It’s been on preorder. It’s been on the Times Square JumboTron in NYC. But now release day is finally here for A FEW GOOD MEN!
What is it about this eBook I’m excited about? Well, it’s the first one in the Red, Hot, & Blue series that is novel-length and not a short story or novella. Next, it was the first in the series that I wrote based on my real life military consultant’s actual deployment. It was written nearly in real time, as he lived it. He wrote an email about a mission or an incident happening in Iraq in 2006/7 (nothing to violate OpSec, of course), and I’d grab details, spin them in fiction, wrap them in romance and write a scene. Sympatico, it was, his military leadership knowledge and experience, my writing and ability to take reality and weave tales from it.
There are going to be questions so let me field a few here and now and answer the rest as they come in.
Q: Is A Few Good Men in paperback?
A: Not yet, but it will be. For eBooks released by Samhain Publishing there is usually a 10 month lag between eBook release and Trade Paperback release. This is to give the sales team time to go out and sell the new catalog of releases to the brick and mortar bookstores. I compare it to the fashion industry. You’ll have the spring fashions on the runway for store buyers to order the autumn before.
Q: Is this a rerelease?
A: Yes, it is. It was written back in 2007 and released by a small, young indie press Linden Bay Romance. Samhain Publishing purchased Linden Bay and invited some of the authors to rerelease their out of print backlists through them. After reworking this story on my own, then sending it through edits with the Samhain team, and giving it a new cover, it is now finally time to get it back out there. For those few who many have bought it back during the Linden Day days, it is the same story, though during the reediting I’ve hopefully expunged it of most of my annoying rookie writer habits I’ve since outgrown over the past 5 years.
Q: How did you meet your military consultants?
A: I joined a troop support site (Books For Soldiers) and sent out care packages to the troops, usually containing one of my earlier Task Force Zeta military romance novels, as well as the other usual stuff they needed. When the thank you emails began arriving, a few of the men and I began to keep in touch regularly. And my writer’s brain, which has been compared to a sponge when it comes to research and information, couldn’t resist the steady stream of information coming in from the war zone. Everything from nicknames and jokes among the troops, to the inevitable and heartbreaking tragedies and how they dealt with them. The lingo. The sites and smells so vividly apparent in their written words. Even an occasional webcam view of the dusty quarters and head to toe body armor. It submerged me in a place I could never be, but could imagine so well… a lot like my heroine in A Few Good Men. But no, before you ask, unlike John and Maureen in AFGM, Sean and I did not have phone sex from the front. Though Sean’s wife, Janelle, has been instrumental in my research as well, often helping answer my questions when he wasn’t able to because he was, you know, off fighting a war!
Q: Why is the story set in 2007?
A: The war has changed over the years. Back in 2006/7 when I originally wrote this story, Ramadi was a hot spot. Now, that’s shifted to Afghanistan. And in future books rereleasing in this series, the plot includes real life events, so putting a date on the stories now we are 6 years past the events, was important.
Any other questions, feel free to ask. For now, please enjoy the below excerpt from A Few Good Men.
He has met the enemy…but he’s never fought desire like this.
a Red, Hot & Blue novel, Book 7
Deployed in the deadliest place on earth, Army Staff Sergeant John Blake relies on caffeine, adrenaline, years of training and sheer force of will to get through his days. He has no problem with his tank crew passing around a sexy romance novel, but John’s a fighter, not a lover. He’ll pass. Winding up as the author’s accidental pen pal wasn’t in his plan, but there’s something about her sweet, caring emails that has him looking forward to checking his inbox.
Week after week, Maureen Mullen, aka erotic romance writer Summer Winters, has dated one loser after another in a quest to find the last decent man on earth. Now it seems she’s found him—halfway around the world. When it comes to falling for unavailable men, she’s batting a thousand.
Gradually, the emails between the war-hardened warrior and the writer of passionate prose heat up to the point of keeping them up warm and wanting at night. Soon they’re wondering if it’s possible to build something solid out of cyberspace, or if it’s just an emotional mirage that will dissolve in the heat of reality.
Warning: Contains some steamy phone calls from the war zone and one hell of a sexy first meeting between two strangers who are already in love.
Eyes focused downward, Staff Sergeant John Blake set to devouring his chow as single-mindedly as he did everything in life—full speed ahead.
The members of his tank platoon chatted around him. It was hard for John to understand how they got any food in their mouths since some of them never shut up. Their chatter covered wives and girlfriends, kids and sports. Anything and everything.
As a tank commander, John took it all in. It might not look like it to the casual passerby, but he listened. Keeping a lookout for any possible issues was part of being a good leader. John observed and absorbed it all—personal problems at home or friction between the men could distract them and possibly put every one of them in danger.
Make that more danger than they already were in here in hell—or Ramadi—
He usually didn’t interject his opinion much. Instead, he kept his head down and his ears open as the others droned on.
“Well, I’ll be. Looky here. Jazzy’s reading him some kinda chick book.”
John’s tank driver, Hector Morales, made that statement in his usual slow Texas drawl.
“Yeah, and so what?” Jazzy didn’t deny it. “Don’t knock it until you read it, dude. It’s a good story, and let me tell you, the sex scenes are hot.”
Jazzy always was one to march to his own drummer. It figured he wouldn’t give a crap if the other guys ribbed him for reading what Morales had called a chick book. Still, John was intrigued at what had Jazzy, who read only when forced to, interested enough to hold his attention even at chow.
John raised his head, pulling his focus away from the less than appetizing entrée. It was no hardship to be dragged away from potatoes and meat that seemed to be the exact same shade of gray and peas that were a slightly grayish-green color not a whole lot different from the rest.
He noted Jazzy was indeed holding a book in one hand while shoveling food into his mouth with the other. The book cover displayed the well-oiled and equally well-developed pectoral muscles of a bare-chested man and not much else besides a boldly printed title and a name. He squinted and tried to see between Jazzy’s fingers.
“Summer Winters.” John read the author’s name aloud and laughed. “What are the chances that name is real?”
“I can’t say I blame her. You read this, and you’ll understand why she needs a fake name. Otherwise she’d probably end up having male stalkers lined up around the block outside her house.” Jazzy shoved a napkin between the pages to hold his place and put the book down on the table so he could scrape the gray remnants from his plate using both fork and knife. “It’s almost like porn, but with a good story and realistic characters. No pictures though. But it’s still pretty damn good. Now I know why my wife is always attacking me in bed when she’s reading one of these books.”
John nearly groaned. Picturing Jazzy’s steamy-romance-novel-inspired sex life with his wife was too much information for him at any time, but especially at chow.
The porn line, however, had Morales raising an eyebrow as if he was reconsidering his initial opinion of chick books. “Really? Well, I’ll be… But isn’t there a lot of, you know, that mushy love crap?”
Jazzy grinned, flipped through the book and then handed it open to Morales. “Here. Read that page for yourself.”
Morales’s eyes opened wide as he scanned the page until his ears started to turn red. “Holy shit. Well, I’ll be damned. That’s just about as good as you can get. This thing’s enough to make a man want to go and clean his gun, if you know what I mean.”
They all knew what he meant, and that was definitely too much information for John while seated at the dining hall table.
Morales continued to flip through the book. “I’ll tell you what, I might give this thing a go. Let me borrow it when you’re done?”
Jazzy grinned. “Sure thing. That’s what it’s for—sharing, not the gun cleaning—although that’ll work too. I was going to put it out on the bookshelf for everybody anyway.”
“Where exactly did you get that thing?” John’s curiosity got the best of him.
He watched Morales, leaned forward with elbows braced on the table and head buried in the book. The man was totally engrossed in what must be another pretty interesting scene.
“My pen pal sent it. She wrote it actually. She’s Summer Winters. I know me a real live author.” Jazzy smiled wide.
Across the table, their tank gunner, Gonzolo Barajas, finally put down the letter he’d been reading from that day’s mail call. “That book’s from the pen pal you met on that military support website?” Jazzy nodded. “Yup. She sends all kinds of stuff. We sure as hell got lucky the day she pulled my name off that list. She’s really nice too…and funny. I crack up when I’m reading some of her emails.”
John nearly choked as the realization sunk in. Those websites were full of two things—Girl Scout troop leaders and little old granny do-gooders. One of them wrote porn under the name Summer Winters? That too was more information than he needed at this point in his life. The image of a gray-haired granny in her rocker, knitting scarves to keep the troops warm, switched to the same woman, only now she sat in front of a computer, eating chocolate bon-bons with gnarled, arthritic fingers and penning sex scenes hot enough to make even Morales blush.
A chill ran down his spine. He shook it off and pushed his plate away. Suddenly he was no longer hungry.
“You want the book after me and Morales are done, sir?” Jazzy asked him.
John’s head flew up when he realized he was being addressed and what exactly Jazzy was asking. “Ah, no. That’s all right. Thanks anyway.”
Jazzy shrugged and grabbed the book back from Morales, who didn’t look like he was giving it up willingly. “And you, Morales, have to wait your turn.”
“Well, hurry the hell up then.” Morales went back to his colorless food as
John considered what it meant for the future of the Army that his tankers were fighting over a chick’s paperback romance novel. It surely didn’t bode well.