Last spring, freshly returned from two weeks in Cape Town and the Western Cape, I stumbled upon an old documentary about the Special Task Force, the South African Police Service’s answer to the SAS. The guys featured in the documentary were like human tanks. They went through an insane, multi-day application process that involved severe sleep deprivation and dodging live rounds. Then they became experts in sharpshooting, explosives, urban combat, and hostage rescue, complete with breaking down doors and high-speed chases. And just in case they weren’t yet sufficiently bad-ass? They all have to be proficient in skydiving, so they can be parachuted in wherever they’re needed.Neil McCartney STF (2)

In short, these dudes were amazing. And I got to thinking.

I had a few days off over Easter and thought it was the perfect time to kick off a manuscript. Thus was born Secure Target, the first installment of the three-part Elite Operators series. It was a romantic suspense in which super-sexy STF officer Bronnik Mason is assigned to protect girl-next-door Lacey Cross from a serial killer who has named her as his next victim. I loved the way Bronnik’s big, blond, rugged strength was softened by his over-developed sense of honor, and I loved the way Lacey tapped into a fearlessness and strength she’d never had reason to access, and certainly didn’t realize she possessed. After a few revisions I decided the manuscript was ready for submission, and began shopping it around in July 2012.

This was my first completed work – and subsequent submission – in five years. The story of my previous attempt is too long to include here, but needless to say the industry had changed a lot in that time and I was now targeting digital publishers rather than narrowly defined Harlequin lines. I knew these things took time, so as soon as the submission e-mails went out I put them to the back of my mind and set to work on the next project.

The next project, as it turns out, was The Striker’s Chance, the novel that began as August’s Camp NaNoWriMo effort and ended with an offer of publication from Carina Press in November. I was already halfway through my November NaNo project at that point, and that story has ended up as Love at Last Sight, one-half of a forthcoming military holiday duology from Carina Press. So to say I had a lot of writerly things to think about is an understatement, and sure enough, Bronnik and Lacey fell even further down my list of priorities.

Cue January. My military holiday story is done and submitted. I haven’t yet received edits on The Striker’s Chance, but I know they’re coming. Do I start something new? Do I save capacity for edits? Probably a good time to update my query tracker spreadsheet… And oh, I realize it’s been six months since I sub’d Secure Target and I haven’t heard a thing.

I sent a polite nudge to Samhain Publishing, the place where I thought the novel would have the best fit. I received a very quick response, and by mid-January the verdict was in: the manuscript had gotten waylaid between its first and second readers, and while the editor felt it had potential, she wanted revisions.

Okay – a revise and resubmit request. I’d heard of these, and I thought they sounded a hell of a lot better than a rejection. As fate would have it my Striker’s Chance edits came through around that time, so when I turned back to Secure Target a few weeks later I not only had fresh eyes, I had a HUGE arsenal of new skills from my first professional editing process. I turned the manuscript around in early March – about six weeks after receiving the R&R request – and crossed my fingers this story would finally find its home.

On April 23rd – more than nine months after it was originally submitted – I got the e-mail. The editor loved the revised version and offered a contract! And so, now that the ink is finally dry, I’m delighted to announce that Secure Target, the first book in the three-part Elite Operators romantic suspense series, will be released by Samhain Publishing on March 11, 2014!

I’ll leave you with the preliminary blurb, and the earnest encouragement for anyone losing patience with the submission and revision process that sometimes, it really is worth the wait!

Experienced hostage rescue operative Bronnik Mason has been chasing a serial killer around the globe for over a year. He’s taken the case after four women have already died, and he’s sworn to do everything in his power to ensure there won’t be a fifth. But when it comes to safeguarding Lacey Cross, a beautiful and fearless small-town receptionist, Bronnik realizes this case will put his professional boundaries to the test.

Having grown up in the shadows of brothers who were always on the wrong side of the law, Lacey is dutiful, hard-working and uncomplaining – and bored. When the sexy South African police officer bursts into her office, she’s yanked out of her sleepwalking existence and into a world of terror and jeopardy. She’s never been more afraid – or had more fun.

Can Bronnik protect Lacey from the most ruthless criminal he’s ever faced – or will her death be as anonymous as her life until now? Secure Target follows Bronnik and Lacey on a high-stakes, international journey fueled by action, danger, and a hefty dose of sexual tension.