Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bad Boy Revisited

As I mentioned in Monday's post, I'm hard at work on the sequels to LANDLOCKED. In book two, SMUGGLER'S BLUES, Captain Brett Logan Jr. finds himself a rebel without a cause. The war between the Reformers and the Resistance is over. With no contraband to smuggle and no guns to run, Logan spends his days in domestic bliss with his wife Kate and their sons, Marcus and Nathaniel. Though he has everything a man could ask for, Logan is restless, yearning for the days of adventure and death-defying escapades. When his former first mate, Jacques shows up with a risky business proposal, it's an offer Logan can't--and won't--refuse. Inevitably Logan gets himself in a bind with the law and it's up to Kate to save him, but amidst her outrage and anger, they just might find the spark that's been missing from their relationship for years. Hunted and on the run, Brett and Kate rekindle their romance and rediscover their passion for each other and living outside the law.

Here's a sneak peek at SMUGGLER'S BLUES:


“Captain Logan,” a voice boomed to his left drawing his attention. A corpulent man who was sweating bullets through his velvet waistcoat held out a pudgy, sausage-fingered hand.

Logan took it and firmly pumped it twice before letting go. “You must be Mr. Boudreaux. Pleasure to meet you.”

“Pleasure’s all mine.” The man’s eyes held a wolfish gleam, one Logan was not entirely comfortable with. 
“And please, call me Big Daddy. Everyone does.”

Big Daddy’s hand came to rest on Logan’s shoulder, a toothy grin wrinkled the fat man’s veined cheeks.

Removing the offending hand, Logan shook his head. “If it’s all the same to you, I’ll stick with Mr. Boudreaux.”

“Daddy issues?” The man laughed and snorted.

“You could say that.”

“You can call me whatever you like, just don’t call me late for dinner.”

Logan forced a smile on his face.

“Shall we adjourn to my private booth?”

Leaning over to Jacques, Logan spoke in his first mate’s ear. “If I’m not back in an hour, come rescue me.”

Oui, mon capitaine. “ Jacques threw back a shot.

Logan followed the fat man. “Mr Boudreaux, how is it that you run such an obvious nightclub in the RSA without getting raided and shut down?”

“Captain, I run six such clubs. All it takes is a lot of friends and a lot of bribes.”

Well that made sense. Logan had bought himself out of a scrape or two, but this…this club offered every manner of excess and debauchery. It flew in the face of all the Reformers supposedly held sacred. The body was a temple, sobriety, piety and chastity being their own reward. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Judging from the crowd, there were plenty of Reformed Americans more than ready to befoul their temples.

Big Daddy led the way upstairs to a loft space that held a small bar manned by a bartender who stood at the ready, an enormous horseshoe shaped booth and was staffed by five of the most stunning showgirls Logan had ever seen. The redhead in the group fluttered her fingers at him, a flirtatious hello. Logan dipped his head, trying to be polite.

“I see you like my private stock.” Big Daddy huffed, scooting in to the booth.

“To be honest, it’s all a bit rich for my blood.” Logan took a seat on the opposite end of the horseshoe.

“Is it now? I must’ve gotten some bad information. I’ve heard Captain Loco Logan is quite the wild man.”

The flirty showgirl set a double shot of bourbon in front of Logan and some sort of pink mixed drink in front of Big Daddy. She stood next to Logan, bouncing to the strains of music that filtered up from downstairs.

“It’s true, I used to be, but I’m just an old married man now.”

“Hell, live a little son.” Big Daddy motioned for the girl to get closer to Logan which she hurried to do. “Just cuz you’re on a diet don’t mean you can’t sample the menu.”

“I don’t think that’s how the saying goes.”

The man’s snorting laughter alone made Logan feel dirty, but the girl’s hand skittering up his thigh made him feel even worse. How old was she? Maybe eighteen or nineteen at best?

He caught her hand, shaking his head. “Young lady, I am old enough to be your father.”

“This is Mabel. She has daddy issues too so it’s all right, Captain. What happens at The Tailfeather—”

“Would get me kicked out of my own house and rightfully so.” Logan interrupted. “What’s say we get down to business, Mr. Boudreaux.”

“What ever you’d like, Captain.” With a flick of his hand, Big Daddy dismissed the girl. “Just trying to show you a good time.”

“I get that, but like I said, I’m just on old married man these days.” Logan took a pull from his glass. The smooth bourbon warmed his chest.

“Gotcha.” Big Daddy took a sip of his drink. “So here’s what’s on the table.”

The man went on to detail the complicated supply chain from his distillery in Republic occupied Gulfland to the seven clubs he owned in the RSA. All were located along the Gulf Coast between New Orleans and Tampa. He’d had a steady source for two years until last month when said importer ran afoul of a Reformer AK47.

“The work isn’t without its risks,” Big Daddy drawled, “which is why I’m willing to pay good money.”

“What’s good money to you?”

“Twenty thousand Republic credits a month.”

“Fifty.”

“Oh you’ll have to do a lot more for me than run moonshine for that kind of money, Captain. Twenty-five.”

“Thirty-five and I’ll make the drops to each of your clubs. That way you don’t have to move the stuff over land.”

Big Daddy mulled it over. “Fine. Thirty-five…if my shipments are on time and in tact.”

“Don’t worry about that. I run a tight crew. They’ll be no barrels that come up missing.”

“I’ve heard that about you. I’ve also heard you go where other men fear to tread. You come highly recommended.”

“I get the job done.”

“Then we have an agreement.” Big Daddy held out his hand. Logan shook it brusquely, releasing as quickly as he could.

“I’ll need first month’s payment up front.”

“Mabel, bring Daddy his briefcase from the safe and another round of drinks. We have some celebrating to do.”

A half-hour later Logan descended the stairs, a brand new duffel bag stuffed with Republic credits in tow.

Jacques greeted him with a sly smile. “Is that what I think it is?”

“It is…and then some. I got the motherfucker for thirty-five.”

His grin broadening, Jacques crowed, “Laissez les bons temps roulez.

“Yeah, except let’s get the hell out of here and to a real bar.” Logan settled his black Stetson on his head and sauntered toward the door.

___________________________________________________
Look for SMUGGLER'S BLUES releasing later this year at Ellora's Cave

Haven't read book one LANDLOCKED?

Twitter - @cindyjacks

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bad Boys, Bad Boys!


I'm working on the sequels to my book LANDLOCKED. The series is titled PIRATES AT HEART. Book two will be called SMUGGLER'S BLUES and the third SAILOR'S KNOT. I'm thrilled that Ellora's Cave has chosen to contract both! Since the male lead of LANDLOCKED was my first bad boy character, he's so much fun to write about because he walks that fine line between scoundrel and hero. Spending so much time with Capt. Brett Logan Jr. has go me thinking--bad boys, why do we love them so?

Bad boys...mmm, yes, bad boys. They are a staple of literature and film, especially the romance genre. Why is it that we love them so? I think it’s the adventure the bad boy offers that draws readers to this kind of hero. A real life bad boy can be a disaster and downright dangerous so I think indulging the fantasy in fiction is a safe way to experience a rogue lover without all the real life headaches.

My favorite take on this theme is Disney’s Pirates of The Caribbean series. I’m totally enamored of Captain Jack Sparrow. Those movies are one of the reason’s I decided to create a pirate character in the first place. Though my captain is very different from the traditional movie/romance pirate, he’s still very much a bad boy who turns out to have a heart of gold beneath his gruff exterior.

Captain Brett Logan, Jr—the main character for the first two PIRATES AT HEART series—was so much fun to create. It’s no secret I have a soft spot for bad girls and this was the first time I’d undertaken a real bad boy. A pirate, smuggler and outlaw, Logan lives life on the edge, running from the ghosts of the past when he trips over a future with the only woman he’s ever dared to love. But never having created this type of character before, I had to look to other examples in fiction to help steer me in the right direction.

I took a dash of Captain Jack Sparrow from the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN series, a pinch of Raylan Givens from JUSTIFIED, a little Batman and a bit of rogue from old-fashioned romance novels and voila! Out came Brett Logan. I hope my tribute to this time honored character-type holds his own and thrills the readers as much as he thrilled me to write about.

Here’s a quick look at LANDLOCKED:

Blurb:

For ten years, Kathryn has struggled to survive in a war-torn region that used to be part of the United States. Her country ripped apart and her husband presumed dead, she and her son need a miracle to find safe passage to the West. She’s not expecting that miracle to come in the form of Captain Brett Logan when he stumbles, injured, onto her front porch.
A privateer for the Republic of Texas, Logan keeps one eye on the horizon and one hand on his sidearm, knowing the life of a modern-day pirate is often short. When an enemy bomb nearly ends him, Kathryn nurses him back to health. Against her better judgment, she’s drawn to the enigmatic man with his tattoos and battle scars.
Kate finds shelter in Logan’s arms—and his bed. The captain navigates her body with the same skill that he sails the seven seas. The heat of their passion gives way to deeper currents. But with danger surrounding them, they must struggle to stay together and survive.

Excerpt:

Saline spray rose up off the ocean and Captain Logan’s purse seiner, The Yellow Rose, carved her way through the choppy Gulf of Mexico waters. A garish vessel, painted red, white and blue, it flew the Texas flag and operated under the protection those colors afforded. Despite the blockades along the Gulf Coast and the trouble up North, his ship was rarely boarded by Reformer inspectors. The old adage still rang true—Don’t mess with Texas—a fact Captain Logan relied upon. And exploited.
His small crew did busywork to ready the ship for dock. He checked the horizon with his binoculars. Even with the maximum magnification, the island of Galveston appeared as a mere smudge in the distance. Still, they were making good time. In another hour or so, they’d make port. The sizable man sank into his seat on the bridge. Weary from over two weeks either at sea or lying low in the swamps of Gulfland, he looked forward to a few days at home. No more salt cod and flatbread or canned beef stew. He couldn’t wait to sink his teeth into an Angus burger. Or a porterhouse. Or Blanca’s barbecue brisket. His lean stomach growled and the thought of Blanca reminded him of other neglected needs.
Jacques, his first mate, peeked into the doorway. “Everything’s shipshape, mon capitaine.” The dark-skinned creole laughed at his favorite joke.
Logan did his best to crack a smile. No matter how long between ports, Jacques DuBois was always in a good mood, a quality that annoyed the captain to no end.
Is the extra cargo well sealed?”
Bien sûr. Don’t worry.” Jacques clapped an arm around his friend. “We’ve done this a couple times before.”
At this Logan did laugh. In truth, they’d done this same run along the Gulfland coast well over two hundred times, and every time they came back loaded down with silver, gold and Republic credits that would be hard to explain for a humble fishing vessel.
Pouring a shot of tequila for himself and one for Logan, the man pulled up a wooden crate to sit on. “I’m worried about you.”
The captain threw back his drink and let the burn fade before he replied, “What on earth for?”
You look tired. Not the kind of tired that a few days rest will fix, but deep down soul kind of tired. That raid last month got bloody.”
Wasn’t my blood, so what’s the big deal?”
I’m just saying, with that sort of thing hanging over his head, a man can get sloppy, make mistakes.”
Logan shrugged. Heads rolled in the course of his business. Jacques knew that as well as anyone else. And all their men came home. The same couldn’t be said for that band of Reformer troops. Oh well. Foreign bastards had invaded the United States at its weakest and torn it apart. To hell with all of them.
If you don’t want to come on the next run, that’s fine.”
Don’t get me wrong, mon ami.” Jacques rolled his glass between his thick hands. “I’m just telling you what I hear.”
So the rest of the crew has lost confidence in me too?”
Jacques got to his feet and shook his head. “You’re the most pigheaded— I’m not saying anyone’s lost confidence, but there’s a reason they call you ‘Loco Logan’. I’m saying you need to take a longer break.”
I’ll take it under advisement,” Logan said, though he had no intention of doing so. He scooted down into his chair and pulled his Stetson over his gray eyes. “Wake me when we make port.”
Aye, Captain.”
The slaps of Jacques’ boot soles against the ship’s teak deck receded as Logan gave over to the pull of sleep.

Cindy’s links:
Twitter - @cindyjacks

Friday, March 16, 2012

To C, with much appreciation

Okay, I'll admit it...I cyberstalk myself. Since writing is a fairly solitary art, it's always nice to get feedback, even if it's negative--though positive comments are waaaay easier to read, lol. So every now and then (I swear it's not every day...okay, it might be everyday) I take a look at the comments I receive on Amazon, Ellora's Cave, Goodreads, etc. Yesterday I was struck by the words a reader took the time to share with others about my book ANOTHER MAN'S WIFE.

C wrote: "Excellent story. The last chapter is a tear-jerker so have your tissues ready. This book will stay with me for a long, long time."


Just a few lines, but they really meant the world to me because 1. As an author it is my goal to elicit emotion and make a lasting impact on a reader. I was thrilled to have done both for C. And 2. Often it seems the anonymity of the internet brings out the snarkiness in otherwise civil people, it was so nice that someone took the time to be kind. So I wanted to take the time to tell C thanks. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. You've made this author's day.


And now I'm off to pay it forward. I'm going to leave a little love for a few of my favorite authors :)


Happy reading this weekend!


Cheers!
Cindy

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

WIP Wednesday--Silk and Steel Part 5


Mouth suddenly dry, Ahron tried to swallow, but found he couldn’t. He peeled his tongue off the roof of his mouth and dragged it across his bottom lip. Reaching out, he put a tentative hand on her shoulder. “Please don’t cry, milady.”

Bradley James as King Arthur from BBC TV show Merlin
“I’m not crying.” She huffed, blinking rapidly.

“That is to say it’s fine if you are.”

“I’m not.”

“Good.” He rose, walking to the window. What was he doing, harboring an exiled courtesan in his private chambers? Were anyone to call on him, he’d share Merewyn’s fate, assuming he’d be allowed to keep his head attached to his neck. Risking exile and death to help a woman he barely knew. When she’d lived at court she’d barely spoken two words to him.

Still, all the battles he’d fought, the men he’d slain, all the criminals he’d personally delivered to the executioner, he never felt so guilty as the day he’d put her and her children out. No matter how many times he told himself that it was his duty to do as his queen commanded, he knew he’d done wrong.

“Will you be safe with your friend until Owain comes of age?” he asked.

“From what you’ve told me, I’ll never be safe in my own country again.”

Placing a hand to over hers, he murmured, “You’re safe here. With me.”

He noticed her skin damp and hot. “Are you unwell, milady?”

She untied her cloak and let it fall around her porcelain shoulders. Though he knew it was wrong to do so, he peeked at the cleavage revealed by the slit in her coarse peasant shirt. Again desire stirred between his legs. An automatic response. A simple reflex, nothing more, he told himself.

“I’m fine.” She fanned herself. “It’s a little warm in here.”

He placed his hand against the cool stone wall. It was not warm in the slightest in his apartments.

“What will you do?” he asked. In response, she rolled her eyes back in her head and slumped to the floor.

“Milady?” He rushed to her side. Reaching beneath her shirt, he freed her from her corset while checking her pulse and breathing. Her skin burned. A fiery rash peppered her torso. Boatman’s Fever. She must’ve picked it up crossing the swamps of Koburgh. His own bout with the disease flashed through his mind. It’d consisted of miserable weeks in bed, sweating and coughing up blood. Judging from the scabs on the rash, she’d been sick for a week or more. What was she doing up and about when she was seriously ill?

“Foolish woman.”

Tucked into the waistband of her skirt, he found a vial. Uncorking it, he took a sniff. The scent of rotten eggs invaded his nostrils. A sulfur preparation. No wonder she’d seemed fine less than half an hour ago. Though it was touted as a cure by charlatans, it only masked the symptoms. It cured nothing.

She needed rest. She needed herbal tisane to control the fever and enriched broth to build up her strength, a milk and bread poultice for the rash. None of which he could provide her with here. Certainly not here.
Swearing under his breath, he cursed himself for his impulsive rescue. What had he been thinking? And now, he harbored a fugitive in his private chambers. A passed out and gravely ill fugitive.

A cold sweat dotted his brow as he left his quarters and hurried to the marketplace. Calling over a boy, 

Ahron fished a gold Behrin from his coin purse.

“Young man, can you make it to Halsburgh Castle before nightfall?” Ahron asked.

“Yes, Lord High Constable.”

“Good, fetch my maid. Tell her to give you supper and then bring you back in the carriage. Tell her to bring supplies to treat Boatman’s Fever.”

The boy clapped three times ostensibly to ward of evil spirits.

Ahron gave him the coin and a small folded piece of paper. “Don’t lose my official seal or Triska won’t believe I sent you. I’ll give you another Behrin upon your swift return. There’s no time to waste. And speak to no one about this errand.”

“Yes, sire.” The boy tucked his payment and the seal into his leather belt and began to run in the direction of the road to Halsburgh.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Fever!

While there is part of me that is deeply concerned about the mild (very mild!) winter we've had, the sun worshiper in me is thrilled with the early spring. Don't get me wrong, there's something wondrous about a peaceful snowfall and snuggly winter nights, homemade soup in the crock pot and the smell of freshly baked bread permeating my home. But since I'm given to mood swings, winter can be a difficult time of year. The shorter periods of daylight and days spent trapped inside due to freezing temps take their toll so I've thrown myself into the warm weather with all my might.

    I've been shopping for spring and summer fashions, started my salsa garden and painted my toenails because I'll be sporting some peep-toes this weekend. I pulled the sundresses from the back of my closet and filled my window boxes with tulip bulbs. I've even cleaned the house top to bottom and set the clocks forward. Spring is a time of rebirth and I can't wait to emerge from my cocoon!

    How about you? How do you spring into spring? Leave a comment between now and Wednesday for the chance to win a copy of my latest release, ANOTHER MAN'S WIFE. I can't wait to read your responses.

And as a bonus, here's one of my favorite spring recipes:

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Crust:
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, well chilled
3-5 tablespoons water, ice cold

Combine flour and salt. Cut butter into 1/2 cubes, toss into flour. Take out your pastry cutter and throw it away. It is an evil, evil device that will overwork your pastry. For an exceptionally flaky crust you gotta get your hands in there. Using your hands, quickly pinch the butter cubes into pieces about the size and thickness of dimes and nickels. Stir in cold water with fork until incorporated, then give the dough 2 or 3 more quick stirs. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest in fridge while you prepare the filling.

Filling:
3 cups fresh strawberries, sliced or quartered
3 cups rhubarb, peeled and chopped
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon lime zest, minced
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Toss all ingredients together evenly.

Assembly:
Handful of flour
9" pie pan
Pie crust dough
Filling
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/4" cubes
small bowl of water
1 egg white
2 tablespoons sugar

Dust work surface with flour and divide pie crust dough in to halves. Working quickly, roll out one half of dough on floured work surface to 1/8" thickness for bottom of pie. Gently fold into quarters, lift and place into pie pan. Unfold bottom crust, allow excess to hang over edge of pan. Roll out crust for top of pie to 1/8" thickness. Put pie filling into pie pan. Dot filling with butter. Brush lip of bottom crust with water. Fold top crust into quarters, lift and place on top of filled pie pan, sealing around edges by pressing gently. Trim excess and flute edges. Cut vents in top pie crust. Brush top of pie with egg white, sprinkle with sugar.

Baking:
Place pie onto baking sheet to catch any overflow. Put into 425 degree (F) preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn heat down to 350 degrees (F) and bake for at least another 30 minutes. When crust is golden and pie has bubbled over a little, remove from oven. Allow to cool on wire rack at least 1 hour prior to serving.

Notes:
--Don't panic if pie looks soupy when you first take it out of the oven. Once it cools it will gel nicely.
--Pair this pie with french vanilla ice cream for a delicious dessert!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

WIP Wednesday--Silk and Steel Part 4


A flash of defiance crossed the thief's face, but she sighed and acquiesced. With casual, but quick strides, he escorted her out of the marketplace and across the drawbridge to his quarters in the castle fortifications.
“Sit.” He gently nudged her into a oaken chair and dug the apples in question out of a pocket in the lining of her cloak. “Queen Cillan will have your head if she finds you. If I recognized you, it’s only a matter of time before someone else does.”

“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.”

“Lady Merewyn…enough. You’re presence here is risky, but thievery in the marketplace is plain lunacy. What if a different guard had intercepted you?”

She set her jaw. “My children must eat.”

“It is my understanding that you have been well provided for in The Outlands.”

“I left The Outlands a year ago. She cannot keep me from my son. Neither can you.”

“The queen was clear—you were never to come back to Lambir.”

“How can I not?”

“You would be wise to find a way.” Though he guarded his expression, he found himself amused by her stubbornness, her tenacity. How had a woman with two children traveled the treacherous back roads from The Outlands to Cherte proper and then made it all the way back to the capital duchy?

“How did you get here?” he asked.

“Does it matter? I’m here now.”

“I’d ask why but I know the answer to that question.”

She smoothed the crumpled fabric of her patched cloak, her gaze cast downward. “How is he?”

Ahron nodded. “He’s well. Owain is strong, like his father…and his mother.”

“He’s only a boy.”

“At twelve he’s nearly a man.”

Tears filled her velvety brown eyes. “What will she do with him once he’s of age?”

With a sigh, Ahron took a seat. “It’s a complex situation. She knows she cannot hold favor if she snatches the throne, but there are whispers that once king, Owain’s rule will not last long. Particularly not if he names her as his successor until he produces an heir.”

“Then you must make sure he does not do so.”

“There are limits to my power, milady.”

“You promised me—”

“I promised I would protect him as best I could. Unless a decision affects the army or the royal guard, the queen does not keep my counsel. Nor does your son.”

“Whose do they keep?”

“Cillan trusts few and of those few, there is only one who holds any sway with your son—the magus, Laentus.”

“She trusted you once, when you convinced her not to put me and my children to death.”

“Do not give me too much credit. I played upon lust for power and it didn’t hurt that Laentus told her a curse would fall upon her if she caused you harm. Above all else she is superstitious. If I may offer you a piece of advice, let well enough alone and take your leave while it is still yours to take.”

“I won’t.”

“Then it is my duty to arrest you. You know that.”

A faint smile played on her lips that resembled a ripe berry. “But you won’t.”

“Whatever gave you that idea?”

“You would’ve done it by now.”

Ahron raked a hand through his hair. “Where are Eadric and Bertana?”

“With an old friend on the outskirts of town.”

Rubbing one scruffy cheek, he shook his head. “It is not only you who faces death upon return. Your children are in danger as well.”

Merewyn blanched at his words. She clearly knew them to be true.

“Why come back? Why now?” he asked. “Was your gilded prison really all that bad?”

“He is my son. He is Eadric and Bertana’s brother. I am tired of feeling like part of me is missing. I am tired of endless mourning. And when he is king, he can make whatever decision he chooses regarding his family.”

“His birthday is almost three months away during which time you are in grave peril. And what makes you so sure he’ll welcome you with open arms?”

Her eyebrows drew together, surprise registering on her beautiful albeit dirty face. “Why wouldn’t he?”

“A child is easily misled. His memories of the day he was taken from you have been altered so that he believes you abandoned him.

“But I did not. You know I did not.”

“Again this is not a topic on which my views have been solicited. Cillan has convinced the boy she is his savior and he appears to be her loyal servant.”

Merewyn put a hand to her mouth, her fingers folded into a fist. Her other hand clutched her cloak. Shaking her head, she squeezed her eyes shut.

“I’m too late.” She hiccuped out a sob. “I’ve failed him.”
____________________________________
Read parts 1-3 http://cindyjacks.blogspot.com/search/label/Silk%20and%20Steel
Check out my other books! http://www.jasminejade.com/m-683-cindy-jacks.aspx

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Musings--Confessions of a Temporary Couch Potato


Usually I'm pretty good about putting my nose to the grindstone, but last week my family came down with the stomach bug that seems to be rampant on the East Coast of the United States. And because we felt like doing little else for days, I wound up watching an ungodly amount of television--two seasons of MAD MEN, a Canadian TV show called Endgame and anything and everything On Demand. The bad news is I got very little written...okay, I got nothing written at all, lol, but I did draw lots of inspiration from the creativity of others. Sometimes binging on mental junk food can be more productive than it seems. This week I'm back at the keyboard racking up the word count on my WIPs and outlining a few new ones...and resisting the urge to veg out in front of the boob tube :)