Monday, June 18, 2018

Heart of a Seal NBtM

They’re brothers in arms, Navy SEALS risking their lives for their country… and the women they love.

This is Luke Harding’s story.

Six months in a desert hellhole taught Navy SEAL Luke Harding things he never wanted to learn about life and death. Only tender memories of the beautiful brunette he met a few weeks before his deployment helped get him through the torturous days and nights. Back in the States after a perilous rescue, physically and emotionally damaged, Luke’s about to plunge into a new kind of war. In a seemingly bucolic Idaho town, Sally Duncan faces real—and unpredictable—danger.

All Sally ever wanted was a safe place to raise her nine-year-old daughter. Her identity hidden behind a façade of secrets and lies, can she trust Luke—a man she barely knows—with the truth? Even as they give in to long-denied passion, a killer with a personal vendetta is setting an ambush that will leave them praying for a miracle and fighting for the future they may not live to see.

“Are you Petty Officer Second Class Luke Harding?” The man in battle gear
knelt beside him.

As hard as he tried, Luke couldn’t make a sound—or even nod his head. All he could do was stare until his eyes misted, and he squeezed his eyelids shut so he wouldn’t humiliate himself.

They know my name. Somebody knows who I am. Gratitude washed over him even as sorrow intruded into his momentary peace. Except for two short weeks, he could have celebrated with Ian.

The warrior reached for Luke’s hand, gripping it firmly. “It’s okay, Son. You stay with me. You hear me, Sailor? That’s an order.” He leaned over Luke and there was understanding in his eyes. “We’re here to get you home alive, and failure is not an option. You copy that?”

Luke would have smiled if he could have. Did the guy know the phrase he uttered so effortlessly was the only thing holding Luke together?

“Medic!” the man yelled over his shoulder, and two seconds later another warrior stuck his head into Luke’s space.

It was getting harder to breathe. His rasping and gurgling grew louder and filled his ears.

“Chest wound.” The second man applied pressure, none too gently, to the hole in Luke’s torso.

Jesus, you stupid SOB! Luke would have given anything for the strength to shove him away, while using every four letter word he knew, but the most he could manage was a pained groan.

“Hang in there.” The first man pulled Luke’s attention from the medic. “I know you’re in pain. The chopper will land any second, and we’ll get you onboard. Next stop—a nice clean hospital and then…stateside. We’re going to give you the good stuff so you can sleep through this next part. You’re going to make it, Sailor, so start planning your homecoming.”

Sally. The image of the sweet brunette he’d promised to return to flashed in Luke’s mind. He barely felt the prick of the needle before his eyes fluttered closed on his last memory.

It’s a pleasure to be here on the Sharing Links and Wisdom blog. Thanks for hosting the tour for my new release, Heart of a SEAL. This book is the first of three books in the Hearts of Valor series and my seventh published book. I only mention that because this weekend I ran across the first manuscript I ever wrote, buried in my office, along with several started but unfinished projects. It was quite a trip down memory lane!

There was good reason why that first manuscript, which I entitled “Dani” after the heroine and later changed to “Get Out Alive,” was not published. IT WAS SO AWFUL! I almost feel bad for the handful of editors and/or agents I submitted it to back in 1997.

As I’m sure most of you know, authors don’t just decide they want to write a book and then sit down to create a masterpiece worthy of a literary prize. Far from it. There was so much I didn’t know about the craft of writing, and I’m still learning. My seven books are small potatoes compared to the backlists of awesome powerhouse writers in my genre who’ve been at this writing thing a whole lot longer than me. I am sure, when I have two or three times that number under my belt, I’ll still be learning and trying to keep up with an ever-changing industry.

I had one thing going for me when I wrote “Dani”—a story idea. That’s important, but I didn’t have a clue about character development, passive sentences or points of view. I wanted to write a romantic suspense novel, but I didn’t know there were taboo subjects (according to publishers who still get to decide those things, even in the age of self-publishing.)

Much later, after acquiring representation through an agent, I learned that publishers would reject, without reading, a romance whose heroine is married at the beginning of the story and later divorces. I learned that two points of view were the established norm, one was acceptable, three was reason enough to land on the rejection pile and head-hopping screamed newbie like nothing else. I learned how to ‘hook’ a reader in the first paragraph and tie up all the loose ends before the final page. And I learned SO much about sentence structure, paragraph structure and those troublesome commas. (Oh, who am I kidding? I still get the commas wrong!)

If you decide to pick up Heart of a SEAL and give it a read, and you find that first sentence/paragraph/scene/chapter that makes you say: “Oh my, I would have done that a little differently,” just know I’m still a writer-in-training, always will be and my next seven/fourteen/twenty-one books will be better!

To prove a point, I’m now going to do something that no author in her right mind would do. I’m going to share the opening paragraphs of “Dani”, aka “Get Out Alive”, exactly the way I found it in my slush pile! Please…be kind!

The forest was quiet. The moon had risen to its full height in the night sky, and begun its descent toward morning, its luminescence covering the forest floor with a silvery hue. The branches of the pines swayed gently in the wind causing the pattern of shadows beneath them to shift and change. On a ridge, beneath the cover of a stately ponderosa, within its deepest shadows, a man stood, statue-like. He had been there for nearly an hour, watching and waiting silently. Just below his hiding place, a small herd of deer crossed the meadow, grazing unhurriedly until the night wind carried them his scent and they raced away, the sounds of their flight blown elsewhere on the breeze.
Tucker carefully surveyed the meadow and the tree-line surrounding it, listening expectantly for sounds that did not belong. Shifting his position slightly to ease the discomfort of tense muscles, he wondered impatiently what was keeping his contact. He couldn’t wait here much longer. He would need to start soon to get back before he was missed.
As he again searched the trees on the far side of the meadow, a tall, lean form separated itself from the shadows and stood for a moment in full view. From his place atop the ridge, Tucker removed a shiny metal object from his shirt pocket and allowed it to briefly catch the moon’s rays, causing it to glint dully. Watching the figure melt back into the darkness, he knew his signal had been received.

Wow! That was painful—but I think I’ve got the omniscient point of view down pat, don’t you? Not only that, I apparently didn’t know how to use contractions in 1997! If you suffered through that, I applaud you, and each and every one of you deserves to win the gift card in the Rafflecopter drawing, so don’t forget to enter.

Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by, and I sincerely hope I haven’t scared you off from giving Heart of a SEAL a try! If you like action-packed romantic suspense, I think you’ll enjoy this book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour.

Author Bio and Links:
Dixie Lee Brown lives and writes in Central Oregon, inspired by gorgeous scenery and at least three hundred sunny days a year. Having moved from South Dakota as a child to Washington, Montana and then to Oregon, she feels at home in the west. She resides with two dogs and a cat, who are currently all the responsibility she can handle. Dixie works fulltime as a bookkeeper. When she's not writing or working, she loves to read, enjoys movies, and if it were possible, she’d spend all of her time at the beach. She is also the author of the Trust No One romantic suspense series, published by Avon Impulse.

Please visit her websiteFacebook author pageTwitter, or join her street team.

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  1. Thanks for hosting me and Heart of a SEAL on your blog, Emily!

  2. I enjoyed getting to know your book and thanks for the chance to win :)

    1. Thanks for following the tour, Lisa, and good luck!

  3. I have enjoyed the tour. The book sounds great.

  4. It's been a great tour!


  5. Sounds like an interesting read. I hope that your book is a success. Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

  6. Thanks for the wonderful tour, I enjoyed following it and learning more about Heart of a Seal :)

  7. I hope it piqued your interest, Gwendolyn!