• Who We Are

  • Schedule

    Mondays ~
    Tuesdays ~ Snarky
    Wednesdays ~ Dreamer
    Thursdays ~ Naughty
    Fridays ~ Dreary
    Saturdays ~
    Sundays ~

    Whenever ~ Smokey, Mighty, Eerie and Wicked

  • Snarky’s Tweets

  • Kinetic’s Tweets

  • Dreamer’s Tweets

  • Wicked’s Tweets

  • Eerie’s Tweets

  • Mighty’s Tweets

Changes in… everything… and reconnecting with crazy people

So, long story short, there’s a person I hadn’t talked to in over 8 years.

On purpose, LOL.

But over the last couple weeks, I’ve had this feeling I needed to call her.

I fought it, believe me I did. Because when the two of us talk, or are around each other, we basically try to kill one another. Oops.

But, about a week ago I ended up picking up the phone. The conversations have gone so well, I drove the two hours (each way) to go see her yesterday – for the first time in 8 years.

And that *hugely surprisingly* went well.

some families have kodak moments others have prozac my family

Shared from http://pegitboard.com/pin/ 03056aa23aa837b508c6b305aebe1e3e

My mother is still a crackpot nut job (I come by it honestly 😉 ), but she’s stopped drinking and doing drugs, which means she’s a hell of a lot calmer, more reasonable, and now acts like a caring human being.

Whodda thunk?

I never thought I’d ever be saying this, but…

My mama is invited and will be coming to my house for Thanksgiving this year.

Here’s to hoping we won’t kill each other, LOL.

~ Happy Holidays

The Knight of the Garden Gnomes… #familylife #countyourblessings

For those new to the Swamp, indulge me and allow me to give you a little backstory. (Yes, I’m aware it’s a big no-no to start any story with backstory).

Years ago when our family (Knight, Prankster Duo, Hellhound and me) moved to the Swamp we brought along the Knight’s Garden Gnomes. This brilliant pair had made a life long career of tending and creating the most stunning gardens–one of which was the Knight’s–and the time had come for them to turn the responsibilities over to the rest of the Gnomish population. Their presence in our humble shack was a blessing–the Prankster Duo blossomed with their smiles and laughter, the Hellhound found a new best bud with Mr. Gnome, and our home was complete.

Then, a few years in Mr. Gnome had a run in with the insidious invader cancercraptis, a sneaky band of miscreants who leave much chaos and tears in their wake. Yet, due to the foresight of having the Gnomes move in with the Knight and I, we were able to beat the invaders back and into submission, until it decided to leave the field. Unfortunately, like many battles, there were no guarantees they wouldn’t try again. But we remained vigilant.

A couple more skirmishes broke out. Once they even brought back-up, hoping to interrupt the steady, solid beat of Mr. Gnome’s heart. Again, with speed and some really good herbalists, we kept the gardens of our Gnomes safe. Years passed, and we grew complacent–no sightings of the creepers meant they were scared to come back.

We were wrong.

Recently cancercraptis have found a couple, very small openings to Mr. Gnome. The herbalists recommend a new concoction, one that would be much easier than its harsher sibling, Chem T. The Knight, Mr. and Mrs. Gnome, the Wandering Sister, and I held a council to discuss our options. Majority decision was to try the new elixir.

It sucked.

The ties to its sibling, Chem T., were too close. It wreaked havoc. We told the herbalist, “No more. It’s not worth it.”

The invader is slow moving, enough so you can’t tell when its there, so Mr. Gnome decided he’d rather tend his garden how he wanted, for however long the sun shone and the rain fell. He’d leave it up to Mama Nature to decide how far the weed-like invaders could reach.

Hard as it is to stand by and not torch everything to the ground, just “to be sure”, we continue to honor Mr. Gnome’s wishes.

This week, the herbalist once again adjusted one of his many herbs. This time to help ensure Mr. Gnome’s heart continued its steady pace. Once again the side effects of the new herb were frighteningly horrible. So after a frantic weekend to determine which herb was the culprit, I’m happy to report Mr. Gnome is puttering in his garden. Not quite his normal self, but close enough for horseshoes. Close enough, for us to smile instead of frown.

So the reason for this little tale–I know we hear it all the time. We see it all over social media. But through these ongoing skirmishes, I have come to appreciate all the beautiful blooms each garden presents. The smile of Mr. Gnome when the oldest of the Prankster Duo continues to dip his head for kisses, just like when he was toddling around no higher than my knees (and yes, that’s pretty damn short), even though he now towers over me and the Gnomes. The laughter of my youngest as he practices his foreign tongues with Mrs. Gnome, creating words never meant to be uttered. Or the quiet ember that glows bright when my Knight, leaves behind the daily encounters and with utter patience, talks about everything and nothing, so Mr. and Mrs. Gnome know they are loved and wanted.

When the dragons of duty torch our days or the scoundrels of stress leave us frustrated and furious, remember to take a moment and appreciate the delicate blooms around you.

My Fumbling Attempts to Write Erotica

I had an idea for a great story. Isn’t that always the way it starts? In between a busy day of almost non-stop responsibilities, I forced myself to type up a short summary (because I couldn’t get it out of my head). As the day wasted away, I finally got to sit down and start the actual story. For two weeks, I was obsessed. This, I thought, is good.

And then I let a couple erotica pros read it.

Consensus: not good.

Feeling crushed, I re-read the story. How had I gone wrong? Strong characters. Interesting world building. Great (if amateur) sex scenes. This was what a good story was all about. This was me stretching myself as an author and exploring something I’d never written before. So why did it suck?

The Short Answer: I don’t read erotica. Other than a couple of pages once or twice, I’ve never really picked it up.

Why’s that a problem?

This took me weeks to figure out, even though it should have been minutes. This genre, like all others, requires an author to understand it and its readers.

But when did I finally realize this?

I sat down with a friend who walked me through some of the big issues that I just didn’t completely understand. I’d been told of these issues, but it didn’t click. The first one was that there was no emotional connection between my character and the man she sleeps with. So, I thought, a one night stand is still hot to read about. And it is, but even a one night stand has to be more than sweaty bodies pressed together. There has to be something that draws the characters together, even if it is just a sexual magnetism. But what comes along with that is the feelings of the two people. What are they thinking and feeling as they see one another? What fantasy does the man or woman awaken in the other?

I hadn’t thought of this. But still, my main problem didn’t really click.

Then, she walked me through some of the erotica “sins” I’d committed. Every time she mentioned one, I died a little inside. This is a good story, I thought, doesn’t that count for something?

And then one of my erotica goddesses handed me a giant-ass bag of books on writing erotica, as well as, collections of erotica short stories. As I carried them home, I felt a strange sense of empowerment. Now, now I had the tools to figure out what I’d done wrong.

I started one book at random. It gave a short autobiography on the writer, then moved on to a section basically encouraging writers in this genre. When I finally put it down, (not finished yet), I still didn’t know a thing about writing erotica, but I looked at it through new eyes. I felt the same way I did after leaving an English class in college where somehow the debate had turned to feminism, and the many ways we were still fighting to be seen as equals. Erotica, I felt, was a genre that was still fighting to be recognized as an equally respectable genre.

Then, finally, I did the one thing I’d been putting off. I picked up the collection of erotica short stories.

There is something dangerous about reading this genre. About knowing you can be reading a sentence, only to come across words you’d never read in any “polite” book. It is almost like walking down a shadowy alley and wondering if something unexpected is going to jump out of the shadows. Only, you know it is going to happen. It is more about the when.

Most of the stories were not my cup of tea, so to speak, but I learned something about them all the same. It doesn’t matter what the reader is into, it is about drawing the reader into your fantasy. Things I would never find sexy, I still found intriguing and interesting. When something is written well enough, it almost doesn’t matter the content. You can appreciate it. And that’s what I did, I read. And studied.

And finally, I got it.

There was no way I could write erotica without reading it. Without studying this genre. Without embracing and appreciating it for what it is.

I’m excited more than ever about venturing into this genre, as well as, many others. I feel like the only way I can become a really great writer is to constantly push myself to try new things. Not all of them may work, but at least I’ll learn something in the process.

It’s all about NYT, USA Today Best Selling Rom Suspense Authoress, @KayleaCross! #romsusp #giveaway

Gather ’round the campfire, kiddos, today we have the pleasure of talking with NYT and USA Today Best Selling Author, Kaylea Cross. She’s agreed to spend some time answering a few of our questions. 

Keep your voices down, there may be a few…ummm…men in greasepaint armed with some serious weapons looking for her. We promised she’d return unharmed, but they’re a cautious bunch.

Kaylea has some seriously exciting series out there–two of my favs, Titanium Security Series and Bagram Special Ops Series, only because I haven’t picked up the others yet. If you like Maya Banks, Christy Reece and Cindy Gerard, you have to add Kaylea to your reading list.

And to help with that, Kaylea has agreed to give one lucky commenter a free e-copy of IGNITED, the first book in the Titanium Security Series.  Just share some of your favorite Romantic Suspense authors in the comments.  Don’t forget to include your email with your comment.

Okay, since Eerie’s signaling me frantically, we’ll get this show on the road. 

My fellow conspirators, I give you Kaylea…

As children we tend to have an idea of what we want to be by the time we’re ten.  Before you decided to pursue the artistic dream of being a writer, what did you want to be and why?

Always an author. Always. For my 5th birthday I ask for and received an old-fashioned typewriter. I vividly remember sitting down and hacking away at the keys on a story that night. I didn’t start my first novel until much, much later though!

–Me too, well, and a judge and a vet, and a journalist…My typewriter sat at the kitchen table. My parents were pretty great about the fact it took up a permanent residence. I have 250 pages of a YA fantasy under lock and key.  It’s been banished. 

We all have favorite characters, either main or secondary, and there are always bits and pieces of them we don’t share with our readers, but keep close to our hearts.  Choose your favorite from your cast of characters and tell us a couple of things that you haven’t shared in your books/writing.

Oh, hands down that’s Luke Hutchinson, from my first suspense series. He’s the love of my writing life and no hero will ever match him (I’m loyal like that). I guess the biggest thing I didn’t really dwell on for him is that there’s still a lot of darkness inside him that he struggles with.

Personally, I tend to be a bit on the introverted side so the thought of being in the actual presence of one of my favorite writers makes my heart race, my knees shake and tangles my tongue (yes classic fan girl behavior).  Who could reduce you to such a level and how do you imagine your initial meeting?

I’d have to say JR Ward or Suzanne Brockmann, because I absolutely adore their writing and their characters. Though I will admit I’m pretty shy and my knees were wobbling pretty good when I attended an air show to interview some flight crews two summers ago. There I was, surrounded by a wall of men wearing flight suits as I went through my list of questions with them. I did NOT tell them I was researching a romance novel, however, since in my experience that’s the kiss of death as far as credibility is concerned. (Hey, it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it!)

–I’m with you on JR and Suzanne. They’re awesome character creators. Kudos to you on the flight crew interviews, I’m not sure I could have done anything remotely similar without stuttering (all hail the blogverse, where I can type without stumbling over my words!)

Many writers have that first novel which will never see the light of day. Out of curiosity, do you have one stashed somewhere?  Inquiring minds want to know: what was  your first attempt at writing and how old were you?

Well, this year I managed to publish the first book I ever wrote (a Civil War romance called The Vacant Chair), BUT, I had to rewrite it a couple of times and then I hired a freelance editor to go through it with a fine-tooth comb. It definitely is near and dear to my heart, though it’s far outside of the romantic suspense genre I’m known for.

–A historical? Wow, I’m thoroughly impressed. Historical’s scare me because of how accurate you have to be on your world building.

What is the best advice you can share with others?

Don’t give up, and don’t compare yourself/your work to others. Your process and voice will be unique to everyone else’s. Find what works for you and stick to that.

–Hear, hear!

Share if you dare, one of your favorite research experiences. Did you join a ghost hunters group? Did you step outside your comfort zone and into the wild world of your characters?

Aww, only one? Okay. I’m absolutely freaking terrified of flying (it’s a long story with a good reason behind it!), but for my Bagram Special Ops series I interviewed several helicopter pilots, flight instructors and even a Navy vet who survived a crash so I could get the details right. Then I went up in a helo five times to get the feel for the aircraft and the basics of the controls/mechanics. Best part was, I lived to tell the tale!

–It was well worth it, because I love that series. Your world building was awesome. I’m not much of a flyer either, but it’s more a heights thing than flying…

Now for our fun bullet list. Ready? Aim. Fire…

Blades, guns, fists or feet?

Guns! All my heroes are adept with firearms of all sorts.

Favorite Fairy Tale of all time?

Beauty and the Beast. I love that theme of redemption, and seeing past the physical to what’s inside.

–Love Beauty…even before Disney made a movie out of it =0)

Three titles and their authors sitting on your nightstand/bookcase/table/floor waiting to be read?

Uncommon Pleasure, by Anne Calhoun
American Sniper, by the late Chris Kyle
SEAL Team Six, by Harold Wasdin

–I’ve got Wasdin’s and Kyle’s on my TBR too. They’re compelling reads.

Greatest one liner of all time?

“Nothing like a good piece of ass.” (From Steel Magnolias)

–*snort*

Sarcastic witticism, Southern sweetness or Geeky disdain?

Southern sweetness all the way!

Strangest item currently taking up space in your writing cave?

My late 18 ½ year old cat’s ashes and a little Ziploc of his fur. *sniffle*

((hugs))

Favorite supernatural creature?

Dragons.

—Oooohhhh, Snarky’s going to love you!

Big, huge Thank You to Kaylea for making time to drop in. Before we let her go, don’t forget to share with us your favorite Romantic Suspense author (with your email) for a chance to win an e-copy of IGNITED:

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When her father is murdered by a Taliban cell in the tribal regions of Pakistan, Khalia Patterson reluctantly steps into his shoes to carry on the legacy of Fair Start Foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to furthering the education of girls. There she meets Hunter Phillips, the ex-SEAL and head of her Titanium security team, and quickly learns that coming to Pakistan might prove to be a deadly decision.
Battling demons of his own, Hunter grudgingly leads Khalia’s protective detail  as a favor to his boss. From their first meeting it’s clear she’s going to be trouble, and that the cell that killed her father is hell bent on taking her out as well. Keeping her alive is one of the toughest assignments he’s ever faced, yet through one harrowing situation after another she continually impresses him with her strength and inner courage. Even though he fights his feelings for her, it’s a losing battle. And when the job is over, he doesn’t know how he’ll let her go.
Buy Links:

Come find Kaylea Cross…

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NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Kaylea Cross writes edge-of-your-seat military romantic suspense. Her work has won many awards and has been nominated for both the Daphne du Maurier and the National Readers’ Choice Awards. A Registered Massage Therapist by trade, Kaylea is also an avid gardener, artist, Civil War buff, Special Ops aficionado, belly dance enthusiast and former nationally-carded softball pitcher. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her family. You can find Kaylea through her website, Twitter, Facebook,and her blog.

Love

Love2

I find it hard to read a fiction novel that has absolutely no romance. It doesn’t have to be a romance, or even hit me over the head with all the gushy love, but it needs to have at least a sprinkle of it. Most of the novels I read, however, have the two people fall in love because of attraction, loneliness, or something else fairly basic. Now that I am writing an adult fantasy piece, I am trying to create a realistic romance between two characters, even though it won’t be the sole focus of my novel. But this has led me to a rather difficult question, what makes two people fall in love?

If you’ve been on a bad date, or a date that was fine… just fine, you know that there are sometimes major reasons two people don’t get together, and sometimes more minor reasons. Some people don’t connect, even though on paper they should, while others are exact opposites, but somehow they end up together. When I was young and single, I looked at love as something I wanted to have, and thus needed to understand in order to find. Now that I’m married, I understand our love, but that doesn’t mean I understand anyone else’s. Therefore, I’ve come to the conclusion that understanding this emotion is more complicated than it seems.

This fact doesn’t really help me create “love” between my characters though. Instead, I am left constantly pondering why these two should get together, versus any of the other characters. I want to know who they are as people, so that they should “need” the other person to be their other half. Realistically, I want them to be a little different; people who are two similar sometimes get bored with each other. But I don’t want them to be too different, as to the point of constantly fighting. And more than just who they are as people, I want to consider who they would be together, because that seems just as important.

On the other hand, I think sometimes love is pretty simple. Two people get together just because. I’m not sure anyone really needs a complicated reason why these two get together, just as no one needed a complicated reason my husband and I feel in love. It’s just enough that we found each other, and perhaps it’s enough my two characters find each other too. Not sure though, I’ll have to keep sorting through this dilemma.

Accomplishments

Accomplishments are strange and powerful things. Whether it is a big or a small accomplishment, people tend to feel a great deal of pride when they achieve it. So what if all your accomplishments are long-term? How do you keep yourself motivated? And what if your daily accomplishments can never truly be accomplished?

The dishes are done! Nope, dirty again.

Laundry is finished. Oh, not anymore.

Are you raising happy, healthy children? Talk to me in eighteen years.

It is a strange thing to go from accomplishing things both big and small on a daily basis, to never feeling you’re accomplishing anything at all. I never thought it would bother me before, but I think it’s pretty normal not to consider the possibilities of something you’ve completely taken for granted. For example, other than a toddler, I’ve never seen anyone stand and flip a light switch on and off, just to watch the wonder of electricity. But if it were to be gone tomorrow, I think all of us would feel like fools for not appreciating it more.

This is my accomplishment-less life right now. I’m missing something I never knew I had before. You’d think this would make me even more reluctant to work on my book, since it too is a long-term accomplishment. But the strange thing is, I’m also developing a strange joy in working on things that seem to be somewhat unrewarding. I recently started a garden. I had help, but it was still a slow process. Yet, every day the children and I race outside to see the wonder of a plant having finally pushed free of the soil, and with it comes a strange thrill that as time passes, we will have created a garden of thriving lives. And whether it is the joy of seeing my children’s wonder, or the garden itself, I feel a strange sense of both joy and exhausted that my new accomplishments in life will be few. But very important.

Like my garden. And book. And children.

Come meet #NYT’s most awesome #RomanticSuspense Authoress @CindyGerard and her edgy, sexy men…. #giveaway #RomSus #THEWAYHOME #BOI #ONEEYEDJACKS

Okay everyone, breathe with me as I try not to hyperventilate from my squees of delight. Today I’m so honored to host the most awesome Cindy Gerard.  If you haven’t discovered her, you must add her to your TBR piles. Not only does she have the fantastic Black Ops, Inc. Series, but her latest group of hotties belong to the One Eyed Jacks. You don’t want to miss out on these great romantic suspense titles!  

And because of how truly fantastic she is, Cindy will be giving away THREE e-book copies of her title WHEN SOMEBODY LOVES YOU to our wonderful audience of commenters! All you have to do is leave a comment here (or over at 7 Evil Dwarves site) sharing your favorite heart pounding moment ( a proposal, your first trip to a haunted house, an interview, first day at school/work), whatever got your pulse rate up!  Will announce our winners on both sites on Nov. 15th!

Put your hands together for Ms. Cindy Gerard!

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If you were to hold a dinner party for six, who would you invite and share at least one question you would have for each? Your guests don’t have to be alive and if you really want to make it fun, you can use favorite fictional characters. 

I would really love to have dinner with all the BOI characters – especially Johnny Reed – and from the One Eyed Jacks series, Mike Primetime Brown.  These guys make me laugh.  And the question I would have for them is:  What do you think of cougars???  :o)

–*giggle*, let me know what their answer is, I might have to stop by at an opportune moment!

As children we tend to have an idea of what we want to be by the time we’re ten.  Before you decided to pursue the artistic dream of being a writer, what did you want to be and why?

I was sure I would be a nurse or a veterinarian or an actress, or a singer, or wait … a playwrite.  As you can see, I wanted the whole ball of wax. 

–been there and so cool to see it happen all over again with the boys in my home…

If your character(s) came with a warning label, what would it say?

Warning: anyone tampering with this man (men) are subject to getting caught in the middle of dangerous situations, apt to lose their heart, and will never be the same again.

–sign me up!

If you turned your laptop/computer/pen/typewriter (yes, some of still use these!) over to your character(s), how would they describe you?

Oh dear.  I’m almost afraid to explore that one.  Hopefully they’d say I’m kind and patient and generous but I suspect they’d say I’m bossy, impatient and determined to have my own way.

–yeah, but our characters would get bored if we were nice to them…

Personally, I tend to be a bit on the introverted side so the thought of being in the actual presence of one of my favorite writers makes my heart race, my knees shake and tangles my tongue (yes classic fan girl behavior).  Who could reduce you to such a level and how do you imagine your initial meeting?

There are many who could prompt an “I’m not worthy” moment.  Lee Child would be one.  LaVryle Spencer would be another.  I would imagine I’d pretty much stand there, starry eyed and stiff as a post, willing some pearl of wisdom to come out of my mouth but stuck, instead with a tongue tied hello.  I suck at hero worship.

–does this mean if I get a chance to meet you in actual person, you’ll forgive me for not being able to provide some witty repartee beyond “Errrppp!”?

Whether we’re plotters or pantsers (outlines not needed), creating our stories takes us on very memorable journeys.  Sometimes we may be part way through before we realize some major aspect of our story is just not working (plot, character, setting).  Have you ever hit this sharp, pointy snag and if so, how did you escape? We’re you battered and bruised or a bloody mess?

Frankly, it’s rare that I don’t hit a snag and I always feel battered and bruised when I finish a book.  There are days when I feel like I’m crawling over broken glass naked just to get a scene right.  I think all authors experience it.  Unfortunately, I think it’s also called: The Creative Process.  It’s unavoidable.  Let’s face it.  If it was easy, anyone could do it. 

–*wipes forehead free of sweat* So guess it doesn’t ever go away, uh? Oh well…

Share one uniquely strange experience you’ve had that remains crystal clear to this day.

A few years ago I visited the Korean War monument in D.C.  I’ve never had such an experience as the sense of reality, pain, cold, and fear that our military men had in that battle field depiction.  The statues were larger than life yet so lifelike in expression I literally felt all of those things as well as the loss they experienced.  Very chilling and very moving.  I stood and cried like a baby.

—I did the same at Pearl Harbor a few years back, so I get it. So hard to stand in the midst of such history and not be impacted…

What is some of the best advice you were ever given?

Be kind to people

What is the best advice you can share with others? 

Be kind to people

—  :0)

Share if you dare, one of your favorite research experiences. Did you join a ghost hunters group? Did you step outside your comfort zone and into the wild world of your characters?

I jumped off a 40 foot cliff into the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon so I could experience what it might feel like if you were running for your life and ran out of room.  And no, I’d never do it again. :o)

–Ok, you win this one, Cindy. No way will I ever be able to top that. I get dizzy at the top of buildings, much less the Grand Canyon…

Now our favorite part–our BULLET LIST…

Blades, guns, fists or feet? 

Food.  It’s a great weapon J

Favorite Fairy Tale of all time? 

Rapunzel

Greatest one liner of all time? 

“Did you ever feel like the world was a tuxedo and you were a pair of brown shoes?”  Old lonesome George Gobel

Sarcastic witticism, Southern sweetness or Geeky disdain? 

Sarcastic Witticism.  For sure :o)

Strangest item currently taking up space in your writing cave?

 A 90 gallon fresh water aquarium.

Favorite supernatural creature?

I’m holding out for the Lac Ness Monster to be real.

Want a peek into THE WAY HOME! I know you do, so here you go…

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THE WAY HOME – EXCERPT

PROLOGUE

Afghanistan – July

It wasn’t the memory he would have chosen – not when he couldn’t even remember his own name – but he knew that he used to have nightmares about vampires.  Hiding under his bed and in dark closets.  Swooping down on their Dracula wings, sinking their fangs into his neck and sucking out his blood.

How ironic, then, that he’d become a vampire of sorts: a creature who lived in the night, hid from the light, and sucked sustenance as though it were blood from a young Afghani woman who despised him but wouldn’t let him die.  She brought him food, water and medicine.  And opiates that she liberally laced in all three.

He watched her now through an opiate induced haze,  physically incapacitated and totally dependent on her. He knew that her name was Rabia and that shecould ill afford the things she brought for him. He also knew that if he were caught while she harbored the escaped American soldier a horde of Taliban warlords were searching for, not only would he be tortured, interrogated and finally executed, so would she.

So he didn’t know why she continued to help him, but he had no option but to accept it.  Just as he had no choice but to believe what she’d told him in heavily accented English about who he was … because he didn’t remember.  He didn’t remember being an American soldier, or what had happened to him, or how he’d escaped from the Taliban and ended up here.

The panic and anguish that stalked him whenever the opiates wore off were as huge and dark as the cave where she hid him. So he gladly relinquished both to the apathy induced by the poppy. Apathy was painless. Apathy made it tolerable to know that weeks, maybe months of his life were gone. His memories … gone.

Only the vampire dreams remained of who he’d been. And only the woman kept him alive.

He studied her now as she prepared his meal in the dim light of an oil lamp, in a silence that embodied their uneasy and unnatural bond as shifting shadows danced along the curved rock wall and dust swept into the cave on a wind that never quit blowing. He knew scattered words in Pashtu but didn’t know why he knew them. She had a passing command of English but rarely chose to use it. More irony that she represented the one constant in a life that had been reduced to pain, fear and the vertigo that crippled him even more than the opiates.  And he didn’t know whether to thank her for keeping him alive, or hate her.

Moving his head slowly to avoid triggering another vertigo attack, he pulled the ragged blanket around him against the chill of the cave floor.

Because he was too weak to feed himself, he watched her eyes as she offered spoonfuls of lukewarm soup.  He couldn’t see her features beneath the dark scarf she wore over her head and wrapped around her neck to cover her face. He could only see those eyes, onyx black, winter cold and void of any emotion but weary disdain.

It had been the same thing every day for twenty-three days. He’d used a small pebble to scratch a mark on the rock wall every day since he’d regained consciousness.  She would appear wearing dark, baggy trousers beneath an encompassing scarf or burqa that covered her from head to knees completely hiding her body beneath yards of coarse, draping cotton.  The scent of the summer heat and the scorch of the sun that she brought with her were reminders that a world existed outside this cave.  A world that wasn’t dank and dark and cold.  A world that was hostile and foreign and where, she assured him, he was not safe.

For twenty-three days she had been the only soul he’d seen and she had yet to look him directly in the eye.  He wouldn’t recognize her if he saw her on the street.  Not that he would ever leave here. If the pain and the vertigo didn’t keep him flat on his back, the ankle shackle that chained him to the rock wall would. And then there was the poppy.  Who knew how deeply he’d been dragged down that rabbit hole?

Some days – the lucid ones, when he couldn’t fight the fear – he would lie here shivering and wish for death.  When pain ripped through his head, when the dizziness became so crippling it reduced him to lying rigidly still, hugging the rock floor in a desperate and futile attempt to stop the nausea, that’s when despair crushed him. And he would beg her to let him die.

Always, she refused.  She continued to risk all to make certain he stayed alive and he had no idea why.

He knew only that every time she appeared on quiet feet and condemning silence, he felt both shame and gratitude because she hadn’t forgotten him … the way he’d forgotten everything but the need to leave this place that even God had forsaken and find his way back home.

If only he knew where home was.

CHAPTER 1

Northern Minnesota – July

Today, of all days, Jess Albert needed routine. Most days she got it. Shop keeping wasn’t exactly a glamorous, high profile or lucrative occupation. In fact, every day was pretty much a repeat of the day before and the day before that. Little mini ground hogs days stacked up like cord wood one on top of the other.  All that was about to change, however, to the tune of the old bell fixed above the Crossroads General Store’s front door.

“Until tomorrow my little lotus blossom.  Dream of me.”

Jess grinned as one of her regulars, Boots England, delivered his standard good bye, tucked his newspaper under his arm and limped toward the door on his recently replaced knee.

“One of these days Marcia’s going to show up with a shovel and bash one of us over the head if you keep flirting with me like that.”

“Ah, but what’s life without a little danger?”  He wiggled his bushy white eye brows, blew her a kiss and let himself outside on a hot rush of July air to get in his Saab and drive the four miles back to his lakeside cabin for his afternoon nap and his wife of almost fifty years.

The bell above the store’s front door dinged softly behind the irrepressible old flirt, sounding the same as it had since Jess’s father had first set up shop almost fifty years ago. Jess loved the sound of that bell. It was comforting and comfortable, the bedrock of her childhood, as ingrained in her psyche as the scent of sunscreen, bug spray and the cherry nut ice cream she’d already scooped gallons of this summer.

She’d spent her youth playing on the scarred pine floors, eventually working behind the counter and after burning out as an ER trauma nurse, finally taking over the store when her parents had retired and moved to Arizona three years ago. So yeah, she loved the sound of that old bell. She especially loved it because every time it rang it meant business which was good because her quarterly taxes were due soon and, as always, she was a little short on cash.

She also loved it because it meant she had another customer to help keep her mind off the fact that this particular day would be a tough one to get through. She glanced at the framed 8 X 10 photo of her and J.R. that hung on the wall behind the cash register. Suntanned and smiling, their whole lives ahead of them.  And then it wasn’t.  At least it wasn’t for J.R.

He would have been thirty-five today. If he’d been home and not deployed, she would have baked him a cake and some of his buddies on the base would have stopped by and they would have drank a little beer.

But the last birthday J.R. celebrated had been thousands of miles from home.  He’d been thirty-two.  Eight months later, he’d been dead.

“Too late to add these to the bill?”

She looked up at the young father making some last minute purchases before he and his son headed out onto the lake for a week of camping and fishing.  He’d added a map and two black ball caps with Lake Kabetogama embroidered across the bill in red to their growing stack of supplies.

“Not a problem.” She gave him a bright smile and harnessed her attention back to the business at hand.  “Anything else?”

The Crossroads Store was a North woods version of a Wal-mart – on a much smaller and less state of the art scale.  The store had been supplying locals and travelers alike for over eighty years.  You needed boots?  Whiskey?  Bait?  Groceries?  DVD rentals?  Anything you could think of the Crossroads provided.

“Yeah, throw in half a dozen C batteries and we’ll call it good, right, son?”

The boy looked to be around ten with flashing brown eyes and buzz cut blond hair.  He was the image of his father and antsy to start their grand ‘just guys’ adventure.

“Do you think we’ll see a bear?” Equal measures of hope and trepidation peppered the boy’s question.

“It’s a good possibility,” she said, feeding his excitement.  “Last DNR count, over a hundred and fifty black bears called Lake Kabetogama and this part of Voyagers National Park home. Where’re you camping?”

The dad dug into his breast pocket and quickly checked his camping permit. “Blue Fin Bay.”

“Ah.  Then there’s a pretty good chance you might spot one.”

The boy’s eyes grew as big as bobbers.

She couldn’t help but laugh as she continued ringing up their sale.  “Make sure to police your camp site every day and store your food in the bear proof lockers the park service provides.  You’ll be fine.”

The bell rang again in the background.  Jess glanced up from the cash register in time to see a pair of broad shoulders and the back of a baseball cap disappear down the center aisle toward the live bait tanks.

It was a sight she saw dozens of times a day during the summer season.  Another fisherman burning with fishing fever, hoping to get lucky and needing some bait.  Since she was on her own for a while until Kayla Burke, her mainstay summer help, got back from a bank run, she left the newcomer alone to figure out what he wanted while she finished ringing up twenty gallons of gas, a mocha cappuccino, a root beer and the rest of the groceries for the father and son campers.  She gave them directions to Wooden Frog Landing where they could put their boat in and wished them good luck.  Once they’d headed out the door, she decided she’d better check on Mr. Ball Cap.

Wiping her hands on a paper towel and heading out from behind the counter, she nearly tripped over Bear, her twelve week old Labrador pup. The dog was a mass of sleek, glossy black fur, big clumsy feet, and happily thumping tail.  Still fully spent from their run early this morning, Bear had ‘assumed the position’ and napped soundly by her feet.

“No, don’t get up.” She grinned at the oblivious dog and headed down a row of shelves stocked neatly with everything from canned goods to marshmallows to fishing lures, and walked toward the last place she’d seen the top of the ball cap disappear.

“Sorry for the wait.  What can I get you?”

“Not sure.  What do I need to catch the big ones?”

The voice stopped her cold.  And routine, mundane and comfortable shifted to excitement and chaos in one long, heavy heartbeat.  It didn’t matter that the row of stocked shelves hid him.  She knew exactly who was back there.

Tyler Brown.

Holy, holy cow. 

Talk about a blind side.  It had been a year ago February since she’d met this man and exchanged a very few words him.  No way should she have remembered the timber and the pitch of his voice so clearly after … what?  Eighteen months?  Yet she was one hundred percent certain it was him before she hesitantly made the final turn to face him.

“Surprise.”  He smiled, hopeful and expectant and even a little shy.  Coupled with his very large, very striking, and very unexpected presence, it set off a handspring of emotions in her stomach.

“Yeah,” she finally managed, along with a return smile that felt as forced as it felt necessary.  “You could definitely say this is a surprise.  Hello, Ty.”

She started to extend her hand, thought better of it and stuffed it into the back pocket of her shorts.  “Wow.  You’re a long way from home.”

A very long way.  Not merely a long way from Florida.  A long way from his life.  A heck of a long way from a cold winter night when he’d swooped in and out of her life like the storm he’d blown in on. And now here he was, back again.  One of the men who had been in the thick of a dangerous rescue.  A man who had made enough of an initial impression on her that she’d opened up her gun safe to him and three other virtual strangers based on his word alone.

Unable to stop herself, she started at Tyler Brown who looked nothing like J.R. but who she suspected was like him in every other way.  Every way but one.  Ty Brown was alive. J.R. wasn’t.  Her husband had died thousands of miles from home, fighting a war she’d never quite understood, hadn’t truly sanctioned and that she hadn’t been able to keep him from fighting.  Looking at Ty – who’d made her think of J.R. the first time she’d seen him – unsettled her as much as it confused her.  And yes, unfortunately, excited her.

Yup. Her day had gone from mundane to totally bonkers to the tune of a bell above the door.

“So.”  He looked expectant when she stood there. Guess he finally decided one of them needed to say something and since he’d brought this game into play, she was fine with it being him. “Thought I’d do some fishing.”

Florida was no longer surrounded by an ocean full of fish?

Because he had this little ‘if you buy that, I’ve got some farm land in the Sahara desert I’d love to sell you’ smile, she avoided the obvious questions like: What was he really doing here?  And the most damaging one: Why did it seem to matter so much?

“Early July’s not the best time of year.”  Two could play this game. “But I’m told fishing started to pick up a bit this week.”  She pasted on her shopkeeper smile and pretended her world hadn’t been tipped on end.  “You want live bait?”

His grinned, looking both thoughtful and amused, like he knew that she knew he hadn’t come all this way to fish but was willing to play it that way until she got used to the idea. “Live bait.  Yeah, sure.  Why not?  Live bait would be good.”

She moved behind the bubbling minnow tanks, hoping she didn’t appear as off balanced as she felt.  “Got a sale on flathead chubs.”

That spurred a soft chuckle.  “My lucky day.”

She could not look at him because for God sake, live bait had not brought him back to Kabetogama.  Neither had fishing but she wasn’t ready to process that yet.  Head down, she started scooping up minnows.  “Couple dozen do you?”

“I don’t know.  Will a couple dozen do me?”

He was laughing at her now … not unkindly but like he found her entertaining which meant he saw right through her.

Lord, she hoped he didn’t have her figured out.  Or maybe she did.  Then he could tell her exactly what was going on in her head because she didn’t have one solid clue.  Well, maybe one.  There hadn’t been a man in her life since J.R.  And there’d never been a man who triggered the physical reactions this man had at first sight all those months ago.  Reactions he triggered again today.

It had both unsettled and puzzled her that she had experienced such an instant and strong physical reaction to Ty Brown on that very brief first meeting.  But she’d chalked it up to a cold, isolating storm, the threat of imminent danger and a lot of long lonely nights alone in her bed.

But then he’d disappeared from her life as quickly as he’d come in to it.  Which had been good.  Which had been fine.  She’d actually been relieved when he hadn’t called even though he’d said he would – at least that’s what she’d told herself several times since.  She didn’t want to get involved with anyone.  She especially didn’t want to get involved with a man like Tyler Brown who was just like J.R.  Special Ops soldiers, whether active duty or retired, were always warriors.  They would always be the man leading the charge, putting themselves in danger, living for the adrenaline rush and dying for God and country and the guy next to him in the trenches.

She’d lived with that man.  She’d loved and tried to understand that man.  But neither love nor understanding had been enough to keep him home, keep him happy, or keep him alive.

CAN’T WAIT AND WANT TO GET IT NOW? GOOD, LET US LINK YOU…

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Two guests in one: NYT @christyreece and @ellagracebooks Visit the Swamp bearing gifts! #giveaway #suspense #Wildefire #romance #MIDNIGHTLIES

Hello my lovelies, guess who I found wandering around Smokey’s place? New York Times Bestselling author Christy Reece, or as some of know her, Ella Grace. A rose by any other name and all that aside, we’re in for a treat. She’s giving away a signed, yep SIGNED, copy of her latest release MIDNIGHT LIES, the second book in her Wildefire Series. 

A word weaver of romantic suspense, Christy’s titles will keep you turning pages long after you should’ve gone to bed. When she appeared out of the wilds of the Swamp, I knew immediately we had to have her over. Since cooking isn’t high on my list, it’s a good thing Smokey’s place tends to lure the unwary with savory aromas, otherwise I may have lost her.

Along with a plate of potato salad and ribs, we handed her our menu of questions. We had to promise her real pecan pie. Shhh…don’t tell her, but I sent Mischievous to “pick” one up from Dreamer’s place. With two little angelets flying around, maybe she won’t miss it…

As children we tend to have an idea of what we want to be by the time we’re ten.  Before you decided to pursue the artistic dream of being a writer, what did you want to be and why? 

Oh so many things! First I wanted to be a psychiatrist because I loved listening to other people’s problems. I was also very opinionated and always knew exactly what they should do. Then, I wanted to be a nurse because… Okay, shameful confession, I watched a lot of General Hospital when I was a kid and was convinced I could meet a handsome doctor like Rick Springfield. Then I wanted to be a princess because, well…they had everything–they were beautiful and all they had to do each day was look pretty and the handsome and oh so charming prince would come and sweep them off their feet.

Nothing shameful about GH, come on! Luke and Laura….best story line!

Whether we’re plotters or pantsers (outlines not needed), creating our stories takes us on very memorable journeys.  Sometimes we may be part way through before we realize some major aspect of our story is just not working (plot, character, setting).  Have you ever hit this sharp, pointy snag and if so, how did you escape? Were you battered and bruised or a bloody mess?

This happens to me with almost every book. I head in a direction that I think the story should go and end up wasting valuable time because I’m forcing the story instead of allowing my characters to lead me. I usually find where I’ve gone off track before I go too far. However, I think my very worst and perhaps best experience was when I wrote an entire book and sent it to my editor, all the while telling myself it was a good book even though I knew it had some major flaws. She confirmed my fears. So I scrapped the book, came up with a new idea and wrote a brand new book. Same characters but completely different plot. My editor loved it and I was so grateful that she believed in me and allowed me to get it right. To this day, that book is one of my favorites.

Thank you for sharing this, Christy, it makes me hopeful because *lowering voice* I was 2 chapters from the end of my WIP and realized where I wanted it to go and where it should go were two very different things. So I had to go back and rewrite and finally it’s coming together right….You’d think I’d learn to listen to my characters but sometimes they go places I’m just not ready for…

What’s some of the funniest/sweetest/strangest things you’ve heard from your readers?

One reader wrote to me that her Thanksgiving dinner was ruined and her entire family was angry with her because she got immersed in one of my books and allowed dinner to burn.

Another time, LAST CHANCE, one of my Last Chance Rescue books, was a Cosmopolitan Red Hot Read. I didn’t know it at the time, but those excerpts are heavily edited. A reader who discovered my books through the magazine feature emailed me and questioned the sexual position of my hero. It was not anatomically possible for him to be doing what he was doing. The email was hilarious as she asked me to explain how such a thing was possible. Needless to say I couldn’t.

You know, I’ve tried that excuse with my family, but they just don’t get it…food vs. book, the book’s going to win every time.

What’s the one genre you won’t ever try and why?

Post apocalyptic stories. I like dark and gritty storylines but the sheer lack of amenities would be a serious hindrance to my characters’ happiness. And mine too.

Understandable, the whole lack of a hot shower would be a real bummer, plus no iPod or Kindle? Truly the end of the world 

 

Now for our favorite set of questions, the bullet list. How’s Christy’s aim? 

Blades, guns, fists or feet?

All of the above!

Favorite Fairy Tale of all time?

Beauty and the Beast

Mine too!

Three titles and their authors sitting on your nightstand/bookcase/table/floor waiting to be read?

LOL I have about 50 on the floor but I’ll grab three: Debra Webb’s Obsession, Bella Andre’s From This Moment On, and Sharon Sala’s Don’t Cry For Me

Ooohh, Sharon Sala, love her!

Greatest one liner of all time?

“You rush a miracle, you get rotten miracles.” Miracle Max from The Princess Bride

A true sage that Max… 

Sarcastic witticism, Southern sweetness or Geeky disdain?

 Sigh…Gotta go with Southern sweetness. Must come from all that sweet tea and pecan pie I consumed as a kid.

Speaking of which, I think that pie’s ready….

 Strangest item currently taking up space in your writing cave?

 A rubber chicken in a bikini

Umm, you’re going to have to send me a  picture of that one because…yeah…WOW! 

Favorite supernatural creature?

 Hmm. Torn between ghost and vampire. 

Much love and thanks to Christy for stopping by! Now it’s your turn to share, leave us your greatest one liner of all time and you could be one the winner of a signed copy of MIDNIGHT LIES.  (US residents only, Sorry my global peeps, you can get a copy but it won’t be signed.)  Don’t forget to leave your email so we can contact you if you win!

Want to see what you’re getting? Here it is…

MIDNIGHT LIES, the second book in the Wildefire series, released September 24.

Midnight_Lies

IT’S ALWAYS HOTTER AT MIDNIGHT.

The winds of fate have blown cruelly on a family that once had it all: money, power, prestige. The lives of three beautiful daughters were forever changed when, on a sultry night in Midnight, Alabama, a murder-suicide shattered the Wilde family. The girls grew up to live separate lives but now have returned home, each to face a danger no one can see coming.

Former homecoming queen Samantha surprised everyone by going into law enforcement, but beneath her tough façade lies a wary heart. The tragedy that struck her family is an ever-present reminder that nothing is ever as it seems. When the man she loves, Quinn Braddock, a doctor and Iraq war veteran, is accused of murder, Samantha assumes the worst. Brokenhearted, her confidence shattered, she returns to Midnight. Though exonerated, Quinn still feels the sting of Samantha’s doubt, but he can’t forget his feelings for her and follows her. Soon after his arrival, a shocking murder terrifies the town, and once again, Quinn is under suspicion. This time, Samantha will not turn her back on the man she loves—even if it means walking into a killer’s trap.

http://amzn.to/157hKPI

http://bit.ly/18e1fy7

http://bit.ly/14n7qAp

http://bit.ly/18DSTh9

Want to connect with Christy? You can here…

Ella Grace is a writer of steamy southern suspense, wife, mother to multiple fur-kids and one reclusive turtle. She loves to write, read, cook the occasional meal, go to the movies and travel when she can. She’s thrilled to be writing a series based in her home state of Alabama.

Ella Grace is the pen name for NYT Bestselling Author Christy Reece.

www.ellagracebooks.com

www.christyreece.com

www.facebook.com/authorchristyreece

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Twitter:

@ellagracebooks

@christyreece

Time to dip your toes into something steamy and meet #Erotica author @kallypsomasters! #giveaway #romance #rescueme

Welcome back my loyal Swamp followers. Did you all make it through the whirlwind of new authors and add layers to your To Be Read piles?

You did? Great!

We’re not quite done yet, my friends. Today we have to leave the kids with Dreamer to take some well deserved Adult Time and walk the edge of our desires with the wonderfully lovely and fantastic Erotica author, Kallypso Masters.  We managed to waylay her on  her way to Authors After Dark where she and some of our past guests like Jennifer Estep, and Lynn Rush will all be appearing! If you can make it, you MUST GO!

Now I realize we’re stepping outside our comfort zone a bit here, but what’s life without a few heart-pounding moments?  Besides, for those who haven’t tried this particular genre, Kally’s Rescue Me series is a great introduction. Her characters are so real they’ll reach out, rope you into their world and make it so you don’t ever want to leave.

Without further ado, I present Kallypso Masters!

Thanks so much for having me here, Jami and friends! I am knee-deep in alligators right now and love to answer questions, so I opted to choose some of your very unique questions and answer them, hoping to reveal something new to some of my long-term fans, as well as have some new readers discover me and my books.

If your character(s) came with a warning label, what would it say?

Wounded, but not broken.

—and oh so real, I have to add!

If you turned your laptop/computer/pen/typewriter (yes, some of still use these!) over to your character(s), how would they describe you?

IF I turned it over? Master Adam has often commandeered my keyboard. One of my favorite times was when he came to speak to my readers about how to survive the holidays about the time his book, Nobody’s Hero, was released, Christmas 2011. (Read Master Adam’s message here!)

Hmmm, I think Adam would say…

Oh, Sir. Good morning! Um, yes, Sir. You most certainly can have the keyboard.

*Kally gets up to get dressed for breakfast*

Adam here. You want to know what I’d say about Kally? She doesn’t realize what a great talent she has at capturing stories, even from the most reluctant people, like Marc and me, and getting at what makes them tick. She doesn’t write sugary-sweet fantasy romances with gazillionaires and virgins. Okay, sometimes she tells a virgin’s story, well, she was a virgin until… Anyway, Kally focuses on true-to-life people and tells it like it is for so many of my brothers and sisters who have served their country. We aren’t rich. We’re sometimes fucked up. But she can make even the most fucked up of them all, me, come across as a hero, which takes a lot of talent and perseverance.

I appreciate how she spends hours and hours talking with and writing to people in the lifestyle and in the military to make sure she gets her facts straight. And that she won’t release a book early for a quick buck. When you get the book, you know she’s satisfied with it, which can take some doing. Yeah, sometimes she can overthink things and needs to learn to trust when she’s nailed the story, even with its imperfections, and let it go. But her attention to detail and that she brings in a team of people to help make her books the best they can be, are both admirable. I’ve learned in the Corps and beyond that none of us can do it alone.

And Kally genuinely cares about her readers, her family, and those who have been sucker-punched by life, as many of you already know. She keeps many of her engagements with readers private, but enough comes out when readers share with others that you know she cares. One of my Navy brothers and a fellow rope enthusiast, Kinbaku Gardener, recently described her in her discussion group on Facebook as “the salt of the earth,” and I think that pretty much sums Kally up. No pretense, no filters—just a woman who’s got her own healing to do, but wants to share that journey with others and help them get there, too. When you meet her face to face for the first time, you know you’ve found a new friend.

—*politely nodding* I have to agree since I found myself sharing things with her, I hadn’t shared with very many…

Personally, I tend to be a bit on the introverted side so the thought of being in the actual presence of one of my favorite writers makes my heart race, my knees shake and tangles my tongue (yes classic fan girl behavior).  Who could reduce you to such a level and how do you imagine your initial meeting?

Well, once upon a time, it would have been Cherise Sinclair. Hers was my first erotic romance and first BDSM romance I ever read, and I followed her for a couple years before deciding to pursue writing in this genre myself. Imagine my reaction when she e-mailed me a couple months before my first book came out (after I’d engaged with her on Facebook for only a few weeks) and she said, “I can’t wait to read your book.” I totally screamed out loud (and, yes, my heart raced, I was tongue-tied, and my knees shook).

I’ve been fortunate to have met her twice now. The first time was at my hotel in San Francisco last year when she picked me up to go to a BDSM club for a lecture. I was nervous, but she put me at ease right away. I think she may have even been more nervous than I was, but she’s not as extroverted as I am. This past May (a year after our first encounter), she and I shared a room while attending a leather celebration for research. I now consider my idol a friend. But I still idolize her books!

–I love Cherise’s books! I discovered hers after yours.

Many writers have that first novel which will never see the light of day. Out of curiosity, do you have one stashed somewhere?  Inquiring minds want to know: what was your first attempt at writing and how old were you?

I have at least 8 full or partial manuscripts that I kept and that are stashed away, including a short story from high school. The first thing I ever sold was a short story I wrote as a sophomore and sold to my 8th-grader sister for her English class. The teacher wanted to submit it to an anthology, but she quickly got shy and said, “Oh, no. I don’t want to do that!” She never confessed that it wasn’t her work. (I think I made $2.50—sure beat what I got for babysitting and dish washing at the time.) Most of these 8 manuscripts will remain hidden, although I did pull one out and sent it to one of my editors who lives the lifestyle and asked her to just beta read (not edit) it and tell me if it could be salvaged as a stand-alone novella or short novel. But I’d only put it out if it was of the same quality as the Rescue Me books—and I’m not sure that could be achieved without a lot of work. I don’t want to waste time fixing old books. I want to keep writing new ones using the skills I’ve learned in the process of writing new books.

–I’m with you, some of my older ideas are fun, but the amount of work and revamping required *shudder*, yea no, I think I’ll pass…

Whether we’re plotters or pantsers (outlines not needed), creating our stories takes us on very memorable journeys.  Sometimes we may be part way through before we realize some major aspect of our story is just not working (plot, character, setting).  Have you ever hit this sharp, pointy snag and if so, how did you escape? We’re you battered and bruised or a bloody mess?

I’m a pantser of the truest sense. (And in English classes in high school and college, I always wrote the outline after the paper.) To me, writing a book to an outline would just be too boring. I love the surprises and blindsides my characters present me with as I write. Usually I discover things just the way my readers do—as the story unfolds.

The one that left me most bloodied (SPOILER ALERT!!!) was in Nobody’s Angel. I’d written the book two years before, then decided to join the indie publishing revolution and publish it. It needed a lot of work and my editors helped me fix the original version—twice. Then Master Marc came to me one morning three weeks before the book was to be published and said, “I don’t want to share anymore.” Um, but Sir, this is a ménage and you ALWAYS shared before. “Angelina’s different. Mine.” So, I had three weeks to dump 55,000 words and write 85,000 new ones, only keeping about 35,000 words of the original. I kept the story in tact up to the sofa scene. (Good thing—that’s a fan-favorite threesome scene). But it was there that Marc began to realize Angelina was unlike any woman before her. She was truly THE ONE.

Mind you, I still have issues with this book—and Marc—but I hope readers will understand that he is very much a work in progress. I discovered (another BAM moment) why Marc is the way he is while writing Nobody’s Perfect. At that point, I realized he needed (and was finally ready) for a book to help him face things that have shaped who he is, but that did so on a subconscious level. I think that mirrors real life. We having coping mechanisms born of past hurts, and continue to screw up without understanding why, until it no longer works for us and we make a conscious decision to change our behaviors if we don’t want to remain lonely and disconnected from others, as Marc has been his entire life. I think after the revelations about Marc in the upcoming Somebody’s Angel (Rescue Me #5, due out in September) readers will be able to connect with Marc in a new way. I know he surprised me—yet again.

–*trying not to jump up and down in excitement* I soooo can’t wait for Somebody’s Angel…

Now for everyone’s favorite! Our bullet list, ready…set…go!

  • Blades, guns, fists or feet?

Feet (as in feet running away—I’m not very confrontational)

  • Favorite Fairy Tale of all time?

Sleeping Beauty—because so many of us remain asleep most of our lives, until that one special person wakes us up. For some of us, it’s a true love who awakens us. For others, it’s a friend, even a book, that gets us to see ourselves and our lives in a new way. But I also love how the fairies and other forces in Sleeping Beauty help the awakening along. We can’t always get through life alone.

  •  Three titles and their authors sitting on your nightstand/bookcase/table/floor waiting to be read?

Most of my print books now are research ones. “Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns” is on my nightstand—research for BDSM elements in my books. “Courage After Fire: Coping Strategies for Troops Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and Their Families” is on my desk. And I can’t give you the third title, because it would give away an important secret from Somebody’s Angel that I want readers to discover on their own.

  • Greatest one liner of all time?

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” (Second favorite of mine—“What the fuck are you doing in my bed?” *Snark*)

  • Sarcastic witticism, Southern sweetness or Geeky disdain?

Sarcastic witticism

  • Strangest item currently taking up space in your writing cave?

Just found my son’s sketchbook on the desk I recently commandeered as my own. Um, he is quite talented at capturing sensual nudes, but seeing the use of the Triskelion (BDSM) emblem in a couple of the sketches. I guess that explains the police-grade handcuffs we found under the bed after he moved out.

  • Favorite supernatural creature?

Unicorns—so graceful, but able to get their point across when need be.

–Nicely put!

Now that you’ve had a chance to meet with Kally, read on for more….

new masters BandNnew nobody's angel only BandNnew nobody's hero cover BandNnew nobody's perfect BandN

 

USA Today bestselling author Kallypso Masters writes emotional, realistic Romance novels with dominant men and the women who bring them to their knees. She also has brought many readers to their knees—having them experience the stories right along with her characters in the Rescue Me series. Kally knows that Happily Ever After takes maintenance, so her couples don’t solve all their problems and disappear at “the end” of their Romance, but will continue to work on real issues in their relationships in later books in the series. Kally also loves showing how there is never anyone so wounded that he or she can’t find true love. Readers often write to tell her how the books have changed their lives or their perceptions of what matters in life.

Kally’s four e-book titles are available in three trade paperbacks (the first two books combined into one volume), as well. Next up will be the e-book edition of Somebody’s Angel, due out in September 2013.

Because so much of the above focuses on Master Adam, and that’s the first non-free book in the series that needs to be read in order (because Adam makes progress in his relationship in every book in the series), here’s more about Nobody’s Hero:

NOBODY’S HERO is the continuing romantic journey of Adam and Karla, which began in MASTERS AT ARMS and continued in NOBODY’S ANGEL, which ended in a dramatic cliffhanger that sets up the opening scene of NOBODY’S HERO.

Retired Marine Master Sergeant Adam Montague has battled through four combat zones, but now finds himself running from Karla Paxton, who has declared war on his heart. With a twenty-five-year age difference, he feels he should be her guardian and protector, not her lover. But Karla’s knack for turning up in his bed at inopportune times is killing his resolve to do the right thing. Karla isn’t a little girl anymore—something his body reminds him of every chance it gets.

But their age difference is only part of the problem. Fifty-year-old Adam has been a guardian and protector for lost and vulnerable souls most of his life, but a secret he has run from for more than three decades has kept him emotionally unable to admit he can love anyone. Will she be able to lower his guard long enough to break down the defenses around his heart and help him put the ghosts from his past to rest? In her all-out war to get Adam to surrender his heart, can the strong-willed Goth singer offer herself as his submissive—and at what cost to herself?

SPECIFIC ADULT CONTENT WARNING: This book contains very erotic scenes that include BDSM (bondage-discipline-domination-submission-sadism-masochism-master-slave)—but these ALWAYS will be safe, sane, and consensual (SSC) acts told in a more realistic approach to the BDSM genre. Includes rough sex, Shibari (rope bondage and suspension), anal play, cunnilingus, fellatio, flogging, nipple bondage and torture, sex toys, and intensely erotic “vanilla” sexual acts. Epic novel length of approximately 140,000 words.

For links to all of Kally’s books, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Smashwords, and All Romance eBooks, go to http://kallypsomasters.blogspot.com/p/books-by-kallypso-masters.html.

If you’ve read the first four books and want to join Kally’s secret Facebook group Rescue Me Series Open Discussion, please send a friend request to Karla Montague and she will open the door for you, but you can only get there from here:  https://www.facebook.com/karla.montague.1. Must be 18 to join.

And if you’d like to find Rescue Me and Kallypso Masters merchandise, such as t-shirts and aprons inspired by a scene in Nobody’s Angel that read: “Master Marc can put me in culinary bondage anytime” OR a beaded evil stick similar to the one used in Nobody’s Perfect, as well as signed paperbacks, check out my Kally Swag Store. With each order, you will receive a bag filled with free swag items, as well, including a 3-inch pin-back button that reads “I’m a Masters Brat,” two purple pens, bookmarks, and trading cards. Kally ships internationally. To browse my shop, go to http://kallypsomasters.com/kally_swag.

Kally will give away one e-book in the series (the first two are free, so choose from Nobody’s Hero, Nobody’s Perfect, or the upcoming Somebody’s Angel) AND a culinary bondage t-shirt (sizes Small to 4XL avail.) or apron from her Kally Swag Store, plus the swag bag from the store mentioned above.

apron closeup

Your options, should you choose to use them, are to leave a comment for Kally or click on the link below to enter our Rafflecopter giveaway.  Will announce out winner on Tuesday, Aug. 6th, so check back!

RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY CLICK HERE!

 

Disappointed with Love

Recently I discover a new TV series with a kick-ass female lead, a sexy love interest, and supernatural elements.  From the moment I started watching it, I was in heaven!  There is something almost magical about a book or show where the main character is compelling, draws you to them, and really makes you want to root for them.  This character did all these things, but what was more, watching the two main characters relationship develop was incredible.  They were sexy to a dangerous point, but they also had to put aside their issues to allow themselves to fall in love with each other.  I felt drawn into their relationship, and experienced so much excitement at the idea that the character I’d fallen in love with, had fallen in love too.  But just as everything seemed to come together for my very deserving character, the man she loves is ripped away from her in a way that stinks of permanence.

A shockingly familiar feeling hit me, reminding me of the first TV series I’d gone crazy over in my high school days.  It had also drawn me in with its passion, fantastical elements, and strong lovers, and it too had crushed me.  So, even though my husband begged me not to, I went online to investigate whether this new series would let me down too.  My husband said I’d ruin the show for myself, but I knew I’d regret putting more time into this show if the couple never got back together.  And unfortunately, it sounds like the producers of the show decided to go in a different direction.  Thus, killing any hope that these characters might have a happy ending.

I was disappointed to say the least.  How could these writers make me love this couple so much and then dash all my hopes for a happy ending?  But once I got over my disappointment, I also remembered my solution for this issue in high school: fan fiction.  It may sound silly, but it was such an important moment in my life when I realized that through my own writing I had the power to write life the way I wanted it.  It changed me from being just another person who enjoys a good story, to a person capable and willing to write my own story.

So even though I may no longer have a steamy new show to watch, I have something better, a reminder of why I love writing so much.  And what’s more, a reminder that in my own stories, the girl can always get her guy.

 

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