I sent this out in my newsletter this morning, so if you’re getting this a second time—sorry!
It’s April Fools’ Day! It’s also Friday, and maybe you’re getting ready to download a story and meet your new weekend Book-Boyfriend. Well, I have a suggestion for you. Troy Barlow is a firefighter, who will fall like a ton of bricks when he meets the right woman. He’s sexy, funny, brave. Everything you could want in a BBF.
I reduced the price for this weekend only!! You’ll save $2 if you pick up your copy now! Read the excerpt below for a peek inside the fun you’ll have!
Flashpoint A Cowboys on the Edge Story
His touch makes her burn…
Troy Barlow wasn’t looking for love when he competed in the Texas Tough Firefighting Competition, but one feisty little blonde caught his attention and wouldn’t let go. The more she tried to deflect him, the more determined he became to make an impression, until he did something she couldn’t possibly ignore.
The last thing Diana Boyle expected to feel was attraction for another firefighter. After her husband’s death, she’d been adamant — never another firefighter. But Troy was impossible to escape. When he wore down her resolve, she thought a one-night-stand might purge him from her system once and for all, but his powerful appeal and uninhibited lust and zest for life were addictive. When a harrowing fire threatens their newfound happiness, Diana has to face her worst fears.
Get your reduced-price copy at one of these vendors now!
Every time he’d finished an event, he’d searched, encouraged when he found her looking his way, even if she did immediately give him her back or pretend she wasn’t staring.
He guessed he wasn’t hard to miss. Even in a crowd. Besides his large frame, he was extremely athletic. A ringer, some of the firehouses had complained good-naturedly to his chief. Which was true, he’d competed nationally in other firefighter challenges and placed. But this weekend wasn’t about trophies or blue ribbons, the competition was about raising money for the Fallen Firefighters Fund. Chief Thacker had told his crew not to embarrass him, placing would be nice, but having fun and making sure the people attending enjoyed themselves was the highest priority.
Troy had already done his part, winning the ladder competition—his score seconds faster than Cade’s score climbing a ladder up a tower of scaffolding. He’d helped his team secure second in the hose relay, where firefighters representing their houses ran with fire hoses, extending them as fast as they could to the next firefighter on the track, who then had to run with his own section of hose toward the finish line. Yeah, he’d more than done his part. And while he was pretty sure he could blow through the competition during this final event, he didn’t think his boss would mind if he broke the rules and disqualified himself—all in the name of giving the crowd something they’d love.
At last, his turn arrived to stand behind the starting line, this time beside Kole. There being only two Rescue Randy dolls meant only two firefighters could compete at one time. The goal was to lift the weighted doll and drag it to “safety” a hundred feet to the finish line. Troy eyed the doll lying on the ground in front of him and smirked.
“Don’t think I’m making this easy for you,” Kole said.
Troy fought to keep his voice even. “Oh, I know you can give me some competition. Just don’t break your stride over anything I might do.”
Kole shook his head and laughed. “Already making excuses for why I’m gonna smoke your ass?”
“Just saying,” Troy said, grinning. He shot a look at the blonde woman’s table. Her gaze widened when it locked with his. Did instinct tell her she ought to run? He hoped so.
A shot rang out, and Kole leapt forward to pick up his doll, tucking his hands under its armpits and shuffling backwards down the track.
Troy turned and darted into the crowd, heading straight for the woman’s refreshment table.
“And we have a firefighter who’s a little directionally challenged,” drawled the commentator over the loudspeaker.
Troy didn’t break stride, leaping over duffels and hoses, his gaze on his prize.
His prey’s eyes widened farther, and she pushed up from her chair, her head turning left and right as though making sure she really was his quarry. Her delayed reaction gave him time to catch her. He planted a hand on her shoulder, turned her gently, then bent and pushed his shoulder against her soft belly.
With a yelp, she folded over his shoulder and grabbed for his waistband to steady herself, because he was already straightening and turning. From the corner of his eye, he noted the firefighters from San Angelo beginning to stand, hands fisted as they moved to cut him off, but he was closer to the track, and definitely more determined. He reached up to pat her bottom. “Hold on tight. I’ll try not to bounce you too much, sweetheart.” With laughter ringing out among the onlookers, he jogged behind Kole who shook his head and continued dragging the dummy down the track.
“Seriously, bro?” Kole shouted out.
“Put me down, idiot!” came the sweet, chopped voice of his victim.
“Can’t now, hon. I’m committed. You really should have told me your name. We’d have shook hands, I’d have asked you for your number and a date—”
“I would have said no!”
He laughed, not the least disappointed. She acted as he’d expected. “And that would have been okay. Not that I would have given up.” He slowed his pace, not wanting the race to end too quickly.
Kole laughed too hilariously to threaten anyone’s time. At the moment, he was bent over the doll he’d dropped as he held his sides.
Troy was nearly running in place, doing his best to drag out his rescue. “Yeah, I’d have called, and when you blocked my number, I would have shown up at your job and sweet-talked all your friends into telling me where to find you.”
She wiggled on his shoulder, pinched his sides. “You’re just a stalker! A freaking perv.”
Only he noted that she didn’t sound very outraged. Instead, she sounded like she was choking. Was she laughing? He grinned.
“And you’re a liar. There’s no way you could find out where I live or work.”
“Sweetheart, I have friends with badges. I’d have followed you to your car, got your plate number—”
“That’s illegal. Officers wouldn’t just run a plate like that.”
“I’d have said you stole something. That I saw a pretty girl carrying it away. And hey, I did my civic duty and wrote down her license plate…”
“Oh yeah? And what did I steal?”
Pretending to stumble, he patted her ass again. “You don’t know what you took?”
This time laughter shook her frame. “You’re a jerk.”
“That’s okay. You’re a thief.” He crossed the line behind Kole and turned toward the crowd, holding out his arms and raising his hands, still balancing her slim body on one shoulder.
The crowd roared, but her friends moved in on him, their faces tight and red. He figured he needed her help to keep this friendly and slowly bent, lowering her to the ground.
She shook back her hair and met his gaze. “What did I take?” she asked, her face reddened, her expression a mixture of embarrassment and something kind of…poignant.
Troy hated to end the moment. She deserved a truthful answer. Instead, he reached for her shoulders and turned her toward her friends, then wrapped an arm around her middle and pulled her against his side. “Don’t suppose you could tell them we planned this, huh?”
She gave a breathless laugh and cocked an eyebrow. “Think it would help? They look pretty pissed.”
“Maybe they’d believe it, if…” Knowing he gambled but couldn’t resist, he turned her again, bent with her, and then brushed her mouth with his.
The crowd roared their approval.
He glanced toward her friends who’d slowed their stomps, deep frowns lessening as her hands rose to grip his shoulders. And for a moment, he forgot this was just a way to blow off steam, to teach her a little lesson in good dating manners. Forgotten was the crowd. His boss. Her friends. His attention narrowed to the soft lips moving beneath his, the small hands kneading his shoulders.
For those who haven’t tried audio, it is one of the fastest growing segments of literary options, ideal for busy people who still want to enjoy a good book, so you really should. I’ve been blessed with several great narrators, with books in a variety of genres – although I consider myself primarily an epic fantasy writer – finding the right narrator has had it’s ups and downs.
I use ACX/Audible because it gives you the option to do a royalty share, a combination of share and pay up front or paying the narrator their stated fee. I do a royalty share because it gives the narrator and me a stake in the success or failure.
Choosing a narrator, for me, is a matter of matching the audition and voice to a given project, finding if your styles mesh, and the narrator’s interest in the project. Two of my narrators give me different voices for different characters, and another changes the timbre of voice. Make certain you discuss expectations – not just for time, but how it will be delivered. One narrator recorded several chapters, didn’t post them for my review, and had to go back to clearly delineate what character was speaking. Communication is important, in both directions. One gives me his ‘raw’ version – mistakes, flubs, pronunciation errors or questions – and sometimes he’s really funny. And, periodically he sends me his ‘blooper’ reel which is a riot.
It wasn’t a new experience for me, many of my books are in audio, but hearing another interpretation of what I’ve written has been a fascinating experience. In at least one case, the voice for a favorite character is now the narrator’s interpretation, another caught the characters’ accents perfectly (and his voice is like melted butter, smooth, warm, and rich).
Both Director’s Cut and Fire Season are in production for the audio versions so I can’t attach the retail samples yet, but they are both out in print.
Fire Season A Paranormal Reverse Harem
Excerpt from Fire Season…
The wildfire consuming the forest had a voice all its own. Each did, Ari had found. He listened to the hungry, angry roar, the crack of tree limbs giving way, the small explosions as burls within the trees’ boles burst. The sound surrounded him, spoke to him. Ari kept half an eye on the rapidly spreading inferno. The canopy of leaves and pine needles above him and his people was still intact but in the near distance he could see licks of flame swirling around trunks, reaching higher. The tops of other trees burned like torches. Another ignited even as he watched.
The heat of the blaze, the parched air, baked him within his gear. He could barely breathe, despite his air bottle.
On this part of the mountain the rough, uneven terrain worked against them, kept them from using the tanker and trucks – the vehicles were too far away, the hoses couldn’t reach – so they were fighting the fire hand to hand.
His team worked hard and steadily, cutting some trees, digging up turf, shoveling the debris and dirt and tossing them aside. All they could do was hope to create a firebreak wide and long enough to stop the flames from advancing. At least to hold for long enough to allow them to fight the blaze itself. Even as he worked alongside his people, he kept an eye on them. He anchored one end of the line, Jase the other. Every one of them knew their job but, focused on the task at hand, even as experienced as they were, they relied on him to keep the line straight and true so they didn’t need to shift their attention from what they were doing.
Nor were they alone. Just beyond Jase was a team from the local firehouse doing the same thing – cutting a firebreak. Other teams from the local department’s two firehouses were scattered over the mountain, using their equipment where the land allowed.
Like him, that team leader worked hard, wielding a chainsaw like a sword, shouting instructions he couldn’t hear over the blaze to her people and department over the radio, keeping everyone apprised.
Something about that one, their stance, the way they carried themselves, and their short stature told him the leader was a woman, rare among firefighters.
The way her people responded to her instructions and orders, swiftly and without argument, told Ari she was good at what she did and respected.
Not for a moment did he allow his attention to wander for more than the second needed for that brief appraisal. It was too dangerous.
Ari sensed the wind shift even as the leader of the other team went stiff and looked up. The roar changed, hungry for fresh fuel as the fire turned. She saw it even as he did. Embers blew above them, past them. The fire, hungry for fuel, hungry for air, and powered by the strengthening breeze, leaped from one tree to another…toward them.
“Out, out, RUN! The wind shifted. GO! GO! GO!” Ari shouted, and he could hear an echo of his words as he signaled to Jase at the end of their line. The other team leader had her radio keyed even as she shouted and gestured to her people.
Amidst the raging blaze, the sound of one tree falling into another to topple against a second was hardly noticeable. The movement wasn’t.
Branches showered from above, some ablaze, falling even as Jase echoed Ari’s words, then turned to run and so didn’t see the danger. Like Ari, the other team leader was doing a headcount, making sure all her people were on the move, no one left behind.
A large falling branch sent Jase sprawling, and knocked his helmet, mask, and air bottle askew.
Even as a second branch, larger than the first, cracked, ready to fall, Ari was moving. As fast as he was, he knew he wasn’t fast enough to reach Jase in time.
The other team leader, closer, with her own people already on the run, did see and didn’t hesitate. She threw herself over Jase and turned turtle, tucking her chin in close to Jase’s vulnerable neck so her helmet and air tank would take the impact as she tried to cover as much of Jase as she could.
When the branch struck, Ari winced. At the very least, she would have cracked or broken ribs, if not worse, and Jase as well. As long as luck was on their side.
The fire was closing. They didn’t have much time or else find themselves trapped by the flames. It was no small branch, and they had to move it quickly, both for the sake of the two pinned beneath it and their own.
So basically, it’s a phone/tablet app you can use to download stories. It’s easy and so addictive to use! And to help you on your way to your new addiction, I’m offering 20 coins to four readers! Let me know below whether KISS is something you’ve already tried or are going to try right now for a chance to win those coins! There will be 4 winners!
Be sure to enter these contests while you’re here!
I’ve always believed that reading was an escape. As a child, I read during a lot of playground times because when the other kids were teasing me about wearing glasses, or being fat, or stuttering, the characters in books didn’t make fun of me. They invited me and took me on a journey.
As an adult, I think a lot of this is still true for me. Although, the reality I need an escape from is different. There’s a satisfaction in knowing that at the end of the book in my hands (well, my phone is in my hands!), the two main characters will be happy. Most of the people around them will be happy (unless they’re the focus of the next book, and then we know they’re about to go through some stuff to be happy), and hopefully, anyone who was mean or cruel to the happy couple will have some kind of reckoning.
Predictable? Sure, but isn’t that satisfying?
And being very honest with all of you, I need that.
I think a lot of us do. And that’s what’s awesome about romance. We may be living in places all over the world, but we all want that happiness and for a few hours we know exactly where we can find it!
Characters aren’t as cool as we are. They struggle. They don’t know they’re about to get their happy ending, and that means they can do stupid things, like fighting it. The same actions they think are noble, we’re grumbling about. When they think they’re being smart to protect their hearts from loss, we’re ready to throw something at them…or just throw our books/devices (Don’t do this!).
But Characters, man…they’re work!
And they can be frustrating!! Why won’t they just listen to us, talking to them? The nerve of these people!
When I was writing Shelter for Aylin, my Alpha reader (don’t worry, I have a beta and gamma, too) would get so frustrated with Stillman Rook, my hero… Why was he so difficult and frustrating? Why couldn’t he just let himself go after what he wanted?
I felt bad for her frustration but I also loved it when we came to that magical moment when he pulled his head out of his plot-driven backside and reached out to find happiness!
So tell me: What kind of Romance book do you like to escape into? Historical? Military? I want to know!
One randomly selected commenter will have their choice of an ebook from my Amazon Author page
Shelter for Aylin
Aylin Blaise, daughter of Station Seven’s Fire Chief, is loving her life. Well, most of it. An extended family of first responders and friends in college are expanding her world in leaps and bounds, but the one person she really wants to spend more time with, is keeping his distance.
Stillman Rook is on the verge of becoming a full-fledged firefighter and fulfilling the dream he’s had since he was a child. The one distraction in his life is Chief Blaise’s daughter. He could easily fall in love with her, but he’s a guy set on his path in life and she’s just discovering hers.
Rook may think he’s being honorable by keeping his distance, but it’s hard to protect the ones you love when you’re not close to them. When the world tries to level her with a crushing blow, will Rook be the Shelter for Aylin?
I’m working on the latest installment of the Cowboys on the Edge series, so I thought you might like to check out at least one of the stories before the release of Lawless.
I’ll give away this one for FREE for the next five days, so get your copy now!
Out with the old, in with the new…
Or so Sherry Thacker thinks. Problem is, her ex is always on her mind—shirtless, sweaty, sooty, way too handsome—and right across the street. When a “Wet Down” ceremony to retire an old fire truck is planned by the city council to raise funds for the firehouse, she has to put aside her hurt and anger and do her job. Blake Thacker wants his wife back—in the house they shared, in their marriage bed. Still confused how Sherry’s becoming mayor managed to drive a wedge between them, he’ll use whatever means necessary to win her back.
My degree is in Costume Design and Construction, so I make the BIG MONEY! Just kidding, but you knew that already. What I love about costuming, especially on a big scale with a small budget, is just how creative you have to be.
I guess, when you look back at my life, my passion has been in the arts. I was a type-A student for the academics stuff, but I loved the arts. As I grew older, it wasn’t just being a dancer or an actress, the background/technical theater “stuff” became my new focus.
Now, I never made a living as a costumer, but when my son was in middle school, they did a small scale production of Pirates of Penzance. There was already a costumer on the show, but I enjoyed finding cheap alternatives for costumes… and that continued on into my son’s high school years. When they did a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I had a blast!
But I also had a huge headache!
How do you take $600 dollars and make a complete production with one seamstress (me) and my costume assistant (my son)? Well, my mother’s curtains became Peaseblossom’s bodice and hood, a bag of ripped T-shirts from Goodwill were cut into leaves for Oberon’s costume so he could hide as part of the forest…and on and on…
But my biggest “make it work” moment was Bottom’s donkey head. It started out as a random concept of putting foam on a hat and then adding the “skin.” So out I went to get foam scrap, some super glue, a yard of grey felt, and a few random odds and ends.
I had to chop the foam and stick it here and there on the baseball cap from my son’s peewee days, and then carve away the mound of foam until it looked like a donkey head. It’s a random, learn-as-you-go process, but that head cost me less than ten dollars and it was a complete labor of love…and creativity.
Now, why am I telling you all of this?
Well, writing a short story, for me, follows the same process.
Oh, a firefighter rescuing a firefighter. Okay…then what?
Rival firehouses? Okay…that’s good for conflict!
Maybe they knew each other in the Academy? And they were almost a thing? Okay, okay, keep it coming. And now that he…no, now that she pulled his hot ass from the frying pan…oh…someone’s getting lucky! Oh, wait! No, they both are!
Once I had those pieces together, I realized I needed more pieces. I went to a talk done by Kristin Higgins’ husband about firefighters, and when I asked him for his advice about what kind of an accident would require time off but not endanger his job or career, he answered and I’m so grateful.
All of this for a short story?
Yep! Absolutely! And writers? We do it over and over again. It’s a rush, it’s a drudge, it’s a crazy random happenstance sometimes! So, here’s hoping you’ll order your copy of First Response: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology and discover the rollercoaster that I took Webb & Gina on!
You’ll also see them in my Center City First Responders Series! So make friends with them now!
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope you’ll enter the giveaway, too!
Sometimes, we have to create on the fly. A missing ingredient in a recipe. Or a Halloween costume created from some bedsheets and bungee chord? Tell me what’s a moment that made you celebrate your own creativity!!