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

    Whenever ~ Smokey, Mighty, Eerie and Wicked

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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)


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*


Favorite supernatural creature?


—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:


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.

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? 


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…

the way home9781476735207



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.


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.









Don’t forget to share your best pulse pounding moment for your chance at a copy of WHEN SOMEBODY LOVES YOU!

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.



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.





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.








Award Winning @ElleKennedy Stops by the Swamp to share some #KILLERINSTINCTS! #romance #romsus #MIDNIGHTGAMES

Gather round, gather round my lovely and odorous Swamp Followers for today we are being honored by the RITA-award nominated, ELLE KENNEDY for our questioning delight. Normally, we’d waylay her on her way past the Swamp, but I had to tread a bit more carefully, she has some very dangerously wicked friends.  Take a peek after our questions and check our her newly released third book in her Killer Instinct series, MIDNIGHT GAMES.  I highly, highly recommend this read as it’s carving its way through my Kindle as we speak. We have to work fast, because she’s slippery, is our Elle, so before she escapes, come join the fun!

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 many unpublished novels stashed somewhere, but I think I have three official “first” attempts. Sounds strange, but since they were all written at drastically different points of my life, I consider them all first attempts. I wrote my first book when I was twelve—it was a middle-school somewhat-romance title, like the Sweet Valley Twins series. It was 90 pages, and pretty damn good for a twelve-year-old, if I say so myself. Clearly it never sold, because at twelve, I had no clue that you needed to submit books to a publisher. I figured they just magically appeared on bookshelves.

My second first book was written when I was seventeen. I had other random books written between 12-17, but I consider this one a first because it was the one I started submitting to agents (this one was more like Sweet Valley High as opposed to Twins lol). Unfortunately, it didn’t land me an agent, but I did get some wonderful feedback from everyone who read the first three chapters.

And my official first book, I wrote when I was twenty. It was a submission to the Harlequin Temptation line, and the editor actually requested to read the full manuscript. The book didn’t end up selling, but I still think fondly of it when I’m remembering my early writing days.

–I have one of those, more along the lines of 125 pages handwritten sounding a great deal like THE DARK IS RISING meets TRIXIE BELDEN…ahh, being young, when writer’s cramp wasn’t a consideration!

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

I get a lot of sweet emails from readers, usually letting me know how much they’ve enjoyed a particular book, or demanding to know when a certain title will be released. I can’t think of any standout funny ones, but there have definitely been some strange ones. A male reader wrote to tell me about his sex life with his wife, and then asked for “tips.” Oh, and one time, a female reader wanted to know what I had against “double penetration” (??? I’m pretty sure that at least two of my erotic titles have featured DP scenes LOL) So, yes, sometimes the messages that show up in my inbox are total head-scratchers!

–kudos to you for, umm…handling?…such requests, I think I would spend a lot of time just blinking and trying think of helpful tips…

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

Paranormal romance, specifically shapeshifter romances. I read some paranormal—JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series is in my top 3 of all-time favorite romance series. So I’m okay with vampires. But shapeshifters…Gosh, I don’t know. I just don’t see the appeal. Maybe it’s because I’m both a dog and cat owner, so I can’t imagine one of them transforming into a really sexy man, or finding a man sexy knowing that sometimes he turns into a wolf or something.

If my publisher asked me to write a shapeshifter romance, I wouldn’t be able to do it. My confusion and dislike for the genre would come across in my writing, and I don’t think anyone would enjoy the final product.

 –it’s okay, Elle, I really like your alpha heroes, they don’t always have to turn furry!

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

Don’t let one rejection stop you from trying again, and make sure to develop a thick skin. Trust me, that thick skin is a MUST if you want a career in writing, and you don’t just need it for the submission/rejection process. Because even after you sell, you’re still going to face obstacles, whether it’s editors making you cut scenes you slaved over, or critique partners telling you they didn’t like something, or readers and reviewers announcing that they hated, hated, hated your book!

 –Thick skin…yep, I’ve been trying out this new lotion that’s suppose to toughen you up, but man, it takes time to develop!

Before she runs off into another hair raising adventure, let’s shoot Elle some of our favorite questions….ready? Go!

Blades, guns, fists or feet?

Guns (says the girl who’s never even held one!)

Favorite Fairy Tale of all time?

Beauty and the Beast

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

Inferno by Dan Brown, What Doesn’t Kill You by Iris Johansen, and Fantasy Life by Matthew Berry.

Greatest one liner of all time?

That’s what she said

Sarcastic witticism, Southern sweetness or Geeky disdain?

Sarcastic witticism. Duh.


Strangest item currently taking up space in your writing cave?

The weirdest puppy on the planet, who decided to fall asleep on my computer and phone chargers. (see pic!)

 –I have a floor rug that sometimes resembles a Hellhound he can hang with!


Favorite supernatural creature?

Um, mermaids, I guess? Actually, no, can I just say psychics? Normal humans who can see the future. I’m not into creatures!

Much love and thanks to Elle for her visit! Check out her latest release: MIDNIGHT GAMES, the third book in her Killer Instincts series (August 6th, 2013, Signet Eclipse)!


She wears a thousand deadly identities.
He sees through them all.

A master of disguise, Isabel Roma spends her life pretending to be other women.  Normally, her emotions are reined in tight—but sexy mercenary Trevor Callaghan has a knack for getting under her skin. The elite operative’s quiet strength and raw magnetism affect her in ways she’s never felt before, a distraction that can quickly turn deadly in their dangerous line of work.

After putting his tragic past behind him, Trevor is ready to focus on his future—and he damn well intends for Isabel to be in it. When their entire operation is thrown into chaos, Trevor enlists Isabel’s talent for deception. And as they attempt to save their team in a world where the stakes are high and the danger is grave, Trevor must convince Isabel that the woman beneath all the disguises is the one worth having…

Grab your Copy NOW:


Want to hang out with Elle some more, you can…

biophotoElle Kennedy currently publishes with Signet Eclipse, Harlequin Romantic Suspense, and Samhain Publishing. She loves strong heroines and sexy alpha heroes, and just enough heat and danger to keep things interesting!  Her latest release, MIDNIGHT GAMES, is the third book in a new romantic suspense series Killer Instincts, featuring a team of male mercenaries and female assassins. MIDNIGHT GAMES is available now!  Check out Elle’s website www.ellekennedy.com, like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter (@ElleKennedy).

Come meet @TrishMcCallan, mistress of high octane #RomanticSuspense, plus double #RITA Finalist #REDHOTSeals

Now that I’ve got your pulse racing, how about I keep your excitement level elevated? Take a breath, grab a swig from your water bottle, and let’s keep going.

A few months back I ran across a title in the Amazon lending library that caught my eye.  Not only was the cover an attention grabber, but the blurb…military heroes, psychic abilities, murder, romance…who am I turn away from that lovely temptation? I picked up FORGED IN FIRE and devoured it in one sitting.  Upon completion of the novel, I went through withdrawal and desperately wanted another fix.  Instead I found I’d have to try my patience for the next title, FORGED IN ASH. 

Fine then.  Pouty but not deterred, I decided to track down the creative mind behind the books and drag her into the Swamp, where she would be forced…err, emm, encouraged, to answer a few questions. Mission accomplished.

Born in Eugene, Oregon, and growing up in Washington State, Trish McCallan is not so out of place in our land of water and trees! She began crafting stories at an early age. Her first books were illustrated in crayon, bound with red yarn, and sold for a nickel at her lemonade stand. Trish earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature with a concentration in Creative Writing from Western Washington University, taking jobs as a bookkeeper and human- resource specialist before finally quitting her day job to write full time. 

Forged in Fire, the first book in her Red Hot SEALs series, came about after a marathon reading session, and a bottle of Nyquil that sparked a vivid dream. She lives today in eastern Washington. An avid animal lover, she currently shares her home with four golden retrievers, a black lab mix and two cats.

Without further ado, I give you TRISH MCCALLAN!

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.

The first person I’d invite would be God. And I’d ask him just how much truth there is to the Bible and ask him to do an update/revision.

The next person I’d invite would be Jesus Christ, and I’d ask him what he thought of Jesus Christ Superstar—and what his lyrics would have been if he’d written the rock opera.

I’d invite the writers of Lost and I’d ask them: They were DEAD!!?!?!?!? What the HELL were you thinking?!?!?!?!?!

I’d invite my mom, and ask her if she found her family in heaven like she was so certain she would.

I’d invite Marc  Chastain from Linda Howard’s Kill and Tell and ask him to leave his heroine (can’t remember her name) for me, because I am so much better suited for him. =0)

I’d invite the lead singer from Nickelback and ask for a personal performance. O-o

–I may have to crash your dinner party, Trish, not just for the guest list, but hey, it’s Nickleback…

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’ve wanted to be a writer since I could hold a crayon. However, I also wanted to study whales, so I tried to major in marine biology in college. I made it through two years of biology before I hit the chemistry stuff which totally derailed me and I switched my major to English Lit and writing.

–I’m all for science so long as it’s something I can twist to my own uses =0)

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?

Linda Howard and JR Ward. I was really hoping to meet at least one of them at the RWA nationals this past July. I knew Linda Howard was there so I looked and looked and looked for her, but she must have been hiding from me. LOL I would like to imagine I’d be coherent and collected if I did happen to meet either of them, but mostly likely they wouldn’t be able to understand a word I was stammering, or blurting, or blubbering.

–They’re on my “to meet” list, too, but I think I’d have to send up a proxy, otherwise I may just drool and blubber…

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’d written dozens of children’s books before I turned ten. From ten until twenty I wrote animal stories: rip offs of The Incredible Journey, and The Black Stallion and Lassie. I wrote my first romance novel my second year of college. I finished it by hand writing two hours a day in spiral notebooks. I never revised it; instead it ended up forgotten in a drawer. The first book I actually wrote and revised and submitted was after I graduated from college. I sent it out ONCE, and gave up when it was rejected for one dimensional characterization. That one’s in a drawer somewhere too. Both those early books need to remain hidden. I had no idea what I was doing.

–yeah, I’ve talked to a lot, I mean A LOT, of writers who’ve hidden those first books.  Think what would happen if we did a blooper reel–or book.  Mine would be entitled, THE EYES HAVE IT, since there’s eyes EVERYWHERE! I should’ve just named them….

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

I’ve had two dreams that came true the next day. The dreams weren’t anything awful, they were little things- like a family member visiting out of the blue that we hadn’t seen in years. And one of our exchange students getting attacked by bees and stung multiple times on a nature hike.

–wow! I think our minds are a bit more powerful that we can even imagine!

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

The sweetest thing was someone who drove 3 hours to get a book signed and have a picture taken with me. She also brought me a plate of cookies and tried to bribe storyline and character love interest for the subsequent books. And yeah, it worked. =0)  She has the skinny on everything. Those cookies went to my brain.

–*taking notes* get someone else to make cookies to bribe Trish…she wouldn’t survive mine….

What is the best advice you can share with others?

To listen to advice, but go with your instincts. Often what worked for one person, won’t work for another. We all have our own path and our own processes. So listen to what people say, but go with what your gut is telling you. Most the time our gut is right.

–I like that, there is so much information out there for any writer, it can be intimidating and disheartening…

Time for our bullet questions…ready, aim, fire!

Blades, guns, fists or feet?

It depends, if we’re talking about my heroes—it’s guns, blades AND fists. If we’re talking about my heroines, it’s common sense and feet. If you’re asking about me- It’s out smart and hide, because I can’t run very fast. =0)

–I’ve learned you just have to be faster than the one behind you ;0)

Favorite Fairy Tale of all time?

I’ve never been into fairy tales, so don’t have a favorite.

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

 JR Ward’s Lover Reborn and Lover at Last, Running Wild by Linda Howard and Linda Jones,  And The Last Policeman by Ben Winters.

–Love Ward’s books, and Howard is a must read for any romantic suspense lover….

Greatest one liner of all time?

From Linda Howard’s The perfect man. “Anything over seven inches is just showing off.” And yes, they are talking about what you think they are talking about. =0)

–*giggle* I like that!

Sarcastic witticism, Southern sweetness or Geeky disdain?

Neither actually, what about geeky humor. LOL That fits me better.

–We can accept geeky humor, I should probably add that as a choice!

Strangest item currently taking up space in your writing cave?

Nothing, sadly—my writing cave is the epitome of boring office crap.

Favorite supernatural creature?

Shapeshifters—only one that can shift into any animal, not one that’s only capable of shifting into one species. 

–I get it, let’s be honest, if you start shifting into any animal, how do you remember who you are?

Thank you, Trish for visiting.  Now, my lovely Swamp followers, do you want more? 

You may have it…FORGED IN FIRE is out and ready for tasting!


Beth Brown doesn’t believe in premonitions. But her recent dream feels too real to ignore: a commercial airliner is hijacked, and a handsome passenger is shot dead. Beth hasn’t met the mystery man in her dream; she would never forget a gorgeous face like his. But she can’t deny the bizarre connection she feels. Now awake, and unable to allow for the violence she’s convinced is impending, she races to the airport…and comes face to face with the man of her dreams.

Zane Winters lives for his job, using his uncanny psychic powers to carry out missions for elite SEAL Team 7. Yet the constant adrenaline highs can’t drown out the numbness seeping into his life as he yearns to find a woman he can trust. All that changes when he meets a beautiful stranger who sets his soul on fire—and somehow knows he’s about to die.

To thwart the global crisis the hijacking will unleash, Beth and Zane join forces. But even amid the danger, they can’t deny the powerful force drawing them together. Is it merely attraction…or destiny?


Keep an eye out, FORGED IN ASH will be out in January 2014!


Go get ready to burn!

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