Since I’m celebrating my 15th anniversary of being a published author, I’ve been thinking a lot about the book that started at all: Operation Sheba, the first book in my Super Agent Series. Hollywood makes it sound like all you have to do is write a book and then someone publishes it. Reality cannot be farther from the truth. It took years of writing and rewriting that story, attending writing conferences, and joining writing groups, in order for me to land an agent. I had over 60 rejections, and those were just from the ones who took the time to respond. Many didn’t.
My favorite rejections were the xeroxed slips of paper that said, “no thanks.” A few agents shredded my self-confidence with their caustic comments, and I nearly gave up more than once, but a few took the time to encourage me to keep writing. One of those sent me a three-page letter, listing all the things that were wrong with my manuscript, but her few sentences telling me I had a great voice and should keep going, made a difference. I’m glad I listened to her (both about the changes needed and the advice to keep writing), even though she never became my agent. We actually ended up exchanging emails about fashion and personal stuff.
Have you read Operation Sheba? If not, you can get it at a discount in my online store, or you can read the chapters as episodes on Ream, my reader, community platform. On there, I add comments and questions with each episode. Sometimes a bit of trivia can make the story really come to life for you, and that’s one of the things I love about this platform. I can throw in tidbits of behind-the-scenes information about the characters or the research I did concerning the plot line. I did A LOT of research, and that was back before the internet told us everything. I poured over books and documentaries to get the language and plot just right.
Conrad and Julia will always hold a special place in my heart since their story was the first to be published. It kicked off that series, and my career as an author. I’ve had two agents, four publishers, and now do everything as an indie author. In 15 years, I’ve been thrown many curveballs, and at times, wondered if it was worth it. It is. The characters and stories keep me showing up every day at the keyboard – the characters, and YOU, my readers are who I am here for. And it all began with the short story I’ve attached below that came into my head. The price of a kiss.
I hope you enjoy it! If you want to read Conrad and Julia’s story, you can grab it here, or subscribe to my five dollar tier on Ream for the episodes. You’ll get way more than just the novel, so check it out!
If you missed Friday’s newsletter, I have switched email providers. I have a lot more freedom with the new one, and I hope you will make sure to add firstname.lastname@example.org to your safe sender list. Check your spam folder if you didn’t see the newsletter, and mark it not spam so you continue to receive emails from me about new releases and sales. I also have a reader community on Substack, and you are welcome to join for free to get weekly updates and more stories from me.
Meanwhile, I am finishing the draft of Covert Obsession. I love my spies! I’ll be including updates about that on Substack, as well as future newsletters, so stay tuned for the cover reveal and pre-order links coming soon.
Wishing you all a great week. I hope you read something amazing!
OPERATION: The Price of a Kiss
A Conrad Flynn Mission
By Misty Evans
That summer was hot; the woman I was torturing, hotter.
The CIA had rotated me out of the field to run new recruits through The Farm, a training camp located in the Virginia woods where spies learn paramilitary and tradecraft skills. Because of my background, I was in charge of Isolation and Interrogation in the mock prison camp set up as alternate reality where recruits were subjected to torture much like fraternity hazing. My kill rate—getting students to break under extreme stress—was a hundred percent.
Until that summer.
Until that woman.
To graduate The Farm, you must jump from a tower positioned at the exact height to break your neck if you land wrong or the rope harness snaps. You must fling yourself from a helicopter with an M-16 machine gun ready to fire the moment you land. You must survive being hunted through the Virginia woods without food, water or bug repellent by qualified military specialists.
And you must fail Isolation and Interrogation.
Every person, even a trained operative, will break at some point. If you want accurate information, you must manipulate a person’s weaknesses; break their mind along with their body.
The woman in the three-by-three isolation chamber was like no other student I’d dealt with. She had sat in the corner for the past forty-eight hours with knees bent, head bowed—not in frustration or worry, but calm rest. She’d shown no signs of separation anxiety, panic or agitation.
Digging for what made her tick, I scanned her classified personnel file, reviewing her history, Myers-Briggs personality test results and psych eval. Julia Torrison was a high analytic who preferred working alone. She sought out peace and quiet and avoided socializing. She was a lone wolf that isolation alone would not break.
Changing tactics, I sent in other trainers to get in her face. They yelled at her like drill sergeants, told her raunchy jokes like drunken sea dogs, interrogated her about the delicate subject of the child abuse she suffered at the hands of her stepfather.
She gave up nothing.
More hours passed. She leaned against the cell wall, unmoving, her eyes hard as stones. What would it take to make this woman dissolve into tears? To make her beg me to let her go?
Entering her cubicle, I moved in close, pressing her body against the cold concrete wall with mine. Her eyes were a startling emerald green, but the fire I’d seen in them earlier was gone. Still she locked her gaze on me, a battle line being drawn. I lowered my face so close to hers our noses almost touched.
“I’d love to kiss you,” I whispered.
I wasn’t lying. Since the moment I’d spotted her in the new recruits, she’d become a wicked form of Venus taunting me day and night…her flirty lips teasing me, her gutsy bravado challenging me, her carefree attitude pissing me off.
She hadn’t slept more than an hour in four days. She’d eaten only bread and water. Her long hair was a wild tangle around her pale face and there was dirt smudged on her jaw line. In the two months of watching her excel at everything from hand-to-hand combat to passing a lie detector test, I wanted her just as badly as ever.
Waves of heat rolled off her body onto mine. Something sparked in her eyes, the fire in her gut still not dead after all.
In one swift, calculated movement, her knee connected with my balls.
I buckled, white hot pain searing my groin. As I fell, she snatched the gun from my waistband and pointed it at my head. “The price of a kiss is your life, Conrad Flynn.”
My perfect record took a hit that summer, but I got what I wanted in the end.
And that kiss? That kiss was just the beginning…