This has been a strange, wonderful and stressful month.
My very first romantic suspense, Shadow Wolf, is releasing in a little over two weeks and that means that some early reviews are in. I got a wonderful review from RT Book Reviews. Four and a half stars.
Reviewer Susannah Balch said, “Jenna’s story is just flat-out good.”
Now that is the wonderful part.
Reading that really made my day. Also making my world a little happier is the wonderful, unexpected warm weather and spectacular fall colors.
The stressful part was that my third book needed a rewrite. I worked very hard to pick up the pace as my editor requested. The results are a much better story, but revisions did put be a little behind on the draft for book #4 Native Born. To prevent me from sitting for hours on revisions, I improvised a stand-up desk by tipping my monitor back against the wall and moving my mouse to the top of the desk. I also listen to my story using a text-to-speech program so I wear headphones. This all makes me feel a little like a DJ instead of a writer.
Does your postman know a little too much about you? Mine does. But I have him fooled with one thing. He thinks I’m a fervent reader of Harlequin romance because I get giant boxes from Harlequin and naturally assumes that I am reading the contents. I didn’t tell him that the box contains 48 copies of the same book and that I am not really that fast a reader. This week he brought me a smaller box of odd cardboard. That signals the contents contain my UK editions. Inside this box was my first Intrigue bundled with another title. You know they have never picked my cover for a bundle? It is always the other authors cover. What’s up with that? They also included a large print hardcover copy. I am always happy to see these. But this time the enclosed book was not mine. So that’s the strange part. My postman delivering a box of my books to me that are not mine. Strange.
Jenna Kernan talks about a unique law enforcement unit – the Shadow Wolves.
How did you first hear about the Shadow Wolves?
Well, I knew I wanted to write a romantic suspense series featuring four Apache Brothers and assumed that I would set the stories in an imaginary reservation in Oklahoma, Texas or Arizona. So I started reading all I could about the Apache people. I began with history then geography. I watched YouTube videos of parades and rodeos and ceremonies. I visited tribal websites and Googled news articles about both Apach. When I expanded my search to include Native Americans and law enforcement, I stumbled on the Shadow Wolves. Much to my own surprise, I decided I needed to feature the Shadow Wolves in book #1, also titled SHADOW WOLF, and set the first story on the border.
What are the Shadow Wolves?
The Shadow Wolves is a specialized unit which is a branch of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Interestingly this unit was established because of the indigenous people (the Tohono-O’oham) insisted that the law enforcement allowed on their lands have “at least one-fourth Native-American ancestry.” (Reference: Wikipedia/ShadowWolves) As a result the Shadow Wolves became the first law enforcement unit allowed on the O’odham land.
What is ‘Cutting for Sign’?
Cutting for sign is an expression that means working back and forth over a territory in search of subtle indicators of the passing of man or animal. These indicators might be an indentation in the sand, a bent or broken branch. A tire track. The best trackers can extract a great deal of information from these signs. The Shadow Wolves mission is to find and apprehend illegal immigrants but most particularly drug traffickers who often use mules (humans who carry drugs) to make the dangerous and unlawful crossing.
I have two! The younger Cosen brothers, Kino and Clay are both working with the Shadow Wolves when the first story, SHADOW WOLF, opens. Kino is the best shot of all the Cosen brothers and he is on a mission of vengeance to find the man who murdered his father. He has the killer in his sights when a woman, stumbles into his shot leaving him with the dilemma–Take his shot or save the girl?
Here’s a video with more about the shadow wolves.
Here’s a link for Chapter One of my story SHADOW WOLF, book #1 in the APACHE PROTECTOR series.
Here’s the buy link for SHADOW WOLF
The APACHE PROTECTORS series arrives in two months
Family of four Apache brothers and their grandmother search for their missing younger sister who, at the age of three, was taken in the foster care system and has been lost for nine years.
He wanted justice. For his family. For her.
Elite tracker Kino Cosen is hunting for the drug lord who murdered his father. After a decade of searching, he’s finally got the Viper in his sight—until a woman gets in the way. Now Kino has a new lead. Aid worker Lea Atlaha has seen the Viper face-to-face…and lived.
But now Lea’s a target. And while Kino thinks he’s protecting her because she can help him get justice for his father, he soon realizes that she’s not just another witness. As the Viper moves in for the kill, Kino has to choose between his need for vengeance, the traditions of his tribe and the woman he has grown to love.
The Warrior’s Redemption
Clay Cosen wants nothing more than to put his dark past behind him, but his work impounding free-roaming cattle is creating new enemies. Rancher Isabel Nosie has her own reasons to mistrust him. She loved him once, and she’s never forgiven him for her fiancé’s death—a death she thinks Clay could have prevented. When someone starts killing her cattle, though, she has no choice but to turn to the best tracker on the reservation.
Soon, Izzie herself is in danger, and Clay’s attempts to protect her and clear her name make him a target—and a suspect. Clay risks losing everything: the respect of his family and his tribe, and the woman he’s never stopped loving.
Have you ever dreamed for the impossible?
My heroine, Snow Raven, is a Western historical character of the Crow nation who feels trapped by her role as a woman. She does not like preparing hides, preparing meals and preparing lodges. All she wants is to hunt and raid like her brother and the father who raised her. In short, she wants to be a warrior. Now this would be impossible in many cultures. But many Native American tribes were more tolerant of differences. A man could take on the care-giving role of a woman or stay home and paint medicine symbols on shields and lodges. And, rarely, a woman did decided to follow the way of the warrior. The question is how will she become a warrior and earn her place among the brave protectors of her tribe especially after she is captured by an enemy warrior.
Snow Raven is one of my strongest female characters (#Strongheroines). I am always striving to make my heroes rugged and my heroines resilient. Both my primary characters are tough and powerful, yet with hidden vulnerabilities.
I’d like to share a short excerpt from the opening of RUNNING WOLF, July 2015, where you can see my heroine in action.
Raven lowered herself flat to her horse’s neck and gave Song her head. They fairly flew over the ground.
As she tore over the animal trail, she noticed a tanned-colored lump lying in the path. A fawn, she thought as Song snorted and jumped the tiny obstacle. Raven gaped when she saw that the carcass was a village dog with one arrow sticking from its ribs. At a glance she recognized that the fletching on the shaft was not like the ones of her people.
The hairs on her neck rose.
Raven opened her mouth to scream a warning to her brother, but another scream filled the air, farther away, one coming from their fishing camp. Her brother straightened in his saddle and then did something she had never seen him do. He slapped his open hand on his horse’s broad muscular shoulder. The horse lunged forward as Raven slowed.
“The camp!” she yelled.
“Run,” shouted her brother as he surged past her with Little Badger and Turns Too Slowly on his horse’s flank. Raven wheeled her horse to flee but then thought of the women, caught between the lake and attack. Song seemed to know her mind before Snow Raven did, for her mare raced after the other horses. They broke from the trees into chaos. The men in the village were fighting from the ground as mounted warriors ran at a gallop through the camp upsetting cooking kettles and trampling lodges. She saw that they were Sioux by the cut of the enemy’s war shirts and because they wore their hair in twin braids, like a Crow woman.
Her brother gave a whoop and charged, drawing the fight to them while giving the women and children time to flee in the opposite direction. The Sioux were outnumbered but they were mounted and had the advantage of surprise.
Snow Raven drew up at the woods, calling to the women, telling them to flee in this direction where there was good cover. Raven watched in horror as she saw two of the Sioux break away from the fight to follow the retreating women.
She saw her old grandmother hobbling along at an ungainly trot. Truthful Woman had raised Snow Raven since the time of her mother’s death, but could no longer run because she was bent and her joints were puffy and stiff. With each moment her grandmother fell farther behind, the Sioux in pursuit.
Was that their aim, then, to take captives? Or was this a fight over territory, as her brother had said? Either way they could easily kill her grandmother on their way to the younger, more useful captives.
Raven pressed her heels into her horse’s flanks and gave her first war cry. She swung her bow over her head and reached back for an arrow. The lead warrior dressed in a red war shirt trimmed with long strands of trophy hair grabbed Truthful Woman by the multistrand shell and bead necklaces that circled her throat. Raven vowed the red-shirt would not harm her grandmother, though he was upon her already. Truthful Woman was dragged backward against her enemy’s horse. Her hands went to her windpipe and her face turned scarlet. The warrior shook his hand, further strangling Raven’s grandmother.
Snow Raven screamed again and notched her arrow but was too close to shoot.
She dropped her bow and rammed his horse with hers. Song’s muscular chest collided with the other horse’s flank, causing the beast to skitter sideways. The necklaces broke away in the Sioux’s hand and Truthful Woman dropped to her knees choking and gagging.
Snow Raven launched herself from her saddle onto the warrior’s chest. The thud jarred her teeth as they toppled together from his horse.
Raven landed on top of the warrior. The jolt robbed the wind from the man’s body and gave Raven the moment she needed to draw her skinning knife and lift it above her head. Today she would send this snake to his ancestors and take her first war trophy. The warrior’s wide eyes stared up at her as she thrust, preparing to lodge the knife into the center of her enemy’s throat.
RUNNING WOLF by Jenna Kernan ©2015, Harlequin Historicals
I hope you enjoyed that short snippet from RUNNING WOLF and that you love #StrongHeroines and rugged men as much as I do!
**This post first appeared on Pink Heart Society blog in July 2015**