget that morning.

Cassondra said...

I wanted to say a huge thank you to all of you for your wonderful posts and comments--and for YOUR stories of what this time was like for you.

I'm off to sleep for work at 4:30 in the morning, but I'll check in again tomorrow evening.


Keira Soleore said...

I just came across this...

"Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier." —Kathleen Norris

Anna Campbell said...

Amen to that, Keira! I'm currently reading the Rules of Gentility and I tell you just the thought of it waiting puts a big smile on my face.

Keira Soleore said...

Foanna, I loved "Gentility." It's so clever and so much fun.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Chiming in late as usual...
Your post brought tears to my eyes, yet thankfulness to my heart, because people like you gave anything and everything they had to help in the tragedy of 9-11. Your blog did bring tears to many of us, but tears can be cleansing and healing. Sometimes we all need reminders. Complacency is not a good thing.
6 years ago I was at work, a 100 person, all female (other than a couple of the bosses) office. The office was closed that day because no one could function. We all went home, gathered our children and loved ones around us and grieved.
Reading is very often my escape and romance is my especial favorite. I prefer historical romances as a rule (if I am going to escape I may as well traverse time as well as space)but there are several contemporary authors that take me away too.
My mother died in 2002 she lived with me for 6 years before she died and beside me 3 years before that. I could not walk through the house without seeing her and grieving her loss. My daughter became a little upset with me because I would read, she didn't understand that I could not handle the loss without some type of escape. My mother would have understood, her sister had died before her and she lived with us too prior to her death, she had a stroke in April of 97 and we lost her October of that same year. My mother and I both escaped through reading at that time. It had always been our way of coping.

Cassondra said...

Hi Hrdwrkdmom,

Good heavens you had a rough two years in a row! I don't blame you one bit for wanting to escape. It takes so much less that what you went through to drive me into my reading corner to shut out the world!

What would we do without books? And I've fallen completely in love with historicals since that's all I read while I'm writing contemporaries. And they do sweep me away sometimes even more completely because that world is so different from the one in which I live.

Thanks for your comments, and for visiting the Bandita lair!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Cassondra, I escape a lot from the everyday. The ladies I work with are amazed because I take a book on break (10 minutes) and in that time, I am gone... LOL I don't hear anything, I don't see anything, I am off in England watching a romance unfold. Even as a child I would read, I was an "only" so that was my main form of entertainment though at that time it was Donna Parker and Nancy Drew mysteries and the classics. Would you believe neither one of my children are readers? My daughter says my granddaughter is though so it must have skipped a generation. :-)