Tag Archive | historical romance

Notable Narrative – Indian Summer Shark Attack!

Notable Narrative

Sometimes, it isn’t just dialogue or a steamy love scene that captures the interest. This particular scene is one I wrote when I first started Indian Summer nearly 20 years ago. I began the novel, but couldn’t capture Gabriella’s voice. Discouraged, I put the notebook in a drawer and left it. One day, I was cleaning the drawer and found the notebook once more. I read through it, discarding most of it as crap, but this scene, I kept. I found Gabriella’s voice in this scene and was able to begin again. This scene is almost word for word what I originally wrote.

The ocean felt blood warm and comforting. I hadn’t realized how much my body ached from my new activities. The tension of the last few weeks washed from my body as the water closed over me. It buoyed me up, letting me float gently on the waves. I closed my eyes to the bright morning sun and rested. I didn’t realize how far I drifted, for the tide was going out. I heard a noise, a shout from the beach and looked up. I was much further out than I intended and began to swim slowly back in.

Before I saw what was happening, a man dove into the water and swam rapidly past me. It was not until then I saw the fin on the water. Shark! I could formulate no other thoughts but the horror of that image, that word. I had seen people attacked by sharks, their bodies torn and bloody, bloated from the water they died in. I swam for my life as quickly as I could. The man met the shark not far from the shore. I scrambled out, running to my clothing. I had the ridiculous notion that it would somehow protect me. There was a battle going on in the waves, but I couldn’t see it clearly. The man raised his knife, the sun glittering off the blade. He brought it down on the shark again and again with a dull, liquid thunk. Blood was everywhere, but whether it was his or the shark’s I didn’t know.

Forgetting my clothing for the moment, I grabbed my knife. Foolishly, I dashed back into the water as man and shark dove under! I couldn’t see either of them, just blood on the waves. A small ripple where they went down was the only other thing visible. Suddenly, the water beside me erupted as a huge shark leapt out of the water not five feet from me! I screamed, frozen to the spot. I saw the knife in its ugly, brutish head, between its eyes. It was fighting fiercely, despite numerous stab wounds.

Clinging to it stubbornly was a man. Sailfish! He was covered in blood, slipping from the shark’s hide. The vicious beast gave a last squirm as the life left it. It shivered once more and died. Sailfish drew his blade from it, racing toward me.

“Run!” He yelled.

I was stupefied, I couldn’t make my legs work. I stood there naked and dripping, too terrified to move.indian summer scanned cover 500 x 750

“Run!” He yelled again. “Gabriella, get out of the water!”

Before he finished speaking, I saw the fins racing toward all the blood, toward us! I turned and ran, splashing and flailing to get to shore. He caught up with me, righting me as I fell. Impatient at my lack of speed, he lifted me out of the water, carrying me to the sand. His long legs covered the distance in less time than it takes to tell of it. I stared in shock and horror as the dead shark danced crazily in the water, the others tearing its carcass to pieces in a horrific frenzy! A scream threatened to erupt from my throat. I opened my mouth, but no sound came out. Gradually, the furor died down and the sharks swam away. Nothing was left of the dead one. I sank to my knees, retching. I had not eaten yet that morning, so it was dry heaves. Sometimes that’s worse than actually vomiting. I became aware of strong hands helping me sit up, of the same hands dressing me like a baby and the muscular arms around me, holding me while I cried.

All the sorrow, anger, and fear that had built in me since the night of my capture, came pouring out in a flood of tears. I felt so safe in his arms. I clung to him, weeping as if my heart were broken. He held me, rocked me, and stroked my hair, all the while speaking in low monotones. None of it made sense to me for he spoke in his own tongue, but the flow of the words and the tone were comforting. I cried a long time, finally coming to a stop. He continued to hold me, giving me his comfort.

Soon, however, the touch changed, I felt the comforting become a caress as a lover would touch his beloved. I don’t know why, but I felt a tingling sensation for the first time since we met. He was so strong, virile, warm and so alive. He stopped rocking me, but continued to hold me, turning my tear-streaked face gently to his. I gazed into his jet black eyes, lost in their depths. His strong jaw was working, trying to hold the emotions in. I felt his manhood pressing against me and faltered in my resolve.

God help me, I loved Manuel! How could I dishonor him by kissing another man? Even as I thought this, Sailfish lowered his lips to mine and kissed me with a passion not even Manuel had equaled. I melted into his embrace, his lips locked with mine, his tongue probing my mouth. I burned inside, my heart fluttering like a trapped bird. I felt swept away as if the ocean waves had carried me off into the water once more. Wave after hot wave coursed through my body. He touched me all the places I knew he shouldn’t, but somehow I couldn’t bring myself to stop him. I was so tired of fighting desire, sick of saying no, weary of being proper.

I believe I would have allowed him to continue had we not heard shouts coming from on the mound. There was a ruckus on the river side of the island. Reluctantly, he let go of me, turning to the lookout. Sailfish called out to him, demanding to know what was wrong. I couldn’t understand his answer, for they spoke in their native tongue. Sailfish all but dumped me on the sand as he rose and ran toward the camp, shouting as he went. I gathered myself up running after him, curious and afraid all at once.

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I Love Dialogue! from Under the Western Sky Chapter 9


I love dialogue doodle bannerUnder the Western Sky is a retro-romantic suspense set in Western Nebraska in 1976. Though somewhat under the radar, there is a great deal of racial tension, partially due to the events that happened at Wounded Knee, South Dakota three years prior.

Bobby and his best friend, Danny, are on opposite sides of the racial barrier. Danny is white and his father has been approached by a white supremacist group. His initiation was to injure, possibly kill, Bobby because he’s dating a white girl. They have a terrible fight and Bobby takes his friend down. The police have arrested Danny and he spent the night in jail.

Bobby woke the next morning to the delicious odors of coffee and bacon. Glancing at the clock, he saw it was well after nine. He couldn’t remember a time when he had slept that late on a Sunday. In fact, he couldn’t remember a time he’d slept that late in the last six years.

His body ached from his encounter with Danny. When he examined himself in the mirror, he saw that his old friend had landed a few good punches on his ribs, leaving angry red welts on his back and chest. How could he have done that without Bobby noticing? He hurt all over and was glad he hadn’t spent the night on the lumpy old couch. His back hitched on him when he bent over to pull up his jeans.

Someone knocked on the door as he zipped his pants. Fumbling with his shirt, he invited them in. He was expecting his mother or maybe Maria, but it was Libby. She was dressed in Maria’s shorts, and a T-shirt with big pink rhinestone lips on the front. Her eyes widened when she saw the bruises on his chest.

“Your mom said to wake you for breakfast,” she said shyly, eyes downcast.

“Thanks.” He pulled her gently inside, closing the door. His lips connected with hers, leaving a spark in their wake. “I’m sorry about last night,” he sighed, holding her face in his hands. “I feel like such a bum.” His fingers traced the curve of her cheek and neck tenderly.

“No, it’s my fault. I should’ve known better.”

“I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I love you too much for that.”

They kissed a few more moments until Maria called to them from the hallway. “Rise and shine, Babu! Breakfast!” She tapped on the door, whispering. “Put it back in your pants and get out here before Mom has a piglet!”

Bobby jerked the door open in her face, leaning casually against the frame. “It’s where it belongs, Mia. Just getting a good morning kiss.” He smirked, pinching her cheek.

He still didn’t have his shirt on and Maria winced, sucking in a breath as he passed her.

“Did Danny do that?” She pressed her hand gently on his side.

“Yeah.” He flinched away from her fingers as they probed a particularly sensitive spot. “Fuck, Mia, don’t do that!” he said, more loudly than he intended.

“What’s that language I’m hearing in my house?” his mother called from the kitchen.

“Nothing, Mamá! It was a perfect stranger who said that,” Bobby called from the hallway.

“If he was perfect, he wouldn’t use that kind of…” His mother stood in the living room, a pancake turner in one hand, an oven mitt in the other. When she saw Bobby’s chest, she stopped talking. “Oh, Jesus, Maria!” She crossed herself as she approached him.

Babbling in Spanish, she examined him carefully before leading him back to the kitchen. “Jim, Toby, look! See what that brute did to my baby!”

Toby looked him over with a practiced eye. “I don’t think anything’s broken, but we better take you by the hospital to have x-rays.”

“I’m fine.” Bobby tried to pass off the pain. “Just bruised up.” Shrugging into his shirt, he winced as he pulled it down, gasping as the cloth rasped against his bruises.

“That settles it for me,” Toby said in a no-nonsense voice. “I’m taking you.”Under the Western Sky by Dellani Oakes - 500

“Can I at least eat first? I’m starving.”

Toby frowned, not wanting to agree, but not wanting the kid to be hungry.

“A man either needs food or sex after something like that,” Jim said, without thinking.

Bobby shot him an ugly look, which fortunately his mother missed. “Yeah, well, I’ll take that food now, Mom.”

Jim mouthed, “I’m sorry,” to him, winking at Maria as she stifled a giggle.

“Does it hurt as much as it looks?” Grace asked.

“Pretty much, yeah. Hurts to breathe deep. I don’t even remember him doing that to me. I didn’t feel anything at the time.”

“Yeah, you don’t,” Toby said calmly. “It’s an adrenaline thing. You get so pumped, you don’t realize you’re taking almost as much damage as you’re giving. Though in this case, I think you did more.” He winked at Bobby. “You’ll have to show me that trick. I know black belts who can’t do that.”

“I wish I could. I don’t have a clue. It was like I saw in my mind how it was done, but unless you pulled a gun on me, I don’t think I could repeat it.”

“We’ll figure it out.” Jim almost clapped him on the shoulder, but refrained. “Bruce Lee, ki ya!”

Bobby tried to laugh but it hurt. Instead, he held his ribs, groaning.

“That’s it,” Toby said, before they even sat down. “Link is on his way here. I’m taking you to the hospital.”

“I’ll take him, Toby,” Jim offered. “I think the ladies need you here more than me. As soon as Link arrives, we’ll go.”

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

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I Love Dialogue! from Indian Summer

I love dialogue doodle bannerIndian Summer is my first published novel. An historical romantic suspense, Indian Summer is set in St. Augustine, Florida in 1739. Gabriella Deza is the youngest daughter of Spanish Governor, Ferdinand Deza. Headstrong and intrepid, Gabriella has just turned 15, the coming of age of a young Spanish woman. Manuel Enriques, her father’s aide de camp, has declared his love for her. He also asks if he may escort her to her birthday party. Overwhelmed by his declaration, Gabriella realizes she has feelings for him, too. In this excerpt, they are at her birthday party and he has just invited her to dance.

My knees melted as he held out his hand to me.

“This is my dance, I believe, Señorita Deza.”

Manuel locked eyes with the next candidate for treading on my toes, who cowered under his look. Nodding rapidly, the little rabbit of a man retreated to the corner behind Clara and seemed to take her as his shield of defense.

I graced him with my sincere smile and said, “I promise the next dance is yours, señor.”

He bobbed his head rapidly again, retreating even further. Manuel spoke from the corner of his mouth as we walked to the dance floor. “I don’t think you will have to honor that promise, my sweet.”

Chortling, I replied with a coquettish toss of my hair. “Why, Señor Enriques, do you intend to intimidate every man here?”

He chuckled secretively as he turned me in a circle under his arm. “If need be, my dear. If need be. I shall have you to myself.” He put special emphasis on “shall” as he spun me again and the music began.

Quiet at first, I listened with only half my attention. Suddenly, the orchestra erupted in a wave of the most exciting music I had ever heard! The guitars hammered loudly, the percussion began a beat I was familiar with. The music echoed the pounding of my heart. Manuel chuckled, seeing the surprised look upon my face.

“Do you like my choice? It’s a special request I gave them. A dance just for us!” He spun me again, three times in succession.

“I don’t know this dance!” I gasped. “I don’t know the steps!”

“Listen to the music, Bella. You know this. You feel it in your blood! Would I ever embarrass you? Follow my lead and you will be free!”

The music continued slowly, just a hint of notes on a single guitar. Manuel led me in a few gentle steps, ending in a deep dip. The tempo changed, accelerating into a fast, syncopated rhythm. He swept me into the most amazing dance! The music crashed into me in wave after wave of excitement. The power of it washed over us, setting my heart pounding in my chest with a beat at the same time unnatural, but as much a part of me as breathing.

We spun, stepped, dipped, clapped, stomped and when we got to the end I realized I had just danced my first Flamenco. I had seen this dance many times. The country folk in Spain danced this at their celebrations. The music and tradition had followed us to this new land, where they danced it at festivals.

Manuel led me off the dance floor, both of us a little breathless and perspiring. It was then I noticed no one else had joined us in the dance. I looked up at him with a question on my lips. He shrugged casually. “I asked for a dance alone with you. The gentlemen politely complied.”

I narrowed my eyes, feigning a glare. “How much did you threaten them?” I was teasing and he knew it.

He held his fingers about an inch apart. “Perhaps, this much?”

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

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Conduct Unbecoming – Excerpt Chapter Seven

conduct unbecoming front coverNot everyone is a fan of Teague McMurtry. In fact, some people thoroughly detest him. One such is Major Victor Quartermain. Once a rival for Isobel’s hand, Teague maintains that the better man was the one who gave her up—himself. He and Quartermain hate one another, and not just because of Isobel. Victor has a secret that could not just ruin his career, it could get him killed. He will do anything it takes to protect himself.

Moonlight on the water didn’t make him feel romantic. He was too angry to feel anything else. I missed! At that close a range. Unforgivable! He sat on the deck of his boat, cradling his weapon. He broke it down to its component parts and dropped a piece overboard. The boat drifted a little and he dropped another piece. He continued the process until the last part hit the water and sank.

Turning the boat toward land, he muttered and grumbled to himself. “It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Goddammit, I hate that man!” He cut the motor, letting the boat drift in toward the dock. Jumping onto the deck, he tied it off.

A dark car sat nearby. He fished keys out of his jacket pocket, clicking the alarm button as he approached. The lights flashed as the door lock and alarm disengaged. Sliding behind the wheel, he took a deep breath. He held the steering wheel with both hands, a shuddering sigh breaking its way through his calm veneer.

What have I done? Dear God, what have I done?

Starting the car, he pulled out of the parking lot of the marina and headed home. The radio quietly played a haunting, blues tune. He turned it up, humming until it reached the chorus. “Not gonna let ’em catch the Midnight Rider.” Greg Allman’s crooning voice filled the car as he turned off into the Spruce Creek Fly-In in Port Orange.

Turning into his driveway, he pulled into the garage. He shut the car off as the garage door closed. Hands on the wheel, he closed his eyes, muttering what might have been a prayer. He wasn’t entirely sure anymore. It might have been invective hurled at his Maker, it didn’t matter. The damage was done and Isobel was in the hospital. That was his fault too.

“Dammit!” He pounded the steering wheel before getting out of the car.

Entering the house, he stopped before flicking on the light. Something didn’t feel right. Or maybe it was the smell. There was something wrong, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Trying to shake it off, he headed to the kitchen to get a beer from the fridge. Something still wasn’t right. Determined not to let it get to him, he pulled the door open.

There on his wife’s best silver platter were photos of the dead man from the beach. Something was in the vegetable drawer other than tomatoes and carrots. Cautiously, hands trembling, he reached for it. Thinking better of it, he straightened up. He recognized the smell now—propane. Lots of it. It grew harder to breathe. Clamping a dish towel over his mouth, he ran from the house, dialing 9-1-1. When he hit the send button on his phone, he heard a loud pop behind him.

The hair on the back of his neck tingled and he ran faster, dashing through the front yard as his kitchen exploded. Miraculously unhurt, though somewhat singed, he watched his house go up like a book of matches. The fire department, when they arrived a few minutes later, could do nothing but prevent the houses next door from catching fire.

Rubbing the back of his neck, Quartermain sat on the bumper of the ambulance, cursing Teague under his breath, as the paramedic checked him for injuries.

“You’re fine, sir,” the young man told him. “A few bruises, a scrape or two, but otherwise fit.”

“Thank you,” he muttered, watching his house burn to the ground.

The fire chief and arson inspector came over, standing opposite him, arms folded. Both were massively built men who looked like they could crack his head open with a flick of their fingers. He straightened up, clutching the blanket around him.

“Mr. Quartermain?” the chief began.

“M-Major Quartermain. N-not M-Mister.” His damn stutter returned. He’d been rid of it for 30 years.

“Major,” the chief corrected himself. “Are you all right, sir?”

“My g-goddamn house is b-burning down. How do you th-think I am?”

“I meant are you injured?” The man tightened up, frowning.

“I’m fine. Sorry. My house—” He gestured toward the blaze.

“I’m very sorry for your loss, Major. We’ve found evidence of an explosive device. Can you think of anyone who would want to blow up your home?”

“No,” Victor Quartermain shuddered, shaking his head. “No, no, no. . .n-n-nnn. . . .” The shaking intensified.

The paramedic rushed over. The other two men got out of his way, letting him do his job.

“I have to ship him, sir,” the young man said after a quick exam. “I think he’s having a stroke. Or maybe he sustained a blow to the head. I can’t tell here.”

© 2014 Dellani Oakes

Dellani’s Books Romance with an Edge

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Conduct Unbecoming – Excerpt

conduct unbecoming front coverThe following excerpt is from Chapter Eight of Conduct Unbecoming. The men in my books talk like my sons, as that’s the example I’ve seen on a daily basis. That being said, they aren’t always nice to one another. In fact, at times, they are down right mean. The same applies to the men in my stories. They may be friends, but they aren’t averse to slamming one another. Teague’s cousin, Joel, has a car that the other men hate. He loves it and isn’t ashamed of his bright blue Civic.

After breakfast, the men went outside for a smoke. None of them did it very often, but this seemed like the occasion to indulge. Not only that, they wanted to talk about their women.

“Teague, dude, you missed out not having sex with Nadeya,” Jasper said. “I’ve had it good before, but da-yam!”

“I beat your record, cuz,” Joel said.

“Record? Which one is that?”

“Getting into Aileen’s panties. She said it took you a week.”

Teague chuckled. “She’d like to remember it that way. I think it was about three days.”

“Still beat you,” Joel replied, proud of himself.

“You did, cuz. That’s very cool.”

“She did it because she feels sorry for you—having that gay car and all—” Jasper teased.

Joel smacked him. “I’m sick of you guys making fun of my car! Some people find it hot.”

Teague and Jasper eyed Joel’s car, raising dubious eyebrows.

“Nope. Sorry, they don’t.” Teague replied.

“Pretty sure that’s a no,” Jasper added.

“What is wrong with my car?”

“The color,” Teague replied without hesitation.

“The purple neon underneath,” Jasper added.

“Spinners.” Teague nodded adamantly.

“Spoiler.” Jasper snapped.

“Name!” they bellowed together.

“I love my car,” Joel said. “Nothing you two say will change that.”

“I’m surprised Aileen still went to bed with you after she saw that,” Jasper said.

“Not funny!”

Vivica came to the door. “You’re going to wake the neighbors,” she said calmly. “What’s all the shouting about?”

“Joel maintains that his car is, in fact, hot,” Jasper said. “We maintain that it’s not.”

“Really? You’re talking about a car after having some of the best sex of your life?” She rolled her eyes with disgust and went inside, slamming the door.

“Good thing you got that sex already,” Jasper intoned. “Cause I’m pretty sure you won’t tonight.”

“Wait until she tells Nadeya and Aileen,” Joel said, eyes wide. “You’ll be in deep shit—both of you.”

“I’ll be deep in something,” Jasper countered. “But it won’t be shit.” He rose, heading toward the door. “Y’all coming?”

“Not yet,” Teague replied, throwing his cigarette butt at Jasper.

“Funny. Very. We need to figure this shit out, man. We have to help Nadeya out of this mess.”

© 2014 Dellani Oakes

 

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Presenting Conduct Unbecoming!

conduct unbecoming front coverDid you fall in love with Teague McMurtry in The Ninja Tattoo? Well, he’s back and sassier than ever! This time, he’s got help from his family as well as his good friend, Jasper Waters.

Jasper’s a former Marine who is now a cop. Quite by accident, he’s involved in helping Teague find an old friend—Nadeya.

Nadeya has a problem—lots of them, really. Her fiancée was murdered and she’s seeking revenge against the men who did it. Unfortunately, the one man who could have helped her has been brutally murdered and the police are looking for Nadeya as a person of interest.

Join Teague, Vivica, Jasper and Nadeya as they search for the truth.

© 2014 Dellani Oakes

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New from Dellani Oakes Conduct Unbecoming – A Teague McMurtry Mystery

 

dellani photo dark 2 super cropDellani Oakes makes her home in Florida, but she grew up in Western Nebraska. Before that, she lived in Tennessee, Ohio, Massachusetts and Texas. After graduating from high school, she added Mississippi. The diverse locations gave her a unique perspective on life. Always a people watcher, Dellani put that talent to use when she became an author.

Bitten by the writing bug early in life, Dellani first pursued poetry as her medium of self-expression. Soon, she moved on the song parodies and then short stories and humorous essays. Once she got to high school, it became apparent that she needed to learn to spell when she got a paper back from her English teacher, “For content: A+. For mechanics: F.” That comment changed her life, forcing her to focus as much on how she said things as well as what she said.

Dellani took up writing full time when her youngest son started kindergarten in 2002. Since then, she has published five books. She has two romantic suspense novels are with Tirgearr Publishing and an historical romance and two sci-fi novels with Second Wind Publishing. She has also contributed to several anthologies, MJ Magazine and shares her unpublished works on her blog.

Because she loves to talk to other authors, Dellani hosts two talk shows a month on Blog Talk Radio. Listen in every second Monday of the month at 4:00 PM Eastern for Dellani’s Tea Time, and every fourth Wednesday, at 4:00 PM Eastern for What’s Write for Me.

Armed with bravado and wonderfully supportive friends and family, Dellani has embarked on a journey of self-publication. Conduct Unbecoming is her first venture into this new, and somewhat scary, world.

Author Interview

Where are you from?

I was born in Tennessee, but have lived in Ohio, Massachusetts, Texas, Nebraska, Mississippi and now live in Florida.

What components, in your opinion, make a great story?

A great story needs good conflict, a discernible opposite of the main characters. This can be in the form of an actual person, entity or group. It can also be some hurdle the hero has to overcome. With good conflict comes good characters. They must be up to the task they’ve been presented with, even if they don’t think so themselves. Despite weaknesses, they manage to rise to the challenge and overcome it. Good plot dynamics also add to the story. No good tale can go straight up to the climax and straight down to the denouement. There have to be levels built, like steps, guiding the reader to the conclusion.

What was the hardest part of the story to write?

It was hard to keep the plot fresh and not do a rehash of The Ninja Tattoo. I didn’t want the characters in hiding, as they were before. However, when I thought of a full on confrontation, the characters stopped me. Two of the bad guys were too formidable and unpredictable for a frontal assault. I would have lost all my main characters and had a slaughter of innocents on my hands. Teague was champing at the bit to take the villain head to head and I couldn’t let him. Amazingly, Jasper, who is even more impetuous than Teague, talked him out of it. After that, I let them decide and I like where they went with the story.

What was the easiest part of the story to write?

The love scenes were the easiest part. I love having people fall in love and bringing them together for the first time is always kind of magical.

Was there much research involved?

Since I had already written a story with similar aspects, there was very little research involved. I did ask an author friend of mine, Seth Bailey, for advice on a rifle for one of the scenes. Though the weapon isn’t specifically named, he gave me some useful information. He also told me a real sniper wouldn’t be seen or miss, which was exactly what I was after.

What do you feel is your biggest strength as a writer?

Dialogue, hands down. I wrote plays in college and that has stayed with me. Info dumps, back story, characterization—all this and more can be portrayed through dialogue.

When your first started writing, did anything about the writing process surprise you?

I didn’t think about how long it would take to get from the beginning to the end. I would get these fabulous ideas and couldn’t type fast enough. What I thought would take an hour to write, often took 2 or 3.

Do you celebrate when you finish a story, and if so, how?

I do celebrate a little. I keep my book files separated by Finished and Unfinished files. When a book is done, I move it from one folder to the other and do a little happy dance. Sometimes, if it’s a been a real bear to finish, I’ll have a glass of wine. I love finishing a book, but once it’s done, the real work—editing—begins. I give myself some down time afterward, before I move on to a new project or begin my first phase of editing.

Do you have a set writing routine?

No. My time is too broken up with errands I have to run, needs of my family (buggers have to eat, after all) and all the Mom and Wife stuff I have to do. I try to get in my office by 10:00 most mornings, and put in time on my various projects. Sometimes, it’s editing, other times it’s setting up my blog posts. Other days, I go on Facebook & promote my books or radio shows. I try to put that off until later in the day, though, because it’s easy to get sucked in.

I write or edit awhile, break for a late lunch, watch reruns on Netflix and relax, before going back to work. I take another break to fix dinner. Sometimes, I stop and watch a movie with my family, then I’m back at my computer until around 1:00 a.m. I often have to make myself go to bed. I’m not usually sleepy, but I can’t allow myself to stay up all night, even though I’d like to.

Do you listen to music when you write?

Always! I have to listen to music. It keeps me going and makes me feel energized. It also serves a more mundane purpose, it provides a screen between me and the outside world. Even in my office, the sounds of the rest of the house annoy and interfere. I’ve learned to filter out and ignore some, but I can’t separate myself from it all. Also, I have constant ringing in my left ear. The doctors can’t do anything about it, so I play music to tone that down.

You’re marooned on a desert island. What’s the one book you’d want with you, and why?

Give me unlimited paper & pens, I’ll write my own. The voices in my head won’t shut up just because I’m not at my computer.

What’s next for you? Can we look forward to a new story in the near future?

I’m always working on something. I have several books that I’ve shared on my blog. I plan to get these ready to self-publish. The one I’m currently sharing on my blog, Bad Fall, is actually a companion novel to Conduct Unbecoming. The main character is mentioned in Conduct Unbecoming, and one of the villains is the same. I am also writing a sequel to Bad Fall, and it’s an extension of both Conduct Unbecoming and Bad Fall. The title is A Matter of Time.

What advice would you give an aspiring author?

Learn grammar! I realize that makes me sound like an English teacher, which I am, but it’s important. I just finished reading a wonderful book that had a great plot and held my interest, but the author kept hopping from present to past tense. There were times that she switched from first person narrative to third person in the same sentence. It was a little frustrating. Also, PLEASE learn the difference between LAY and LIE and use them right! That bugs the crap out of me. I despair of ever winning that battle, because nearly everyone does it wrong.

What made you decide to venture into self-publishing?

I love my publishers, but they are busy with other authors as well as me. I have books I really want to have published, but can’t get out as soon as I’d like to. I’ve been afraid to do this until many of my friends encouraged me to try it. Thank you Christina Giguere, Karen Vaughan and Ethel Cook-Wilson for convincing me that I could, and should, give it a try.

 

Excerpt from Chapter Six

“You don’t mind sharing with me, do you?” Joel asked Aileen.

“Do you snore?”

“Not that anyone’s ever told me.”

“Joel doesn’t have sleepovers often,” Jasper said. “He wouldn’t know.”

Joel punched Jasper hard in the chest. “Back the fuck off, Waters.”

Vivica interceded once more. “Do you guys need anything?”

“I’ve got a change of clothing in the car,” Joel said, heading outside to get it. He slammed the door behind him.

Jasper watched him leave, jaw working angrily. Vivica had to speak to him again to get his attention.

“I just need a toothbrush and some boxers. I’m good to go.”

“Teague has some new ones here somewhere. They should fit you. Hang on.” She ducked into the master bedroom and brought out a pair of plaid boxers.

Jasper thanked her and went in the bathroom. Vivica and Aileen made the bed while he took a quick shower. Joel still hadn’t come back in. Concerned, Aileen called him, but his phone went to voice mail.

“I’m going to go look for him,” she said.

Vivica nodded and tucked in the blanket. Aileen went outside. She found Joel sitting on the neighborhood dock, gazing at the moon. He looked up when she sat down on another deck chair.

“He really gets under my skin,” he explained. “And I let him. I want to kick myself in the ass.”

“What’s with you two. You seem to hate each other.”

“No. Jasper’s a good guy, he’s just so competitive. I’ve been on the receiving end more times than I’d like. He’s a sore loser, but he’s a worse winner. Problem is, I am too.” He chuckled, shaking his head. “We’re too damn much alike to be friends. The only reason we tolerate each other is because of Teague.”

“He’s always had that effect, hasn’t he? I’ve never seen someone who can bring people together and get the best out of them like he can. God, he had me charmed and in his bed faster than any man I’ve ever met.”

Joel held up his hand, halting her monologue. “I can handle many things. But hearing how good my cousin is at seducing a beautiful woman is not one of them.”

“Jealous?”

“As all hell,” Joel admitted. He stared across the water.

“I can’t imagine you’ve had much trouble along that line,” Aileen said quietly. She scooted closer, shivering.

Joel flung an arm around her, pulling her closer. “I’d loan you my jacket if I had one.”

“This is good. So, you don’t want to know how he seduced me?”

“Nope. Why would I?”

“Because it might work for you too.”

Joel chuckled, rubbing her arm. “There is that. Maybe I’ll find my own way.”

Aileen gazed into his eyes. They looked silver in the moonlight. “How would you go about it?”

“First, I’d take you for a ride in my sexy car.”

She giggled. “And then?”

“Then I’d buy you a cup of coffee and a slice of the best pie in town.”

“Jasper actually did that.”

“Yeah, but I drove you there in my sexy car.”

“True.”

“Then I’d have me a temper tantrum and storm outside like a three year old.”

“Oooh, be still my fluttering heart.”

Joel turned his face to hers, pulling her close. “Then, I reckon I’d get you by the river in the moonlight and hope you let me kiss you.”

Aileen leaned closer. Joel brushed her cheek, touching her lips with his thumb. His lips met hers—warm and soft and full. She shivered against him, but not because she was cold. Joel’s tongue flickered between her lips and she opened them more. He took full advantage, deepening the kiss. Sighing, they scooted closer together. Joel touched Aileen’s cheek, his fingers winding in her hair. Gradually, his hand dropped to her shoulder before drifting down to her breast. Teasing her, he traced circles over her shirt.

The screen door of Vivica’s house screeched, sounding loud in the still night. Joel’s head snapped around.

“You two okay?” Vivica called.

“Yeah. Be right in, Viv.

Sorry,” Joel replied. He stood, giving Aileen a hand up. Her arm slipped around his waist.

“That was a nice kiss. I’d like to continue that sometime.”

Joel sighed. “But I’m guessing not tonight.”

“Not tonight. But soon.”

She started away from him. Joel caught her hand, pulling her back. The kiss was even more powerful when they were standing. His firm body pressed against hers. It felt good to have a man show his interest so definitively. There were no games with Joel. He liked her, he was attracted. She had no intention of bedding a man she’d known less than 12 hours—though it was damned tempting.

“How long did it take my cousin,” he whispered huskily. His breath tickled her neck.

“A week.”

Joel nodded, smirking. Arm slung around her shoulders, he planted a kiss on her cheek, smirking as they walked to the house.

 

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