San Antonio River featuring the Tower Life Building at night, San Antonio, Texas, USA.
Some of you might know that I write under two pen names—Elle James and Myla Jackson. Different authors write under different pen names for various reasons. Readers know Myla Jackson for her sexy cowboys in Texas at the Ugly Stick Saloon.
A couple years ago, I wrote WYATT’S WAR and published it under my Myla Jackson pen name. WRONG! What was I thinking? It was clearly an Elle James romantic suspense. I probably sold a handful of copies. Naturally, my Myla Jackson fans didn’t get it. It wasn’t my Myla style. I know that now, and I also knew my Elle James readers would “get” it if I put it out under my pen name Elle James. And now that I have my rights I’m able to repackage it under my Elle James pen name where it really belongs. So, though it is a re-release, it will be new to most of you my readers. Please check it out. I set this book in one of favorite cities, San Antonio with the beauty of the River Walk area and the usual mayhem of a killer loose. Please give WYATT’S WAR a chance. If you like my books, you’ll like this one!
Army Special Forces soldier tasked with augmenting security at a high-profile international trade convention teams with the sassy convention planner to protect the delegates from terrorist threats
She doesn’t want a glorified babysitter…until all hell breaks loose
Following a particularly tough deployment, Master Sergeant Wyatt Magnus is given a boondoggle assignment providing anti-terrorist security for an International Trade Convention in San Antonio, Texas. Convinced he’s in for a whole lot of boring hours, he’s surprised when he goes toe-to-toe with the feisty and sexy as hell convention director.
Fiona Allen has a difficult enough task corralling foreign dignitaries and pulling off a seamless itinerary. She doesn’t have time to handhold the far too arrogant and impossibly desirable Special Forces soldier assigned to her event by the Department of Homeland Security.
A hotel room double-booking lands them together in the same room. Her red-hot anger quickly turns to blazing desire. Giving in to one night of passion, she realizes will never be enough. But trouble is brewing in the form of a man on a mission of revenge, armed with hatred and enough explosives to obliterate the convention center and everyone inside.
All things Footloose seem to be coming to roost at my house this year. The Kevin Bacon classic debuted in 1984. 12 years old at the time, I remember going to the opening day at a small theater, by myself, wearing white jeans and a multi-colored top. I wasn’t the only teen or pre-teen in the audience, and I wasn’t the only kid who got up to dance during a lot of the scenes.
Looking back on those days, three things stand out—the music, the freedom, and the rising tide of emotional nostalgia for when life was simply a battle between the desire to dance and the desire to keep kids safe. Yes, there’s a lot more to the argument, though admittedly the idea that dancing led to drinking and drugs was always a stretch for me.
Holding Out for a Hero
Let’s get back to the music, Bonnie Tyler’s Holding out for a Hero was a huge part of Footloose. Looking back, I have to wonder at the choice. The song served as the score for the showdown between Ren (Kevin Bacon) and Ariel’s (Lori Singer) abusive boyfriend, Chuck (Jim Youngs). So the song fits that aspect, but the showdown is played out as a glorified game of chicken on tractors.
My 12 year old self thought that was badass, but my 45 year old self looks back and says, “Tractors? Really?” So was the showdown badass because of the tractors or the song?
Of course, flash forward a couple of decades to Shrek 2 and suddenly we have a new version of Holding out for a Hero courtesy of Jennifer Saunders. The music did for Shrek exactly what it did for Footloose, conveyed heroism on our erstwhile heroes whether they fit the “common” conception or not.
The Song Remains the Same
I’m pretty sure what made both scenes badass was the song. And from that point forward, Bonnie Tyler’s song was ever-present in the back of my mind from my first viewing to the present. The song suggested heroism whether you’re talking superheroes, military men, shifters, and more. It can’t come as any surprise that the song would then become background music for every single book I’ve written including When Danger Bites which married military and shifter romance into one novel.
The story is right there in the lyrics:
Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods
Where’s the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds
Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed
Late at night toss and turn and dream of what I need
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
Are you singing it in your head? I know I am. I even cranked up both versions when I began writing this blog. So if you are holding out for a hero, who is strong and fast, and fresh from the fight? I present to you Captain Jax Raymond of Bravo Team WOLF.
Oh and the second Footloose connection? It’s the high school musical for Mini’s junior year. We’re going to be holding out for more than a hero, we’re going to be holding out for a part.
One lucky commentator will win a $10 GC from Amazon, so tell me, what about you? Are you holding out for a hero?
Bravo Team WOLF WHEN DANGER BITES
Buttoned-up Corporal Kaitlyn Amador is dangerous on every level. As a human, she poses a threat to Marine Captain Jax Raymond’s special Force Recon unit. Though the team has a reputation among the other recon units, only their commanding officer knows their secret. As a woman, the danger posed is entirely different. Jax can survive the temptation for only so long before his wolf takes over and pursues what it wants.
Military intelligence specialist Corporal Kaitlyn Amador is the first woman in the Marines to be assigned to a recon team. And everyone’s watching her. Her mission? Not only prove herself worthy of her place in the group, but uncover the mystery of why Bravo Team is so successful. A mission that gets more difficult every time she’s near Jax…
USA Today bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas summertime.
From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories—her characters drive the books. When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family.
She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.
Heather is best known for her 18-book paranormal romance series Wolves of Willow Bend, which begins:
Prequel: Wolf at Law
1: Wolf Bite
2: Caged Wolf
3: Wolf Claim
3.5: Wolf Next Door
4: Rogue Wolf
5: Bayou Wolf
6: Untamed Wolf
Heather’s other fantasy romance series include the paranormal westerns Fevered Hearts starting with Marshal of Hel Dorado, Black Hill Wolves which start with What a Wolf Wants, Witches of Mane Street, Mongrels, and the forthcoming Bravo Team WOLF series.
Her contemporary romance series include: Always a Marine, Going Royal, Elite Warriors, The Love Thieves, beginning with Catch Me and Lone Star Leathernecks, beginning with Semper Fi Cowboy.
Heather is well-represented in fantasy with her superhero series Boomers, a sci-fi western called Space Cowboy Survival Guide, an urban fantasy series called the Chance Monroe Adventures, and a stand-alone ghost novel titled Haunt Me.
Captain Jasper “Jax” Raymond leaned his motorcycle into the turn. The wind ripping past him filled him with a sense of exhilaration, and the engine’s roar satisfied a more primal urge, the growl echoing that of his inner animal. His wolf.
Heading back to base after leave always felt a little like shedding his wild freedom for a leash. Not his favorite analogy. Fortunately, Jax liked the other wolves assigned to his squad.
Training and fighting together had forged them into a cohesive team—a team he ran. At home, he was just a wolf, a member of the pack, a strong dominant with only his family to protect and his alpha to follow. When his alpha had asked Jax to serve and protect the pack, Jax had risen to the occasion. Leading had never been his goal in life, but now on base he was the alpha, and he was responsible for all of them.
As he came out of the curve, he zipped past an SUV on the side of the road. It took his mind a few seconds to process why the car had halted there. The vehicle had a flat tire and sat almost drunkenly in the grass off the blacktopped edge. A woman in full dress uniform had the rear of the SUV open and was reaching inside, presumably for the jack.
Slowing the bike, he checked the road behind him. No oncoming vehicles. He turned the bike around and headed back. No way an officer in Class As should be changing their tire on the side of the road. The fact she was a woman might have played into his desire to render aid, but mainly, he was in jeans and a T-shirt. If anyone should be getting dirty, it was him.
Parking the bike in front of her SUV, he shut off the engine then dismounted. “Afternoon, ma’am.” He kept his tone polite. Uniform or not, he was a big guy, and politeness went a long way to setting strangers at ease.
The officer in question stepped out from behind her SUV and eyed him. His wolf went on point the moment their gazes collided. She was gorgeous. But more, her deep, whiskey-brown eyes had a fierceness to them. His wolf recognized that ferocity, and it filled the man with the need to respond. The point of Class As was to provide a severe, if uniform, look to all officers and enlisted. From her buttoned-up jacket to her formfitting skirt, she proved alluringly female. The dark tan of her skin reminded him of a bronzed statue, but a hell of a lot warmer. Her dark hair held the promise of red where the sun struck it, but she had it all confined into a serviceable bun.
The image of freeing all that hair and satisfying his curiosity about the color and the texture flashed across his mind’s eye. Wolves were tactile creatures, and she was so damn put together. Reminding himself her bun wasn’t a ball of yarn and he wasn’t a cat didn’t a do damn thing for the mental suggestion.
“I’m fine,” she said, her clipped tone perfectly polite. The chill in her voice jerked him out of his gawking. “Thank you for stopping.”
“I’m sure you are…Corporal.” He zeroed in on the bars on her uniform. “It would be a shame to get the uniform messed up, especially since I’m right here, and I’d be happy to change the tire for you.”
Her brows raised a fraction, and the corners of her lips tightened. They were full, pretty lips with only the barest hint of gloss. Maybe she’d licked them? He liked the lower lip; it was plump and completely kissable… Why the fuck am I leering at her like some dumbass?
Yeah, his wolf had rather basic standards.
“I appreciate you making the offer, but I really can handle it.” Dismissal hung in her tone as she returned to the rear of the SUV, but a quick grin softened the sting. “Really, I can…” Were those last three words for him? Or herself?
She paused then blew out a breath.
One part of him said to leave it alone. If she thought she could change the tire without fucking up her uniform, fine. She was a big girl. The rest of him vibrated with the need to overcome her objection and take care of it for her.
The wolf won; it usually did in moments like this. Human or not, she was a Marine. It didn’t matter that he served because his alpha had asked for volunteers, he’d been a Marine for five years, and he had two more years on his contract. He’d always been a wolf, and the wolf would always win.
For all intents and purposes, the Marines were his pack. He wouldn’t leave a packmate to change her own damn tire, would he? Not when he was right there. The big question hovering in the back of his mind as he cleared the rear of her vehicle was, did he make it an order since he outranked her, or did he go for charm?
“You have trouble listening?” she asked him as she pulled the jack out and set it to the side. She had on a pair of work gloves. He admired the choice, but they clashed completely with the uniform and were a hell of a long way out of dress code. If she had the misfortune of encountering a senior officer—like him—she could get in trouble.
“No trouble at all, ma’am.” Hoping a smile and a bit of a coaxing tone would charm her out of her reticence, he grinned. The temperature hovered somewhere in the mid-80s. Perfect for a ride on his bike, even better for hanging out to have a cool drink, but standing there in the sun while she changed the tire would have her sweating through the uniform. “If you’ll forgive me for not just leaving you here on the side of the road, I would be honored to render assistance. My mama would take my head off if I let you tell me no.”
Instead of being impressed, she gave him a sideways glance. “You’re not southern enough to pull off the mama, and I don’t think she would take your head off.”
Jax blinked. It was rare for anyone human to call him on one of his stories. The other wolves could smell a lie, but humans? They generally went with it. His mother had told him once he had a face made for sin and a mouth to go along with it—or at least to get him out of trouble.
Reclaiming the jack, she chuckled, and the sound teased along his spine like a caress. Following her, he wanted to growl when she squatted with care. She wore three-inch heels. Perfectly within regs, but the fact she could squat so gracefully in them did wonders for his libido. “Sorry, friend. You can’t bullshit a bullshitter.”
“Huh.” The wolf might want to pet her, but the man liked her. “Fair enough. My mother would kick my ass, though.” And then some. His mother had taught him to hunt—she could track circles around his father.
Tomorrow is Memorial Day in the United States. For those who aren’t familiar with it, Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and it is a day to remember those who have died while in the service of the US Armed Forces. I want to dedicate this blog post to them. These souls are some of the greatest heroes there can ever be remembered.
Why, you may ask?
Because they were willing to sacrifice their very existence to save someone else. Just think about it, we all complain about this “selfish younger generation” who seem to think only of themselves and what the world can do for them. But there are those in this younger generation who still believe in honor, duty, and sacrifice. In wars past, and in “police actions” in this day and age, a lot of these soldiers are not even old enough to buy alcohol and yet they are willing to step up and do what needs to be done. Be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.
I had a college professor who assigned the class a task to write down ten things you would kill for and then ten things you would die for. On the surface it seemed like an easy task. We all say “I’d kill for…” this, that or the other. We’d kill anyone who hurts our family. We’d kill those who commit rapes, torture, or abuse. But what would we be willing to lay down our lives for? It took a long time for me to contemplate this question. I would fight for family, friends, even to protect a stranger in a life threatening situation, but to willingly say “I will die for you”… it was an eye-opening question for me.
Could I willingly agree to die instead of change something I believed in? I ended up with only three things on my “Die” list… faith, family, and to protect an innocent.
Material things mean nothing. Faith, love, and family mean everything. I say I would die for these three things, but until someone is put in the position to back up their words, one never knows. Take a moment during this holiday weekend to ask yourself these same two questions. What are you willing to kill for? What are you willing to die for? Then say a silent “Thank You” to those who left this world too soon while in service.
I honor those men and women who have stood by their word, who have willingly made the ultimate sacrifice to save others.
NEVER ENOUGH, 3B1, is a Delos series novella and sequel to Forged in Fire, Book 3. Being Indie, it’s fun to write the “big book” and then follow it with a “Well? What happened to Matt and Dara next?” and answer my readers burning question. I don’t know a reader that doesn’t appreciate a follow-up novella or sequel. When I’ve formed a bond with the main characters and have sympathy for them, I want to know what happened after reading the book.
Sergeant Matt Culver, Delta Force, has fallen in love with Dr. Dara McKinley, a pediatrician who was visiting Kabul, Afghanistan to do charity work for children. They fall in love, but this country is dangerous to anyone who is an American. After a harrowing escape at a village in mid-Winter, Matt must keep Dara alive.
I admired Dara McKinley because she was thrown into a violent, life-and-death environment and had no clue as to how to survive it. Except that the man she was falling in love with, Sergeant Matt Culver, would become her guide, teacher and protector.
Sometimes courage comes in moments of shock, trauma and extreme conditions. Dara is a pediatrician, finishing up her residency, and getting ready to put a clinic for the poor near Alexandria, Virginia, near Washington, D.C. But all her dreams explode when her vehicle is attacked, leaving her in the harsh winter of Afghanistan, chased by Taliban.
Matt Culver is a survivor and is saddled with a woman who has never been under such duress. He’s fallen in love with her. The challenges are enormous, not only brutal winter conditions in the mountains, trying to keep her safe and knowing odds of living through this, are next to nothing. Somehow, they survive.
Afterward, I wrote a book to take them in the next step of their relationship. Matt has surprised Dara with a Hawaiian vacation. He wants to get her into a safe place that she’s always wanted to visit, where they can have serious time for one another instead of running for their lives. Somehow, even Paradise can have a dark side and Matt’s wish for a quiet vacation doesn’t happen.
I was trying to be positive with the title of this blog entry. Truth is, as I’m ready to publish my eight novel, I’m in a dedication pickle. Forget ‘artful.’
I started writing romantic suspense stories in 2001, got picked up by Wild Rose Press in 2011, and have published one book a year since then. My first book lauded all the people who encouraged me to keep on writing. Dedicating my second book to my father was a slam-dunk, because a character in the novel acted like my dad. I wanted another book to honor my mother. Then what?
We seat-of-our-pants writers don’t plan ahead. Thus, the dedication pickle.
Subject matter for book four fit my sister. Wait! I can’t leave out my husband. Book five lauded him. I consulted with my two brothers for books six and seven, so no worries there. Book eight is dedication-less, so far.
I’m curious about how you determine your dedications and the process you use to choose/ask/notify the dedicatee, or publicize the dedications for your books.I could use some ideas!Please leave your comments by clicking on the people said link below.
As you think about your answer, here’s my release, BAD LIES, dedicated to my brother, Colin, a brilliant geologist, who works on contracted projects with the U.S. Government. My main character in BAD LIES has a career like my brother’s, so consulting with Colin not only gave me information I needed, but brought me closer to understanding his passion for studying the earth.
Italy’s haunted caves spell danger for an American golfer and a NATO geologist…
Sophie Maxwell is a late-blooming, unorthodox golfer, and mother of a precocious thirteen year-old. Determined to put divorce, bankruptcy, and a penchant for gambling in her past, Sophie goes to Italy for a qualifying golf tournament.
Jack Walker turned his back on a pro golfing career to become a geologist. As a favor to his ailing father he’ll caddy for Sophie; off hours, he’ll find caves on the Mediterranean coast, suitable for NATO listening posts for terrorist activity.
Someone is determined to stop Jack’s underground hunt and ruin Sophie’s chances to win her tournament.
On a Rome golf course and in the Amalfi coast’s haunted caves, all the odds are stacked against Sophie and Jack. In their gamble of a lifetime, who wins?
My questions, again: I’m curious about how you determine your dedications and the process you use to choose/ask/notify the dedicatee, or publicize the dedications for your books.I could use some ideas!Please leave your comments by clicking on the the people said link below below.
UPDATE: The winners are…Snarky Mom Michelle and Colleen C.!
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Romance, Adventure, Danger!
These three words are on the banner of my author homepage and are a good description of my writing. I’m a romantic suspense author who loves adventures, both in my fiction and in my travel life.
My first adventure was an airplane ride when I was two months old. It was some plane ride—a bumpy, scary one (so my mother told me) from Lima, Peru, on the coast, over the Andes Mountains, to a then small dirt landing strip in a place called Tingo Maria. Tingo, as the natives refer to the town, is on the Amazon side of the mountains and is the home of the Bella Durmiente, Spanish for Sleeping Beauty. The Bella Durmiente is a mountain range of around 2200 feet in this jungle area. Looking at it from the town, it forms the silhouette of a reclining woman—a “sleeping beauty.”
Maybe the fact that I lived close to the Bella Durmiente for five years influenced the romance side of my writing. After all, Sleeping Beauty is a romantic tale, even if the heroine didn’t participate in saving herself. Tingo certainly influenced the adventure in my writing. The area around there, with it’s sometimes dangerous jungle habitat and its history of terrorist activity, provided part of the setting for my latest release, TO THE LIMIT, book three of the Shadow Heroes series. I also added some details about driving over the Andes—the altitude, soroche (altitude sickness), and the desolate terrain.
In this mixed setting, I placed Mary Beth Williams, in effect a “fish out of water,” and Nicholas Romero, an ex-soldier turned diplomat. Theirs is a romantic suspense adventure that challenges not only their lives but also their hearts.
I’m giving away one copy of the very sexy Dancing in the Dark (Kindle, Nook or iBooks), book one of the Shadow Heroes series, to two people who answer this question:
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
To the Limit
“To the Limit puts the romance in romantic adventure. Dramatic, emotional, and steamy as the South American jungle. Loved it!” –RWA Honor Roll author Ann Voss Peterson
A desperate woman…
Since scandal rocked her life, Mary Beth Williams has only trusted one person: her brother. Now he’s been kidnapped by narcoterrorists in a remote part of San Mateo. With only ten days to ransom him, she seeks out ex-soldier turned diplomat/negotiator, Nicholas Romero, the only man who can help.
An old score…
The last thing Nick needs is a distraction from settling a score with the powerful general responsible for killing his cousin. But when he learns that Mary Beth might provide him a way to achieve his goal, he agrees to help. It isn’t until they’re deep in the San Matean jungle, pursued by the general’s forces, that Nick realizes what a mistake he’s made. Because the beautiful American tempts him with passion and a future he cannot claim.
A secret buried in the past
Fighting distrust and desire, Nick and Mary Beth work to uncover a dangerous truth. But Nick didn’t count on exposing his own secret…one that could cost both their hearts and their lives.
Limited time only: To the Limit is available at the reduced price of $0.99.
Some books take more time to write than others. I’m celebrating the release that took me years to write. We’re talking numerous rounds of edits where I thought I’d never get through the comments. I told myself to just forget it, I have other books to write. But I kept going back to it to write and rewrite the book that I couldn’t let go. Now, many versions and countless rounds of editing later, I am thrilled to announce my new release, When Darkness Whispers.
When Darkness Whispers
Some memories are better left forgotten…
Haunted by an unclear past, biologically enhanced Marine, Eva Montreaux, can’t be distracted from her mission. With American servicemen being brutally murdered on the island of Okinawa, it’s more than priority. It’s critical. But when her investigation brings her face to face with Marcos Delacruz, it triggers memories. Ones she lost. Memories that somehow include him.
Marcos Delacruz has tried to forget the woman who left him with nothing but empty promises. Even now, three years later, Eva doesn’t seem to express any guilt over breaking his heart. In truth, she seems to barely recognize him. This deployment has been challenging enough with too many restless spirits haunting the island. But when his own investigation forces him to cross paths with her once more, Marcos discovers there may be a deeper truth.
With the number of murders climbing rapidly and the rising need to track the murderer across the tropical island, Eva struggles to reclaim what she lost. But the island holds darker elements–a serial killer. One that doesn’t appear to be human.
Thrust into a world she can’t escape, Eva must discover a way to stop a murderer from destroying anyone else’s future, but how can she succeed if she can’t even remember what role Marcos played in her past?
When Darkness Whispers is a paranormal military romance you won’t want to put down! Go undercover with a supernatural team into a world of vampires, gargoyles, shifters, demons, and ghosts. If you like haunting mystery, spine-tingling suspense, and Japanese mythology, you’ll love When Darkness Whispers!