Saturday, August 25, 2012

The affects family have on my writing...

My When the Mission Ends trilogy features at its heart three siblings: Colton, Chris, and Cassie Robertson. Chris & Cassie are twins that are 4 years younger than Colton. Their parents died in a plane crash when Colton was 10 and the twins were 6. They then went to live with their estranged grandfather, whom they'd never met, in Lubbock TX. Their father had been a Major in the Army and all three of the kids grew up fascinated and loving the military. Both Colton and Chris went into the Air Force while Cassie became a military history professor at Texas Tech. That's the basic premise behind the main characters.

But there is a LOT of my family and its influences on these books. Let's talk about those for a moment.

1. The opening scene (the prologue) in Operation: Endgame was based upon true events with my (now 17 yo) son, Jacob. (BTW, you can read the prologue of the book on Amazon.) When we lived in Pope AFB, NC, he and a group of his friends were constantly playing war games out in the woods. Full on camo uniforms, face paint, and the wooden Thompson guns. That scene was where the entire series came started with just a germ of an idea and grew from there.

2. I am 4 years older than my younger twin brothers, Daniel and David, although I am not near as bossy as Colton is. I have to admit, he is my favorite character from the you think that's a coincidence?? BTW, my favorite scenes from the series come between these siblings. They don't always get along, but they definitely love each other and stand by each other.

3. All three of my heroes have been in the Air Force. When I started writing this series, my husband had just retired from 20 years in the Air Force. Yes, I most definitely have a love for this branch of the military.

4. I graduated from Texas Tech University and Lubbock is without a doubt one of my favorite places on earth, much to my husband's chagrin...he's not a fan of the town. hehe. It was a no-brainer for me that this is where this series would be set. I will admit though that I probably didn't think that through. As romantic suspense books, there is a fair amount of death and destruction which I wouldn't wish on any town. I probably should meet with someone from the Lubbock PD and apologize for what I have done to them in the fictional world.

5. I talked about Jacob's influence, I probably should mention my daughter Kat's. Kat is 5 and is always at my side (at least until Monday when she starts kindergarten). I am home during the days with her and that is when I write. As a result, I tend to "talk" with her when I am working through scenes in my head (don't worry, no corruption...I talk about the books in EXTREMELY vague terms...she doesn't know about all  the sex, death, and destruction.) In Operation: Endeavor, Kat provided ideas for two very pivotal scenes....1.) the butterfly was all Kat's idea and, 2.) Kat herself actually appears in the book. Both hubby and mom are slightly appalled at that fact (*ahem* she may or may not be a bad guy in the book). I continue to state in my defense though that it was TOTALLY her idea! ;o)

6. I haven't mentioned my mom have I?? Hmm, I write somewhat steamy romance which she absolutely critiques and reads for me....constantly (she is so good to drop everything when I need some feedback), but for some reason she refuses to talk about the sex scenes. hehe. My love of romances comes from her. I remember spending summers devouring her Harlequins. I love you, Mom!!!

7. Motorcycles...I think I will save that part of the post for another day, but yes, we love motorcycles around here too!!

Don't forget, the e-book version of Operation: Endgame is out within the next couple of weeks. I will keep you all updated on the specifics, but for right now that release date is September 14th. I'll have some giveaways and fun stuff coming up with that!!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hello from Hot Texas!!

August in Texas is just not a pleasant place to be.

LOL! It's hot!

I posted this graphic last week on my personal Facebook page and it's so very true.

Right now, we are definitely dead in the middle of Summerer.

But I love Texas and that's why my first books are set here. There's a different feel to Texas.

For the most part, I grew up here (at least from the age of 10 when we moved to Midland...although we had done a few months in Amarillo when I was in kindergarten). I went to college here. Yes, Texas Tech in Lubbock TX where all three of the books (Operation: Endgame, Operation: Endeavor, and Operation: Endurance) are set ....and I am planning a series of four books on a ranch in Texas too.

So, as a writer, how do I combat that heat in my books? Margaritas and a pool!

Enjoy this excerpt from Operation: Endgame....

Cassie switched off the blender, stuck in a straw, and moaned in appreciation. “Yum. I’m officially the Queen of Making Margaritas.” She yelled out into the backyard at her best friends, Julie and Penelope, “Refills coming right up! Those glasses better be empty and in the air ready for more of my fabulously perfect margaritas.”

Cassie smiled and laughed as she sauntered through the back door, carrying the pitcher of margaritas and her own glass, already topped off. The semester ended the day before at Texas Tech University and they were spending the day lounging by the pool to celebrate the end of another academic year.

As a military history professor, Cassie would be headed to Europe in two weeks to spend the summer as a guest lecturer. The year before, Cassie acted as a military strategy consultant on a video game, called Endgame. It became a bestseller within three weeks of release and remained there ever since. Cassie’s interview on the video extras made her a celebrity and in high-demand as a guest lecturer.  It promised to be a crazy summer, but for now, she was celebrating the freedom from responsibility and drinking accordingly. This was their third pitcher of margaritas and all three of them were pleasantly buzzed.

They were at Cassie’s cozy little bungalow just a couple of blocks from the campus. She adored this house and had lovingly restored it when she had inherited it from her grandfather, while she was still in college. That restoration included the addition of this oasis she now called her backyard. Chris, Jake, and she had spent two whole summers transforming it, but the work had been worth it. There were terraces filled with mood lighting, easy-to-care-for plants, outdoor speakers, and the piece de resistance….the pool which beckoned all of them in from the West Texas heat.

Today, it was Julie and Penelope who were beckoning her to come refill their empty glasses. They sat in the shade of the outdoor umbrella which loomed serenely over the café-style bistro tables. They were her best friends, next to Chris and Jake, but the three girls could not have looked and acted more different from each other.

Julie was the tiniest of the three. She was a physical therapist at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center and also filled in as a physical trainer at the Fitness Center on campus. Her dark black hair was cut into a cute little pixie cut which fit her small frame and many times, she was mistaken for someone in junior high. At least, that was the case until she turned around and said person got a glimpse of her rack which would make any Playboy bunny envious. She was quiet, serious, and they all gave her a hard time about her OCD tendencies.

Penelope owned the local bookstore and taught yoga at the University Fitness Center. She had wavy honey colored long hair, startling jade green eyes, and a free-spirit attitude which made everyone love her from the very first. She was vivacious and outgoing and didn’t meet anyone who wasn’t an immediate friend. She was also flighty and a bit scatter-brained, but most people just learned that was part of her charm and overlooked the fact. Only her best friends knew that, for the most part, it was an act she used to hide her brilliant mind.

Cassie was tall, with a thick cascade of auburn hair. She grew up in Lubbock and had the Texas drawl to match. She’d always been a tomboy and very athletic. Now she channeled her athleticism through her running, which was almost like a religion to her. It was how she kept the margaritas from going to her hips, how she sorted through her lesson plans, and worked out the stresses which came from working at a high-stress University system. Also, it kept her fears about all the boys at bay so she could sleep at night.

They, the boys and her, had all grown up playing silly neighborhood war games, but those games established a love of the military for all of them, even Colton. 

Colt was her older brother by four years. He went to Texas A&M through the Corps and was a Special Ops officer. He flew combat-ready C-130’s and was a Major stationed at RAF Mildenhall in England. 

Jake, Chris, and Cassie all attended and graduated from Texas Tech. Jake and Chris went the ROTC route with Jake becoming a PJ- Pararescue Jumper for the Air Force. He spent his career as a military paramedic jumping into enemy territory rescuing downed pilots and Spec Ops guys who had run into trouble. Jake had just been selected for Major although he hadn’t been officially pinned on yet. 

Chris was her twin, younger than her by 4 minutes, and a fighter pilot who flew F-22’s. He was a Captain in the Air Force and the consummate flirt of the group. 

Colton was her older brother, Chris was her twin brother, and Jake was their best friend. They all three were in the Air Force and constantly in too much danger for her liking.

Cassie re-filled their glasses and then flopped down into one of the empty chairs. Julie asked, “Have you heard from any of the boys lately?”

“Colton called Sunday. He’s doing okay, although I still don’t think he’s dealing well with Dianna’s leaving him.” Cassie’s forehead scrunched up as she considered her older brother’s pending divorce. “Right now, he’s safely ensconced behind a desk playing commander in England. I hate that he lives so far away. I’m looking forward to getting to spend a little bit of time with him over the summer, so I’m hoping the desk duty continues.” She gave a mischievous grin, “No matter how much he hates it.” That grin quickly turned into a scowl as she continued. “He said he didn’t know where Jake and Chris are stationed right now, but he’s lying to me.” 

Penelope looked at her questioningly. “Why do you think he was lying?”

Cassie shook her head. “I know my brothers too well. I could tell it from his voice. Besides,” she said, her voice cracking, “I’m having nightmares about Chris. Something’s wrong. I know it.”

Both of her friends suddenly looked worried. As twins, Chris and Cassie always had a unique connection. They simply knew when something was wrong with the other one. Cassie continued, “I’m sure I’ll hear from him soon. He’ll tell me he broke his toe or something and then I’ll feel stupid for getting all worked up about it. But until I hear that, I just don’t have a good feeling.” Her eyes welled with tears at the remembrance of the visions of Chris in her dreams and her voice cracked when she said, “The dreams have been really awful.”

Suddenly, a doorbell rang from inside the house. “Okay, no more unhappy talk. Like I said, I’m sure it doesn’t mean anything. Come on girls, it’s the start of summer. Drink up and I’ll go see if whoever is at the front door wants to join us.” Cassie bounded into the house, while Julie and Penelope shared a look of concern.
 The print book is out now. The e-book will be out in September.

Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

It's time to start...and I'm stuck!

Sunday, I officially finished my first round of edits on Operation: Endeavor and sent it out to my beta readers. Now I sit on pins and needles, waiting to find out if it's any good or not...and just desperately hope they love Colton as much as I do. ;o) Since then, I haven't written a single word.

Not. a. single. word.

I know it's only been three days. That may not seem bad, but to me, it feels like an eternity, especially with Operation: Endurance lurking. I've said from the very beginning that Endurance was going to be challenging to write. Now that I am faced with it, I think I'm a bit terrified and am frozen with it.

Not. good.

So, I'm stuck and not sure what to do. I could just keep reading other people's amazing writing and enjoy the Olympics (which I've been luxuriating in for the last three days.) Or I could suck it up and write, realizing this book is going to need and take a lot of work. I know, I's time to suck it up.

Or I may just write a short fun novella beforehand to break the tension and emotion that will be Endurance. ;o) I know, right? Like I don't have enough books started already....

Regardless, I hope everyone is having a great week!!