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Monthly Archives: September 2012
8

Welcome Military Romance Writer Dahlia Rose

I am thrilled today to host military romance writer Dahlia Rose. See below for information on free drawing.  
Welcome, Dahlia Rose. Tell me how you got started writing military
romance? How many books have you written?
Dahlia: I started writing military romance for my
husband when he was stationed in Iraq. Then he was just my fiancée and he and
the platoon he commanded was one of the first into war when Iraqi Freedom
began. He was almost killed twice, Once in Najaf and in Fallujah by IEDs. We
still have the helmet where a bullet creased it in a firefight.  He and his friends were my heroes and I
began writing them little stories to keep their spirits up. They were printed out,
passed around, kept in packs became wrinkled and torn then stuck back together with tape. Each week I’d send them a new short and they would download
the file and print when they could. By the time he came home I told him I
wanted to quit my job and take up writing full time. He supported my decision
and when that first acceptance letter came, not only did my family celebrate
but my soldiers did as well.
So far I’ve written over eighty books both novella
and novels. They are primarily military contemporary or paranormal.
Outstanding. What a story. I'm so happy you first wrote for our fighting men and women before you released them to the general public. Perfect. Why do you think these Alpha military heroes (and
heroines) are so popular? What makes them heroes?
Dahlia: It's because they keep fighting and
surviving, not just in war but when they come home. A lot of people think that
after the war is over they can come home and go back to normal. They can’t. The
adjustment period is long and a lot of relationships do not survive. The happy ending
we give these hero and heroines I think actually gives readers hope that they
can make it.  A lot of my readers
have military backgrounds or are married to military personnel.  I had one reader approach me at a
convention and she embraced me in a big hug. She looked at me and said
thank you, “because in your books they aren’t drones, they aren’t forgotten, they
are heroes and they are happy.” I came to find out she lost her husband in the
war and she started to read my books because she heard I wrote military
romance. So it's not just the war that makes them heroes, is the constant fight
and never giving up that really leaves a mark.
Well said. My heart goes out to that woman. How do you compliment the heroine to a strong alpha
military guy? Do you write them strong? Compliant? Kick-butt?

Dahlia: Yes I do, my heroines are strong because I
cannot write a weak woman. In my opinion women in general are not weak but a
woman who takes on a relationship with a military man has to have an extra dose
of strength.  My heroines are
sassy, yet soft when they need to be. Watching your man walk away carrying a
50lbs pack and knowing he will be gone for months has to be the hardest
thing. Knowing he may never come home, but they do it with such strength and
pride, it's breathtaking to watch. But just wait until you see them coming home, see how
they embrace their men, watch the love that passes between the reunited couple, with the
children between them. Trust me, I don’t think anything can compare. My first
kiss with my hubby when he came home was in the middle of Penn Station with a
bunch of soldiers around. Memorable and magic, it still makes me breathless to
this day. I’m not a compliant woman, I kick box and can kick butt (laugh). I
think my women are the perfect combination of sweet and spicy.
  
Sounds like the perfect combination. Do you like writing in series, or single? 
Dahlia: I like them both, Honestly all my books start out as single titles, but then I see a way to add more and they become part of a
series. The Army Beasts series was meant to be one book and we’re up to about
seven now. My dragon warriors were meant to be the same. Now I am working on
number five of a series of twelve. I let the muses take me where they may but
sometimes I have to rein them in. There are so many ideas I have jotted down
that have the potential to be series. If I don’t draw the line somewhere each
book would be at least a three-book trilogy. 

Who is your favorite character you've created? Why?
Dahlia: My favorite character of all my books is
Lieutenant TJ Taggert in Paradise Found. I loved his character, I loved the
alpha in him and the sassy back and forth that Kelly gave him. They complimented
each other perfectly and he was the first military hero the readers fell in
love with. He was as unique as his name and I re-read my own book just because
I fell in love with him.
Do you find it easier to write the bad boys or the
good boys? I'm assuming both are heroic, but which ones are more fun to write?
Dahlia: I think my heroes all carry a bad boy trait
but honestly it’s the bad boys that make me shiver. I have to redeem them and
it turns me on watching them develop and learn to care about these
heroines. In the end that bad boy trait helps them save their women. 
What about the heroines? Do you find it easiest to
write the bad girls or the good girls?
Dahlia: My bad girls are usually skanks, (LOL) someone for the readers to dislike and for the heroine to one up. I love my
heroines to be good girls, a little prissy to blend with the sass. I always
like them to have to be taken down off that pedestal just a little bit by the
hero. It usually leads to an amazing first kiss and the heroine knowing that
she is in trouble when it comes to her attraction for the hero.
If you could have a date with one of your
characters, which one would it be and why? Where would you go?
Dahlia: Oh man I can only pic one? Ok fine, It
would be Nate from the book Black Gold. He’s sexy and strong. He doesn’t take crap from anyone, especially his father who thought money bought entitlement.
Nate was down to earth, ready to get his hands dirty and just be a guy. Not to
mention he was military and if you go look at the cover, that’s how I see him
in my mind. We’d go to some little Honky-Tonk in Oklahoma right outside Fort
Sill where the food is not the greatest but the drinks are made well and the
beer is cold. We’d play some Shania Twain on the jukebox and dance the night
away. Then just before it closes we’d slow dance to You’re Still The One. Yes
I’ve thought about that one a lot (Laugh)
If you could go to a desert island with two
companions, who would you bring? What would you do there? What would you bring
if you could bring anything?
Dahlia: I would go to the island with Kalv from my book, A Dragon’s Heart and Vampire Eric from True Blood. Ha! I know you weren’t
expecting that. One for the daytime and one for night. There we would keep each
other’s company doing things that we only write in books. Of course they’d be
cheesecake there and other decadent treats and when we do finally get bored and
want some excitement. We can fly to the closest city then return to our
seclusion anytime we want. But since this is a fantasy, in real life I’d have
to bring my husband because he can McGyver anything.  Romance with him on a desert island is worth ten times any
fantasy.
Sounds like you married a keeper, Dahlia Rose! Pretend you have just sold your 100,000th copy of
one of your books. What will you do to celebrate?
Dahlia: That’s easy, Vegas party with me and a few
close friends and VIP tickets to the Thunder From Down Under Show. Seriously
have you seen those guys?
As a matter of fact, yes. They are intense, just the way I like them. Tell us something about you that most people wouldn't
know or guess about you?
I can be reclusive…people see me in person and on
social networks and they think I am very vivacious and I am, but in a true Scorpio
fashion, I can be moody and stay in my own space for days.
Who are your favorite authors/books?
I Love JD Robb’s In death Series. To Kill A Mockingbird
is one of my all time favorite books. I love to give in to a good thriller or
horror novel. Dean R Koontz and Stephen King grace my bookshelves along with
Kay Hooper’s Bishop series. I read avidly anything about the criminal mind, and delve into the mind of serial killers. I know, I know– Creepy but I also do have to feed my dark side. I don’t like writing a book
without my research being as accurate as possible.
What are you working on now?
I am working on my Holiday releases for 2012.
Army beasts Christmas (Dahlia Rose Unscripted)
Yule Tide Mischief (Amira Press)
Seal of Honor (Sugar and Spice Press
Christmas Three (Dahlia Rose Unscripted)
My newest book will be released on October 13th
2012 with Sugar and Spice Press. And Baby Makes Three is the follow up book to
Baby on Board. In this book Lieutenant Brody Gillis and Nurse Marie Watson get
the chance to have their happily ever after.
 
Excerpt: Army Beasts 2042
He
never got to finish the sentence. Sofia slammed her hand against the table and
pointed at him. “Let’s me make this crystal clear… My father does not let me do
anything. I have a stake in this just like everyone else. I live with a primal
animal inside me and I’m being hunted for it just like every other second
natured soul.”
He
held his hands up in mock surrender. “Okay, okay lass, no need to get your
knickers in a twist.”
“Yeah
there is,” she glared at him. “Because while you are wiling away here drinking
and carousing, others are dying. I didn’t get to my last mission in time. The
mother wouldn’t go willingly or let her child be taken. Do you know what the
Cleaners did? They blew up their house with them inside. Called it a gas leak
and blamed it on the mother not using the new stoves that are on the market and
sticking to old fashioned natural gas.”
“Limey
bastards,” he muttered. “Let me guess the sales on that new flash heat stove
skyrocketed.”
She
pointed a finger at him. “Bingo and the automated food module with those pre
packaged meals that aren’t made of anything thing real. Those had a rise in
sales as well. Who ever heard of meatless chicken, meatless hotdog, meatless
sausage and bacon tasting delicious?”
“Please
let me enjoy my meal without thinking about that processed food,” Lachlan said.
“They are planning to open two factories in Scotland, we are one of the last
few countries with farms. Real milk, chickens eggs and so forth not costing so
much that only the rich can buy them.”
“In
New York, things like that cost a pretty penny,” Sofia said. “Where we live, we
get all that and we have our own gardens with vegetables and fruit trees. It’s
amazing there.”
“Don’t
you miss the city life, being around people? Going out shopping doing things
other women your age do?” Lachlan asked.
“I
was never the perky shopping type. I was a tomboy. I grew up around the Army
Beasts. By fifteen I could break down a nine-millimeter and put it back up in
thirty seconds. I fired my first fifty caliber at sixteen and learned hand to
hand combat by eighteen,” Sofia explained. “My mom was a soldier before she met
my father, and she was one of the first to teach me how to take care of
myself.”
“No
boyfriend waiting for you to come home?” Lachlan asked casually. He had to
admit to himself he was testing the proverbial waters of her relationship
status.
“Why
would you ask that?” Her eyes narrowed to suspicious wary slits..
“No
reason. It just seems your life can be very lonesome sometimes, the way you
live,” Lachlan answered. “I’ve been a lone wolf for a long time, I know the
feeling.”
“That’s
you, not me. I’m fine with my life.” Her answer was abrupt. “When can we leave
here? The intel is the Cleaners have to have already notified the authorities
here in East Lothian.”
“I
would prefer the cover of nightfall but if we must leave I know a place,” he
answered.
Sofia
nodded, “I’ll get packed and we can head out. I want to be able to check out
this new place and find some higher ground in case anything happens. I’ll contact
my dad when we get settle in.”
“How
do you stay on contact outside the network?” he asked.
She
eyed him before saying, “We have our ways.”
Lachlan
stood and threw his dish in the sink in frustration. “Eventually you have to
trust me, Sofia Johnson. You come into my home and tell me to come with you.
You want my trust and don’t want to give me yours.”
“That
comes in time. I’ve never had to trust anyone except my family,” she retorted.
That
statement grated on his last nerve and he grabbed her shoulders. “Well then I
suggest to learn to trust me, lass. I tend not to deal well with people who
want a one-sided relationship.”
A
low growl came from her throat and he saw her eyes flash. Eyes of a mountain
lion replaced her human ones. He growled as well, allowing his wolf some free
reign.
“Let
go of me,” Sofia said through gritted teeth.
Lachlan
considered and then released her before stepping back. “You need to consider
this, Sofia Johnson. Until we get back to your so-called sanctuary, we’ll have
to depend on each other. It might be prudent to remember the Army beasts can’t
help you here. I’ll go get my things together. We’ll be ready to go in five
minutes.”
“Lachlan…”
He
didn’t turn around, but kept moving toward the stairs. “I’ll be ready, Sofia. I
just hope you are.”
Being
so close to her just reinforced the fact that he wanted her, his wolf wanted
her. It didn’t take learning about each other over a candle light dinner.
Desire between shifters was almost an instantaneous reaction and he knew she
felt it too. Lachlan hoped she understood that he honestly hoped she was ready.
Because when he wanted something, he sure as hell got it. Sofia was at the top
of the list as of now.
*
* * *
So
this is what it felt like to find someone that makes your heart beat way too fast and the instinct to make a fierce fire in your blood. Sofia was no
shrinking flower. She’d run missions from the time she was eighteen. More than
once she’d met someone in a crowded bar while looking for the next subject,
another face on the list that never seemed to end. But she was able to walk
away afterward with no muss or fuss, just a roll in the hay and some sexual
comfort. There would be no way she could walk away from him if they made love.
She could smell the mating pheromone in the air when he grabbed her. It flared
his nostrils and she saw his eyes flash to his wolf. She was in big trouble
because that one action made her panties wet and she wanted to offer him her
neck. A move of submission, one she could not afford. Sofia refused to allow
herself to be that weak, to be mated was for another time when shifters were
allowed to roam free, not now. She was putting the last of her items in her duffel
when Lachlan burst into the room.
“We’ve
got to go, love,” he said. “Company is downstairs and they’re not here for tea.”
He
meant the cleaners of course and she shoved the last of her shit in the bag
quickly.
“How
the hell did they get here so fast?” she snapped. “I thought I was at least a
day ahead of those bastards.”
“No
doubt had some help from Walker,” Lachlan snarled.
“The
rental car is out, luckily the paperwork it was rented under is solid, but I
don’t want to risk the chance of them testing my saliva just because I came out
of your pub.”
“They
don’t have you on record?” Lachlan asked.
Sofia
shook her head. “My father, well all the men in our group made sure that when
they had children no samples were ever taken that could not be destroyed.
Immunizations and all health related issues were handled on the compound by a
trusted friend.”
“It
sounds like you’ve lived a hard, paranoid life,” Lachlan said.
Sofia
gave him a cold look. “My father knew eventually this would happen. Imagine if
all shifter DNA was in the system… You don’t even know how long this conspiracy
has been going on so don’t talk about what you have no clue about. While you
were drinking a pint and trying to get your hands up the lasses skirts, we were
fighting a war.”
“Whatever
you say,” Lachlan murmured.
“We
can’t go out front or back. They’ll be surrounding the place.” Sofia reasoned
out loud.
Lachlan
shot her a grin. “I’ve got this covered. Come with me.”
She
was following him out the door when he turned suddenly and grabbed her neck. He
kissed her hard and winked before saying, “By the way, I didn’t have to try
hard to get my hand up their skirts. They were always willing to lift them for
me.”
“You
need to be taught some manners,” she said as he turned and walked away. “Next
time you grab me without permission, I may just bite your fingers off. Mountain
lions have very sharp teeth.”
Purchase Army Beasts by clicking here.
Author Bio:
Dahlia
Rose is the best selling author of contemporary erotica, suspense and
paranormal romance. She was born and raised on a Caribbean island and now currently
lives in Charlotte, NC with her four kids who she affectionately nicknamed “The
children of the corn,” and her biggest supporter/long time love. She has a love
of erotica, dark fantasy, sci-fi and the things that go bump in the night.
Books and writing are her biggest passion and she hopes to open your
imagination to the unknown between the pages of her books.
Thank you, Dahlia Rose. We are so happy you stopped by today and tempted us with these yummy books. One lucky commenter will win a copy of one of her American Hero Trilogy books. To be eligible, please include your email address in your post, encoded.

So how about military heroes? What do you, the reader, love about them? What do you want to see more of (or less of? LOL). Do you have any questions for Dahlia Rose? Do you have a favorite military branch and why?
26

Welcome Cathy Mann and Joanne Rock

What a fantastic lineup we have today! Critique partners Joanne Rock and Catherine
Mann stop by for a visit while they discuss their September releases- GUARDIAN
for Cathy and FULL SURRENDER for Joanne.
Tell me how you got started writing military
romance? How many books have you written?
CM: Hi Sharon!  Thanks so much for having us here today to visit on your
blog!  In answer to your questions,
my hubby served in the Air Force for over 20 years as an aviator.  So USAF heroes are a natural fit for
me.  I’ve written over fifty novels
for Harlequin, Berkley and Sourcebooks.
JR: I started penning military heroes when
Harlequin Blaze began their popular “Uniformly Hot!” miniseries. I’d been a
little in love with Cathy’s military heroes for years and thought I’d try
writing one of my own. She has been a wonderful resource for me. I’ve written
over sixty books in a variety of formats counting digital releases (like
Harlequin Historical “Undone” stories) and novellas.
Why do you think these Alpha military heroes (and
heroines) are so popular? What makes them heroes?

CM: Alpha military heroes are the go-to guys in a
crisis, the ultimate protectors. 
Yes, they can be a bit arrogant with their swagger and confidence needed
for extreme circumstances.  But
that makes finding the marshmallow side of any alpha hero oh-so rewarding and heart
melting!
JR: I think military heroes have experienced a real
surge of interest as so many of our friends, family and neighbors have spent
time in deployments in the last decade. They are heroes because of their
selfless service, and reading their stories is a way to celebrate all they do
for us.
  
How do you compliment the heroine to a strong alpha
military guy? Do you write them strong? Compliant? Kick-butt?

CM: Absolutely the heroine must be equally as
strong, but her strengths may be in other arenas.  Dare I say it…? 
They complete each other.
JR: What Cathy said! I like looking at character
profiles like horoscopes, enneagrams or
even Myers-Briggs
personality indicators to remind myself what “types” of characters complement
others. I find it fun to play with those types to see how one bolsters the
other. 
Do you like writing in series, or single?

CM:  I
definitely lean toward writing connected stories.  That’s also another reason it’s awesome to have such a
stellar long-time critique partner like Joanne.  She knows all my stories and all my characters.  While I don’t expect her to remember
every detail, it’s very helpful that she’s familiar with the “world” I’ve built
in a series.  Joanne is a
brainstorming maven and I’ve been the lucky recipient in many a looooong phone
conversation!
JR: I don’t have the same long standing connections
in my books that Cathy has created, mostly because I am continually charmed by
new kinds of stories (suspense one day, a time travel another) and that makes
longer series more difficult to pull off. But I do love connected books. FULL
SURRENDER is loosely linked to several other stories following the Murphy
brothers.
Who is your favorite character you've created? Why?

CM: 
How about I choose some of my favorite couples in Joanne’s books?  I especially enjoyed the chemistry
between Navy Lt. Brad Riddock (explosives expert) and Nikki Thornton (professor
chronicling her aunt’s erotic diaries) in HIGHLY CHARGED.  And Joanne’s book UNDER WRAPS has awesomely
crafted secondary characters as well – a rocking awesome strength Joanne brings
to her stories.
JR: How cool for you to remember those secondary
characters in Under Wraps, Cathy!! I
particularly enjoyed Cathy’s risk-taking “Postal” Ruznick and Dr. Grace Marie
Lanier in BLAZE OF GLORY
because of the way they balanced each other out (and I love a hero who’s “on
the edge”). But I also loved Kate Harper in HIS THIRTY-DAY FIANCEE,
who scales the hero’s mansion walls for a photo op. I wish I’d written this
gutsy heroine with so much at stake!
If you could have a date with one of your
characters, which one would it be and why? Where would you go?

CM: 
I’m going to flip the question again and choose one of Joanne’s
heroes.  I adore Lucian Barrett in
her medieval historical THE
WEDDING KNIGHT
. I fell in love with that hero from the first line and
adored him through every stage of his character’s healing and redemption.  I would go ANYWHERE with a man like
him. J
JR: Oh this is fun. I’m going to ask for Hugh
Franco from HOT ZONE
because underneath the darkly magnetic charm, he is so selfless and dedicated.
This is true of so many of Cathy’s heroes, but with Hugh, I felt like we got a
glimpse of his heart early on and I loved that.
Tell us something about you that most people
wouldn't know or guess about you?
JR: I am a soft spoken girly-girl who likes pretty
things, but I am married to an earthy man’s man who is an extroverted, noisy
sports fanatic. He is the most surprising thing about me!
CM:  I
love to swim – pool, river, ocean – but I do not dive.  The thought of plunging head first into
the water freaks me out. And while Joanne says there’s nothing surprising about
her, I’m not letting her off the hook that easily!  I know that on vacation she once trekked a narrow rocky path
along a cliff wall behind a waterfall. 
She’s FAR more daring than I am!
JR: Only because
my husband coerced me into it!!
What have you read recently that you enjoyed?
JR: I adored Winnie Griggs’ HANDPICKED HUSBAND (HQ
Love Inspired Historical, September 2012) and Maya Rodale’s THE TATTOOED DUKE
(Avon, Feb. 2012).
CM: One of my favorite parts of being an author is
getting ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) from other authors.  Over past few months, I lucked into
three really wonderful ARCs I highly recommend:
Julie Walker’s HELL ON WHEELS(Aug 2012), the launch
book for her “Black Knights, Inc. series.
Virginia Kantra’s first “Dare Island” book,
CAROLINA HOME (July 2012).
And just this week I read the latest in Holly
Jacob’s “Everything But…” series called EVERYTHING BUT A DOG (Dec 2012).
What are you working on now?

CM: 
LOL!  Today, I’m a bit
scattered, juggling a bunch of different projects at once – plotting a synopsis
for my next “Alpha Brotherhood” book, writing my next “Elite Force” PJ book,
and working on a super-secret project I’m not talking about yet. 😉
JR: I’ll let you in on a not-so-super-secret
tidbit… Cathy’s “scattered” days are more productive than most people’s average
days! She is a creative force to be reckoned with and I love to hold out a net
and catch the ideas that spark whenever she’s around. As for me, I revised a
Blaze (with Cathy’s final tweaking help!) and submitted it to my editor for
release next June. It’s a bit different for me because while the hero’s point
of view is told in traditional third person, we get to meet the heroine via
first person. It was really fun to write.
CM: And Joanne’s latest Blaze was really fun to
read!  How cool that I get an
advance peek at her stories and can call that “work”!  (Okay, I know technically I already answered this question
but I just had to pop in after Joanne’s last post.)
Thanks again for having us here, Sharon!  Your questions were great fun!  And for the folks visiting today,
what’s something we would be surprised to learn about YOU?  One lucky commenter will be chosen at
random to win a copy of both FULL SURRENDER by Joanne Rock and GUARDIAN by
Catherine Mann.

Ladies, it's been my complete pleasure having you here today. I'm a gushing fan, and I agree these military alpha heroes are the best of the best. I share your joy that we get to write and celebrate these wonderful men and women.

Please be sure to leave your comments below with your coded email so you can win these fantastic reads. And let's show these ladies some love!
Available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
USA Today bestselling
author Catherine Mann writes military romantic suspense for Berkley and
Sourcebooks, as well as steamy romances for Harlequin.  A RITA Award winner (and six time RITA
nominee) Catherine lives in the Florida panhandle with her flyboy husband,
their kids and a menagerie of shelter pets.

Joanne Rock writes contemporary romance and medieval historicals for a variety
of Harlequin lines. She looks forward to the release of a Young Adult romance
series in the summer of 2013 under the pseudonym JK Rock with her
sister-in-law, Karen. When she’s not reading or writing, Joanne is on the
bleachers cheering for one of her three sons who are continuously involved in
sports too numerous to mention.
CONTACT:
Joanne Rock
Catherine Mann
28

Welcome Trish McCallan: Forged In Fire

Welcome Trish McCallan, who writes thrilling Romantic Suspense using Navy SEAL characters, with a paranormal twist. Her new series, beginning with Forged In Fire, is one of the most successful and fastest selling to date. Welcome Trish!
FULL CIRCLE by Trish McCallan
I discovered the internet during the winter of 1996.
At the time, MSN was running a crafty deal (if you signed up with them for 2 years, you got a $400.00 rebate on whatever computer you were buying). I wanted a computer, and that $400.00 instant rebate cut the cost in half,  so  I signed up with MSN as my internet provider, and bought my first computer.  And that’s when I discovered this entirely new world called the internet.
 By the mid 1990s, I’d been an avid romance reader for years, but I had nobody to discuss my beloved romance books with. My family were big readers, but they didn’t read romance and while they never said anything, I always got this subtle sense of contempt from them in regard to my reading tastes. The town I lived in had all sorts of book clubs, but none that read romance, so I craved the chance to discuss my favorite authors and books with other romance lovers. The first thing I did, on that very first trip online, was search for romance reading groups.
I found them by the dozens. Groups, bulletin boards, and message forums for every sub-genre of romance you could imagine. I was in heaven. I read pretty much everything, so I jumped right into all those enticing book discussions. 
My favorites were romances that had elements of suspense, so I gravitated toward discussions about that sub-genre.  I used to haunt the local bookstore, just waiting for the Silhouette Intimate Moments (SIM) to come out.  And it was through one of these SIMs in the summer of 1996, that I discovered this amazing, riveting, incredibly sexy warrior called a SEAL. The book was called Prince Joe, by Suzanne Brockmann, and it turned me into a lifelong Brockmann fan, and a SEAL devotee.
Of course the various bulletin boards and forums I was on were buzzing about Prince Joe, and that buzz just got stronger when Brockmann released the second book in her Tall, Dark and Dangerous series.  Someone on one of the bulletin boards started up a Tall, Dark and Dangerous fan group on Yahoo, which I joined.  
 Joining that yahoo group probably had the most impact on my writing career since becoming part of the internet, because it introduced me to an aspiring romantic suspense writer who was writing a SEAL series of her own. This author’s name was Jenny Low, and the book she was posting chapter by chapter, to the yahoo group was titled Kissing Games. Through Jenn I was introduced to an entire community of writers, including Patti O’Shea who became a longtime critique partner. This interaction with writers rekindled my own interest in writing.
The funny thing is that back then I wasn’t writing military romantic thrillers.  I was writing romantic suspense that featured law enforcement heroes.  While I loved reading about SEALs, I had no interest in writing them.  Jenn Low eventually sold her Kissing Games (which was retitled Into Danger) as well as the rest of her SEAL series to Avon and began publishing under Gennita Low. I kept plugging along with my cop heroes.
Until one cold February Night in 2010 when I had a horrifying nightmare.  The nightmare was about a plane getting hijacked and all the passengers slaughtered.  And the men trying to stop the carnage were Navy SEALs. I woke from that dream driven. I couldn’t get those hunky SEALs out of my head. They were so real, so alive, and so insistent that I write their stories. 
Suddenly I found myself switching focus completely and writing a military romantic thriller series.
 I self-published Forged in Fire in September of 2011 and later sold the series to Montlake romance. They’ve republished a new, revised edition of Forged in Fire and have the rest of the series scheduled to release every six months.
It’s funny how things work out. I’d lost touch with Jenn Low years ago, but with the release of Forged in Fire, the first book in my Red-Hot SEALs series, we reconnected. Turns out she’d received the rights back to the SEAL series she sold to Avon all those years ago, and self-published them . . . at the same time I’d self-published Forged in Fire.  
Weird, huh?
It feels like I’ve come full circle. 
EXCERPT:
Chapter One
Lieutenant Commander Zane Winters shifted uneasily against the grungy white wall across from gate C-18’s ticket counter. He felt naked without his Glock. Exposed. An itchy, irritating prickle of vulnerability tightened his skin and knotted his muscles. Which was ridiculous. They were on leave, for Christ’s sake, booked on a civilian flight.
Yeah, he and Cosky and Rawls had to check their weapons with their luggage, but so what? They weren’t facing deployment to some godforsaken foreign jungle or burning swath of sand.
“Did they have to pick Hawaii? We have the same blue sky and warm weather in Coronado. And without the tourists.”
Zane barely heard Cosky’s disgusted mutter through the drone of excited voices surrounding them. With a grunt, he massaged the back of his neck and surveyed the growing crowd. More passengers were arriving by the minute. There were already too many people to keep an eye on. Too many jackets and pockets and purses. Too many places to conceal a weapon.
A stacked brunette across the gate area caught his gaze and offered a sultry smile. Zane turned away.
“Jesus.” Rawls’s lazy grin was a slash of white in his sun-bronzed face. “You two need to get off base more often. You’re as hinky as a pair of hounds during tick season. Those are civilians y’all are glaring at, not a room full of terrorists.” Bright blue eyes zeroed in on the brunette across the room. “What you need is some of that. Sun, sand, and sex. All the fixin’s for a memorable vacation.”
Cosky shot his teammate a derisive glance. “When did you become so fond of sand and sun? Sure as hell not last month, judging by your nonstop bitching.”
Rawls flipped him the finger. “It’s that third s, Cos. Makes all the difference. You should try it sometime, but without that blow-up Barbie you keep stashed beneath your bunk.”
Shrill laughter erupted across the room. Zane tracked the sound, skimming an abandoned stroller and clusters of luggage. When the brunette tried to catch his eye again, he swore beneath his breath. Shifting against the wall, he gave her his back.
“See? This is why I like hanging with you, skipper,” Rawls drawled. “You attract the little darlin’s over, and when you turn that cold shoulder on ’em, they start buzzin’ round Cosky and me.”
“Leave me out of it,” Cosky said. “Unlike you, I don’t need to surf Zane’s wake for a hookup.”
“A hookup?” Rawls shook his head and smirked. “Is that any way to talk about your hand?”
Bracing his elbows against the wall behind them, he tilted his head and studied Zane’s face. “Seriously, skipper, you should take her up on that offer. It’s not like—” He broke off to scan Zane’s face more intently. Suddenly he frowned. “You’re shittin’ me. That’s some prime real estate over there, and you don’t have any interest in her? None at all? That just ain’t…natural.”
Rawls was right. She was prime. A real looker. Long, thick mahogany hair. A tight, curvy ass. Stacked across the chest. Enough flare through the hips to hold on to. She was the kind of woman who’d give wet dreams to any straight male between puberty and death.
Which must mean he was dead. Because he was way past puberty, yet he didn’t feel even a twitch of interest. No chills. No thrills. No goose bumps.
She could be his great-grandmother, for all the attraction he felt.
Every year the numbness dug a little deeper, spread a little further. He’d been warned about this particular side effect of the family gift—or curse, depending on who was talking. But knowing about it, and living with it, were completely different animals.
“Let’s hope that woman of yours shows up ASAP. Much more of this drought and you won’t remember what to do with her.” Rawls reached over to punch Zane’s shoulder.
The moment Rawls’s fist made contact, every muscle in Zane’s body clenched. He froze, his breath locked in his throat. His vision blurred.
Click.
It was a subtle sound. A switch flipping inside his head. An image flashed through his mind. Quick. Brutal. Ugly.
Rawls sprawled across a bank of narrow seats. His blue T-shirt splotched with black. Blood dripping from limp fingers. A fixed stare glazing his blue eyes.
The vision vanished.
“Son of a bitch.” Sheer disgust vibrated in Cosky’s gritty voice. “We’re on stand-down. This is a civilian flight. Regardless of that all-too-familiar look on your face, we cannot be in any goddamn danger.”
Zane knew he wouldn’t get anything further from Rawls, so he turned to Cosky instead and clamped a hand on his lieutenant’s bicep.
This time he was expecting the vision. He tensed anyway.
Click.
He strained to capture as many details as possible as the new vision flashed through his mind.
Gray eyes locked and empty, already filming with the unmistakable haze of death. Black hair saturated with blood. Hands clenched. He was splayed across a narrow aisle, dark-blue upholstered seats rising on either side of his head.
When the image vanished, he released Cosky’s arm and wrestled air back into his lungs.
“Tell me this is a joke,” Cosky demanded.
Zane shook his head and gripped the back of his neck with both hands.
“What did you see?” Rawls finally asked.
Zane drew a shallow breath. “You dead. Cosky dead.”
“From boredom?” Cosky asked dryly. “We are going to a wedding.” A quick glance at Zane’s face, and a glint of steel darkened his gray eyes. “Where’s this going down?”
“On the bird.” Zane frowned. “Couldn’t tell whether she was in flight. Didn’t get a good enough look.”
Cosky turned to study the boisterous crowd. “When do you ever?”
Zane scrubbed his palms down his face and forced back a surge of frustration. The flashes never lasted long. No more than two or three seconds. Just enough to warn, without giving details. Just enough to raise guards, but not enough to mitigate the danger.
“Which bird? Over or back?” Cosky braced his hands on his hips and studied Zane’s face. “Either fits the three-day window for those flashes of yours.”
“Today.” Zane nodded toward Rawls’s blue-clad chest. “Same clothes.”
Cosky grunted. “I don’t suppose you saw who killed us?”
“When have these damn things ever been that accommodating?”
“Fuck.” With a disgusted shake of his head, Cosky dropped his chin and scowled at the worn carpet. “What about the wounds?”
“Lots of blood. Could be a gun. Or a knife.”
“A crash?” Rawls broke in quietly.
“Doubtful. Neither of you were burned. We’re looking at some kind of weapon.”
Cosky frowned. “It would be easier to smuggle a blade through security, but few people are good enough to take us on with a knife. Chances are it’s a gun.”
Zane pushed away from the wall. “Whatever’s going to happen is bad enough to take the three of us out.” The flashes never centered on him, but if Cosky and Rawls were in danger, he was as well. “We need to get hold of Mac.”
As the officer in charge of SEAL Team 7, Commander Jace Mackenzie had the pull to get the plane grounded and the passengers searched.
“Question.” Cosky’s attention zeroed in on Zane’s face. “What are we going to tell him? We don’t know what’s going to happen, who’s behind it, or what kind of weapons will be used. If Mac gets this bird grounded only to have nothing show during the search, the backlash is gonna be a bitch.”
“What are you suggesting?” Zane cocked an eyebrow. “That we skip the wedding, keep our mouths shut, and let events play out?”
“Don’t be an ass. I’m saying it would be handy to have some solid intel to pass on for a change. Why can’t you ever pick up more information if you touch us again?”
Zane shrugged. Just because he suffered through the visions didn’t mean he understood their properties. “We’ve got some time before boarding. Maybe one of the passengers will stand out.”
A wave of heat suddenly rolled through him. It started at his scalp and flowed down—a tide of molten fire that left chills in its wake. A tingling, numbing sensation followed, as though he’d been hit with an electrical shock.
“What’s wrong?” Cosky’s question came from a distance. Muted and warped.
Zane turned, searching for…something. The gate area spun in slow motion. That strange, electrical tingling raised the hair on his arms and down the back of his neck.
He found her in the mouth of the waiting room. She was blonde, slender. Perfect. Her cream-colored slacks and ivory blouse glowed beneath the harsh fluorescent lights, as though she stood squarely in a spotlight—lit up to catch his attention.
Her chin lifted, their eyes connected, and that strange, pulsating current shot straight to his cock. Electrified him. His libido, numb for years, reared up and howled. He took one long step toward her.
Cosky grabbed his arm and hauled him back. “Goddamn it, Zane. What’s wrong?”
Zane shook his head, tried to clear the fog from his mind. The tug toward her was incredibly strong, like she was a magnet and his bones were metal. He took another step forward, his body vibrating at some strange frequency.
Cosky’s hand tightened with brutal force around his forearm, piercing the primal urge to claim her.
Zane drew a shaky breath. His muscles were rigid. A vicious ache had seized his groin. His skin must have shrunk at least three sizes.
Holy shit.
It had to be her.
After all these years of waiting…this had to be her.
To go from nada to nuclear in the blink of an eye…yeah. He drew a slow, burning breath, grappling to drag his body back under control. This had to be her.
From listening to his brothers’ stories about meeting their mates, he’d expected a strong reaction, but nothing like this whirlpool of hunger.
And he hadn’t even touched her yet.
“Who is she?” Cosky demanded. “Did you see her in one of your flashes?”
The question snapped the world back into focus. The memory of those damn visions flooded his brain.
He watched, frozen, while she headed toward one of the plastic benches strewn throughout the waiting room. She was apparently booked on his flight.
His chest seized. His skin started to crawl. Christ, he couldn’t breathe.
Of all the bad timing.
He’d finally found her. His soul mate. At a time when he couldn’t afford the distraction. When the slightest mistake could get her killed.
Order your Forged in Fire in Kindle Version or Paperback from Amazon.com.
BIOGRAPHY:
Trish McCallan was born in Eugene, Oregon, and grew up in Washington State, where she began crafting stories at an early age. Her first books were illustrated in crayon, bound with red yarn, and sold for a nickel at her lemonade stand. Trish grew up to earn a bachelor’s degree in English literature with a concentration in creative writing from Western Washington University, taking jobs as a bookkeeper and human- resource specialist before finally quitting her day job to write full time. Forged in Fire came about after a marathon reading session, and a bottle of Nyquil that sparked a vivid dream. She lives today in eastern Washington. An avid animal lover, she currently shares her home with three golden retrievers, a black lab mix and a cat.

WWW.trishmccallan.com

What do you think? Do you like your SEALs with a dash of paranormal? Do you believe in fated love at first sight? One lucky commenter will win a free copy of Trish's new book. Be sure to leave your email address (in code).

Thank you, Trish. Good luck, readers!
23

Welcome Marliss Melton – Bestselling Author Team Twelve Navy SEALs

I am thrilled today to welcome Marliss Melton, the bestselling author of the Team Twelve Navy SEAL Series. I asked her to give us a glimpse of this outstanding series, and what she's working on now. So, Marliss, what are you up to these days?

Tens of thousands of readers read and loved my Award-winning Navy SEALs which carried them through seven books, starting with FORGET ME NOT and ending with SHOW NO FEAR. (It isn’t too late to read them if you missed out). While it’s natural for me to write about Navy SEALs (my husband is US Navy retired), I took a slight detour lately with my newest Taskforce Series, expanding to an Inter-Agency Counterterrorist Taskforce group that is headed up 

by a Navy SEAL.
In Book #2 of the Taskforce Series, The Guardian (Amazon or Barnes & Noble), FBI Special Agent Jackson Maddox goes undercover into a prisoner reintegration program believed to have ties to terrorists, only his cover is about to be blown by a bombshell of a journalist, Lena Alexandra, who keeps sticking her nose into his business. To learn more about THE GUARDIAN, read the blurb next to the book cover.
This book is currently available in Ebook format at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.com and is coming out in hardback in October, 2012.
So, what are you working on now, Marliss?
Book #3 in my Taskforce Series is THE ENFORCER, which features fun-loving ATF Special Agent, Toby Burke, who goes undercover into a militia in West-by-God Virginia to find evidence that its leader, Dylan Connelly, a former female Army officer, is guilty of plotting violence against the current administration. This 
is going to be one of my best books yet!
But, Marliss, are you going to go back to writing your Navy SEAL books?
I get this question all the time, and the answer is a resounding yes. If you were able to read my short story “SEALed by Fate” in the SEAL OF MY DREAMS ANTHOLOGY, then you’ve essentially read the prologue to what will be my next Navy SEAL book. It may be Book #8 in my Team Twelve Series, or it may prove to be the first book of a new series, altogether. (I’m thinking of doing a DEVGRU series). DEVGRU is the name given to SEAL Team Six, and we all know that they are considered the cream of the crop, the ones who got Bin Laden.
This is so exciting, Marliss. I loved the Anthology and read so many great authors there. Proceeds were donated to veteran's charities, I understand.

And DEVGRU! The professional team of the SEALs. That sounds wonderful. Can hardly wait. What else can you tell us about what you're working on?

So, now you’ve got the skinny on what’s in my head for the future.  In the meantime, though, don’t miss out on my Taskforce Series:  THE PROTECTOR, THE GUARDIAN, and THE ENFORCER.
For those of you who couldn’t/can’t get enough of my SEAL Team Twelve Series, though, I have a treat in store for you! Look for a novella coming this fall entitled LONG GONE. It is based on the secondary love story in TOO FAR GONE. (Remember Drake Donovan, the FBI special agent who fell in love with Skyler Dulay, only she had to go into witness protection and they never got their happily-ever-after?)  Here’s a peek at the cover. Look for LONG 
GONE coming this Oct/Nov, 2012.
Wonderful news. I will be one of the first to buy it when it comes out. 

Thanks for stopping by and telling us about your must-read military romances. Marliss has been generous to offer a giveaway to a lucky commenter. Please leave your email, example: SuzyQ(at)gmail (dot)com in the body of your comment. And don't forget to come back and visit with military authors next week.
Leave a thoughtful comment and you may win a free digital or paperback copy of THE GUARDIAN! 

Summary, The Guardian:
When a highly esteemed prisoner-reintegration program falls under suspicion of being a terrorist training ground, the Taskforce sends Special Agent Jackson Maddox undercover to investigate. Going by the name Abdul, Jackson fits right in, until his cover is threatened by a sexy journalist taking his picture. If his mission weren't so critical, he wouldn't mind being the object of her fixation.  But when he confronts her, the hot-as-hell bombshell denies everything before slipping through his fingers.   
Crime journalist Lena Alexandra isn’t going anywhere. One of the parolees at the program murdered her sister a decade earlier and got away with it.  Determined to send the killer back to jail, Lena secures a job at a nearby convenience store and sets about interviewing parolees for a book she’s allegedly writing. Her objective— to use her astute interviewing skills and stunning sex appeal to get the killer to confess.  Dangerous plan?  Yes, but not even the gorgeous ex-con named Abdul can derail her, not even when she finds out who he really is.
As the summer nights heat up, Jackson’s probe reveals startling evidence that could endanger the nation’s capital.  He can’t battle his desire for Lena and subdue a fanatical leader at the same time. And Lena can’t corner her sister’s killer as long as an undercover FBI agent persists in trying to protect her. As peril looms for both of them, Lena and Jackson must learn to trust each other with their secrets . . . and their lives.

What about you? Do you love a man in (or out of) uniform? What do you love best about reading military romances? Any favorite hunks?

52

Welcome Jennifer Lowery: Hard Core

We have a super lineup of authors this week, next week and the week after on this blog, all dedicated to strong heroes in uniform.
Today, I'm pleased to introduce you to Jennifer Lowery, who is bringing us her new release, Hard Core. Welcome, Jennifer. Tell us about your writer's journey and how you became a military romance writer?
I’m honored to be part of the military blog posts this week, hosted by the fabulous Sharon Hamilton. Thank you, Sharon, for the invitation!
Growing up, I'd always wanted to be a writer, but I had no idea I'd become a military romance writer. I read multiple genres in romance. When I decided to make my dream a reality ten years ago, I also wrote in multiple genres trying to find my voice. I started with historical, western, paranormal, contemporary, romantic suspense, and began to notice a trend. All of my heroes were alpha males. And, they all leaned toward a military background.
After many rejections I realized that I’d been fighting my voice. I’d never imagined myself writing military romance, and hadn’t read much of it either. But, once I found that voice, I couldn’t be stopped. I inhaled military books, both fiction and non-fiction. I joined military loops on the internet, I found military blogs, and I fell in love with my writing all over again.
I knew this is where I belonged. My heroes were strong, protective to the point of overbearing, and alpha through and through, much to my heroine’s annoyance. They would put their lives on the line to protect the innocent, and God help anyone who messed with their family and friends. They put themselves in the line of fire without hesitation. Their word is their bond. And once they set their sights on you, it’s for life. They are loyal, devoted, and trustworthy. 
My debut release, Hard Core, features a former French Foreign Legionnaire turned mercenary and is the first book in my Onyx Group/mercenary series. You can buy it now in print and it will be coming to your ereaders on the official release date of October 8! 
Excerpt from Hard Core:
Prepared to start an IV, she picked up a needle. She had it in position when his other arm shot out and he clamped her wrist in a bone-crushing grip. Startled, she met his panicked gaze.
“I said no needles.”
Her heart banged against her ribcage as she let the needle slip out of her hand. It hit the floor with a small ting. Alana opened her hands in surrender, her patient’s fingers digging into her flesh. For a man half-dead, he had amazing strength.
“Okay,” she said to placate him. “Relax, I don’t have it anymore. It’s your choice, but I recommend you let me start an IV for meds.”
“No. Just fix me.”
Alana pinned him with a no nonsense stare. “I’m not impressed with Superman heroics.”
Face pale and drawn, he said gruffly, “I’m not Superman. Learned not to trust people with needles.”
Her fingers were going numb. “If I remove the bullet without pain medication or anesthetic, you’re going to be sorry.”
He studied her. “You’re really a doctor?”
Alana bristled. “Technically, yes.”
“Technically?”
She didn’t have time to explain herself with the amount of blood seeping from his gunshot wound. “I went to med school. You can let go of my arm now. I won’t use any needles.”
He looked down and immediately released his grip. She rubbed her wrist to soothe away the ache. “Can I get to work now, or do you want to question me more about my credentials while you bleed to death? I don’t have a blood bank, so you’re screwed if you lose too much.”
Her blunt statement received a curt nod. She normally didn’t talk to her patients like that. Her patients didn’t normally countermand her either.
“Do it,” he said.
“Without anesthetics?”
“I don’t need them. Just get it over with.”
Stubborn, stupid, or both? Insane, yes, but there wasn’t time to argue with him.
“Okay. The offer stands if you change your mind.”
“I won’t.”
She doubted that, but didn’t comment. Instead, wiped her forehead with her forearm, and picked up gauze pads to clean the wound.
“Here goes,” she warned and dabbed his skin.
Her patient didn’t move or even wince as she cleaned the angry wound. Either he had a will of steel or he’d passed out again. Hopefully, the latter. Sweat rolled down her back as she finished cleansing the area around the bullet entry. Red flesh puckered with the first signs of infection. In this environment infection was guaranteed.
With a steady hand that would have made her father proud, she picked up her instruments and took a deep breath.
“You still with me?”
He murmured a response, turning his head slightly so he could see her. The stark beauty of his profile, despite the bruises, struck her again. The lines of his face were chiseled, unforgiving. The kind of man she’d glance at twice if she passed him on the street.
A man associated with a criminal.
“Still here, Doc. What are you waiting for?” Husky with pain, his deep voice brought her out of her thoughts.
She gave herself a mental shake. “Want something to bite down on?”
A small, wry smile touched his lips and his lids closed. “You won’t hear a peep out of me. Just fix me, Doc.”
“I can hit you so you’ll sleep through it,” she muttered.
That drew a low chuckle from him. She didn’t expect him to have a sense of humor. He seemed too…hard. His chuckle turned into a grunt of pain. “You probably hit like a girl.”
Alana grinned. “Yes, I do. Rest assured it won’t feel like it.”
“Appreciate the offer, but, no.” His words slurred together, his muscles tense as he fought his body’s demands.
“You got a name, Superman?”
His head rolled to the side, his chest rose and fell slowly. She thought he was out but he murmured, “Cristian.”
“Nice to meet you, Cristian.”
Then she dug into the wound for the bullet.
Author Bio: 

Jennifer grew up reading romance novels in the back of her math book and on the bus to school, and never wanted to be anything but a writer.  Her summers were spent sitting at the kitchen table with her sisters spinning tales of romance and intrigue and always with a tall glass of ice tea at their side. 

Today, Jennifer is living that dream and she couldn’t be happier to share her passion with her readers.  She loves everything there is about romance.  Her stories feature alpha heroes who meet their match with strong, independent heroines.  She believes that happily ever after is only the beginning of her stories. And the road to that happy ending is paved with action, adventure, and romance. As her characters find out when they face danger, overcome fears, and are forced to look deep within themselves to discover love.  
 Jennifer lives in Michigan with her husband and three children.  When she isn’t writing she enjoys reading and spending time with her family. 
Find Jennifer:
Buy Hard Core:
Thank you for stopping by! Be sure to pick up your copy of Hard Core and look for my second book, Murphy’s Law, due out in March, 2013, featuring an Army Ranger!
And to all my readers out there, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! Without you I wouldn’t be here today. My wish is to one day meet each and every one of you so I can personally thank you for your support and generosity. I truly appreciate you.
Thanks Jennifer. Here's hoping your sales continue to soar. We can't wait for Murphy's Law and all the other hunky heroes you've got planned for us in the future.

Sharon Hamilton

8

9-11 Thoughts and Remembrances

My son went to New York at the end of August, 2001, to attend NYU as a film student at the Tisch School of the Arts. Being a native of Northern California, like both my husband and myself, and both our dads, it was a big adjustment. So, my husband flew out with him to help get him settled. Our son wanted to be “at the center of the world,” and he felt NYC was the place to be.

After helping him get set up in his apartment, there were still things to be completed, so my husband considered staying another week, but decided at the last minute to let our son make those decisions himself.  So, Don came back on the Newark to San Francisco flight on Monday morning, 9-4-01, instead of the Newark to San Francisco flight on 9-11.

Early Monday morning on 9-11 our son left a voice message, telling us how clear and beautiful New York City was at 6 AM. He'd had a party in the apartment the night before, and there had been thunder and lightening all evening. But this day was clear and “perfect.” He luckily decided to go back to bed, rather than get up early to head downtown as he often did. His apartment was about 20 blocks from the World Trade Center.

What occurred later we all know. We talked to our son on his cell while he watched the second plane hit the WTC from his room, as we were watching it on TV. We watched the buildings collapse. Over the weeks that followed, many of the NYU students gave blood, donated water and sandwiches from the cafeteria, and my son thanked rescue workers, saying, “This is from my parents in California.”

The following Spring, Don and I went to New York to visit our son. We wanted to see the 9-11 makeshift memorials springing up all over the area: posters on iron fenceposts with letters from school children and pictures of loved ones lost or never heard from again. There had been some extra “walls” created so people could express themselves, leave mementos and just read the posts and feel a part of the experience.

While we were waiting in line to visit the Ground Zero site, there was work being done to clean up the white chalky debris still left behind after 5 months, righting flattened tombstones that had stood for a hundred years or more, cleaning up piles of twisted metal. We stood beneath a tree that was trying to send out new green shoots. Building material was still stuck in its branches. When I looked more carefully, the twisted pieces of metal that looked like cream-colored oversized bunches of grapes were actually mangled miniblinds whirled in a twisted sculpture. And the mossy-like substance that hung from the branches? Shredded upholstery fabric and pantyhose.

I would learn years later that the valedictorian of my graduating class in Palo Alto was giving a presentation for a non-profit Jewish organization helping young women to become successful. She was hosting a luncheon at the “Windows On The World” restaurant at the top. Her name was Naomi Solomon.

Several years later, another member of our graduating class, an exchange student from Algeria, told me at our 40th reunion party, when he brought his wife, children and his parents, introducing them to our class, that the year he spent in California was the greatest year of his life. He told me he carried a deep love of our country with him back to Algeria, where he worked for the U.N. there. Where his wife worked at a school for girls. A year later, he was killed in the 2007 suicide bombing of the U.N. Refugee Relief center. His name was Chad Hamza.

20% of the people in the U.S. knew someone who lost their life on 9-11. Citizens from more than 40 countries were represented among the dead and dying. The average age of the loss of life was between 30-39. Thousands of pints of blood were collected and less than 300 were actually used.

There are thousands of stories told by millions of people. We wish the world was a safer place, but wishing it doesn't make it so. We have a lot to be thankful for. We have a lot to love. We have a lot to protect.

And may we always remember.

8

No Easy Day: Book Review and Comments

No Easy Day, the compelling book by former Navy SEAL Mark Owen, just released last week, is hard to pick up, and hard to put down. It recounts the events, including the almost 10 years of training, intelligence gathering, and coordination of hundreds of personnel who helped SEAL Team Six carry out the successful mission to kill Osama bin Laden.

But more importantly, it gives us a private glimpse into the lives of those elite warriors, who do so much and ask so little in return. He says in the dedication:

My hope is one day a young man in junior high school will read it (No Easy Day) and become a SEAL, or at least live a life bigger than him. If that happens, the book is a success.

His words so beautifully illustrate what the SEALs symbolize: young men who are living a life bigger than themselves. They are trained to do what is required to get the job done. Do it quietly, with humility, and unemotionally. To set aside personal feelings, to stay alert to danger so that they can protect the lives of everyone on the mission, and the innocent.

He recounts how his upbringing in Alaska prepared him for his journey. How his parents at first didn't want him to put himself in harm's way and how he got his college degree first, but still had that burning desire, forged when he was a young teen, to become one of these elite men.

I enjoyed hearing stories of what the SEALs did to take their minds off the stress of waiting for orders to do dangerous things. The pranks they played on each other, and the close bond formed between brothers who would lay down their lives for each other without hesitation. Deadly serious, I've also read in other SEAL books about the special underwear with Superhero logos, or other cartoon characters they wear. Owen talks about playing fantasy football in the Afghani desert.

The author chronicles how he trained to become part of the elite Green Team, Seal Team Six, or DEVGRU.  He also describes how he almost didn't make the team. Only one out of a thousand regular Navy men is able to even try out for the teams. And of those who have completed two deployments, some are invited to try out for the Green Group, where you are on call almost 24/7, without the time offs and vacations with family. Hard on loved ones, but it's what is required to be a part of this special unit.

There are less than 2000 active SEALs currently. DEVGRU is the professional team to the varsity team of regular SEALs. They are responsible for the high profile “snatch and grabs”, the team who rescued Paul Schoon, the governor-general of Grenada, who was facing execution. They were responsible for capturing Manuel Noriega during the invasion of Panama, capturing the Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid and Bosnian war criminals, including Radislav Krstic, the Bosnian general who was later indicted for his role in the Srebrenica massacre in 1995. They rescued Jessica Lynch and conducted the daring rescue at sea from Somali pirates. The little picture I've seen of a disheveled Saddam Hussein in handcuffs is posted on a bulletin board in a SEAL bar in San Diego and speaks volumes.

Like all things in life, everything is connected. He says this book was written because he decided to put his Trident away and return to civilian life this year. And his reasons are personal. He and the publisher originally wanted this book to be released on 9-11, in honor of the anniversary of that tragic event. But as he states in the book, this was not written from a particular political viewpoint.

We are all red, white and blue, in my opinion, and Mr. Owen makes this point very well. The color of our blood is red, though our opinions, political affiliation, background and skin color vary. As he says, you don't run to your death. A bullet doesn't know how to discriminate a rich kid from a poor one, a Democrat from a Republican. Their SEAL training just makes them “the guy who can get it done.”

I doubt this fine young man ever would do anything that would harm a fellow in the brotherhood of warriors. He's mentioned several times that if one wanted to look for military secrets, his is not the book to read. But, I'm not an expert. Others that are far more knowledgeable than I will have to weigh in on this.

No Easy Day reads like a good suspense novel, except we know in advance how the story ends. But, unlike most stories we read, what happens in the middle is what we didn't know about until now. I came away with a renewed respect for these men, and for the hard work that goes into the training to become a SEAL.

I ask myself every day if I would have the guts to ever do anything so brave.

So, what did I find was the most enjoyable aspect of this book?

It knocked 50 Shades from the #1 Spot.
It told the truth.
And there was the delicious absense of spin.
All this week we are talking about heroes. I have several award-winning bestselling authors visiting here this week, next week and the week after. Won't you come join in the conversation? There will be some great giveaways, and the chance to chat with your favorite authors who bring us those wonderful heroes.
Jennifer Kamptner   9-12-12
Marliss Melton        9-14-12
Elle James               9-17-12
Trish McCallan       9-18-12
Cathy Mann and Joanne Rock    9-21-12
Stay tuned for tomorrow's blog, a personal experience with 9-11.

Sharon Hamilton

Life is one fool thing after another.
Love is two fool things after each other.
Accidental SEAL   SEAL Encounter    all available through Amazon

Locations for Romance

Today, I'm blogging over at Ravencraft's Romance Realm.

Do you have a favorite place to write romance? Do certain places “call” to you, create stories? Love to hear it. Small excerpt from a story I haven't touched in a long time, and won't be finishing until next summer.

Come join me.

14

Labor Day Blog Hop – Come join the fun!

Enter the Labor Day Blog Hop by pressing the link at the right. More information below. 

Here is an excerpt from Accidental SEAL:

Chapter 1

Christy Nelson worked to keep her breakfast down when Wayne Sommerville came lurking around her cubicle. He’d pestered her every day since she’d been introduced as the newest agent at the Patterson Realty sales meeting three days ago. His soft, flabby torso was repulsive, and those distinctive hair plugs, installed at an angle on Wayne’s shiny salmon-colored forehead, were distracting. Her gaze followed rows of black dots receding into his dyed-black hair. A life-sized version of Mr. King’s Chuckie.
Wayne winked at her again, and her blood turned to ice.
His horse teeth and foul breath could raise the dead. He’d made it clear he wanted to mentor her, but she suspected he had more in mind than real estate contracts and short sales. He was persistent, though. She’d give him that.
He draped his bulky frame against the back of her chair. She wanted to duck for cover. The eerie need to protect her neck put her radar on high alert as she visualized violence and fangs.
“I’ve coached quite a few of the new agents over the years.” Wayne’s look lasted too long—hungry and inappropriate. Christy didn’t trust one single hair plug.
“Well,” she said, resisting the urge to escape, “I do need a good open house.
Now, why did I say that?
“I’ve got the perfect one! Great little short sale.” Wayne launched into his routine, oblivious to the fact she’d become dizzy from the smell of the garlic fries he’d apparently had for lunch. “The house is a little rough around the edges, but in a super neighborhood. The sellers are about to lose it.” He threw her a mock frown. She could see him singing a hymn, asking for money on TV.
Perhaps a second career.
“No sign on the lawn yet and it’s not even on the computer,” he continued. “You can snatch all those buyers for yourself.” He leaned in and whispered like it was a national secret. “And I could help you with the paperwork. You know, show you how it’s done.”
Male alert. If he touches me, he’ll get a knee to his groin. She swung her chair to angle for quick action.
He stepped back just in time. She exhaled, grateful for the distance.
“Doing short sales is a real art,” he added with a frown, stiffening. His shiny suit fit like one of those unfortunate animals in a teddy bear factory, stuffed into its fur. The silver glint of the fabric reminded her of fish scales.
Run, Christy, run. You could be the one who got away…
She had never in her life paid a favor with sex and wasn’t about to start. She would hold his new listing open, but only if she could do it without owing him.
Besides, she had to do something to drum up business. Her move to San Diego marked the beginning of her new professional career as a Realtor. Being the top salesperson at Madame M’s lingerie boutique on Maiden Lane in San Francisco had only barely paid the bills. She’d loved Madame and had thrived as a sales clerk, but had recognized the time for a real career and had trained in Real Estate, then moved to San Diego after her mother had passed on and left her condo to Christy.
Though she’d been comfortable selling to the rich and powerful of the City by the Bay, Wayne, even if he was half the success he claimed he was, made her nervous.
This is a very bad idea. Just say no.
“Fine.” It sounded like it came from the cubicle next to her.
But then she spotted Wayne’s dimples and canines.
Oh. My. God. I’ve just said yes.

Christy’s red Honda looked like a wet cherry lollipop, polished to perfection. Cute and shiny on the outside, but hot and sweltering on the inside. Sitting in the cramped front seat, she stopped and squinted to make out house numbers, comparing them to the address Wayne had minutely scribbled on the back of his business card. Then she found it.
The house appeared nicer than he’d described. The advertised price, he said, was the lowest in the neighborhood, going back ten years. Hopefully she’d pick up a young couple out looking for their first home, complete with good credit and a wad of cash from Mommy and Daddy. Wouldn’t it be great to make a sale on her very first day on the job?
She parked in the driveway, popped the trunk, and brought out three sandwich signs with the Patterson Realty logo, on loan from Wayne. He was out with his family today. She hoped the Somervilles didn’t stop by since she’d feel uncomfortable looking into the eyes of Wayne’s wife, a woman he probably cheated on and would again, if he got the chance. One of Christy’s other rules: no married men. She wasn’t about to change that, either.
A perfumed late spring breeze blew softly against her face and neck, sending a thrill up her spine. The air ripened with possibility. This was her favorite time of year.
The walkway looked freshly swept. After placing one sign in the front yard, she stacked the other two beside the front door and inserted Wayne’s key. While the lock accepted the new shiny silver metal, the tumblers stayed in place, frozen.
Way to go Wayne. Waste my time and give me the wrong key!
Irritation bubbled, ruining her cheerful, spring-induced mood. She yanked on the front handle and pushed against it out of frustration. It opened.
“Anybody home?” Her voice wavered like that of a small child. She waited. No answer.
Christy stepped inside, onto a striped cotton rug lying cockeyed behind the front door. The smell of fried food hit her. She walked across the wooden floor of the living room, her stilettos clacking. She cracked open a window. Air scented by fresh blossoms poured in, diluting the smells of ordinary life. She grabbed the newspaper tossed on top of an ottoman and folded the crinkling pages under her arm, aiming for the kitchen to find a trashcan. She passed the dining room table, which was strewn with a map of the area, a couple of felt-tipped pens, and a letter-sized yellow lined tablet. She collected these items as well and made her way to the kitchen.
Christy threw the tablet and newspaper onto the tiled countertop and placed her hands on her hips to assess the scene before her. She squinted at several days’ worth of dishes piled high in the sink. Next to it, a large stainless steel bowl sat encrusted with dark green and purple leaves at the bottom, evidence of a salad—several days old.
Maybe Wayne had neglected to tell the sellers about the open house. She decided it was entirely possible. “How can you expect to sell a house this way?” she muttered, then sighed and removed her jacket, slinging it over the back of a clean-looking kitchen chair. She decided to take a tour of the place, checking for other things to clean or straighten before she’d be ready to hold it open.
But this house was such a mess, an uneasy darkness chilled her. She tiptoed down the carpeted hallway, feeling like an intruder, past empty rooms, to a closed door at the end.
Probably the master bedroom.
Something about the whole scene was strange. These people left without cleaning up dinner from several days before, in a hurry. She’d been told short sale houses rarely showed pride of ownership, but this felt absolutely creepy, like she’d stepped on someone’s grave. The hair at the back of her neck bristled as she gripped the doorknob. She lightly tapped with her other hand, and then opened the door.
A naked body lay on the bed.
Holy crap.
Hesitant to look at first, she pushed through her fear. She saw movement. Tanned skin, a muscular male chest that rose and fell. Earphones were wired to a phone balanced on his open palm. The man was very much alive, and healthy. Her eyes drifted further down to a dusting of dark brown hair that led to an impossible-to-miss erection. His penis stood at attention, like a deep rose-colored light standard under a matching fireman’s hat of deeper pink.
Blood pumped to her ears, making them ring, as her heart raced. A wave of anger coursed over her at the realization she had been the victim of a very sick joke perpetrated by Wayne and one of his disgusting friends.
Christy silently closed the door and tiptoed back down the carpeted hallway, her three-inch heels wobbling on the thick, padded surface. Her knees knocked against each other as she picked up speed, her anger building. She grabbed her jacket, keys, and purse, and crossed the living room, headed toward the front door. She was almost free.
Christy wouldn’t give the prankster the satisfaction of knowing she had even seen him. She wanted to stomp her foot and kick something through the window. This was Wayne’s doing.
That sonofabitch and his lopsided plugs will pay for this.
She pulled the door handle and was rewarded by the smells of a warm spring day bleeding through the inch-wide crack she’d created. An enormous hand and forearm came from behind her and slammed the door shut. She saw a familiar blue-green tattoo of some animal tracks on his muscled forearm just before his other hand gripped her mouth. Callused fingers pinched the sides of her cheeks. The grip hurt.

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One lucky commenter on my blog will win:  Poster Accidental SEAL signed by Jimmy Thomas himself! One free Accidental SEAL book in Kindle format (2 winners for this prize). Also, every commenter will receive a Kindle version of the prequel to Accidental SEAL, SEAL Encounter – free. Be sure to leave me your email address.

Leave a review and send me a link, and you can win another one of my posters, signed by Mr. Thomas. 

Contest ends Monday, September 4th at Midnight.