Winner of Eppie 2007 - Mainstream
For adventure reporter, Melanie "Mel" Morton, World War II is part of the past until the day that former B-17 bomber pilot, Jack Hamilton walks out of history and into her kitchen.
What he tells her sends her on her craziest adventure yet—straight into the past to try and save her grandfather’s life.
All she has to do is travel through time, stick to the mission, outmaneuver a couple of armies in the middle of a war, oh, and not fall in love with the hotshot bomber pilot.
No problem…well, maybe a little…
The C-130 rumbled through the sky, the propellers cutting determinedly into the gradually thinning air. Melanie Morton had been miserable on the ground in her wet suit and gear, but as the plane went up and the temperature dropped she realized she was an amateur in miserable.
She’d done some crazy—and misery-inducing—things for her television magazine segment, Make Mel Cry Uncle, appearing four times a year on BrightLine Weekly, but doing a HALO jump with the Navy SEALS was taking crazy thirty thousand feet too high.READ MORE
Her producer had had to do some heavy duty persuasion before the Navy would allow her to even prepare for the jump, let alone attempt it. They finally agreed, probably because the powers-that-be thought she’d never make it through Hell Week, let alone survive the grueling training regimen that was required prior to the high altitude-low open drop with an actual SEAL team. But here she was, all geared up and only one way to go: down. At one-hundred and twenty miles per hour.
If she’d had any doubts about her sanity, she didn’t anymore.
She really was out of her freaking mind.
The sad part, she’d been out of it clear back to when she’d first pitched the idea that had eventually become Make Mel Cry Uncle. Since that time she’d learned to fight various sorts of fires. She’d trained with cops and SWATS, trekked to the Arctic, done a stint with the Coast Guard and another in search-and-rescue, gone swimming with sharks, dived to deep sea wreckage—the list was long and getting longer. Four shows a year for five years. Dang. So far she hadn’t made it into space, but it wasn’t because her producer hadn’t tried to talk her into it. There was buzz of going back to the moon, but that was so last century. Maybe if they let her go to Mars….
She shook her head. What was she thinking? She still hadn’t gotten her tush out of this plane and she was thinking about Mars? She was worse than freaking insane…whatever that might be.
Of course, she could cry uncle and go home. Show over. SEALS happy. Their charity would be even happier because she’d have to ante up the dough and not them. That was the deal, if she cried she donated to their favorite charity. If she didn’t, then they had to donate to hers. So far, her charity had made out like a bandit. They loved her. But all good things had to come to an end sometime. So why wasn’t her mouth open and why wasn’t she crying uncle like a baby?
Her Gran could have supplied the answer. She’d told Mel almost every day of Mel’s life that she was the most stubborn person on the face of the earth. It was probably her biggest character flaw, though it wasn’t her only one. However, there came a time to face those flaws and defeat them.
Did it really matter if her SEAL team expected her to fail? Was proving them wrong that big of a deal? So what if they had bets on when she’d cry? They were also betting on when she’d wet her pants. It was probably a guy thing.
She looked down the row of faces, seated on the hard, narrow bench with her. All of them were in full scuba gear and each held an oxygen mask, in anticipation of the moment when the cabin would be depressurized. Hers was probably the only face without the tough-guy expression. This was an experienced team of steely-eyed, professional killers who’d proved their chops in Afghanistan and Iraq. They were honest-to-goodness heroes, like her grandfather and her father. She was proud to be sitting with them, even if they did want her to fail.
It wasn’t personal. They liked her, or what they knew of her. Some of them had even offered to get to know her on a more personal level and weren’t holding a grudge at being turned down. They just wanted her to fail. Only in the movies could a girl make it as a SEAL. It would make them so happy if she failed. It was probably the patriotic thing to do.
It was a pity the necessary word was stuck in her stubborn throat like a freaking hair ball that wouldn’t hack up. Even as she was listing the reasons for crying uncle, another part of her brain was pointing out that it was only a jump. Other than the first step and the velocity, it was really no different from her time with the paratroopers.
So that made her stubborn and delusional.
There was a saying in the SEALS that the only good day was yesterday. This was her last, bad day. Tomorrow she’d be on her way home, with all her SEAL yesterdays behind her. She could go back and kill her producer. Thanks to the SEALS, she now knew about a hundred different ways. Pity she could only use one of them on him.
The aircraft shuddered and then straightened out.
“Three minute warning,” Rockman’s voice said in her ear piece.
They all donned their oxygen masks and then the rear ramp slowly lowered, depressurizing the hold. Mel had thought it was as cold as it could get.
She was wrong.
“Line up!” Rockman spoke again.
Moving like ungainly gooney birds, the team and Mel formed two lines, on either side of the plane, clutching at hanging straps for balance, their footing made precarious by heavy packs, webbed feet and the bouncing of the plane as it rode the air currents. Mel realized she was hyperventilating into her mask. Would the friction and pure oxygen set her lungs on fire? That thought didn’t help. Fear Rockman would notice did.
Rockman got nose to nose with her. He didn’t need to. She could hear him just fine in the ear piece. On the other hand, he’d spent the last three months with his face in hers telling her to move her butt somewhere other than where it currently was. It was probably a hard habit to break. Maybe it was even a freaking SEAL rule.
“So, Frog Lady, you ready to cry uncle?”
Frog wasn’t actually meant to be an insult, even though everything Rockman said sounded like one. This team were divers, hence the frog appellation. Over his shoulder, Mel could see Henry, her rather green-about-the-gills cameraman, recording the moment. It was also his job to record her exit from the plane, or her ignominious defeat. If she did make the jump, then her free-fall would be recorded by mini-cams affixed to the team’s head gear. Her “Mel-cam” was so that her viewers could have the illusion of seeing it from her point of view.
So this was it. Decision time. And she needed to pee. No question someone was going to win at least one bet, with the cold lining up against her sphincters. If she was going to be in for a pee, might as well go for the pound. Or in this case, in for the jump.
“Sir, I’m going to jump, sir!” She shouted, because shouting was the only tone Rockman could hear, based on past experience.
He nodded sharply, even as his brown eyes told her he didn’t believe her. Mel tried to focus on her instructions, rather than the increasing pressure on her bladder. If she wet her pants now it would probably turn to ice inside her suit. Hopefully it wouldn’t form in to stalagmites in there. Or was that stalactites? Either was sure to be painful.
“Ladies first.” Rockman gave her a sardonic look.
Great, now he decides to be a gentleman. She looked at the ramp hanging over thirty thousand feet of atmosphere and ocean and her sphincters gave up the unfair battle, releasing in a warm, wet rush. It wasn’t that bad. And it was as much encouragement as she was going to get on this plane.
“Hoo-yah!” She ran forward and leapt off the ramp into nothing. Six guys who owed her charity money followed her out. She just hoped they weren’t bitter about the money. She had a long way to fall with them.COLLAPSE
on Long and Short Romance Review:
"It's almost impossible not to get wrapped up in this amazing book. Out of Time is the perfect book to unwind with after a long day at work.”
Jill Smith on RT Book Reviews wrote:
"Out of Time has Oscar nomination written all throughout its very well written and adventurous pages. I can see this being turned into a movie because it is so fleshed out; details are so vivid and the dialogue matched true to the characters that they seem to jump off of the pages. Ms. Jones has a winner with this story and it’s going on my keeper shelf." Best Book
on Manic Readers:
"Jones is back and taking on new genres and challenges in this high-intensity time-traveling war thriller. Love can truly span generations, as these soul mates born out of time prove. Adding in the drama of being trapped behind enemy lines ratchets up the tension and thrill factor! "
on The Romance Studio:
"What a great time I had reading ! I got in trouble at work, at home and I could not put it down. Ms. Jones made me feel I was right there with the Time Machine crew in the freezing skies over France and the French countryside with the Resistance trying to help downed flyers was all too real. Even the deaths were done true to life. I can't express how much this book made me think of other folks' relatives who lived and died for our freedom."
on Over My Dead Body Reviews:
"Out of Time is a remarkable story that kept this reader glued to the pages. Mel is electrically charged as she steps into a time-travel that spins with excitement and thrills while trying to keep her heart at bay with Jack. They share a chemistry that is marvelously created. It is love at its finest as they try to sort out a past to produce a future for everyone. Ms. Jones originates a performance with her characters that puts the reader in the center of the stage. With the enemy beckoning to stop Mel at every turn, she pens a fabulous read that shouldn’t be missed as she captivates the audience with suspense, romance and just the right edge until the final conclusion. The reader is transported into yesteryear during a time of war where our heroes should never be forgotten in a war that costs so many their precious lives and loves, in a heart-felt story that spins with much creativity." Five hearts!
"...the story is magical, romantic, and funny. It's a hoot to see Mel, a thoroughly 21st century woman, trying to cope with the culture, and the uncomfortable shoes, of wartime England. When she joins the crew in a mission to occupied France, the reader can imagine what it must have been like inside the bomber, trying to complete their mission under terrifying circumstances. In this homage to the Greatest Generation, Jones takes us on a wild and often poignant ride through time."
The (mostly) True Story Behind the writing of Out of Time
The research for this book has been so fascinating. I've had the chance to type to some amazing B-17 pilots from The Greatest Generation, hear their stories and pick their brains. I owe them big time for their kindness now and for their bravery then. :-)
And so, finally, I can interview myself about the writing of this book!
Me: So, what was the most challenging part of writing this novel?
Myself: There were several challenges I had to overcome in writing this novel. First, was just the change in genre. While this has a lot of the elements of the suspense novel, it is more about over coming obstacles, than overcoming a specific villain or villains. I'm used to just killing someone when things slow down. Now, people do die in this book. It is about a war. But, they don't die as a result of villainous action, so they don't really kick up the action in the same way.
The other challenge of writing this book was capturing the historic detail. It is really tough to write a historical novel and my respect for the habitual historical author has increased one hundred-fold.
And the last challenge was finding the type of historical details that I needed to make the story come alive. I received a lot of help from former B-17 pilots, etc and they helped me with historical detail of that experience, but once my characters were in enemy territory...oh my!
Me: What did you particularly like about this book?
Myself: I really like Mel, the heroine of this story. She's gutsy and has a sense of humor and don't mind admitting she's not happy with what's going on. I also really like Jack, the bomber pilot-hero. This is the ultimate, can't-happen romance, but I hope that I made this more than a romance. This is a mutual journey to understanding that when you mess with life, it can kick your trash. <g>
Me: What else is unusual about this book?
Myself: This is the first time I've had an acknowledgements page. And its a long list. The WWII veterans who helped me were amazingly kind and patient with my questions and with sharing their stories. There's a reason they are called the Greatest Generation.
Me: You left the ending open for a sequel, didn't you?
Myself: (sigh) Yes, I did. I apparently really like to suffer for my art. It's not enough to write one, really hard book. No, I need to leave the door open for another! But it is hard to let go of these characters. They still want to be part of my life.
Me: Speaking of these characters, they kind of helped you write the book, didn't they?
Myself: Probably more than any book I've written. I literally was pulling this one out of my butt (a method recommended by my daughter, Elizabeth, for when you're in a hole) as I wrote. Several times the characters provided the solutions to problems--and managed to surprise me.
Me: There is also something very special to you about this book, isn't there?
Myself: Yes. Beyond telling a good story (I hope!) I wanted this book to be something that my grandmothers would like, if they were still alive to read it. Mel's home, in the book is actually modeled after one of my Grandmother's houses. That sentence sounds clunky, but I can't figure out how to fix it.
I also didn't want it to be a German bashing book. The Germans are our allies and I have a friend in Germany, who I wanted to be able to read this book. Because my character is from this time, she has a unique perspective when she makes the leap into the past and the story reflects that perspective.
Me: Do you have anything else to add?
Myself: Just that I hope readers will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Me: That wraps up our Behind the Book interview! If you have a question for me or myself, (or even I), email me!