I’m so happy to be here kicking off the GRL Blog Tour with The Novel Approach! October is going to be here before we know it. Can’t wait! Thanks to Lisa for having me on, and letting me talk about a topic near and dear to my heart.
My Military Guys—When News Creates Inspiration
One of the questions authors get most often is, where do you find inspiration for your books? The answer is usually a nebulous “Everywhere.” As well as having a brain that never turns off, I’m also very visual, so many times photos or people I see lead to a runaway imagination as I begin creating a story for that character.
Many years ago (before DADT was repealed in 2010), I had been scrolling through news (ie, wasting time surfing social media) and saw a photo that brought a smile to my face…and an idea into my head.
It was the white uniform that originally caught my attention, and not just because of the obvious reasons (hello—man in uniform). I grew up as a Navy brat—my dad was a Naval aviator and spent over 30 years in the Navy. So anything to do with dress whites or flybys always catches my eye.
The photo was similar to this one from the Wikipedia page, and was followed by another photo of a Marine and Naval graduate embracing. Immediately I thought, “What if…?” What if they were secretly more than friends? What would happen if they did care for each other…and were about to be posted in completely different places that they had no control over? I moved on from that photo and created my own two graduates and started writing the hat toss scene that begins A Ring and A Promise right away.
By the time I finished their story and had turned it in to my editor, the repeal of DADT was becoming a reality, and during the last few weeks before ARAAP was published, I asked to change a few things in the story to make it current with the new military stance. Their story still had plenty of conflict without risk of dishonorable expulsion as well.
That was a while ago, and I had left Cary and Owen in a firm HFN, since anything else would have been impossible in that timeline. But I never forgot about them—nor did my readers lol—so this year I decided to pick up their story toward the end of their initial five years of service, and wrote A Ring and A Vow. When it begins, Owen is in the Middle East, while Cary is stationed Stateside in Virginia. Cary had been the one moving their relationship forward in the last book, so I decided to have Owen be the one to come up with an idea to take their relationship to the next level…and hopefully get on the same continent!
Here is the blurb and an exclusive excerpt for A Ring and A Vow:
It’s been nearly five years since Owen went down on one knee with his Academy ring and promised Cary he’d someday do it for real. With Cary being a Naval aviator and Owen a Marine officer serving in Iraq, they’re rarely on the same continent, let alone together.
About time for them to fill out paperwork to re-up, Owen realizes that if they were married, they’d have a much better chance of being stationed nearby. But time is not on their side, so he’s forced to compromise on his proposal in order to make it work.
Cary has been waiting for Owen for years—there was no chance he’d ever say anything but yes. Owen is coming home at last, and wants to make a home with him. However, between the chronic nightmares he’s been fighting and the ever more complicated wedding plans, the next month could be anything but a dream.
Excerpt: It wasn’t very often they could do a face-to-face, between their duty schedules and the time difference of eight and a half hours, but sometimes breaking up a night’s sleep was worth it. Some shifting around on both their parts and he could finally see Owen’s grainy image. “Are you in bed?”
Owen smirked. “Is this one of those kind of calls?” he teased. They both knew that it wasn’t feasible to do any sort of phone sex—there just wasn’t enough privacy for Owen in the desert base camp.
“I wish.” The thought was tempting. Cary had the benefit of being alone behind a locked door, and he palmed his semi-hard cock. The nightmare had taken its effect, but Owen’s voice—combined with how long it had been since he’d seen his man—had him hardening as the last vestiges of his dream faded.
“Are you okay?”
The video was a bit choppy, but the concern in Owen’s voice was clear.
“Yeah. Fine.” Owen’s eyebrow rose and Cary confessed, “Just woke up…from a nightmare,” he added reluctantly. “And don’t ask.” He wasn’t going to tell him about it—no way—but he knew Owen wouldn’t leave it alone until he admitted what had him off-center.
“You sure you don’t want to talk about it?”
“Definitely. I’d rather hear what you’ve been up to.”
Owen shrugged and sat back in the chair. “Same old. Really looking forward to heading back stateside end of the month. Everyone is. You can just feel it—short-timer’s. You know.”
“Yeah.” And that was the crux of it, really. Cary’s worst fear was that so close to being reunited—or at least on the same continent again—that something bad would happen…
No! Stop it.
“You seem distracted. You sure you’re okay?”
“I’m fine.” His voice sounded curt to his own ears and he twisted the Academy ring on his finger while he tried to enjoy the rare chance to talk to Owen face-to-face. “So, it’s about time to make some decisions,” he changed the subject. They were both nearing the end of their first five years of service, and though the decision to re-up wasn’t a difficult one—neither one of them had gone into this to do a five-and-dive—figuring out what duty stations to put in for and trying to end up close to one another was the real challenge.
Owen nodded and a little smile teased at the corners of his eyes.
“What? Did you come up with a plan?” That would be the best news ever. Cary’s deadline to fill out his paperwork was the following month and he was nowhere near knowing what to do. The options for a Naval aviator were somewhat limited—and so were Marine officer stations—and unfortunately there weren’t that many that coincided. Owen was a seasoned combat veteran, and Cary had been on and off carriers with his squadron. In the past four plus years, they’d spent a scant number of days together. He would miss the guys if he left for a different posting, but being close to Owen was a greater priority for him. “Tell me you’ve worked something out.”
Owen nodded—one quick tip of the head.
Cary frowned at the screen and scooted closer. “Well?”
“Um, hold on a second.” Owen rose and the view rocked and rolled a little bit as he moved the computer on his end. “Fuck.”
Cary snickered at the curse. “What’s wrong? Not one of those camel spiders again.”
“Oh fuck off. I’d like to see your reaction if one crawled into bed with you.” More vertigo inducing motion. “When I was planning this, I forgot how short the damn headset cord is. I don’t have much time left, and it doesn’t reach.” A huge, frustrated sigh.
“Reach? What are you trying to do?”
A Ring and a Vow was originally released in the Semper Fidelis anthology, but also released this week as a single, and is currently only $2.10 on Amazon