Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Duty and Desire: Release

Officially, Duty and Desire isn't released until next week, on the 13th, but the print version is already available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and the Kindle/Nook versions are available for pre-order, so I figure I might as well jump up and show it off!

It's got a fantastic lineup of authors (including Lynn!) and it's been reviewed by freaking Publishers Weekly, who said:
...18 red-hot tales of men and women in uniform that range from WWII-era Russia to modern-day Afghanistan. While celebrating the valor, not to mention hotness, of those who serve their country, this anthology commendably covers darker issues, including post-traumatic stress syndrome and serious injuries, and love of all kinds, both straight and gay. ... This touching and realistic lineup is highly recommended.
How awesome is that, I ask you?!

So in celebration, how about a little excerpt from my story, "Dead On Her Feet"?
Jamie kept her eyes closed, even though the plane was descending and she couldn't sleep. Tired wasn't the word. Exhausted wasn't even the word. Dead on her feet came somewhere close. Non-essential travel, like finally coming home after two years in the God-forsaken desert, was slow. And frustrating. She'd caught a supply truck from her unit's camp that ran three hours into the city base, and then waited around for most of a day for a military transport plane that had room for her, which had flown eight hours to Germany. Then it was a bus to take her to the commercial airport in Munich, where not a single ticketing agent could be found who spoke English. She'd made do, though -- a soldier made do, even in some crazy backwater where a shovel-dug latrine was a luxury and female soldiers couldn't leave base without escort and even the kids you were there to help hated you for the uniform on your back.

But this was Germany, which was friendly and civilized and the only thing in the way was words. That was easy, even allowing for her being tired and discombobulated from travel already. She'd pulled out her Blackberry and loaded up an atlas and pointed and zoomed and pointed and zoomed until she'd finally made the crisply-dressed, ultra-polite young man understand her destination. Then it was commercial transport all the way, with its much more comfortable seats but its annoying security protocols (didn't they understand how goddamn hard it was to get in and out of combat boots?) and its annoyed civilians. Munich to London, London to New York, in and out of customs and security, retrieving and then re-checking her duffel every time she went through customs in a new country...

Thirty-four hours on the move, now, and counting, dead on her feet, but this was the last flight, and her ears were popping with the descent. Maybe another hour, now, and then she'd step out of the Atlanta airport into the lush thick humidity of proper Southern air, maybe even one of those summertime afternoon deluges and she would stand there and just let the rain soak her right to the skin. And then she'd take a bus a couple of hours down into Georgia, to a tiny little town that no one had ever heard of who hadn't been born there, and then it was only a couple of miles from the bus depot to Casey's mama's house. To Casey.

Eyes still closed, Jamie's hand stole up to her shirt pocket where she kept the most important things: her passport, and the receipts for all those planes and busses, and her ID cards, and the cash she'd drawn to pay for food... and the picture of her and Casey at his sister's wedding two years back. She'd looked ridiculous in that bridesmaid's dress with her fresh-from-basic close-cropped hair and those mannish muscles on her bare shoulders, but Casey had looked so very, very fine in that tux, and he'd pulled her close while they danced and told her she was the most beautiful woman there, and they'd snuck off down to the basement and almost not made it back in time to see the cake cut, and luckily the tux jacket had covered where she'd got lipstick on his cummerbund.

She didn't take it out, not here on the plane where everyone around her would be able to see her face, but she didn't need to. She'd looked at it so many times back in her sweltering bunk back at camp that she had it memorized. It was the image she called up in her mind's eye when she was trying to ignore hostile allies and murderous opponents, drinking two gallons of water a day just to keep her sweat glands from going into revolt, her teeth crunching on the nasty grey dust as she got into it yet again with those clowns from HQ who couldn't comprehend why shit kept breaking and she began to wonder if "back home" had ever even existed or if it had all been some kind of elaborate mirage or heatstroke hallucination.

I'll be the first to admit that this isn't the best story in the bunch -- it's a light, sweet aperitif or sorbet of a story; the other stories have more meat and spice and kick to them. Still, I quite like it. I like its rhythm, I like the way I managed to capture the way she's so tired she's babbling even in her head, and I like the little sparkles of humor and frustration that make it feel real to me.

And the other stories, with their meat and spice and kick, are even better. Go check it out!

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