Today I am so pleased to welcome Venona Keyes to Joyfully Jay. Venona is here as part of the GRL Blog Tour. She has also brought along an excerpt from her book Seek the Taken and a really cool giveaway.  Please join me in giving her a big welcome!

Men of Action

grl tour badgeI was always a fan of action guys like James Bond or Jason Bourne. They were intelligent, physically fit, resourceful, and got things done. They had an agenda and that agenda, for what it’s worth, was going to be executed. They always knew how to get out of a jam no matter what the odds against them were. Yes, they did have some help. Yes, they did get in trouble with authority. Yes, they did get to run shirtless. Thankfully, on that last point, movie directors shared my interests (or more box office dollars) in showing the sexiness and sex appeal of the male form in action. Case in point: a wonderful after ocean swim sequence where James Bond emerged from the waves in his baby blue swim trunks trimmed with a dark blue waist band and two dark blue stripes on the each side. Yes, I remember that scene well and the swim suit too. The way Agent Bond moved in and out of the water, sure and precise in his movements, fluid really, while being quite flawed on the inside. A perfect package: brains, body, confidence, and a deeply hidden insecurity of some kind. That holds true for the comic book characters too (shirtless and flawed). What’s there not to love?

My secret agents/spies/operatives are a conglomeration of nearly every man of action I’ve read in a book, seen on a sliver screen, or see during triathlon competitions. Jake Anders from The Trust is proficient fighter, excellent marksman, expert knife thrower, and is a Ph.D candidate. Quinn Signot from Seek the Taken has the moves of an MMA fighter and has an IQ that surpasses most of those in Mensa.

Men of action are not just secret agents—though they are fun to write—they’re active in their daily lives. The characters in my other works all keep active mentally and physically without having to carry a weapon or make a key out of gum and a paperclip. These men might not be buff-bod guys, just guys that keep in shape by doing everyday tasks. They take active vacations like Scott and Colum in Good Food Gone Bad (Dreamspinner Press’s Don’t Try This at Home Anthology), run to keep in shape like Alex Bishop in Prelude, or in my to-be-published story, Coming of Age in DSP’s Celebrate! Advent Calendar collection, Aero Kurokuma walks the steep hills around his home for two hours daily, meditates, and moves large rocks in his garden. My men of action just need to keep moving.

Seek the Taken continues in the 2014 GRL Author’s book. It’s about two deep ops agents with one agent missing. The first part was written from Agent Quinn Signot’s point of view while he is seeking his partner and was printed in 2013 Supporting Author’s book, From Atlanta with Love. This year’s installment is written from Liam Grace, the kidnapped agent’s point of view. The third installment will appear on my blog after this year’s GRL. Will it be a final installment? Not sure. Fictional men of action are timeless.

Excerpt from Seek the Taken

“…and we have a report of a fight—yes, a fight, with people out of their cars on the Stevenson Expressway inbound just past Harlem. It’s causing a gapers delay that extends all the way back to two-ninety-four and it’s building. You may want to find alternate route or take public transportation. That is the traffic report on WBEZ.”

The fight was long since over—I should know, I’d been in it. Another altered agent was sent. Though it was a better copy than the one before, it still wasn’t Liam. I cruised by the site on my motorcycle, clad in a black leather riding suit, a matching black helmet, and gloves that hid my damage from the altercation.

Just another anonymous biker on the road

The police and the ambulance had just arrived on the scene. Witnesses pulled over to the side of the road, pointing to the edge where the assailant had jumped. I smiled. They wouldn’t find me. Even if I had left DNA at the scene, they wouldn’t find me. But I would find Liam even if it was the last thing I would do in this life.

The day Liam left for the grocery store, three months ago, was when it started. The impersonator that returned was not my partner and lover. Liam and I have both been in the underground underbelly of espionage, deep undercover for the U S of A. We no longer existed on any grid that the conventional covert operations had. We knew things. We knew a lot of things. Things that would make your skin crawl and give you nightmares even when wide awake in broad daylight. We were not hit men; we were eliminators. You and your operations would cease to exist. Period. No trace of you would be found unless we made it possible. Most of the time, our orders were to leave no trace; others times, just enough to leave a pointed warning. Liam and I had been separate agents—until they determined we worked best as a team. They had even gone so far as to figure out our preference in partners. They were right. Liam was my perfect match in every way. I would kill and die for him, as he would for me.

Now, I needed to find him through all the stupid fucking drones they had sent in his place. Each one had a clue. If I didn’t catch the clue, I’d be dead. It was kill or be killed in this lethal game of hide and seek.

The most recent copy of Liam that lay bloodied and lifeless on the side of I-55 had arrived last night. Into our fifth floor apartment he came, groceries in hand, smile on his face. Damn, that new bio putty really did make him look so much like Liam it hurt. They tried to copy his mannerisms, voice, and body. Tried is the operative word. There was always something subtle that they didn’t and couldn’t get right. This one’s cock was just a bit too large, and he was missing one thing: the single gray pubic hair I had found when blowing Liam six months ago. I had teased him that the job was causing him gray hairs; he shot back that it was me, prolonging the agony of his orgasms, which was getting him prematurely silver. See, I can deep throat Liam—and I knew precisely where his dick landed past my uvula. This guy was about an eighth of an inch too large and hit the back of my throat in a new place. The people who had gone to the trouble of manipulating his face and body to mimic Liam’s should have known I gave my partner head on a regular basis and should have measured the damn dick.

We were driving a new “company” car down the Stevenson into the city when I elbowed the copy hard in the head and pulled over to the side of the road about a thousand yards from a spot where an escape bike and cover were stashed. He knew what was going on and jumped out of the car, ready to fight. He had to have known the last five sent before him had failed and died, each with two words plastered on their body: TRY AGAIN. Whoever “they” were, they had gotten the message, I’m sure.

The clone and I gave the near-rush-hour drivers a show they would not soon forget. He had too much blood in his eyes from the head wound to see; I swept his feet out from underneath him and pushed him down hard to the ground, then stood on his neck.

“Why?” I demanded.

The double knew better than to play stupid. “Because you’re too good,” he managed as I was crushing his trachea.

“What do you have for me?”


“Yeah, I know you’re number six.”

“No, six.” He got a bit cheeky—his last words were, “Thanks for the great blow.”

I felt the bone crush under my foot and heard the cartilage pop. I reached down and slapped my signature note on the quickly cooling body.

In quick succession, I took the BB’s out of my pocket, whipped them at the windshield, shattering it and withdrew my gun and shot out the front tires of the car. The vehicle was rendered unusable for the time being. I ran over to the top of the grassy berm and leaped over the edge. I dropped and rolled under a tree and down a covered entrance to a tunnel. Once I had secured the entrance, I ran south the thousand yards to the getaway bike and riding gear. I dressed quickly and steered the bike towards the service road, then up to the street. I got on the highway, and slowly passed the scene. Would they find the escape route? Maybe. Not my concern now, since it wouldn’t be used again.

Six drones. Six numbers. Four more and I would have a phone number. Too bad I wouldn’t need it. I was the sniffer of the team. The subtle smell off this last body double cinched the location where he had been prepped. Was it a trap or were the kidnappers careless? Now past the scene, I shifted gears and headed down the trail of the unknown left for me to follow.


Venona Keyes is a modern woman who believes in doing it all; if doing it all is only in her head. She amazes people that she can be wholly unorganized yet pack a perfect carryon suitcase for a ten day trip to Paris. Ms. Keyes is a believer in the just in time theory, and can be seen sprinting to the airport gate before the plane door closes.

Venona has experienced love and loss at the deepest level, and is thankful for writing and daydreaming, for it kept, and still keeps her sane. Writing also introduced her to some of the most supportive and wonderful people, to which she will always be grateful.

Venona is a voracious reader, loves her feline boys, volunteers at an animal shelter, attempts to cook everything in her CSA boxes, is an accomplished speaker, is a seasoned triathlete, enjoys swimming, biking, skipping, and her beloved over-grown garden.

You can find Venona Keyes:


For GRL this year, I have three choices of what to bring to the event, and they are all food items. Last year, I made granola, and this year I am making one of the following: Fruit and Nut Bar (think Kind Bar), an energy cookie (like a breakfast cookie), or a trail mix. I will be whipping up all three this coming weekend as a prep for GRL, and you can help me decide which one I’ll bring! You’ll also be a secondary character in the third installment of Seek the Taken. Interested? Then leave a comment on who’s your fictional Man of Action and why for your chance to win.

Just leave a comment to enter for your chance to win. The contest ends on Sunday, September 14th at 11:59 pm EST.

  • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win.  The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
  • If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
  • Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
  • Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
  • By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
  • Readers may only enter once for each contest.  Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
  • Void where prohibited by law.
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