Friday, March 30, 2012

Julie Miller: The Marine Next Door

About Julie Miller...
Julie Miller is an award-winning, bestselling author of breathtaking romantic suspense--with a National Readers Choice Award and a Daphne du Maurier among other prizes for both her series and single-title books. In 2009 she earned the RT BookReviews Career Achievement Award for Series Romantic Suspense. With millions of copies in print worldwide, many of her nearly 50 books have appeared on the USA Today, Borders and BookScan Top 100 Romances bestseller lists. Find out more at

 Back Cover Blurb...

Maggie Wheeler never stopped looking over her shoulder. It was a habit she'd learned from being a cop…and from a devastating event in her past. So when John Murdock moved in next door, Maggie didn't know what to make of the sexy marine. But once her son formed a bond with the mysterious stranger, Maggie knew that past might not remain hidden much longer….
With his unwavering sense of duty, John would never let a call for help go unanswered. Especially from the beautiful wounded warrior who refused to give up her secrets. Although she likely knew more about who was after her than she'd ever let on, John vowed to protect those in need. Only then could he find peace, maybe even a door away.…


“Maybe there won’t be a wedding!”

“How can you say that?”

Hidden by the trash bins where he’d been working after regular customer hours, the man lingered in the shadows outside the Fairy Tale Bridal Shop near downtown Kansas City and watched as the back door swung open and the young couple stormed out into the parking lot.

An older woman, her hair gleaming like brass in the illumination of the trendy neighborhood’s wrought iron lights, hurried after them. “You ungrateful little girl.”

“Please,” the shopkeeper following behind her tried to intervene but wasn’t assertive enough to be paid any heed. “You shouldn’t be making big decisions right now--”

“No, Mother.” The young woman whirled around and he caught his breath. She was so classically beautiful. So perfect. So like... No. Don’t go there. “It’s young woman. Grown woman. Not little girl. You can’t force this on me. It’s too big. Too much. I don’t want this.”

“You still want me, right?” The tall man in the tailored suit reached for.

She shrugged off his touch with an unladylike grunt and no answer.

“Sweetheart.” The tall man smiled and clasped his hands around her shoulders, trying to soothe her temper. “Let’s go to our dinner reservation and use the time to cool off. It’s been a long day.”

“I’m not hungry.” She shook him off.

The man in the shadows smiled beneath the mask he wore over his nose and mouth. That one had fire. An insidious awareness of her feminine strength licked through his veins and made him clench his fist around the bag he carried.

“Then let me drive you home. We’ll talk.”

“No!” The young beauty spun around and stamped her high-heels toward the sidewalk that ran along the street. “I’ll catch a cab.”


“She really shouldn’t--”

When the young man and mousy shopkeeper moved to follow, the mother stopped them both. “Don’t bother. She’s been like this for weeks now. I’ll try to talk some sense into her when she gets home.”

Seriously? They were letting her march off by herself? Not that this was as dangerous a neighborhood as it had once been now that buildings were being renovated and new shops and young professionals were moving in. And the Shamrock Bar just a couple of blocks over, where a good cross-section of KCPD cops liked to hang out after hours, offered some degree of crime deterrence. Still, a woman alone, brave enough to face the city at night--too upset to be truly aware of her surroundings...

The man glanced up. The last vestiges of graying twilight were giving way to stars and a dim crescent moon. Night was falling, and it would be a dark one. Traffic was light between the race of rush hour and the incoming surge of the city’s nightlife.

She wouldn’t find that cab anytime soon.

The forgettable woman went back into her shop. With a silent nudge, the bossy mother and groom-to-be climbed into their car.

His pulse raced in anticipation at the opportunity at hand. The shop door locked. The car drove off. It would be so easy. It had been so long.

“Don’t.” A voice of reason inside his head tried to warn him off the impulse heating his blood. “You don’t need this anymore. You’re better than this.”

But he wanted. Hungered.

And she was all alone.

He dropped his bag to unzip his jacket and reach inside his pocket. Everything he needed was in his vehicle. It would be so easy.

“I told you to get rid of those things. Don’t think this way. Stop.”

But he’d done without for so long, he’d been so good. Still, the rage burned inside him every time he thought of... her.

And the hurt. The humiliation.

It wasn’t his fault. She couldn’t do this to him. Not again. He wouldn’t let her. He needed her to pay. He needed to take back all she’d stolen from him.

“It’s not the same. You’re confused.”

“Shut up,” he muttered, feeling his own hot breath moisten the fibers of the mask he wore.

He moved from the shadows to peek around the corner of the brick building. The street was practically empty. Store fronts were dark. The apartments above them were far removed from a world that was quickly shrinking to the quick, purposeful strides of the blonde woman and his own raging need.

Sliding his hand into his pocket, he turned off his phone. In case someone called and distracted him. In case someone thought they could track him down. This was just him and the woman now.

“Stop. She isn’t worth it,” the voice argued.

But the white hot haze inside his brain wasn’t listening. He ran to his vehicle and started the engine. He looked to the right, to the left, then pulled out of his parking space.

And even though the sun had set, he put on his dark glasses and followed her up the street.


I want to see you.

KCPD desk sergeant Maggie Wheeler had never seen an uglier flower. Not that there was a thing wrong with the cultivated shape and color of the pink spring tulip or the matching ribbon and tall bud vase.

But the florist's card burned her fingertips, and everything the flower that had once been her favorite represented stirred like a swarm of angry bees in her stomach. She breathed a measured sigh between tight lips. Why couldn't the past just stay buried in the past?

If the young man who'd delivered the gift hadn't already disappeared, she'd have sent it back to be delivered to a hospital or nursing home where the tulip and baby's breath could be appreciated. But because that option had left the building, she had no choice but to drop the whole thing into the trash at the end of the counter and empty out the shavings from the front desk pencil sharpener on top of it. She wadded up the card and tossed it in for good measure, too.

"Maggie." Fourth Precinct chief Mitch Taylor tapped the counter as he strode by, then flicked his finger toward the bank of meeting rooms on the far side of the maze of detectives' desks that filled the main floor. "You're with me. Bring your computer and sit in on this meeting."

Maggie shot up to attention, as startled by the order as she was by the interruption. "Me, sir?"

The chief turned and winked, walking backward without slowing his pace. "If you want to see how a task force works, get in here and take notes for me."

"Yes, sir."

She didn't wait to be asked twice.

The flower was forgotten as Maggie grabbed her laptop off her counter, made sure Officer Allen could cover her station at the front desk, and hurried down the hallway after Chief Taylor. She followed him through the door into Interview Room A and quickly slid into the closest empty seat around the long conference table.

She was used to handling odd jobs around the precinct office, but anticipation had her perched on the edge of her chair. Her gun and badge were just as real as the other hardware in the room. And even though her expertise was paper pushing and patience, she was more than ready to move up in both pay scale and prestige at the police department. At thirty-five, she might wind up being the oldest rookie detective on the force, but she'd finally earned her college degree. She was ready to take on investigative work, ready to take the professional rank test and do the interviews to earn her detective's shield. A little casework experience, even vicariously tagging along at the inaugural meeting of KCPD's new major crime task force, would look good on her resume when she put in for the promotion.

Per the chief's specific request, she'd notified each of the law enforcement professionals gathered here this morning. Detectives. A police psychologist. Uniformed officers like herself. A representative from the crime lab.

You deserve to be here, she reminded herself. It had taken her a long time to feel like she was worthy of anything good or exciting in her life. Sometimes, a new situation like this one could still make her flash back to that awful time when she hadn't believed in herself—when she hadn't even thought she'd survive.

But she believed now. She was here for herself. Here for her ten-year-old son, Travis, and their future. She was in this room because Chief Taylor believed she should be.

Letting those positive thoughts drown out the unsettled worry over the message and flower she'd received, Maggie wiped the perspiration from her palms on the navy twill of her pant leg, steadied her nerves with a quiet breath and opened her laptop. All right, so maybe she was just here as a glorified stenographer to take notes, but her pulse still raced. This was the kind of work she wanted to do. Not just man a desk and be the smiling, efficient, nonthreatening face of KCPD that most citizens saw when they came into the building.

Maggie knew Chief Taylor had a soft spot for her. She'd served in his precinct back when he'd been the newly appointed captain of the first watch. Now he was running the show. She'd lost a little girl, given birth to a son, gotten divorced and worked her butt off to maintain a full-time job to support her child while she'd taken classes to earn the degree her ex had once denied her. The chief understood how badly she wanted that promotion and had no doubt invited her to sit in on this meeting to give her some real experience and a taste of where she wanted her career to go.

She was expecting formal introductions, maybe some kind of pep talk to get them fired up for a particular project. At the very least, she expected Chief Taylor to spell out the new team's purpose and why the commissioner had charged him with the job of selecting a task force for a special investigation.

She wasn't expecting the terse greeting from her barrel-chested boss when he reached the head of the table. "He's back."

He followed up the cryptic pronouncement by slapping a file folder on top of the table.

Even from the opposite end of the room, she could see the crime scene photos that spilled out. She could make out a woman's blond hair and a puffy, bruised face. She could see a lot of crimson on those photographs. Blood.

Nick Fensom, the stocky, dark-haired detective sitting closest to Chief Taylor pulled the folder in front of him and opened it. "The Rose Red Rapist?"

"That's right."

Maggie's stomach knotted beneath her thick leather belt and her gaze darted up to the chief's brown eyes, questioning him. Maybe his invitation to sit in on the meeting hadn't been an impromptu gesture of kindness after all. She'd once been in photos like that.

But Chief Taylor wasn't even looking at her. What if she had a unique understanding of that victim's emotions—shock, betrayal, pain, rage, fear, distrust? That didn't mean the chief had an ulterior motive for inviting her to the meeting. A decade had passed since that horrific time, and she'd put it behind her to focus on the present and future. She was simply overreacting to a gruesome coincidence. She was a cop. A future detective. A fast typist.

Not a sacrificial lamb lured into the room to be probed and profiled by the others at the table. Get a grip, Sarge.

Maggie's nostrils flared as she eased the prickly instinct to defend herself on a deep, quiet breath, and dropped her gaze to the screen in front of her. While that feverish impulse to guard against any sort of attack dissipated through the pores of her freckled skin, she concentrated on typing in the names and initial comments of everyone in the room.

Chief Taylor spelled out the details included in the file. "Same M.O. as that unsolved serial rapist case we worked a few years back. Blitz attack. Threat of a weapon once the victim is conscious. None of the victims have been found at the actual scene where the rape occurred, although how they're moved from one place to another isn't always clear. We've got nothing but the vaguest of descriptions of our perp. Male. Tall. There's not even a consensus on his race. He wears gloves and a mask. None of them have seen his face although this most recent victim has some other identifiers that might give us a lead."

"Other identifiers?" Detective Spencer Montgomery, whose short red hair had occasionally earned a question about whether he and Maggie were siblings—other than her son, Maggie had no relatives in the Kansas City area—sat across from his partner, Nick Fensom. Detective Montgomery adjusted his tie and leaned forward. Glancing around the room, she could see he was the senior detective, and his cool and confident demeanor reflected that status. "Such as?"

"His voice."

"Voices can be altered," Montgomery pointed out.

"Smells," the chief countered. "She thought she detected something chemical."

"That's pretty vague." Detective Montgomery wasn't easily convinced.

A dark-haired woman, wearing a CSI windbreaker and sipping something from a stainless-steel travel mug, introduced herself as Annie Hermann, the task force's liaison with the crime lab. "If we can identify the chemical or compound the vic smelled, then that could be a significant clue. It might give us the perp's profession or a medical condition. Or tell us something about his vehicle."

Detective Fensom shot CSI Hermann a look across the table and shook his head. "The perp leaves a red rose with each of his vics. It's probably fertilizer or preservative from the florist's shop."

The petite Annie Hermann straightened in her chair. "Then maybe he works with flowers. The back of a florist's van would be the perfect place to hide a body. The lab is running tests right now to isolate and eliminate any chemicals absorbed by the rose."

Maggie continued to type. Analyzing a rose? Would an analysis of the tulip she'd just trashed reveal the motive behind the anonymous gift? Not that she had any doubt as to the sender and the seeming innocence of his request.

"It's a viable clue," Annie Hermann insisted.

"We'll see." Detective Fensom rocked back in his chair, unconvinced.

The CSI poked the tabletop with her finger. "Science gives us facts. It eliminates false leads and solves cases."

"Not without any context to put those facts in. Cops solve cases. I'll bet my gut has led to more arrests than your science."

"Back to your corners, you two." Chief Taylor silenced the debate. "The perp's smell isn't much to go on, but it's a lead. Hermann, I want you to follow up on it." He turned to the dark-haired detective. "And, Nick, I want you to use that gut to lead you to anyone on the streets who can tell us about this guy or these abductions. Anything is more than we've got right now."

"Yes, sir, Chief."

© Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved

Don't forget to leave a comment for another chance at winning a copy of THE MARINE NEXT DOOR. Winner will be announced at 6pm today.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Showing Lies and Telling Truths from Jeff Bacot

This is the first in a 12-part series by Fort Worth based fiction novelist Jeff Bacot on challenging conventional literary rules in fiction writing. Jeff Bacot is a freelance writer of fiction and blogger of unconventional thought. He has written two novels and 17 short stories. He graduated from Southern Methodist University with two undergraduate degrees (BA, BBA) and one post graduate degree (MA).

So, indulge me please for a minute, and let me “tell” you something and “show” you nothing. So, yes, you know where I’m going here. We writers have all heard the noise from our peers, editors, publishers, writing books, and those fussy rule-enforcing creative writing teachers. Can you hear them screaming in unison? “SHOW ME, DON’T TELL ME!”

Believe me, I have seen it in red ink on virtually all my manuscripts, heard it from instructors, been barbecued in my writing groups for it, and read it so many times, it just sounds like a parent preaching to a child to “brush your teeth, wash behind your ears and eat your vegetables”. Well, guess what, I’m not playing by their rules anymore. And neither should you. So come with me for a minute, let’s explore this, and let’s put some gel in our hair and spike it, wash our brains of the brain washing, and eat a freaking double cheeseburger instead.

First things first. What exactly does it mean really, to “show not tell”? These words we have all heard so often. These wrongs we always write. The short answer is this:

(1) “Showing” is allowing the reader to witness, in his mind, the events being described through dialogue and action. (It’s what they use in movies, television and plays. Everything is visual, so it’s shown.)

Example: “’Sniff, sniff…,’” the disheveled man in the torn robe, and the scraggly beard, and the dirty long hair, rubbed his tearful eyes, then put his hands on his head and looked down.

(2) “Telling”, conversely, is summarizing or narrating what is happening via description or telling the reader what is going on, or what the character is thinking. It’s more passive, but informs the reader of more uninformed detail.

Example: “Jesus wept.”

No matter your religious affiliation, these two quotes basically say the same thing. Right? Sure. But one of them has a much more powerful message, is thicker in meaning, and frankly is just more memorable. Maybe you don’t agree, but we can agree that one of these quotes has survived and thrived the test of time, and the other just makes me want to hide in a cave and weep in agony for its unnecessary tedium. Amen.

“Show, not tell…you will bump into this piece of conventional wisdom. The problem is, it’s wrong. Well, wrong is perhaps too strong a word. Let’s just say it’s certainly not always right. And it could be wrong for you. Very wrong.” So says Alice LaPlante in her book The Making of a Story. She is an award winning published fiction and non-fiction author and also Creative Writing teacher at Stanford University. I think she might be trying to tell us something and she might be onto something important when we listen to conventional wisdom. And write based on it.

I have read a lot of pure “showing” authors, and frankly, their popularity escapes me. I love Hemingway, the maestro of showing not telling. But, am I the only one who reads his books and constantly thinks and asks, I must be an idiot? I don’t get it. Please TELL ME MORE.

A noted fiction novelist and blogger on this very subject, Shirley Jump, disagrees with many of my points here, but even admits in her blog piece, Show Not Tell, that: “A mix of both showing and telling is a good idea. You don’t have to show every single thing in your book. Sometimes, a quick telling helps get through a slow part or provides a quick recap. The goal of your writing is to make it vivid and strong.”

Jeff agreed.

Filling in those parts of a story that just can’t or won’t be shown via dialogue or action is an important tool in writing fiction with beauty, meaning and memorability. “Telling” lends itself to providing an easier and more efficient method of filling in missing or unknown thoughts, emotions, backgrounds, and motives of characters. But, most importantly, the setting and places for the story.

Places? Let me elaborate. After writing, and before publishing, my first novel On The Hole, I decided to have a fairly famous editor critique my work (Yes, I am a certifiable masochist with really thick skin). This pedigreed editor has several PhDs, and incidentally, has written seven fiction novels, and, by the way, he is also the head of the English department at a very famous university. He knows his show. There were several parts of my book that he was heavily critical of my “telling” of the story. He scribbled in angry fonts, “Show Me. This is just TELLING!”. Here is a sample passage of my book that he skewered:

Nick rolled his eyes and clicked off the phone. Staring at it for several seconds, he thought of the troubled client that kept calling, and his own paranoia. The golf course was supposed to represent refuge from the world, not retreat from enemies. Nick reminisced quietly about the memories that were made here on this course that remained inert, invisible, forgotten: bets lost, promises made, deals inked, friendships betrayed, bonds forged, secrets divulged, lives changed and sometimes, ruined. He thought of how little he actually knew of what had occurred here. The golf course seemed to epitomize the duality in human nature. It was both hospitable and hostile, yet these shadowed grounds made a secret pact with everyone who walked on them to remain silent---about all.”

The editor’s comment was “too much telling”. Well, exactly how would one convey these vital thoughts about a place (that place is really THE key “prop” to the story) into “showing” them? Impossible, is my answer. I tried. This short part is one of the most important and telling pieces in the story; a story that would collapse without this short narration of a place and its meaning to this character. The “duality” mentioned above is the concept and meaning on which the story hinges. Should I just say, he hung up his phone and looked at the dubious landscape curiously. Hmmm……

Jeff sighed.

Sparring about this subject with an experienced and heavily credentialed editor is well, risky, I will admit. Many of his criticisms were taken and used, with my head bowed in deference. But the advice of “show, don’t tell” is handed out with such frequency, often with such severity, and sometimes without reason or explanation, it becomes easy and predictable editorial critique and thoughtless advice dispensing, to the devastating detriment of the intimidated author’s original intent for a story.

Let me delve further. A second example of a piece in my novel that was showered in red ink (recommended removal actually) due to the telling nature was this:

Jay thought how much this world had rhythms, movements, and sensations that suited him. He enjoyed the camaraderie, the competition, and the chemical collision of testosterone and alcohol. All these things were fine to him, but they were not the reason he played. To him, no experience quite matched walking out onto the course and surveying the landscape, inhaling deeply the bounty of sensory joy. There was always the fragrant scent of newly mown grass, the leather smell of a golf glove, the aroma of mesquite wood from the clubhouse grill, the distant hint of a cigar being puffed somewhere.”

Again, how would one transfer these important sensory details into “showing”? Jay’s love affair with the game and the course would take too long and be way too tiresome to show. The reader would drop the book. (He might anyway.) The point of the story is about the meaning of the friendship of two guys, but the importance of their affection for their surroundings when they are together is essential, nay critical, to the story, but only insomuch as to better understand the complex relationship of the two protagonists. I looked at the comments from the editor when I got the review back and exhaled with a sullen, forlorn gaze.

Jeff sobbed.

Parts of these two narrations I wrote might be categorized as “showing”, I would agree, and thus disagree with the tag “telling.” (i.e. cigar being puffed, surveying the landscape, etc.) So, let me be clear on one thing: categorizing passages as “showing” vs. “telling” is a bit like dissecting a frog. If you have to go to the excruciating trouble of methodically cutting them apart and dissecting them…well, they die. Sometimes it’s too hard to do it anyway. Of critical importance here is to acknowledge the importance of both, but don’t show too much and shy away from telling when the story demands it (or asks for it nicely anyway). To impose stiff rules on our creativity makes for a dull, flat, limp, forgettable story. Believe me, I’ve written them. Send me your email address, I’ll “show” them to you anytime.

In the movie Field of Dreams, the memorable quote was “if you build it, they will come.” In my movie, entitled Telling The Way, my memorable quote will be: “If you tell it right, it will be read”. Let me repeat that for effect, if you tell it right, it will be read, and remembered, and loved. Now you are free! Go forth and tell the world! Show them something when you write, but please first, remember this is not a movie, TELL the story. Do that, and I promise, they’ll show you the money. And if anyone asks you, just tell them Jeff told you so.

Jeff is a member of Greater Ft Worth Writers group. Please comment below. If you'd like to follow Jeff's blog, it can be found at

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Julie Miller-Four Question Interview

Julie Miller is an award-winning, nationally bestselling author of breathtaking romantic suspense--with a National Readers Choice Award and a Daphne du Maurier among other prizes.  In 2009 she earned an RT BookReviews Career Achievement Award for Series Romantic Suspense.  Many of her 45+ books have appeared on the USA Today, Borders and BookScan Top 100 Romances bestseller lists.  Find out more at

If you could give writers one small piece of advice, what would it be?

Write a complete manuscript. There are many people out there with great story ideas, and many with the ability to write--but the ability to write a COMPLETE story is a challenge many aspiring authors don't master. Writing complete, full-length manuscripts is truly the best way to learn the craft of plotting and pacing a story, developing characters and building relationships is a compelling way for readers. And it's the best, most humbling, way to learn what a challenging (yet rewarding!) job it is to write a book. Plus, without a complete story, you have nothing to sell to your would-be readers.

What is something that you often see beginning writers doing wrong?

Writing a great opening scene/chapter/section to a book, but then not giving the same attention to the rest of the story. Plotting, pacing, characterization, and grammar/formatting, of course, need to be finetuned throughout the entire book.


What book are you reading right now?

THE IRON KING by Julie Kagawa

What’s next for you?

I'm in the midst of writing a 6-book miniseries for Harlequin Intrigue. I'm on the third book right now. I'm also completing a novella for Intrigue's Christmas Cowboy anthology (out in December) and plotting out a new Ladytech (single title paranormal romantic suspense) book.

Finally, where can we find you on the web?

***Upcoming Books from Julie Miller***

ICE LAKE--Jan 2012
ALWAYS FAITHFUL (ebook only)--Jan. 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012


Please welcome Julie Miller to our blog. She is an award-winning, nationally bestselling author of breathtaking romantic suspense--with a National Readers Choice Award and a Daphne du Maurier among other prizes.  In 2009 Julie earned an RT BookReviews Career Achievement Award for Series Romantic Suspense.  Many of her 45+ books have appeared on the USA Today, Borders and BookScan Top 100 Romances bestseller lists.  Find out more at
She has graciously agreed to give away a copy of her newest book THE MARINE NEXT DOOR to one lucky person who comments the most on her posts this week. Come back tomorrow for her next visit.
Wounded Heroes
Why do we love those tortured heart-breakers so much? They’re damaged physically and/or emotionally by life experience, scarred inside and out. Yet they often have an unshakable code of honor and loyalty that might be the same heroic quality that got them wounded in the first place. These men have been judged—by society, by someone they care about or respect, or even by themselves—and now bear a label that they often mistakenly think defines who they are. Some fight for redemption—others hide away from the world, reluctantly exposing themselves to stares and whispers, ridicule or fear, when called on to defend a person or cause. While there is much to admire about these heroes—these men are hard to love. They may feel undeserving of love, even. They may need to be taught how to love—or how to love again. These are the men who overcome extreme adversity. They battle unbeatable odds. And when they finally fall in love, they know only one way to do it—with everything in them.

The hero in my May 2012 release, John Murdock, is a wounded hero. This firefighter had his heart broken and went back into the Marine Corps to put distance between him and the woman he can’t have. But when the captain comes home from the war, his troubles are far from over. He might have a chestful of medals, but he’s been damaged inside and out. He understands fighting for his home and the people he cares about. But coming home, healing, opening up his heart again just might be the toughest battle he’s ever fought. So I knew he needed a very special heroine. KCPD desk sergeant Maggie Wheeler is a wounded warrior herself. With danger stalking her every thought and breath, can she trust the Marine next door to keep her and her son safe? And will they live long enough to heal each other’s wounded hearts?

In keeping with this theme, my local writers’ group, the Prairieland Romance Writers, just had a Roundtable discussion about our favorite wounded romance heroes. Representing a variety of genres and authors, here is PRW’s Top 20 list of wounded heroes. (Actually, we came up with far more, but we limited ourselves to 20 ;)

20 Stories Featuring PRW’s Favorite Wounded Heroes:

(in no particular order)

1. Beauty &the Beast
2. Land of Dreams by Cheryl St. John
3. Solitary Soldier by Debra Webb
4. Miss Emmaline and the Archangel by Rachel Lee
5. Broken Promise by Laura Landon
6. Jackson Rule by Dinah McCall (aka Sharon Sala)
7. Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer
8. To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt
9. Frisco’s Kid by Suzanne Brockmann
10. Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale
11. Candle in the Window by Christina Dodd
12. This is All I Ask by Lynn Kurland
13. BIG Temptation by Robin L. Rotham
14. In the Blink of an Eye by Julie Miller
15. Accidental Bodyguard by Julie Miller
16. Immortal Heart by Julie Miller
17. Forbidden Captor by Julie Miller
18. Lord of Vengeance by Laura Landon
19. Woman in Charge by Sherry James
20. Fugitive Fiancée by Kristin Gabriel

Who are your favorite fictional wounded heroes? Tell us his name, and the book title and author if you know it. Share why he was so memorable for you if you like. I’ll give away a copy of THE MARINE NEXT DOOR to one lucky commenter this week.

Friday, March 23, 2012


About Brad Taylor...
 Brad Taylor was born on Okinawa, Japan, but grew up on 40-acres in rural Texas. Following graduation from the University of Texas, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Infantry. Brad served for more than 21 years, retiring as a Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel.   His military service included numerous Infantry and Special Forces positions. During his  eight years in 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta he commanded multiple troops and a squadron. He has conducted operations in support of US national interests in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other classified locations.

His final assignment was as the Assistant Professor of Military Science at The Citadel in Charleston, SC. He holds a Master’s of Science in Defense Analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School, with a concentration in Irregular Warfare. When not writing, he serves as a security consultant on asymmetric threats for various agencies. He lives in Charleston, SC with his wife and two daughters

Back Cover Blurb...
All Necessary Force
A terrorist hit is coming.
The CIA, FBI, and Department of Defense systems have spiked, but traditional intel is going nowhere. It falls to the Taskforce—a top-secret team that exists outside the bounds of U.S. law and is charged with finding and destroying asymmetric threats—to stop the unknown conspirators.
A shadowy trail leads the Taskforce through Asia and into Egypt, where an attack leaves one hardened Taskforce member dead and another barely breathing. Pike Logan and his partner, Jennifer Cahill, are forced to helm the increasingly convoluted and dangerous mission—a mission that tests Jennifer’s ability to justify means for an end and Pike’s tenuous ability to stay in control. Sifting their way through the opposing plots of two terrorist organizations will turn out to be the least of their problems when a weapon of unthinkable power touches American soil . . . the only country in which Taskforce members are forbidden to operate, and the only country that Pike Logan may be unable to save.
Told with unparalleled realism informed by Taylor’s decades of experience in the U.S. Army Special Forces and Delta Force, All Necessary Force takes readers on a terrifying journey that ends at our own front door.


 Jennifer was halfway up the drainpipe to the third floor when she heard movement below her. She saw three men milling around the corner of the building, half in and half out of the shadows. Her foot slid against the pipe, making a soft clanking noise. She held her breath. Please don’t look up.
When Pike had made the monkey comment, she knew they were talking about her. At first, she had violently disagreed, saying that Johnny was right. There was just too much risk. Pike had worn her down until she eventually agreed to at least see if she could climb the building before she made a decision. She knew it was a simple four-story square from her earlier visit, but she hadn’t really looked for a way up on the outside.
It turned out to have a solid drainpipe on the back corner, which was hidden in the shadows from the street. Each floor had what looked like a six-inch ledge circling the building, with a six-foot alley separating the target from the buildings next door. The cameras in question were on the third floor.

She knew she could climb the building with ease. Pike knew it too and had worked on her until she agreed. In truth, she had secretly been a little thrilled by the challenge. Now, twenty-four hours later, her hands becoming slippery in the cloying humid air, she wondered what the hell she’d been thinking.

Her earpiece crackled, and Pike’s voice came through like a megaphone. “Koko, you set yet?”

Jesus Christ, that was loud. She looked down and saw that there were only two men now. Neither glanced up. She clicked twice for no, then clicked rapidly four times. She heard the crackle again while still fumbling with her volume control.

“I understand you have a situation.”

She clicked once for yes.

“Roger. I copy. Do you need assistance?”

She thought about it, knowing assistance would cause the mission to be scratched. She didn’t want to be the reason for that. If they didn’t hear the first transmission, they won’t hear me move. As long as I’m careful. She clicked twice, and slowly began to climb.

Five minutes and two near-slips later, she was on the third-floor ledge, looking at the cameras seventy feet away.

“Pike, this is Koko. I’m on the third floor.”

Stupid call sign. While at Solo, Jennifer had explained to Knuckles the importance of the Java man hominid and his possible link between apes and humans. She had made the mistake of talking about Koko, a lowland gorilla that could communicate in sign language. Knuckles had then given her the name as her call sign for the mission. It had done no good to explain that lowland gorillas weren’t monkeys.

“Roger,” Pike said. “Standing by.”

Movement inside the building caught her attention. She could see the glass cases of the jewelry wholesaler in the security lighting, full of samples for retailers to peruse. Just outside the door, behind the bars, stood a man.

“Pike, there’s someone inside the building. At the jewelry store.”

There was a pause, then, “Roger. Security guard?”

“No. Stand by.”

The man had bent down and opened a duffel bag. He pulled out a hammer and a canvas sack, setting them carefully on the ground next to the door. Then he pulled out a cordless drill.

“He’s a thief. He’s got a drill. He’s breaking in.” Her voice came out rushed and panicky, embarrassing her.

Pike’s came back like he was ordering doughnuts. “Roger all. Break-break, Johnny, we’re aborting. I say again, we’re aborting.”

“Roger. I copy.”

Jennifer cut in. “Pike, I can’t get down. There’s two men at the bottom of my drainpipe. I can’t jump from this height.”

Pike’s voice reflected urgency for the first time. “I copy. What’s the guy inside doing?”

The man had placed his duffel bag by the stairwell and was kneeling in front of the door, working a drill bit into the drill. The canvas sack and hammer were by his side. Clearly, he intended to defeat the lock, set off the alarm, then use the hammer to smash the glass cases in the jewelry store, stealing whatever he could before the police arrived.

“He’s preparing to drill the lock. When he gets through that, the alarm’s going to go off.”

“Roger. Johnny, how’d he get in? Has he already set off an alarm?”

“I won’t know for sure without the SCADA, but I don’t think so. My bet is that alarm is pretty damn loud. I doubt they’d have just a silent one.”

The man had finished with the bit and began working the lock.

“Pike, he’s drilling.”

Pike came back immediately. “Go to the camera. Initiate the slave unit. Johnny, shut off the alarm. Don’t let it go off.”

Jennifer had begun moving before he was done, reaching the camera in seconds. She heard Johnny say, “Then what?” followed by Pike’s “How the fuck should I know? One step at a time.”

She found the wire with the red stripe leading out of the camera. Should be the data line. She pulled out the slave unit, a device the size of an average pager with a small antenna on the side. On the bottom were two claws designed to cut through the insulation to the metal beneath. She clamped the unit onto the wire, seeing a blinking red light. This is great. The alarm’s going to go off and I’m going to have a spotlight on my ass like a bad King Kong movie.

She watched the man drill, her stomach knotting up. She saw the slave unit begin blinking alternately green and red, meaning it had the data line and was doing an encrypted handshake with Johnny’s receiver. She knew once it went pure green, it would take a few seconds for the hacking team in Washington, D.C., to gain control. Come on, come on. The man pulled back, shaking his hands and resting for a couple of seconds. Then he returned to the lock.

* * * * * * *

Knuckles, Bull, and I were just outside the front door, where I could see the leads to an alarm system. How the fuck did that guy get in?

Knuckles was grinning a little. “I told you this was a bad idea.”

I nudged Bull. “Time to beat your record.”

He pulled out a lockpick kit and selected a couple of tools. We could have used something like an electric rake gun, but those types of things left marks, and we were supposed to be in and out without any evidence. Luckily, Bull was the fastest I had ever seen at cracking an unknown lock mechanically. He could go through five doors in the time it took me to do one.

While he inserted the tools into the bolt lock, Knuckles and I slid a piece of Kevlar fabric that looked like a deflated tube balloon between the joint of the door and wall, just underneath the knob. Once Bull opened the bolt lock, we’d inflate the balloon using a compressed CO2 cartridge, which would separate the joint far enough apart to spring the doorknob with a screwdriver.

We waited for the all-clear from Johnny, like a NASCAR pit crew. I heard Jennifer say, “I’ve got green. Shut it off. Shut it off. He’s leaning into the drill. He’s close.”

Johnny said, “We’re working it. Hold on.”

Not enough time. I whispered to Knuckles and Bull, “Get ready to run to the drainpipe. Looks like a hot exfil.”

Jennifer came back on. “Shit. He’s in.”

* * * * * * *

Jennifer watched the thief kick open the door. She tensed, waiting for the earsplitting sound of an alarm. She started when she heard Johnny through her earpiece instead.

“I have control. The alarm’s off. I can see both the two outside and the asshole inside.”

She sagged against the wall, watching the man run inside with his hammer and sack. After a few steps, he stopped, looking at the ceiling and wondering why the alarm hadn’t triggered. Then he sauntered over to the first glass case and smashed it with a hammer. Reaching inside, he began stuffing his sack.

Pike came on. “All elements, we’re going to take care of the burglar, then get Jennifer inside the building through a window. We’ll exfil together out the front.”

Seeing the bars on the windows of the jewelry wholesaler, Jennifer said, “Pike, the windows here are sealed for security. I can get down to the second floor without those guys seeing me. Then you wouldn’t have to mess with the burglar.”

“Sorry. I’m not helping these assholes clean out that jewelry store. We shut off the alarm for them. Find another window while we deal with him.”

Huh. Didn’t expect that. She looked up and saw a window above her cracked a few inches. “The fourth floor’s good. I see an open window.”

“Okay. We’re inside. Wait until I call again, then meet us in the jewelry store.”

Johnny cut in. “Koko, didn’t you say the travel agency was on the fourth floor?”

Jennifer clicked once, not stopping her climb.

“You still have the thumb drive?”

Now on the fourth-floor ledge, she stopped and said, “Yeah. I’ll see what I can do.”

She snaked through the window and retraced her steps from a few days ago. Within short order, she was inside Noordin’s office, waking up his computer. When it came to life, she saw a password screen. She shut down the computer, inserted the thumb drive, and rebooted. When the screen came back up, she was inside his system. She accessed the Internet and typed in the Web page Johnny had given her. The only thing on the screen was a button that said Enter. She clicked on it. Nothing appeared to happen.

“Johnny, I’m inside and clicked on the Web page, but it didn’t do anything.”

“It’s not supposed to. We got it. We’re good.”

She left the office exactly as she found it, rebooting the computer to bring up the password screen. She reached the stairwell and was about to head down when her radio crackled again.

“Pike, the other two assholes have entered the building. They’re in the stairwell headed up.”

* * * * * * *

We had just finished tying up the first thief when the call came in. Shit, Jennifer’s going to run into them. A second later, I was thinking that wasn’t a bad idea.

“Koko, this is Pike. Come down the stairs until you see them. Let them get a good look at you, then haul ass to the jewelry store. Come right through the door. You copy?”

After a pause, I heard, “Uhh . . . Okay. You’d better be right there.”

“We’ll be there. Hurry.”

Bull and Knuckles looked at me like I had started smoking crack.

“Bull, get over by the counter. Knuckles, grab that chain.”

Knuckles got the idea and laid it in front of the door, me on one end and him on the other.

Jennifer came on, out of breath. “I’m on the way! And they’re right behind me!”

Seconds later she came flying through the door. Once she passed, we raised the chain to ankle height. Both thieves hit it at a dead sprint, sending them sailing across the floor and crashing headfirst into the wall. Bull was on them immediately, but it was unnecessary. Like their partner, they were out cold.

Knuckles stood up, surveying the damage. “Man, what a clusterfuck. It’s great being back with you, Pike.”

Jennifer was sucking in oxygen as if she’d just run five miles, her hand on her knees, still pumped by the adrenaline, but the comment brought out a laugh. “Look at the bright side. At least we accomplished the mission.”
Bull stared at her for a second, apparently sizing her up for the first time. “Yeah, I guess you did.”

I winked at Jennifer. Another believer. She grinned.

“Well,” I said, “if you guys think I can get us out of here without a lightning strike, I say we take these assholes out and drop them off somewhere. When they wake up, they won’t come back here and certainly won’t be going to the police about a bunch of gringos.”

Bull said, “What about all the damage in here? This wasn’t too clandestine.”

“Let’em think Batman showed up.”


Contact Brad:, FB:, Twitter: @bradtaylorbooks, blog (which is not book related. It's all about national security affairs.):

 Both ALL NECESSARY FORCE and ONE ROUGH MAN can be purchased at any major bookseller, including B&N, Amazon, Costco, Hudson's, BooksaMillion, etc. It is also available in all eBook formats, such as iTunes, Kindle, Nook, etc.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

First chapters That Keep’em Coming Back For More

About the Author:
Julie Compton is the internationally published author of the legal thriller,TELL NO LIES, set in her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Born and raised in St. Louis,where she attended Washington University for both undergraduate and law school, Julie also spent a number of years in Boston, MA and Philadelphia, PA before settling in Central Florida.
She began her legal career in St. Louis, but most recently worked as a trial attorney for the U.S.Department of Justice in Wilmington, Delaware. She gave up law to pursue writing full-time when her family moved to Florida in 2003. She now splits her time between her primary home near Orlando and a second home in Daytona Beach Shores. RESCUING OLIVIA is her second novel. Learn more at


I recently attended Sleuth Fest, the annual mystery writer’s conference sponsored by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. One of the workshops I presented, along with fellow author Sharon Potts, was called “Writing to Avoid Rejection.” We focused our presentation on first chapters. If you’re lucky enough to have an agent and/or editor ask to see some pages, your first chapter must keep that agent or editor’s attention and leave him wanting more. Plan to self-publish? Substitute “reader” for “agent or editor” and your goal remains the same. You might have a great idea, an exciting plot, an interesting cast of characters, a unique setting, and a totally killer ending, but your reader will never know about any of that unless you keep him reading.

So how do you do that? To some extent, writing is like a recipe. We can all agree that certain basic ingredients are necessary to bake a cake, but the end result will be different for different bakers. Some will add new and unusual ingredients, some will make substitutions, some will change the measurements. All of them hope the end result is delicious.

The following is a list of questions Sharon and I created for writers to consider when reviewing a first chapter. The answers will help you determine whether you’ve created a delicious treat that leaves a reader hungering for more, or whether your creation might need to spend a bit more time in the oven.

  • Does the first sentence hook the reader?

  • Have you given the reader something that makes him want to keep reading after the opening scene?

  • Do you, as the writer, know the problem that will be resolved by the end of the book, and does the first chapter begin to identify or set that up? A first chapter doesn’t have to identify the main conflict, but what happens in Chapter One should somehow be important to it.

  • Do you, as the writer, know what the protagonist wants (both emotionally and in terms of the plot)? How are these goals set up or impacted by what takes place in Chapter One? Again, the reader doesn’t necessarily have to know the answer to these questions by the end of the chapter, but you, as the writer, should.

  • Is there action? (This doesn’t necessarily mean “action thriller” type action, but rather, forward movement.)

  • Does the opening chapter reflect the “DNA” of the rest of the book? Is it consistent with style, tone, and type of book?

  • Is the POV character’s “voice” consistent with that character, even in third person?

  • Is he/she likable? Your main character will have faults (or should have), but you’ll want your reader to like your protagonist enough to want to follow his story.

  • Does the story begin at the right point (when things have been set into motion by what is sometimes referred to as ‘the inciting incident’), or is there too much set up and back story?

  • Is there too much information in Chapter One that can better be dribbled in later in the book? Your first chapter should have key information without giving everything away or confusing the reader.

  • Are there too many characters introduced at once?

  • Are there too many distracting flashbacks?

  • Are all senses addressed—see, touch, smell, hear, taste?

  • Does the reader know where the story takes place (in a general sense, at least)?

Remember, these are considerations, not rules. Think about them, but don’t let them constrain your creativity. In fact, don’t even look at this list when you sit down to write your first chapter. Come back to it after you have completed a draft of your novel, when you have a better sense of your characters (especially your protagonist) and their goals. Until then, just write, have fun, experiment. Most of all, don’t be afraid to try some new ingredients.


Julie Compton is the internationally published author of two novels, Tell No Lies and Rescuing Olivia, both from St. Martin's Press.

Visit Julie's page on Amazon:
 For more information:

Thank you for stopping by. Julie will be available later in the day to answer questions and comments.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


The Greater Fort Worth Writers Critique Group is pleased to announce a critique contest.

We are writers from  different walks of life with varying experience in the field of writing. Our group consists of published and pre-published writers.

Would you  like the chance to have up to fifteen pages of your work critiqued by our writers absolutely free? Keep reading.

If you’ve never been in a critique group or had your work looked at, this is a great opportunity to get feedback and ideas on how to improve your writing skills. We are enthusiastic, friendly and enjoy helping people to reach their full potential in this field. For those of you who have had a critique experience that made you feel like you’d left your blood on the floor this is a great opportunity to see a supportive group at work.

We will accept manuscripts of all genres except erotic romance or erotica. We do not accept manuscripts containing scenes with necrophilia, pedophilia, or rape as a sport.

To enter, submit the first 15 pages of your manuscript in a word document to Nothing else is necessary.

Post a comment on any of our group entries and/or

Become a follower of As We Were Saying and/or our members blogs.


The deadline for submissions is midnight April 5.

The winner will be picked from a random drawing of all entries and will be announced on April 15th on our blog.

A written critique will be emailed to the winner by April 30th.

If you live in Texas, you’re welcome to join us in person for one of our critique sessions. We promise the critique will be worth your time.

Monday, March 19, 2012


About Brad Taylor...
Brad Taylor was born on Okinawa, Japan, but grew up on 40-acres in rural Texas. Following graduation from the University of Texas, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Infantry. Brad served for more than 21 years, retiring as a Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel. His military service included numerous Infantry and Special Forces positions. During his eight years in 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta he commanded multiple troops and a squadron. He has conducted operations in support of US national interests in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other classified locations.
His final assignment was as the Assistant Professor of Military Science at The Citadel in Charleston, SC. He holds a Master’s of Science in Defense Analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School, with a concentration in Irregular Warfare. When not writing, he serves as a security consultant on asymmetric threats for various agencies. He lives in Charleston, SC with his wife and two daughters.
First, congratulations on becoming a NYT and USA bestselling writer. That’s quite an accomplishment. And thank you for joining us today to talk about your newest book and writing.  So here we go...

What have you experienced during your writing journey?
That’s very hard to put into a short answer. Suffice it to say, leaving the Army for a writing career was about as different as could be imagined. It’s been a whirlwind.

Could you share a bit about your newest book ALL NECESSARY FORCE and the characters?
Sure. I just posed a simple question: If a terrorist wanted to do some serious damage to the United States, on the level of 9/11, what would they attack? Ports? Railways? The financial industry? I then did some research into our national vulnerabilities, finding a system fairly easily. Boiled down, ALL NECESSARY FORCE is the story of a terrorist attempting to destroy this system and the Taskforce attempting to stop him.

You have a back ground as a Delta Force Commander. Did this knowledge help or hinder you when you decided to write a military thriller?
It definitely helps. I selfishly adhere to the axiom “write what you know”, and having served for over 21 years in Special Operations allows me to develop very realistic story lines, but it is a double edged sword. One thing I never want to do in my writing is harm our national security by divulging classified tactics, techniques or procedures, but I also want the manuscript to be as cutting-edge as possible. It’s a dichotomy that caused some serious rewrites on various scenes, such as when the Fort AP Hill ammunition supply point is attacked by terrorists. I did the research on that site, wrote the scene, and then realized I’d just written a blueprint on how to attack it that had a very good chance of succeeding. Because of my knowledge of tactics, and my ability to conduct some seriously close-in research due to my military affiliation, I had crossed the line. I had to go back and throw in some red herrings. I know I’ll get dinged on that by someone with the same knowledge as me, saying, “That would never work,” but that’s the point.

You’ve studied terrorism extensively and dealt with Muslim terrorists. What do you show about terrorists in your books?
I try to show why they act as they do and what motivates them. Too often terrorists are portrayed as some Doctor Evil with a one-track agenda, when in fact they’re human beings, with human emotions – including self-doubt. No terrorist is born. They’re made, and I try to show that through my writing.

How do you put yourself into the mind of the villain, in this case terrorist?
Basically, the same way I do my protagonists. As I said, terrorists are human beings, and I keep that in mind. As you stated above, I have studied the phenomenon of terrorism quite a bit, and have had the unfortunate opportunity to talk to a few terrorists face to face, so I have a pretty good idea of how they think. It’s not perfect, though. I’m not an Islamic scholar, so I’m sure I make mistakes.

Do you have someone currently on active duty who reads your material before you publish?
I have quite a few friends in various jobs that have read my manuscripts even before it’s sent to my editor. As I said, I never want to give away anything that could help someone with nefarious intentions, so I have them read the manuscript to make sure I’m not inadvertently doing that. Invariably, they’ll come back with changes, and I always accede to their wishes. Even so, there are only so many ways to skin the cat, and I’m constantly worried that I’ll give away a secret without meaning to. One widget I created in ALL NECESSARY FORCE was something I had never seen, but I knew was technologically feasible. Sure enough, a few months after I put it on the page I was doing some work for an agency, and the guy I was with pulled out my widget. It had become real, and I was now treading on classified technology without even knowing it. I had him walk me through how it worked, and was satisfied that mine was different enough that I didn’t need to pull it. I won’t say which piece of kit it is, but it’s still in ALL NECESSARY FORCE.

The premise of this novel and your previous novel, ONE ROUGH MAN, seems to be the thread of redemption. How did you accomplish this with a military thriller?

On the surface, the novel itself is a military thriller, but that’s just because I have a background that’s conducive to writing military thrillers. If I had been a priest, it would be set in a church, but the themes would remain the same. In the same vein, the characters would be similar. The book is realistic, and folks will jump on my past and how it allows the novel to reflect real life, but that wasn’t any work. It just came out because of who I am. What I really wanted to do was create memorable characters the reader would identify with regardless of their background. Real characters that aren’t supermen or diabolically evil, but human. Like real life – only better, because who the hell wants to read about real life?

The primary theme is Pike’s redemption. I’ve always had a soft spot for books like that, and had known since I was in college that I would write about it. I wanted to describe the emotional climb of someone at his peak – someone whose peak was pretty damn high – crushed by a tragedy, and his climb back up. While redemption is something universal, the book has a separate theme that I admittedly didn’t have in mind when I started, but it did come out because of the myriad of situations I have experienced. That theme is the greater good. It’s something that the war on terrorism has in spades, but is never really discussed in novels of this type. It’s always black and white. Do “A” and save the day or do “B” and everyone dies. Most of the public doesn’t see it, but we make choices that have a slippery slope every day. I ended up exploring that, and I hope it comes through for the reader – from Jennifer stopping Pike on an individual level to the terrorists wanting to create a caliphate utopia worldwide.

ALL NECESSARY FORCE is your second novel to feature your tough-as-nails protagonist, Pike Logan, a Special Forces task force covert counterterrorism operative. What is it about Pike that you think resonates with so many readers?
First, I would say it’s the combination of both Pike and Jennifer. I get emails that are evenly split between the two, so it’s definitely not a one-man show. As to why they resonate, I honestly couldn’t say. I just tried to write what I would want to read, and I’m glad my readers have taken them to heart.

How do you give your characters the depth and detail necessary for readers to want to cheer them on?
I wanted to show a distinct moral component for the work that men like Pike Logan execute. Too often the characters in such novels or movies run around killing or torturing people without a shred of remorse, when that’s not really the case. A lot of time, effort, and thought go into counter-terrorist activities in the real world, and the men and woman who execute them operate within a moral framework. They make decisions with life or death repercussions, and live with those decisions. They aren’t robots. I wanted to show that through the interactions between Pike—an operator experienced with combat—and Jennifer—a relative newcomer to what combat actually entails.

What challenge or struggle did you face when you tried to build emotional bonds between the characters?
I suppose the same challenge other writers face, namely making it real. I write an action-oriented series, but getting the reader to associate with the characters – both on the “good-guy” side and the “bad-guy” side—is what really matters to me. It’s the heart of why I write. Bullets flying around and bombs going off are great, but they mean nothing unless someone is viscerally affected by the action. That’s what brings the story to life, and is the hardest thing I struggle to achieve. I know—and use—a lot of current counter-terrorism methods in my writing, but at the end of the day, it’s the impact of those events on the characters that makes a reader want to continue.

Do you have a favorite character in this book?
Well, yeah. Two, actually. Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill.

Do you have a favorite scene, you can share with the readers?
That’s a tough question. I think it would be when Pike and crew interdict the terrorist attempting to obtain explosives in Budapest. There is so much intertwined into that scene – the conflicting motivations of the terrorist and an Albanian mafia don, Jennifer coming to grips with combat for the first time, and Pike pushing his team further than he should. Another favorite would be the very ending of the book, which, of course, I’m not going to share. But from emails it appears to be a fan favorite as well.

Which is more important in your stories character or plot?
Definitely the characters.

Do you write an entire outline before you begin your novel?
I don’t outline the entire novel. I do create what I call a “framework” as opposed to an outline. I know the overarching plot, and sketch out the trajectory in broad strokes, but don’t go chapter by chapter. I’ve found that a concrete outline is restrictive, and invariably, I’ll end up ignoring it. I know a start and finish, with selected points in between, and hang the meat on the bones of the framework as I go along, letting the plot twist and turn how it sees fit until it gets to the end.

What do you find most rewarding about your writing career? Most disappointing?
The most rewarding is the reader who connects with what I’ve created. I get wonderful emails from the entire age spectrum, from 70 year old ladies to 18 year old privates in the Army describing what my novels meant to them. That means more than anything else. Most disappointing is when readers email me mistakes I’ve made in the book. I work very, very hard to ensure accuracy, and have at least six or seven different people reading the manuscript, and yet somehow errors slip through. It’s frustrating, but I’m finding it’s just the way of writing. No matter how much I try, I’m not going to reach perfection. Don’t take that as me being disapointed in the people who email. I’m disapointed in myself. By all means, send in every error you find, because it allows me to fix the manuscript before it comes out in paperback.

If you could give writers one small piece of advice, what would it be?
Write. I know that’s what everyone says, but they do so because it’s true.

What is something that you often see beginning writers doing wrong?
I am a beginning writer, so far be it from me to start analyzing others. I’m sure I’m the one doing things wrong.

If you could have a beer, coffee, tea or wine with a literary luminary living or dead, who would it be and why?
I just had it. I was interviewed for a newspaper by a reporter named David Maurer. He’s also the author of THE DYING PLACE, one of my favorite books of all time. He’s a Special Forces veteran of Vietnam, serving in MACV-SOG, a top-secret special operations unit. I had a cousin who was KIA with MACV-SOG in Vietnam, and ALL NECESSARY FORCE is dedicated to him and the men of SOG. It was an honor to get to talk with David.

                                                 What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on edits for BOOK III in the series. I took a step back with this one, leaving behind the global nature of al Qaida and other Islamic groups, focusing instead on terrorist organizations with finite political goals. Too often we, as Americans, lump all “terrorists” together, when in fact, they have very different goals and capabilities. Like the quote says, one man’s terrorist is definitely another man’s freedom fighter. I chose to write about Hezbollah, Hamas, and the intractable Palestinian Diaspora problem vis-à-vis Israel. Probably not very smart, considering what’s going on with the Arab Spring (yes, I’ve already had to do quite a few re-writes based on events in Syria), but it is interesting. I’ve also brought back Lucas Kane. I’ve gotten a ton of emails from folks who read ONE ROUGH MAN and couldn’t wait to see what happens to him in my “next book,” but he’s not in ALL NECESSARY FORCE. A great many people insinuated that I let him go in ONE ROUGH MAN simply to set up ALL NECESSARY FORCE, but in reality, I simply wrote his escape because I thought it was poetic justice for Standish. I never meant for that to be some sort of “hook.” I now realize that I made a mistake in letting him go. What he did to Pike’s family required a revisit. Everyone wanted him to get a little Taskforce justice, so I brought him back. Book three ended up revolving around him, like Darth Vader from Star Wars, and make no mistake, he gets some justice.

Finally, where can we buy your books and find you on the web?
You can find any of my books at all major booksellers, such as Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Books a Million, etc.
Follow me on and
For basic info my website:

Thank you so much for sharing your writing journey with us.
Thank you for having me.

And readers thank you for stopping by. Don't forget to leave Brad a question or comment.

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