Yikes, but the last week was insane…and no deadlines, even. Doogie the Dermatologist assured me I didn’t have skin cancer; I was just getting old. Okay, he might have said it a bit more nicely than that but I can read between the lines. The Resident Senior had a doctor’s appointment, had atrial fibrillation, and was ordered to go into the hospital–both by her MD and a cardiologist. Which is why she is sitting downstairs watching a John Wayne movie; because she refused. I come by my stubbornness naturally.
Meanwhile, I’m finishing up copyedits on BLACK DIAMOND this weekend, so I thought I’d share a snippet (and yeah, some bookish eye candy).
In this early scene, Jena and her temporary partner, Mac, are driving a captured nuisance gator to the regional headquarters in Thibodaux. Mac is running his mouth, as usual, but Jena’s mind is on the guy she just met: Cole Ryan. Jena doesn’t know it yet, but Cole is going to be an important person in her life…
Mac was animated on the drive to drop off the gator at regional headquarters in Thibodaux, where it would be sent to the LDWF Wildlife Division lab in Baton Rouge for testing.
Using about ten percent of her brain, Jena managed to make appropriate “hmmmmm” and “you think so?” responses when needed. The other ninety percent was busy thinking about Cole Ryan. So much about that man simply didn’t add up.
When she’d seen him in the distance, standing in his doorway for the first time, she’d mistaken him for a different kind of man, the type she thought of as a Terrebonne Hard Case. Usually, Hard Cases were guys that were long on hair and short on teeth, and who lived as much off the land as possible. They ate what they caught and weren’t that picky about what it was. They might boil a mess of crawfish in an iron pot one night, sharing the feast with the whole neighborhood. Two days later, dinner might be a lone bullfrog or a squirrel.
There were lots of Hard Cases in the parish, although not nearly as many as there used to be, Gentry had told her. Most of them were as warm and big-hearted as any other people in Terrebonne—maybe even more so. Hard Cases just lived the way they lived, often the way their parents and grandparents had lived, eking out a living and relying on the bounty of the parish for each meal.
She’d been utterly and absolutely wrong in her assessment, though. Cole Ryan was no Hard Case. He looked to be in his early-to-mid thirties and was clean-shaven but for thick blond hair that reached almost to his waist. Parts of it were pulled into braids, but those strands struck her as more practical than cosmetic, like he wanted to keep his hair off his face. What she’d mistaken for gray-streaked locks were sun streaks in thick, amber-gold hair most women would kill to have. He spent a lot of time outside.
And the man had the clearest, bluest eyes Jena had ever seen outside the brilliance of the sky during a cloudless day in Louisiana winter.
She didn’t even want to think about the six-pack on display or the muscles that moved beneath the tanned skin of his biceps when he opened and closed the door—or crossed his arms over his chest. The man even had perfect teeth, what little she’d been able to see of them from his brief attempt at conversation, a skill in which he was clearly out of practice.
Cole Ryan, if that was his real name, did not have a South Louisiana accent, either. He talked like a Southerner, but one who hailed from Shreveport or Jackson or Birmingham—certainly nowhere south of the I-10. And he talked like an educated man, or at least one who knew how to think on his feet. He’d danced around that story about why he’d moved to Terrebonne smoother than an Olympic skater on ice. He’d also been observant about her injuries, and not just the ones visible on her face.
No, Cole Ryan was not the kind of man who lived like a hermit on the edge of the water behind an abandoned sugarcane field, not unless he was in trouble with the law or had mental health issues.
He was eccentric, but nothing about him raised flags about mental illness or instability. Everything about him said “leave me alone.”
Cole is one of the most interesting characters I’ve written, I think, because he’s so far out of my realm of experience. (Well, in human terms. I can’t say Mirren Kincaid is more in my realm of experience, although if he would like to be, I’m all for it.) ANYWAY, Cole is an interesting guy and…let’s just say I temporarily subscribed to “Off Grid” magazine for a few months there. And the copyeditor asked me an interesting question I hadn’t considered: Whether Jena pronounced her name Geena or Jenna. So, for whatever it’s worth, I pronounce it Jenna, but you can pronounce it anyway you want.
Anyway, BLACK DIAMOND is up for preorder without a cover but it should be coming soon! Release date is October 18.
Now, I haven’t announced winners in a couple of weeks so I have more than the usual today. You’re free to email me about your missing prize win but I am WAY BEHIND, so please be patient. Two full-time jobs and Resident Senior caregiving doesn’t leave a lot of time. I’m hoping to hit up the English department and see if there’s some aspiring young student who’ll take over my mailings in exchange for whatever wisdom I can impart about publishing–after all, I am wise and old–just ask my dermatologist.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the contact tab on this page with the relevant prize info for your win:
BETHANY won the $5 Amazon GC for talking food on Friday. I might need to send you a bottle of Alabama White BBQ Sauce too–LOL.
SANDY won a copy of Jane Godman’s Otherworld Protector, the first in her Otherworld series. It’s available only in digital format, so if you’d prefer a $5 Amazon GC instead of a Kindle version of that book, let me know.
KARIN A won this week’s Reader’s Choice giveaway and chose Lexi George’s newest book, DEMON HUNTING WITH A DIXIE DEB. If you prefer a different book (or an earlier book in Lexi’s series), just let me know.
SUSAN M won a $5 Amazon GC for commenting on Edward Hoornaert’s guest post.
JANE won the first book in Lexi George’s DEMON HUNTING IN DIXIE series for commenting on Lexi’s guest post.
ROGER won last week’s Reader’s Choice giveaway and chose Paul Cornell’s WHO KILLED SHERLOCK HOLMES from that week’s list. If you’d prefer a different book, just let me know!
And that’s it for now. Tomorrow is a holiday here in the U.S., so the weekly Reader’s Choice list will run on Tuesday instead. Have a happy Memorial Day. I shall be copyediting BLACK DIAMOND and perhaps eating watermelon (with salt and pepper)!