Welcome to my first post of the year!
Let me start with what you want the most-No, I’m sorry but there’s no new news on Adrian’s Eagles. Yes, I’ve included a part from it at the end of this post. And I’m hoping for feedback.
So why am I on here, when I should be working on AE?
Books 1-3 have been edited again and are now live on the usual retailers. These copies are really good and they’ve been gone over a lot. All the beta readers and the new editors involved have been wonderful.
I’ve been in contact with Amazon and they’ve agreed to update current editions. They should be sending out emails about it in the next few days, to everyone with a copy on their device. One book at a time, I would imagine but you can speed the process up by contacting them yourselves at the link below and asking for them to update it now.
This means Life After War (LAW) will also be updated, so if you would like to have a copy of both versions, I would suggest picking up the LAW edition, which contains books 1-3, before Monday, Jan 30th. After that, all available books will be the new copies.
I hope you’ll like it more. There seems to be less confusion due to the structural changes and I’ll tell you now that Kendle’s entire story has been removed from book one. Her tale of horror and triumph now begins in book two, where it should have all along.
Print copies are also now available on Amazon (Links below) and I’m sorry about the pricing. I put them as low as I could for that many pages. I personally love ebooks and doubt I’ll ever buy another bound book in my lifetime. Clearly, I’m a fan of the new publishing industry.
The schedule for this blog hasn’t been chosen yet for 2012 but I hope to have that settled in the next few weeks, along with a firm and final date for Adrian’s Eagles.
Many of you have sent emails and left comments or reviews and I just wanted to say how good it makes me feel to know other people love Life After War the way I do. Thank you and I’m sorry if I haven’t answered you yet. I will, my word on it. Unless you’re crazy and in that case, I’ll have the Witch email you. She’s better at that stuff than I am.
I should also say a thank you to my two newest editors, Dennis and Jill. Welcome aboard!
Book One, The Survivors, in PDf format, is now a free book on this blog. I’m hoping that in time, Amazon will reduce its price as well. Feel free to hit the report link below and notify them of the lower price. I want this first part to be available to anyone so people can have a chance to see if they like my writing before they spend any money. The Dropbox link in the right side bar is for book one and provides a little detail about how the download actually works. It will be free for a while, so tell your friends!
To report it, look for the Amazon direct link at the bottom of the product details, which is below the description. It will say tell us about a lower price
(These scenes take place roughly half way through the book.)
Sam groaned inwardly as she read her schedule. Babysitting? She didn’t even like kids. That she knew of, Sam amended. She hadn’t been around many and they intimidated her a little. What was she supposed to do with them?
Determined not to whine, she got a mug of tea and headed for the children’s area. Still feeling awkward, she only gave a short nod or smile to those who called greetings. When she saw the three Eagles waiting at the campers, she tripped, sloshing steaming liquid over her injured hand.
Jeremy turned to frown at whoever was cursing so close to the kids but exchanged the reprimand for a smile of welcome instead. He had personally asked Adrian to assign the blonde woman here today.
“We’re waiting on two others and then we’ll head out.”
“It’s field trip day. This time, we’re hitting the town.”
Confused but not wanting to look clueless, Sam waited near him, glad the high-level Eagle was talking to her when Neil came through the shadows. He had questions lurking in those beautiful green eyes, hard ones she didn’t want to answer.
“There they are.”
Sam stiffened. Cynthia was walking quickly next to Peggy. The reporter was asking little Becky’s mom things she didn’t want to reveal either, Sam thought, seeing the redhead’s face tighten. Didn’t Cynthia realize she was trying to pry information from a convert? Even if she knew something, Peggy wouldn’t tell the reporter.
Neil flushed at the tone. It said when, you marry my daughter, you’ll call me mom, and Neil refused to look at Samantha. Did she know?
The camper door opened as their eyes met and the excited voices of young children sent Sam’s nervous tension up another level.
“All right, everyone. Each chaperone will be responsible for two children. The kids get to pick.”
Sam sighed resignedly, eying the sticky-faced kids with trepidation. Some days were just hell.
Kyle moved toward the center table with casual steps, sure what he was about to do would be hated by the sullen Marine on Adrian’s right.
Steeling his nerves (it still amazed him that he felt any hesitation at all considering the missions he and his Eagles had completed since the war) Kyle moved to Angela’s side of the crowded center table.
“Hey, Kyle. Did you come for the coffee?”
“Cause this ain’t it!”
The table laughed at the obviously used joke and the Mobster grinned back, eyes full of warning Adrian took note of, “Me and the boys are headin out. Thought I’d see if the Rookie wants to come along.”
Silence fell over the table and those around them, and then the entire Mess.
“Great idea. You interested in a taste of what’s coming?” Adrian asked and Angela grinned, able to feel his pleasure and Kenn’s fury. It hadn’t been planned.
“Fifteen?” Kyle answered.
Angela snorted, “I’ll be ready in five like the rest of the team.”
Kyle chuckled and they moved toward the tent area, not looking at any of the shocked camp around them.
There had been rumors and stories since the airfield and gun test but no actual confirmation until now. It was true. She’d been accepted as an Eagle, a woman who had only been in camp for a week.
Silence reigned in the Mess and it took Neil’s full control to play his part convincingly. He and Kyle had worked it out last night.
“Never seen a woman shoot that well. Not even before. She hits 90% of all targets in level 4!”
Adrian grinned, voice perfectly in awe, “Few more like that and we’d have enough shooters in camp to keep any bad guys off our asses.”
“Takes guts to join the Eagles. You think there are more here like that?”
Adrian let his blue gaze sweep the openly listening people, making pointed contact with a few, one that caused even more frowns.
“Yes, but they’ll come out when they’re ready.” Adrian went back to his lunch and the camp did the same, muttering and whispering. One of those he had looked at was only 15!
Adrian gave Neil a subtle nod of approval and then moved them onto camp business. “All right, the day’s schedules are out and we’ll need to …”
“He’s very happy with you.”
Kyle grinned at Angela’s low words, “Then I’m doing it right.”
“Thank you. I know it’s for him, but thank you anyway.”
The mobster raised a bushy brow, “It is for you. If you didn’t deserve the chance, he wouldn’t be giving it to you.” Kyle made a motion to the men in the parking area, most of them loading the one Excursion.
Assuming he had told them how long till he’d be there, Angela quickened her step. “I can meet you there if you like.”
Kyle shook his head, eyes sweeping the area, “My team is your shadow today.”
Realizing what that meant, she ducked into the small tent that never failed to remind her of her lost time with Brady, “Two minutes.”
In half that time, she emerged from the tent in the rookie gear that had been lying near her tent flap this morning and slung the single bag over her shoulder, still smiling. No secret guard. They would be outside the camp and away from prying eyes for a few hours. Finally!
Kyle could feel her excitement, her happiness rubbing off on him and he followed her to the vet area with a light step. It was gonna be a good day.
“One minute.” Angela ducked into the tent to see her son and the vet in the middle of feeding the ever-growing zoo and she stayed near the flap, out of their way.
“I’ll be out of Camp today. Have Mitch call if you need me.”
Charlie was glad she was still being cautious about their gifts, just like before. “Okay. Be careful.”
Angela tried not to frown, “Okay mom.”
The teenager smiled, rolling his eyes and after a quick look at Chris, she joined Kyle.
Kyle looked at his watch as he got them moving toward the waiting men. Less than four minutes, including walk time. It was impressive for the team but for a female? It was slightly unnerving and they moved in silence.
Kyle halted near the bumper and the men gathered around him, “Let’s do the usual check. Weapons?”
Each of the nine men started checking their guns and Angela did the same, feeling awkward despite her fingers doing mostly what she wanted them to. They were going over their other weapons now, guns in boots and knives on belts and she did a quick look to make sure her wrist blade was fastened securely, received approving looks that she had a backup.
Each man had a belt they were strapping around their hips and securing to their right pocket and Angela barely had time to wonder if she should ask for one before it was being held out to her.
A simple walkie-talkie setup, she grinned in recognition and flipped through the dials to channel 107 before powering it up. The set cracked to life, blaring static and she flipped the filter switch and then adjusted the volume. Very glad she didn’t have to wait for them to show her or worse, have to suffer through the jolt, she didn’t look up, “Did he give you the headsets yet? Those are great. They automatically catch the spark and adjust.”
There was silence, thick and long and she glanced up to see them sharing upset looks, “Did I do something wrong already?”
Kyle moved her way, “Not you.”
She frowned in concentration. What had… her eyes narrowed, “He didn’t tell you to go to channel 107 first so there’s no shock.”
There was only the sound of their anger and she stiffened in surprise when she picked it from their thoughts, “Not on purpose. He just didn’t want to say he forgot and makes the rookies test it out.” she shrugged. “That’s the Kenn I know.”
The Eagles were muttering, casting dark looks toward the man still sitting stiffly on Adrian’s right and Kyle continued, voice not quite calm anymore, “Gear?”
They were comparing their bags to the sheets of paper from their pockets and Angela was ready this time, going to Kyle instead of the other way around. She did her look fast, frowning at all the items she didn’t have.
“I’m short a canteen.”
“I need a battery pack.”
Angela sucked in a breath, “I need a complete pack.”
There were more approving nods and then one was in her hand.
Not sure if her own items were off-limits, she settled for the three she used the most and then tossed her bag through the open window of her blazer.
“All right. Who’s the sucker on drive detail?”
Angela flushed as all eyes swung to hers and she shrugged, “Okay.”
Daryl tossed her the keys and she was very aware of the camp watching her get into the driver’s seat of Kyle’s vehicle. The black Ford Excursion was long, with three rows of seats and she had to move hers all the way up to reach the pedals.
She strapped herself in, waiting for Daryl to climb in beside her and she leaned closer, “Why is the driver a sucker?”
The Eagle grinned, instantly liking the way she smelled, “Cause Kyle likes to go where no man has gone before.”
Understanding her driving skills were about to be tested, Angela waited calmly for everyone to get set. She loved driving.
Kyle paused at the back door, eyes going to the center table and he caught Adrian’s nod. It said to do his job and the mobster gave a motion in response. He would.
It took a while for the kids to pick their chaperones and Sam smiled uneasily when a girl with short brown spikes pointed her way. The girl looked to be about eight and was sporting a signature-covered cast on her wrist. Next to her, was another girl of roughly the same age, this one so thin that Sam’s heart clenched.
The smile she gave this time was more genuine and both girls moved her way with giggles. Each one wanted her hand and Sam reluctantly surrendered her tea to let them hold onto her.
Sticky and warm, she waited restlessly with them as everyone got set, trying not to look at Neil. She’d seen little Becky’s blunder yesterday and though the trooper had refused, the idea that he was willing had to have come from somewhere. Did he have a thing for cute teenager? If so…
“What’s your name?” They were both waiting; thin girl’s face hopeful and Sam put her thoughts away for now.
They both giggled. “That’s a boy’s name!’
Not offended, she grinned back, “I’ve heard that.”
“Why do you have a boy’s name?”
“Is it a shortner?”
Confused by the garbled word, Sam shrugged, “My mom wanted a girl, Samantha. My dad wanted a boy, Sam. This way, they both got their wish.”
They laughed harder, sharing amused looks. “That’s silly.”
Smiling Sam let them enjoy themselves; thinking until they made it here, there probably hadn’t been much of it.
She saw Neil get chosen by two very energetic boys that looked to be the same age group as her charges. The kids were bouncing, excited and she realized field trip day must be something they looked forward to. The rest of the time, Adrian kept them isolated for their safety and these moments out of the camper area were probably treasured, she thought.
Their lives had been turned around too and she felt the need to give them a good day if she could. They were war orphans and the bond she suddenly felt was something she wouldn’t tell any of them but it was there just the same. She’d lost her family too, along with everything else she had depended on for stability, sanity. Her grip tightened just a bit. They deserved a fun day and she would be proud to help give it to them.
There was a loud cheer from the kids. “Yeah!”
“All right, first stop is…Safe Haven’s secret hideout!”
This cheer was twice as loud and Sam let the girls lead her through out of the area. They were right behind Peggy and her group of five tweens and Sam didn’t envy the redheaded woman’s sulky twelve year old charges.
The line moved slowly across the camp, drawing attention from those already up and everyone waved. Kids roaming the streets before the War were a sight to be frowned upon or ignored for their poverty. Here, children were rare and welcome, no matter their condition.
“Must be field trip day.” Seth joked, stopping in front of the group, “Unless you guys snuck out again?”
There were snorts and giggles all around.
“We didn’t escape.” one of Peggy’s girls retorted sharply, tossing a dark braid over her shoulder, “And you know it. So come on and let us in!”
Sam frowned at the rudeness but noticed Seth and Neil only smiled.
“But I don’t know for sure.” the cute guard protested, “Bad guys look like anyone, right?”
The younger kids nodded, quieting at their own mental horrors and the girl’s voice was grave, “Yes. Even like you and Adrian.”
“Exactly and that’s why I have to ask every time anyone comes through.”
“Little kids can’t be bad guys.”
This came from another of Peggy’s group and again, Sam was glad of the two calmly listening kids that had chosen her.
“Yes, they can.”
Neil’s hard voice snapped Sam’s head to him.
“They don’t always know because the grownups are sneaky. Sometimes they ask kids to do things that are wrong.”
“And do you banish them too?”
One of his little boys asked, clinging to his arm and Neil shook his head, “Never. It’s not a kid’s fault when a grownup makes them do bad things.”
“Then the grownup should be punished.” the braid-swinging girl exclaimed brutally, “Not us!”
“Yes. If a grownup tries to get you to do things you think are bad, don’t. Lie to them and say you will and then come tell Adrian.” Seth instructed and Sam began to realize this was a training moment.
The redheaded guard checked his watch and looked around, “I wonder where he is this time?”
The kids all let out another loud cheer, startling Sam and she watched warily as they all began darting around, dragging their chaperones. Hide-n-seek?
“There he is!” Ponytail girl screamed, pointing up and the kids clustered around the trunk of the tree Adrian was sitting in.
“What’s the password?” Adrian barked at them, making Sam jump and then grin when the kids all responded.
“We love America!”
Adrian snapped a salute,”You may enter!”
He jumped down and was immediately smothered with little bodies hugging, tackling, and wrestling him to the ground.
Sam grinned again, surprised Adrian was so popular with the kids and when she started to move closer, worried about the little girl with the broken wrist, Neil caught her eye, “He’s got them.”
And he did. From tickling back and chasing, to a quick hug and smile, it was clear the kids adored Safe Haven’s leader.
“How are you?”
Sam shrugged, aware of more than one set of ears listening, “Adjusting.” she raised a brow, unable to resist even though she had serious doubts about his sense of humor, “Did he get all the mud off his jacket?”
Neil’s face went red and he pleased her by lowering his voice and returning the joke, “I was afraid to ask.”
Sam chuckled, drawing more attention, “I’m sure he’s had worse.” she commented, watching Adrian start a game of tag.
“You two ready for some coffee?” Peggy called and Sam was glad to hear that her tone was friendly enough.
“No thanks.” Neil answered.
Sam moved to get a cup, needed the caffeine rush to fully wake (that or danger) and was careful to throw out the air that she wasn’t to be messed with.
She watched Peggy’s eyes cool. Good. If she decided she wanted the uptight trooper, Peggy and her spunky daughter wouldn’t get in the way.
Peggy nodded and Sam hung around her for a moment as she sipped the strong brew, waiting to see if there might be a threat but there was only a series of cool looks exchanged. Because the mother wanted to keep the peace? Becky didn’t care about the rules. Why would her parent? From all appearances, she wanted Neil to be her son-in-law even though her child was only that, a 15 year old kid.
Some mother, Sam thought, moving back toward Adrian and the happily running orphans. To Sam’s mind, Becky was a baby compared to Neil. Did that mean she was attracted to another man with mental problems? Maybe that was the only kind…
“Okay everyone, line up.”
Peggy’s voice echoed firmly and all the dusty kids flew her way after promises of another round from Adrian.
“Get with your chaperone and you can go on in.” the redhead instructed.
Sam’s two girls clutched her hands eagerly, almost dragging her forward, “Come on!”
Laughing, Samantha moved faster into the area she’d noticed a few days ago and wondered about. Hilda had said it was where Adrian taught his army to be men and she stepped inside almost as eagerly as the kids. To her amusement, she loved it as much as they did.
Instead of the adult setup that would have to normally be used, the long tent was filled with half-sized equipment. Kid-sized, she corrected herself, letting the little girls lead her to the circular obstacle course in the middle.
“We hafta warm up.” Sam surrendered the second hot drink in an hour and began helping the girl with the cast remove her shoes and socks.
Thinking she might have to learn their names soon, Sam paced them as they walked the low beam, rolled under empty boxes, and jumped over gaps in the mat. She kept a close eye on the girl in the cast and finally had to call out; “Hey you”, when the little girl leaned too far over the beam. “Be careful...what’s your name?”
The girl hopped down with a grin, cast bumping against the hard wood with a loud thunk that made Sam wince, “Tracy. That’s Leeann.” she turned to point at the thin girl, “The rest of them are…”
The recital went on for a while and Sam tried to keep up and still watch out for Leeann.
Sam blinked. Turn? Surely it wouldn’t…She watched Peggy heft herself onto the first beam and move across smartly before rolling under the boxes in an awkward shove that sent cardboard flying.
The kids giggled hard and Sam moved to the beam with Tracy, who was now ready to do the paralleling. “When ever you’re ready.”
The little girl called, holding up her casted wrist and Sam grinned. They knew to take her place. How cute…and terrible that it was necessary. Sighing, she moved steadily along the wood, trying not to wince at a lane of pain in her old injury that keeping her leg straight was causing. If Peggy could do it, so could she.
“You want me to do what?”
Cynthia’s voice drew Sam’s eye. She had mostly forgotten about the reporter and she turned to see a boy with a bandage on his hand hopping up and down in protest.
“Run course!’ he ordered and Cynthia shook her head, “Not me.”
“But I can’t ifin you don’t!”
The child shouted but the woman only shook her head again, “Sorry, kid.”
Sam looked down at her girls, “Wanna run the course with him? You’ll have to show me how.”
They drug her to Cynthia and Sam snagged the boy’s uninjured hand, “Come on.”
The child’s face lit up and Cynthia stuttered her thanks, embarrassed.
“Uh-hu.” Sam didn’t offer more but her tone said shame on you! and Neil grinned along with the other adults. The Storm Tracker was okay.
Adrian’s Eagles- $3.99- Available for preorder.
I hope everyone is having a wonderful start to the New Year!
See you next time,