My sister is arriving today around noon—soon! She’s coming for a “sisters’ writing retreat”. Her goal for the next week is to write like her hair’s on fire. I’ve been suffering with vertigo for days, and the nausea is getting to me, but I’ll try to hang in there. I do have several projects that need my attention!
In the meantime, I’m sharing an appropriately-themed puzzle for you play-uhs. Have fun! And remember, if you haven’t read Cochise, why the heck haven’t you? Those who have are loving it! 🙂
Thanks for letting me visit with you, Delilah! I thought it would be fun to share the story behind the story with your readers. Let me back up a minute. The first question usually starts: Where do authors get their ideas?
Someone told me they think an author’s brain is a scary place! We do constantly ask, “What if…?”
Sometimes a daydream offers a story start, but ideas and inspiration can show up in the strangest places. My husband and I were in eastern Washington state, hiking along the Snake River in a game management area called Big Flats (which happens to feature in So About The Money, the first book in the Holly Price Mystery series). We had to push through some tangled foliage at the shoreline. Being a mystery writer whose mind really can go strange places, I glanced over my shoulder and said, “Wouldn’t this be a great place to find a body?”
Fortunately, he laughed.
That germ of an idea—a body in the middle of nowhere—kept growing. Why would the heroine be at Big Flats to stumble over the body? How did the body end up beside the river in the first place?
The idea for In It For The Money (Book 4 in the series) came while I was chatting with a friend’s nephew at a party. He was all excited about designing some bizarre machine called a Rockcrawler. I had no clue what he was talking about, but I picked up on his passion. And my writer’s brain went, Hmmm… Rockcrawlers… That’s different.
Let me explain Rockcrawling—or rather, here’s how Holly described the sport to her friend, Laurie Gordon, after Holly dragged Laurie to the opening day events:
“Two guys were sitting on their back porch, drinking.” Holly raised her wine glass and Laurie clicked the rim. “One polished off his beer, belched, and popped open another can. He pointed at the vacant lot next door and said, ‘Betcha I can drive my truck over those rocks.'”
“You’re lying.” Laurie narrowed her eyes.
“Swear to God.” Holly raised her right hand. “And since God takes care of idiots and drunks, the first one made it over—alive—and his friend and all their friends had to try. And their friends…” She waved at the scene before them.
Continuing that excerpt…
Beyond the last vendor booth, Holly saw another jacked-up truck rumble toward the enormous pile of boulders that marked the start of the rockcrawler course. The crowd shifted, watching the truck’s progress up the torturous 45-degree angle.
Just past a short series of tented seating—the sponsors’ section and some “premium seats”—an array of parked pickup trucks overflowed the designated parking area. Men—and a few women—stood in the beds for an elevated view. More than one person had climbed onto the top of the truck’s cab. The coolers and grills gave new meaning to the term “tailgate party.”
Holly waved a hand at the crowded areas beside the course. She wasn’t sure what to call the space. The stands? Infield? Peanut gallery? “Trucks climbing over rocks may be nuts, but this is fun. It’s like a big party.”
“Clearly, you don’t get out enough,” Laurie said dryly.
“’Course, when you told me rockcrawling was a big deal, I about laughed my ass off. I mean, seriously? Rockcrawlers? I still can’t believe they drive trucks over big piles of rocks.” Laurie worked in admin at the local hospital. The Boulder Bounders sporting event wasn’t exactly her scene, either. “I’ve never seen so much alcohol and testosterone in the same place. It’s like a slow-mo NASCAR race with giant wheels.”
“And rocks. Don’t forget the rocks,” Holly said. For a moment, she longingly watched the partying instead of the competing truck. She needed to, make that wanted to, invite friends over for a cookout at her house—if she could find an open afternoon in her overcrowded schedule.
Yeah, good luck with that.
IN IT FOR THE MONEY
Holly Price traded professional goals for personal plans when she agreed to leave her high-flying position with the Seattle Mergers and Acquisition team and take over the family accounting practice. Reunited with JC Dimitrak, her former fiancé, she’s already questioning whether she’s ready to flip her condo for marriage and a house in the ‘burbs.
When her cousin Tate needs investors for his innovative car suspension, Holly works her business matchmaking skills and connects him with a client. The Rockcrawler showcasing the new part crashes at its debut event, however, and the driver dies. Framed for the sabotage, Tate turns to Holly when the local cops—including JC—are ready to haul him to jail. Holly soon finds her cousin and client embroiled in multiple criminal schemes. She’s drawn into the investigation, a position that threatens her life, her family and her already shaky relationship with JC.
Cathy Perkins started writing when recurring characters and dialogue populated her day job commuting daydreams. Fortunately, that first novel lives under the bed, but she was hooked on the joy of creating stories. When not writing, she can be found doing battle with the beavers over the pond height or setting off on another travel adventure. Born and raised in South Carolina, she now lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.
Sign up for her newsletter on her website or follow her on BookBub for new release announcements.
I love my Uncharted SEALs series. All have rugged, alpha heroes. All have strong heroines. Humor. Action. All the ingredients that make the stories fun for me to write, and hopefully, fun for you as well.
With Uncharted SEALs, I experimented a bit. For the first time, I did sequels with the same characters—for the simple reason I couldn’t say goodbye to them. I wanted to see inside their Happy Ever Afters. Through Her Eyes and Between a SEAL and a Hard Place share the same main characters, as do Dream of Me and Heart of a SEAL. Big Sky SEAL gave birth to my Montana Bounty Hunters, introducing Jamie and Reaper, who as a result of their work in Big Sky earned their own satellite office of MBH.
A fun theme I used in two of the stories was a cruise ship. Both Before We Kiss and Hard SEAL to Love are set on the same ship, and have the same supporting characters. You’ll meet the old guys in the scene below. Hope you enjoy it!
Click on the covers to learn more!
Win your choice of one of my Uncharted SEALs stories! There will be 3 winners! All you have to do to enter is answer me this…
If you could go anywhere in the world, what would be your cruise destination?
Before We Kiss
Navy SEAL, William “Wiley” Coyote, should have known his “piece of cake” assignment would go sideways in a hurry. But he’d been lured by the promise of an all-expenses-paid cruise. A nice “fluffy” assignment after the last one spent escorting freighters through pirate-infested waters in the Strait of Hormuz.
A general’s daughter, Poppy Shackleford, wasn’t some spoiled daughter of a man made famous for defeating insurgent forces. She’d endured her own tragedies—the loss of her mother when she was young and her father stationed in Afghanistan, and the loss of her fiancé after he’d sustained wounds in Iraq—not from the physical wounds that had claimed his two legs—he’d taken his own life. His death was why Poppy was involved in Soldiers’ Sanctuary, a non-profit that helped disabled soldiers adjust to their new circumstances. Her mission in life is to see that no veteran of war would ever feel so alone, so hopeless he’d choose her dead fiancé’s path. Which was why, despite the current threats against her father, she was on this cruise, assessing the ship’s ability to accommodate the soldiers rather than sending a surrogate.
However, the first threat doesn’t come from terrorists with an axe to grind. Mexican banditos stop her tour bus heading toward Mayan ruins to shake down the passengers for their money and belongings. When one snaps a picture of her, he soon figures out there’s a much bigger payday. She knows she’s going to be kidnapped, but she didn’t know someone was on that same tour bus who had her back.
Wiley’s unconventional takedown of her would-be kidnappers exposes the fact her father didn’t honor her wishes to fly under the radar. And now that the cat’s out of the bag, Wiley’s made it clear he’s moving into her suite for the rest of their time at sea to keep her out of harm’s way.
Excerpt from Before We Kiss…
William “Wiley” Coyote should have known the “piece of cake” assignment his team leader, Deke Warrick, offered him would go sideways in a hurry. But he’d been lured by the promise of an all-expenses-paid cruise. A nice “fluffy” assignment after the last one spent escorting freighters through pirate-infested waters in the Strait of Hormuz. He was due a vacation, and he’d envisioned slipping into a chaise on the cruise ship’s deck while his target sunbathed nearby. Something his team leader had warned him might not be in the cards. After all, Deke’d had a similar, simple assignment when he’d been tasked with protecting a girl. And look what it had gotten his buddy. Shot at. Then married. Happily, it seemed.
Not that Wiley had marriage on his mind. No, sir. Not him. Everything he owned was stuffed into a duffle bag. He lived in hotel rooms, tents, and, now, a cruise boat cabin. No, he had nothing to offer a bride. Marriage wasn’t something in his cards. And certainly not to some celebutante who couldn’t keep her picture off multiple social media sites on a daily basis. That sort of exposure, even by association, would be deadly in his line of business.
He’d listened intently when Deke outlined his assignment, determined to keep this job all business, despite the photos that had spilled from the envelope during his initial briefing.
“Every time she steps out of her suite, the room attendant will buzz you. You keep on her tail, but not close enough she notices. Her daddy said she’d raise hell if she knew he’d hired security after she refused a special detail.” At that point, Deke had grinned. “I think he’s a little afraid of her.”
Wiley hadn’t smiled. Instead, he’d grunted. General Shackleford wasn’t any lightweight desk-jockey. He’d seen his share of action.
The ship had barely left the Port of Miami before Wiley understood. The woman never stopped moving. Or talking. Sometimes loudly, if she didn’t like what she heard. If he could have worn earplugs, possibly his first impressions of her would have been very different.
Poppy Shackleford was a pretty little thing. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed, lightly tanned, curves in all the right places. And maybe five-foot-two in her espadrille sandals. He’d had a girlfriend charge two pairs to his credit card years ago, so he knew darn well what they were and how much the cork-heeled things cost. Although he could appreciate the sexy curves the three-inch heels gave her toned calves, he wasn’t risking getting any closer. So far, he’d managed to operate under the radar. He had no doubts she’d know exactly what he was there to do if she got one good look at him. Nothing escaped her attention. Not the too-steep ramps leading onto the ship when they’d embarked. Nor the undercooked steak she’d been served last night in the dining room.
He’d begun to think she was deaf because she talked so loudly, but then he’d realized her complaints were on behalf of her fellow passengers, and this cruise had been billed as senior-themed. Most of the thousand passengers on board were over seventy. The dinner conversation surrounding him last night consisted of tracking blood sugar levels as his companions pricked their fingertips and fed droplets of blood into their readers. Afterwards, their conversation drifted to the best fiber to promote healthy bowels and where the captain would store their bodies if they happened to pass during the night.
“No kidding?” Deke had said after Wiley’s status update early that morning.
Wiley’s jaw ground shut at the snickering no hand over a receiver could muffle. “The Countess cruise line’s security seems pretty tight. Someone is always nearby, although they’re better at blending in than I am.”
“You mean you didn’t pack any Hawaiian shirts?”
“Don’t own one,” he’d gritted out.
“How are you keeping from blowing your cover?”
Wiley grunted. “I haven’t shaved, and I have on my cowboy hat and boots.”
“So you’re sticking out like a sore thumb.”
“She won’t expect a security detail to blend in quite like I do.”
Deke grunted. “Just remember you have people positioned around the ship. Channel two if you need them.”
Which would be great if his assignment was actually aboard the ship. The farther into the jungle their tour bus drove, the deeper his concern grew. They were on an excursion to view Mayan ruins. Anywhere along their route would be a great place for an ambush. The two security people provided by the cruise line to accompany his target were in good shape, but he could tell neither was armed. Conventional weapons were impossible to smuggle aboard the ship, and the weapons kept under lock and key aboard the vessel wouldn’t have been permitted for this little jaunt.
And why were they out here? If he remembered right, the pyramids weren’t exactly wheelchair-friendly. But he knew Poppy was thorough, that she took her tour coordinator job seriously. No stone would be left unturned. No tour unvetted, personally, by her.
He’d read the dossier Charter Group had put together. Poppy Shackleford, daughter of Lieutenant General Randall Shackleford, wasn’t some spoiled daughter of a famous man. She’d endured her own tragedies—the loss of her mother when she was young and her father stationed in Afghanistan, the loss of her fiancé after he’d sustained wounds in Iraq, although not from the physical wounds that had claimed both his legs. Frank Sutton, who’d been despondent over the loss, had killed himself.
His death was why Poppy was involved in Soldiers’ Sanctuary, a non-profit that helped disabled soldiers adjust to their new circumstances, whether supporting wounded vets with additional therapies the VA was slow or unable to provide, or seeking the latest in prosthetics and mobility devices. And the organization provided mentorship, one wounded soldier to another, to ensure no veteran of war would feel so alone, so hopeless, they’d choose Frank Sutton’s path.
Wiley understood and admired her for not simply crying then moving on, but embracing a cause that might help others. However, today he wished she wasn’t quite so determined to make it impossible for him to protect her. Not that she had a clue he was there. If she’d glanced toward the back of the air-conditioned bus, all she might have noted was one dark head amid a sea of white, gray, and blue.
The fellow seated next to him gave another narrow-eyed, flinty glance.
Wiley aimed a frown his way, hoping the old guy would mind his own business. The man was burly, surprisingly muscled for an old dude.
He leaned sideways in his seat and whispered, “Name’s Joseph Olinsky, but you can call me Joe. I’m a Marine.” He nodded toward the head of the bus where Poppy stood beside the tour guide, asking questions. “She someone important?”
Not as invisible as I thought. Wiley blinked. “No, sir. I think she’s just another passenger. A noisy one.”
Shaking his head, Joe grunted. “She has a detail. That guy with a clipboard ain’t a cruise director. I’d say he’s ex-Navy, probably a SEAL. Has a trident tattoo on his upper arm. Saw it when he was stowing her backpack into the overhead.”
Knowing there was no use convincing Joe he was just a guy on a trip to see a pyramid, Wiley gave him another look. He recognized the type—his dad had been the same steady, patriotic sort. Once a Marine, always a Marine. Maybe he did need backup, should shit go sideways. “You’re right,” he murmured. “The cruise line provided her security.”
“What about you?” his gray-haired companion asked.
“Name’s Wiley, and I was Navy.”
“A SEAL,” he said, nodding. “Can’t hide that look. Everyone else, besides her, has been taking a nap. Not you. You’ve been watching the road ahead. Expect trouble?”
“Not expecting, but prepared.”
Joe nodded. “Don’t get along as well as I used to,” he said, patting his right knee. “But I can be another set of eyes. And I do know who she is, son. She’s the daughter of that general ISIS wants taken out. They had his face and his daughter’s plastered all over Facebook faster than Homeland and the FBI could take down the pages.”
Wiley almost smiled at how in tune the old guy was. “Nothing much gets past you, does it?”
Joe lifted his chin toward two older gentlemen seated across the aisle from them.
Wiley glanced over to find both old codgers staring back.
“We were in the same division, the 3rd, during Vietnam. We’re all that’s left of our company. Try to take a trip every couple of years. Went to Nam five years back. There were eight of us then.”
Wiley nodded his understanding.
“That’s Morty,” he said, pointing at the thin one with a round belly. “The other one’s Sly.”
Sly gave him a grin that displayed unnaturally white teeth.
Wiley gave both men a nod then turned his attention back to the front of the bus.
“She know you’re tailing her?”
How had the old guys figured out he was there for Poppy? He remembered how the old men had jostled him, cutting him from the rest of the group when they’d boarded the bus. He’d thought it unintentional, but now knew they’d meant to be seated beside him. Admiring their cunning, he shook his head. “She doesn’t know. Not yet, anyway.”
“Need a better cover,” Joe said, eyeing his boots and the scruff on his chin. “Could tell folks you’re my grandson.”
Wiley chuckled. Sounded like a better plan than the one he’d started with. “Just don’t get in the way. If things go down…”
“You could use another set of eyes—between the three of us, we might just make one good pair.” Joe tilted his head toward his buddies.
This time, Wiley laughed.
Joe grinned and gave a slow nod to his companions, who settled back in their seats and now directed their attention to the job at hand—and the woman wearing the pretty blue dress at the front of the bus.
Suddenly, the bus shuddered and slowed. Cries arose from those seated near the front.
“Fat’s in the fire now,” Morty said, pointing forward.
Wiley cussed. A pickup was parked sideways in the middle of the road. He began to rise, but then he noted the four men standing in front of the truck. All dark, but with features that were clearly Mestizo. So, bandits rather than terrorists. He settled back in his seat. He’d let this play out a bit before he gave himself away. As long as no one was hurt, he’d keep his cover.
All the Kindle Worlds are gone. 🙁 As a result, I’m repurposing stories that lived in other authors’ worlds and getting ready to republish them. One story I can never repurpose, because it’s solidly locked inside another world, is a piece of fan fiction I wrote for The Vampire Diaries. I was invited to write a story for the world, and Amazon even mailed me the first four seasons of the show (the only seasons available at the time) for me to immerse myself in the Diaries. Unbelievably, I’d never watched the show. I binge-watched with my dd and her husband, and then had to dream up a story that could have happened—like an episode of the show.
Since I can never repurpose this enough to sell and not run into copyright issues, I’ll be giving this one away to my newsletter subscribers. So, if you aren’t already a subscriber, here’s the link: Delilah’s Newsletter.
My original story had an uninspiring title—Making Amends. It centers around Damon and a creature he encounters. Read the excerpt, then try to think of something better than what I had. I thought maybe, Woman on Fire, but yuk. Offer a suggestion—good or bad, it’ll still count!—and you could win a $5 Amazon gift card!
Damon knew something was afoot the moment the door closed behind him. The usual soft snick of the lock was replaced by a dull, echoing thud. Instantly all senses went on alert.
Tilting his head, he concentrated, listening to the sounds of the old boarding house, dismissing the usual creaks and groans, and then narrowing his focus to anything living—anything with a heartbeat. No sounds alerted him. He raised his head and sniffed, but beyond dust and the odor from an open whiskey decanter, he detected nothing. And yet, the hairs on the back of his neck rose.
Never one to ignore his instincts, he let the change come over him, his fangs descending from his gums, and his face and body tightening as he allowed his bloodlust to overtake him, giving him added strength to greet whatever might be lurking in the evening shadows.
An amused snort sounded beside him, and he shot a glance toward the sound. Nothing.
Although he’d relish a fight, the speed at which this mysterious creature apparently moved removed that option. Better to know his foe before engaging in a battle…
He shook his head, retracting his teeth, his thoughts racing, but only in anticipation of a challenge. Not from fear. For him to fear, he had to give a damn about his un-life. He stepped deeper into the house. “Come out, come out, wherever you are,” he sang softly and narrowed his eyes.
A soft caress, lighter than a stir of air, touched his shoulder. A thin giggle sounded, high-pitched, young, moving from behind him, then retreating toward the large open living room. Logs shifted on the fireplace, then burst into flames, and for the first time, Damon saw the outline of something, a translucent echo of an image, as it shimmered in front of the fire, and then moved fluidly and quickly away, disappearing against the gloomy paneled walls and heavy furnishings. Legs, a torso, but beyond that it had moved too quickly, and oddly meltingly, for him to discern more of its shape.
“You are female,” he drawled, pretending unconcern, when he knew whatever had joined him in the house wasn’t benevolent. Just a hunch, but he knew.
“Am I?” came a voice, hoarse and deep, whispering into his ear.
Damon held still. He hadn’t felt a gust of breath, so whatever was here in this room wasn’t living, wasn’t breathing, since he’d felt no glint of recognition—not a vampire using some sort of glamour to mask his or her presence. Also unlike any ghosts he had encountered, which tended to appear as their former selves. What the hell was it? “You are…male, then?”
“What would be the point of that?” came a breathier whisper.
Damon quirked up one side of his mouth. “Do I know you?”
He quirked an eyebrow. “Did I know you?”
Breathless laughter rang around him, from just in front of him and then to the fireplace where flames licked outwardly before bouncing back as the tinkling laughter faded, nearing him again.
Damon felt almost dizzy from the frenetic movements of the entity. “Maybe I should leave you to your amusements, since I’m tired of this game.”
“Not a game, not a game,” came a singsong voice, still androgynously husky.
But decidedly female since he was intrigued. Damon drew a deep breath and strode toward the sideboard to pour a drink. No movements or sounds intruded, so he took a seat on a leather couch and drank, breathing in the sublime scent of 50-year-old whiskey while he pondered this latest mystery.
“Female, maybe,” he said softly. “Not human. Not vampire. . . .” He raised his voice slightly. “Not ghost.”
“Clever, clever.” The seat beside him sank, the indention pointed rather than a smooth curve like a round bottom sitting.
He stared at that point. “Won’t you introduce yourself?”
The point slid toward him, a faint groove marking the dark leather, until it skipped to his thigh. Damon felt the sharpness, like the dull side of a knife’s blade as it skimmed one thigh, then trailed upward, jumping to the arm holding the drink, up to his shoulder, then across his face to his mouth. There was sizzling heat in the scrape.
Instinctively, he gasped, then quickly pressed his lips together to keep whatever was touching him from entering. He arched a brow, not wanting the creature to see his unease.
The point scratched his bottom lip, drawing blood, and then left. The shimmer touched the fire in the hearth and crouched there, holding still for the first time while its form continued to glint red, orange, white, and blue, until it slowly solidified, colors dulling, but its form revealing its true nature.
Damon held perfectly still, his drink dangling from frozen fingers as he tried to gather his scattered wits. Cold spilled down his spine.
Although her appearance was strangely altered, he recognized her. How could he not? He’d killed hundreds of women, maybe thousands, but who was counting? Too many to remember all their faces. But he’d never forgotten his first meal. The one who’d made him a vampire.
If you were to ask the five people who know you best to choose an adjective to describe you—just one word—what adjective would that be? Remember, an adjective is a word used to describe a noun, not the noun itself, so you can’t use “mother”, but you could use “kind”. Have fun! I can’t wait to see what you choose! ~DD
I have this picture I’ve been saving for a short story cover. I love the work vest with the hint of hard abs underneath. Love the gloves that make his hands look larger. But what is he doing out there in the bright sunshine with clouds gathering…?
So, for a chance to win one of my 2018 releases (see previous blog for list), tell me a story about this guy. Doesn’t have to be long or pretty. Just have fun!