On dreams and cookies and Hillary Clinton

dreams-and-cookiesI had the strangest dream!! In the dream I am, no kidding, at Hillary Clinton’s house. I’m hanging out with the whole family! Bill is there, John Pedesta, even my heart throb Van Jones is there. Huma Abedin is there too and I get the impression everyone is glad she left her crazy husband at home. All kinds of people are crowded in the place. Most of them I don’t know but there are plenty of familiar people I’ve seen on TV. It’s this nice, relaxed, casual weekend party … a barbecue or something.

In the middle of all these people, I’m kneeling on the floor in the living room, helping Chelsea’s kid with some sort of art project. As if I even know Chelsea’s kid or even that I like kids.

Hillary walks up to us and in this dream it’s no big deal that she’s standing there, looking down at me playing with her grandchild. Hillary says, “What are you doing?” Continue reading

It’s Veteran’s Day and women rule!

Anyone who has served in uniform knows you can’t do it alone. From the moment you put your boots on, you’re taught there is strength in team and that lesson isn’t forgotten when you take the uniform off.

The team concept is especially apparent with veteran writers and the way we help each other. Kayelle Allen is a best-selling American author who pulled together a group of women veterans who write books and used Veteran’s Day as an opportunity to promote their work. Her Romance Lives Forever  event will be live from 7 p.m. to 11:30 (or 2330 for the military folks) today, Nov. 11. Readers will have an opportunity to communicate directly with a long list of authors, win some prizes and hopefully, find out about some of the work being produced by women veterans.

Kayelle describes her stories as being about, “unstoppable heroes and heroines including contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr.”

Sounds interesting! Read on for the interview. Continue reading

An interview with R. R. Haywood – Author of The Undead

undead-day-oneWhen R. R. Haywood agreed to an interview for my blog, I did one of those crazy dances they say you’re supposed to do as if no one is watching.  The cats flew out of the room like cartoon replicas of themselves. I’d scared the crap out of them since dancing is not an everyday thing for me. And there might have been some fist pumping.

The point is, it’s rare to get Haywood to do one of these and I’m gob smacked (an expression I’m using since he is very British which you will see clearly in his responses) that he agreed to comply with my wishes.

So, here’s a guy, who, four years ago, without much writing experience at all, sat down and wrote The Undead Day One. Then he wrote another book and then another one, and on and on. A couple months ago, he released The Undead Day Twenty. Mind you, there are more than twenty books, some days were broken into two parts and there are a couple of not-to-be-missed standalone books in the series, as well as other books that aren’t part of the series, short stories, some mystery … point is, from the time he started four years ago, he’s written a boat load of words. Not only has he written book after book, he’s also built a massive audience in the UK and a growing U.S. audience. That’s because the work is brilliant. It truly is.

Now listen. And this is the important part. The Undead series is in the much maligned, much ignored zombie apocalypse genre, BUT IF YOU DON’T GET OFF YOUR HIGH HORSE AND TRY A ZOMBIE BOOK ONE OF THESE DAYS, YOU’LL BE MISSING OUT ON SOME AMAZING WRITING!

Yes. That was shouting.

The Undead books are some of the best in the genre, not just because of the charming Britishness of it, but because the characters are amazingly realized and the suspense and tension are sustained throughout. The best part is that these books are hilarious. There are horrible moments. Of course. It’s about brain eating zombies and people die and it can be heartbreakingly sad. But when this group of people get a minute to relax, they will have you laughing out loud.

I made the mistake of starting this series when I was home sick with pneumonia. When you laugh and you have pneumonia, you break into massive, painful coughing fits.

Don’t read The Undead when you have pneumonia.

I’ll stop blathering on now. Here’s the interview… Continue reading

Winners Announced!

winners-announcedPeople commented, the contest entered and names drawn. The only thing left is for the winners to claim their prizes.

Congratulations go to Cindy Young-Turner, David Lewis and Kathy Cilley. Each of you have won a hardcover copy of Wolves, the new novel by New York Times bestselling author DJ Molles. If I haven’t heard from you, please message me with your address. Your copy of the book will come directly from Blackstone Publishing.

Congratulations and thanks for entering!

Wolves, by D. J. Molles – A review and interview with the author

Wolves posterWhen the world crashes, when everything you know disappears and you’ve lost what is most important to you, what kind of human will you be? That question is dissected and explored in the post-apocalyptic thriller, Wolves by bestselling author D.J. Molles.

I first started corresponding with Molles after I read book five of his The Remaining series. Of course, this was when he was still self-publishing and before his books finally rocketed to the New York Times bestseller status where they are today.

I’d been captivated by the bold way Molles operates within his stories. My initial intention was to post the conversation to this blog and to do what I could to draw attention to his work since he’d managed to change my opinion of the zombie genre in a massive way. The real reason I wanted to interview him was that I needed to find out what was going on in this guy’s head. Continue reading

Author in the library with a pen

Author in the library (1)In the fiction I write there are usually a few bodies left in the wake of my imagination. I sometimes kill people off to immediately launch into the story. Sometimes a death is used as a brief diversion or a means to neatly wrap up a climax. In using death this way, I’m not alone.

Like a game of Clue, authors design wildly different places and methods for our carnage. Beaten and strangled in a desperate fight on an Army base in Bosnia. Buried in cement in the jungles of Honduras. Drowning at sea off the coast of an Hawaiian island. Riddled with bullets in a wild gun battle. Slashed and beaten and covered in purple ogre blood beneath the streets of a city.

We’re a murderous bunch, we writers. We kill off whole societies with a deadly contagion. We track down a victim who perfectly matches a serial killer’s pattern. We choose just the right moment, during laughter and commotion, to end the most likable guy in the happy band of soldiers we’ve conjured up, making him the unlucky one to step on the trigger to the antipersonnel mine skillfully hidden in their path.

Should I be worried that we’re littering the ground with bodies purely for entertainment? Continue reading

Books you refuse to read

Surprise booksThree books I need to talk about. One is mine, one is by a friend and one is by an author I discovered not too long ago and have been working my way through his entire library ever since. I can’t seem to get enough.

I group these three books together because each of them are about topics or situations which some might quickly reject based solely on preconceived notions of the genre.

For example, Zander Vyne’s, Tales of a Vampire Hunter series. You hear vampire and you might shake your head and say, “I don’t like vampire stories.”

Or R. R. Haywood’s, Blood at the Premier, a story of a zombie apocalypse in London. Some might see zombie and think, “I don’t read zombie books.”

If I told you Hidden Designs, my latest novella, features a mystery solved by a gay couple in the midst of their love story, would you think reading about a gay love story would make you uncomfortable?

Thing is, I love surprises and maybe reading something you would normally reject could be just what is needed to spark some summer reading fun. If you’re looking for a way to spend some quality time while avoiding the summer heat and you’re not afraid of a little adventure, read on. Continue reading

Triple-X, a short story

The editor of the publication seemed interested in work from female veterans. She asked me to write a story in  three hundred words or less. So I did. It was rejected. I wasn’t at all surprised. Still, no reason why I can’t post it here.

Triple-X, by M. L. Doyle

25255737 - triple x on white background

I stomp over and pound on the flimsy excuse for a door before storming in uninvited, strafing them with my senior-leader glare.

“Turn that shit down. NOW!”

They scramble up to face me. They are shirtless, in shorts, sweatpants, t-shirts and flip flops. All of them wear the shock of interruption. One dives and fumbles for the remote.

Oh yeah. Oh baby. Harder, harder, and the rhythmic slap of naked skin on skin weakens. The seams of the sharp night air, ripped open by the echoes of the graphic sex sounds, slip back together across the camp. Continue reading

Hidden Designs – Cover reveal!

Hidden Designs cvr finalCreating characters is like making new friends. You get to know them by spending days, weeks and months together. Eventually, you have to say farewell for a time, but you never forget them. When you get back together, it’s like you were never apart and you quickly become reacquainted.  You learn what things have been happening in their lives since you last spoke. You’re happy for their successes and sad for their losses.

When I wrote Hidden Poppies in the Lei Crime Kindle World series, the character I chose to use from Toby Neal’s stable was Ken Yamada, an FBI Special Agent.  I put Ken on a case where he ran into Major Charles Mathews, an Army officer Ken met ten years before. They’d been lovers briefly, but because of their careers and their hidden sexuality, they knew a relationship was impossible for them at the time. Continue reading

Bloody pages

Blood_SpatterYou know that hopeful feeling you get when your pages come back from an editor, but then you open it up and all you see is red? It feels like a jab to the guts when you realize it looks as if someone killed a chicken and sprayed their sacrificial blood all over your pages. And then you understand it’s not blood. Those are edits. Hundreds and hundreds of the bloody things and you feel as if it’s not a chicken’s blood, but your own ripped out insides someone has danced on and smeared all over your work. Continue reading

Rock star – a short story

guitar“Two Tom Collins, two rum and cokes, one with lime, one with lemon and a Heineken. Anything else?”

“I’d like a water please.”

“Of course. Water all around.”

The five women would nurse their drinks slowly, mixing in sips of water, marking time until they found likely admirers to buy their next rounds. Marcie had observed the efforts of this group of girlfriends before in their sparkly dresses, platform shoes, big hair and flirtatious ways. While Marcie didn’t exactly approve of their strategy, she had to admit it usually worked for them. Sometimes, the men they lured tipped big to impress, so Marcie didn’t mind the women’s slow consumption. Considering the growing Friday night crowd, her patience would probably pay off.

The shiny silver dance floor reflected the fractured gleam of a large, mirrored ball onto a small group of line dancers, regulars warming up before the club filled with amateurs who would just get in their way.

Sometimes, when things were slow, Marcie put down her tray and danced with the group for a few minutes, kicking, spinning, laughing and clapping. Reveling in the release before she had to rush back and earn a living.

She waved at her friends on the dance floor as she made her way to the bar and smiled when one of them blew her a kiss. She still wore the smile when she turned and saw him standing there, right next to her station. Marcie hid her surprise when he returned her smile, staring directly at her.

She tried to pretend it wasn’t a big deal to see him there, in real life, as if she hadn’t just been bopping to his latest hit while on her way to work, hadn’t just seen him on TV a few days before. Continue reading

Finding my people

Turning PointTurning Point; noun : a time at which a decisive change in a situation occurs, especially one with beneficial results.

The timing of a series of recent events has led me to believe I’ve reached a turning point which could, if I am able to allow it, result in some much needed change. These events have at least led me to some self-reflection—an activity I usually avoid at all costs—and a realization that I am, in fact, heading in the right direction, no matter that it took me forever to figure this out.

First, there was AWP. I’d been nervous as hell about sitting on a panel at the Association of Writer’s and Writing Programs convention. Who was I to talk about women veteran writers at such an event? How could I possibly afford to go to this massive convention in L.A? And who would want to hear a word I had to say? AWP is one of the largest writing conventions in the world, filled with every literary heavy hitter you can name. It’s like the Olympics of writers and I was making my first showing as a no-name player from the farm team.

I almost didn’t go.

After gathering up the nerve, I finally asked BriGette McCoy and her Women Veteran Social Justice Network for help, WVSJ kicked in to assist in financing my trip and I couldn’t be more grateful to her and her efforts. She’s one tireless woman who isn’t afraid to put her boxing gloves on to go to battle for what women veterans need and deserve. I admire her so much. She came through with some financial support at a time when I almost canceled attending AWP because of the cost. I cannot thank her enough.

And that gratitude is mostly because I’m pretty sure attending AWP has done the one thing that I really needed to do on this writing journey.

I found my people. Continue reading

Hilarity in the zombie apocalypse

day19letteringhighresI’ve been flat on my back with what turned out to be pneumonia for the last several days. While recuperating, there’s nothing better than a good book to take you out of your misery. I hate watching TV when I’m sick and while sleep can be healing, it can also be elusive. So reading is the best medicine for me.

Luckily I found a great series to keep me occupied. By great, I mean fantastic. I simply could not put this thing down and stuck with it through 19 books. Yes. 19 and I still wanted more.

R. R. Haywood’s, Undead, starts in a small, southern town in England. Howie is a night manager at Tesco’s, a 24-hour chain store. Howie has a rare Friday night off and is settling down to pizza and TV when a virus sweeps across the earth. TV, phone and internet are quickly shut down and Howie goes out to find his parents and sister while most others are cowering in their homes waiting for ‘the government’ to come to the rescue. Continue reading

Jury Duty – AGAIN

jury 2I’m not sure if it’s because of the city I live in and the level of crime we have or if it’s because there’s a smaller pool of eligible people from which to draw from, but for the third time in the six or so years I’ve lived in Baltimore, I was called to jury duty. Again.

The subpoena for jury service in Baltimore is for one day or one trial. If on the day you are called in, you don’t get selected for a trial, your service is complete. On the previous two occasions nothing of interest had happened. For the most part I spent the day reading, watching the movies they played in the waiting areas and just biding my time.

This time, I brought my laptop with me thinking I’d find a place in the quiet room to write. A whole day to write. It felt like a gift.

Continue reading

Combat Stress Magazine

Combat StressI was honored to be asked to contribute to the January, 2016 edition of Combat Stress Magazine from the American Institute of Stress. The special edition that carries my essays is called, Here and Now, Women in the Military, Challenges, Changes and Champions.   

It’s a very different sort of publication from where you’d usually see my writing, but the editor, Christiana O’Hara, PhD, seemed interested in my take on the importance of women telling their own stories, especially when it comes to their military experience, including those that explore the aftermath of war.

In the piece, Read the women who have gone before you; (pg. 38), I talk with Jerri Bell, a former Navy intelligence officer, author and advocate for women veteran writers, who has made listing works by women veterans a pet project that grows more impressive as she continues to build this extraordinary reference. Her goal is to capture and recognize as many as possible and to bring recognition to the veteran status of authors of works we already know. Continue reading