If You Like “The Blacklist”….

…you might like my 1990 novel, The Unicorn’s Daughter, originally published by Berkley Books as A Time for Legends, reissued last year by Creativia. Cover by Collin. The ebook is only $.99 now through August 31st!

The Unicorns Daughter eCover

From Publishers Weekly

Beishir ( Angels at Midnight ) pens a winner with this gripping thriller. Jaime Lynde’s father has been missing for 19 years, and when she learns of his covert career in the OSS and the CIA, she becomes convinced that he is alive and his whereabouts concealed for sinister reasons. The plot elements are familiar: obfuscating CIA operatives; an agent who vanishes into deep cover; an elaborate official cover story; and people who begin to die under mysterious circumstances. But Beishir’s galloping pace revitalizes these standbys, and she confidently builds to a revelatory and spellbinding finale. And in the midst of all the intrigue, a romance develops for Jaime–but the sex is more slow burn than Beishir’s trademark high sizzle, as if Beishir herself was too involved in the moves and countermoves of espionage to concentrate on bedroom dramas.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

 

Better Late Than Never? Not Always….

It’s probably pointless to post this, being the last day of the promotion, but what the heck? Why not?

The Unicorns Daughter eCover

I’ve been preoccupied with family matters (my son and collaborator has been making regular trips to the hospital and orthopedic surgeon–fortunately, the news isn’t nearly as bad as it could have been), so I have a good reason for forgetting to post the latest promo for The Unicorn’s Daughter. If you haven’t read it but would like to, the ebook edition is still available on sale at Amazon until 11:59 Pacific Time tonight.

Even without me tooting my own horn, it’s not doing too badly….

Product Details

Of Spies, Very Bad Things and Zombie Plot Bunnies

I have a special treat for you today. The guest blogger is one of my bestest friends (yes, I know that’s not a word, but novelists are allowed—once in a while), favorite people on the planet and all-time favorite authors (you’ll see why when you read his novel—and if you don’t buy it, you’ll be missing out big time!). I give you my partner in crime, William Kendall!

***

Substitute damn every time you’re inclined to write very, your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” ~ Mark Twain

I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you because someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top.” ~ unknown English professor, Ohio University

The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” ~ Stephen King

Rogues are preferable to imbeciles because sometimes they take a rest.” ~ Alexandre Dumas

I’d like to thank Norma for letting me run wild in her blog today. I promise I’ll leave it in just the same condition I found it in. I may have to hire an army of zombie plot bunnies to help me clean up though.

After a long, long, long (did I mention it was long?) road, I have come to the point where my first novel is almost set to be out and about in the hands of readers. Heaven & Hell has been written, gone through revisions and drafts, handed over to readers for editing, and printed off by myself for final checks. Once I’m finished with that, it’ll be set for final formats, and then for publishing. And my creation will be unleashed. At that point, I can breathe a deep sigh of relief.

Heaven & Hell started up years ago. Its genesis took place during a trip back to see my family. I remember watching the news with my parents one night, with an article involving unrest in Israel. I thought about it, asked my mother a question: what would happen if a terrorist group went and did such and such a thing. Her answer was that it would be war. That resonated with me. Such and such a thing stayed with me, growing inside my imagination, ultimately becoming what I’ve called the Very Bad Thing, the central act of the novel. So for the record, Mom’s completely to blame for giving me the idea in the first place. Thanks, Mom!

I’ve been writing for myself for years, when I wasn’t reading other material. I’ve always liked the creative outlet that writing presents, and over time, that became my training ground, a way to hone my craft. My subject matter over time gravitated towards my favourite genre to read: the spy thriller. I’ve been reading from the works of the masters for years. So it seemed natural that my writing would take me in that direction. Over time, I was developing characters, thinking of plotlines, always thinking that at some point in the future I’d write the stories. I had in mind notions for an ongoing series of books bringing back these characters, and the idea of the Very Bad Thing was mixed up in all of that.

I had thought that the story involved in Heaven & Hell might be best served as the third or fourth book in that series. The reason was simple: the Very Bad Thing, and indeed the makeup of the terrorist group that drives the entire novel, the Covenant, felt like it would be a controversial premise. It’s a cataclysmic terrorist attack, in a part of the world where the slightest act seems to set off tempers. I felt it was something perhaps left until I was established. Sometimes life throws you an unexpected curveball. I first came into contact with Norma, and as we got to know each other and she saw signs of a fellow writer in me, I let her in on the ideas I had, particularly the Very Bad Thing. Yes, she knows what it is, and no, she won’t tell you. Not even for bribes of chocolate.

Norma encouraged me to get writing, to run with the idea that I had for Heaven & Hell first, rather than later. And she was right. Instead of leaving my serious writing for some vague point in the future, it was time to write, time to bring these characters who were living in my head to life on the page.

As I started out, I thought, “well, it’s not as if this will take that long, right?”Wrong. Writing in the spy thriller genre, particularly one that’s set mostly in Israel and the Middle East, a place with a lot of history, requires a lot of research. That meant tracking down information through various sources: online, history texts, maps, through emails back and forth with various people spread across the world, through conversations with embassy officials. It was a big undertaking, and really, one that I kept at through the writing, fact checking as I went along. Add to that the fact that this was my first novel, and that meant it would take longer than I would have expected. And finally, things going on in my personal life meant that there were times I just didn’t feel up to writing, and the pace slowed at those times. Thus what I expected would be a few months of writing…turned out to be more than two years of writing.

I remember the exhilarating rush as I was writing through the final two chapters. The second to last chapter is a long one, but features the climax of the novel, a faceoff between my protagonists and antagonists. Though it took awhile to write, it was also fun… and keeping track of who was where during this sequence in the book presented its own challenges. Likewise, the last chapter, wrapping things up, had its own rewards as I wrote. I knew that some of these characters would be back (nice thing about carrying on with these people in an ongoing series, you don’t have to say goodbye to your characters), and at that point, momentum had driven the story forward. Writing the final words, as good as it felt, carried a certain bittersweet quality to it. These characters have been with me a long time, and they came alive for me during the writing. I liked writing them, liked the way they turned out- even the villains, who I still occasionally apologize to for putting them through hell.

Sorry, everyone, but you’re the villains. These things happen. Don’t take it personally, okay?

The novel has been a long time in development, and now, standing at a point where it’s almost ready to go, I feel good about getting to this point. It was exactly the right thing to do, to start really writing the concepts that had been growing in my mind for years on end, to breathe life into these characters. I know there have been a number of people anxious to see it out there, and the time is close at hand. Barring any unforeseen catastrophes, mind you.

It’s an anxious but good time for me, about to launch a novel. I’m in anticipation of the reaction the book is going to get. It’s long overdue, and these characters are demanding to be unleashed. It’d be nice if I got a “thanks for writing us” out of them, but I’m not expecting it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d better get started on the next book.

Oh, and for the record, I didn’t knock that lamp onto the floor of the blog.

It was the cat.

*****

Thank you, William, for joining us today.

Watch for Heaven & Hell at Amazon soon. (If it’s not there soon, I’m going to beat him silly with a Nerf bat.) And do check out his entertaining blog, Speak of the Devil…I’ll be guesting there later today. And check out his other guest appearance today at Sacred Ground Travel Magazine!

The Return of The Unicorn’s Daughter

Recently, I released my 1990 novel, A Time for Legends, as an ebook under its original title (the one I gave it!), The Unicorn’s Daughter. This week, the paperback edition will make its first appearance at Amazon and Create Space. I decided last year that I would bring back some of the characters from my Berkley backlist and connect them to characters in my current Messiah Project series, which started with Chasing the Wind.

It made sense to team The Unicorn’s Daughter, Jamie Lynde, with Chasing the Wind‘s Phillip Darcy, since both are photojournalists. Here’s an excerpt from the as-yet-untitled novel….

***

Jaime

I am my father’s daughter. Not always a good thing, unfortunately.

You know how everyone remembers where they were when certain events took place–the Kennedy assassination (I was in the second grade, having a boring day in class); the Challenger explosion (I was searching for my father in Europe–in Paris, to be specific) and 9/11 (I was on assignment in China–if I gave you the details, I’d have to kill you). I remember where I was the day I was recruited, the day I was invited to join the family business, so to speak.

I was at my father’s funeral. July 15, 2002. Long Island, New York.

It was the first time I’d seen him in seven years. In spite of the bond between us, my father’s other life still came first with him. Why? I don’t know. I guess Dad was just who he was, and change wasn’t an option. I knew he loved me, but sometimes that wasn’t enough.

Back in the early days of the spy game, during World War II, my father was known as Unicorn. It was the perfect codename. He was like that mythical creature–a legend, but one whose existence had never been proven. He was to intelligence gathering what Pavorotti is to opera, what Springsteen is to rock: a superstar. The guys at Langley were going to miss him. Then some idiot got the bright idea to fill the gap by hiring his daughter. I have his DNA, so maybe, they figured, I would be enough like him to fill the void.

I was standing alone by the coffin, looking down at Dad, wishing we hadn’t been robbed of so many years together. Wishing I could turn back time. I had so many regrets….

“Jaime, I’m sorry.”

I glanced to my left and saw him–Harry Warner, my dad’s former boss at the Agency. I had to struggle to be cordial to him. He was, after all, the man who had kept my father and me apart for all those years. I wanted to ask him if he was sorry he’d taken my father away from me…sorry he’d put both of our lives in danger…or just sorry he’d lost one of his best operatives.

I just nodded. “Yes, I know.” I didn’t look at him. I didn’t have the stomach for it.

“I realize this isn’t the time, but we need to talk,” he went on.

I still didn’t look up. “About what?” I asked. Did my father have personal effects, an insurance policy or something else at the CIA that I didn’t know about? Couldn’t it wait?

“I have a proposition for you.”

I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard. I turned to stare at him, my temper growing like a fire in my gut. “A what?” I asked, incredulous.

“Please–people are staring,” he said in a low, pleading tone.

“Good. At least I’m not the only one who can’t believe this is happening here, now. It’s a funeral, for crying out loud.”

“At least hear me out, will you?” He gave me his business card. “Call me. Please.”

I shoved the card into my pocket. “Maybe,” I said. I was irritated as hell. I wanted to tell him to leave. I wanted to tell him I couldn’t possibly be interested in anything he had in mind. But at that moment, I could only think about one thing.

Saying goodbye to my father. For the last time.

***

I didn’t give Harry Warner another thought until late that night. I returned home from the funeral…home, to the house at Sea Cliff, the house where I’d grown up. The house was full of ghosts, and now there would be one more. I picked up the framed photo of my father and me that sat on the mantle. It was taken when I was five. I was happy then…too young to understand why my father was away so often…why my mentally ill mother couldn’t love me…why two strangers claimed to be my aunt and uncle.

Dad…I’m going to miss you, I thought. You weren’t around for most of my life, and still I feel the loss.

I put it down and reached for the photo next to it. My ex-husband. Nicholas and I had been divorced almost five years, but I still loved him. He was now the US Ambassador to France…back where we first met, fifteen years ago. I wondered if he ever thought about those days. I did. We both put our lives on the line when we made that journey from France to Libya to find my father. Nicholas was willing to risk his life for me then. What changed? Who changed? Me? Nicholas? Both of us?

I wished I knew….

***

Propelled by the ghosts of the past, I found myself in Langley two days later. There I was, parked outside the CIA complex, as if I could just walk up and announce myself. Sure…they were probably observing me on closed-circuit cameras at that very moment. I dug into my bag and fished out the card Harry Warner had given me at the funeral, then called him on my car phone. He answered on the first ring.

“Good morning, Jaime.”

He knew it was me? Of course he did. “Good morning, Mr. Warner.” I wondered if they could monitor my heart rate as well, because it was racing at that moment. “I’ve been thinking about your, uh, offer–“

“Excellent, but shouldn’t we discuss this face-to-face?” he asked. “Come inside. Someone will bring you to my office.”

I don’t know what I expected when I entered–a bunch of agents with guns drawn, maybe–but the people looked pretty normal. Suits, for the most part. Oh, I’m fairly certain they were all armed, but nobody drew anything.

Harry Warner was alone in his office. I was too distracted to be impressed by my surroundings. Don’t ask me what it looked like; I don’t remember. My escort left us, closing the door as he did so. We dispensed with small talk. “What, exactly, do you want from me?” I asked.

“A replacement for your father.”

I thought he was joking. He wasn’t.

“I’m not my father,” I said.

“You did an impressive job of finding him in Libya,” he reminded me. As if I needed to be reminded. I’m not on to be intimidated, but I felt acutely uncomfortable there. I wished I hadn’t come. It was a waste of time anyway.

“And then he left me again.”

Warner was quiet for a moment. It wasn’t something he could dispute, after all. Finally, he asked, “Why are you a photojournalist, Jaime?”

I considered that for a moment. “Because I’m good at it. Because I enjoy it.”

“Precisely. And that was why your father did what he did,” he said. “He was good at it, and he enjoyed the challenge.”

“More than he enjoyed being with his only child?”

James Lynde was no desk jockey,” he said. “The idea of a regular nine-to-five job would never have worked for him. He would have been miserable, and that would have made him a bad father.”

So I grew up without him.” I loved my father, but I won’t deny I was not happy when he didn’t return to the States with Nicholas and me after we found him in Tripoli—the night of the US air strike. We almost didn’t make it out alive.

“Why did your marriage end?” Warner asked then.

What business was that of his? I fumbled for the response. “Because I was away too much. Because of my work–”

I saw then where the conversation was going. “I’m not my father. I’m no spy,” I maintained.

“You could be. You have the traits that made your father good at his profession,” he insisted.

I tried to laugh at that, but it came out sounding phony. “Unlike my father, I have no desire to put my life on the line on a daily basis,” I told him.

Your father was a hero,” he said. “He served his country above and beyond the call of duty.”

Yeah.” How could I forget?

We could use someone like you,” he went on. “You’re smart, resourceful, daring, and you have the perfect cover as a photojournalist.”

And my ex-husband happens to be the Ambassador to France,” I said.

That doesn’t hurt.”

It won’t help, either,” I said, standing up. “Nicholas Kendall and I haven’t spoken in five years. But then, I’m guessing you already know that.”

I do,” he admitted. “I also know that you would both like to get back together.”

That surprised me. Nicholas felt the same way? How could he know that? Was he just bluffing? “Where do you get that information?” I asked.

He was evasive. “A reliable source.”

I should have known.” I paused. “It’s been interesting, Mr. Warner, but–”

You used to call me Uncle Harry,” he reminded me.

Yeah. That was before I knew you weren’t really my uncle.” I started for the door, wanting only to get out of there.

Think about it, Jamie. At least consider it.”

I’ll think about it.” It was the truth. I doubted I’d be able to think about much else. Except Nicholas. Was Warner telling the truth? Did Nicholas want the same thing I wanted?

***

I don’t know how many times I picked up the phone in the next twenty-four hours, tempted to call my ex-husband. I wanted to know, needed to know, if he really did feel the same way I did. I always stopped short of actually placing the call. I’ve never been shy, but it would be too painful to tell Nicholas how I really felt, only to discover he didn’t feel the same way.

I was leaving on an assignment. I was headed for Rome in the morning. At least that would keep my mind off my personal problems. Too bad it didn’t help during the night, when I was lying awake thinking about my ex-husband, about the day we called it quits….

Again?” Nicholas asked. “You just got home!”

I know,” I said, not happy that I had to leave again so soon. “This was unexpected–”

Do you realize we’ve only been together ninety days out of the past 365?” he asked. “This is why we don’t have children—we’re never together long enough for you to get pregnant!”

I was packing my bag as we argued. “I want to start a family as much as you do,” I told him. It was the truth. My biological clock was not only ticking, the alarm was going off every hour on the hour. If I didn’t get pregnant soon, it would be too late for us.

Then do something about it,” he challenged me. “Take time off. Take a year off. We don’t need the money.”

It’s not about the money,” I said. “I love what I do.” He already knew that. I loved my work. Did I love it too much?

More than you love me?”

I turned to face him. “That’s not fair.”

Isn’t it?” he asked. “Isn’t this why you’ve been angry at your father ever since we left him in Germany? Because he chose his work over you?”

It’s not the same.”

It’s exactly the same,” he argued.

I zipped my bag and looked at my watch. “We’ll work this out when I get back,” I told him.

His expression was cold. “I won’t be here when you get back,” was all he said.

He wasn’t.

***

Well, if it isn’t El Diablo.”

There was only one person who had ever called me that. Phillip Darcy. And it was like the proverbial pot calling the kettle black. He was the devil in disguise, according to the women in his life.

And it wasn’t even a good disguise.

Darcy was a good-looking man—he reminded me of Harrison Ford, right down to the tattered fedora he always wore. He was a man women would find sexy at any age. He was smart, bold, and talented. Trouble was, he knew it.

Yes, I knew Phillip Darcy well. Everybody in photojournalism knew Darcy. Nobody ever called him Phillip. Or if they did, none of them lived to tell about it. Darcy was something of a legend in our profession. He’d been banned from six countries–at last count–and had been thrown in jail so many times, his editor had established a bail fund for him.

I’d crossed paths with him on several occasions. Usually when we were after the same shot. Now, we were at JFK Airport, waiting for the same flight, as it happened. “If anyone would know the devil on sight, it would be you,” I said, dropping my carryon on the floor as I settled into a chair and waited for the call to board. If I ignored him, he might go away….

He sat down next to me. He obviously wasn’t going away. “So you’re going to Rome too?”

Too?”

Just can’t stay away from me, can you?” he teased.

I can’t get away from you,” I corrected.

Aw, come on—you love me. Admit it.”

I looked at him out of the corner of my eye. “I’m a woman, Darcy,” I said. “As a female, I’m obligated to hate you, remember? All women hate you eventually.”

He grinned. “My mother didn’t hate me.”

I gave a little laugh. “Are you sure about that?”

Only women who have been married to me or have lived with me actually hate me,” he insisted.

He was telling the truth. There was a rumor—unconfirmed, of course—that one of his exes, an FBI agent, had tried to shoot him. When she kicked him out, she boxed up all of his belongings and called Goodwill. He barely got there ahead of the truck.

A woman had to be a complete fool to get involved with Darcy.

You’re single now,” he was saying. “Maybe while in Rome–”

Forget it, Darcy,” I cut him off. “I know you far too well to ever fall into your trap.”

Because I turned him down—repeatedly–he would never stop trying. Rejection was a blow to his ego he simply couldn’t handle.

Face it, El Diablo—people like us just aren’t cut out for family life,” he said, leaning back as far as the rigid airport seating would allow, pulling his fedora low over his brow.

People like us?”

Photojournalists. Reporters. Media folk.”

Isn’t that a stereotype?” I asked, amused by his generalization.

You and I are both divorced,” he pointed out. “I’ve got three strikes.”

Maybe we’re just unlovable,” I suggested, only half-joking. I was starting to wonder.

Wife number three left me because I don’t want any more kids,” he said then. “Do you and the Ambassador have any kids?”

Two,” I said, digging into my bag for my wallet. I took out a photo of my two English bulldogs. The only thing Nicholas and I fought over in the divorce.

Darcy pushed the brim of his hat back a little and looked at it, then at me. “No offense, babe, but them’s the ugliest kids I’ve ever seen,” he joked. “They must look like Daddy. They sure as hell don’t look like you. What’s their names?”

Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin,” I told him. “That’s Bill on the left, Boris on the right.”

He sat up again, laughing out loud. “You named them after Clinton and Yeltsin?”

The names fit,” I said, taking the photo back from him and returning it and my wallet to my bag. “Boris drinks nonstop and Bill humps everything in sight.”

Who got custody?” he asked.

We finally agreed on joint custody,” I said, but I was away so much, they spent most of the time with Nicholas. Then he moved to Paris, and they came to live with me. Now, I have a live-in sitter.”

You have a nanny for the dogs?” he laughed.

Dog sitter, idiot.”

At that moment the announcement came over the PA: “Flight 287 for Rome will now begin boarding….”