Don’t miss the “Writing Of” and Reading Sample below!
Equality doesn’t come easily, and Ben Blair’s Gladstone pack is about to pay the price.
Opposed to inclusion, Lyle Wilburn is determined to eradicate gay shifters and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Is this the end of Ben’s dream or does Luna have something else in mind?
Amid plans for self-defense, Gladstone continues to thrive even as Ben’s Second, Nolan Sweet, is rejected by his mate. As he and his packmates prepare for an epic battle, Nolan’s heart aches for his beloved in the face of an uncertain future.
This second book in the series is packed with all the romance, drama, intrigue, and action you’ve come to expect. Welcome back old friends and exciting new characters as you follow the lives, love, and loss of the Gladstone Shifters in TRAITOR’S MOON!
“Such a good love story! The complex shifter life is fascinating. The love and devotion to family is strong and magical. The HOT sex is a bonus. Thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend!”
“A fast-paced, page turning story, with plot twists, romance, and action. Traitor’s Moon is a book hard to put down. The main characters are brave, loyal, bold, humorous and very, very sexy. Howling fun sequel!”
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The Writing of Traitor’s Moon
Traitor’s Moon was easier to write, in some ways, since the foundation and main characters were already established. The plot was a natural progression of what took place in the first book, so ultimately I knew where I wanted things to go. Getting there turned out to be far more difficult than I anticipated!
Nolan, the primary love interest in this book, finally meets his mate but they are forced to remain apart for much of the story. Figuring out how to create this tense situation and integrate it with the rest of the action was something of a nightmare, and I had to replace the original plot points with something quite different. It all worked out in the end, and though readers will never know about the cool twists and turns I had cooked up, letting go of my original ideas was disappointing.
With an upcoming battle and lots of babies on the way, I decided to add a pack doctor to the Gladstone family. She was supposed to be just another minor character, but her importance grew as the story unfolded and I chose to expand her presence in the book significantly. Not only did I name her after my mother, but she finds her mate – another minor character who will have a greater role in book three of the series. Anyway, her expanded presence was one of the reasons my plans for Nolan and his mate went off the rails. It took a while to figure out how to keep all the good stuff without a major re-write.
Adding new characters, or expanding the role of established ones, is a delicate balance. Gladstone is a growing pack, so a mix of new and familiar faces is expected. While it’s crucial to remain engaged with the MC’s, new blood can make for lots of interesting action and sub-plots, and this is one of the things I really enjoy as an author. As the characters come alive and interact, I get to shape their experiences and bring in unique personalities, including all their baggage.
One of the most difficult and emotionally challenging things I had to do with this book was kill off some of my characters. Reality demanded the good guys take a hit this time, and I had to decide who and how they were going to die. Getting rid of some of the villains was kind of fun but planning the death of the others was neither pleasant nor easy. There’s a good reason I have a box of tissues by my computer, as the action brought me to tears more than once. It’s true, I did NOT kill off any of the MC’s, but the battle scene and it’s aftermath was heart wrenching.
On the lighter side, I had a tremendous amount of fun reuniting Jack with his mentor’s journals and introducing a newly discovered True Elder in Alaska. Both of these sub-plots became significant additions to the story, and the research required was both interesting and enjoyable. While these sections lengthened the book considerably, they brought needed scope and breathing space from the drama going on everywhere else.
The repartee between Nolan and his mate was something I really hadn’t planned to include. Once the two of them were finally brought together, it was Nolan’s smart-ass personality which made the dynamic between them come alive. The zingers, name calling, and pranks set them apart from their packmates and injected a bit of harmless fun. Since I’m always looking for ways to insert humor in my stories, this was a welcome addition and hoot to write.
There were a number of issues at play which made completing Traitor’s Moon difficult. It took almost eight months before the manuscript was finished, and while that’s far too long between books, it couldn’t be helped. I was under a great deal of stress at work which left me burned out and lacking the time or energy to write. I also completed a major move last fall, putting me further behind and exacerbating my lack of progress.
Amid the plot changes, work drama, and move, I was blessed with a constant source of encouragement – one of my beta readers. She was not only willing to read the manuscript one chapter at a time, but freely shared ideas (many of which I ended up using) and kept my spirits up when I wanted to quit. I’m not sure the book would have happened without her, so I just want to say how grateful I am for all she did. (I love you TMC!)
Lake Gogebic State Park, near White Pine, Michigan
Adam Sheppard’s phone vibrated with the anticipated text—“ETA five minutes”. He growled in satisfaction and sat back to wait for the man he’d come to recruit. The car was located in a public lot at the far end of the park, some twenty-five miles south of White Pine. Far enough from the man’s pack to negate the risk of being scented, yet close enough to return him without an extended absence.
Sheppard acknowledged this operation was risky, as Lou Harmon, Sheppard’s Second and the man in charge of his elite team, bluntly pointed out when he’d first suggested it. Well, sometimes risk was necessary to get what you wanted, and everything possible had been done to minimize the danger. Sheppard knew it would be worth it all to have someone inside Lyle Wilburn’s new organization, and the information already gathered suggested Garrett Young was the ideal candidate.
What Sheppard really wanted was an informant in Wilburn’s inner circle, but the man was hellishly good at surrounding himself with tight-lipped loyalists. The best he could manage at this point was to target one of the pack Alphas Wilburn trusted, which led directly to White Pine, an out-of-the-way pack in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Randy Blocker, White Pine’s small-minded Alpha, made his anti-gay position clear. It cost him members in good standing, but he was one of Wilburn’s most vocal supporters and more likely to be entrusted with confidential information.
Garrett Young, as chief enforcer for the White Pine pack, was in a unique position to hear about such information and Sheppard hoped to convince the man to provide it. Young was ex-military, unmated, apparently straight, and very good at his job. By all indications he was uncomfortable with his Alpha’s aggressive departure from the inclusive policy introduced last year. He was also disciplined enough to keep his opinions to himself and obey the chain of command – exactly what Sheppard needed.
Garrett’s continuous string of aggravated growls demonstrated his annoyance at being kidnapped and stuffed into an unmarked SUV by a group of four unknown shifters. He’d been happily going about his business, enjoying a run by himself on his day off, when he suddenly picked up their scent. Quickly surrounded, they “escorted” him back to his vehicle, ordered him to shift, dress, and come with them. His questions were ignored, being told only that someone wanted to speak to him privately and he would not be harmed.
They were good, whoever they represented, and treated him with respect. Though he was positioned in the middle of the back seat, he could see and scent where they were going, and their destination soon became clear. Lake Gogebic, about a half hour south of White Pine, was a long sinuous body of water with a public park at the far end. It would, he thought, be an ideal place to meet this mysterious someone who’d gone to so much trouble to talk to him.
What he couldn’t figure out was what someone would want with him. He was a simple enforcer of an unimpressive pack on the backside of nowhere. The only excitement to come his way recently was the split of shifter packs into two groups. Could this be the reason someone was interested in him? But again, why? He had no authority, power, or influence over the political goings-on, and possessed no information anyone would want.
Personally, he supported Council President Sheppard’s inclusion policy and was hoping even packs like his would eventually embrace it. Unfortunately, his Alpha was stubbornly opposed to it and withdrew his allegiance and support from the American Shifter Council and moved to the Traditional Packs of America (TPA) under Lyle Wilburn. Though he kept his opinions to himself, Garrett was unhappy with the recent split, and lacked respect for Wilburn and his followers. Alpha Blocker was apparently in Wilburn’s good graces, but Garrett didn’t see how any of this would make him a target of someone’s interest.
As suspected, the vehicle entered Gogebic County Park and wound its way to a remote section of parking lot near the boat launch. They passed a few cars on the way in, and Garrett noted one man fishing near the dock and another with a camera shooting wildlife. Both, he was sure, were shifters. They approached a nondescript black SUV with one person in the driver’s seat and another in the back, then pulled into an adjacent parking spot and shut off the vehicle. The uptight goon sitting next to him turned and firmly gripped Garrett’s bulging bicep.
“Don’t try anything you’ll regret, Mr. Young. He only wants to talk to you and then we’ll take you back where we found you.”
Garrett pulled his arm away and growled at the ruggedly handsome, green-eyed Beta.
“What if I don’t like what he has to say?”
The goon simply nodded, reveling nothing with his perfect poker face.
“You can settle that with him. Let’s go.”
Garrett was escorted to the other vehicle where the back door was opened for him. As he got in, the driver got out, leaving him and the mysterious someone alone in the back seat. The man was a middle-aged Alpha whose scent seemed vaguely familiar, but Garrett couldn’t quite place it until he took off his dark glasses.
“President Sheppard?! What’s all this about, Sir?”
Sheppard took a moment to size the man up. Young was well-built, even for an enforcer, with wide shoulders, a thick chest, and powerful legs. His buzz-cut sandy hair and blue-grey eyes were offset by a “don’t mess with me” attitude and a certain sadness to his face. Whatever happened in his past had given him a hard edge and a palpable level of mistrust which might actually prove useful. Sheppard breathed in the man’s scent and found him genuinely surprised, and though outwardly respectful, angry and on edge.
“I’m sorry, Garrett, but there was no other way. Our time is short, so I’ll cut to the chase. Lyle Wilburn is a traitor to his own people and I intend to stop him. To do it, I need someone on the inside who can pass along helpful information. I believe you’re the man for the job. Interested?”
Garrett realized he was gaping at Sheppard in surprise, yet he managed to at least close his mouth. It took a moment for the words to sink in and he shook his head in disbelief.
“I kept asking myself the whole way here what someone might want with me, but I still don’t get it, Sir. What kind of information do you think I might have? I’ve sworn my loyalty to Alpha Blocker, and you want me to betray him. Why?”
This was the moment, Sheppard realized, on which the entire plan hinged. He was going to have to answer very carefully or Garrett would never consider helping him.
“A lesser man wouldn’t even ask such questions, Garrett, which is one reason I need you personally for this task. You are a man of character and principle and know where your duty and loyalties lie. Aside from all this, which I sincerely believe, you happen to be in the right place at the right time.
“Our people are undergoing a serious schism which could rip apart the carefully crafted and concealed lives we live. You’ve heard the saying “United we stand, divided we fall”, I’m sure. Well, it’s true and Wilburn has decided to use the pretext of gay rights to seize power and a following for himself. We have every reason to believe he was behind the murder attempts last year of our only known True Elders, as well as myself and my mate. We are certain he is determined to try again, which potentially puts every gay shifter’s life at risk.
“He must be stopped, and my team and I are too well-known to get anywhere near him. In order to beat Wilburn, we need to know of his plans in advance, and you are in a position to hear about them long before any of us will.”
Sheppard stopped speaking, allowing his words to have their intended effect. Garrett’s scent revealed he was thinking carefully now but doubting whether or not he could do what Sheppard was asking. It wasn’t an easy thing to switch loyalties, hiding your true self from people who might simply kill you if they discovered your duplicity. Along with the danger came the uncertainty of his future. Would he ever be safe? Could he live with himself when all was said and done?
Without saying a word, it seemed Sheppard accurately guessed Garrett’s thoughts, gave a quick nod, and continued speaking.
“Don’t second guess yourself, son. If my information about you is correct, you don’t have any particular love for Lyle Wilburn or your Alpha, and in fact disagree wholeheartedly with their position. If you choose to work with us your loyalties would remain with innocent shifters everywhere and with our people as a whole. You and I both know men like Wilburn and Blocker don’t deserve blind loyalty, especially when they’re wrong. Lives are at stake and our people are vulnerable. We need you, Garrett.”
It irked him he could be read so easily, yet everything Sheppard said was true. If he refused to cooperate with the plan, he would have nothing to show for himself down the road except shame and regret. The decision really wasn’t difficult, even if he needed more details on how it was all supposed to work. He raised his head and looked Sheppard in the eye.
“I’m in, Sir. Where do we start?”
Quickly, Sheppard explained what type of information he was looking for, how to contact him, and shared several short texts Garrett could use in emergencies. The remainder of their discussion was meant to reassure him regarding his future.
“Whatever happens, I will do everything in my power to protect and provide for you. I have a number of places where you can be relocated and live a full and comfortable life. No one else ever needs to know who you really are or what you’ve done if it comes to that. We’ve got your back, son.”
Sheppard handed over a secured phone and a number Garrett needed to memorize on the way home. They shook hands and Sheppard knocked twice on the window to alert his men. Garrett returned to the first vehicle, accompanied only by a driver and the same “goon” who sat with him on the trip down. As they left the parking lot the guy introduced himself as Lou Harmon; and though he remained starchy, he was willing to answer many of Garrett’s questions. By the time they dropped him off, his mind was racing with the massive change his life underwent in the space of an hour. It certainly wasn’t what he expected when he got up this morning.