These oh so fun, smart, savvy, crazy, fab, talented women I’m privileged to call friends and blog with, well, we had this great idea to write an anthology together. Something that’d never been attempted. Excitement grew and waned as deadlines kicked our asses. Then we had a renewed desire to get this thang done. We kicked around themes. Titles — ah, yours truly came up with the title because you all know how much I love me song titles in fiction. Around Valentine’s Day seemed the perfect fit for when the stories should take place.
Ta-da. Have you seen the gorgeous cover?
Then it came time to decide on individual stories, which were left up to the individual authors. Because this is a mystery and romantic suspense themed blog, we knew that too, needed to be part of the each author’s story. However she wanted to handle it.
So, since I’ve recently gotten back the “right” to tell more Julie Collins stories, I jumped up and down like an idiot when I realized I’d get to delve back into Julie’s world. Even for a little bit. Just to show what Julie and the gang have been up to since we last saw them in SNOW BLIND. And a short story works perfectly. It’s a snippet, a taste, a reminder of how much I love that woman and those characters and that world. I was thrilled to write this story.
But a funny thing happened during the writing. I realized this story is NOT dark. While it’s got all the hallmarks of a Julie Collins mystery, Julie, Martinez, Kevin, Jimmer…guns, swearing, drinking, smoking, fighting and sex, because of the shorter format 14,000 words, it’s lighter fare than some of the heavier themes in the previous four books.
But it works.
Who wants an excerpt?
DEAD FLOWERS – Lori Armstrong – 2012
I fucking hated Valentine’s Day.
With the hatred of a thousand fiery suns kind of hatred.
“Yes, Julie, I know. You’ve been bitching about it for the last three days. Give it a rest.”
I glanced across the conference table at my PI partner in crime, Kevin Wells.
“What?” His handsome face wore a mocking expression. “No, I’m not a mind reader. You’re muttering. But in your case, it’s not really muttering, since I can understand every snarky word.”
“So you’re a fan of Valentine’s Day? You’re picking out a mushy card, a box of chocolates, a bunch of flowers, and a teddy bear… for who exactly?”
“No one, and I’m damn happy not to be dropping a bundle on one day without the guarantee I’ll get laid. Beings you’re in lurve and all, I imagine you’re planning to don fetish wear for Martinez for Valentine’s Day.”
I gave him a droll stare. “Really, Kev? Fetish wear?”
“I thought all bikers were into latex, leather and chains, and kinky stuff. I expect Martinez is the type of man to demand you put it on and parade around for his pleasure.”
“Demand? That’d be the first and last time. I’d kick his ass.”
“Sure. And then you’d kiss it.”
My blood pressure spiked when he made kissing noises. “What the fuck is wrong with you today?”
Kevin grinned. “I love yanking your chain. Especially the one Martinez used to attach the ball around your ankle. I’m surprised it doesn’t trip you up more often.”
I threw the stapler at him.
He ducked, laughed, then hightailed it out to the main room when the doorbell dinged.
My whole beef with Valentine’s Day, at least this year, was that we, at Wells/Collins Investigations, had spent the last month working on cases to verify infidelity. Following the suspect-ees, hoping to catch them in trysts. The worst ones? When the cheaters were bold enough to meet their no-tell lover in their own homes. For me, it was enough to tarnish the aspect of everlasting love. It made me loathe a day devoted to celebrating lovers.
Wasn’t like Martinez and I had discussed V-day. Not even in the hope-you-aren’t-expecting-an-engagement-ring type of joking around. Martinez and I had been living together for almost a year. The blush wasn’t entirely off the rose, but the petals had started to droop, especially since the first of the year. He’d been distant, which I chalked up to Hombres problems, not anything going wrong between us.
Or had I just gotten complacent?
I knew better than to ask why Martinez always left the room when his private cell phone rang. Secrecy was part of the gig being involved with Tony Martinez, the international president of the Hombres motorcycle club. Part of me was happy he kept me in the dark about his shady business dealings. But another part of me wondered if that mentality made me as much an idiot as the clients who hired us, hopeful the suspicions about their lover’s indiscretions were wrong. After all Tony and I had gone through to be together, he wouldn’t be stepping out on me now… would he?
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL! MORE CONTENT AND CONTEST AT THE BOTTOM!!!!!!!!!!!!
How many of you are really waiting for the Rough Riders excerpt? Raise your hands.
So here’s the scenario with the Rough Riders short story. The parameters had been set for this anthology. Romantic suspense, which all of you who read my RR and BC books know…ain’t part of the gig for those series. I’m contemplating which McKay to have as the focus of this story. I kicked around the idea of Keely and Jack in the delivery room, because we all know when she’s in labor she’ll probably kill Jack (and no hardcore fans, that is NOT a hint that Keely is pregnant!) I considered Cord and AJ, because I hear CORD CORD CORD echoing from the Cord lovers, that are plentiful and mighty. I considered Tell, since his book is out next June and it would be a delicious way to tease, give you a glimpse of who I plan to pair him with, but leave you hanging. But I ultimately decided on Cam McKay. Why? Because he’s a deputy and he carries a gun. And it wouldn’t be out of the realm of the series to show a little tidbit of a day in the life of Deputy Cam McKay. Yes, Domini is in this short story — and it is short at 7000 words — and their kids. Who else makes a cameo? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see.
But a funny thing happened during the writing. I realized this story is DARK. And although I don’t shy away from difficult social/family situations in the Rough Riders books, this is a bit of a departure. While it has all the hallmarks of a Rough Riders story, a hot cowboy, a heroine who loves him madly, ten billion McKay kids, sex and a tease about a future book that I couldn’t resist 🙂 — it’s heavier fare than in the Rough Riders series and it’s not erotic.
Hey, it would suck to be a writer if I couldn’t mix things up once in a while : )
So who wants an excerpt? Seriously? Ya’ll ain’t gonna shoot me because it’s short, are you? Well, okay then.
KING OF HEARTS – Lorelei James – 2012
In Sundance, Wyoming.
It was one of the worst scenes Deputy Cam McKay had dealt with. And he’d seen a lot of horrific things over the years. He’d served several rotations in Iraq and witnessed the aftermath of suicide bombers. He’d seen animals used as vessels to hold bombs. He’d been in a caravan that’d hit a string of IEDs, resulting in death and dismemberment of his fellow soldiers. He hadn’t come away from war unscathed—he’d lost most of his left leg, part of his hand, and bore scars, both visible and invisible.
During his time as deputy in Crook County, he’d dealt with deadly car accidents, including a fatality involving his cousin, Luke McKay. He’d broken up domestic disputes where one or both of the parties were drunk, armed, angry, and bleeding. He’d stumbled across a wild horse slaughter.
But this? It was beyond sickening.
The hysterical 911 call from the neighbor who’d discovered the bodies hadn’t prepared him at all for what he’d found at the crime scene.
His stomach roiled as his brain flashed back to the carnage and he fought the urge to throw up.
But Cam hadn’t been alone in his reaction. Sheriff Shortbull had stumbled outside and heaved over the juniper hedge after his glimpse at the dead couple.
In Sundance, Wyoming.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
Maybe it seemed worse because Cam knew the couple. He’d graduated from high school with Jeff Wingate. Cam couldn’t fathom how the mild-mannered insurance salesman could carry out such brutality, especially to his wife. And Angela hadn’t fought back. She’d literally lay down and died.
What a fucking waste.
What a fucking mess.
There’d been no indication of domestic issues. No 911 phone calls in the last year. No history of violence. He’d seen them eating in Dewey’s Delish Dish two weeks ago. They’d acted…happy.
Because the crime scene was beyond their small county’s investigative expertise, they’d had to call in the DCI from Cheyenne. Which meant waiting for the crew to arrive. But neither Cam nor Sheriff Shortbull could stomach waiting inside the house where the bloodbath had occurred.
So they stood outside in the frigid February weather. Taking turns warming up in their patrol cars. He and the sheriff were too disturbed to slide into their usual defense mechanism, cracking jokes—which was how most law enforcement officers handled unpleasant aspects of the job—trying to find any bit of humor to escape the horror of the gruesome scene.
I love the challenge of short stories and 2012 will be the year for them for me. I’ll be releasing 4 short stories of varying lengths, in two genres.
So what’s your favorite short story? Mine is WORD PROCESSOR OF THE GODS by Stephen King 🙂
Tell me your favorite short story of all time to win — a signed Lorelei James cowbell!