MJ Monday: MJ’s Manuscript: BETRAYED BY THE MOON

Book 1 of the Service for Sanctuary Series, Betrayed by the Moon has a tentative publication date of June 26, 2019. I am super excited. I love the characters and their story.

Here’s an excerpt:

Chapter One

Ethan sat in his bright red truck—not the most unobtrusive vehicle for surveillance—and tried to stay awake. Not only had he been forced to volunteer for the mission, he’d been exiled to Minnesota to do so. Pro-lycan factions considered Congressman Bryant Peters a crucial swing vote on the treaties between the werewolves and the United States. His vote, rumor claimed, was on the fence. Ethan’s job was to convince him favoring the treaties was in his best interest.

Ethan wasn’t sure how to approach the mission. He’d researched the congressman’s itinerary, ending with him outside a regional office in Warwick, Minnesota trying to decide what to do next. Worry about bungling the mission played havoc with his body and his senses. He couldn’t blame being in a strange city. Too many years on the road with Toke Lobo and the Pack taught him every night was a new adventure.

A lot of people entered and emerged from the professional building. The congressman wasn’t the only person who rented offices at the address.

Something smelled . . . unusual. Out of place.

One woman stomped out the door. Ethan straightened in his seat, gaze riveted on her. She was clothed in the same black every other woman wore. Her neat pant suit gave her a professional appearance. Long brown hair was caught at her nape with a barrette, exposing her mating spot.

Her mating spot. The place Ethan would use his teeth to mark her when he claimed her. His penis swelled.

Ancient Ones, he was in Warwick to meet his mate. No wonder his heart raced. He wasn’t suffering from anxiety. Mating fever caused his agitation.

He gripped the steering wheel to keep from bolting from the truck, sprinting across the street, and tossing the female over his shoulder. He didn’t want human witnesses who wouldn’t comprehend the urgency quickening in his blood.

He had a mate. No longer single. No longer stuck on a senseless mission. He could mark her, take her back to Colorado, and let some other lobo deal with Congressman Peters.

A tall thin man followed her out of the building. The female kept walking. The man grabbed her arm to stop her.

The shock of the woman’s reaction pierced Ethan like a spike.

Her response was all he needed. He leapt from his truck and crossed the street before his heart could beat twice.

“Let go of her,” he snarled at the tall man.

“Mind your own business,” the man snapped.

“She is my business.”

“Selena, who is this guy?”

Selena. His mate’s name meant moon.

Her eyes, a brindle color not unlike a doe’s pelt, widened. Her nostrils flared. “He’s my . . . intended.”

Ethan hoped the other guy didn’t catch the bewilderment in Selena’s tone. Then her words registered. She’d recognized him the same way he’d known her. She was lycan. Not human. “Her fiancé.” He used a word the human mates in the pack used before they’d been marked.

The man dropped Selena’s arm. “Well, he puts a different spin on your—”

“He changes nothing,” Selena said.

The man’s blue eyes narrowed. Ethan had the impression he was peering through the man’s skull into the sky on the other side of his head.

Ethan cupped Selena’s elbow, and a shock of genetic recognition latched on to his bones. “Are you finished?”

She tensed beneath his touch. “Yeah”

“Come on.” Ethan steered her toward his truck.

“Tell your father I’ll be paying attention,” she called to the man on the sidewalk.

Ethan helped her climb into the cab of his truck before he took his place behind the wheel.

“Your arrival is inconvenient,” she said once he’d closed his door.

“Ethan Calhoun is the name. Welcome to my life.”

“Please tell me you aren’t here for me.” Desperation edged her words. Not the good kind of desperation, as in she couldn’t wait for him to claim her. “What are you doing in Varulv territory? Where are you from?”

One thing at a time. “Loup Garou, Colorado.”

“You’re not in Warwick to find me. Right?”

“I did not come to Warwick to find you, but seeing how we’ve met—”

“No.” She stared straight ahead, her gaze as rigid as the rest of her body. “You’ve found no one.”

Ethan sniffed. He hadn’t mistaken the earthy, spicy scent of werewolf. “My mating instinct says different,” he said.

“And mating instinct is never wrong,” she said in a low voice, as if reciting by rote. “Except I have no intention of mating. Nothing personal.”

MJ Monday: MJ’s Mansuscript: Service for Sanctuary Bk 1

Yes, I have a new book coming out in June. I don’t have an exact date yet, but when I do, I will be sharing it with my newsletter subscribers, then on social media.

The book is the fourth set in my Toke Lobo & the Pack universe and the first in trilogy called SERVICE FOR SANCTUARY.

Here’s a sneak peak:


“They’re breaking the treaty.”

Ethan Calhoun stopped twirling his tone bar between his fingers and clutched the cold steel in his palm. So, a governmental dilemma prompted Tokarz, pack alpha, to summon the pack to the Full Moon Lodge. Ethan had hoped Tokarz was going to announce a new tour for Toke Lobo and the Pack. The band hadn’t been on the road in months.

“What?” someone asked.

“The United States government wants to break the treaty with us.”

Ethan tightened his grip on the tone bar. Mitchell Jasper, the pack’s government liaison, slunk into the room with Tokarz. Ethan figured something bad was coming. The man looked . . . terrified.

“Washington no longer wants to offer sanctuary in return for our service,” Tokarz clarified, in case any werewolf in the room didn’t understand the implications of a broken treaty. As if the threat to their existence was a concept too complicated to be stated only once.

Or maybe shock made everyone slower than usual.

Ethan didn’t have the words to describe the sensation of melting from the inside out. Granted, he wasn’t descended from one of the original French families comprising most of the Loup Garou pack. The treaty cut with Thomas Jefferson wasn’t sacred to him as it was to the others. He was ignorant of his own family’s treaty. His grandfather remained mute about the pack he’d abandoned. Although Loup Garou had accepted the Calhoun family, Ethan was always aware he was an outsider.

“We need your help.” Jasper cleared his throat before he spoke. The words still emerged weak and diluted. It was a miracle the man didn’t piss himself.

“Why should we help you?” Tokarz asked.

“Most people don’t want the treaties abandoned.”

“Most people aren’t aware there are treaties,” Tokarz said in a voice so cold, Ethan expected the windows to frost over.

Why didn’t Tokarz ask Jasper to define we? Who wanted the pack’s help?

“Look.” Jasper channeled some testosterone from somewhere. “I know it’s a bad idea to break the treaties. I know how valuable having a . . . secret weapon of . . . your nature . . . is to the security of our country. I’m a patriot, and I am not going to let ignorance and short-sightedness destroy something costing the government nothing and still works.”

Tokarz smirked. “So. You want us to be a secret secret weapon?”

The phrase sounded ridiculous. Tokarz watched too many old movies.

Jasper cleared his throat again. “My department isn’t the only one trying to work around the new administration’s dictates. While I am in Loup Garou to officially tell you the treaties will be rescinded, I am also here, personally, to tell you our country has never needed you more.”

The man deserved points. He played the room perfectly. Every werewolf present, including Ethan, was deeply patriotic.

“Not to say there isn’t an element who would like to see you . . . your species eliminated.”

“Say what you mean,” Tokarz said. “Don’t use fifty-dollar words when nickel ones will do. Dead. Some folks want us dead.”

Only if a guy observed Jasper closely, as Ethan did, would he see the slight inclination of his head.

“We need to remind some members of congress who are privy to the agreements precisely what they know and why the treaties matter.”

“You mean threaten them.” Tokarz glowered.

“The treaties have served our nation for two centuries. Some influential people need to be reminded.”

“And on whose behalf would we be reminding them?” Tokarz asked the first question Ethan would have asked in his place.

“Your own.” Jasper lifted his chin, as if daring Tokarz to contradict him.

“Go on,” Tokarz said after several moments of a staring match. Jasper did not blink.

“I have a list of names. Men who have availed themselves of the special services guaranteed by the treaties, and who are currently in positions of power to help—maybe force—the preservation of the treaties.”

Maybe Ethan’s imagination spoke, but Jasper sounded stronger. Surer of himself.

“And how do you suggest we remind these people they owe us sanctuary?”

As Jasper laid out his plan—and his idea didn’t sound like much of a plan—Ethan’s gut churned. He was surprised he hadn’t snapped the tone bar he always carried in his front pocket. His fingers worked the steel hard enough.

Jasper’s so-called plan involved sending emissaries to meet with the politicians who had availed themselves of lycan services in the past. Ethan wasn’t clear on what the emissaries were supposed to do; every instinct he possessed shrieked Tokarz planned to send him. He’d worked on a couple missions the band had been involved in and was one of the few band members who was not yet mated. Mated males needed to stay put and protect their females.

After the meeting broke up, Tokarz asked Ethan to stay. The request prompted Ethan’s father and grandfather to also remain.

“My grandson is the sole survivor of my line,” Pa told their alpha.

“When my grandfather accepted you into the Loup Garou pack, you—”

“My agreement with the Loup Garou hasn’t changed,” Pa said.

Ethan exchanged a glance with his father, who didn’t seem any more in the know than Ethan was. Pa nursed his secrets; his family respected Pa’s reticence.

“My agreement hasn’t changed,” Pa repeated. “The treaty your ancestors signed with the government has nothing to do with me or mine.”

“My grandfather’s conditions for accepting you included honoring our ways. The treaty is a part of this pack’s heritage.”

“Has Ethan not participated in missions as required? The time you met your mate? The time a crazy man in Idaho threatened to overthrow the government? Ethan has fulfilled his generation’s obligation to your family.”

“I don’t have a choice.”

“You do. You’re alpha. You could send anyone.”

“You’re right. I’m alpha, and I’ve made my decision.”


A lopsided silver moon transformed the random snowflakes drifting around Ethan from white to glitter as he made his way home. His breath, puffing into the frigid winter night, sparkled where moonbeams brushed the warmer air.

The streets were empty despite lycans preferring the night. Everyone must have been celebrating they weren’t being sent on a fool’s errand.

The moon appeared lonely, as if she needed a song or two. Ethan considered obliging her.

Except he didn’t feel much like singing at the moon or into a microphone or even in the shower. He was unmated; naturally Tokarz volunteered him for a mission. The mated guys got to stay home with their females, while the single males were obligated to treaty fulfillment.

Even without a treaty.

Even if a lobo’s family wasn’t included in the treaty.

Even if the lobo wasn’t part of the pack.


The Name Tag Game

A long time ago, when I was an author in search of an agent, I had a bite from a somewhat local agent. I wanted written correspondence with her; she wanted to do everything over the phone. I researched her a little more deeply than I had originally, and discovered she was not an agent I wanted. Our styles were too different. I passed on her offer of representation.

Fast forward a several months. A friend of mine invited me to the Golden Network party at the RWA national conference.  I was sitting at a table with my clique when along came another woman who asked if she could join us. “Of course,” we said. Networking is always important.

Then I saw her name badge. It was the agent. You know. The one whose offer I’d turned down. I was mortified. One of my pals who knew the whole story surreptitiously slipped me her name badge. I returned the favor. So for the rest of the night, I was “Christine Wenger” and she was me.

I am blessed to have such great friends.

#UpbeatAuthors: The Road to Publication

The month’s #UpbeatAuthors topic is perseverance. When I think of perseverance, I think about how long it took me to write a book a publisher felt was worthy of publication. I think about other authors, who never gave up, whether it was to sign contracts with traditional publishers, small-press independent publishers, or who decided (sometimes after decades of rejections) to self-publish.

Members of my RWA chapter have come and gone. Several of us stuck around until the industry changed. The others must have been hobbyists, because they surrendered.

A few of my friends haven’t had contracts renewed. Or their lines have closed. Instead of giving up, they’ve sought new ways of getting their work to their readers. Or they’ve decided now is the time for me to reinvent my product the way I want it done. And they are succeeding.

Because they hung in there.




What I Need to Write

There are certain things I need around me when I’m writing.

I’m not talking about scented candles or mood music. I’m talking about other things that I must have when I’m seriously at work.

I need an insulated cup for my cold drink. This one is the one I use on writing retreats.

I need a box of tissues. I don’t know why, but I need a box of tissues everywhere. I’ve started bringing my own on writing retreats.

Lip balm. Again, I have lip balm in all of my purses, computer bags, my desk at home and my desk at day job. I never have to buy it because my sister is always winning it at golf tournaments and passing it on to me. I will confess, though, I tossed the pumpkin spice flavored one. I really gave it fair shot. It was revolting.

Hand cream.  Rubbing hand cream into my fingers also massages them, a must after a long day of typing.

And finally:

A small chunk of labradorite. This was given to me by a witch, who was rubbing it. She handed it to me and said, “You need this. It likes being rubbed.”  Deep within the gray, there is turquoise and gold, some of which you can see in the photo.. Labradorite it supposed to help with creativity. Also, some studies suggest that rubbing a stone will release calming endorphins into the body. All I know is that rubbing it between my thumb and forefinger helps me think.