The I-Team — Now available in Audiobook format! Find them on Audible.com!
Skin Deep — Now in trade paperback! Find it on CreateSpace.com and Amazon.com! And coming in audiobook format on April 29! Ride the Fire, Kenleigh/Blakewell Family Saga #3 — Reissues with new material, including the never-before-published epilogue!
Sweet Release and Carnal Gift — Now in trade paperback! Find them on CreateSpace.com and Amazon.com!
Striking Distance(I-Team #6) — Available in paperback, ebook, audiobook — Nov. 5
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.
Lately, I've been getting the same questions a dozen times a day, so I thought I'd post some answers here and perhaps alleviate some confusion.
Q: I loved Defiant. Do you plan to write more books in the MacKinnon's Rangers series?
A: I do plan to give Lord William and Captain Joseph their own stories, though I’m not sure when they will be released or what the titles will be.
Q. Do you plan to write more I-Team books?
A: Absolutely. I am working on Striking Distance, the sixth book in the series, right now and hope to have it done in time for a May 2013 release. Watch my blog for updates and excerpts. I know a lot of you love Holly — I do, too — but I'm saving Horny Holly for last.
In addition, I plan to continue the series of spinoff novellas I'm calling the I-Team After Hours series to help readers through the long wait between books. Skin Deep, the first I-Team After Hours novella, came out in May. It tells the story of Marc Hunter’s younger sister, Megan, and Nate West, the scarred veteran who helps Megan face her past.
Q. Why do you go so long between books?
A. I write two different sub-genres, plus I’m a very picky writer and try very hard to write the best book I possibly can. I’d rather make people wait than churn out junk. In the end, it’s the quality of the story that counts, not how fast I wrote it.
The real Kat James passed me the link to this. You truly can find anything on YouTube.
This series of videos highlights the Navajo-Hopi Relocation Act, one of the great crimes perpetuated by Washington, D.C., against Indian people. This is why I first went to the Diné reservation to report on Indian issues, and it's why I kept going back, doing my best to share with a disinterested outside world what was happening to more than 15,000 Navajo people.
The relocation forced people who didn’t speak English and who’d lived their entire lives freely on the land as subsistence farmers and sheepherders into government housing where they had to pay rent, utilities and taxes — things they’d never been exposed to before.
Imagine that you have the entire landscape as your home and that you migrate back and forth across that landscape with your family, herding sheep, growing corn, and drinking water from washes and springs. First, the water disappears, drained off to feed the coal mine's slurry line. Then the government tells you that you can’t have sheep because... well, they don’t want you to overgraze the land, even though you've been doing this without their help for centuries. Then they tell you that you must disappear and that your hogaan, the burial sites of your ancestors, and everything you've known is going to be off limits to you. They force you to sell your sheep, drop you in a government house, and force you to pay rent. You don't have a job. You've never been to school. You don't read or speak English. And your entire lifestyle, the rhythm of your life, is gone forever.
So many Diné were heart-broken by this. Many became homeless. It’s such a terrible thing. Words can't adequately describe to you the loss that relocated Navajo feel. The Navajo I know in the Denver area are all victims of this forced relocation, and their carry the grief with them everywhere they go. What was done to them was a sin against humanity.
I don’t often get gritty and political on this blog, but I thought you all might find this interesting or at least be curious as to why I ended up spending so much time with the Navajo.
This weekend, I plan to finish Chapter 10 of Breaking Point, Zach and Natalie’s story. But I’m also going to be spending a fair amount of time getting things organized for my surgery and recuperation.
I go to the hospital on Tuesday morning, and the surgery is scheduled for 1 p.m. MT. It should take about three hours, plus about an hour or so in the recovery room. I’ll be at the hospital for a couple of days and the home again, where I’ll be resting for the next eight weeks while the bone grafts in my neck heal. My mom and younger son will be here during that time, because I won’t be able to drive or do much of anything apart from walk and sit.
While I’m in the hospital, I hope and pray to have sexy male nurses, like the one above. I think just having a nurse like this one would help me feel a lot better. I feel better just looking at his photo. Goodness! My temp is rising! Quick! Mouth-to-mouth!
Okay, so that was silly. Couldn’t resist.
I’m not sure whether I’ll have the energy to post, particularly during the first two weeks after the surgery, during which I’ll be pretty out of it. The doc said that post-operative pain peaks at three to four days afterward and then tapers off. So we’ll see. If I don’t feel up to it, I won’t do it. It’s so important to get the rest I need to heal.
It was weird leaving the office today. The publisher and staff had filled out a get well card, and what they'd written was so sweet and encouraging that I got all choked up. The paper is in good hands while I’m away, so I don’t have to worry about that. I haven’t had eight weeks off from work... ever. This week was crazy-busy because I was trying to do as much as I could to organize things for the managing editor, who will be running the newsroom in my absence. He’s an awesome man, and an old friend of mine is coming in to back him up.
Because it was so busy, I had to leave you with those wet men and their towels, and I didn’t even get a chance to comment on your very funny comments.
This has been a great weekend. Realizing it was the last weekend I would spend with Benjy before I had surgery — he’ll be here for about 10 days after my operation, and then he leaves for college again — I decided to put my manuscript aside and focus on doing things with him that we felt were worthwhile.
Kind of my accident, we got to work reorganizing my office and bedroom, and it was a day well spent. I never have time for this sort of thing, but with Benjamin’s muscle, it went quickly. Okay, so it took all day. It would have taken me a week by myself.
With the help of a neighbor, he brought the new shelves my parents gave me into my office, carried the old ones out and helped me reorganize everything. Prior to this I had an entertainment center full of CDs and books on tape. So I spent hours digitalizing my entire music collection so that the CDs can go. We got rid of the entertainment center and the small set of bookshelves I had and replaced it with what you see above.
Benjamin reorganized everything. On the left are my own books, organized by genre, with foreign language editions on the bottom. You can see some family photos, including a portrait of my boys when they were very little. The black obelisk-type object just to the right of that photo is my National Journalism Award. It's kind of hard to see because the drapes in the kitchen are dark and line up behind it. You can also see my Bose. The white box on the first shelf contains an exacting brass replica of a compass that was found by archaeologists in the cabin on Rogers Island that would have been Iain’s and later Morgan’s (and now Connor’s).
All of my research is now organized by topic on the right side. The blue flag is the little flag they put on tables to designate RITA finalists at the RWA booksigning. Surrender was a RITA finalist, so I got to keep that lovely flag as a memento of a very special conference.
This is the left side of my office facing in through the doorway. Forget the sprinkler on the floor. I must have brought it in, thinking I was carrying it out to the backyard or something and then put it down and forgot about it. The dry erase board in the foreground is where I jot out thoughts about the chapter I'm on. The notes you see on it now are dialogue between Zach and Natalie. If you want more detailed descriptions of the art and such, you can find these on Facebook, where I tagged different features. But picture here are my historical map of Rogers Island made in the 1750s and bought on Rogers Island (Ranger Island); an I Love NY poster featuring two F&I War re-enactors, one of whom let Benjy fire his Brown Bess musket while we were visting Rogers Island, and my print of Waterhouse's The Lady of Shalott.
This is a view of my office looking straight in from the doorway. You can see the new bookshelves flat against the wall on the right. Next to The Lady of Shalott is a replica of a map of Rogers Island and Fort Edward dating to the 1770s. Lovely! (Or at least I think it is!)
I still like the color I chose for the accent wall no matter what the realtor said about keeping all the walls white. (Boooring!)
So this little space is where I live and where I dream up stories and where I write them. I just wanted to show off my shelves because I’m so excited to have an organized space now, and I thought you might enjoy seeing the whole thing.
Benjy and I went to an antique car show today, and he taught me to tell the difference between ’55, ’56 and ’57 Chevy Bel Airs. I think we’re going to head to the Botanic gardens in Denver tonight if I feel up to it to look at roses.
It’s the end of the novel. The heroine and hero have been through hell, at least if they’re in one of my books. They’ve earned their happily ever after. Vows are made in the presence of loved ones. Rings are exchanged. Then the groom kisses the bride, and....
Well, traditionally, the couple are introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Man’s Name. Etiquette says that if your name is Mary Ross and you marry a guy named Gary Jones that you become Mrs. Gary Jones. Get me a bucket, because I’m going to puke!
Most people don’t do that. In most circles, Mary Ross Jones is often introduced as Mrs. Mary Jones. And for most people, that’s probably okay.
But I’m one of those women who just cannot fathom why any woman should change her name because she marries some guy. I. Just. Don’t. Get. It. As a matter of fact, when my mother sent a card to me post-wedding and addressed it to Mrs. Man’s Name, I wrote “Return to send, no such person at this address” and tossed it back in the mailbox.
As the old saying goes, “When a man and a woman marry, they become one, and that one is the man.” That is so not for me.
I didn’t change my name, and my kids were given hyphenated names. I now regret that. They should have gotten my name because they came from me. (I’m only half joking.)
Other societies, such as Viking culture, have managed the whole name thing without stripping women of their identities. Lars and Dagmar would have a son whose last name is Larsen (son of Lars) and Dagmar would have daughter named Dagmarsdottir (Dagmar’s daughter). In lots of places, such as among the Navajo, a woman keeps her last name, while the kids get their father’s last name (probably due to exposure to European culture). So why do we do this?
It’s not a problem for me because, unless I married a guy with a super-cool last name, I would not change my name. It’s not about love; it’s about identity. But as an author, I have characters who get married.
Kara didn’t change her last name. It didn’t even occur to me that anyone would expect her to. Tessa didn’t change hers, either — until one of my friends, who was reading the book as I was writing it, e-mailed me and said, “Isn’t she taking Julian’s name?” My immediate response was, “Why would she do that?” But in the end, because Darcangelo is the coolest name ever — I stole it from a friend — I gave in and went with convention.
Sophie is Sophie Alton-Hunter now, and I wish I’d left her with her own last name. Kat is legally still Katherine James, though Gabe has called her Katherine James Rossiter. And Natalie? I haven’t even thought about it.
It’s an uncomfortable thing for me. My heroine taking the hero’s last name makes as much sense to me as calling Julian Mr. Tessa Novak. It’s ridiculous!
I feel certain that society will progress to the point where women routinely keep their own last names. But in the meantime, I am writing books for a culture that isn’t there yet.
Do you expect the heroine to take the hero’s last name?
Other news: I had my pre-op appointment today — blood tests, EKG, etc. I think I passed. They bumped my surgery back by one hour, so it’s now 1 p.m. on Aug. 3. I’m hopeful, but still nervous.
My rose mallow and purple cone flower have gone nuts. They’re both so beautiful! Today, there was a swallowtail butterfly flitting from flower to flower for almost an hour. I watched it and photographed it. And here it is with my sexy car in the background.
Sarita, Cheri if you’re reading this, please know I’m very behind on my e-mail. Getting the paper ready to fly without me for two months and getting things done around the house has eaten up so much time.
See that little peek of red amid the green vines? That’s our first ripe tomato of the season.
There ought to be a celebration for that day. There’s nothing like a tomato picked ripe from a vine in your own garden. Tomatoes taste like summer itself, and I can’t wait to devour this one.
High summer is here, and the greens that were so plentiful in early June — arugula, romaine, spinach — are history. They’ll be back in the fall, or sooner if I replant. But they don’t like hot 90+ degree days, which is all we’ve been having lately.
I planted the greens, together with swiss chard and broccoli, while it was still snowing back in April. Brassicas and greens generally tolerate cold fairly well, producing when it’s still cool and surviving all but a truly hard frost. So, we’ve enjoyed some broccoli and swiss chard, and both are still producing despite the heat.
Broccoli and greens
One must wait, of course, to plant anything sensitive to cold, like tomatoes. So our tomatoes, green beans, peppers, corn and squash got planted in late May. Tomatoes do really well in Colorado, provided they don’t get beaten into the ground by hail — and you remember to water them. Corn, too, does well, and borrowing from Native tradition, we planted squash with them. Well, and cantaloupe...
Tomatoes and corn plants, together with a glimpse of squash, and green beans
Last year, we got a ton of green beans from two relatively small rows, so this year we planted a bit more than that, along with cucumbers, brussel sprouts and hot peppers. Mmmm...
I swear, I could live off arugula, green beans, radishes, tomatoes and broccoli — and last year I did just that for a time. So hopefully we planted enough this summer to keep me and my mum fed. She'll be staying with me after my operation and taking over the garden while I read and write and rest.
Green beans, hot peppers, brussel sprouts and cabbage plants
I believe strongly in the concept of economic independence. Economic ups and downs have much less impact on a family that is able to supply a lot of its own food and labor — stuff like plumbing, repairs, car maintenance. Knowing how to do these things one's self is important, I think. Canning, sewing, darning socks, knitting — skills our grandparents had but which were forgotten in a single generation.
Looking down the corn rows with hidden squash plants
People have proven that the average family can grow most of its own food in the average yard, and that’s our goal. These garden beds take up only the small south-facing side of the house. The front and backyard, though home to three big trees, also have lots of room where there’s full sun or partial shade. If we were to plant crops everywhere we have plantable space, and include a few fruit trees, a couple of beehives and backyard hens, we’d have most of the food that we need, apart from meat. And if we hunted or went mostly vegetarian... Well, you get the picture.
We won’t be able to accomplish all of this while I’m working full time and writing, of course. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. As it is, I work from the time I get up until dark either at the paper or in the garden — and then whatever time is left goes to having fun and/or writing.
I should add that all of this is organic. We don’t use chemical fertilizers, but rather compost. And we don't use pesticides of any kind, which is why you all heard screaming coming from Colorado this weekend. Washed some romaine and earwigs came running out.... Man, did I shriek!
I hate bugs... except for pretty ones like ladybugs and butterflies and dragon flies.
In the flower garden, the moment really belongs to rose mallow, a precious flower that bees love. It grows about waist height and is covered with small pink flowers. I love pink, let me say.
Rose mallow. Note the bumble bee in the center. I was particularly happy to snap a photo of this fat, fuzzy fellow.
My roses are all rebooting. The big spring bloom is over, and now they've been deadheaded and will make another round of buds soon. All of our rose bushes are repeat bloomers. What’s the point of having roses that bloom once? Boooring.
Unfortunately, four of our bushes seem to have caught something. It’s nothing they’ve had before, and I wonder if it’s from the cool weather and rain — a fungus of some sort. The leaves are dying and falling off, and it upsets me. I hope we can rescue them!
In other news: Just trying to get ready to be away from the paper for eight weeks, and trying to prepare my mind for surgery. I’m almost looking forward to it, actually. Two weeks from this past Tuesday.
The original cover for Surrender, which I vetoed. Iain is a Scotsman, not Daniel Boone.
Yesterday, I was interviewed by a woman who's doing research for a documentary about the world of romance novels. The conversation focused heavily on my own life story and how I became an author — but we also talked about what appeals to readers about the romance genre. I emphasized the HEA — the fact that readers of romance like investing their time in books that have upbeat, happy endings as opposed to cynical, depressing, more "literary" endings.
Afterward, I found myself wondering why I chose specifically to write romance. As a journalist, I could certainly write creative nonfiction. I've always loved straight historical fiction, too — stuff like Mika Waltari's Sinhue, the Egyptian — and I have a desire to immerse myself in that.
So what is my motivation for writing romance instead of something else?
The second cover for Surrender sans plaid modesty belt hiding his chest. Why did they hide his chest?
I suppose part of it is the fact that romantic fiction is still easier to break into than many other kinds of fiction. It enables a lot of writers to get their foot through the door of publishing. But that’s certainly not the only reason I write romance. Shallow interests like that are not enough to sustain me through the turmoil of writing a novel. And, yes, sometimes it is turmoil. I can’t imaging writing a tough scene at one in the morning motivated only by the desire to get a toe-hold on publishing. Ha!
I realized last night that my motivation for writing romance depends on the sub-genre. When it comes to writing historicals, I love the research and the chance that writing these novels gives me to bring history alive. Yes, the love story is fun, and the happy ending is emotionally satisfying. But what probably drives me page by page is the opportunity to disappear into a simpler time in history, a time when you didn’t have to worry whether your cell phone was going to give you a brain tumor or whether your kids were going to end up addicted to meth or whether the banks on Wall Street were going to conspire to rob everyone blind, and so on.
The raw cover art for Untamed. They did this one right.
Readers who prefer historicals probably love that same thing. I was a historical romance reader once — still am, in fact — so I feel like I can say this with some authority. Readers love disappearing from the vulgar concerns of the modern world to a time when lack of technology and restrictive social norms meant that men and women lived in a very different reality. Personally, I find men sexier back in history. Guys sitting in cubicles in suits doesn’t do it for me. A man struggling to plough a field the old-fashioned way or forging a sword or learning to fight with a sword is much sexier, much more romantic. Men using their physical strength to survive are just waaay hotter than men playing video games. (Of course, that’s true in part because I can’t smell these men. Yes, the modern male smells better.)
So that accounts for historicals. But what about romantic suspense?
My agent believes the I-Team books are a sort of therapy for me. They enable to me to live out some of the scarier things that have happened to me — falling off a mountain, having a gun held on me (twice), having my home broken into by two men armed with switch blades, death threats, being sexually assaulted, etc. — and have control over those events. I’m sure this is true. But when I woke up this morning, I realized there’s more to it than that.
I’ve reported on some disturbing shit over the years: the desecration of Navajo graves; the abuse of female inmates by correctional officers; child sex trafficking; companies getting away with pollution; murders; rapes; massacres. This stuff follows journalists home at night. You can't cover a murder scene or interview a rape victim or talk to a family that lost a child in a school shooting without carrying that pain inside you. Like cops, journalists agonize over the stuff we see (and develop the same dark sense of humor as a result).
So, I agree that the I-Team books are a kind of therapy for me, but not just for the things I have personally been through. The stories also enable me to take situations I felt were terribly unjust and do something about them that I wasn’t able to do in real life. That’s why Unlawful Contact had Reece passing the anti-shackling law. That’s why all the rapists and murderers die. That’s why the polluters are shut down, grave robbers are caught and prosecuted, and abusive guards brought to justice.
Justice prevails in the world I create, and I experience the catharsis of that.
So, now, why do you read romance? Why does it appeal to you more than other forms of fiction? What do you get out of these stories? Feel free to break it down by sub-genre if you need to.
Dean Potter is perhaps my fave climber. Alex Lowe used to fill that spot, but died in a slab avalanche while skiiing on on Shishapangma in Tibet.
Potter is hardcore but also super-smart, and he dominates the Yosemite climbing scene. (Does Camp IV ring a bell to any Naked Edge fans?) He speed climbs, free solos (climbs without ropes), high balls (bouldering without ropes), base jumps (leaps off cliffs wearing a small parachute) and high-lines (walks on a tightrope high above the earth with no protection other than a small chute).
This video shows how he's mixing these up, using the questionable protection of a parachute to back him up when he free solos crazy things like a big wall on the Eiger (in the Alps). This video shows him falling, once while high-lining and once while free-soloing.
“Now when I fall, instead of dying, I’m flying,” he says.
It’s breathtaking to watch.
I suppose Gabe grew out of a mix of the rangers I know, plus Alex Lowe and Dean Potter. As an aside, my brother Robert and I know Dean Potter’s wife, Steph Davis, whom I mentioned in Naked Edge. She’s a fantastic climber in her own right, and you can search YouTube for videos of her.
Sorry to be behind in keeping the blog up to date. I had RomCon over the weekend, dinner with both of my sons, Benjamin’s girlfriend and her entire family Monday night, and dinner after work last night with author Anna Campbell. So I have either been at work or out having a bit of fun, which is nice.
Today, we’re getting the paper out, but I ran across this video and just had to share it. Here’s for those of you who loved Gabe!
Breathing some fresh mountain air in Rocky Mountain National Park. Front row, L to R: Lucy, Kathy. Back row, L to R: Jackie, Kristie, Cheri, Sarita
Yesterday was the first official day of RomCon in Denver. It’s the first year this event has been held, and I certainly hope they do it again. Designed to bring readers and writers together and to focus on the interests of the readers, it’s been lots of fun for me so far, even if I haven’t attended many RomCon events.
My focus yesterday was taking some readers on the Pamela Clare Reality Tour. The tour, named by my good friends Sue and Kristi who were the very first to experience it (rather by accident), is all about showing people the real places in the I-Team series. When they were here, I took them around, pointing things out as I showed them my hometown and state. And that’s when they came up with the name.
We started at the convention hotel and drove past Denver women's prison, where, of course, parts of Unlawful Contact occurred. The prison itself wasn't so much part of the story as events that happened to Megan, the hero's sister. Come to think of it, Denver County Jail, which we also passed (on the same corner) is where Sophie was when she was arrested.
From there, we got into a bit of a snarl, as Peoria, the street I wanted to take to Colfax, was blocked by a bad — and I mean bad — car accident. So with the help of Jackie’s GPS, we made our way to Colfax by other means, then saw some of the streets and intersections where parts of the stories took place, including Kara’s home street and the intersection where Tessa witnesses the drive-by shooting.
We stopped at the state capitol, looked around a bit, saw the office where Kara and Reece made good use of the desk, and then some of us walked 99 steps up to the capital dome, which is covered with gold. I get a bit dizzy with heights and didn’t look down all those floors of the rotunda. But Lucy, Jackie and Sara did.
At that point we were running late for our rendezvous with Ranger Rick Hatfield, so we had to get out of Denver and onto the highway to Boulder. We passed McCaslin Mesa, which is the view Sophie and Marc talk about. And I pointed out that the eastbound lanes — we were westbound — were where Sophie gave Marc head. (Those sorts of details are important, no?)
We drove part way up Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder Mountain Parks, until I saw Rick’s service vehicle. There, I parked and Rick was generous enough to explain his job and background to everyone. He’s such a professional and very knowledgeable about any subject matter relating to Boulder Mountain Parks.
I left it up to the gang whether they wanted to see Rocky Mountain National Park, which meant another 45 minute drive further into the mountains. They wanted to see it, so off we went. The photo above was taken at a scenic spot not far inside the park. The glare from the sun was pretty harsh, and I couldn’t even see what I was shooting. But we have more photos, so those will get posted eventually.
I was so grateful to have the chance to share the real stories behind the novels with this wonderful group of women. They were patient with all the driving and the cramped space inside the rented SUV. And I know they loved seeing the high snow-capped peaks.
From there, it was a rush back to the convention center and dinner.
And that was the first day of RomCon for me. I’m headed back in a bit. I have a panel on romantic suspense at 10. And I haven’t officially checked in to the conference yet.
Kat sent me this video. And it encompasses all the Diné I know, as well as some things I didn’t know. And, clearly, I didn’t know much.
I just wanted to share it with you because it gives you a good idea of what Navajo sounds like. Despite all the time I’ve spent in Kayenta, Tuba City and on Black Mesa over the past 15 years, I picked up a total of two words.
By contrast, I’ve been on Lakota lands only a few times and can actually have little conversations. Lakota is easy compared to Diné in my humble opinion.
I love this and am really grateful to these guys for posting these videos. With practice, I might know a dozen words and phrases a year from now.
After months of planning (not by me), RomCon comes to Denver! It’s the First Annual RomCon, and it should be a blast. RomCon is about readers being able to spend time with their favorite authors, and it’s about reading.
I wanted to post my schedule so that those of you who are coming can note which events we have in common and when I might have a break. I won’t be staying at the author hotel; I’m going to stay in my own house which is about 45 minutes to an hour away from the convention hotel.
I'm looking forward to meeting author Anna Campbell in person, as well as other important Aussies. I’m also going to be meeting some of you face to face for the first time. I’ve met Kristie J before, but she’ll be there again. That will be fantastic. And maybe, just maybe, Tara Janzen and I will get some face time. How can two people who live 35 minutes apart never see each other?!? It baffles both of us.
I imagine I’ll blog about the conference and share photos with you.
FRIDAY 12:30-3:30 PM Pamela Clare Reality Tour 3-4:50 PM Build a Hero (might be late for this one) 7-7:45 PM Readers' Crown Awards 8-11 PM Costume Ball 8:30-10 PM Blogger/Reviewer Party
SATURDAY 9-9:50 AM Reader Round Table 10-10:50 AM Q&A Author Chat with Romantic Suspense Authors 12 - 2 PM Book Fair 4:30-5:20 PM Author Avenue 7:15-7:45 PM Borders' Romance Bestsellers Awards 8-11 PM Black and White Masquerade Ball (Might not attend this; hope to spend time with some of you in a sane setting)
SUNDAY 9-9:50 AM Memory Lane 10-10:50 PM Games Finale 11-11:50 AM Q&A Author Mixer - Historical
The discussion about Julian and whether he is or isn’t a rapist continues below. I just needed to get this up here because RomCon starts Thursday for me. I’ll be meeting with my editor from Penguin to celebrate my new contract.
Sorry we missed Man-Titty Monday this week. Perhaps these images of Julian Darcangelo, aka Dark Angel, will make up for that.
Remember that Eduardo Verástegui was chosen by all of you during the I-Team Casting Couch competition to play the role of Julian should they be made into films. As an aside, a reader on Goodreads cast Hard Evidence herself and picked the exact Tessa and the exact Julian that we had chosen. Talk about amazing coincidence... Of course, I’d forgotten about Eduardo and ended up drooling over the photo she posted, but that’s another story.
I’m summoning Team Julian (and those of you who are members of Team RJMGZ) together for a reason. And that reason contains spoilers. So if you haven't read Hard Evidence beware!
There be spoilers here! Ye've been warned!
Okay, here we go...
First, more handsome face. Okay.
Once in a while, I venture onto Amazon and read reviews. Sometimes readers send me links to reviews, and sometimes I’m writing and want to risk my mojo by reading what people have to say about my books. I try to respect everyone’s opinion. It’s not my job to tell them what to feel. (I will admit to taking issue with those who say the reporting doesn't seem realistic or that Kat is a bad journalist or that no reporter would sneak behind razor wire. I’m a National Journalism Award winner for goodness sake! I do think I know what reporters would and wouldn’t do. Okay, got that off my chest.)
Recently, I read a review in which a reader said that Julian was a terrible hero. Actually, she said he was “repulsive,” “a total disaster” and “a whore.” She also said that he raped Tessa and that Tessa allowed him to rape her. (Um... Okay.)
Granted, the scene to which this reader refer is an edgy scene. Julian, pushed to the emotional edge by Tessa, explodes and acts out the unworthiness he feels. Raised by a monster of a father, he’d had a nightmare childhood, which he’d tried to turn to good by becoming a federal agent and going after men like his father. But that has meant years of masquerading as a sexual predator. And all that ugliness — his childhood, the brutal nature of his job — is inside him. He believes it makes him unworthy. And so what does he do?
Here’s the scene (Argh! Spoilers! Avast! Turn back!):
“I had no idea, Julian. I didn’t know anyone could do anything so terrible to a woman!” She shuddered, a wave of revulsion, of sheer terror, passing through her.
He held her closer. “Try not to think about it. Just let it go.”
“Those poor women!” She squeezed her eyes shut. “I can’t get the images out of my head! How do I make them go away?”
And then it hit her.
She sat up, stared at him. “My God, Julian, you’re exposed to this every day! How do you—?”
He pressed a finger against her lips. “It’s my job, Tessa.”
Something about the way he said it—the quiet strength, the resignation, the hint of buried despair—closed around her heart like a fist. “It hurts you.”
He sat up, rested his weight on one hand. “Somebody has to do it, and I’m better suited to it than most men.”
She ran a hand up his arm. “You’re as human as any man, Julian. You have the same right to feel as everyone else.”
“Don’t try to figure me out, Tessa.” He pushed off the bed, pulling away from her, a dark scowl on his face, an edge to his voice. “It’s a waste of your time.”
She hopped off the bed, cut him off at the door, her hand pressed against his chest to stop him. “Don’t try to push me away! It’s my time to waste.”
“Tessa!” One word, her name—a low growl of warning.
A muscle clenched in his jaw, his heart pounding against her palm.
She held her ground. “There’s nothing inside you that scares me, Julian.”
She saw in his eyes the moment his control snapped. In a heartbeat, she found herself pinned beneath him on the floor, her arms stretched over her head, her wrists cuffed by one big hand.
He glared down at her, an almost feral look on his face, his thighs forcing hers apart. “You really want to know what’s inside me?”
Then his mouth closed over hers in a brutal, punishing kiss.
Tessa didn’t object. Not when he forced his tongue roughly into her mouth. Not when he used his free hand to rip open her blouse, scattering buttons across the floor. Not when he ground his pelvis against hers, thrusting in crude imitation of sex.
He meant to frighten her, she knew. He wanted to show her how violent he could be, how badly he could hurt her. And yet it was himself he was hurting.
Tears slipped from the corner of her eyes down her temples as she yielded her body to his rage, her heart aching for him. Somehow he’d gotten her pants off and was now yanking his zipper down over the bulge of his erection. Then he buried himself inside her, pounded his fury and desperation into her without finesse or gentleness.
It was over quickly.
He groaned, shuddered, then sank against her, his face buried in the crook of her neck, his breath coming fast and heavy. For a moment he lay against her. “Jesus God!”
It was a cry of remorse. He released her wrists, started to pull away, but she held him fast, kissing his hair, her tears falling freely now.
Now, just to make it clear, I’m not upset with the reviewer who called Julian repulsive. Her review is her honest response to the story. From her point of view, he was despicable, and that’s valid and real for her. Reading this scene one can perhaps see why she felt this way.
However, those of us who understand Julian’s inner demons — i.e., me — see something different in this scene. And so I thought I'd ask you what you think Julian would do if the scene had been written differently, if it had been written like this:
But first, another break for handsome face. Okay.
She held her ground. “There’s nothing inside you that scares me, Julian.”
She saw in his eyes the moment his control snapped. In a heartbeat, she found herself pinned beneath him on the floor, her arms stretched over her head, her wrists cuffed by one big hand.
He glared down at her, an almost feral look on his face, his thighs forcing hers apart. “You really want to know what’s inside me?”
Then his mouth closed over hers in a brutal, punishing kiss.
"Julian, stop!” Tessa twisted and arched, trying to get away from him, her breath coming in pleading pants. “You’re hurting me! Please! Don’t do this!"
What do you think Julian would do in this scene if Tessa had fought him and screamed for him to stop?
And why in the world didn’t Tessa try to stop him? Is she okay with being abused? Can it really be rape if she understands him and allows him to do this?
Share your thoughts and I’ll follow up and explain how I saw the scene. Maybe we’ll even hear from Julian and Tess about it...
Also this week: RomCon comes to Denver! If you registered for the Pamela Clare Reality Tour please let me know ASAP via e-mail! I’d love to know who put their names in for the lottery. I will be posting my RomCon schedule here and on my Yahoo Group later in the week, and I hope to spend time with each and every one of you.
Plus, I’m psyched about meeting Anna Campbell in person and seeing KristieJ again.
NOTE: Blogger seems to be screwing up. I know some of you have commented and your comments aren't showing up. Neither are my responses. Blogger seems to have given Rita the last word. LOL! Maybe the glitch will clear up. Keep posting! They do end up in my e-mail Inbox, and I'm sure they'll show up later. — PC
The Fourth of July is a special day in the history of the United States — and not just because it's the day when the newborn United States declared its independence from Great Britain. The events that set American independence in motion occurred about 22 years earlier.
Interestingly, those events revolved around the same man — George Washington.
On July 4, 1754, young George Washington retreated from the Great Meadows where he’d been defeated by French forces. But let’s back up a few days...
Young Washington had been sent northward to deal with the French, who'd built a fort at the Forks of the Ohio (Pittsburgh). The British claimed that territory, and Virginia's burgesses wanted the French to clear out.
On the way to the fort in the month of May, Washington came across a small party of French, and, in part due to the manipulations of an Indian named Half King, Washington, only 22 years old, had his men open fire, killing and injuring some among the French. Among the wounded was a young French officer Joseph de Jumonville, who had papers with him from the French that proved he was an envoy, not part of a military party. But much to Washington's horror, Half King, angry at the French for a variety of reasons, smashed in the wounded French officer's skull with his tomahawk.
Half King’s violent action broke all the rules of European warfare, and because Washington was the acknowledged reader of the party, the blame fell on him. And the French were outraged.
They sent a war party of French and Indians after them, as Washington knew they would. He had retreated to a place called the Great Meadows, where he erected Fort Necessity, a hastily constructed palisade with some wooden walls and a few trenches.
On July 3, the French and their Indian allies engaged Washington and, thanks in part to rain and in part to a rather poorly chosen location for a fort (it occupied the low ground and was surrounded by hills and forest), Washington and his forces were soundly defeated. Negotiations ensued, with a Dutchman acting as interpreter for Washington, who did not speak French.
The site of Fort Necessity
In the end, Washington was persuaded to sign a document which, unbeknownst to him, contained his confession that he had “assassinated” de Jumonville.
On July 4, Washington and the surviving Virginians were allowed to retreat from Fort Necessity.
Young George Washington
The events of July 3-4, 1754, lead in a chain of events to those of July 4, 1776, because they marked the start of the French and Indian War. And the French and Indian War led to irreconcilable differences between the American colonists and Great Britain.
If Washington had not attacked that French party and de Jumonville had not been killed, world history would be very different.
It’s ironic because during the French and Indian War, Washington wanted so very much to receive a commission in the British Army. However, his hopes were confounded, and his attempts to earn advancement through the military were rebuffed. Eventually, he left the military and in January 1759 married Martha Custis, a widow, and turned to helping her raise her two sons and running his plantation at Mount Vernon.
Here’s what I’m getting at: Not only did Washington inadvertently launch the war that drove the French from North America and alienated the British from the colonists, he himself was alienated from the British — another great historical irony. If the British had made him an officer, chances are he would never have sided with the Founders. But, having had his military ambitions brushed aside by unfeeling British superiors, he attended meetings in Philadelphia wearing an officer’s uniform he designed himself. He had no commission; he simply showed up in military uniform. He was later chosen to lead American forces, which he did with much more distinction that he'd led Virginians in the wilderness 22 years earlier.
When the DeclarationofIndependence was read aloud on July 4, 1776, Washington commented that he couldn’t help but think of the defeat at the Great Meadows and all that had transpired in the aftermath of that bloody event.
Somehow, that always gives me goosebumps.
But there’s more...
Among Washington’s friends were Thomas Jefferson, a fellow Virginian, and John Adams, a jurist from Boston. Thomas and John were friends who worked together on the Declaration of Independence. They came to develop very different notions about what the Constitution meant. (In some respects, the arguments Americans have today are the same issues that Adams and Jefferson could not resolve between themselves. True fact.)
Despite their very heated differences — differences that sometimes drove them to extremes of emotion — Adams and Jefferson respected one another.
Thomas Jefferson (known in my house as T.J.)
They both died on July 4, 1826. I find that rather amazing. Thomas Jefferson died a few hours before John, but John, not knowing this, uttered with his last breath, “At least Thomas Jefferson survives.”
Five years later, James Monroe, our fifth president, died. Yes, on July 4. Monroe was the last Founder to hold the presidency, a peer of Washington, Adams and Jefferson.
So why the history lesson?
I love history. History is nothing more or less than the lives of others remembered. The people who lived and shaped these events were every bit as real as we are. I love seeing through their eyes, breathing their air and sharing their world.
I admit to having a peculiar passion for the French and Indian War. The mix of cultures, the frontier, the toughness of the men, the strength of the women — it captures me like no other period in history. I feel it in my veins. Everything about it fires me up.
Every year when we come to July 4, I think of Washington, defeated and muddy, trekking back to Virginia with his defeated troops, wagons carrying the injured and dying. I think of Washington listening as the Declaration of Independence is read aloud, remembering what had happened 22 years earlier and wondering how he was going to achieve victory with so few resources against the greatest army in the world. I think of his friends, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, and their lifelong friendship and deep disagreement, lying on the death beds, taking their last breaths within hours of each other and thinking of each other.
And now the world is left to us, the nation they made, with its glories and its flaws, now in our hands.
Make something special of today. So many people spend it getting drunk, setting off fireworks and, in general, causing mayhem. (My neighbors have been setting off fireworks late each night for almost two weeks!) While we all have the freedom to do that, we also have the freedom to make something more of our lives and to offer our lives in service to greater ideals.
Happy Fourth of July — truly an extraordinary day in history.
I already posted this on Facebook. It’s an image of the titanium plates/screws that are going to go into my neck. There will be several, I believe. And I think it completely ROCKS that they are purple! If you’re going to have screws in your body, they need to be really cool screws.
As I said on Facebook, my surgery will be at noon on Aug. 13 at Exempla/St. Joseph’s in Denver. If all goes well, I’ll be home in a couple of days and spend the next eight weeks recuperating there.
I don’t like hospitals much — too little chocolate, weird jammies — but I think I’ll be too out of it most of the time to care where I am. The doc said they will be trying to get me up to walk the first night. Yeah, good luck with that!
I’m trying to stay positive, thinking of the eight weeks as a “staycation” but with percocet instead of margaritas.
So... This week’s discussion topic went over like a lead balloon. Bummer! I find it interesting to ponder such things, but that’s the result of writing opinion columns for umpteen years. I spend a lot of time ruminating over stuff like that.
This weekend, the Fourth of July weekend, I have something completely different planned, something related both to the roots of this holiday that ties in with my MacKinnon’s Ranger series.