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Attorney Juliana Martin must choose between partnering with the FBI to betray a client or watching her father go down for murder.
Attorney Juliana Martin must choose between partnering with the FBI to betray a client or watching her father go down for murder.
24 backers pledged $1,648 to help bring this project to life.

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Devil's Deal

Attorney Juliana Martin is on the run after a battalion of cops armed with warrants swarm the family firm. When the law catches up with her at sunrise, they make a deceptively simple offer. 

For Special Agent Ethan Price, this op is his ticket out of Texas and an escape from the train wreck of his personal life. Banking on his brooding good looks and easy smile, Ethan also has an off-label assignment that seemed easy in planning, but is turning out to be much more difficult in execution. 

What the profilers hadn’t considered is that the woman Ethan was perfect for might also be perfect for him. 

Posing as a couple desperate to flee the country, Juliana and Ethan infiltrate the client's Austin smuggling operation. What they don’t know is that they were burned before they’d even put Dallas in the rear view mirror. Luckily the problem is nothing that twin magazines with a 15-shell capacity can't handle. 

DEVIL'S DEAL is complete at 85K with elements of crime drama, thriller, and romantic suspense. The bottom line is loyalty and the things you do for those you love. Throw in shotguns, muscle cars, and a Chihuahua named Simon and mayhem ensues. 

The Cover

The DEVIL'S DEAL cover started with my photo of a friend's weapon (it features heavily in the book.) In the hands of Matt Norris of M.G.Norris Contemporary Photography, it became magic. Check out his work at www.MGNorris.com or on Facebook (or both, you're allowed.)

Excerpt

I'm never happier to have stopped drinking early the night before than right at dawn. That's the magic hour for a hangover, when it either recedes to a spot behind my eyes or blossoms into full misery. The jury was still out on this one. I hoped tea and Ibuprofen would keep it to no more than two or three on the Richter scale. Right now, it was florid enough to feel, but not inflicting any real damage. On the flip side, I doubted I'd see Stella for a week. After I told her about Richie, she'd pulled out the wine and made it to the bottom of the second bottle by herself.

I was sitting at my little galley table and the tea was slowly winning the battle when Simon whined and nudged my ankle. Despite the hour, he still made me laugh. "Does somebody want to go outside?"

Simon responded by pawing the back door and barking. 

"Chill Bro, I'm sure outside is exactly like you left it yesterday."

I fumbled with the balky latch and mentally put it on the growing list of small repairs the motorhome needed. Simon was scaling my legs in a barking frenzy when I finally popped the door open and found Springsteen circa 1992 standing on my patio. Well, that is if the Boss had been Texan and carrying a badge.

 Simon shot down the steps and made for his doghouse, keeping the cop in his line of sight the whole time. For the second time in less than twenty-four hours, I was nearly naked in front of a strange man. My pajamas for spring in southern Texas consisted of boy cut underwear and a tight strappy knit shirt. The only difference between yesterday and today is that today I didn't have a plan.

This guy was cool. I'll give him that. When the morning breeze freshening across the front of my camisole verified it wasn't yet summer, he didn't even blink. Just a hint of color across his cheeks showed me he wasn't a robot.

"Can I help you?" I made no effort to go back inside. Anyone who shows up before the roosters have finished their coffee gets me as I am and I have nothing to be ashamed of.

At the sound of my voice, he ratcheted his gaze upward. His eyes were icy blue, the whites startling against his tanned skin. Another chill breeze and the corners of his mouth came up in a dimpled uneven smile that raised a blush of my own.

"Counselor, I do believe we are going to have to update your dossier under the category of distinguishing marks."

At the sound of the booming voice behind him, the cop's good humor vanished and a veil came over his expression. One of my worst nightmares strutted toward me. To be precise, a nightmare wearing a white Stetson and a badge of his own.

I fought the urge to cross my arms over my chest. I will be damned if I'd let Daryl Fisk see me uncomfortable. "Well, if it isn't Ranger Danger. Slow day? No feminists holding hands and singing at the Capitol?"

The Texas Ranger and I had crossed paths before. Normally I don't have a problem with the police. We're opposite sides of the same coin, both with a job to do. But Fisk was an unctuous prick on a good day. We were usually separated by the defense table and I was wearing around two grand of designer attitude, not my baby-dolls.

Funny, my current state of undress, that didn't bother me with the cop I'd never laid eyes on before, pissed me off royally in front of Fisk. It didn't help he looked me up and down with an exaggerated leer bordering on burlesque. I hadn't seen Fisk since the Machado trial where I'd made a fool of him on the stand. I'd enjoyed watching his shiny pock-marked face turn beet red as he realized he'd walked right into it. The color had started on his neck and raced skyward until it was visible between the freshly sharpened spikes of his crew cut.

"I'll ask again. What can I do for you? If I don't get an answer in five seconds, this door is closing and only a warrant will open it again."

The Backstory

DEVIL'S DEAL is proof of the old adage that the most important work at a writers conference often takes place in the bar after dinner. A conversation with a literary agent that started with "Now, if she was more like Jack Reacher and traveled around in her camper righting wrongs ... " led to this book. 

I had the drive from Houston to Kansas to think about it (including a decent delay after getting profiled and pulled over by a drug interdiction task force, now that's a story for the bar at a conference.) The next summer, DEVIL'S DEAL, under the original working title of PRO HAC VICE, beat out several hundred entries to win the 2013 Claymore Award for best unpublished novel at Killer Nashville. 

After a year with more excitement than I needed (losing my roof to an epic hail storm, followed by a flood, having to move, all while making a living,) it is time to get Juliana and Ethan's story out there. Your pledge acts as both as a pre-order and support for the final technical and structural details of editing and formatting. Please know how much it is appreciated.   

Risks and challenges

The risks are minimal. The book is finished. The front cover is finished and the back cover will be shortly. If final editing is delayed, I will issue updates and revise the schedule. Just like I do in my family toy business, if the delay is my fault, there are always extra goodies. I consider the listed rewards to be minimums, not maximums.

If support is generous, I will issue stretch goals and additional rewards and perks for supporters.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    LATE MODEL BEIGE GOVERNMENT SEDAN: All the good karma I can send your way and inclusion in the thank-you post on my blog (with a link to your website if desired.)

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    Pledge $7 or more About $7

    WWII ARMY SURPLUS JEEP: Tier 1 reward, plus you will receive an ebook copy of DEVIL'S DEAL in either PDF or Mobi.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    '95 BROWN VAN: Tier 1 - 2 rewards, and you will be included in the thank-you section in the book along with a handwritten postcard featuring the superb Matt Norris cover art.

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    '86 TOYOTA CAMPER: Tier 1 - 3 rewards, plus a personalized signed paperback copy of DEVIL'S DEAL.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    '71 DODGE CHALLENGER: Tiers 1 - 4 rewards, and you get to name a character in either DEVIL'S DEAL or Book 2 RIDE THE LIGHTNING (within reason, come on) You can choose from nosy neighbors, bad guys, strippers, lawyers, dirty cops, or bikers.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    '53 HARLEY PANHEAD: Tier 1 - 5 rewards, and I will write a prequel short story (up to 4K words) covering either Juliana or Ethan's shenanigans before they meet for the first time. You get to pick who the story focuses on. Stories will be released for free with at least one major character named and influenced by the donor.

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Funding period

- (30 days)