Book Releases

Barely Breathing (A Colorado High Country Novel) — Look for the first book in my new Colorado High Country series on May 10! This new contemporary series is set in the small mountain community of Scarlet Springs and focuses on the lives and adventures of members of an alpine search and rescue team. It will be available in print and ebook, with audiobook coming sometime this fall.


Soul Deep out in audiobook! — Jack West, widower, rancher and former Army Ranger, gets his own love story in this special I-Team novella, which was picked by readers at Grave Tells as the Best Contemporary Romance of 2015. It will be out in audiobook any day now.


Seduction Game is out in paperback, (I-Team #7) — Holly and Nick’s story is out in all formats — ebook, audiobook, and paperback. Look for it in Wal-Mart, the Kroger chain of stores, Barnes & Noble, and your local bookseller.


Dead By Midnight: An I-Team Christmas is out! — The grand finale of the I-Team series finds all the couples you love brought together when terrorists attack holiday festivities at a historica hotel in downtown Denver. It’s bad news for the terrorists. They have no clue what they’ve done when they take Marc Hunter and his friends hostage. Featuring cameos by the men of New York Times bestselling author Kaylea Cross’s Hostage Rescue Team series. Available in ebook and paperback.

About Me

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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.

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Seductive Musings

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One day left to vote for NAKED EDGE / CONTEST


If you haven't already voted in the Goodreads Choice Awards, there's still time. Voting doesn't end till tomorrow.

Naked Edge was selected by Goodreads to be among the novels readers vote on for Best Romance of 2010. It's a thrill to make that cut because Goodreads based their list of nominees on reader traffic, reviews and reader interest, as determined by hits and such. And Naked Edge finds itself it top-notch company in a group of books by very successful authors.

To vote, click here. And please spread the word!

As my way of saying thanks, I'll give away a signed copy of Naked Edge to someone who voted for it. Just post below and tell me you voted, and your name goes in the hat for the drawing. I'll post a winner on New Year's Eve.

If you voted earlier this month, that's fine. Anyone who voted for the book is eligible to win.

And thank you for your support!
Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!




Merry Christmas to all!

Peace on Earth. Good will to humans.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Review — A VIRGIN RIVER CHRISTMAS (updated)


Sorry to have disappeared. I’ve been busy getting ready for Christmas. And I’ve been reading, as well as listening to a book on my iPod.

I just finished A Virgin River Christmas. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read — my first e-book, actually. I read it on my computer using Kindle for Mac. Because I just don't spend enough time with my computer, you know?

This book tells the story of Ian Buchanan, an emotionally scarred former Marine, and Marcie Sullivan, widow of Ian's best friend, who died from injuries sustained while at war despite Ian's attempt to save him. Set in the snowy mountains above Virgin River, it brings together so many things that make the Virgin River series so enjoyable — the remote mountain setting, the sense of community, and the strong men and women who make up that community.

Marcie has been searching for Ian, feeling that there is unfinished business between them. As her husband's best friend, Ian should have been there during the three years her husband lingered between life and death. Instead, Ian had vanished. Marcie wants to know why — and she wants to give him her husband's baseball card collection. Truth is, she's not sure why she's searching for him. She is driven by needs she doesn't completely understand.

The man she meets is not the man she remembers. With a heavy beard and a nasty temper, Ian has been hiding in a cabin in the mountains, living an unadorned life as a hermit — no ties, no toilet, no contact with the outside world. Ian knows who Marcie is — he met her at one point when he came back from the war while her husband was in a long-term care facility — but he wants nothing to do with her. He does his best to drive her away and acting a bit nuts in the process.

But Marcie becomes ill, and Ian has no choice but to take care of her. The ten days that follow as she regains her health transform both of them. Watching Marcie and Ian face their shared pain together, finding love and healing in each other’s arms, was wonderful, even if Marcie at times seemed a little too perfect.

The love story is sweet, as are the love scenes. The emotion feels genuine. I found myself forgiving Marcie's PITA older sister, Erin, as I learned why she was a PITA. It was great to see the other characters again — Mel and Jack; Paige and Preacher; Doc, etc. (I haven't read Brie and Mark Venezuela's story yet, but it’s in my TBR.)

The sense of community that permeates these stories is so addictive. Who wouldn't want to live in a town where everyone cared about everyone else? Heck, I'd pack my junk tomorrow if I knew of such a place. It's pretty far removed from the world I know, I must say.

I love to read Christmas-themed romances, but most often I read historicals. There's something about the Christmas season that makes historicals particularly enjoyable. This is the first contemporary romance I've read with a Christmas theme, and I enjoyed it. I still prefer Christmas historicals, but then historicals are what I love to read most anyway.

For those who haven't read the Virgin River series or who’ve read only a few, this book stands alone. I think a person could read it and then go back and pick up at the beginning.

Over all, a very enjoyable and satisfying read. I did something atypical and downloaded Lisa Kleypas’ Devil in Winter, which I’m listening to on my iPod. Though I don’t typical get into Regency romances, I’m enjoying this one.

As of 5 p.m. today, I started a week of real vacation — no novel to write, no deadline to meet, no paper to put out. I intend to savor it, because waiting for me already are copy edits on Breaking Point, due Jan. 5, as well as research for Connor’s book. The work is going to have to wait. I’ve worked hard enough this year and plan to enjoy the days I have to spend with my kids.

Yes, Benjy is home. And Alec, my older son, is only 45 minutes up the highway. We’re having one of Benjy’s friend spend the holiday with us, too. In the Army, he found himself stranded and alone for the holiday, something we couldn’t allow. He’s been Benjy's friend since third grade, and we’re delighted to have him with us. So far, our dinner discussion has involved topics common to young men in their early 20s — guns, the Zompocalypse, chicks. It’s all good.



The tree is up. My father and Benjy put lights on the house, and it looks absolutely lovely. But there are still cookies to make and a turkey to brine. And there are lots of slow, quiet moments to savor.

Anyone have any really great Christmas historicals to recommend? I’m on a reading roll.

(I just updated this with a photo of our house, both while Benjamin was hanging lights — and the lovely result.)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

NAKED EDGE nominated for 2010 Readers Choice award


Naked Edge has been nominated by Goodreads for a Reader’s Choice Award for 2010. To win, I just need you to vote!

Here's the e-mail I got this afternoon from Goodreads:

Congratulations! Naked Edge (I-Team, #4) is nominated for a 2010 Goodreads Choice Award for Romance. The polls are open to all readers throughout the month of December, and the winners will be announced in our January 2011 newsletter. Spread the word to your fans and encourage them to vote! http://www.goodreads.com/award/choice/2010

ABOUT YOUR NOMINATION
The Goodreads Choice Awards reflect what readers like. There were no secret committees. We did not defer to experts or look at book sales or previous awards. Goodreads nominated 15 books in 23 categories by analyzing statistics about books read by our members from the 47 million books added, rated, and reviewed on the site in 2010. Official nominees were selected based on a book's popularity and average rating among Goodreads members, so a nomination is truly an honor because it comes from your readers!

HOW YOU CAN WIN!
With over 80,000 votes already cast, readers are flocking to the polls to support their favorite books! Unlike other book awards, the Goodreads Choice Awards gives readers a voice, which means that you can do your part to make sure your book gets the votes it deserves! Now is the time for you to get your community to the polls!


Very exciting!

If you're already a member of Goodreads.com, just click here and vote for Naked Edge. Copy and paste this link to help spread the word: http://www.goodreads.com/award/choice#41649-Romance

If you're not a member of Goodreads.com, it’s easy to join, and it’s one of the most fun places on the Net for readers and authors to talk about books. Check it out.

Everything you can do to spread the word will help. Post on Facebook, Twitter, your blogs, your loops. Share the link.

Show rock-jock Gabe how much you love him!

And thank you!
Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Help Me Save Lives

A newborn baby at the Teso Safe Motherhood Project in Soroti, Uganda

You’re nine months pregnant. You live with other women and children in a hut with a dirt floor. You spend your days digging for firewood — using sticks to dig in the deforested earth for dead, dry tree roots — and growing food in a small garden. It’s not enough to feed you and your other children, let alone sustain a pregnancy, but that’s what you have.

Around you danger is very real. You know of women who’ve disappeared, had their children stolen or been raped when they went to dig for firewood. You, yourself, are as likely as not a victim of rape. And that baby in your belly? It’s going to be born onto the dirt floor of your hut while other mothers in your same situation attend you. None of them have medical training. They don’t necessarily even know to wash their hands.

You’re afraid, though you don’t talk about it. You know women who died giving birth. You remember their faces. Maybe you even remember their screams as they labored for three days without help, without any hope of relief, before they bled to death. You don’t want to die like that. Nor do you want your baby to die, but so many babies do.

Childbirth isn’t the only risk you’re facing. Malaria is one mosquito bite away. In the camps, tuberculosis is rampant. And HIV? You pray that you’re not part of the 25 percent of the population suffering from that terrible disease.

Who are you?

You’re a woman living in a camp for internally displaced persons in Uganda. And this is your life today, tomorrow and tomorrow.

Into this bleak picture came an enterprising group of Colorado women, led by Jennifer Braun, a midwife. Braun created a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization called International Midwife Assistance (IMA) the purpose of which is bringing midwifery care to women in parts of the world where pregnancy is often a death sentence.

An IMA midwife meets with women in a village to talk about health during pregnancy.

IMA first went into Afghanistan, where women were dying in droves. After the horror of Taliban rule, which prohibited women from becoming educated and even prevented women from coming to hospitals, there were vast stretches of the country that lacked birth attendants. Women knew nothing about their own bodies or how to safely give birth. Maternal and infant mortality rates were staggering.

Braun and IMA worked with the new Afghan government to create a midwifery school in Bamiyan, training young women to be skilled birth attendants, visiting villages to talk to women about reproductive health and delivering hundreds of babies safely. Low on supplies, unable even to take a warm bath, Braun spent months in Afghanistan.


Sadly, IMA had to leave Afghanistan because the Taliban reasserted itself in many places, often killing midwives (none from IMA, thank God!) because they believed they were handing out condoms.

So IMA diverted its energies to Uganda.

Jennifer Braun (fifth from left) near the clinic in Uganda.

Working with the Ugandan government, Braun and IMA helped to establish and fund a clinic where women from the surrounding community and the neighboring IDP camps can give birth safely. Women and their children also receive basic health care from vaccinations to drugs to fight HIV and malaria.

So that's what they do every day now — they save lives. Women walk sometimes for three days to reach the clinic. With the recent addition of motorbikes, women in labor can now ride on the back of a motorcycle and reach the clinic much more quickly. This has enhanced the clinic's outreach substantially.

Women labor among the trees of an orange grove beside the clinic, then come indoors to push their babies out. They’re able to stay for the immediate postpartum recovery period so that the midwives can make sure they don’t hemorrhage. While there, they'll be tested for HIV and given other necessary medical help.

A happy mother and her new baby sit near one of the recovery beds at the clinic.


Those who need emergency C-sections are taken to a nearby hospital, but the midwives at the clinic handle vaginal deliveries that many doctors here would not — breech births, for example, and twins. Many times twins are a surprise because many women who come to the clinic have had no prenatal care.

Braun and the other midwives take turns working in Uganda together with Ugandan nurses, providing prenatal care, delivery, basic medical care, basic family planning and postpartum care. Braun coordinates the program out of her home — a normal single-family home not far from mine. I’ve seen her office. Last time I was there, a pair of scissors for cutting umbilical cords was sitting on her kitchen counter, left over from a recent birth she’d attended in Boulder. I thought that was funny. Dirty coffee cups, saucers, umbilical cord scissors...

Many of the women Braun and the others care for are victims of rape. Many have lost children to the violence that has devastated Uganda. A great many are raising children alone.

Kids, pigs and piglets — a scene from one of the IDP camps.

The camps themselves present severe challenges for hygiene, as animals and people crowd into close quarters without clean, running water or sewer systems or any of the things you and I take for granted.

Beyond the camps are remote villages where there are no doctors, no nurses, no clinics. The residents there simply live — and die — without medical care. Braun and other health-care providers from the clinic began doing outreach, taking medical supplies to remove areas, where literally hundreds of people would gather, waiting for hours to be seen and treated. Ear infections, appendicitis, skin rashes, TB, HIV — you name it, they see it. And they treat it.


People gather to receive medical treatment on one of the clinic's outreach excursions.

I was one of the first journalists — perhaps the first? — to report on IMA’s work in Afghanistan. Having given birth to two babies, I cannot imagine the horror of dying in labor. The pain of a normal labor is excruciating. To spend three or four days in unceasing agony before dying — no one in the world deserves that. But pregnancy truly is a death sentence far too often.

Over the years, I’ve watched as IMA moved to Uganda, expanding its program as its resources allowed, and I’ve done my best to support Braun’s efforts. But I want to do more.

So I’m asking those of you who’d like to help to join me in putting our money together to support IMA. I will donate $100 and am looking for 1,000 romance readers — those of us who believe in happy endings — to likewise donate $100, or 10,000 to donate $10 each — so that together we can make a $10,000 donation to IMA. That’s 10 percent of its annual budget.

All of the money they raise goes to their programs. All of the midwives who participate are volunteers. No one is sitting on a fat salary. IMA is a true blue nonprofit designed for one purpose — to save the lives of women and their babies. So those of you who are afraid to donate because you think most of it’s going to go for commercials or swag or some fat cat in a suit needn’t fear. Because I reported on IMA, I know where the money is going.

Here’s how it works:

1. I will donate $100.
2. Those who can afford it also donate $100.
3. Others decide how much they can afford and gather a group of friends together so that their group’s total donation equals $100. So two friends could donate $50 each. Or four could donate $25 each or 10 could donate $10 each. Donate online by clicking here.
4. E-mail me and tell me how much you/your group donated.
5. Help me spread the word via blogs, Twitter, etc., until the total donation value from all individuals and groups equals $10,000.
5. We sit back and know that we helped to save lives. No maybes about it. We saved lives.

I will blog about those who contribute, and I will give away some unknown number of copies of Breaking Point as random prizes for those who’ve contributed. Also, I’ll hold a phone chat with any readers group that donates together, calling you and chatting on the phone at my own expense. I wish I could offer big prizes, but I can’t. Maybe next year, I’ll organize an auction with other authors. But for now, this is what I have.

So get the women in your readers group together. Or call a group of friend at your church. Then donate online and tell me what you did. I’ll keep records and help track our progress at reaching that $10,000 mark.

It’s rare in the world of today’s corporate nonprofits to be able to donate and make such a direct contribution to saving the lives of others. From HIV meds to prenatal care to catching babies, IMA makes a difference in real women’s lives. At a time of year when many of us are celebrating the birth of a child, this nonprofit feels like the perfect fit.

To read more about their operation and to see more photographs, click here for their website.

And from the bottom of my heart, thank you!
Friday, December 03, 2010

BREAKING POINT is done! Here's an EXCERPT

It is done.

Today, Dec. 2, at about 4 AM, I finished my 10th novel. Without getting any sleep, I went to work. Then at about 11 AM, I sent it to my editor in New York, and have been trying not to get too worried or depressed since then.

I always have a bit of post-partum depression when I let a book go. I've spent so much time with the characters, been in their heads 24/7 for days and weeks and months — and then they're gone. It leaves an empty feeling. I’m terribly fond of Zach and Natalie and the whole I-Team gang.

It sounds crazy, I know. But it’s true.

I feel like the story turned out pretty well. It is absolutely the most action-packed I-Team book to date, and perhaps the scariest.

I hope with all my heart that you enjoy it and find it worth the wait.

To celebrate finishing the book — and to celebrate the fact that it's my 10th novel — I'm sharing an excerpt with you.

Here you go:

From Breaking Point, an I-Team Novel

Natalie took a sip of coffee, studying Zach over the top of her porcelain cup as he devoured what was left of his breakfast. Most of the time when she interviewed someone, she had a good sense of whether that person was telling her the truth. Today, however, her intuition seemed to be taking a vacation.

Maybe the stakes were too high this time. Maybe she was too caught up in her own emotions and too close to the situation to focus clearly. Or maybe Zach was just harder to read than most people.

If only he would put on a shirt!

It wasn’t right for any man to be so dangerous and so sexy at the same time. Her adrenal glands and her ovaries were locked in a shouting match now, the former insisting she needed to run away fast, the latter wishing he’d kiss her again.

And that’s why you need to think with your brain.

She set her cup down. “How did you get shot? I’ve seen the scar.”

“A man aimed an AK-47 at my back and fired.” He shoveled the last bite of hash browns into his mouth and chewed.

Okay, so he wasn’t going to answer that one.

“What’s your last name?”

He set down his fork and napkin. “Smith. No, Jones. No, wait — it’s Black. I like that better. Zach Black. It rhymes.”

He wasn’t going to answer that one either.

“If you didn’t steal the cocaine, Zach Black, why didn’t you just tell me that right away? Why let me believe you’re some kind of criminal if you’re not?”

“I was afraid you’d start asking a lot of questions, like you always do, and we both had more important things to deal with.” His plate clean, he reached for his coffee, then leaned back in his chair, his long legs stretched out in front of him, his pants riding low enough on his hips to expose a trail of dark hair that disappeared behind his zipper. “Besides, it’s not like you were going to say, ‘Please leave me with the Zetas.’”

He took a sip.

“Why did the Zetas think you’d stolen the drugs if you didn’t?”

He seemed to think about this, as if deciding whether or not to answer. “The person I believe stole the shipment drugged me, then handed me over to them and told them I’d stolen it, making me the scapegoat for her actions.”

A woman? “She drugged you?”

He nodded. “She called, asked me to meet her at a bar in Juárez, and the next thing I knew, I was a guest in Hotel Zeta.”

Hotel Zeta?

More like Hell on Earth.

Natalie couldn’t fathom how he could make light about his captivity after what he’d been through. “Didn’t she care what they would do to you?”

“I guess she cared more about money.” He took another sip.

“That’s terrible.”

Proof of how much he’d suffered was still visible on his body—from the dark purple bruise on his ribcage to the faint pink electrical burns on his chest and belly to the gauze bandages on his raw, blistered wrists. If what he’d said was true, this person had turned him over to the Zetas, knowing full well he would be tortured and killed.

How could any woman be so heartless?

The next question that popped out of Natalie’s mouth was not the one she’d been about to ask. “Was she your lover?”

How incredibly rude! That’s none of your business, girl!

Zach didn’t answer right away, his lips curving in a smile. “Now why, oh, why would you ask me that, Ms. Benoit?”

“No reason.” She felt herself blush. “Just curious.”

“Ah, I see.” He set his coffee cup down on the tray, the amused expression on his face telling her that he did see—right through her. “No, she wasn’t my lover—though not for lack of trying on her part.”

So Zach didn’t sleep with every woman who threw herself at him. That was good to hear. “Are you married?”

He shook his head. “No.”

Natalie couldn’t seem to stop herself. “Divorced?”

“No!”

“Gay?”

He came face to face with her in one smooth motion, so close that she could see flecks of gold in the gray of his irises, the spicy-clean scent of his skin filling her lungs. “Oh, angel, I think you know the answer to that one, but if you need proof… ”

A big hand slid into her hair, cradling the back of her skull, angling her face upward. Pulse tripping, she found herself looking into his eyes, wondering if he would was really going to do it, if he was really going to kiss her.

And then he did kiss her.

Slowly.

He brushed his lips over hers, the mere whisper of a touch sending shudders through her, making her breath catch. Then he slipped his other arm around her and drew her against his bare chest, the hard feel of his body making her go weak. But still he didn’t kiss her full on, teasing her mouth with his, nipping her lips, tracing their outline with his tongue, until her lips tingled and ached and she was trembling.

She shouldn’t let him do this. Zach was a dangerous man, a killer. She knew next to nothing about him, not even his last name. All she had was his promise that he wasn’t a criminal. But it had been so long since a man had touched her, so long since she’d wanted a man to touch her.

She slid her arms around his neck, arched into him, desperate for more.

He groaned, and the hand in her hair became a fist. And in a heartbeat the kiss transformed, his lips pressing hard and hot against hers, his tongue thrusting deep.

Oh, my stars!

Heat lanced through her, striking deep in her belly. With a whimper, she kissed him back, welcoming his tongue with her own, breathing in the male scent of him, her insides going liquid as his hand moved slowly down her spine.


Mark your calendars. The book will be released on May 3! That’s two months earlier than we all expected because someone — that’s me — has missed more night’s sleep than you can imagine trying to meet that deadline. The story is already available for pre-order on Amazon.com.

Time to rest for a while.

And then, we'll be takin' a journey through time back to Fort Elizabeth, where Connor MacKinnon is in a world of trouble...
Friday, November 26, 2010

Benjy in London


Just popping in from Deadline Hell to share a photo of Benjamin standing with his beloved Lucy in the cage at the top of The Monument in London. Aren’t they wonderful together?

You can just see Tower Bridge to the right of Lucy's pretty head, along with a stretch of the Thames.

I got to Skype with them late yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, which was really nice because I ended up having to cancel my plans to visit my parents and have Thanksgiving dinner with them. I needed the time to write. So it was just me here with a fire and some chocolate.

BP Update: I’m halfway through Chapter 31. Only 32, 33, and the epilogue to go — which will take every second between now and early Monday AM. Keep the vibes coming! I wish it were possible to order coffee from Starbucks via Internet and have it delivered to my desk...

So I’m off again. But I had to share a photo of these two delightful young people whom I love so very much.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!


This year, I am thankful for so many things.

I am thankful for all the support I got in getting the shackling bill passed in Colorado. I’m thankful that people’s hearts were moved and that pregnant women in prison and jail will no longer have to suffer added indignity.

I am thankful for Dr. William Bentley and the fact that the cause of the pain in my legs was finally — FINALLY! — diagnosed.

I am thankful that it was something they could treat.

And I am thankful beyond words that the surgery, performed by Dr. Saul Schwartz, was (apparently) successful. I still have a lot of healing to do, but at least I can say that now.

I'm thankful for all my mother and others did to help me during my immediate post-operative recovery period.

I’m thankful to Kat for the lovely meal that I was able to eat even though it was so hard to swallow.

I am thankful for my five-book contract with Penguin Books/Berkley Sensation.

I am thankful that the contract enables me to write Connor's book.

I am thankful to my editor that I have Jed Hill and his very fine body on the cover of Breaking Point. Yes, I know you’re thankful for that, too.

I am thankful to have two jobs and safe, warm home when so many people are losing jobs and homes.

I am thankful that I was given the gifts of language and storytelling.

I am thankful that I got to meet a few of you this year.

I am thankful for the love of my family, my friends and my readers. That includes you!

I am thankful to be living and breathing on this beautiful little planet.

And most of all I am thankful for my two sons, Alec and Benjamin.

What are you thankful for this year?

P.S. Yes, I know I said that would be my last post until the book was done, but I couldn’t miss giving you all a holiday greeting. Besides, I know you much you all love that goofy cartoon turkey!
Friday, November 19, 2010

True Love

Alec Matthew, 12 hours old, Oct. 1, 1986


As a romance novelist, I write stories about men and women who meet, overcome obstacles together and fall in love. But the greatest love I have known is the love I feel as a mother. It dwarfs any romantic love. There’s not a man on the planet who captures my heart the way my two sons do. No other relationship has brought me such joy.

Alec, my first born, turned 24 on Oct. 1. The day he was born I was blown away by how much I loved him. He was tiny — only 6 pounds, 10 ounces — but I remember thinking as I held him that my happiness from that moment on would depend on his well-being.

Both of my births were attended by midwives — I don't like being told what to do and doctors have nasty tendency to dominate women during labor and birth, when we should be the ones in charge — and Alec’s birth was 100 percent natural. No IV. No drugs. No one shouting, "Push! Push!" or counting to 10. I caught him myself and drew him onto my chest so fast that no one could see whether he was a boy or a girl.

But that was the most pain-filled day of my life, and I decided that I would either never have another child, or I would have an epidural from the moment I found out I was pregnant.

Well, I ended up having an epidural, but not until I was dilated 4 cm with Benjamin. I knew he was a boy from ultrasound images. I wasn’t terribly interested in having the experience of birth — no more than anyone is excited to go through, say, a root canal — but I did want my baby. I found a great midwife who agreed to an epidural.

Benjamin Alexander — just hours old — November 20, 1989


I was only in active labor for two hours with Benjamin. He had a 15-inch head, however, so that was painful, especially because the epidural wore off just as I hit the pushing stage. I screamed him out — poor kid!

Now, he and his brother are all grown up. I miss them both so much. Alec lives about 45 minutes from here, so I’ve been very lucky to be able to spend a bit more time with him, especially lately. He’s been coming over for dinner every other week, and I’ve really cherished that time.

Brothers being goofy on Christmas morning



Benjamin would be arriving home in Denver right now for Thanksgiving Break, but his girlfriend, Lucy, is away on a semester-abroad program, studying theater in London. The selfless part of me thought it would be a beautiful birthday gift if I sent him to be with her for that week. Not only would they get to see each other, but he would get to see London accompanied by someone who’s been there for a few months and knows her way around.

The selfish part of me is sad that he won’t be here. By the time he gets home on Dec. 19, I will have gone just over four months without seeing him — a world record. I miss him so very much. I hope he has a safe and wonderful time in London with Lucy.

Benjamin and Lucy


I should say that Benjamin, perhaps more than any single person, has been there for me as a writer. I cannot tell you how many weekends he cleaned the house so that I wouldn’t have to. How many teenage boys — age 14-18 — do that sort of thing of their own volition? Plus, he lets me bounce ideas off him, as well.

Perhaps because he wants to be a filmmaker and has long had an interest in creative endeavors, he seems to understand how much it means to me to try to make it as an author. He has seen me at my best and at my very worst when I was at the end of my rope, ready to scream and rip my own hair out.


Happy Birthday, Benjamin, from the mother who loves you enough to send you to England when she instead wanted to bring you home. Enjoy London. And please be safe!

Benjamin Alexander, shooting Apples, Ithaca College, Fall 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Quick update on BREAKING POINT

Authors are always the last to know...

Thanks to a tip from a reader, I discovered that the publication date for Breaking Point, my next I-Team story, has been bumped up to May 2011 from July. That's two whole months sooner that you’ll be able to read about Natalie’s ordeal in Mexico — and how it brings her together with the wounded warrior who needs her every bit as much as she needs him.

Breaking Point is already available on Amazon for pre-order, although they don’t have the cover up yet. You’ll have to search to find it.

Of course, if I don’t finish the book by November 30, I’ll lose that publication date. I understand now why my editor wants it absolutely by the end of the month. I’m on Chapter 29. But events at the paper have kept me extra busy. I spent this past weekend with some good friends, and this coming weekend will be shortened due to a wonky special edition deadline that is robbing me of a day off. Yikes!

Send good vibes for a crazy productive week! I’m editing the book on weeknights, trying to get revisions done at the same time that the ending of the novel is percolating in my brain.

In the meantime, I’m thinking up some fun contests, including an I-Team Re-read Challenge and a Get the I-Team Hunks Out of Your TBR and Into Your Bed Challenge.

The first would involve prizes for readers who re-read the first four books just prior to the release date of Breaking Point. The second is about encouraging readers who have the I-Team books buried in their TBR to dig them out, dust them off and read them. Do Julian and Marc really deserve to languish in TBR limbo forever?

Also, I’m going to try to get some apps going. One that comes to mind is “Pin the Canoli on the I-Team Hunk.” Thanks to Jenn J, we have the art for that, but it doesn't actually move. So I might have an apps contest, too, to see who can develop the coolest ideas for iPods, iPhones and iPads. (I say this after having played Angry Birds on Libby’s iPad. That game is addictive!)

I’d also like to give a shout out to SueZ, Libby and Kristi for being such great friends. We had a blast this weekend, thanks to Sue, who got the ball rolling. Alcohol was consumed. Laughing was epidemic. And I think we had the world's longest Skype session ever with Kristi.

Coming soon:
Playlists for Breaking Point

So, what is everyone reading these days?
Monday, November 08, 2010

Some good news

Those of you who stay on top of news on the blogosphere have no doubt heard of the struggles facing Dorchester Publishing, the publishing company that launched me back in 2003. They’ve had financial difficulties, which have resulted in their decision to go to an e-book format only and to discontinue books in print. They’ve also had a great deal of difficulty paying authors, including yours truly.

I hold great affection for many people at Dorchester, so I’m this post won’t devolve into Dorch-bashing. But I will say that I was lucky enough to separate myself from the company before its woes became serious. I left on good terms — at least with the people I care about, most of whom are no longer there — but Dorchester still owned the rights to my five historical novels.

My agent and I were not excited about the prospect of these novels being available only and forever by e-book, so she started the looooong process of getting back my rights. We had strong grounds to do this, and as of October 12, my books once again belonged solely to me.

They’re still available as e-books, although I’m not getting any of the revenue from sales. It’s still going to Dorchester because the e-book companies, Amazon included, seem to take their sweet time when it comes to removing titles. I haven’t raised a stink about it — in my case Dorchester is absolutely not to blame — because I'm very busy.

Today I got the fan-freaking-tastic news that Penguin — my I-Team series is published under their Berkley Sensation imprint — is buying the distribution rights to three of the five books in my historical backlist. They are buying Ride the Fire, Surrender and Untamed.

It makes sense for them to buy especially the last two, as they also bought Connor’s book. After people read his story, some will want to go back and get the previous two books. And unless they’re still in print, they won’t be able to find them. But now, happily, they will be in print.

So that takes care of the MacKinnon’s Rangers series.



But what about the others? I told my agent to please, please, please try to persuade Penguin to buy Ride the Fire, as well. There are reasons for this. First, it’s the novel where my writing really hit its stride, or so I feel. Also, it’s an intensely personal story for me, the novel that took the most out of me in many respects. And third, it’s a reader fave.

My editor hasn’t read Ride the Fire yet, but I trust that when she does she’ll be happy she included it in the purchase. And when she reads it, I'm going to ask for the chance to fix one thing that has bugged me for years (an oversight on my part toward the end) and to add the long-awaited, still unwritten epilogue.

I have no idea what the covers will look like or when the books will be released. I suspect they’ll want to get Surrender and Untamed in print before Connor’s book is released a little more than a year from now. As for Ride the Fire, who knows? But at least the stories won’t be languishing forever.

As for Sweet Release and Carnal Gift, I’ve got to contact all the e-book booksellers in the universe and let them know to send the checks to moi. Because I have time for that. But for the foreseeable future, those two are going to be out of print. It’s a bummer, yes, but I’ve had a much softer landing with regard to the Dorchester ordeal than some authors. I have my agent to thank for that.

I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed that my editor would want these books for weeks now, and I’m so excited to share the good news.
Saturday, November 06, 2010

Busy writing...


So sorry to leave you without new content! Hope those photos of bulging man-bits didn’t bore you too much.

The election ate my life for a few days. We worked late Tuesday night, laughing at all the stupid things TV journalists were saying. And we got a little punchy ourselves late that night.

One guy from Channel 9 said: “Sometimes people say they think they can win this thing because they feel like they have to say they think they can win it, and then sometimes you know people are saying they think they can win because they think they can win.”

Uh, wow. Put that online as your quote of the week.

I feel sorry for broadcast journalists in the sense that they have to fill time and they can’t edit things once they’ve said them during a live broadcast. I’ve done lots of live radio and live radio call-in shows, so I understand that. But sheesh! I don’t think I’ve ever been that inarticulate. Some of the blather was highly entertaining.

But the election is over. Thank God!

I’ve shifted straight into working on Breaking Point. My goal is to finish Chapter 28 and then get at least halfway through Chapter 29 before the end of the weekend, because next weekend I’m taking for myself.

It’s going to be a BFF gangsta weekend, with SueZ flying in from Ohio to hang with Libby and me. There will be good food and drink. There will be laughter. And time will go by much too swiftly. That’s all I know for certain. We don’t have anything specific planned beyond spending time together, something we rarely get to do.

One member of our gangsta foursome can’t make it — Kristi! — so we’ll be missing her. But we hope to do a video chat of some kind so that she can share in the fun.

Last time I saw Sue and Kristi in person was in August 2008 when I was driving home from dropping my son off at college in NY. They supplied the alcohol. I cried, my heart completely broken at having to leave my boy behind and return to my empty nest for the very first time. They were my salvation on that trip.

Libby and I manage to see each other a bit more often — which is good because she only lives 20 minutes away.

But back to Breaking Point... Some of you have been pleading for an excerpt. If I can find one that doesn’t give something key away, I’ll post it. But this is my most action-packed I-Team novel, and future scenes give past events away. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, so I am being cautious with excerpts.

I’m reaching the emotional and action climaxes of the story in the next couple of chapters, so it’s some pretty intense writing. I deliberately manipulate my own emotions for these scenes, playing music that puts me in the right frame of mind, whether it’s fear or grief or despair or whatever the emotion is. Then I end up going through a box of tissues and feeling as wrung-out as the characters.

My new deadline is Nov. 29. If I don’t meet it, the publication day moves further away. So I must meet it! I won’t be around as much between now and the end of the month as I finish weaving words together for this story.

Have a great weekend, everyone!
Monday, October 25, 2010

In the home stretch



Just thought I’d do a quick update on Breaking Point. I missed my Oct. 15 deadline, but I won’t miss it by too much.

I finished Chapter 26 this weekend while enjoying a long chat with readers on Goodreads.com. The even was organized by a reader, Dhestiny, who has her own blog at Blithely Bookish (you can find it listed lower down on the right side here). I think in the end there were more than 200 posts. Of course, a lot of those were from me answering questions. But back to Breaking Point...

I had hoped to write three chapters this weekend, but it just didn’t happen. The biggest difficulty about having another job besides novel writing is that it uses up brain power and tends to push my characters out of my mind, no matter how hard I try to hold onto the prior weekend’s inspiration. So it wasn’t till Sunday morning that the chapter began to click for me.

I have about four chapters left to write — 27 through 30 — plus the mandatory epilogue. (Oh, come on! Most of you are total suckers for a poignant epilogue.) Then begins what I love the most — the editing process.

Different authors handle writing differently. Some bang out an entire draft of a book in a short period of time — a couple of weeks or a month. But I’ve been an editor too long to bang out anything. So I edit while I write, which makes the process take muuuuch loooooooooonger.

But the upside of writing the way that I write is that when I’m done, I have a fairly polished manuscript. Then my attention shifts from themes and plots and details to really finessing the story, polishing the prose, making sure every scene is how I want it. With the pressure to produce pages behind me, I find it my most creative time. Sometimes I even add, completely rewrite or revise scenes during this time. The shackles scene in Sweet Release is an example of that.

I spent some time Sunday evening trying to figure out how this book ends, and the pieces are miraculously starting to fall into place. I hope the next chapters move quickly. I don’t want to be so late with the book that I lose my July publication date.

Other book news: I got the rights to my historicals back from the original publisher, so they belong entirely to me now. You'll see the print copies disappear from stores, including online stores, and the e-books will come down, too. Right now, the sales are still going to the book's former publisher. But hopefully they'll be back relatively soon once I work out how to handle it all. It’s new to me. I’m exploring some interesting options at the moment. Sorry that they’re going to be largely unavailable for a while.

Unlawful Contact sold in Japan, and it looks like the I-Team may be on its way to China. Keep your fingers crossed!

We’re due to get our first frost tonight. This morning was windy and rainy, then the sun came out. Now the temps are dropping. The tops of the high peaks were sparsely white. Not deep snow yet, but a sign that we’re moving toward winter.

Have a great rest of your week. I hope to pop in again before the weekend.

Thanks to all of you who joined in the Goodreads chat, and thanks to Dhestiny for setting it up.
Saturday, October 23, 2010

Argh! Someone please confiscate my TBR!

Shelter Mountain (Virgin River, #2)Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I hate myself. I read this entire book in a few big gulps rather than working on the novel that is already late to New York. Go me.

Why? Well, for starters, I've gotten really attached to the whole damned town of Virgin River. I had to see what would happen to Mel and Jack and Preacher and Paige and their buddy Mike and poor Rick and Liz.

The book weaves together all of these couples and their story lines, and it's told from a myriad of perspectives. So while the story ostensibly focused on Preacher and Paige, there was a lot to the story that didn't involve them.

Paige is the quintessential abused wife who accidentally winds up in Virgin River at Jack's bar while trying to escape her S.O.B. of a husband. She and her little boy come under Preacher's protection — and the relationship between them builds over time, first as she goes about trying to set up a life free of abuse and then later as she and Preacher fall in love.

As with the first book in this series, Virgin River, I enjoyed the midwifery aspects of the story. And it was good to see the issue of spousal abuse — I like that more than the term "domestic violence," which sounds friendlier somehow — explored with authenticity. It's a topic I've covered a lot as a journalist, and Paige seems to go through all the classic responses.

Because we get all these characters' continuing stories, there are ups and downs for everyone. I couldn't stop from getting teared up over the tragedy that befalls Rick and Liz.

But I need to NOT buy the next one until I'm done with my own book, because clearly once I start I'm just done writing until I'm done reading. If that makes any sense....

So I end the evening with the glow of having read a wonderful book and the all-consuming guilt of an author who made precisely zero progress on her own manuscript today.



View all my reviews
Friday, October 15, 2010

Review of Robyn Carr's VIRGIN RIVER

Virgin River (Virgin River, #1)Virgin River by Robyn Carr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I flipping loved this book.

It's my first Robyn Carr book. I've read a lot of good things about her here on Goodreads and also on Amazon, and I ordered several of her books this spring, hoping to get some time to read them.

Recently widowed Melinda Monroe, a certified nurse midwife, decides that to move beyond her grief she must start her life again. She sells almost everything she owns and moves to Virgin River, a tiny town in the middle of the California forest. At first it seems the transition from the violence of working in the hospitals in LA to living in a town that doesn't even seem big enough to be a town is going to be too much for her. But she quickly finds herself drawn closer to this tiny community and its resident, particularly Jack Sheridan, a former U.S. Marine who runs the closest thing the town has to a bar/restaurant. Watching Mel and Jack fall in love was pure pleasure.

I particularly loved the medical realism of the midwifery scenes. I read in reviews that some readers didn't like all the pregnancy/childbirth/breastfeeding talk that naturally goes with Mel's career, but as someone who had two midwife births and breastfed for a long time, I really appreciate that. Though certainly motherhood isn't for every woman, I think having a baby is the most amazing thing women do, and having a midwife as a heroine was truly wonderful. The birth scenes were realistic, but not gory at all.

The quality of the author's research was apparent not only with regard to midwifery, but also the hero's military background and law enforcement aspects of the story, as well as the milieu of the small town and the surrounding countryside, where some residents are wonderful people and some are not.

I also enjoyed the fact that the heroine was strong but not "kick ass." I just don't enjoy reading about heroines who kick butt and are oh so tough. Bores me. I much prefer feminine heroines who can be strong — but in a feminine way. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer the hero to be the one who kicks ass. Heroines with knives, tattoos, and tough ninja moves who swing through the skyscrapers on ropes braided from their own chest hair just don't do it for me.

Though profanity doesn't bother me — how could it? My books are full of it — this book has only mild profanity. The sex is romantic and descriptive rather than erotic and extremely detailed. That's fine with me, because I can take either, provided it's well written. I just like a well-crafted love scene.

I found Carr's style to be captivating. Let's put it this way: I didn't plan to read a book tonight. I sat down with this kind of by accident at about 9 PM and read it in one sitting, finishing at about 2 AM. That doesn't happen for me very often — maybe once a year or once every other year.

Thanks, Ms. Carr, for the hours of enjoyment. Looking forward now to the rest of this series.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Do you feel your boobies?

Do you feel your boobies? There are people who want to know — for your sake.

My younger son, Benjamin, and his friends put together a video about breast cancer awareness and are competing with other filmmakers for a $10,000 prize. As some of you know, Benjamin is studying filmmaking at Ithaca College in New York.

How does he win this prize? It’s kind of like American Idol in that he wins through votes. People can vote once a day, and the video that gets the most public support wins.

Benjy’s video plays on the Old Spice commercials, and it’s pretty clever. So if you get a chance, I’d really appreciate it if you’d click here, watch his video, which is titled Intervention, and then vote for it. You have to register, but it’s a pretty painless and quick process.

If Benjamin wins, he plans to use his share of the money as the budget for his senior thesis film, so it could really help him. And that helps me!

Thanks in advance for your support! And do remember to feel your boobies!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Involuntary home improvement

And there it is — my new refrigerator.

It arrived on Friday, and this time the one I chose fit. It’s got the freezer on the bottom, with French doors that open to refrigerator on both sides. It dispenses filtered water and ice from the door, as you can see, and the cool part is the light — it shines a kind of purply-blue.

I didn’t want a new fridge, but if you read my last post you know I didn’t have a choice.

Now that it’s here, of course, I’m happy to have it. The best part? No more mopping up leaking water off the floor.

My dear friend Libby came over to help, unloading and loading food while I sat and was supremely lazy. Bending over still hurts a lot, so the help was very much appreciated.

Yesterday, I spent the day at Colorado Romance Writer's annual tea. I was among several published authors who gave talks about our books. I spoke about Naked Edge, talking about the emotional underpinnings of the story. I talked a bit about the fact that it seems to be a hit-or-miss book, a novel that readers either love or hate depending on their ability to relate to Kat, the Navajo heroine.

Of course, this is Colorado, so there were some people there who come from climbing families, as I do, and they were interested in the climbing aspects of the story. I got into a fun conversation with one writer whose relatives likewise climb walls, trees, trellises, everything and anything, if they have a spare moment. No family get-together is complete without someone climbing a real wall. And then there are piles of ropes and pitons and cams and... It was fun to talk about.

The coolest thing about being at the CRW tea yesterday was watching Libby win second place in the Heart of the Rockies contest for her urban fantasy novel. Go, Libby! I was so happy for her and had to be there to represent.

Needless to say, I haven’t much writing done, so that’s my focus today. I’m down to the last five chapters of Breaking Point and am hoping to finish by early November. My deadline is Oct. 15.

For those of you on Goodreads, Dangerous Hero Addict Support Group, is hosting “Getting to Know Pamela Clare” starting on October 22 and running through the weekend. If you want to participate, click here and see about getting yourself invited. I love Goodreads because it enables me to connect with readers and chat about all kinds of books in a friendly environment without the trolls and the periodic flame wars one sees elsewhere. If you’re not a member, check it out.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Here it is — BREAKING POINT cover! Plus EXCERPT

Here it is! I’m so excited to share it with you — the cover for my next I-Team novel, Breaking Point.

And who’s on the cover, but the achingly delicious Jed Hill. I recognize those obliques and those lips. Tasty.

This demands an excerpt, don't you think?

From Breaking Point:

Zach hung limply from the manacles, unable even to hold up his head. His shoulders ached from supporting his dead weight, manacles biting into his bloody wrists. But none of that could compare to the residual pain of that last electro-shock. His muscles seized in sharp spasms, his heart slamming erratically in his chest, his body shaking, his mouth filled with the coppery taste of his own blood.

Don’t give in to the pain. Adjust for it.

He willed himself to relax, slowed his breathing.

Cold water splashed over his chest, making him jerk. It wasn’t to revive him, he knew, but to make his skin more conductive to electricity. He waited for the next blast of agony, but instead felt a glass bottle against his lips. A hand fisted in his hair, tilting his head back, and he swallowed, warm cola sliding down his raw, parched throat.

Electrolytes. Caffeine. Calories.

All would help him stay alive.

Then his tormenter spoke to him, as always in Spanish. “You are dying, cuñado. And for what? You are alone now, forgotten, left without even a dog to bark at you. Tell us who has the cocaine and where we can find them. Then your torment will end. There will be no more pain, only sleep.”

Zach fought off a wave of despair. “¡Vete a la verga!” Fuck off!

The bastard chuckled, but Zach knew he wasn’t really amused. They’d tried to break him and had failed. There’d be a price to pay when Cárdenas got the news.

Creaking hinges. Footsteps.

And Zach knew she was there. He could feel her presence, hear her rapid breathing. Hell, he could even smell her, something sweet in a world of filth.

Natalie.

“Tráela aquí.” Bring her over here.

What the hell?

Zach’s head came up. Somehow, he drew himself to his feet, his hands clenched around the chains for support, his heart thudding hard in his chest. Why had they brought her in here? Were they going to torture her to get to him?

Over my dead body.

“Zach?” There was fear in her voice, but also sympathy, concern.

He shook his head, his sign to her to keep quiet, hoping she’d remembered what he’d told her earlier. If they thought he cared what happened to her, if they thought he’d told her anything…

An arm went around his shoulder. “You are a brave man. No one has ever lasted so long against my little stinger, so I’ll offer you a better way out. Tell us where the coke is, and you can have the girl. We’ll take off these chains, give you some food and a little coke to make you strong, ? And you can fuck her till your prick gives out. And when you’re done, you get one bullet to the head. Fast, painless — and you die happy. If you do not, your suffering will be such that those who find what is left of your body will lie awake at night weeping for you.”

Zach might have laughed if the situation hadn’t been so serious. Having failed to break him with pain, they were now trying to bribe him with rape. They were only bluffing, of course. They had no intention of giving him their Jefe’s prize. But if he played along with them, if he could persuade them to unchain him…

He pretended to consider the offer. “¿Es bonita?” Is she pretty?

Rough hands tore off his blindfold.

“!Mira sus tetas!” Just look at her tits!

Unaccustomed to light he blinked, squinted — and quickly assessed the situation. He was in a small room with a half-dozen armed Zetas. There were two small windows and only one door. Wooden chairs sat around an old table littered with dirty dishes and half-empty bottles of tequila. A couple of AKs leaned up against the wall to his right.

You’d give your left nut for one of those, wouldn’t you, man?

He sure as hell would.

In front of him, a car battery sat on a rolling cart, two electrical cables dropped on the floor near his feet. The sight made him shudder, dread mixing with rage in his gut.

Little stinger?


Beside the cart, two Zetas held a struggling young woman between them, while a third unbuttoned her blouse, laughing to himself. Bastards. Knowing he couldn’t risk showing emotion, he met Natalie’s gaze.

His heart seemed to stop. His mind went blank. And he stared.

She looked pleadingly up at him through the most beautiful eyes he’d ever seen, their irises an unusual shade of aqua blue. Her features were delicate, her otherwise flawless skin marred by a dark bruises and smudges of dirt. Her dark brown hair — why he had imagined her as a blonde? — hung in thick tangles past her shoulders. She couldn’t have been more than five-foot-four or an ounce over one-twenty.

The protective urge that welled up inside him took him by surprise, and he actually took a step toward her, until chains and pain reminded him where he was — and in what condition. Then her blouse fell to floor, followed by a lacy, white bra, revealing two beautiful, natural breasts.

A low whistle. A groan.

“¡Oye, mamacita, que buena estás!” Oh, baby, you are fine!


The testosterone level in the room surged, and for a moment Zach was afraid the Zetas’ lust for her would overcome their fear of Cárdenas.

The one with a long scar — the electrical specialist who’d turned Zach’s life into a living hell — walked over to stand behind Natalie, then reached around, drew her back against him, and grabbed her breasts, hands that enjoyed cruelty manhandling sensitive flesh.


“¡Chécalo, güey—las chichis perfectas¡” Check it out, dude — perfect boobs.

Zach felt his teeth grind, seeing only the emotion on Natalie’s face — fear, revulsion, pain. Her gaze locked with his as if eye contact were the one thing keeping her shattered world together. She probably didn’t understand what was happening or why they were doing this to her. He wished he could reassure her.

Instead, he was about to make it all much worse.

Stay strong, angel.
Monday, September 13, 2010

For Kristie J — Get Well Soon!

One of the best kisses in film history

There are likely few residents of Romancelandia — authors or readers — who haven't seen the name KristieJ somewhere on a blog or who don’t know Kristie J from her own blog or from her various crusades for books and movies she loves.

I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting Kristie twice — once at her first RWA conference (in Atlanta?) and once right here in Colorado. She was part of this summer’s Pamela Clare Reality Tour and sat squished in the very back of the rental vehicle the entire way.

Kristie is a genuinely wonderful person, and I’ve enjoyed emails and a few phone conversations with her.

I learned this week that she’d had a terrible accident on the stairs at home about two weeks ago and had broke both her tibia and fibula. Tib-fib fractures are very serious. Gabe Rossiter, my hero from Naked Edge, suffers a compound tib-fib fracture — no one say how, please — at the end of the story. Those of you who’ve read the novel know how serious that was.

Fortunately, Kristie’s situation was a little less serious, but of course she is a real person. She is now “in hospital” as the more British among us would say. She had to have surgery on the fracture and now must undergo therapy.

Having been through a serious accident myself, I know that the next few weeks won’t be easy for her. I hope and pray that she gets a lot of great help and support and that her pain is relieved. She has a great sense of humor about it — that’s Kristie — but it’s still tough. Make no mistake.

So this blog is dedicated to Kristie in hopes that she’ll recover quickly. And what better way to cheer her up than to feature images of her favorite BBC series, North and South. If you haven’t seen this, please rent it from Netflix immediately — or just go buy it, because you’ll want to watch it again and again.

In the meantime, those of you who’ve lurked at Kristie’s blog, who’ve read a book she recommended, who’ve chatted with her via e-mail or online, please post your get-well wishes here for her. I’ll send her the URL so she can read it. She’s made our lives richer, and this is a chance to thank her for that.

Kristie, please feel better. Know that you are in my prayers. And here is one of your favorite scenes from North and South — one of my favorites, too.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Special treat from BREAKING POINT

Jenn J from Sapphire Dreams is an amazingly sweet and talented person. When I approached her about making a series of trailers for Breaking Point, she got to work tracking down images. I lamented that what we needed was a photo of Zach MacBride, the hero, in chains and that we weren't going to find one.

But Jenn took an image of the model I have in my mind's eye for Zach and painted him in chains. She sent the image to me and, having no idea what I was opening, I downloaded it, opened it and stared.

I decided to share it with you, together with a bit of an excerpt from the beginning of the book. I've posted an earlier version of this before, but I thought you probably wouldn't mind reading it again, particularly given now that you've got visual aids. It has been tweaked a bit from the first time I posted it.

From Chapter 1 of Breaking Point:

It was pain and thirst that woke him.

For a moment Zach MacBride thought he was back in Afghanistan, lying at the top of that canyon wall in the Hindu Kush mountains, a bullet in his back. He opened his eyes to see pitch black — and then remembered. He wasn’t in Afghanistan. He was in Mexico. And he was a captive — blindfolded and chained to a brick wall.

He raised his head and realized he was lying shirtless on his right side, his hands shackled behind his back, his skin resting against the filthy stone floor. His mouth was dry as sand. His wrists were blistered and bloody where the manacles had rubbed them raw. His cracked ribs cut into his left side like a blade.

He tried to sit, but couldn’t.

Damn!


He was weaker than he’d realized.

Then something hard and multi-legged brushed his chest as it skittered by, bringing him upright on a punch of adrenaline. Pain slashed through his side, breath hissing between his clenched teeth as he bit back a groan. He wasn’t afraid of the mice or the spiders, but they weren’t the only creatures in here with him. The one time the Zetas had removed his blindfold, he’d seen scorpions. And the last damned thing he needed was a scorpion sting.

Dizzy from hunger, his heart pounding from sleep deprivation and dehydration, he leaned his right shoulder against the brick wall and tried to catch his breath, the chain that held him lying cold and heavy along his spine.

How long had he been here? Five days? No, six.

And where exactly was here?

Somewhere between Juárez and hell.

They were giving him only enough food and water to keep him alive, his hunger and thirst incessant, mingling with pain, making it hard to sleep. Only once in his life had he been this physically helpless. Only then it had been even worse.

If he survived, if he made it out of here alive, he would track down Gisella and kill her — or at least hand her over to D.C. The little bitch of a Mexican INTERPOL agent had set him up, betrayed him to the Zetas. She’d known what would happen to him—the Zetas were infamous for their brutality — and still she’d handed him over to them with a smile on her lying lips.

At least you didn’t sleep with her, buddy.

Yeah, well, at least he could feel good about that. It would suck right now to have her taste in his mouth or her scent on his skin, knowing that she’d put him through this. Long ago he’d made it a rule never to have sex with women he met on the job, and despite Gisella’s persistent attempts to get him to break that rule, he’d kept his dick in his pants.

Hell, they should carve that on your headstone, MacBride.


If he got a headstone.

Would they put up a grave marker for him if they didn’t have a body to bury? Barring one hell of a miracle, he’d soon be scattered across the desert in small pieces. A year or two from now, someone would spot a bit of bleached bone in the sand and wonder what it was. No one would ever know for sure what had happened to him.
Besides, who was there to buy a grave plot or erect a headstone? His fellow DUSMs? Uncle Sam? His closest friends were dead. His mother was gone, too. He hadn’t spoken to his father in five years. And there was no one else in his life — no girlfriend, no wife, no kids.

You’re a popular guy, MacBride.

He’d always thought he’d get married one day and do the family thing. He’d imagined a pretty wife, a couple of kids, a house near the ocean. But life hadn’t turned out that way.

He’d met lots of girls in college, but none who’d held his interest. Then a confrontation with his father had sent him into the Navy. He’d tackled Officers Candidate School and then SEAL training. The only women who’d been available during his short periods of leave were either professionals or women who were so desperate to marry a Navy officer that they slept with every officer they met, getting passed from man to man. Call him strange, but he’d never found the idea of paying for sex or being used appealing. He’d wanted a woman who loved him for himself and not his uniform. But war had interfered, and he’d never found her.

Something tightened in his chest, a wave of regret passing through him.

Feeling sorry for yourself?

No. He’d made his choices. He’d done what he thought was right. And although his life hadn’t turned out the way he might once have hoped, it was better this way. He’d seen firsthand what happened to women and children when the men they loved and depended on were killed in action. At least he wouldn’t be leaving a grieving wife and children behind.

Okay, so no headstone.

Mike, Chris, Brian and Jimmy were in Arlington resting beneath slabs of white marble, but for Zach it would be saguaro and open sky. That was okay. He liked the desert. And even if he didn’t, it wouldn’t make one damned bit of difference once he was dead.

Which will be soon if you can’t find a way out of this.

Not that he was afraid to die. He’d expected his job would catch up with him one day. In fact, some part of him had been counting on it.

But not yet. And not like this.

He’d been about to wrap up the biggest covert operation of his career when Gisella had called him and asked him to meet her at a nightclub in downtown Juárez, claiming to have intel vital for catching Arturo Cesár Cárdenas, the head of Los Zetas, who was wanted in the United States for the murder of Americans on U.S. soil. So Zach had grabbed his gun and fake ID — he never carried revealing documentation when he was working a black bag job like this — then crossed the border and headed straight to the club, where he’d found Gisella, dressed to kill, sitting at the bar. She’d bought him a Coke, walked with him to a table near the rear exit, and started telling him something about a shipment of stolen coke. And then…

And then — nothing.

The drink had been drugged. When Zach had awoken, he’d found himself here, surrounded by pissed off Zetas demanding to know whom he worked for and where he’d hidden the cocaine. He couldn’t answer the first question because it would imperil the entire operation, putting the lives of others at risk. And he couldn’t answer the second because he hadn’t stolen any coke and had no idea where it was. But his refusal to talk had only angered the Zetas more.

So they’d brought in a specialist — a man who knew how to inflict pain while keeping his victims alive. Electric shock was his area of expertise. He’d gone to work on Zach two days ago, and so far the two of them were at an impasse. He’d been able to make Zach pass out. He’d made him bite his own tongue trying not to scream. He’d made him want to cry like a baby. But he hadn’t made him talk.

Zach had the Navy and SERE training to thank for that — Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape. Designed to help SEALs survive behind enemy lines, his training had been a godsend, helping him through hour after excruciating hour. Even though he was no longer in the military, he’d instinctively fallen back on that training, silently reciting bits and pieces of the military code of conduct, using it to stay strong.

I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense… I will never surrender of my own free will… If I am captured, I will resist by all means available… I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability… I will make every effort to escape…

As weak as he was, he knew he didn’t stand much chance of escaping. And that meant there was only one thing left for him to do — keep his mind together long enough for his body to give out, long enough for him to die as he ought to have done six years ago.

Raucous laughter drifted into his cell from across the courtyard, voices drawing nearer, boots crunching on gravel.

Zach stiffened, dread uncoiling in his stomach, rising into his throat.

They were coming for him again.

Jesus!

He drew as deep a breath as his broken ribs would allow, swallowing his panic with what was left of his spit.

I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense. I will never surrender of my own free will.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010

You've seen Zach. But what about Natalie?


I’m so happy that you’re as excited about Jed Hill being on the cover of Breaking Point as I am. As I sat basking in the shadow of his biceps, I remembered that in this case, I also have a physical model for my heroine, Natalie Benoit. And here she is.

Natalie had her I-Team debut in Unlawful Contact, taking Tessa’s place on the cops and courts beat. She keeps to herself, and we don’t know much more about her other than that she’s from New Orleans and that she lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. In Naked Edge, Kat senses something tragic inside Natalie, but we never get a glimpse of what that is. But in Breaking Point, Natalie’s story, we do.

I’ve posted a couple of excerpts on this blog here, and here and read the back cover blurb here, so you all know how the story starts.


So tell me — do Zach and Natalie make a nice couple? I think they certainly would make beautiful babies. And if they do, you just might have a front row seat. D’oh! Did I just say that?!?

I’m not sure how often I will be updating my blog over the next few weeks. I think I need to take it a bit easier than I’ve been doing. I seem to have a good day and then a bad day. I think the bad days come from doing too much on the good days. So...

In the meantime, however, you’ve got Zach and Natalie.

By the way, Natalie Benoit has a Facebook page, for those of you on FB. (If we’re not friends, hunt me down!) She’s been talking about taking a trip to Mexico...
Monday, August 23, 2010

Breaking Point cover news! We got him!



I just got confirmation from my editor that the photo shoot with Jed Hill happened and that he will be the model on the cover of my next I-Team book, Breaking Point. So, everyone, feast your eyes on Zach MacBride. Not sure what he's doing with boxing gloves. Maybe as part of staying fit — after all former Navy SEALs who become Deputy U.S. Marshals still need to stay in good shape — he took up boxing.



And football, too. Why not? Strap into some shoulder pads, grap a pig skin, skip the T-shirt and the athletic cup (he ain’t wearing one), and get hot and sweaty tossing the ball around. I’m all for that.


Though I think it’s safe to say that Jed Hill deserves the Gold Medal for Obliques, he has a beautiful body over all — and a beautiful face. I love the intensity of his gaze. I love the masculine jawline. I love the full lips.

The man is, in a word, purrfect. And he is the perfect Zach.

Neither my editor nor I have seen any of the art yet, but when I have something to show you, you know I will.

So, you ended up with an MTM anyway — just several hours late.

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Favorite Writing Quotes


"I am an artist. I am here to live out loud."
—Emile Zola

"I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day."
—James Joyce

"Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery."
—Jane Austen

"Writers are those for whom writing is more difficult that it is for others."
—Ernest Hemingway

"When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth."
—Kurt Vonnegut

"The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar is the test of their power."
—Toni Morrison

"No tears in the author, no tears in the reader."
—Robert Frost.

"I'm a writer. I give the truth scope."
—the character of Chaucer in
A Knight's Tale