Monday, December 2, 2013

Can Eva Save Them? #FREEDOM

Hey peeps-
L.J. here, and I just have to share about a book I just read. It's Clone - The Book of Eva by D.L. Jackson. Now, we've had Ms. Jackson on our blog several times and it's always been a blast (and we'll have her on again soon....heh heh). But her latest release is so compelling, so different from her previous works that I plan to grab my trusty ice cream scoop and dig deeeep.
Let's start by saying, I've read most everything D.L. Jackson has written. Great romance stories for sure. Military, Sci-fi, preppers, the list goes on and on. But this story? It's nothing like she's written before.
I need to make it clear...Clone - The Book of Eva is NOT a romance story. Yes, Ms. Jackson writes amazing, wonderful (and some OMG steamy) romances. But this ain't her usual box o' chocolates (i.e. no guaranteed HEA). This story grabs you by the throat and makes you wish you could change events that you already know are going to happen. Yep, they're made clear, right up there ain't no escaping it. But it's the getting there that gets to you. And don't get me wrong, there are plenty of love themes going on here -- longing for love, finding love and losing it, giving up love for a greater cause, having true love at last but not realizing it's real. Clone - The Book of Eva is a story about love and it's many aspects. (In truth, there are a lot of other things going on through the book, too. But I'll let you discovers those for yourself.)

Clone - The Book of Eva is a story that haunts you long after you finish it. Not just the characters (that are deep and well drawn) but the world itself. It's rich in detail, painting a future that is off-kilter in ways that will make your skin crawl and your stomach clench. I'm not talking about blood and guts horror, but more of the psychological nature. This book gets into your head because it's so plausible -- from the way clones are created, why they are grown, and what their lives become. <shiver>

But amid all this, there is hope. And Ms. Jackson uses this hope in ways that will have you longing for a different outcome (even though the outcome is spelled out up front, and in truth it's the only realistic answer). I was holding my breath as the world she'd created teetered on an axis that had been methodically chipped away by its characters -- some who hold great power, and others who are seemingly nobodies.

Again, this is NOT a romance story by any means. But more of a love story. And Ms. Jackson's love for this world and the characters she's created is very clear. I look forward to digging deep with another interview. Now...where did I put that ice cream scoop??

the book of Eva
by D.L. Jackson

....When a world leader’s daughter meets a clone, a doomed love affair begins.
....In the year 2087, a great war erupts on the planet and a struggle to survive begins. One hundred-fifty years later, the continent of America is divided into two factions, Aeropia and The United Regions. There is a shortage of food and an abundance of illness, leaving most to live on the scraps of the wealthy who wallow in excess.
....This is the world Olivia Braun inherits. Sick from birth, she wakes up from surgery with a new heart, only to discover she is the youngest president of Aeropia, an empire that has created and used clones to maintain their position of supremacy since the war. However, Olivia’s rise to power is no accident. Before her transplant, she conspired with a clone to free those enslaved, but the outcome is not what she expected.
....Now, enemies hide among the population, and even friends can no longer be trusted. Olivia must make a choice that will decide the fate of an empire. Before her tale of corruption, forbidden love and war ends, the mighty will be brought to their knees.
....By a clone.


Where to find D.L. Jackson: website | blog | Facebook | Goodreads

....Eva stared at the crowd forty floors below. Her toes hung over the ledge. She didn’t draw a breath or feel alarm in the tightening of her belly as most would when they faced death. The people clustered around the gates and paced along the street, appearing as nothing more than bugs she could squash under her heel. Tininess aside, the roar of fright reached her, rumbling through flesh and bone.
....They’d gathered around the palace because of the riots. They wanted her sympathy, her reassurance things would continue as usual, that the towers they’d built for themselves would not collapse.
....The Aeropite Commander of Joint Forces, General Michael Axis, stood near her on the deck, clutching the rail, as though he dared not get any closer than the ten feet that separated them. His knuckles were as white as his face, and for the first time since they’d met, he truly looked frightened. All he’d worked for threatened to die with her, and his soldiers, collared for the moment, were about to be released. He could do nothing about it.
....The wind whipped loose tendrils of her coif, beating the strands against her face in an angry assault. The fine silk of her suit snapped around her like a banner in a hurricane. For the first time in her life, she knew her purpose, had no fears. Concede. Die. Fight. Live forever.
....“Madam President, you need to come off the edge.” He trimmed his soft words with a threat no one else could hear. Sharp like a razor, cold like forged metal, Michael used his coercive blade as he always did, but this time, it had no effect. She’d stopped caring. “Ana.” Angrier, a little harder, more pronounced. He might as well scream, “heel, heel.”
....Not today. He knew her name, and it wasn’t Ana. He’d put her here, given her this power. When his plan failed, and he realized he could no longer force her to do his bidding, Michael had stooped to begging. Pathetic as it was, she savored every moment. No, you heel. The smile came, tied to joy, something she’d waited a lifetime for. Oh, she planned to finish this, but not as he intended. “They’re free.”
....“Don’t do this. Your country needs you. The people are frightened. I have no idea what to tell them. There have been murders, clones that have somehow broken free of their girdles.”
....Eva twisted slightly, enough to make eye contact with Michael and catch the outline of several figures clustered inside the room. There they stood, his grand audience, inside the balcony doors, flash frozen puppets with no voice. Eva surmised they’d accompanied him to talk her down, yet they did nothing to help. If they discovered she wasn’t their leader, they’d certainly push her over.
....The trigger he held, well, that was different. Designed to bend her to his will. Useless now. She didn’t care if he took her life. Her time had come, and he could not win this standoff.
....“Not somehow,” she said. Hundreds of thousands were free of their bonds and tasting liberty for the first time. In a few minutes, the soldier clones would follow, their collars falling from their necks, their hands filled with weapons he’d put there. Michael was a general with no control of his army, and they were about to turn on him.
....The people of Aeropia would suffer for the pain they’d heaped upon the clones. He would pay for what he’d done, and when the sun set and his body lay broken in the street, no one would take pity on his corpse—or his human soul. If he had one. He could not escape his fate any more than she.
....“I feel for you that you’ve lost your husband and friend. It’s a tragedy, but the people need you. Your daughter needs you. Come down.”
....Her wrist monitor beeped as the last code locked into place and the satellite transmitted the order to the soldier clone’s collars, releasing every last one. Michael glanced at the blinking band. His face grew paler and he swallowed, as though he choked on his own bile.
....“You, bitch.” Boom. Loud blasts sounded around the city, coming from every direction. “No,” he muttered. “You can’t do this to me.” His slid his thumb over a button on the device in his palm and pressed.
....Eva gritted her teeth.
....Jab, jab, jab. Michael poked the button over and over, before he lifted his chin and scowled. and over, before he lifted his chin and scowled. “How did you…?”
....For several seconds she held his gaze, waiting for the pain in her head, the ending he’d promised if she didn’t do as told. Dante. “He didn’t lie.” The words were not for General Axis, but to herself as she came face-to-face with the truth. Dante had loved her. He’d freed her.
....She’d killed him.
....“Who didn’t lie? What are you talking about?” General Axis’s eyes popped wide and his mouth fell open. “You can’t do this. I…. What do I tell the citizens to reassure them of their safety?”
....“Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.” Let them eat cake. At least one queen could really say it. And today, she was a queen. She spread her arms and greeted the open air, falling forward into the storm, and back to the arms of the man she loved.
....As forty floors rushed by, a young woman in the same tower began her tale about the clone who freed the world. For the first time, she spoke of treason, lies, and a forbidden love born in a time of darkness.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Happy Birthday to me!

Yes, it was damn cold yesterday am.

Debbie: Morning dear writing partner. Today is my birthday so I took the day off from deer hunting with the hubby to laze around on the couch wrapped in a warm blanket. It’s darn chilly out there.
Laura: Well, happy birthday, sweetie!! Hope it's great!
Debbie: So I thought I would share some pics with you. Starting with yesterday's. So hubby dropped me off at my spot at 5am, in the pitch ass dark I might add, and took off for his own, which yesterday ended up being a ten mile hike around the mountain, and since it had snowed it made walking around much quieter…he doesn’t sit still well. Me on the other hand, I have no other choice since I have a 3rd degree calf muscle tear. I took this pic of it Monday on the 10 day mark.
Laura: Owie!! That looks painful! I warned you doing the wild thing with the new hubster in that spot with those toys while you wore spiked heels -- not to mention the balancing required -- was a recipe for disaster. But would you listen? Noooo.... I'm sure your DH was pleasantly surprised and very happy. You on the other hand...well, there' always a price to be paid.
Debbie: That is NOT how it happened. Anyway, I want to introduce you to my knew friend. I named him Puff.
Laura: Okayyy...I'm guessing ol' Puff is a magic dragon cause I don't see nuthin'.
Debbie: Come on... you can see it, cant you? His eye and nose hole. You cant see it in the pic, but he has a mouth too.
Laura: Ohhh...Yeah. It IS a dragon! Cool!
Debbie: He and i became fast friends. After eleven hours alone in the woods, Puff taught me all kinds of things.
Laura: I'm guessing there were magic mushrooms involved, too...?
Debbie:Noooo, none of that. Sheesh. First of all he's magical, hense the name Puff. When the hubby came by to have lunch with me, Puff decided to be silent and not talk and somehow turned himself into a log. I couldn't believe it.
Laura: Um, sweetie, pain meds and mushrooms don't mix.
Debbie: He told me all kinds of things about himself. Like when he isn't entertaining deranged hunters...hmmm...anyway, when he isn't entertaining his company, he likes to frolic in the autumn mist, and contrary to popular belief, he is still very brave but does have a guarded heart when it comes to making friends. He's found kids can be fickle.
Laura: Well, he's right. They're kids...have the attention span of a gna -- Ooo, sparkly. I love how the sun shines through the sun catcher...pretty colors.
Debbie:Yeah, so maybe it isn't just kids. He also told me that I was wasting my time sitting there all day, that all the deer and bears headed to Colorado and Washington, but he wouldn't say why.
Laura: Hmm...A. He ate them all and doesn't want you to feel like you missed out. B. He said that because he's saving them for himself. C. The forest is empty because anything that move, he ate.
Debbie: Could be. Of course, rumor has it that Puff likes to "light up" every now and then...he is a dragon after all...and could just be blowing smoke up my ass, so I guess I'd better not listen to him and get back out in the woods tomorrow to find that buck.  
Laura: Or what's left of him....

Here are some pics i thought I'd share.
This was also my scenery yesterday.

Then it warmed up 5 degrees.
All the comforts of home. PS I couldn't read Sins of the Mind. Too scary being out there all alone.

The shit that grows wild in the forest.
The view!
How's THAT for camouflaged?
What I looked like until around noon.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Why is the 1Night Stand Series So Popular? 200+ Books Tell the Story....

Debbie: Morning all! Today we are in sunny Destin, Florida, at the Castillo-Destin Resort talking to the creators of Decedent Publishing’s 1 Night Stand series.

LJ: Oooo! I can’t wait to talk to Kate Richards and Valerie Mann! I’ve read lots of the 1NS stories…written a few, too. LOL

Debbie: Gee, Really?

LJ: Uh yeah. Where were you?

Debbie: Hmmm…Writing them with you?

LJ: Wow, nice weather we’re having today. Look…here come Kate and Val now!

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LJ: Hey! So cool you could visit with us. Oh! (takes cup from Kate) Coffee! Awesome! How ever did you know? Thank you!

DEBBIE: (takes cup from Val) Hot chocolate? That’s so thoughtful. Thanks! (elbows LJ and whispers) Now I feel bad about how we’re about to grill them.

LJ: (whispers) No you don’t.

DEBBIE: You’re right. I don’t. (turns back to guests) Okay girls, so we hear you two are celebrating this month. What exactly is the excuse, I mean reason this time?

VAL: We’ll have over 200 1Night Stand releases by the end of 2013!

LJ: Wow! Well that is something to celebrate! Two hundred…that’s a lotta stories!

DEBBIE: That’s a lotta 1 night stands!

LJ: How long have you two known one another?

KATE:  Five years I believe

VAL:  October 2008. We bonded over a Halloween promotion.

LJ: Cool! How long have we known each other, Deb?

DEBBIE: Ahhhh, hmmmm. I know it was by 2009. Coulda been 2008.

LJ: Feels like a lot longer. Like eons.

DEBBIE: That’s a compliment, right?

LJ: Sure it is! So Val, Kate, what was the first thing you noticed about each other?

KATE: Val’s brilliance and leadership

VAL: Kate’s diplomacy. It offsets my shoot-from-the-hipness. She’s quite frightening, once you get to know her. You sort of bow down in homage.

LJ: Sounds like you two complement each other.

DEBBIE: How come you never compliment me?

LJ: Uh, I just did!

DEBBIE: I’m not so sure.

LJ: How did you two come up with the 1NS series?

KATE:  The two of us and Olivia Starke developed it the summer before, wrote a story each, and submitted the trilogy to Decadent.

VAL: July 2009, we discussed writing a little series. It actually didn’t start out as 1Night Stand. More like 1NS’s big brother. Madame Eve’s boss is in that series. And that’s all we’ll say about that. But you think she has power? She’s a one-trick pony compared to her boss man. That series was put on hold, but in January 2011, we went ahead and submitted three 1NS stories. We thought that would be the end of it. Ha.

LJ: Okay, you naughty girl. Now I’m intrigued. I would love to learn more about Madame Eve’s boss.

DEBBIE: I didn’t even know she had a boss.

LJ: Pft. Me neither. Hmm…so if there’s a boss, why did you choose Madam Eve to run the show?

KATE: Oh, I don’t know that we chose her. I believe it is her show. With Madame’s talents, I have no doubt she is capable of bringing herself to our attention.

VAL: I have no idea. Honest. It’s like she just appeared and said, “Move over, I’m driving.” And she’s been watching us in the rearview mirror ever since. We wave and smile back.

LJ: Go, Madam Eve!


LJ: (digs in pocket) Ooo! M&Ms. Hey, Kate, since you brought me coffee, you want some M&Ms?

DEBBIE: This series seemed to just explode. What do you think made it so popular with both the readers and authors?

VAL:  Huh…Kate has nothing to say about this?

DEBBIE: Kate’s eating chocolate with LJ. Their mouths are full. They look like little chipmunks.

LJ: (glares at Deb) Mmph-mmph.

DEBBIE: Kinda sound like chipmunks too.

VAL: Well, I’ll answer. The key to a successful series is having at least one element that shows up over and over, and pulls readers in. Series don’t have to be super-complicated.  This isn’t Lord of the Rings. What 1NS does have is a trifecta of romantic goodness: a mysterious matchmaker, a service that guarantees results (even though Eve never promises anything, we know better), and sex that isn’t meaningless.

DEBBIE: What every single person hopes for I would think, which gives readers a lot to relate to.

LJ: Wow, those M&Ms hit the spot. Now I need more coffee.

DEBBIE: I think you need Ritalin.

LJ: Coffee’s better! So, I think it’s cool how you guys managed to make it so the sex wasn’t meaningless. I like how it all ties together, how some of the characters go into it thinking it will be a random no-strings-attached night of hokey-pokey and then it turns into something so much more.

DEBBIE: In my case, it’s one of the harder things to do as an author and make it believable in such a short story that (in most cases) these two strangers meet, have sex and fall in love. But I think every story I’ve read and written for this series has been very believable.

LJ: What are you looking for in a submission that makes you say, “YES, this is perfect for 1NS”?

KATE: We like to be surprised, which happens all the time. We want a new take on the concept. Also characters who appeal to the readers on their own merit. And a great love story.

VAL:  An author who brings something new to the series. There are only so many plots, but a cool twist will get our attention. Shampoo, rinse and repeat is not going to get our attention. But, I’ll tell you what will get our attention faster (in a bad way) than anything—authors who don’t submit clean manuscripts that have been critiqued and polished to within an inch of their lives. We’ve accepted well-written manuscripts that are a little dull, knowing they can be stellar when edited. And we’ve rejected great stories that showed the author hadn’t done her homework. Submitting a manuscript that’s full of plot holes, grammar errors, POV issues and all other newbie mistakes drives us crazy. And we’re already crazy, we don’t need any more crazy. Send us awesomeness and we’ll take it!

LJ: Awesomeness! That’s my word! J

DEBBIE: Nooooo, I do believe that’s my word.

LJ: What? You’re insane. I use that word all the time!

DEBBIE: Oh, PLEASE! I’ve never heard you use that word.

LJ: Funny, I was about to say the same to you. LOL

DEBBIE: Whatever. So, ladies, I’ve heard you take all different heat levels from sweet to erotic. What is a must-have if the story is going to be a 1NS? Beyond it having to revolve around the 1NS dating service and Madame Eve?

KATE: No, we don’t take sweet. Technically, every story in the series is erotic, but we run the gamut within the definition. It must have at the very least a HFN but most of the stories are HEA

VAL: *Echo* No, we don’t take sweet. A couple of authors have argued that it’s not fair they can’t write a non-erotic 1NS. The series is called 1Night Stand. That means one-night stands occur. Which means sex. Which means hook-ups. Which means…you get the picture.

What *I* look for when I get a submission is an alpha hero and a strong heroine. Throw in a good conflict and satisfying resolution, and I’ll send a contract.

DEBBIE: I take it you’ve never watched The Bachelor or The Bachelorette? With the three over-night dates. They always pick to stay the night together and they always say they talked alllll night. See, they had sweet 1 night-stand.

LJ: Riiiiight. Sure they did.

DEBBIE: Hey, that’s what they said on TV.

LJ: So, it must be true.

DEBBIE: You know it.

LJ: Ladies, what is your favorite thing about this series?

KATE:  The way readers respond. We travel all over the country for conventions and other gatherings, and everywhere we go we meet readers who read and love the stories.

VAL:  What she said. Plus, there appears to be no end in sight. Readers love these stories, reviewers love them.

LJ: I love them!

DEBBIE: I love them more!

LJ: Do you believe in love at first sight?

DEBBIE: Yes, I do.

LJ: Not you, Deb. (sigh) That question is for Kate and Val.

KATE: Yes.

VAL: Yes, Kate and I are proof. But, we fell in love at first email J

DEBBIE: Awwwwwww.

LJ: Awwwwwww. (elbows Deb and whispers) Okay. They’re all cozy-comfy. Bring down the hatchet, woman!

DEBBIE: Describe your bedroom. No, not your fantasy bedroom, the real one you sleep in at night.

LJ: Why am I not surprised you’re asking this?

DEBBIE: Because you shouldn’t be surprised by anything I ask anymore.

LJ: This is your idea of a hatchet?

DEBBIE: No, but you are already asking those questions later.

KATE: Very large furniture that my husband designed and had made. Big dressers, super high headboard…and three dog beds. We’re so lucky it’s a reasonably big room.

LJ: Yep. Or the dogs would be on the bed, and you’d be….hmm, in the tub?

DEBBIE: Wow, cool that your husband designed the furniture.

LJ: Yes it is. What about you, Val?

VAL:  Do you mean this very second? This is embarrassing. Well, the room is rather small. There is a pile of Thanksgiving dishes in one corner that I put there when we got our kitchen cabinets refinished (last April), but don’t feel like figuring out a new home for. A ginormous armoire that my husband thinks is a landing spot for anything he doesn’t know where to put. A bookcase that holds less books than usual, but lots of other crap I don’t feel like dealing with (you see a running theme going here in the Mann house, right?).  There are guns under the four-poster bed, say what you will, but I live in a house full of guys, they like to shoot stuff. And on top of the bed (currently) is one snoring man and a cat. Both sharing the same pillow. That’s going on YouTube if I can find my phone.

LJ: HAHAHAHA Send us the link! Too bad the cat isn’t snoring, too!

DEBBIE: Oh, please send the link…please.

LJ: Yeah, no worries. We would never post it on our site.

DEBBIE: Pft. Right.

LJ: Okay, so yeah, we would.

DEBBIE: Damn straight we would.

LJ: Give your thoughts on Karma.

KATE: I absolutely believe what goes around comes around, and try very hard to make that a positive thing.

LJ: Awesome! J

DEBBIE: Me too!

VAL:  I met Kate, didn’t I? LOL Karma plays out in my life every day. Just yesterday, I saw a cosmic example of it. I won’t tell you if it was good or bad, but I’m still laughing.

LJ: Sounds like you and Debbie would get along fabulously.

DEBBIE: You can tell us, we won’t tell a soul!

LJ: Sure. Just like we wouldn’t post that YouTube link.

DEBBIE: Exactly!

LJ: Word on the street is you’re an Angry Birds fanatic, Kate. What about Candy Crush, either of you play that?

KATE: I alternate Candy Crush and Angry Birds. J

VAL:  Candy Crush. Level 107 is kicking my confectionary butt though. As Kate says when stuck on a level: I’ve got a condo there.

LJ: I’ve got a condo on Level 86. Sigh.

DEBBIE: Stuck at 165. That damn game is bad for my writing!

LJ: OMG! That’s what you’ve been doing instead of sending me chapters??

DEBBIE: Uhhhh…

LJ: I knew it!

DEBBIE: What is your worst bad habit that has to do with your writing life?

KATE: Not putting my writing first.

VAL: Ditto. If there was a place after dead last, that would be it.

DEBBIE: Ditto!

LJ: Cause you’re playing CANDY CRUSH! (smacks Deb upside the head) At least Val is editing and handling a Decadent line and a slew of other stuff.

DEBBIE: Hey! She’s playing it too! She sends me lives all the time. So, there, yeah, it’s VAL’S fault. (whew, got out of that one.)

LJ: You think? Not!

DEBBIE: Any deep, dark secrets you two want to share?

KATE: About Valerie? Wait…no, nothing.

VAL: Kate picks her nose.

LJ: OMG So does Debbie!

DEBBIE: I do not!

LJ: Wait, did I say that out loud?

DEBBIE: Ummm, yeah, ya did. Speaking of which, what’s your favorite food?

KATE: Anything chocolate.

LJ: More M&Ms?

VAL:  Squirty cheese, Triscuits, Double Stuf Oreos. A jar of Biscoff spread and a spoon.

DEBBIE: Did I tell you my hubby is the Oreo rep? You move up the release of our next 1NS and I’ll hook ya up.

LJ: Yeah, she’ll hook you up. And there’s a bag of M&Ms in it for you, Kate.

DEBBIE: Damn straight. Do you believe in the Boogieman?

KATE:  No, but I do believe in Cat Woman.

VAL:  Suh-weeeet! She just revealed her Halloween costume. It’s a secret no more.

DEBBIE: Hmmm, and what are you gonna be Laura?

LJ: A mom following three little boys around the neighborhood. Whee! How about you?

DEBBIE: A couch potato.

LJ: Favorite sexual position?

DEBBIE: I’m not sharing that with you. Don’t you think that goes a little bit beyond our relationship, I mean really, LJ, what are you thinking?

LJ: Not you, Debbie. Our guests!

DEBBIE: Oh, well, in that case, ladies?

KATE: I’ll take the 5th

VAL:  That’s a position?

LJ: If it isn’t, it should be.

DEBBIE: I can’t picture it.

LJ: Here. (draws on a napkin)

DEBBIE: (cocks head) huh, looks painful.

LJ: Then you’re not doing it right…or wait, maybe you are. I forget.

DEBBIE: Favorite flavor of lube

KATE:  No idea

VAL:  Liar.

LJ: HAHAHAHA I bet it’s chocolate sauce!

DEBBIE: Or squirty cheese? LOL

LJ: Favorite sex toy?

KATE:  My husband

VAL:  Her husband. Wait, er….  Well, I guess I’m never getting invited back to her house.

DEBBIE: BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! You move up our release and I wont tell Kate.

LJ: Wow, Val! Debbie keeps your secret AND you get Double Stuf Oreos….

DEBBIE: Now who could pass that up?

LJ: Who indeed? (nudges Deb) Looks like this interview thing is working out in our favor!

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Spike heels or knee boots

KATE:  Knee boots

VAL:  Spikes

Free to roam or tied up

KATE:  Tied up

VAL:  Don’t even think about binding me.

Beef or Broccoli

KATE: Beef, but they are so good together

VAL:  Beef. Raw. Okay, very rare.

Football or Volleyball

KATE: Volleyball

VAL:  Football

Night on the town or curled up on the couch

KATE:  Couch

VAL:  *Copycat* Couch

Mountains or Ocean

KATE:  Ocean

VAL:  Mountains

Eyes or ass

KATE: Eyes

VAL:  *bats lashes* Thank you.

Reality TV or prime time drama

KATE:  Reality TV (Big Bang isn’t an option here! It’s always first)

VAL:  Hey. Duck Dynasty, Jack. And CSI. So, I guess both.

Nook or Book

KATE: Kindle

VAL:  Kindle


.....You two are at a rally in Destin, Florida, protesting Senator Calvin Bishop’s bid to run in the next Presidential Election. Val, you hand a sign to Kate so the both of you can picket.
.....“Wait a minute,” Kate says. “Val, there’s a typo on this sign.”
.....Eyes wide, Val looks at her handiwork. “What?”
.....“Um, it says ‘Eat Mor Chikin’.”
.....“So? Everyone knows how that scumbag Bishop covered up the cow mutilations down in Polk County.” She sets her hands on her hips. “He’s hatin’ on the bovine population, and I won’t stand for it.”
.....Kate huffs loudly and rolls her eyes. “I hear you, sister. I love bovine as much as the next person. And California bovine are the best! But as far as this sign you made goes…where’s the exclamation point?”
.....“Well, sh—”
.....“Lucky for you, I have a marker in my purse.” Whips out a fat red marker and fixes sign. “That’s better.”
.....“Check out what I got in my purse.” Holds open bag.
.....“Wow!” Kate's eyes widen. “How many eggs are in there?”
.....Smiles proudly. “Four dozen.”
.....“That’s quite an omelet.”
.....“Hey, you gotta break some eggs to save the cows.”
.....Kate nods sagely. “Not to mention the country.” She balls her fist and raises it over her head. “Save the cow. Ditch Bishop now.”
.....“Cool.” Val grins. “But I thought we were going with bovine.”
.....“Oh, yeah. Right, um…” Frowns, purses lips then her eyes glint. “Got it.” Circles fist over her head and chants, “Bishop hates bovine. That is asinine.”
.....“Perfect!” Val points toward a hotel. “We should go up to the roof. Better trajectory. Is it me, or does that place look familiar?”
.....“It’s the Castillo Hotel and Resort-Destin.”
.....Val grabs Kate’s hand and drags her through the crowd. “We’ll check out the lobby and get room rates while we go.”
.....An hour and forty-five minutes later, you both stumble onto the hotel roof.
.....Below, Senator Calvin Bishop is already speaking. “And as your next President, I promise to lead this country to its former greatness, to lower taxes, to get rid of the deficit, to lower unemployment, and to ensure everyone in our great nation has the opportunity for a college education.”
.....Val smirks. “I notice he didn’t mention anything about saving the bovine.”
.....“Me either. Jerk.”
.....Val opens her purse, a fierce expression on her face. “Let’s do this thing.”
.....Kate grabs two handfuls of eggs. “Absolutely!”
.....They take aim at the senator below and—
.....A huge explosion erupts. The rooftop beneath them shakes and shimmies. Dust plumes into the air, and people start screaming. Kate stumbles, tips, and topples over the knee wall. Val reacts on instinct and grabs her longtime pal’s hand – the eggs smashed between their palms akin to the dream of making Bishop pay for his bovine hate crimes.
.....“I got you!” she says.
.....“Good.” Kate looks down at the crowd below where six military men rush onto the scene. “Wait, are those—”
.....“Pararescuemen,” Val finishes. “The tall one is Captain Colin ‘Ghost’ Beckett – Air Force, Special Ops. I’d recognize him anywhere.”
.....“And the one next to him is Tech Sergeant Bobby ‘Bobcat’ Martin.” She sighs. “Hey, when he gets close enough, you could just drop me. I’m positive he’d catch me.”
.....“No way. I’m never letting go. We’ve been through too much together.” Val adds her own sigh. “Besides, they’re both already taken. Madame Eve matched them to their soul mates.”
.....Kate’s fingers slip a little. The wall Val is leaning against shifts, bits of mortar falling free.
.....“Watch it!” Kate yells. “I’m dangling down here!”
.....Val glances down to gauge how long the wall will hold. A red light blinks back at her. “What the…?”
.....“What is it?” With her free hand, Kate grabs Val’s wrist.
.....“We have a problem.”
.....“Other than me falling to my death?”
.....“Yes.” Val looks down at Kate. “There’s another bomb, and it’s in this wall.”
.....Kate’s eyes widen. “The one you’re leaning over? The one I’m hanging next to?”
.....“That would be the wall,” Val confirms. “And we’ve got less than five minutes.”
.....“Well save me, then!”
.....“How? What do we have?” She glances at her purse. “I’ve got four dozen eggs up here and a pack of sugar-free peppermint gum.”
.....Kate frowns. “How was the gum meant to help derail Bishop’s campaign?”
.....“It wasn’t.” Val gives her a sheepish grin. “It was for after we have Mexican for dinner later.”
.....“Oh, right. Good thinking.” Kate releases one hand and tosses her purse up to Val. “See what else we have.”
.....She rummages through the bag. “You’ve got a red marker, a room keycard, a…what the heck are you doing with a whip in your purse?”
.....“Book research.”
.....“Oh, yeah right.” Val digs around more. “And half a pastrami on rye?”
.....“Thought we might get hungry while we protest.”
.....She nods. “Good thinking.” Val meets Kate’s concerned gaze. “No way we’re gonna let Senator Bishop continue to mutilate the bovine population willy nilly.”
.....“Not to mention the country.”
.....“Right.” Val glances at the bomb timer. “Three minutes. But don’t worry. We’re gonna get out of this.”

What do you two do?
VAL:  Oh, this is easy:
KATE: Oh, this is easy:

VAL: “That cow-hating senator is so going to regret letting us anywhere near his rally.” Valerie dug around in Kate’s purse with her free hand and pulled out a Kindle. “Hey, does this thing get Internet?” She waves it over the edge for Kate to see.
.....“Yes. I could show you how to turn that feature on. If I weren’t dangling here.” A stiff wind blew and she crossed her legs at the ankles. “Dang, I knew I shouldn’t have worn this skirt.”
.....“It’s killer, though. And who knew you’d be swinging from the top of Jackson Castillo’s hotel today?”
.....Val pulled the whip out of the deep recesses of Kate’s bag. Tying the end to a nearby railing, she tossed the handle down to Kate. “Here.”
.....“What’s this for?”
.....“Something to hold onto. I need both hands free.” After letting go of her hand and ignoring the yelp from the other side of the wall, Valerie dumped the purse contents. Eyeballing the meager offerings with disgust, she leaned over the wall. Kate swayed gently in the tropical breeze, eating a pastrami sandwich.
.....“Didn’t you ever watch MacGuyver?”
.....Kate tipped her head back, chewing. “Mmmphh?”
.....“You should have. Because if you had, you’d know I can’t save us with only a Kindle and gum. There are no paperclips, not a single bobby pin, your lighter is out of fluid, and the batteries in this weird contraption are dead.” She waved it in Kate’s face. “What is this thing, anyway?”
.....Kate swayed some more and whistled innocently. “You may want to put that down.”
.....Val eyed it with more interest. “Not until you tell me what it is.”
.....“Given your highly-developed phobia of body fluids, you really should put it down.”
.....Val screeched, fumbling the contraption like a hot potato. It sailed out of her hands, shot past Kate’s head and rocketed toward the crowd below. They watched in horror as it tumbled, end over end, picking up speed, then bounced off the senator’s head.
.....“Holy crap,” they stereo-d.
.....Only the wind off the ocean and the creak of the leather whip broke the silence.
.....“He’s down,” Kate said, at last.
.....“Like, totally down,” Valerie agreed. “That’s karma.”
.....Sagely, Kate added, “Cow karma.” They laughed for a moment in shared companionship. Then Kate’s grin faded. “Hey, what’s that beeping noise?”

KATE: “No more time to hide our super powers now.” Kate gives an enormous kick against the wall and somersaults onto the roof. “Let’s get this cow ciller…err…killer.”
.....“Just a minute.” Valerie points her laser vision at the roof and with a dull pop and thin stream of smoke, the bomb is destroyed. “No sense ruining a perfectly good building.”
.....“Always practical.” Kate pauses and muses to herself, “Which is why I was so surprised at your willingness to waste so many eggs.” She slaps Valerie on the back in a friendly way with her hand.
.....“I thought the use of eggs would help prevent a greater loss.” Valerie stares off into the distance. .....“Like that time when I was thinking I would like an omelet when I was on a cruise and hey what’s that flying in over the building across the street?

LJ: AWESOME!! I say you saved the cows! Extra points for taking care of the senator, too!

DEBBIE: Yeah, but we’ll have to revive him. He still needs to be in the last two stories.

LJ: Thanks so much for dropping by, ladies! Hope you come back for another interview when you hit your 300th book! J

DEBBIE: Or whenever you have a new release or news to share. We’d be happy to have you.

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LJ: Oh! Another M&M! (drops) Oops! (picks up and brushes off candy) Here, Deb. Don’t say I never gave you nothing.

Debbie: I think we’ve been through this before.

LJ: (bats eyelashes) What?

Debbie: Go ahead, play innocent. Anyway, while we are here, lets go find our PJ’s and see if they have any input into the next story. Hmmm, Zeke’s story is the one that Kate and Val have now. Who’s next again?

LJ: Junior Lieutenant Kyle “Raven” Alvarez. He’s the guy who eats Twinkies and razzes Bobby about his Skittle addiction. He’s the team medic and I have no clue what kind of woman it would take to tame him.

Debbie: Hmmm, bet he’s happy Twinkies are back. Have to remember to harass him about that, among other things.

LJ: Speaking of Twinkies, let’s go parasailing.

Debbie: I’d ask what the two have in common but I’m very afraid of what the answer will be, so fine, lets go.

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To Feel Again

Valerie Mann
When Leah loses her fiancé, Mark, in Afghanistan, it takes nearly a year to get to the point where she’s ready to live again. Although she doesn’t want an emotional commitment, a night of consensual sex, even with a stranger, might help bring her some closure after Mark’s death. Enlisting the services of Madame Evangeline’s high-end, online dating service, One Night Stand, promises exactly what Leah is looking for—sex with a man she doesn’t have to see again, but one who will satisfy her physical needs now that she's ready to move on with her life.

Jackson Castillo has no desire to go on a date with one of Evangeline’s clients. One Night Stand uses his hotel for its client’s rendezvous, but otherwise, he never gets involved. When Eve threatens to take her business elsewhere unless he helps her with a particular case, he’s no fool. He’ll go on the date. But he won’t sleep with the woman.

When one thing leads to another, his good intentions to stay out of the bedroom with Leah are shattered. The sex is phenomenal, but there’s more to Leah he wants to explore. After she leaves the next morning without a goodbye, he’s both disappointed and royally pissed. Will he let her go or find a way to convince her she’s ready…to feel again?

Genre: Contemporary romance, erotic romance, interracial
Heat level: 4
Cover art by Dara England
The Virgin and the Playboy
Kate Richards

Julie, accidental virgin, has waited longer than she ever planned to lose her virginity and join everyone else she knows in dating reality. Embarrassed at her plight, she has made arrangements with to meet with a handsome stranger for one night of no commitment required sexuality, without having to admit she'd never made love before.

Mark is the one single guy left in his group of friends. As such, he is known for the bevy of lovelies he dates, and his stories of wild exploits between the sheets. His participation in is on a dare, and he has no idea that his date is...less experienced than he is used to. And so much more...

When they enter the penthouse suite in Las Vegas, they enter a chamber designed for luxury and booked for a 1NightStand.

Genre: Contemporary romance, erotic romance
Heat level: 4
Cover art by LFD Designs