Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The End of a Trilogy

The end of a series is always a little bittersweet for me. It's hard to say goodbye to characters I've grown to love, a setting that's gotten familiar and research I still find intriguing. Even knowing that my attention span is waaaay too short to extend a series of closely connected books beyond three without a break, it's difficult to let go and put it behind me. The characters are very real to me and it's a lot like saying goodbye to friends.

That's not to say that I won't write any more Alpha Squad books, but I don't have any contracted right now, so I feel a bit like the proud mama wiping a tear from her eye as she sends her youngest off to kindergarten.

We writers are an odd lot that way!

TERMS OF ATTRACTION is the third of my Alpha Squad books, all set (at least partially) in a fictional California town and all featuring members of the same SWAT team. The heroine in this one, Ava Carter, is perhaps my favorite of the three because she's a study in contrasts. She's a sniper, for one thing. It would be rare indeed to find a female sniper on a unit, but I didn't want to make her one dimensional. As I was developing her character I thought about what sort of woman might be found in that field. What might have shaped her? Where did she get her experience with weapons? And to throw a wrench into things, what if she had to balance what she does for a living with a family life?

The answer to all of the above is a kick ass heroine with secret in her past she'd do about anything to keep, and a son she'll go to any lengths to protect. Match her with a man bent on revenge, who tries to use his discovery of her secret to force her in a deadly game of retribution and you have a rollicking emotional action adventure with two steel wills battling all the way. The heat between Ava and Cael is as sultry as the South American jungle they find themselves in!

As always, it's the heroine I most closely identify with, although I've never done anything as remotely cool-headed and brave as some of the acts she engages in throughout the book. I mean, I'd like to think I'd respond courageously if the stakes were high, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I might have hidden behind some of those palm fronds on the cover when things got deadly, LOL.

Of course, the definition of bravery is as individual as the fears and situations we find ourselves in. I know someone with a fear of public speaking. When she gets up to address a crowd of people, it's tantamount to someone else putting their head in a lion's mouth! Courage is facing a fear. Or acknowledging it, and proceeding anyway.

What about you? What's the bravest thing you've ever done? Do you have any tips for facing down your fears? I'll be sending an autographed copy of TERMS OF ATTRACTION to one lucky commenter today!


Cindy Gerard said...

Congrats on the new release, Kylie. And I hear you on ending a series - it does feel like you're letting your children go off into that brave new world all alone.
I LOVE your kick ass heroines, BTW - and your heroes, well, um. YUM!

I think I've yet to do my bravest thing :o( I was terrified when I hiked the Grand Canyon, same goes when I jumped off a 30 foot cliff into the Colorado. Getting on a helicopter and swooping down into the Canyon was also scary - as was white water rafting. But i had friends along who would have razzed me until I died if I'd chickened out so I sucked it up and did it. but what REALLY terrifies me are roller coasters. I've yet to ride one can't think of a reason in the world strong enough to compel me to get on one. But, some day, I need to face that fear ... or not :o)

Kylie said...

Yeah, but you DID those things, even when you were scared! About the bravest thing I ever did was go white water rafting, but I didn't actually know how scary it was going to be before I started, LOL, so I don't think it counts! Oh and I've parasailed but that isn't frightening.

I could still be convinced to go hang gliding and to jump out of airplanes if I had someone to go with me!

Cindy Gerard said...

Hey - I'll do it! I've wanted to hang glide for along time. And I think I might be able to work up the nerve to tandem sky dive. Will you be my buddy in stupidity???

Kylie said...

Aren't I always your buddy in stupidity, LOL ????? You're on!

Cindy Gerard said...

Come to think of it, yeah, you are! :o)

Michele Hauf said...

Gorgeous cover, Kylie. I love the green! I know it can be a bummer saying goodbye to a series. THey really are friends!

My bravery must emerge when I do the public speaking thing, as well. That's why I don't do it if I can help it.

lois greiman said...

Great series, Kylie.

People who know I ride often tell me they're scared of horses and I say, "Well, yeah, me too. Cuz they're probably going to kill us all." My hands often still shake when I start a new mount or try a new speed event. But I like the rush.

lois greiman said...
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Debra Dixon said...

Kylie-- Yay, for the trilogy's last hurrah! Well...maybe last hurrah. (g) I completely understand how the feelings of leaving the characters are intensified on the last book of a trilogy. I've actually never done connected books, but I get the concept.

Bravery? I'm probably not physically brave. I live in my brain too much and "thinking first" almost always leads to slower reaction times or commonsense.

So, I'm not physically brave, but I'll take on just about any business challenge or situation. I'm not afraid to speak to a room of a zillion people. And I'm not afraid of failure.

Though I did raise a dare devil in both mind and body. My kid simply never knew fear. He'd try anything. So, I was scared constantly until about his 2nd year of college and we had him safely past most of his wild oats. Now he applies that same lack of fear to his career.

Kylie said...

Michele, you're not alone on the public speaking thing! I don't have trouble speaking to a room full of strangers but it's more difficult for me to speak in front of the faculty, for some reason.

Lois, I totally get the beauty of horses. We had a couple horses when I was growing up but I never really learned to ride well. So doing jumps would be an invitation to see me catapult into the air, LOL!

Deb, embracing new experiences, whether in business or in our personal lives can take as much bravery as facing physical danger! I am so not a risk taker but sometimes you just have to jump, at least figuratively!

Helen Brenna said...

Kylie I love the sound of your heroine. I think there's an Ava in all of us, or at least we'd like to think so, right?

I'm not very brave, that's probably why I write, not do! Have to say that accepting that RITA last year scared the begebees out of me. In front of a microphone and all those people? I know not where my brain went.

Kathleen Eagle said...

This is going to sound weird, but walking into a party or a big social gathering has always been scary for me. I don't do small talk well. I don't meet people easily.

I've always thought the term "kick ass heroine" was kind of curious. What does that mean? It brings a physical image to mind for me--literally kicking ass--and none of the strong women I know are known for actually kicking any ass.

I can think of a time or two that I took a physical risk, and it was probably stupid. I stepped between two teenage boys who were fight once when I was teaching. One kid had practically stuffed the other into a locker. I stood there looking the kid in the eye, his fist locked and loaded for my face, and I thought, I'm about to get my nose broken. For once I had the presence of mind not to speak. I learned something that day. Once you commit, if you're somebody like me (non kick-ass) eye contact is probably your best hope. If I'd opened my mouth, I would have removed all doubt. My voice is about as threatening as chicka-dee-dee-dee.

You can't imagine my relief when that fist was lowered.

ForestJane said...

Hmm, bravest thing I've ever done financially was buy a house on my own, after my divorce. I was up many nights, fretting about that.

But physically, it would have to be going down the Ocoee river, in an open canoe. This is the river that was partially rebuilt into the whitewater site for the 1996 Summer Olympics, but we were on it about ten years earlier. Much of it was fairly tame, but fast. There were some rocky patches though, where I was gripping that canoe paddle so hard my knuckles turned white.

And Kylie, congrats on the release of the final third of your trilogy!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Come to think of it, I stopped more than one fight when I was teaching, but that was the first time, and I was rally young and dumb. First year, I think. It was the only time I put myself between two kids like that. Really stupid. But I didn't have any experience with fighters. I was a babe in the woods.

Horses. Ah, Lois, that's where I've lived on the edge. I've never been a really capable rider, but I've always been determined to do it anyway. It's the one physical risk I take knowingly, repeatedly, willingly. I know my limitations, and I try to keep them in mind. I've had horses run away with me a couple of times, and that's really scary. I've been lucky.

Kylie said...

Helen, it's amazing how every coherent thought can completely escape us when we're up in front of people, isn't it? I don't mind speaking in front of crowds, but I hate being the center of attention, like accepting an award. I know it makes no sense, but there it is!

Kathleen, I did exactly the same thing, I believe about my fourth year of teaching. There was absolutely no thinking involved, LOL, I just reacted. I saw two high school boys on the ground in front of my elementary school (they were waiting for the bus) and in those days we didn't bother with little things like before school supervision! I marched right up to them and *grabbed their shirts* and yelled at them to knock it off. I think they were so shocked, they didn't know what else to do but comply.

Later it occurred to me that that had been an incredibly stupid thing to do!

ForestJane, I don't mind the open canoe or raft if there are knowledgeable people with me. It's sort of a rush. But we were in a raft by ourselves, with the guides in kayaks ahead of us. It was a long day down that river!

And congrats for taking that step and moving forward to buy your house. Financial independence can be both scary and liberating!

lunaticcafe said...

Sometimes it feels like I have small amount of fear about many different things- the trick is to not let that rule you. Things like social events or public speaking- I am uncomfortable with the concepts but if I didn't battle the fear I would be a recluse. The big fears are another matter. I am hysterically afraid of flying and yet I have done so on many occasions. My husband is part of an aircrew and that scares me. Flying is never my first choice and when we move next month I will be driving so that I can avoid the "friendly skies".

Congrats on the book- I'll be watching for it. It's always a thrill mixed with sadness when I get to the end of a series. I miss the characters but I look forward to the next group.

Debra Dixon said...


Yep. Financial bravery will keep you up at nights!

Christie Ridgway said...

Congrats, Kylie, and I know just what you mean about finishing a trilogy. Hard to say goodbye.

I think the bravest thing I've ever done was watch my kid cross Angels Landing at Zion National Park. There's this part that's just a skinny, skinny path across nothing. I thought I would be able to do it myself, but saw it and balked, telling Son 2 he was not going across. Son 1 had already started! Surfer Guy (no fan of heights) had to follow.

The next day we did another hike there (supposed to be tamer) and I was scared to death again. They had chains to hold onto on the really narrow parts, but Son 2 was in front of me and I was afraid to grab them in case I somehow jostled him off. Just thinking about those hikes makes me sweat.

Kylie said...

Lunaticcafe--that's the definition of bravery when you confront what you fear and follow through with it anyway!

Flying has never bothered me. I blame that on my blissfully ignorant way of looking at things...if I don't think about the dangers they don't exist, LOL! But like you, I think I'd be fearful if someone I loved was doing it everyday.

Kylie said...

Christie, I understand. I didn't used to think I was afraid of heights (and afraid is a relative term) but I do notice lately that I go a bit weak in the knees when I look down from a great distance.

And I especially get weak-kneed watching *my kids* do it!

We once went snowmobiling with a bunch of people and they know me well. So they should have realized that when I reminded them how night blind I was, that it meant I...well, can't see at night, right?
And they expected me to cross this vaulted train trestle that was barely wide enough for the machines in single file, with no guard rails at ten o'clock at night.

Needless to say, it didn't happen!

EllenToo said...

I'm not a very brave person but I can think of few times when bravery was required and one of them was the first time I got up in front of a room full of teenagers as a teacher. I was sure I'd forget what I wanted to teach or that they would just ignore me or cause trouble.
Another time I was considered brave by a friend of mine is when we were in Rocky Mountain National park and nighttime fell catching us near the top of the park and I had to drive down to Denver in the dark on a very winding road with no guard rails (I live and drive in an area of flat land in Texas.)

Kathleen Eagle said...

Wow. Sounds like our anecdotal evidence points to one conclusions: it takes courage to be a teacher. It's the most important job in the world, imho.

Heights. Yeesh. I started feeling that feel sometime in my teens, and it was downhill, as it were, from there. I've reached the point of being physically incapable when I approach a long drop. After a couple of flights I can't even do open steps. My legs turn to mush.
I have no problem with flying. I'm okay as long as I'm enclosed.

catslady said...

I've climbed a mountain on horseback in another country (I don't ride), tall rollercoasters scare me but I do it anyway, driving places (no sense of direction here), and the scariest - killing spiders myself when need be - I'd much rather scream bloody murder for my husband! I usually tell myself - what's the worse that could happen but that doesn't always work roflmao.

Anonymous said...

I have added this book to my TBR list=it sounds so good.
I have a fear of heights so I took a hot air balloon ride across the desert. I think my eyes were shut for most of the trip and my heart was beating so fast. But it was really a neat ride and it is soooo quite up that high.

robynl said...

I knew that I'd be terrified on the Gondola Lift at Banff and decided to stay behind and let dh go. While he was waiting in line I went up to him several times and said "maybe I should go" but decdied not to. Just when he was going to get the ticket I ran to him and said I'd go. Let me tell you there was fear for the entire ride up the mountain. Once at the top I said "if I were a drinking person I'd go into the cafe and order a stiff drink" before going down. I even looked into walking back down on the path which would have taken a long time. I did go back down and 'faced my fear of heights'. I'm alive to tell the story, lol.

Kylie said...

Ellen and Kathleen--I agree, teaching takes courage. As a matter of fact, if people knew how much it required it might scare them off to begin with, LOL. I teach elementary so don't experience that mind-numbing fear of facing down teenagers! But I have had a few ohmygawd moments with parents where I thought I was in imminent danger.

Ellen, that trip down the mountain would have taken me forever because I would have been creeping along. No guard rails? Yikes!

Catslady, it's not spiders for me but bats send me out of orbit. I become completely out of my mind. And it doesn't help that they seem to sense fear and make a beeline for me!

Joye, that must have been quite a feat to take that balloon ride with your fear of heights! But there's no other view like it, is there?

Kylie said...

Robynl, is that a ski lift? I've done that! An intermediate slope that shouldn't require all that much skill looks pretty darn steep when you're looking down at it! I once snowplowed my way all the way the slope. So what if little kids were whipping by me, LOL!

Betina Krahn said...

There is bravery and bravery. Of course we generally think of daring-do and jumping off trains and facing down bad guys, but every day I see people facing down disease and heartbreak as they struggle to care for loved ones who can no longer care for themselves. That's bravery, folks.

I think maybe that's one of the reasons I like Kylie'sbooks so much. They're big and action-filled and heartfelt. . . and the action always brings a satisfying resolution and makes things better.

The bravest things I've ever done were probably interpersonal things, emotional things. I'm not a big physical risk-taker. Not much for roller coasters or high-diving or mountain climbing. I did swim with dolphins once. . . does that count? I was petrified at first! But I escaped un-chewed. . . and even got pictures!

Congratulations, Kylie on a terrific finale to a wonderful series!

Jane said...

Congrats on the new release, Kylie. I always get a little sad when a series ends. The bravest or toughest thing I ever did was quit my job before having another one lined up. I felt that it was better for me to leave than stay.

Terry S said...

I've been waiting for this book but at the same time sorry you aren't contracted to write any more. Love the whole Silhouette Romantic Suspense line and hope to see more of you there.

The bravest thing I've ever done is snorkel in Bermuda. Yeah, it sounds wonderful, doesn't it? I have a tremendous water phobia, though, so it was a big deal. I'm only surprised the instructor didn't need a cast for his hand I held it so tightly. I was so scared I didn't even notice how hot he was until someone pointed out to me long after I had time to calm down.

Kylie said...

Betina, you're absolutely right. It's the bravery people show facing whatever life throws at them. Persevering in the face of hardship and trauma and indescribable pain. Those people are heroes and models for us all.

And thank you for the kind words!

Jane, quitting your job took financial courage, for sure! My youngest son just did the same thing. Have my fingers crossed for him!

Kylie said...

Thanks, Terry. I'm certainly hoping to write more SRSs, as I've always loved the line. Started reading it at its conception and it was such a thrill to get to write for it, too.

Yikes, if you have a fear of water, scuba diving must have taken a lot of courage to try! I've always wanted to scuba dive. Whenever I'm in a place I can do it, though, I'm with my husband and he doesn't swim, LOL. But someday...!