Friday, 7 September 2012

Welcome Anitra Lynn McLeod!

For the finale of this party, I'm delighted to welcome the very kick-ass Anitra Lynn McLeod! Before a highly intriguing excerpt, Anitra has something to say about the sheer awkwardness of kick-ass heroines... Welcome Anitra!

Writing the kickass heroine isn’t the easiest thing.  Basically, they’re feisty and they really don’t want to do what the writer tells her to do.  I had Thief fully plotted and here comes Kraft in the very first scene with a modified Katana.  I wanted her to have a laser gun but no.  She said a blade made more sense in tight quarters.  Sure, she turned out to be right, but that was just the beginning of me learning that I might be typing the words, but the character had taken on a mind of her own.

What made Kraft interesting to work with was she was one hell of a powerhouse.  There was very little she couldn’t do.  But getting to that point had cost her.  Dearly.  She had crippling scars that no one could see.  There’s nothing more heartbreaking than a strong woman who still has the ability to cry.

Letting other people see that pain was something she simply couldn’t allow, until she finally trusted someone enough to let him in.  After all the powerful men who had chased after Kraft failed to win her heart, it was Jace Lawless, with his soft-spoken ways and his fierce honor, who was able to break down the walls and capture her mind, body, and soul.

And you think I would have learned my lesson about writing kickass women but no.  I turned right around and wrote Remarkably Average Mary.  She was even more dangerous than Kraft because Mary looked like a waif but she was hiding an arsenal in her skull.  She damn near managed to cripple an empire that the entire IWOG Government couldn’t breach.

Then came Jynx Brennan, who wouldn’t lift a finger to hurt a soul.  As a doctor, her oath was to “first do no harm.”  And she swore to cling to that even when her entire world was crumbling around her.  Even when she was accused of a horrific crime, she never lost her capacity to care, to be compassionate, even to the man who was determined to take her to her public execution.  In my eyes, that made her kickass.  She refused to compromise who she was even when everything and everyone was against her.

But I digress.  See?  They did it to me again.  I was going to write a blog about the triumphs and tragedies of writing the kickass heroine and all three of them had to pipe in and change things.  Sigh.  Basically, I think writing them is wonderful fun, just be prepared for them to take over.

Excerpt from Thief:

“Tell your crew to stand down.” Kraft lifted her hands to her shoulders.

“I thought you said you knew this guy.” Jace lifted his hands into the crisp, dry air of planet Windmere. It would have been a beautiful autumn day if not for the thirty men with Slim Shot rifles surrounding them. “You said we could sell the IWOG transport goods here without the hassle of Trickster or his ilk.”

Their reception on Windmere went splendidly until they’d opened the hold of Mutiny and displayed their ill-gotten goods. Now they stood on the cargo bay ramp with their hands up.

“That’s what I thought.” Kraft flashed him a wan smile.

“We’ve got enough firepower pointed at us to chew away the side of the ship in two seconds.” Jace had never seen so many bright barrels all pointed his direction.

“I can see that, Captain.”

“Michael ‘Overlord’ Parker, a mythical figure who just happens to be your friend.” Jace shook his head but stopped when the guard below tensed. “I’m an idiot for believing you. I’m thinking the IWOG owns this planet.”

“Look at them, they’re not IWOG.” Kraft rolled her eyes and flicked her chin to the men below. “Michael told his henchmen to greet us like this. As to why…” Her voice trailed off and she shrugged.

Jace noticed the men below didn’t dress in uniforms, and certainly not in IWOG uniforms, but most of them wore light-colored fabrics and sturdy boots that matched the high-desert colors of the land surrounding them. The only thing they had in common was their rifles and the intensity in their eyes.

“I honestly don’t know what in the Void is going on, but we’re dead if you don’t order the whole crew to stand down.”

Jace considered. He’d surrendered once to Kraft and it’d turned out okay. If he didn’t surrender to her supposed friend, he would be responsible for killing everyone.

With a longsuffering sigh, he said, “This is Captain Jace Lawless ordering the crew of Mutiny to stand down.”

“I’m sorry, Captain,” Kraft whispered.

Out the side of his mouth, he whispered back, “Since I say that so much, I’m going to have that phrase tattooed on my chest. That way, I can just rip open my shirt and make this faster for everyone.”

To his amazement, Kraft laughed, really loud. She actually doubled over and dropped her hands on her knees to steady herself. When the men below tensed, she again stood straight and lifted her hands, but she kept on chuckling.

“You surprise me more and more, Captain Lawless.”

A man with dusty blond hair approached Kraft. “Remove your weapons.”

Kraft dropped her hands to her hips. “Only if you say please.”

The man lifted his rifle to her face.

“Golly-gee, Duster, with your gun up my nose, I guess I’d better obey.” She unbuckled her belt and tossed it aside. A guard grabbed the belt of weapons from the ramp and backed away. Jace noticed he never took his eyes off her.

“Remove your boots,” Duster said.

Kraft complied, but chucked her boots at him. He sidestepped and kicked them to another guard.

“Socks too.”

Kraft pulled her socks off, wadded them up and tossed them into the circle of men below. They rippled away like water in a pond. “No bombs, boys, and they’re clean.”

“Remove your pants.”

Jace startled at the command, but Kraft laughed.

“How about some bump-and-grind music?” As she peeled off her black dextex pants, she uttered notes to enhance her show. She did it in jest, mocking, but Jace found her display provocative nonetheless. He couldn’t believe he was getting turned-on watching her in the midst of such a dangerous situation.

Kraft twirled her pants above her head and tossed them into the crowd of men. They backed away then cautiously approached her discarded clothing.

Jace was horrified that she was being ordered to strip in the company of nothing but men, yet Kraft laughed as she did it, making a crude joke of everything when he didn’t find the situation at all amusing. He wanted to protect her, but had no idea how.

“Now your shirt.” Duster gave the order without a bit of leering in his gaze. In fact, he seemed afraid, not titillated.

Jace assessed the guard and realized they were afraid of not only her, but her clothes. Did they think she had weapons hidden in them? They must, by the way they were behaving.

Button by button, she undid her shirt then slipped it off her shoulders. She spun it over her head then tossed it into the crowd below. They all backed away and the black dextex landed on the tarmac with a fwump. Standing in nothing but a pair of lacy black panties and bra, her creamed-coffee skin glistening in the sunlight, she didn’t seem to be embarrassed, intimidated, or even slightly perturbed, not with that bright smile on her face.

“If you don’t stop this, Duster, I’m going to die of amusement.” Hands on hips, absolutely unfazed by her undressed state, she further offered, “You’d have to cut off my arms, legs and hair to render me weaponless.”

Duster’s right eye twitched to a narrow slit. “You talk like her.”

“What do you mean I talk like her?” Confusion replaced the amusement on her face.

“Kraft’s dead. We have her ship.”

Whisper? My ship is here?” Kraft cast her intense gaze around the tarmac.

Jace heard the longing in her voice.

Duster checked her forward momentum by lifting his rifle.

Kraft held her place. “So that’s what this is all about. Michael thinks I’m an imposter?”

“That’s about the speed of it.”

“You really think I’m not me?” Kraft advanced again.

Jace wanted to yank her back, but didn’t dare.

“You know I’m me, Duster.” She winked. “You know I’m not into faking it.”

Jace lifted a brow at her comment. Just what kind of relationship did she have with Duster, not to mention the mythical Michael?

“We’ll see.” Duster snapped his fingers.

Kraft dropped to her knees.

Jace knelt beside her and she slumped into him. She yanked a dart from her neck and tossed it aside. Her eyelids fluttered. “I’m so sorry, Captain. This is all my fault.”

Before he could respond, Duster jabbed his rifle into his chest and bellowed, “Back off.”

Jace didn’t have much of a choice but to comply. He stood and backed away from Kraft. Clad in racy undergarments, profoundly beautiful in her vulnerable state, she lay panting slowly on the cargo bay ramp.

Duster snapped his fingers. A guard bigger than Heller stepped forward and flipped Kraft over his shoulder.

Jace was ordered to remove his weapons and his boots. He was relieved that he didn’t have to strip down to his skivvies like Kraft, but he panicked when they bound his hands and ankles, then blindfolded and gagged him. He didn’t know what to expect, but so far, things weren’t going well.

Contest: What do you think makes everyday women kickass?  Make a comment to win a copy of any book off my back list!

Anitra's contest will close at midnight tonight and the winner will be announced tomorrow on this thread.


  1. Everyday women are kickass just by doing the everyday stuff that needs to be done. Women are remarkable in that they can work outside the home and still make a home for their families. I've met a lot of women who do this daily and for them it's a matter of course. If they don't do it, who will? So they do. They are all my heroes!

  2. I love it when tjere are book of women kicking butt and taking names.

  3. Hi everyone! I agree, Zita. Women have to be strong to get everything done in a day!

    And me, too, Jenny. Reading strong female characters is one of my favorite things. :)

  4. Everyday women kick ass every day. You do it because you have to. No one else will. Even if you fall apart a little when no one is looking, What needs to be done will be done.

  5. Hi dusty! And yep, that's what we do. We might cry but we wipe our eyes and get on with it because we know other people are relying on us. :)

  6. Hi there, Anitra! Thanks for joining the party - sound advice in your post :). Your very different heroines sound equally fascinating! These books are all part of a series, yes? Are there going to be more of them, or have you moved on to other things?


  7. Doing anything for their family


  8. Hi Marie! I'm not sure on more for the series. So many books to write and so little time! :)

    Hi bn100! I agree--that makes women amazing. :)

    1. I know the feeling, Anitra! What are you working on just now?


    2. I am working on m/m romance right now. I wrote a f/m/m and just really enjoyed the interplay between the two men so much that it spawned several series. :)

      What are you working on, Marie?

    3. I can barely remember! Life has been taking over recently, but next week I'll be getting back to it, hopefully! It's a sequel to the book that's just come out, the second in the SERAFINA's series - much ass-kicking in a different sort of a way...

      Sounds good, Anitra! Good luck with them! I don;t think we've ever had an M/M party here... hmmm...


  9. You know, this is a great conversation! I've had a pretty difficult week, but tonight you've got me feeling more kick-ass than kicked :). (Metaphorically, in both cases, I hasten to add!). Look forward to catching up in the morning!


  10. Women amaze me. Truly. With all we have to do, we manage to do a little extra every day. Get some good sleep because like all women, you've no doubt earned it! :)

  11. I think an everyday woman is kick-ass when she refuses to become a victim. No matter what life throws at her, she is ready to deal with it.

  12. Hi Carol! I couldn't have said it better myself! Regardless of the circumstances, a true kickass woman doesn't ever even think of herself as a victim. Crappy things happen and she just keeps right on moving toward her goals. :)

  13. It's how most women end up juggling so many roles and know it's just part of life :) As others have mentioned, many of us do it all (or a lot of it) because we can or have to, and that's pretty incredible.

    Hats off to all of us :)

    And you authors are even cooler, Anitra and Marie!

  14. Fedora, you wouldn't say that if you saw the state of my house :). But yes indeed, hats off to the everyday ass-kickers!

    Anitra, thanks so much for joining us and being such an excellent guest of honour! I'll be back in a moment with your winner...


  15. And Anitra's winner is...


    Congratulations, Carol! I already have your email address, since this has been a lucky party for you! I'll pass it on to Anitra.