January = resolutions

It’s January and the start of a brand spanking new year. I’ve searched Roku for free fitness channels and loaded them up. I’ve packed my refrigerator with tons of leafy greens with the focused goal of not letting any of them go to waste. I have a couple of large garbage bags full of clothes and shoes I didn’t wear in the last 365 days, and I’ve tossed out all the old shampoos, conditioners, lotions, makeup and beautifying products I acquired over the last year thinking they would somehow improve my life.

I spent money on all that crap and now I’m getting rid of it. As regretful as I may be for having purchased things I shouldn’t have, it feels good to start a new year with a lighter load.

Just as we all make resolutions at the beginning of a new year, writer’s set goals for the words they will produce and this year, mine are a bit ambitious.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been working on the second book in my Desert Goddess Series. The Bonding Spell, released in 2015, was one of the most enjoyable books I’d ever written. Staff Sergeant Hester Trueblood picks up a shiny, gold coin while on duty in Iraq and her life is forever changed. As the new embodiment of the Mesopotamian goddess Inanna, Hester returns to her home in Minneapolis, and tries to come to terms with her changed circumstances and the bitchy goddess voice in her head.

It’s a wild, Jim Butcher-style, urban fantasy romp that is funny, sexy and filled with mystery. I couldn’t wait to dig into the sequel, but had no idea when I started it, just how much more story there was to tell. “The Bonding Blade” has opened my eyes to more of Hester and Inanna’s world, the warriors dedicated to fighting and sacrificing for them, and the demi-god, Gilgamesh who is devoted, by destiny, to love them, no matter what they do.


It’s a wild, Jim Butcher-style, urban fantasy romp that is funny, sexy and filled with mystery.

As the New Year begins, my greatest goal is to publish “The Bonding Blade” with as much perfection as I can bring to it. I’m aiming for a late June or early July publication date.

While “The Bonding Blade” is going through final edits, reviews and promotions, I’ll be rewriting a couple of stories that were originally published in Amazon Kindle Worlds. Kindle Worlds have gone away, so the rights to these novellas have returned to me and I’m going to make full use of them.

In the first novella, Archimedes Ford is an FBI agent who has slogged through life carrying a heavy secret. His latest case brings him face to face with someone who will make it impossible for him to keep hiding any longer. Major Corey Turner spent his entire career with secrets too, until the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy finally ended. Archie Ford has difficulty concentrating on solving his complicated case, but he soon learns he’s not just saving the life of a young girl, but also saving his own.

“Archimedes and The Soldier,” is the first of two Archimedes Ford novellas which will both become spinoffs of The Master Sergeant Harper three-book mystery series already in existence.

And if that’s not enough, I plan to at least outline a forth book in the Master Sergeant Harper series. All I know is that Harper will be going to the Sergeant Major’s academy in El Paso, Texas. It’s a huge leap in her career and one she’s been aiming for, ever since she put on an Army uniform. But the academy is a tough school. Not everyone passes and British Sergeant Major Harry Fogg isn’t making it any easier for her.

They say, if you make New Year’s resolutions you should write them down or tell others so you have some tangible proof of your goals and a need to hold yourself accountable. Well, I’ve done it now. I’ll check back this time next year to see how close I am to meeting them.

Win a copy of The Bonding Spell, either by commenting here or on social media. One winner will be selected by random draw.

Trifecta of creativity

How do you measure creativity? Is it liquid so you can measure it in a cup or a bucket and carry it? Maybe it’s wind since I often say someone’s creativity blew me away. Or is creativity something solid that smacks you upside the head?

Three things that carried, blew, smacked me this week.

First, is the novel, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, by Claire North. I’d never heard of it, but evidently it was a big hit and all the talk when it first came out in 2014. Not her first book, Claire North made a name for herself after this one came on the scene and I understand why. Continue reading

A different kind of writing contest

Once again, I’m helping best selling  author RR Haywood judge the semi-annual writing contest he conducts in his closed The Living Army or TLA Facebook group. The group, made up of a couple thousand mostly British, American and Australian fans of his Undead zombie horror series, has lately become populated with fans of his new best selling time travel series, Extracted.

His Undead series, which now numbers 26 books, each of them best sellers on their own, is the kind of series with which fans become obsessed and inevitably find themselves looking for like-minded readers. It’s that search for connection with others who share obsessions which spawned the TLA  group, many of whom have read the entire series a number of times, have listened to them in audiobook and spend days and days arguing over who should be in the dream casts for hopeful TV and movie adaptations. (Hint, hint, movie and TV producers. This series is screaming for TV time.) I reviewed one of the books in the series here. Continue reading

Interview – Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Too often, authors create one dimensional super-killers in uniform who cold-heartedly carry out his or her duty like a robot. The character perpetuates the myth that the military is filled with people who mindlessly do what they’re told regardless of right or wrong. Orders are orders, in these worlds and service members shouldn’t think for themselves.

I’m convinced authors regurgitate the TV and movie style combatant because the number of people who know and understand real military life is minuscule compared to those who haven’t served. People simply make it up, call it creative license and do whatever they think makes for the best plot.

Often times, these are the books I want to throw across the room.

TrackersOn the other hand, there are some who go the extra mile, do some research and present accurate portrayals of military members and veterans. They work at getting at the truth of what goes through the mind and soul of people trained to go to battle, why they do it, what their motivation might be, and how what soldiers do impacts them before, during and after their service.

Nicholas Sansbury Smith, while never having served in uniform, masterfully draws three dimensional characters in uniform in all of his books. Many readers are familiar with the soldiers in his bestselling Extinction Cycle series which features Delta Force teams up against a deadly threat and a world in collapse. Through the multiple books in this series, we watch a team of men who had fought side by side for years in hot spots around the world. They weren’t best friends. They didn’t all hang out together, but they knew each other professionally and, like most people who go into danger with weapons in their hands, their connections are visceral and organic. When they lose half their team in one encounter with a kind of threat they’d never seen before, it rips them apart. They drive on, they continue to function and Smith shows us what it takes to continue your mission even though you’re torn up inside.

Continue reading

Two big things

First, a whole bunch of the Lei Crime Kindle World authors got together for a Valentine’s Day Facebook hop. Some lucky person is going to win a $170.00 Amazon gift card. You don’t want to miss this contest.

The sweet part, aside from thlei-crime-valentinese fat gift card, is that each Facebook post features a unique Hawaiian recipe –Get it? The sweet part? Since most of the Lei Crime stories take place in Hawaii, the recipes get you closer to the world. I want to try them all. Hawaiian king bread, Kalua pork and cabbage, Hawaiian pineapple Cake… So many yummy and fairly easy ideas to bring to the table.

All you have to do is visit some Facebook pages, leave comments and move onto the next one. Lots of us are playing. You can start on my page (www.facebook.com/mldoyleauthor) and go get familiar with other authors who write in the Lei Crime world. It’s a talented bunch who write mystery, romance, fantasy and much more.

The second big thing is the Association of Writer’s and Writing Programs (AWP) is this weekend. I’m so excited to be going back again this  year. I will be on a panel alongside some amazing veteran writers. I went to AWP for the first time last year and the experience had a lasting impact. I wrote about it when I got home and now I can’t wait to see some of the friends I made. Here’s a description of the panel I will be on. It would be great fun to see you there!

Friday, February 10, 2017

9:00 am to 10:15 am

Marquis Salon 6, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two

F110. The Middle Americans: How Flyover Country Responds to War. (, , , , ) By various measures, rural Americans are more likely to enlist in the US armed forces. Despite isolation from traditional centers of publishing and military power, voices with Midwestern roots have sprung forth like dragon’s teeth to deliver clear-eyed, plainspoken views of war, service, and sacrifice. The civilians and veterans of this stereotype-busting panel of published writers offer their insights regarding themes, trends, and markets in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

 

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

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

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

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

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