Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A No Good Itch -- PreOrder Your Copy Today!

Are you ready for Book 3?
It's on the way. Available December 16th. 
Order on Kindle today and it will automatically ship at midnight on release day! 

It's twisty turny goodness with an ending that will leave you ready for Book 4!!



The FBI and Italian Mafia make strange bedfellows when a vicious Russian Organized crime figure, operating at the behest of Russian Intelligence, lands in The Big Apple. The Russian intelligence henchman, infamously known as Mashkov, avenges the death of slain a Russian sleeper agent and accidentally hits the son of an Italian crime boss, sending J.J. and Task Force Phantom Hunter to the streets of New York. This time they must stop a bloody crime war between Russian and Italian mob figures and dismantle the financial hub of the most insidious Russian illegals network in U.S. History. Meanwhile, Six's patriotism is tested when he heads to Moscow to help capture a fugitive mole and save a rogue Russian defector carrying a trove of intelligence from the FSB.

If you enjoy this book, you will love Book 1--The Seven Year Itch (A J.J. McCall Novel) and Book 2 -- Son of a Itch (A J.J. McCall Novel).

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Memory of the FBI on 9-11 (A Repost)

A Memory of the FBI on 9-11...

Some people may read this blog and wonder why I'm so passionate about U.S. national security. The anniversary of 9-11 is a reminder.

I'll never forget.

I'd arrived for work at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in downtown Washington and suddenly came down with a splitting headache. So, I decide to walk to the CVS Pharmacy three blocks up Pennsylvania Avenue on 13th Street.

As I'm walking to the store I hear an explosion. I stop in my tracks thinking it must be construction...or at least that's what I hope. After leaving the store moments later, I see smoke billowing up in the area of the Pentagon.  I could smell it in the air. But again, I'm thinking construction--maybe someone went a little overboard.

When I got back to the office, my colleagues were hovered around a television set. Watching the news. The two towers were hit. The Pentagon--hit.

First, stunned silence and tears. Then, confusion. Running up and down the corridors to find out who knows what. Then--Rumors.

We heard that a 4th plane was circling Washington and that FBI Headquarters was a potential target. There had been rumors of a potential attack on FBI headquarters circling around based on some suspicious surveillance activity detected near the FBI and other government buildings in the months leading up to 9-11-2011. But nothing substantial--until that moment.

Some of my colleagues said run and get out of D.C. Others said they were going to stay and support the investigation--they knew one was coming and that it was going to be massive. As for me, my son was not even a  year old...and all I wanted in that moment was to see his face again.

Scared, pannicked, I got the hell out of there. But I returned the next morning and was assigned to work the counterterrorism task force. If you were a warm body and could put 2+2 together you were assigned to work it. In the days and weeks to come, the FBI would help the world put together the pieces of what had happened. And during the course of the investigation, they gave us all these pins in remembrance.

I cringe when I hear conspiracy theorists talk about what the FBI knew and didn't know. What the FBI could and couldn't prevent. There is not one person at the FBI who wouldn't have given their all to prevent that attack if it was at all in the realm of possibility. Not one person who slept a full night during the course of that investigation. So easy to criticize when you weren't there and you don't have a clue of what you're talking about. The U.S. Government consists of more than these stark white buildings spattered across the D.C. skyline, it's made up of people. American people. Patriotic people who work with purpose every day.

And in a strange twist, but perhaps not, I would spend five years working on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon not two years later supporting the Iraq Task Force and our soldiers in battle there. 

What I remember most about 9-11 was...it didn't matter whether you were white, black, Latino, purple, or green, democrat or republican, protestant, Jewish, or Catholic, or whatever.

On that day, we were all Americans. One people. Never more perfectly united...at least not in my lifetime. And nothing mattered more than protecting this country and keeping us all safe.

It's a feeling I'll always carry with me, no matter where I go or what I do. And it's why I'm so opinionated on this blog when it comes to matters of U.S. national security.

I'll never forget.

Now...back to writing the fun stuff. J.J. McCall Book 3 A No Good Itch is on the way. And it's really gooooooood.      

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 Check out my new release: The Seven Year Itch (A J.J. McCall Novel). 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Release Date Set --- A No Good Itch (A J.J. McCall Novel) - Book 3

Book 3 --- December 16, 2014

It's been a while, but not all for naught. I've been working like a crazy person to finish the third book in this 5-book series, and I've finally reached the point where I can set the release date.

I'm so excited for this new story, which picks up where the last book left off. It takes J.J. McCall and Tony to New York to find and dismantle the financial hub of the most insidious Russian intelligence sleeper network in U.S. history and stop a war between Russian and Italian organized crime factions. Six is sent to Moscow to save a Russian

I had so much fun writing this book because it delves into worlds I've worked in over my career in supporting RICO, Russian Intelligence and Russian Organized Crime operations/ investigations as well as my ongoing fascination with the Italian mafia in books and movies. So many twists and turns and an ending that promises to drop your jaw. My only hope is that you'll love reading the story as much as I did writing it.

New --- 3-Book SPYCATCHER Box Set

For new readers of the series, I'm also releasing a box set of the first three books of the planned five book series. This is for the many people like to get them and read straight through. So this new offering also will be available December 16th for your reading pleasure.

Back Cover Copy (In Progress)

In the Game of Espionage, Spy Takes Traitor 
J.J. McCall Takes Over

The FBI and Italian Mafia make strange bedfellows when a vicious Russian Organized crime figure, operating at the behest of Russian Intelligence, lands in The Big Apple. The Russian intelligence henchman, infamously known as Mashkov, avenges the death of slain a Russian sleeper agent and accidentally hits the son of an Italian crime boss, sending J.J. and Task Force Phantom Hunter to the streets of New York. This time they must stop a bloody crime war between Russian and Italian mob figures and dismantle the financial hub of the most insidious Russian illegals network in U.S. History. With only two weeks to shut down the network and restore peace, the Task Force must solve the case before the murderous Mashkov strikes at the very heart of the team. Meanwhile, Six's conscience is tested when he heads to Moscow to help capture a fugitive mole and save a rogue Russian defector carrying a trove of intelligence from the FSB.

If you'd like to read a sample chapter of the work in progress, check out this link here.


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Saturday, May 10, 2014


Hello there!

Writing can be a very cathartic process. When life...and the world are out
of a writer's control, one way we can regain control is to write our feelings in the pages of a book We can kill at will. We can torture. We can maim. And never do jail time...which really makes writing a wonderful thing.

In Book 3 of the J.J. McCall series, we pick up where we left off in Book 2. J.J. and Tony are on the way to New York to not only take down the financial hub of a Russian illegals network, but to stop a potentially bloody war between Italian and Russian organized crime. In a second subplot, if you will, I'm taking the readers on a somewhat cathartic journey to Moscow to catch an escaped spy who has run away with valuable U.S. intel and is threatening to take it to the press. Sound familiar? If not, it should. I will not state any names, but let's just say, the twists and turns the traitor's journey takes sure made me feel better! :)

In this scene (still in progress), we find out just how much damage U.S. National Security faces if J.J. and Tony don't take down the traitor before he gets in the hands of the Russians.

Chapter 1
Monday Evening – Alexandria Jail

The U.S. Attorney’s Office had stacked so many charges against Maddix Cooper, the next time he set foot outside of a prison would be to take the pine box dive into a six-foot pit. They hit him with the sticky ones too. Mandatory sentences for espionage, conspiracy, first-degree murder, and obstruction of justice. The necessary maneuvers had left FBI agents J.J. McCall and Tony Donato in a major predicament: How to convince a man with zero motivation to divulge information contrary to his best interest – without the use of torture. This question plagued J.J. as she and her co-case agent crossed through the barbed-wire fence into the detention facility. With just a few minutes before they were face-to-face with the lowest form of human in existence, the answer wasn’t coming fast enough. Until inspiration struck, they agreed that the bees-to-honey approach would be more effective than idle threats.
The stench of confinement, an unsettling combination of despair and delinquency, permeated the cushy looking fortress on the outskirts of Northern Virginia and turned J.J.’s stomach. She’d spent more time in this hell hole over the past month than she had in her entire career and she didn’t care if she never saw it again.
Her last visit was at the behest of her jailed boss, forcibly retired Supervisory Special Agent Jack Sabinski, framed for committing espionage by his Jezebel, the dead Lana Michaels. Jack summoned J.J. and pled for her help in proving his innocence. J.J. focused her mind on interrogating her newest conquest—Mr. Cooper. He’d already ratted out Gary Mosin, the second member of Lana Michaels’ network of Russian intelligence sleeper agents during their showdown on the Devil’s Rest. Mosin disappeared off the grid and had fled to Moscow, while Maddix, to J.J.’s delight, sat on the verge of becoming some inmate’s bitch.
Never had an interrogation been so pointless from J.J.’s vantage point. He’d already blabbed Mosin’s destination. No way in hell would Maddix divulge the details of Mosin’s plans to them. The only reason he confessed their connection in the first place was to escape the bullet from J.J.’s gun.  Tucked behind the bars of Virginia’s premier correctional facility for newly arrested spies, he awaited a conviction that would guarantee if he died twice he’d still have to serve forty years. As far as he knew, a plea bargain might eliminate one of many life sentences. He had little reason to reveal another word. Certainly not out of the goodness of the cavernous pit where his heart was supposed to be. 
The Sheriffs walked J.J. and Tony through a series of security doors until they reached the interrogation room. They left their overcoats with their escorts and tugged their suit jackets straight before entering. The sight of Kendel Phillips’ murderer shrouded in orange and shackled at the hands and feet gave J.J. a burst of pleasure she hadn’t felt since her early morning romp with Tony. She prepared to speak when an overwhelming scent jarred her senses—the smell of contemptible swine.
“Figured you two would show up sooner or later,” Maddix said, his arrogance soaking up the little remaining tolerable air in the room. He scratched the 5 o’clock scruff seeping from his squared jawline. Red cracks peppered Maddix’s penetrating steel grey eyes and Lipton-sized bags bubbled from beneath them. His first few nights behind bars had left him sleepless and worn, an inconsequential justice for a scumbag who offed his own fiancé in sacrifice to ensure the survival of his spy ring.
He locked his eyes on J.J.’s, all but ignoring Tony. “Hope you enjoy the view because I’ve got nothing to say to you…or your little partner here.” He jutted his chin toward Tony.  
“My, my, my,” J.J. said to Maddix.  A reddish blue bruise circled his eye and spread to the cap of his jaw. His gaze disintegrated under the weight of her glare and fell to his twiddling thumbs. “What an ugly fall from grace. Too bad, they don’t make an Armani perp suit. You used to wear him so well.”
Tony, positioned across from Maddix, scanned the rat’s face and looked at him with a pained expression. “Rough night, eh? Did they forget to put you in solitary? Looks like you’ve been mingling with the locals.”
   “Nothing I can’t handle,” he said with a shrug. Then he leaned back and spread his legs wide, his arms dangling at the sides. “So, this is the reason you came all the way to Shangri-La? To gloat?”
“No,” J.J. said. “Seeing you in this state is the only bonus I’ll need this year, but we’re here to discuss your comrade in arms, Hawk—Gary Mosin.”
Given Maddix was a former Secret Service agent, the usual good cop/bad cop routine would have zero impact. After all, he’d performed both roles quite well. The puppet show held no mystery and every string dangled upstage like Christmas tinsel. The little information he’d revealed to date wouldn’t help a dog find bone. Even with the odds stacked against her, J.J. had to try to take down Mosin before he found comforting shelter in the eager, waiting hands of Russia’s FSB.  He’d hatched a what appeared to be a fool-proof escape plan before defecting to Russia, but even the best laid plans had vulnerabilities ripe for exploiting.
“Newsflash, doll.” He forced out a roaring laugh, overplaying his weak position just a smidge. “You get nothing from me without a deal. I want immunity.”
“Immunity?” J.J. said, blinking in a rapid motion. After rolling her neck and eyes, she folded her arms over her stomach, lifted a single eyebrow, and prepared to kill any dream he’d concocted of shaking his bid. She’d arrived with the intent to take the path of least resistance, but his crassness suggested he sought the off-road experience. “First of all, my name is J.J. or Agent McCall, not doll. Secondly, if you ever deign to—,” she started. Tony stopped her, resting his arm on hers to signal he’d take over. Tony understood better than anyone that the bees-to-honey approach went out the door with the word “doll.” 
“Listen, you ain’t gotta make this difficult. We didn’t come here to pick a fight. Give us the information we need and you can go back to counting the tiles on the ceiling… or whatever it is you do on the inside,” Tony said with a put-upon calmness. He reached into his pant pocket, pulled out a pack of Marlboro 100s and a book of matches, and pushed them to the middle of the table next to a plastic ashtray. “Enjoy. Our treat. But if you choose to stay on the difficult route, we can reverse course anytime.”   
Maddix cupped his hands and, with no show of gratitude, pulled the offerings near, his shackles jangling with his every move. He folded back the foil on the corner of the pack and knocked the open end against his wrist until a cigarette emerged. Then his brow drew together, furrowed in confusion. “You don’t have a clue, do you?” he said, his gaze ping-ponging between J.J. and Tony before he shook his head. “That’s why you’re here. You don’t know!” With a slight air of cockiness, the corners of his mouth edged upward in a sneer as he eased back against the chair. “At the rate you’re going, The Washington Post will get the scoop before you do.”
“The fuck you talkin’ about?” Tony snapped, his gruff New York attitude released like the Kraken. His face reddened as the sound of his grinding teeth emitted a low hum. Maddix’s arrogance stoked his anger, affecting Tony as easily as J.J.’s. “What part of ‘you ain’t gotta make this difficult’ did you not understand? You’re already testin’ my patience. I’m promise you that’s not a smart move, not for someone in your position…which in...” he glanced down at his watch, “about an hour will be bent over for some booty bandit.”
Maddix took a slow drag from his cigarette and rested the cancer stick in the ashtray. He again shifted his cocky gaze between the two. “The great and powerful J.J. McCall. Just as in the dark as he is, huh? Man, I should tell both of you to go fuck yourselves. I don’t need you. You need me.”
Tony’s fist curled into a tense ball, and J.J. pressed her hand to his arm to dissuade him from any impulsive actions. Like an electric current coursing through her brain, the touch sparked an epiphany, brought to light an answer to the question she posed to herself earlier. The solution to her Maddix predicament was so simple. How do you make a man divulge information against his best interest?
You don’t.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Son of a Itch! -- It's an Award-Winning Novel

Yesterday I was so excited to get an email announcing that Son of a Itch - A J.J. McCall Novel was the winner of the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, a pretty incredible honor given the number of entrants they have in this contest each year. I'm in awe anytime I think of a panel of judges in the industry having multiple choices to select from -- and still choosing mine.

How did this all happen? Well, it may be an inspiration to some author out there reading so I'll share it. Four years when I wrote my very first novel ever, under a different name and in a different genre, I won this very same award. It's true. First time out of the gate. For years I had put off this writing dream because I didn't think I had the talent. After all, I didn't have a degree in English or any inkling about how to put a book together. All I'd done is write in journals and crack myself up with my relationship mishaps. But when I hit the big 4-0, I got over myself. Something about turning 40 gives you courage you never thought you had. So I sat down, wrote the book and self published after unsuccessfully trying to find a Big 6 home for it. In order to help my marketing efforts I decided to enter my book in this contest--The Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Found it online during a google search. I thought there's NO WAY I'm gonna win. No way. I'm writing a chick lit novel when chick lit is dying a painful death. No way could I win with this...AND this is my first novel ever. No way.

Four months later, right in the middle of negotiations with a Big 6 publisher for the book deal I thought I'd never get, I found out that I won the award---the same exact award that I won this year (4 years later). Not only that! Of the 60 category winners, my novel was selected as the 3rd Place Grand Prize Winner--the third best in the entire competition.

First book ever written. Unreal.

Fast forward two years. I start writing the J.J. McCall series and I'm seriously nervous about how the book will be received. I mean, it's a spy thriller -- which is like the opposite of anything I've ever written. It features an African American female FBI Agent who is a lie detector--and she "itches" when she hears a lie. This black woman chases and catches Russian spies. It features Italian organized crime, Russian organized crime, spies, CIA, all doing stuff inside the beltway that other writers haven't really talked about. A crazy mix of characters and very unique premise. I mean, someone would hear the pitch and think I was high when I came up with this. (I don't do drugs by the way.)

"Who in the world is gonna read this book?" I said to myself a million times. It's a mish-mash of genres that fits everywhere...and nowhere.

My agent didn't like it. He wanted me to drawer it. But in my heart I just knew I had to tell the story. So I wrote Book 1 but I never really gave it the marketing it deserved or entered it into any contests because of my own fears about how this story would be received.

The series was  now mine--forever. I'd turned down the one offer I received from a Big 6 publisher for the first book in the series. Had to do it myself. My way. What publisher would want to start with the 2nd book in the series?


Part of me said I should quit the series after the first book, but something in me said, "No! You wanted to be hard-headed and write the damn thing. Now, you've started it, you're gonna finish it. Even if just for ONE reader who wants to see the series through to the end."

So I wrote the second book and put my balls to the wind! I just let the story go. Went with every twist and turn, wherever it took me.  Wrote, edited, and published it. This was December 2013. The review are still coming slowly--mostly good but slowly. So I wasn't really sure how readers would feel about this book. All I knew was--I LOVED writing and I LOVED reading it.

One morning in mid-February I woke up out of my sleep, for no particular reason and quite literally out of blue. For some odd reason, the book awards flittered through my mind. I don't  know why. I had no intention of entering my novel at all. But something inside prodded me to get online at 5 am and check the deadline for entry. I looked and I had TWO DAYS to get my books in. I paid the fee via paypal and sent the books via priority mail. I had no inkling of winning at all but I figured what the heck. It's worth a try.

And go figure -- I won. I'm hugely honored, humbled, and in complete disbelief.

Long story short here is -- get over your fear and go with your gut when you truly believe in your work and you're passionate about it. Don't let anyone discourage you--not even YOU. You never know what success can come from just trying. Someone quoted Joyce Meyer to me yesterday when I shared this story and I'll paraphrase...

If you're afraid to do follow your calling -- then DO IT AFRAID.

That's better than not doing it at all.

You  never know...

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Monday, April 14, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Hop

Totally awesome YA Novelist Megan Bostic invited me to [read: roped me into] participating in a writer's blog hop discussing our writing process (please click the link to find out more about her writing process).  This blog hop was started by former literary agent Maya Rock, who used to work with Writer's House (I'm pretty sure I queried her with my women's fiction novels--as I queried EVERYONE).

Any who, in this game of writer's tag, today I'm "IT" and I get share some insights on my writing process. Next week you can visit the blogs of...

Aspiring Novelist Becky Kyle, a lover of four-legged friends and YA author who has written a really great book--Madame President--which is currently in search of a home with a worthy publisher. 
 Michael Dabney, an award-winning freelance journalist whose articles have appeared in numerous local and national publications, such as Indianapolis Monthly Magazine, the Indianapolis Business Journal, Ebony magazine and BlackEnterprise.com. The father of two adult daughters,  he lives in Indiana with his wife and dog Pluto.

Now...enough about them. It's me me me time. LOL (just kidding)

1) What am I working on? 

The J.J. McCall novels are part of a 5-book series. The first book is the Seven Year Itch, which introduces the characters and kicks off the chain of events that serves as a foundation of a series. In the wake of the arrest of Robert Hanssen, a source has told the FBI that there is another mole. When the story begins, the US Intelligence Community is about to give up on a 10-year search. When J.J. McCall’s sources start dropping like flies, she realizes not only is there a mole, but the mole is active. She is drawn into an unsanctioned mole hunt to find out who has compromised her assets, In Book 2 Son of a Itch, released in December, the mole hunt continues. They’ve identified one mole but find out there is an entire network…and J.J. has been assigned to lead the task force which brings the network down. 

Right now, I’m working on Book 3, A No Good Itch, which takes the mole hunt to New York. J.J. and the team are thrust in the middle of a potential war between Russian and Italian Organized Crime while they try to take down the financial hub of the mole network.  Once again, the book is filled with lots of twists and turns and an ending that will probably make my readers kill me. But it’ll be worth it.  

2)How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My novels are very loosely based on my 20+ year career in the U.S. intelligence community. I think most spy thrillers are not written by people directly from that world, so the kinds of stories I tell and the level of detail is going to be different from other authors. Also, the main character is based on a real life FBI agent with whom I worked for several years. She was a spy catcher in the Russian program who worked cases similar to the ones in the book. So, my books are very much based in reality. 

Moreover, these are not your typical spy thrillers. While the content (Russian intelligence) is very much like Daniel Silva or Tom Clancy, I have a totally different writing style and voice. I’m often told that I provide a lot of details which make the books feel authentic, but they are not so full of jargon that they are confusing, and that’s because I really wanted to write books that were more accessible—especially to female readers who often read lighter books. I really combine a balanced mix of romance, humor, mystery, suspense, and thrills to provide the readers with a great read.
 3)Why do I write what I do? 

I felt like the J.J. McCall story was one that had never been told before and I wanted to be the one to bring her story to light. You don’t see a lot of stories about female FBI agents catching spies operating inside the United States. You definitely don’t see an African American female doing that kind of work—even though I know from experience that women like her exist. Also, another interesting angle is that she is a human lie detector. I think this is really a first, for that “superpower.”   Also, with all the hubbub about NSA and CIA spying activities, I wanted to show readers this side of the FBI world—that there are thousands of spies sent to the United States (YES…even TODAY) to steal U.S. secrets. They target government employees around the world. The FBI, CIA, NSA, etc., serve a critical function in keeping this country safe. 

4)How does your writing process work?

There are days when my house is full of light and sunshine and the words flow like the coffee from my Keurig. My fingers can hardly keep up with all the ideas floating in my head and I can write for hours—10-12 hours many days—without hardly stopping to eat…or shower. For my romantic comedies, I’m a pantser through and through. But I’ve learned to outline for my spy thrillers because if I don’t, my stories are so complex that they will have more holes than the south side of the moon. 

Is it always so wonderful? 

Au contraire, mon frère! 

Most days, however, when I sit down to write I have to fight for every single word that goes on the page, but I make myself sit there and I make myself write. Sometimes I write the story out of order because another part of the story is coming to me a little easier than the part I had intended to write. But I don’t walk away without getting in 2,000 words per sitting. 

Do I sit down every day? Naaaah. Most days but not all days. I work as a technical writer/editor during the day. When I’m in the middle of a proposal working 10-12 hours days (sometimes more), I can’t shift my brain from writing about systems engineering plans to writing about J.J. McCall…while also taking care of my son. So, I’ve learned to get over the guilt, stop killing myself, and I allow myself the flexibility of writing whenever the brain space allows me to. Never does a week pass without me writing at least through the weekend though and a few hours on slower weeknights.  

I’m on my 7th and 8th books in my 5-career, so that’s not too shabby, eh? 

If you'd like to pick up one of my Awesome-tastic books, check on one of the links below. 

Blog: www.authorsdskye.com
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