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.

New Release

The opposite of rejection is acceptance. I’ve had plenty of rejection in this writing life. The stack of letters I’ve saved over the years sits in a file drawer. I keep them, thinking one day I might go back and read them again, but I never do. I just collect more.

It’s partly because of that folder full of carefully worded and imaginative ways of saying no, that I’m so excited to be a part of The Sexy Librarian’s Dirty Thirty Vol. 2, released today. My story, ‘Spider Two Come In,’ is part of this steamy erotic anthology and I couldn’t be more proud.

Acceptance, no matter how rare, makes the rejections worth it. 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

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

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

Vindication

LadyboyOn those rare occasions when it happens, vindication can be truly sweet. Today I’m basking in the honeyed glow of the I-told-you-so and enjoying every second of it.

Sometime ago, a friend of mine asked me to read her book Ladyboy and the Volunteer. From the first page, I knew I was reading something special. Her unique style and playful view of intense topics surprised me at every turn. That this was her first book astonished me.

Susanne Aspley and I served in the Army Reserve together. She’d been an Army journalist then, so I knew she could write. I had no idea she could write in a way that made me throw back my head in laughter one minute, and wipe a tear from my eye the next. She writes boldly, as if completely unaware of how penetratingly personal her words are. I simply could not put the book down. I admit, I’m one of those annoying people who sometimes talk to the screen when watching a movie or TV show. Susanne’s book had me talking to the pages, encouraging her, in shocked disbelief and in plain admiration. She’d written a dazzling tale that I knew would blow readers away.   Continue reading

New release! The General’s Ambition

CoverFinalMD-TheGeneralsAmbitionFirst, let me say that this is NOT the cover. I needed to put something together in order to get the pre-order up on Amazon as
quickly as possible. Earthly Charms is hard at work on the real cover and I’ll reveal it here as soon as it’s perfect. In the meantime, there’s this to wet your appetite and help me announce THE GENERAL’S AMBITION is FINALLY READY FOR YOU!!

On Nov. 1, you’ll be able to order the paperback and ebook versions, but for now at least, you can pre-order the ebook on Amazon.com.

Continue reading

THE END at last!

Every indie author knows typing the six letters that form two words at THE END of your book is never THE END of

Available soon (really in a matter of days) at all online retailers!

Available soon (really in a matter of days) at all online retailers!

the work. Those six letters that form two words are really just the beginning of the long road to finally hitting publish. Multiple rewrites, asking for beta readers, taking in and using feedback, line edits, cover design, marketing decisions, searching for reviewers—the list of tasks required long after you type the words THE END, is a long one, but that’s what makes typing them all the more satisfying.

Continue reading

I changed my mind

change mindSometime ago I asked the question, To agent or not to agent?

At the time, (was it that long ago?) my agent and I had been relatively successful. We’d made a bit of money and I was still hopeful that some smart editor would read my mysteries and fall in love with my characters, my premise and my prose. I even wrote a series of adult romance novellas that I was sure would finally get me back into a traditional publishing house. The novellas were smart and good, I thought, and in the serial format that so many people want these days. Surely, someone would snatch them up.

After a long list of rejections, multiple rewrites and more rejections we did find a publisher willing to give my mysteries a try. I felt excited about being accepted finally, by a publishing house even though they were a small startup. The editor was experienced and professional, the previous projects they’d launched looked classy and interesting, and it felt good to know that this publisher was willing to take a chance on me.

In the end, I guess I just wasn’t willing to take a chance on them. I’d worked too hard, and waited too long and had nursed my projects so diligently that the thought of my books languishing away somewhere, unnoticed and unappreciated kept me up at night. It had happened to my first book ever published. I didn’t want to see it happen again.

I was left with a tough decision. Do I tell this person, my agent, the one that had been by my side this entire journey that I was ready to go it alone? After knowing that she’d worked so hard to find a home for my stories and encouraged me every step of the way that it was time to part ways?

I’d been saying for months, to myself mostly and to others when I had the courage, that if something didn’t happen by some date in the future, I would indie publish.  I kept changing that date in the future, moving the goalpost, still hanging onto hope, still thinking something different would happen.

Well it never did.

So, like thousands of people before me, I’m finally doing it. The good news is, I have so much material ready for print that I’ll spend the next few months simply preparing things for publication while trying to fit writing in when there’s time. By August, two of my mysteries, The Peacekeeper’s Photograph and The Sapper’s Tomb, will be published.  Sometime after that, the adult romance series of four novellas called Genuine Date, will also reach the market. And shortly after that, the third book in the Master Sergeant Lauren Harper series will be ready for publication.

Am I sorry that I started this journey by writing query letters and finding an agent? Absolutely not. As I said, we’ve had some early success with ghost writing memoirs and I would never have had those opportunities if I hadn’t been represented by one of the most patient, knowledgeable and professional women in the business. I still LOVE my agent. But I had to finally realize that a traditional publisher wasn’t going to get my stories. They weren’t ever going to agree that people who love mysteries might be intrigued by a smart, tough and yet feminine professional soldier who gets herself into and out of all kinds of interesting scrapes. My agent got it. The publishers didn’t.

So, off I go on my own. So far, it’s been an interesting, challenging and fulfilling ride. I can hardly wait to see how it will end.

Should women be in combat?

That's me on the left in basic training in July 1980. We'd just finished our first visit to the weapons range. I was feeling proud of myself. Notice the cigarette. So glad I quit smoking!

That’s me on the left in basic training in July 1980. We’d just finished our first visit to the weapons range. I was feeling proud of myself. Notice the cigarette. So glad I quit smoking!

Should women be in combat?

No.But neither should men be in combat. I hate that any American has to put on a uniform, pick up a weapon, point it at someone and kill them. The idea that we kill people for a political reason is abhorrent.

As much as I hate the idea, sometimes we are called to do exactly that.

My mother and father both served during World War Two. My father served by driving a tank. My mother served in stateside hospitals as a medical technologist. She never had weapons training and never had any field training. If she had been married, should would have had to ask her husband’s permission to join. If she had had a child at the time, she would have been disqualified to be a WAC at least until her child was fourteen years old.

By the time I joined in 1979, my opportunities in the military were much greater. I served in the same units with men. I deployed with them, I went on field training exercises, fired weapons, threw grenades, ran obstacle courses, wore a gas mask and chemical suit and lots of other things my mother could never do.

Still, my path was much different than my brothers who joined shortly after me. He chose to serve as an officer. I was enlisted.  He was infantry, became airborne qualified and ended his career in Special Operations.

Despite the changes between when my mother was in uniform and when I served, there were still lots of military jobs I was unable to do by regulation. Be in the infantry, drive a tank, fly an attack helicopter, be a Ranger, a Green Beret and many more. Secretary Panetta, with the sweep of a pen, has changed that.

The services will go through a period to decide exactly what jobs will now be opened to women. While they do that, I’m sure those in the men-only military jobs will come up with long lists of reasons why women shouldn’t be allowed to do them.  Like, that a woman doesn’t have the strength it takes to put a track back on a tank when they are thrown. A woman is unable to meet the physical requirements necessary to be a Ranger or a Special Forces soldier. Or a woman’s monthly cycle and her emotional swings will get in the way of her doing the job properly. All reasons I’ve already heard and I’m sure there will be many more.

I wonder how many of those same reasons were used when the opportunities my mother was denied were made available to the women of my generation. I’d bet we could dig up newspaper commentaries from the early 70s and republish them and save ourselves the time of hearing the familiar arguments.

Just as the arguments failed before, they will fail this time. Women can and should be allowed to serve in whatever capacity they desire and are capable of.  Any woman who raises her hand and puts on the uniform knows what she’s up against. She knows how hard it will be. She knows the conditions will be horrible, the challenges tough, the action deadly. She knows all of that and yet she wants to serve in combat anyway.

When our citizens want to serve their country in that way, how can we do anything but support them?

If we must go to war, if we must take up arms to protect and defend, then we should accept all of the help we can get, even from our women.

 

Men in uniform … and women

I have to be honest here. I’ve always had a weakness for men in uniform. My attraction to the uniformed man could have had something, maybe just the tiniest bit, to do with why I joined the Army in the first place. Of course I wanted to serve my country, to swear to protect and defend, to have experiences one could never have if you didn’t go through the rigorous training, learned the discipline, passed muster and graduated into the service.  But being surrounded by men who have earned the right to sport the various uniforms of the services and the bling that goes along with specialized training? Well, it’s hard to not admire them no matter what service or uniform they wear.

Women in uniform? Well, let’s just say I never felt cute, or sexy or attractive at all when I had my uniform on.  It didn’t matter if it was BDUs, Class As, Bs, PTs, none of it made me feel anything other than frumpy.

Lately, I’ve admired the royals in their finery. Couldn’t help but be wowed by William in his Irish Guards wedding attire. Then there’s the bad boy Harry. Last week, during the jubilee celebrations, Harry was looking very military in his blue beret.

I’m fairly certain that a woman in uniform does not have the same affect on those attracted to women as men in uniform do to those of us who are attracted to men.  Have I always been wrong about that?  Are women in uniform just as sexy as men in uniform?