I'm thrilled to welcome Lila Munro, BethAnn Buehler, Chris Craven and J.L. Oiler to my blog today. I've fascinated by the story of how they got together and collaborated on this joint project. BEACON BAYOU is the first book in their new series Force Recon. It's great mix of romance ( MF and MM ), adventure, and wonderful characters you'll fall in love with.
Force Recon, A Bit of History...
Last June four writers met on face book. After chatting for a few weeks and getting to know each other a bit better, those four writers exchanged phone numbers. Thus the Wicked Muses were born. As a team we got to collaborate in a shared writing experience with our "All I Want for Christmas is Redemption" anthology (Wild Horse Press, November 2010). Shortly after we turned in edits for Redemption, the Muses fell prey to growing pains and as we came out on the other side of that experience, we realized it was time to refocus.
Force Recon exists large in part to JL Oiler. During a late night chat between JL, Lila and I, JL asked if anyone was up for another joint project. We started brainstorming and the only parameters we set for ourselves was that we wanted something that would make a great spring break read featuring non-paranormal bad-asses (JL's favorite description of our guys). Within minutes, we decided on a group of black ops warriors that found their personal lives far more treacherous than anything the enemy could throw at them.
Wanting to add a fourth Muse back to the team, we girls strong armed Chris into joining us and after several months of planning and sharing our characters with one another, Gabe, Aaron, Regan and Brogan came to life.
If the team survives their vacation to Beacon Bayou, I think they'll be adding a couple of new members which also allows us the chance to welcome JA Lawson to our ranks.
And a look into the characters...
Lila: So, Chris--what did you find was the most enjoyable thing about writing the anthology?
Chris: The most enjoyable part of writing the anthology was learning about the marines and the role of black operatives in general. Until working with Lila, JL and BethAnn on this piece, I didn't have a clue how the USMC played such an integral part in military ops and just how extreme some men and women are willing to go to protect our freedoms. Jeanne-- did you learn anything new about yourself while writing Aaron's character?
Jeanne: I actually learned a good bit about my own way of thinking and communicating with others. Prior to writing Beacon Bayou, I had very limited experience really working so closely with others in story development. I was always able to allow my own ship to go where ever the water took it. With this story, however, we had a certain place we wanted to reach so my writing was much more guided and set. What I discovered is that the process taught me to organize my thoughts to produce a more cohesive piece of work. In the end I believe this project has allowed me to improve as a writer. It also netted me some great friends. BethAnn, what did you think was the most difficult part of doing the anthology?
BethAnn: In my opinion, the most difficult part of writing this anthology was making sure that every character got the chance to have his own voice. In Beacon Bayou, readers are going to meet four very close-knit but uniquely individual guys and readers will get to live life through each of their eyes. Given that the stories are so interwoven, I felt it was important that within their group life, each character had a chance to have his own story as well. Lila, what inspiration went into creating your main character?
Lila: For people that are just getting to know me and may not know it, I'm the wife of a US Marine. I've been living this life for fourteen years now and the inspiration to create realistic military characters is all around me, I only need look out my door. I usually use marines as my heroes, but this time I decided to deviate a bit and give tribute to the guys and gals that keep our marines healthy both at home and while deployed. Corpsmen and women are an integral part of operations on any Marine Corps base as the USMC doesn't have their own medical personnel so they tap the Navy for those jobs. In fact, my next door neighbor is a corpsman. I'm thankful that these people give their time so freely to help keep my husband and his brothers and sisters well while in harm's way. So, Chris how did you see your character Regan develop and grow while resting and relaxing at Beacon Bayou?
Chris: Being the Hollywood pretty boy that he used to be, Regan had to overcome several struggles in both the way he reinvented himself for the rigors of his job and the way he had to grow given his bent toward being rather emotional at times. I can't speak for the other guys, but for Regan, he had two opposite kinds of obstacles to leap--keeping his own sexual preferences a secret and his love for Brogan, a man who was curious about his sexuality while posing as a hetero guy all along to keep "cover." BethAnn, what was your favorite part about writing Brogan?
BethAnn: Without a doubt my favorite part of writing Brogan was setting his utter lack of self confidence in the bedroom against his bigger than life, take no prisoners attitude in every other facet of his life. For me, a character is only as strong as their biggest weakness so to see this hunk of a warrior hit his knees wondering what in the hell to do with his feelings, and better yet, trying to get his hands around the fact that he might actually be in love, kept me coming back to the keyboard night after night. Jeanne, will readers get to see more of the team if they survive their vacation to Beacon Bayou?
Jeanne: Force Recon is in no way done yet. There are still missions left to complete and lives to save, including their own! Readers will get to learn even more about these sexy strong men as they head off on their next mission. Lila, any idea what lies around the corner?
Lila: I heard from their command that the team were last seen on the border of Mexico headed to Somalia. I know as far as Gabe is concerned, he and Ros have a rough road ahead with some tough issues to face. I'm also pleased to announce that we'll be welcoming JA Lawson to our team in Force Recon book two. Jeanne did you have an prior experience with the military that helped you channel Aaron's character?
Jeanne: I'm blessed to have come from a family filled with vets. Both my father and father-in-law served though neither were Marines. And I've always had a thing for a man in uniform so researching the topic was like shopping in a candy store. Aaron is also a survivor of a different sort. He has a lot of self worth issues which he's forced to face while at Beacon Bayou. I called upon a good friend who had personal experience in that area to help me get better insight into Aaron's emotion and reactions. Chris, how did you feel about the final story?
Chris: I feel satisfied with the final story. For me, writing about a gay Marine was one of those controversial topics because of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" thing. But deep down, the story is more than just that. I felt as if we as a group utilized this anthology as a therapeutic technique of sorts. This was a story that needed to be told. Lila, when describing Roslyn in such detail, did you ever think it would be as emotionally "trying" as it turned out to be?
Lila: That's such a great question. I'm known for tackling tough issues head on. My characters always have a ton of problems and I'm never afraid to talk about controversial ideas that might otherwise seem over the line so to speak. Not since writing Madi Melbourne in Bound By Trust have I had such an emotionally trying character. I do live through and with my characters in a very intimate way, and while I knew that Ros would take a lot out of me, I must admit she was probably the hardest character emotionally I've written to date. Her issues stem from a health stand point and I think a lot writers might find crossing that bridge out of line and taboo. For me, it's important to share those real life experiences and I completely believe they can be dealt with with tact and compassion. At the same time, it's emotionally draining to get so inside someone's troubled thoughts and emotions. I found myself in tears more than once telling Ros' story, but I'd do it all again. And I'm sure the tears aren't left behind. There are more to come while Gabe's in Somalia. BethAnn, you're character Brogan is closest to Chris' character Regan--do you think they had a satisfactory ending to their story and can you give us some hint as to where their relationship might be going later on? Any women in Brogan's future?
BethAnn: Well, things were going pretty well until command interrupted the party, so to speak. As the team heads off in the middle of the night to God knows where, Brogan finds himself wondering how to keep his head in the game on the job and keep an eye on Regan. There's no question that the pair are committed to one another, but between the women who keep landing on Brogan's doorstep and the little lady that's trying to get to know Regan better, the boys have their hands full. And that's not to mention saving the world while trying to stay out of harm's way. Jeanne, care to share any final thoughts about the project with readers?
Jeanne: Sure, I think readers won't be able to miss falling for the guys of Force Recon. They're the injured knights in shining camo that we all want to save us. The story itself is so intertwined that instead of giving readers four separate pieces, Force Recon offers readers a single cohesive story with several points of view. We have drama, action, romance, and everything in between to help our readers step into the world of our recon team like they've never experienced before. Any final thoughts from you, Chris?
Chris: Final thoughts? Wow! I'd just like to share that I truly think readers will enjoy this captivating story that not only sweeps you off your feet with four hunky leading men, but offers a bit of suspense and shock straight to the chest when readers discover our guys have some extra baggage of sorts. Like the saying, "A house is not a home..." "A vacation isn't a vacation" either. Bring tissues and a Crown and Coke--you might find you read the entire book in one sitting. How about you, Lila? Any closing thoughts?
Lila: I'd like to toss out that I think readers will be pleasantly surprised to find so many sub-genres encompassed in Beacon Bayou--we have everything from a sensual m/f relationship between Ros and Gabe, to a more erotic encounter between Aaron and Scarlett, to a steaming m/m relationship between Brogan and Regan. I think there's something here for any lover of romance. It was a joy to work with such great talent and combine each of our "specialties" into one work. I can't wait to get the next installment finished. BethAnn, any final thoughts from you?
BethAnn: You know, this has been such an exciting project to work on, I'm just anxious to get Force Recon into readers hands and let the guys work their magic. Being able to share in the creation of such a dynamic story leaves me wanting more of the recon boys. I hope they all make it home safely...
****Looking for a splendid place to visit? Welcome to Beacon Bayou! Come wander Big Thicket National Preserve... For one four man Marine Force Recon team, a vacation was just what the doctor ordered. Or in their case, the team corpsman.
Fresh off a mission in the jungle of South America, rest and relaxation are Recon's number one priorities. But for Gunnery Sergeant Brogan Baker, Sergeant Aaron Wolf, Corporal Regan Maxwell, and Chief Gabriel Sanchez, this vacation will test their strength unlike any mission ever has.
After a string of failed relationships, Brogan Baker is questioning his sexuality. Surely Regan Maxwell can't be the answer to Brogan's problems, can he? Besides, Regan’s a former Hollywood pretty boy just trying to prove he has what it takes while keeping one foot firmly planted in the closet. Then Lily comes along. Can the two men foster their growing relationship and survive the presence of one tiny female?
Aaron Wolf, the unit lost sheep, agreed to the Texas get away thinking he could finally overcome the short comings his father points out every chance he gets. Meeting Scarlet might be the way out Aaron's been looking for, but it’s the beauty Gabe's got his eye on that shows Aaron there’s hope where he thought none existed. After losing his first wife over fifteen years ago, Gabriel Sanchez has sworn off women. But somehow Roslyn Romero manages to capture his heart. The only problem is she's got a host of her own issues that will push Gabe to the brink.
If that which doesn't kill us only makes us stronger, then the Force Recon team will either leave Texas in body bags or they'll have a new found resolve to live life to the fullest. Beacon Bayou beware. Recon never backs down.
You can get your copy of Beacon Bayou:
Please visit each of us at our respective websites:
And check our publisher’s website for more Force Recon Anthologies coming in 2011:
Rebel Ink Press:
Thanks so much for hosting us today and thanks to all the readers for stopping by and spending some time with us! We truly appreciate you all!