Memorial Day Veteran’s Charity Challenge: Gone, but Not Forgotten!

google-hangout-banner1During Memorial Day week, from May 22 to 29, more than 70 veteran authors are pledging 100% of their print, ebook and audio book royalties to their favorite charity supporting veterans.

I am honored to be part of this challenge with every sale of True Surrender!

Veterans from each service branch and every conflict period, from Vietnam to even active duty authors, are pledging. This diverse collection of works covers most genres. From romance to action-adventure and everything in between, there’s something for every taste!

The ultimate goal of this event is to raise $10,000 for the 20+ charities we’re supporting (my charity of choice is Veteran Fire Corps). The complete collection of participating books and charities can be found at http://bit.ly/vetsgiveback

If you aren’t interested in purchasing any pledged books, you can make a direct and public donation. If you’re interested in helping support or promote this event without having to donate, just share this info on Facebook, Twitter or your website. Every bit makes a difference! #vetsgiveback

True Surrender Audiobook Now Available in CD!

TrueSurrender_3DI was so excited to get the physical CDs of the True Surrender audiobook earlier this week (it was previously available in digital only). Check out the 20-second video below!

True Surrender is about an Army officer who is rescued from Afghan terrorists only to find his personal journey is just beginning. As he struggles with amputation and denies his PTSD, one woman challenges him to Surrender… and become the man he was meant to be. (Listen to a sample chapter here!)

I had never been particularly happy with my experience releasing the True Surrender audio book through ACX/Audible. The process was confusing and I could never reach a human being in a timely manner.  (Oh, and somewhere in the very, very fine print it states that you’re stuck with them for seven years whether you feel  they’re doing you justice or not.)

But perhaps my biggest frustration was the fact that I couldn’t control the pricing or other factors myself (as an indie author I’m used to being able to). Since I’m still a relative ‘unknown,’ I had hoped to price my audio book such that I could entice people to try it.

Then I found Blackstone/Downpour. Not only does the CD ‘package’ look amazing, but Blackstone has been a joy to work with. They offer something that the giant ACX ‘machine’ can’t: a human touch.

So I hope you’ll consider downloading True Surrender in audio format – or perhaps get the CD as a gift for that special person.

If you prefer to get audiobooks from Amazon/Audible, by all means buy it there (or here at iTunes). But you’ll get a better price here at Downpour. And the CD is only available here.

And, of course, you can still get it in your choice of eBook or print: Kindle / Barnes & Noble/Nook / Apple iTunes/iBookstore / Kobo / Amazon (print/hard copy)

Army Ranger Military Romance Series

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Warning: a spicy excerpt from Ranger’s Luck military romance

Well, today is the day! Ranger’s Luck is officially out in the world!

I wish I could say I’m prepared, but I’m not. Oh, I’ve done my due diligence as far as making sure the story is the best it can be. But as far as promoting it… I feel there are so many things I should be doing that I’m not. Never mind that most days I’m not sure what those things are/should be!

So I’m just going to ask you, my readers/followers/friends… if the story interests you, please buy it and please review it (especially on Amazon).

He dropped his underwear
As it mentions in the description, there is one rather erotic scene (yes there are details!). I thought you might enjoy a little lead-in to that scene…

“Beautiful,” he murmured as his eyes met hers.

Her eyes were drawn to his hands. She watched as he loosened the string on his gym pants and let them fall to the floor. She wondered briefly if his wound still hurt him, but this was like watching her own private strip tease show—starring her own private Adonis—and she forgot everything except how turned on she was.

She brought her eyes back to find his still locked on hers. “Underwear,” she managed through a suddenly dry mouth. “Take it off.”

Something sparked in his eyes, something fierce and primal, and it thrilled her. He dropped his underwear, and as she stared at his erection, he cupped it with his own hand briefly, as if to say This is for you.

Persuasive: a free excerpt from Ranger’s Luck

By special request of our friends at Book Boyfriends Cafe, here’s a sneak peek at a “Hot and Bothered” scene in Ranger’s Luck (Book One in the Army Ranger Series)! Available NOW on Kindle - and everywhere else on April 20!

As I recall“Why did you help me?” Cory’s question took her by surprise.

Maddy answered without looking up. “Because you needed it. Because you would have done the same for me had the tables been turned.”

He didn’t respond, and she glanced up at him. “And because you do it for people you don’t even know, every day of your life.”

She watched as the meaning of her words sank in. He brought one finger to her neck, tracing the chain of his dog tags before gently extricating them.

She returned her attention to the bandage before he could see how that affected her. “Besides, you asked nicely.”

“You mean Chase…?”

She nodded. “Quite a persuasive pair you are.”

“If I recall, I was barely conscious,” he said. “I could not have been persuasive.”

“Ah, but you were,” she said softly. “More than you know.”

She sensed a subtle shift in energy, and she dared to look him in the eye again.

It was there.

Desire. He desired her.

It had an amazing, immediate effect on her body.

Fifty Shades of Grey: Book vs. Movie

It was my guilty pleasure – playing hooky from work one afternoon to go see the movie version of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Of course I’ve read the Fifty Shades trilogy (I had to as a fellow author, right?!). And those who know me know that I also have a keen interest in book-into-movie (it always fascinates me to see words on a page come to life on a screen).

50-shades-of-grey-filmHere are my key observations. (Please note there may be spoilers.)

There are some things the movie did well. And I have nothing but admiration for the actors and everyone involved in shooting some of those very intimate scenes (the camera work was excellent).

However, the biggest problem with the movie is that it lacked emotional punch.  I never felt emotionally connected to the characters. I may have felt excited (even that, not as much as I thought I might).  But the sexual stuff was so much (I would say ‘shock value’ but it wasn’t that extreme) that it overshadowed the emotional story.

To be fair, I found this to be an issue in the books as well. Overall, I rated the books highly, because the central part of my evaluation (“Did the characters change/transform throughout the story?”) was satisfied. Yes, I felt there was so much sex it overrode the character development at times, and yes, the books could have been shorter by cutting out some of the sex. (My personal favorite was the second book, because it is Christian who goes through the biggest transformation.)

Here is an example where I feel the movie failed to get us closer to the characters emotionally.

Those who read the book know Christian’s heart-breaking story of his life up to four years old. It’s a major piece of what helps Anastasia begin to understand him. In the movie, he reveals this information to a sleeping Anastasia. I kept waiting for it to be a ruse; I was so sure she was actually faking sleep. I watched closely, but no: she slept through his ‘confession.’

The closest the movie got to pulling us in emotionally is a scene where Anastasia is asking Christian why he won’t let her touch him. (Another major theme in the books.)

And of course, I have to talk about the sex. There are those who say this movie glorifies the rough treatment of women. I can only speak from my own point of view, and I didn’t feel this way. However, I got tired of seeing her naked and bound and writhing around; I think I would have been much more turned on to see him so!

And I’ll mention the ending as well, if only to say that I was gratified (if somewhat surprised given Hollywood’s penchant for turning everything into a happy ending) to see the ending stayed true to the book. (The author EL James’ involvement with the movie is perhaps part of the reason.)

The million-dollar question: will there be a Fifty Shades TWO?

His Blood: an Excerpt from Ranger’s Luck

I promised some Sneak Peeks, and here’s the first, from Ranger’s Luck (Book One in the Army Ranger Series)! Available NOW on Kindle - and coming soon everywhere else!

He was certainly no stranger to blood.A little ice and those things would heal before the mission. They’d better. No way in hell was he getting pulled off this mission!

Cory shifted his weight, intending to push himself to a sitting position. An incredible pain sliced through his mid-section, so strong it made his head swim. He let himself fall back, alarmed. He ran his hand down his left side where the worst of the pain radiated, dreading what he would find there.

He supposed he knew even before he touched it. He was certainly no stranger to blood. But it was still a shock to find so much of it.

His blood.

It had soaked through his shirt. Christ, it was probably on the ground too.

Those fuckers stabbed me!

Release Date Set for Ranger’s Luck (April 20)

I’d like to introduce you to U.S. Army Rangers Cory Foster and Chase Richards.

They’ve been friends since Army basic training. They went through hell together in Ranger school – and a different kind of hell during their tour in the Middle East. Now they’re part of an elite group that specializes in rapid infantry assault, night fighting and hostage rescue.

They’re at the top of their game. They’ve seen it all. They know it all. Or so they think.

And then they fall in love.

Cover_RangersLuck_Final Ranger’s Luck, the first book in the Army Ranger Series, opens as Cory discovers his little sister is pregnant. Nothing in his Army training has prepared him to handle his sister’s miscarriage and subsequent medical emergency.

Doctor Madison Wright doesn’t date military men – or the family members of her patients. But when a beaten and bloody Cory shows up on her doorstep, she can’t turn him away.

chase_book2Ranger’s Destiny is Chase’s story. He’s been infatuated with Ella Foster for years but, as his best friend’s sister, she is strictly off-limits. But when Cory asks him to watch over Ella while she recuperates from a medical emergency, Chase gets more than he bargained for.

Ella has wanted Chase ever since he appeared as her knight in shining armor during an attempted rape three years ago. But he’s so far out of her league, she’s sure she can never have him.

Ranger’s Luck will officially release on April 20, 2015. You can pre-order it right now on Kindle!

Ranger’s Destiny will release on June 20, 2015.

(Both books will be available on Kobo, Nook and Apple closer to the official release dates.)

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing free excerpts and images from these two stories, right here on my blog (so come back!). I’ve fallen in love with these characters, and I hope you do too!

Reactions to American Sniper Movie

I’ll start this post by saying that I have read Chris Kyle’s memoir (see my review), and the movie “American Sniper” contains very little of it. In fact, I didn’t recognize a single significant scene as one that was detailed in the memoir, which gives me the impression that the movie is very much “Hollywood written.”

Warning: if you haven’t seen “American Sniper” yet, there may be spoilers here.

The movie opens with a woman and young boy stepping out from an alley with an RPG as American tanks roll toward them. The cynic in me couldn’t help it: I know they’re fanatical, but would this woman really be that stupid? The tanks are right there; it’s not like they wouldn’t be seen. They’re going to get mowed down before they can throw their bomb.

Before we see what happens, we flash back to Chris’ background. A lot of info had to be crammed in here: Child Chris taking on a bully who’s picking on his brother. A scene with his father. Chris and his brother as rodeo cowboys (Chris is kind of a dickhead). Then a few scenes from his military training, as well as meeting and marrying Taya.

The movie was set up as sort of a four-part series: Tour One through Four. Each tour, some pivotal event occurs that seems to convince Chris he must go back or his buddies will die. (Some of these scenes are very intense.) Each time Chris returns home the viewer can see he’s more distanced from ‘normal’ life. Each time we see more strain on his marriage as well.

american_sniperChris (like many like him) is not much of a talker. So to portray this progressive change and the slow creep of PTSD would have been a challenge. In this, the film did an excellent job. This includes a pivotal scene at a barbeque when it’s obvious to everyone that Chris is not completely stable; his response to a shrink afterward shows that he truly believes he can’t help ‘enough’ people unless he’s in the thick of war.

Thank goodness he learned otherwise.

Chris Kyle may be considered a hero for different reasons. For having over 160 confirmed kills. And  because he was in a bad place in terms of PTSD and fought his way back (a theme I write about often). But he really became famous not because he wrote a memoir, but because he was killed by a fellow veteran. And that’s why Hollywood made the movie.

Not that I’m complaining… I think shining a light on PTSD by utilizing ‘entertainment value’ means more people begin to understand what our veterans are going through.

But what of Eddie Ray Routh? A veteran also suffering from PTSD. Is it right and just that he spend life in jail with no parole (see recent court case)? I have no idea. I do wonder about Chris’ decision to take the man shooting, especially since it appears he had some suspicions. But guns were so much a part of Chris (there’s a scene in the movie that really hammers home how casually he treated guns), I suspect it’s what he felt he could offer.

In all, a compelling movie. Just expect some blatant Hollywood ‘burnishment.’

P.S. Things I found odd: a scene of Chris running into his brother (who evidently had enlisted as well). We never get any more details about the brother; he seems to have lived his entire life in Chris’ shadow. I also found it odd that Chris could be conversing on a phone with Taya while he’s literally on a rooftop staring down the barrel of his rifle or riding in a tank.

Help Me Title My Military Romance Series

slider_ranger_coming_soonHave you ever wanted to name a book?

Well, here’s your chance. And you’ll be doing me a favor, too, because I’m terrible with titles! (It’s often the last thing I come with after the whole book is written!)

So here it is…

It’s a series featuring two Army Ranger buddies who’ve gone through hell together and then find love. Only, that’s not all life has in store for them!

To get you in the mood, here’s a teaser:

She stretched out her arm, tentatively touching his belly just above the bandage. His skin clinched of its own accord, betraying the effect her touch had on him.

Rank your favorite titles – or suggest a different one – by clicking to this survey.

Read more about the series!

By the way, the cover shoot for this series is this weekend. Stay tuned for an update and photos!