Good news for my American and Canadian readers: Gifts of Honor is only $0.99 until the 21st December! Get in the Christmas spirit with this heartwarming military holiday anthology from Carina Press!
Hey there faithful readers! At long, long last, the second book in the Elite Operators series – Short Fuse – has hit digital shelves. I rewrote this one from scratch about three times, but am so pleased with the final product! Set on a gold mine in a central African nation emerging from civil conflict, I hope Short Fuse packs a proper suspenseful punch alongside its love story. Happy reading!
The glitter of gold drew them together…but danger might blow them apart.
Elite Operators, Book 2
As Nicola Holt, head of social and corporate responsibility for Garraway Gold, takes her seat on a flight to central Africa, she’s excited about making a real difference in a country recovering from civil conflict.
And a blood-pumping bonus? The hot guy she spotted at the gate isn’t just her seatmate, he’s her ride to Garraway’s Hambani mine. He’s also a gentleman, as she discovers when he deftly takes care of a couple of unruly passengers.
Explosives expert Warren Copley is headed for a private contract job in his least favorite industry—gold mining—thanks to a temporary suspension from South Africa’s elite tactical police division, the Special Task Force. But even the darkest clouds have a silver lining, and this one comes in the form of the easy-on-the-eyes redhead who turns out to be his coworker.
As soon as they touch down they realize Hambani isn’t on an even keel. In fact, it’s balanced precariously on the machete-edge of complete destruction. And before they can discover the combustible attraction between them, they’ll have to escape with their lives.
Warning: Contains two strong-willed individuals, a country on the brink of collapse, and a powder-keg attraction with sensual, explosive results.
Faithful readers, I owe y’all a blog post on the rather significant event that happened four weeks ago – the birth of our daughter, baby B! Life with a newborn has been as hectic as everyone warned us it would be, so while the full report of B’s birth is TK, I had to pop in and celebrate the release of the third and final installment of The Homefront Trilogy, THUNDER RUNNING!
I really love this novella. Like, really love it. I know authors picking their favorite characters is like parents picking their favorite kids, but the truth is I have a special, deep affection for Thunder Running‘s hero and heroine, Chance McKinley and Tara Lambert. I love Chance’s dry-humored recklessness, I love Tara’s tough-talking complexity, and I love the way they navigate the rough waters between their mile-high defenses to come together and form a whole.
Thunder Running‘s release is bittersweet for me, as at the same time I’m introducing the world to Chance and Tara, I’m also saying goodbye to the guys in Echo Company and stepping off the paths they’re following, leaving them to carry on in readers’ imaginations. I hope you’ve enjoyed their journeys as much as I have, and that Thunder Running offers a fitting end to what I hope is a compelling, satisfying trio of novellas.
If you haven’t gotten your digital copy yet, Thunder Running is available via the links below and wherever else fine eBooks are sold. Happy reading!
This morning I had my 32-week appointment with the midwives who’ll be attending the birth of my first baby. They’re in a private practice, which my employer-subsidized medical insurance pays for. My appointment was at the private Genesis Clinic, nicknamed the “birthing hotel” due to its luxurious facilities, however for the birth I’m booked into Park Lane Hospital, which also boasts a private maternity ward that you couldn’t be faulted for mistaking with an upscale hotel.
On my way home from the appointment I stopped into Woolworths, South Africa’s high-end grocery store modeled on Marks & Spencer in the UK. The only necessity I had to buy was toilet paper, the rest was middle-class frivolity: cranberry juice, brie, Diet Coke, a single-serving bag of chips, a bar of Cadbury chocolate.
I was debating whether to buy the 18- (slightly cheaper per roll) or 9-roll pack of toilet paper (easier to carry to the car) when an African man tapped me on the shoulder. He wanted to know whether the box of baby cereal (labelled for babies six months and older) and a bottle of full-cream cow’s milk would be okay for his two-month-old child, because the infant formula was too expensive.
I tried to use, simple, sympathetic language to compare the prices, pointing out that when it came to price per gram, the (age-appropriate) infant formula really wasn’t much more expensive than the (inappropriate) baby cereal. I talked about babies’ sensitive tummies, and how the wrong food might make its tummy sore and cause it to cry even more. I asked if he had any way to get to Makro (South African Costco/Wal-Mart), where there would be more brands available in cheaper, bulk quantities (he didn’t).
Now, why wasn’t his wife breastfeeding? I didn’t ask, but I can guess. Maybe she has HIV/AIDS. Maybe she struggled to make breastfeeding work, and had no guidance on how to do it or support to keep at it. Maybe she had to go back to work, probably as a maid in a private home, shortly after the baby was born, so isn’t available to feed the baby, can’t afford pumping supplies and/or has no education on how to use them.
In the end I couldn’t persuade him – and really, maybe it wasn’t a question of persuasion. Maybe there was no way he could afford the R146 ($12) infant formula over the R30 ($2.50) baby cereal and he just wanted assurance that he wouldn’t kill the baby (a question he asked me repeatedly).
South Africans optimistically refer to the ‘born free’ generation, children born after 1994 who’ve never known the oppression of apartheid. Nelson Mandela was a huge advocate for children’s rights, and famously declared, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” Yet 20+ years after the first round of ‘born free’ babies came screaming into the world, South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world, and this is especially evident in models of maternity care and childbirth.
A few months ago the Guardian published an article that confirmed what I’d gleaned anecdotally: inequality starts even before the moment of birth, in the very means by which South African babies emerge into the world. Babies born in the private healthcare system (which consumes 60% of total health spend yet serves only 15% of the population) are overwhelmingly more likely to be born by c-section, many of which are elective.
From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I’ve planned for a minimal-intervention birth. My fantastic obstetrician is a renowned champion of natural birth, and I’ve hired the midwives in order to have low-intervention advocates with me during the birthing process. Whether I’ll be able to deliver naturally remains to be seen, but I’ve been amazed by what’s felt like the need to defend my preference, both informally and in terms of literally building a medical team I can trust. The South African (private) obstetric community seems so ready to encourage women to ‘simply book in for a caesar,’ how do you find the line where your doctor’s medical expertise ends and profit-hunting begins?
It’s easy to feel self-righteous and skeptically alert to the ‘business of childbirth’ as I thumb through my imported copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy Edition, or enjoy a workout in my immaculate, brand-new gym, or buy calcium supplements without looking at the price, or tip the Zimbabwean painters who’re doing up the baby’s room (in the house that I own, in an affluent neighborhood, on a quiet street).
The truth is, I’m so privileged. I can choose to have a low-intervention birth. I have access to whatever medical care might be necessary to facilitate that birth. And if it all goes pear-shaped, I can have an epidural and a c-section and a private room to recover in at a moment’s notice, without a thought for how much it’s going to cost.
I’ve spent the whole afternoon thinking about the two-month-old baby who’ll be fed cereal and cow’s milk tonight, and wishing I’d just given the man R100 to buy the infant formula. That baby will have so many more obstacles in its life, I wish I’d had the presence of mind to give it a little bit of a head start.
Instead I’m reminded to check my privilege, to be grateful, to see my house/work/traffic stresses as great luxuries. My baby will be born into the South Africa with world-class medical care, spacious homes and brand-name strollers. I won’t sacrifice to keep it fed, I won’t worry about access to clean water, I won’t have to choose between a tin of formula and taxi fare for a trip to the doctor. I’m on the right side of this hopelessly imbalanced scale, and for that I’m unbelievably, undeservedly lucky.
Oh dear, I’ve taken my time updating this poor old blog, hey? Well, there’s plenty to discuss today, so let’s get on with it!
This past weekend was the inaugural South African romance writers’ conference, nicknamed ROSACon, held over a day in a half in Johannesburg. I think all of the attendees would agree it was a complete success! (Full disclosure: I was on the organizing committee.)
We had about 30 delegates, and the activities ranged from Skype pitches to editors at Mills & Boon and Harper Impulse, to a first-page critique session by a panel of authors, to a fabulous talk on category romance writing from our local celebrity Joss Wood. Other than the massive highveld storm during Saturday night’s gala dinner, the weekend went without a hitch and it was a fantastic opportunity not only to meet so much of the South African romance writing community, but to be energized and enlightened by a variety of experts on a whole range of writing-related topics. On that note…
Having learned during Tristan Banha‘s social media talk at #ROSACon2014 that Facebook is the most popular and fastest-growing social media outlet in South Africa, I’ve created my very own Facebook fan page: facebook.com/rebeccacrowleywrites Will I be better at updating it than this blog? Doubtful! But in the meantime feel free to cruise on over and check out the gorgeous banner the Samhain marketing team made for my next release. Which brings me to…
The Homefront Trilogy
This set of military-themed novellas is steaming ahead! I’m currently working on edits for the third installation (Thunder Running) and have just posted the cover for the second book (Alive Day) on the Books page. Meanwhile, tomorrow is release day for Homefront #1, Boots on the Ground!
Sexy Sergeant Grady Reid and his erstwhile heroine Laurel Hayes are already garnering some lovely reviews, most notably from USA Today, Desere at Romance Book Haven and Nanee from Up All Night. If you haven’t already pre-ordered, you can one-click your copy tomorrow wherever ebooks are sold.
Last But Not Least
In case you didn’t spot my subtle announcement on Contemporary Romance Cafe (cleverly tucked in after the gratuitous photo of Jensen Ackles), the biggest news of all is that Baby Crowley will be having his or her own release day somewhere in between Alive Day and Thunder Running (March 3rd, to be precise). The good news is there’s no need to book a blog tour or organize a release-day blitz. The bad news, well… ;-)
Ah, the World Cup: full of patriotism and passion, dramas and controversies, the ecstasy of victory and the agony of defeat. For one month every four years the world comes together in celebration of this truly global, egalitarian sport.
I’ve been reflecting on the last few World Cups as we approach Sunday’s final, and I realized how perfectly memories of this tournament illustrate different stages of my life. There’s always one standout moment, and these are some of mine:
South Korea 2002: Ireland vs. Spain
I know I’m not the only football fan for whom this was a momentous match. 2002 was the first time I watched the World Cup, having only really gotten into football over the previous 18 months (a fledgling Manchester City fan in the Stuart Pearce era!). I had finished my first year at college in New York City, and was back in Kansas for the summer. It would be the last time I would spend more than a couple of weeks in my hometown, and was my last real goof-off student summer, as the following year I stayed in NYC and worked full-time. Underdog Ireland played with so much heart, and after spending the whole match 1-0 down, Robbie Keane scored in the 90th minute. I remember sitting bolt upright in my little desk chair, pulled right up to the TV in my bedroom, as the match progressed to penalties. Spain defeated Ireland 3-2, and in that instant I understood the tribal, soul-deep love that football seems to inspire in its fans. I was so invested, so devastated, yet so proud of Ireland’s effort. I was hooked.
Germany 2006: England vs. Ecuador
I supported England in the 2006 World Cup, during which I was living and working in New York City, having graduated from college a year earlier. The time difference meant many of the matches were on in the morning or at midday, and England vs. Ecuador started at around 10 AM on a Saturday. I remember this match not for Beckham’s winning goal, but for the venue where I watched it: 11th Street Pub in the East Village, a small, innocuous-looking bar that is in fact the meeting place for a rabid bunch of Liverpool FC fans. They showed the match on a big screen at the back and a half-and-half mix of Brits and Americans gathered around communal tables, making friends, sharing snacks, cheering and booing in unison. The atmosphere was awesome, and illustrated one of the great things about the World Cup: the way the sport brings together complete strangers, who for two hours have nothing more in common than the ferocious desire for a ball to find its way into a net.
South Africa 2010: Spain vs. Netherlands
I know, choosing a final seems like a cop-out, but it’s nonetheless the most memorable match, for me, of 2010. By this time I’d been living in England for almost three years, and experiencing a World Cup in Europe, where everyone lives and breathes football all year long, made a brilliant contrast to the relatively niche fandom one finds in the US. We were in the process of moving from Camden Town to Belsize Park during the tournament, and were lucky to have a slight overlap in our lease because, in typical British fashion, it took ages to get our internet up and running in the new flat. On the Sunday night my now-husband and I trekked back down to our empty Camden Town flat armed with a laptop so we could watch the match. We sat on the floor, cheering on Spain via an occasionally stuttering web broadcast. It was on a couple seconds’ delay so we would hear huge cheers or groans from the pub down the road before we saw the goal/foul/chance that prompted them. The match finished, Spain were the victors, and we took the Tube two stops back up to Belsize Park…where we rode the lift with a handful of depressed-looking Dutchmen in orange jerseys.
Brazil 2014: USA vs. Belgium
In the 12 years I’ve been able to truly call myself a soccer fan, I’ve loved watching the sport evolve in my home country. I love seeing more American players in the Premier League, I love the constantly improving quality of MLS games, and I loved all the news reports of the fan support for USMNT this year (and tried to ignore the pang at being 9,000 miles away!). I won’t remember USA vs. Belgium because it’s the game that knocked the US out of the World Cup – I’ll remember it for the unparalleled commitment, ferocity, and determination with which USMNT played. I was emotionally prepared for it being the USA’s last match of the tournament, but I had no idea it would be so hard-won. Every year the USA creeps that little bit further through the stages, and I can’t wait to see them in a quarter-final in 2018.
I’m excited for the 2014 World Cup final on Sunday night, but I’m also a little sad that come Monday, this sporting whirlwind will be over for another four years. I’m going to miss tuning in almost every night and arbitrarily picking a country to root for, and I’m going to miss the morning-after dissection of attempts, chances, and dives. I’m even going to miss the crazy stories, like the Black Stars’ cash-filled plane and Suarez’s bite marks. But I suppose much of the romance of football is down to its fugaciousness: today you’re a champion, but tomorrow someone’ll be doing everything they can to take that title away. Winners and losers, dreams and failures, it really is the beautiful game.