TOML – Helping our Heroes

On May 1st, I announced on Facebook that, after searching for the right fit, I have teamed up with That Others May Live Foundation.

 

Over the years spent with Nic, Cruz, Rick, DQ, Clancy, Cowboy and Gabe, I have yearned to be able to help my USAF Rescue heroes in some way.

There are so many good charities that help our military. But only That Others May Live is dedicated to helping those in the USAF Rescue community.

It's a perfect fit.

So began the Buy A Book Help a Hero program – where I will give a portion of the sale of every #TrueHeroes book to this amazing Foundation.  Please visit the website for more information. 

Very grateful to my #TrueHeroes and their families for the sacrifices they make every day.  Very grateful to my new friends at That Others May Live Foundation for helping my heroes.  Glad to help in any small way I can.

 

True Gallantry – Excerpt

Prologue


WINTER

Eric Cruz straightened his tie, buttoned the jacket of his dress blues, and smiled.

Then, he smiled a different way, hoping for something that approached real.

With a shrug, he gave up. It wasn't like he could pull it off through the entire evening anyway. His teammates were way too smart. They could be fooled for a while, and maybe even tonight since they'd all be working to be sociable. They wouldn't pay close attention to him.

But the girls—a different story. It wasn't the first time he wished for the good old days—before Nic married Julie, before Gabe married Claire—and what the heck, before Mac married Lily.

Girls were harder to fool—at least the unavailable ones. They'd zero in on him, peer unblinking into his eyes and pat his arm, all in an attempt to get him to admit that he wasn't okey-dokey.

Tonight, everyone would be decked out in their dress-up clothes. The women would look gorgeous. Everyone would smile.

And, by God, so would he.

He'd smile and try not to call attention to the fact that he was stag. When was the last time he went to one of these ridiculous things without someone stunning on his arm?

Crap. The girls would notice. They'd ask him why. And worse, they'd probably know the answer. They'd want him to admit it.

That wasn't going to happen.

Not tonight.

Not ever.

With a sigh, he brushed off his determination and sneered at the man in the mirror.

 

It had gone okay. The guys were all pretty much ogling the women. Cowboy and Clancy each had dates—and fairly gorgeous ones if Cruz were pressed—and were very attentive. As if they didn't have only one goal in mind.

Lily kept Claire and Julie's attention—what a break for him—with the latest batch of pictures of baby Chloe Lilith Frasier—Daniel and Sophie's new daughter. Eric steered clear of them. Babies looked pretty much alike anyway. Small. Though if Chloe got her mom's looks, then Daniel would have his hands full.

Sometimes, he missed Daniel. The new SAR guy was fine, he supposed, but Daniel was cool. Very smart. A nice change to talk to.

Eric stood against the wall and surveyed the room. Not a bad turnout for a charity function. He cleared his throat as Lieutenant Quillen approached.

"No date tonight, Hollywood?"

"No, sir."

"You okay?"

"Of course. You?"

David smiled, catching his drift.

There had been a time when David was one of them. When he'd left the enlisted ranks and gone to OTS, he'd promised he would be the same guy when he came back. Maybe he was, but the line was still there. It was a shame really. David was one of the best. Eric missed hanging out with him, too. But that had been, what, three years ago? Long time.

With little else said, David drifted away to talk with Mac and Lily.

He snagged a glass of champagne from the tray that passed, carried by a pretty brunette that smiled broadly at him.

He nodded, dismissing her.

She frowned.

When Eric looked up, Kit Sheridan walked through the door and sucked all air from the room.

He turned away, but not before noticing everything about her—her long, straight, red hair that fell in soft shimmers past her shoulders. Her smiling green eyes, the face that haunted his dreams, the body that he never stopped wanting.

She looked like a princess.

With effort, he relaxed his gritted teeth and sorted through his options.

He could leave—slip out through the kitchen, run for his life.

He could stay—and spend the rest of the evening ignoring her, staying as far from her as possible.

He could approach her, make small talk, ask her about Pegasus Air, about how her partnership with Mac was working out, talk about the SAR missions she'd flown, be totally cool.

Or he could walk over there, kiss the daylights out of her, challenge her to walk away again, tell her that he was here alone. What a great idea that was—why not just rip his heart from his chest—again—and throw it at her feet to stomp on?

In the end, there really was no choice. He drained the glass, set it down, and without looking back, circled the bar, through the doors into the kitchen, and apologizing to the staff, made his way out the back door.

 

Chapter One


 

SPRING. . .

"I thought you'd left already, man," Eric said as he passed Chris Gabriel on his way to the med supply room of the Section—PJ Headquarters.

"I meant to, but now, it looks like we'll leave after lunch. You need something?"

"Nope. Just saw the 'Vette wasn't out there…"

"Traded with the lieutenant," Gabe replied.

"Yoda's driving the 'Vette? That should be interesting. Maybe the guy can get a girl.”

Lieutenant David Quillen, called Yoda by his teams for his incessant philosophizing and his general lost-in-thought state of being, was not the 'Vette kind of guy. He drove a Subaru Forester. Not a bad car, but kinda boring, like Yoda himself. Actually, the lieutenant was a great leader to work for. Still, kinda boring.

Well, that might not be fair either. Who knew if he was boring or not? Yeah, he showed up at the Oasis—the PJ bar—on occasion. Even then, though, he faded into the background.

Gabe was quiet, too, but he never faded into the background. Six foot four made that a tad hard. That, and the way women ogled Gabe. Not that Eric really cared. For that matter, Lily had once told him that she thought the lieutenant was, in the looks department, second only to her Mac.

"The 'Vette isn't exactly a road trip car, especially if we hit snow on the way," Gabe said, bringing him back to the car-switch thing.

Cruz considered the chances. Spring could bring snow. Doubtful, but possible. Gabe and Claire were going to Vegas to celebrate their first anniversary—months late, that is. There'd been a real anniversary trip planned for last October, but Claire's leave had been canceled at the last minute.

"My feelings are still hurt, you know," Eric said with a shrug. He'd been instrumental in the wedding even taking place. Both on the aborted anniversary trip and on this one, he'd argued that he should be invited.

Gabriel laughed. "Claire wanted to invite you, but I don't need you, Hollywood."

"Did I bother you last year?"

"No, but Yoda said one of us had to keep the home fires burning."

"Oh, Yoda said. Okay, fine. Whatever."

Now Gabe stepped closer, engaging him with his trademark, but rarely used, hawk-like stare. He could freeze water with that look. "You look like hell."

Eric tried to sidestep him and his sudden interest, but Gabe moved to block his way.

"You okay?"

"Yeah. Let's just say I can't go back to the Swizzle Stick any time soon."

"Eighty-sixed?"

"Well…yeah."

"That's, what? Three times in maybe six months? And that's without us, right? You were alone?"

What the hell? Eric raised his gaze to engage Chris, stopping him with a raised hand. Chris didn't flinch.

"Just go on your trip, and have a good time without me."

Gabe didn't budge.

"Are you alright, man?"

"I'm fine," he replied, then changed the subject. "Is Claire here to stay, yet?”

Chris and Claire had been carrying on a long-distance marriage, Chris here in Merced and Claire in D.C., still at JAG. She was leaving the military, though, and coming to Merced to start a criminal practice. Eric had sort of lost track of her separation date.

"Two weeks ago."

"Oh."

"Like I said. You're spending too much time alone."

"Oh, well maybe if all my friends quit up and getting married we'd all be getting eighty-sixed together. Is that what you want, Angel?"

Gabe took a step back, shaking his head, letting Eric pass.

To Eric's back, "I'm not your enemy, Cruz."

"I know. Sorry. Have a great trip. See you when you get back. Oh, and Gabe?" Eric turned.

Gabe slowed.

"Kiss your wife for me."

"Oh yeah. That could happen," he said, chuckling. He turned the corner and Eric continued on his way.

The lieutenant showed up about ten thirty. Gabe left just before noon.

And the rain started a little after two.

 

It had been raining for going on twenty hours with no letup.

It was officially called the Pineapple Express, moist air brought up from Hawaii to the West Coast by a subtropical Pacific jet stream, blah, blah, blah. Or at least that's what the weather guys were saying over and over again from the small TV blaring from the far corner of the hangar.

In the rescue business, it was called hurry-up-and-wait.

Over the last three hours, Kit Sheridan and Rick McIntyre had gone over every inch of the helicopter. Twice. Checking fittings, electronics, supplies, everything.

Nothing left to do but turn up the thermostat and wait.

Apparently, the SAR guys were ready and waiting as well.

As were the PJs.

Still, Kit jumped when Rick's cell phone jangled in his pocket.

"Pegasus Air, this is Mac.” He answered without checking caller ID. "Hi, beautiful."

Kit retreated to her office, leaving Rick to chat with his wife. She'd give him privacy. And she'd give herself a reprieve from listening to their ongoing marital bliss.

If ever two people were perfect for each other, Rick and Lily were those two people.

Soul mates.

If you believed in that.

Kit didn't want to believe.

But she did, probably always had.

With a sigh, she drifted to the window and stared out into the nonstop rain.

And waited.

 

Trying to ignore the constant barrage of rain against the metal roof, Eric hid in his favorite cubbyhole in the back room of the Section. His jacket was zipped against the chill. It was a hard building to heat.

His equipment was together. There was no need to check it again. Some of the guys were obsessive about stuff like that.

While they waited, the best thing to do was sleep.

It might be a very long time before they got more than catnaps for the next…who knew how long?

Some of the guys were in the dayroom watching The Weather Channel. But, Madre de Dios, how many times could you hear the same report?

And even if the crawler at the bottom of the screen announced the declaration, it wasn't like they could do anything until the general called the colonel who would then call Lieutenant Quillen.

In the meantime, they could obsess about lives that might be in danger at this very moment. They could recheck the jump kits, or the duty list.

Or they could sleep.

Right. Like Eric was actually sleeping.

His eyes were closed.

Didn't that count?

But his gut was twisted with that mix of anticipation and apprehension that always came just before a mission.

From the hallway, the lieutenant shouted, to be heard above the rain. "Hollywood. Cowboy."

Eric dropped his feet from the desk and stood up. With a sigh, he opened his eyes.

Matt Wiley led the way into the LT’s office.

"Sir?" Cowboy said for them both.

"Yeah, guys," Quillen said, without looking up, "I'm sending you to the airport."

There was a yeah-and moment. Eric and Matt exchanged shrugs. The LT looked up.

"To Pegasus."

Now Quillen cleared his throat and glanced away.

Cowboy stuck his hands in his pockets and smothered a grin.

Eric closed his eyes, hoping that when he opened them, this would all be a colossally ridiculous dream, that he was back in the cubicle doing what he'd been trying to do—sleep.

He opened them to Quillen's apology.

"Sorry, Cruz. They requested you."

"Has the call come in then?" Cowboy managed, avoiding the subject altogether.

"Not yet, but the colonel just called and said to deploy to the birds."

"Yeah, ‘cause then we can wait around on the concrete floor of the hangars, nice and comfortable," Eric muttered.

With the word Pegasus, his whole day went right to hell.

"Ours is not to question why…" Quillen said. "And if your next question was why you, Cruz, then you'll just have to ask them."

"Trust me, I will," Eric said, turning to leave.

"Cruz.” It was David's officer voice.

He stopped, turned, straightened despite his feelings.

"You'll do great," David ordered. Then to the both of them, "We'll probably see you in passing. Let me know if you need anything or if there are any problems.” Then to Eric, "There won't be though. Right?"

"Right," Eric replied, trying very hard not to roll his eyes—the better part of valor.

"Stay safe, you guys."

"You too, sir," Eric and Matt said in unison.

 

Kit reached for the ringing phone as Rick stepped through the doorway into her office.

"Pegasus Air."

She circled her finger in the air even as she listened to the details and scribbled as Colonel Scott rattled off all the pertinent information.

They'd be flying to Paradise, California, a small town in the northern Sierra.  They'd land in a field behind the high school. The military birds would be flying out of an area just north of town, but all the command and control would be at the school.

Air traffic control would be handled from Chico and a few other airports the further north they went. At the high school, Kit and her team would report to the Butte County undersheriff, Lloyd Alvarez.

"Your PJs," Colonel Scott said, "are on their way."

Her PJs were on their way.

Her PJs were on their way.

There was absolutely no reason to suspect…but…

When she glanced up at Rick though, she knew. He shrugged. She glared. He turned and fled. She finished with Colonel Scott.

"Thanks a lot, Mac," she hollered as she returned the phone to its cradle.

"Not my fault, Red," he hollered back. "I wanted someone who'd worked out of our bird before and Gabe's on leave."

That left Cruz. And they were headed to Paradise.

"Lovely," she muttered.

Her PJ was on his way.

The last few months—nearly nine to the day—had been peaceful, almost to the point of humdrum, without the constant turmoil that Cruz effortlessly stirred.

Kit stabbed the pen at the paper she'd written on.

"Apparently," she returned at the top of her lungs, standing and ripping the paper from the pad, "you think our history with Hollywood is worth more than I do."

"Apparently," came the reply from the doorway. But it wasn't Mac.

Her PJ had, indeed, arrived.

 

Their history.

Eric blew out his breath and hit his internal reset button.

The last time he and Kit actually talked was right here at Pegasus Air. He'd come to apologize for being a complete ass, for treating her with less respect than she deserved. She'd let him apologize. But she'd firmly squashed any possibility of starting over.

You're a player, Cruz. And you always will be.

It had taken him months to come to terms with the fact that she thought he was a player and she was unwilling to see him any other way.

There was nothing he could do but move on. And that's what he'd done at last.

Pretty much. Sort of.

God, she looked beautiful.

Hit the reset button.

"We're good to work together, right?" he said, "Because—"

"Of course," Kit said, straightening.

Her gorgeous red hair fell down her back in waves that left Eric trying to rejoin the conversation. "You're a great pilot, Red.” That's all that mattered at the moment.

She didn't respond. Just looked at him for a moment as if she were going to speak.

Pointless to continue standing there, so he retreated to the hangar where Cowboy loaded their medical gear onto the bird and Mac watched—apparently deep in thought.

Or not.

"Before you ask, Kit's flying the mission because her stamina is better than mine. She'll fly the missions. I'll be the magic elf that gets the bird ready while you guys sleep. And I chose you because—"

"I heard."

"Deny it all you want—you two are a great team."

For the record, he wasn't the one that denied it, but he wasn't about to put that into words again. Rejection sucked. The way to deal with uncomfortable emotion—just turn it all away at the gate. End of story.

And hit the reset button.

"I'm just here for the rush," Eric said, trying to lighten the mood. "I'm sorry you can't play, Mac."

"I can, short-term, but these could be long days.”

"Has the call come in?"

"Yeah.” Rick nodded toward a small television in the corner. Due to the rain, Eric couldn’t hear what the news guy was saying by he read the news ticker on the bottom. "California governor declares state of emergency.”

"You guys ready?" Red asked as she approached.

"Your wish is our command," Eric replied with a slight bow.

She frowned.

He retrieved his duffel bag, put his head down, and jogged to the bird. Without a word, he followed Cowboy on board, slid on his headset, and buckled into the back jump seat.

Rick flew to Paradise.

And wasn't that just priceless? Flying with Kit to Paradise. Ugh.

The first few minutes, all four of them on headsets, were tense.

"Knock, knock," Mac said as they followed I-99 north.

Red didn't respond.

Cowboy did. "Who's there?"

"Argue," Mac replied while Red audibly sighed.

"Argue who?" Cowboy asked good-naturedly.

"Argue gonna let me in oudda da rain?"

Cowboy groaned. Then laughed.

Five or six knock-knock jokes later, the tension seemed to have subsided and Red was smiling.  Twenty-three minutes later, Rick set the bird down behind the sprawling Paradise High school, alongside three other civilian helicopters.

For the moment, it actually wasn't raining.

Eric jumped out and turned in time to see Kit step out of the copilot's seat. Time warped as she pulled off her helmet and shook her long red hair. He swallowed hard on the lump that rose in his throat.  

That day, he'd made a sexist comment, and she'd returned fire with sarcasm. And so it had begun.

But that was then.

And that was over and done.

Picard would say Make it so.

 

Valentines Day – True Honor

Happy Valentines Day – Enjoy this moment from Chris and Claire's story – True Honor

valentines-special

 

Back in the car.  Back on the freeway.

"I'm sorry, Chris.  You're right.  It was none of my business."

He didn't even blink—very focused on the road ahead. Instead of being irritated at his silence, her heart went out to him.  She resisted the urge to reach across and touch him.

"You don't have to do this alone, Chris.  Your friends think the world of you and only want to help you.  I know I'm just your attorney, but I'd like to think I'm your friend as well."

She let it go at that.

When they got back to the motel, he again opened her door and helped her out.  Then he saw her safely to her room, all without comment.

At the door, she turned to face him.

"Thank you for dinner, Chris.  I enjoyed being with you."  And then she did the unthinkable.  She stood on tip-toe and placed a kiss on his cheek. 

He froze.

And she froze.

Right there, staring at each other.  Frozen on the edge of crumbling, of coming apart, of coming together.

And then he stepped back, and put on the polite smile before turning and walking away.

She'd had plenty of kisses in her life, from the innocent ones when walked home by a boy who carried her books to the hot and steamy ones that left you panting and your insides reaching for more.  But never had she had one that held more promise.  She really liked this man.  She could picture them being the best of friends for the rest of their lives, no matter how much distance lay between them.

~ * ~

VetteGabe didn't have to try not to think as he drove home.  He did need to work to focus, though.  His eyes crossed more than once and he gritted his teeth to concentrate on the road ahead.

Once home, he fell into bed, expecting to be dead to the world until his alarm sounded at five.  That didn't happen.  Instead, he tossed and turned, even got up once and puked.  His hands shook.

In one corner of his brain, he clicked through every imaginable disease, taking inventory of how he felt.  Eventually, he gave up, deciding that having your life crash around you might just have physical manifestations.

The only sweet spot in the night, which he spent up and down and only sleeping in small bits, was the kiss.  Every defense he'd thrown up at her disapproval of his life choices, and managed to keep up through dinner and the miserable trip home, had been weakened by her words but had been completely undone by the kiss. 

His stomach lurched with unshed tears. 

He couldn't remember ever being so scared.

 

Cheers

Jax

 

PS – Be sure to join my email list for updates, contests and giveaways, and more!

Valentines Day – from True Courage

Join me in celebrating Valentines Day with an excerpt from Rick and Lily's story – a moment from True Courage         

Valentines-Day-background_main-500x408  

 

            Crutches sucked.

            What sucked even more was having to rely on others.

            And having to be chauffeured from the hospital was just plain embarrassing, especially when Rick wanted to make a stop on the way.

            But he’d thought of nothing else for two weeks and, by God, lieutenant driver or no lieutenant driver, he was stopping by Lily’s house. Her address was in the phone book.

            When they turned the corner, Rick nearly chickened out and aborted the approach. First, because her front door was preceded by at least ten steps, and he hadn’t mastered stairs yet. Second, because he could list at least ten reasons why he shouldn’t be stopping. None of those reasons, though, were as important as what he had to say.

            Besides, she was sitting out front on those same stairs and had seen them pull up. God, she was beautiful.

            He bullied the fear back into place and painfully got out of the car. She didn’t get up to help him—thank God—just watched as he approached.

            Luckily, he didn’t have to climb the stairs. He just had to plop down beside her.

            “Hi,” he said between gulps of air.

            “Hi.”

            Silence loomed large, fueling his fear.

            “I owe you dinner.”

            Well, that came out well.

            She chuckled uncomfortably. “You don’t owe me anything. It’s good to see you up, though.”

            “I wish it felt good. I could lie down right here and sleep for another week.”

            This time, she laughed in earnest.

            “It’ll take a while.”

            “So they tell me. I start rehab tomorrow.”

            “So they tell me.”  

            At his odd look, she continued.

            “You don’t remember me telling you that I work at Rehab Specialists?”

            He shook his head. So much of that conversation still lay in pieces, like a fresh jigsaw puzzle for which you’d only found the border.

            “I remember that you saved my life, Lily.”

            “You saved your own life, Colonel.”

            “I also remember that you agreed to call me Rick.”

            She smiled.

            “Thanks for staying with me at the hospital. I’m sorry Barbara ran you off.”

            She blushed furiously. “I needed to leave anyway.”

            “But you never came back. I thought you were a figment of my imagination until I asked.”

            “Colonel. . .”

            “Rick.”

https://i0.wp.com/pp.vk.me/c624628/v624628783/5a091/bAypOmAaxmI.jpg?w=840&ssl=1            Whatever objection she had intended to make, she hesitated. Rick pushed his advantage.

            “How does the book end?”

            “Excuse me?”

            “Do Lizzy and Jane get Darcy and what’s-his-name?”

            Her quick glance told him that she was surprised he remembered what he’d heard as he slept.

            “Yes.”

            “Maybe you can read me the rest.”

            Okay. Lame. But his brain was slow, muffled as if filled with packing peanuts. Percocet—another reason he couldn’t drive himself.

            Her hesitation gave him his answer.

            “Okay, well.” He pushed awkwardly to his feet, hopping on his good leg—which was only painful, not excruciating—until he had command of his crutches. “Thank you for staying with me, both on the mountain and later. I’d still love to take you to dinner, if you’ll allow me the indulgence.”

            That sounded bitter.

            She rose to stand, her skirt falling gently to her calves—very sexy calves as a matter of fact—and smiled.

            “As soon as you’re walking with a cane, instead of those crutches, I’ll go to dinner with you.”

            On the way home, he picked apart her promise and realized that she’d meant it not as a slight, but as a challenge.

            Next time he saw her—and hell, that could be as soon as tomorrow because he knew both where she lived and where she worked—he planned on kissing her.

 

Cheers

Jax

 

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Valentines Day – From True Valor

Celebrate Valentines Day with Nic and Julie from True Valor – here's one of their true moments.

Heart_Ribbon1-Copy

 

Slate grey clouds layered the twilight sky. Christmas lights twinkled in the stillness, the only sound the crunch of snow below their feet. Their breath crystallized into fog. Julie slipped her mittened hand into Nic’s. There was nothing even suggestive about it. It was sweet, childlike. Something deep inside him began to melt.

Nic wasn’t sure he liked the feeling.

“For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch.”

“What?” Nic stopped walking and stared at her. She only stopped because he had her hand in his.

“What’s wrong?” She looked a bit panicked.

“You’re quoting Shakespeare again.”

“What?” It was obvious she didn’t even know she’d spoken.

“Never mind.”

Once across the next street, Julie grinned and tugged Nic toward the slide in the center of a small park. When he hesitated, she broke loose and skipped over to make her way up the ladder. Once seated up top, she grinned and slid. Down the slide and out into the snow at the bottom, laughing like a goof.

“Your turn,” she said as she held out her hand so he could pull her up. Once she was standing, she put her hands on her hips and tipped her head. “Your turn,” she said again.

https://i1.wp.com/s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/ef/12/ed/ef12edcb782c0c78ad7c65217bd7f8c9.jpg?w=840&ssl=1Her blonde hair peeked out from under the cap he’d made her wear, her eyes danced with abandon. Snow flakes melted on her cheeks and Nic nearly leaned down to taste one.

When he didn’t respond, she bent down and scooped a handful of snow, letting it fly in his face.

If he moved, he was doomed. If he touched her, or grabbed her, or wrestled her to the ground, it was all over. So, he stood, snow on his face, holding his breath.

But she had no such reservations. She drew close, stood on tip-toe and kissed the snow from his chin. Her expression held nothing sultry, yet her innocence was even more distracting.

“Knock it off, Julie,” Nic said through gritted teeth. “Let’s go.”

When they got back to the room, Julie took her coat off and hung it on the hook. Then she went to the bedroom and closed the door.

Cheers

Jax

 

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Stealing Valor – Stealing Heroism

The verdict is in – it's just okee-dokee to wear medals you didn't earn.  Okee-dokee to wear a uniform you never served in.  Okee-dokee to pawn yourself off as someone you aren't.  

Free speech.  That's what the courts said.

The 9th Circuit Court recently ruled that Stolen Valor is free speech, covered by the First Amendment.  

635532065668555663-purple-heartThe case at hand was a man convicted of the Stolen Valor law.  He'd testified in a court case wearing a purple heart he didn't earn.  He appealed his conviction and won.  

Heck, the Stolen Valor law only made it a misdemeanor to impersonate a hero anyway.  It's curious why this guy even appealed.  I have a hunch it's about the bigger move to undermine our military.  But that's a political topic I won't get into here. 

So, why am I even bringing it up? 

First and foremost, because it matters.  Secondly, it's a topic that arises in True Valor, book 1 of the True Heroes series.  

I'd love to hear your opinion.  Reply on Facebook or Twitter.

Cheers

Jax

 

PS – Be sure to join my email list for updates, contests and giveaways, and more!

 

True Heroes – Release Day

JAX 3 books

It's release day for books 1, 2, and 3 of the True Heroes series. (Book 4 is available for pre-order)

People have asked "How does it feel?"  

It feels great and scary and exciting.  I love that these people that I've come to know as friends will finally be out there making new friends.  It's such fun when readers send emails or IM's and tell me the that they laughed when a character said or did something fun, or cried when things got overwhelming. 

In the book industry, it's scary too.  Will people review the book positively?  Will they review it at all?  Will the books do well.  I know for me, it's not just about sales.  Of course, authors would love to have books that catch fire like Twilight or Hunger Games.  But we also know that's a rare thing.  

But we would love to have people love the books.  Guess that's why we do this.

Enough about me though.  

What I want to say today is thank you.

Thank you to my awesome beta readers.  Thank you to my critique partners.  Thank you to Davis Creative for awesome covers.  Thank you to Ashley and Kim who spent hours and hours going over these manuscripts making them better.  (Even so, I'm sure there will be a few mistakes that slipped through.)   

hh-60-and-troops

And most of all, thank you to the real life TRUE HEROES who scramble to help, putting their own lives on the line, sometimes making the ultimate sacrifice.  If these books do right by them, then I'll be satisfied.  

Thanks to Batman, Scarecrow, Angel, Cruz, Clancy and Cowboy, for taking on a life of their own and letting me tell on them.

 

Cheers, 

Jax

 

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Countdown to True Heroes – Day 1

It’s day one, people.  That means tomorrow is release day.  It’s pretty danged cool to hold new books in your hand, to know that folks will be falling in love with these people that you know so well.  Nic and Julie, Rick and Lily, Gabe and Claire – and, of course, Cruz.  (You’ll get that soon.)

But what does one write on day one?

I guess I’ll tell you a bit more about me and then leave you with one of my favorite videos – one that says it all for me.

Some of my proudest and most humbling accomplishments in life revolve around being there for someone when they’re having the worst day of their life.

At age forty – I became an EMT.  For me, life really amped up after forty.  That learning curve scared the peewaddlin’ out of me.  Could I think fast enough?  Could I stick someone with a needle?  Could I remember what to do?

I had great teachers.  One my very first run, we pulled up on scene and the EMT with me turned to me and said “You’re in charge.”  I’m sure my face lost all color and I stammered. . . 

Then she said, “Don’t worry, I won’t let you fall.”

The perfect words.  I’ve used them myself when I trained new EMT’s.

That sentiment actually sums up my love for heroes.

shaldag

They have each other’s backs. They’re good at what they do. They know what they’re capable of and they put aside fear and rush in when it counts.   

“None of you have to go,” said Ty Woods, “but we’re the only help they have.” 

Of course they went.  That’s what heroes do.

 

Kandahar, Afghanistan: Supervising Producer and Editor John Collin and Airman First Class (A1C) Steven laugh after a military exercise in the Kandahar desert. (Photo credit: National Geographic Television)And when they have down time, they shoot each other with squirt guns and give each other a hard time over anything and everything.  They share their care packages from home.  They take “one for all and all for one” to a higher level.

They never stop being heroes.  Like “once a Marine, always a Marine,” these guys never become ex-heroes. 

These guys are the face of valor, courage, honor, virtue and gallantry. 

And I truly love them for that.  I hope I've captured that in these books.

Hoo-yah.

Garth Brooks | The Change | September 11 Tribute from Kristen Carrier on Vimeo.

 

Countdown to True Heroes – Day 2

Ahh, the tattoo.

Legen—wait for it—dary.

The legend goes back to the first PJs – 1971 – the Vietnam war.

A little swagger.  A little cockiness.  And, well, a lot of alcohol.

648dd7ad73ca26a7e0137f491009ba9bAt the time, the PJs’s taxi was the famed Jolly Green Giant helicopter.  So, what could be a more fitting symbol for combat search and rescue than the Jolly Green Giant footprint? 

Thus was born the PJ tattoo.

“But where to get said tattoo?” they wondered?  They wanted a place that, when showed off, would command respect and awe.  Some place unique.  After much consideration and a few more drinks, our stalwart heroes came to a decision. 

A tradition is born.

The Jolly Green feet tattoo.

On the butt of every PJ.

photo-1 IMG_5260-2

Shhh.  It’s a secret.

Come back tomorrow for Countdown day 1. 

Cheers

Jax

 

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