Winter Blogfest: Dixie Jackson

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a $50.00 gift card for winner’s choice of: Amazon (US only, please) OR Starbucks.

The Rule of Four by Dixie Jackson

One Thing They Want, One Thing They Need, One Thing They Wear, One Thing They Read

For the past few weeks, I’ve heard people all around me asking the proverbial age-old question: where did this year go?! I know where my year went; I’m just having trouble wrapping my head around where it went and how. My year was spent caring for my parents, whom we lost in October. Yes, both Mom and Dad passed on…less than 48 hours apart. There’s more on that journey over on my blog, but here I wanted to touch on how that’s affected my outlook on the holidays. While one might think the holidays are intolerable at my house, something I want to ignore this year, one would be surprised. Don’t get me wrong. The holidays are harder this year. There have been tears, but I find myself waxing nostalgic and remember some pretty great times and trying to focus on those to honor the losses my family has suffered.

One thing they want, one thing they need, one thing they wear, one thing they read. I always see this sage advice on a meme or two around social media this time of year. And I always am reminded that this sage advice isn’t as new as some might imagine. My family seemed to be in tune with this way of thinking with the holiday gift giving long before it was chic to think this way. When we were kids, this catchy line summed up our Christmas haul perfectly.

We always got something we needed, always. The thing needed varied widely from year to year from gloves to coats to boots to watches. We always got a brand-new outfit which we put on immediately to wear to Christmas dinner at my grandma’s house. We always, always, got books. Those were some of my favorite things. As for the something we wanted, my sister reminded me of how that thing was chosen while we were talking on the phone a few days ago. Each year a few weeks prior to the big day we were handed the Sears catalog and a pen. We were to go through the Christmas edition catalog chock full of toys and circle a few things we’d like to have. Then Santa would have some ideas. I remember we always got a baby doll, always. Along with the baby doll would come a handmade receiving blanket for our new baby and a handmade gown for her. I also remember we always got something we wanted that we had to learn to share. For instance, one year we got the kids kitchen from Sears. Anyone else remember those? They were made of metal, not like today’s playsets made of hard plastic, and they were this hideous yellow color. Learn to share it we did, and we loved every minute of our time together with it.

The memories of those Christmases gone by, and the rule of four: a want, a need, something to wear, something to read, are what is sustaining me and buoying me up this year as our family navigates a new normal. I’m also consulting the sage advice in my gift buying for my grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and “our kids” who belong to our friends. If you’ve also had a rough year, I hope nostalgic memories might buoy you up this year, too, and remind you of what’s really important, and the rule of four might be a guide in helping you find your center.

What are some of your fondest holiday memories and gifts? Did your family also adhere to the rule of four? Did you ever have to learn to share a gift with your siblings? Leave me some comments! I’d love to chat and I’d love to see your name get put into the hat for my prize.

Cord McAllister was born of a long line of dissidents, spies, and dark ops fighters. The roots of his family tree took him clear back to the War of 1812 where his aunt several times removed busied herself with stealing enemy secrets rather than knitting socks. But nothing in the entirety of his family pedigree could have prepared him for his current assignment: Lucy Wayland, kindergartner. With his house in shambles and overrun with toys, his mind a murky blur, and his heart in his throat from constant worry about the kid, Cord knows one thing. He needs backup. Never in his wildest imagination did he expect that help to come in the form of a ghost from his past.

Chloe Hamilton was born of a long line of dissidents, spies, and dark ops fighters. How deep she’s in and how far back those roots take her is a secret to everyone including her ex, who just happens to be in charge of protecting her current assignment: Lucy Wayland, kindergartner. After four years of radio silence, Chloe finds herself on Cord’s doorstep with her au pair persona on and dragging way more baggage than the suitcase holding her clothes. Never in her wildest imagination did she ever expect to see Cord again, yet here she was in living color.

It doesn’t take long to discover while confined to quarters together that the fire still burns bright between them, but the secrets that kept them apart before have only grown exponentially. Chloe’s determined to fulfill not only her mission, but her destiny, which she knows without a doubt was etched on her heel long before she was conceived of. Even if it means leaving what she wants behind, again. Cord’s determined he’s not taking no for an answer, again. Their determinations will take them from the Carolina coast to the mountains of the Pacific Northwest where all the secrets that kept them apart will come unraveled, and will either make them or break them.


Born and raised in the heart of the Ozarks, Dixie Jackson learned a love of the written word at a young age. She remembers reading voraciously and spinning her own tales before she could even write them down. It was the encouragement of her sixth-grade creative writing teacher which would plant the idea that just never seemed to go away. She wanted to someday see her works in print.

After experiencing a good bit of the world due to her husband’s thirty-year stint with the USMC and living a few years in the Great Smoky Mountains, Dixie has returned to her roots. She makes her home in the heart of the Ozark Mountains with her now retired Marine husband, two rescue dogs, and her beloved chickens. When she’s not writing, you can find her digging in the dirt and nurturing her plants while plotting the next step in one of her story lines or another. She also loves experimenting in her kitchen, embroidering, quilting, crocheting, climbing her family’s twisted tree through genealogy research, and of course reading.


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Character Interview with Trent and Leila by Dixie Jackson – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Dixie Jackson will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Thanks so much to the great team here at Long and Short Reviews for hosting me today, the last day of my blog tour. It’s been a blast. I recently sat down with the main characters of Parallax, Trent Wayland and Leila O’Neil, and had a little chat. Hope you enjoy getting to know them a bit better.

Tell us, where did you grow up? Is that the only place you’ve ever lived or have you moved around?

Trent: I grew up in Texas hill country. Unlike my brother, who joined the Corps straight out of high school, I didn’t do any international globe-trotting until he resigned his commission and came home. When he opened S3 and asked me to be his business partner, that’s when my adventures began. Honestly, though, after this last stint all over the planet with Leila, I’m more than ready to settle down and stay home for a while.

Leila: I grew up all over the globe. My dad was a Marine so we didn’t really have a home base. And, yes, we moved around extensively. Our last duty station before I went off to Academy, however, was in Virginia.

What’s your current occupation?

Trent: Co-owner of S3, the security company I share with my brother. House-husband sounds pretty good somedays, though.

Leila: My cover occupation or my real occupation?

What’s in your refrigerator right now?

Trent: I have no idea. Since hiring a chef, I rarely look in there.

Leila: I don’t have a refrigerator right now. Life on the run, you know?

What smell do you associate with your childhood? Is it a happy smell?

Trent: Horse barn, and damn skippy it’s happy.

Leila: I associate a couple smells with my childhood. Boot polish and baked goods. Boot polish reminds me of what I’m trying to outrun and who I’m trying to prove something to. Not so happy. Baked goods remind me of my grandparents’ house. Really happy smell. I only wish some of my Nona’s baking lessons had stuck. Then maybe I’d be a baker right now, somewhere baking, instead of trotting the globe with assassins after me.

What’s a typical Saturday morning like for you?

Trent: Pancakes and cartoons with Lucy from the time the sun comes up until about noon. Then I’m checking in with the office while shuffling through every news channel out there looking for potential hotspots. In the fall, college football games. Go, Aggies!

Leila: Wait, what’s a Saturday? When you’re on call twenty-four-seven, there are no Saturdays and the other days just sort of blend together.

What is your greatest strength? Weakness?

Trent: Loving Leila.

Leila: My greatest strength is also my greatest weakness. My ability to stay focused on the mission. While that’s great for the mission and my handlers, it’s not great for my loved ones.

Did you believe in true love before you met Leila?

Trent: Absolutely! My parents have been married for over fifty years and still get giddy around each other. I had a great example of what true love looks like even when the chips are down.

Leila: I believed in it because my grandparents were madly in love, but I just didn’t believe it was for me. Occupational hazard and all that.

Do you have any regrets? What are they?

Trent: Plenty. But there’s no need in dwelling on them.

Leila: Plenty. And I don’t like to talk about them.

What is your greatest achievement?

Trent: Lucy.

Leila: Lucy.

Is there anything you’d like to tell your writer?

Trent: Thank you for finally telling our story.

Leila: Thanks for letting the kick-butt girls take front and center.

Six years later, Trent Wayland still isn’t over his spring fling. Probably because he was convinced when he married Captain Leila O’Neil, their fling would go on a lifetime. Leila is his soul mate and Trent knows it. He might not admit it on a regular basis, but that doesn’t negate the raw emotion she draws out of him each and every time he thinks about her. Forget the fact his heart splits in two all over again when he’s afforded the luxury of hearing her voice. That doesn’t happen often, however. Leila only tosses a handful of words his way when she initiates the weekly video calls he’s allowed with the other love of his life, their daughter Lucy.

Once upon a time, Leila O’Neil wanted to be a Marine when she grew up. She worked hard, she landed a seat at the Academy, and she was the head of her class. Then her dream was destroyed and she traded it in for a new one at the nearest Coterie portal. She wears so many faces and so many hats, at some point she lost track of her soul. That didn’t really bother her until Trent Wayland came along and almost peeled her dressing room curtain back nearly exposing her innermost person. The real person, the real Leila, who once upon a time wanted to be a Marine when she grew up.

Leila misses the real person, and realizes it at the worst possible moment. With her daughter’s life on the line and Trent on the scene of the crime, Leila figures out she’s been using her hurt and anger to fuel all the wrong goals. In a daring move, she puts it all on the line, hoping it’s enough to gain her freedom from her handlers and her husband’s forgiveness.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“Can this wait?” she asked, clearing her throat and speaking in a much lower, calmer voice than she felt like using on him at the moment. “I need to compartmentalize everything that’s coming at me all at once so I can process it in some sort of orderly fashion and manage to not get us killed before we get the chance to talk about what may or may not be going on between us.”

“Do you have a label for that box?” Trent drilled, glaring at her.

“Which one?” She tapped her fingernails against the table and pursed her lips, trying to stay the wellspring of anger bubbling up at his completely inappropriate timing. And if he only knew. Leila had so many boxes she neatly placed things in it’d be easy to completely lose track of the exact number and location inside her head of all them.

“The one you stuff us in every time things reach a point you might actually have to say it.” When his nostrils flared, Leila could no longer hold back the sarcastic cynic she could be so easily.

“Say what?” She quirked one side of her mouth up and all but batted her lashes, daring him to continue down this path.

“You know very well what,” Trent roared, slamming a fist against the table causing the silverware still setting on the edges of plates on the other end of it to rattle and tea to spill out over the top of her unfinished cup, which was most likely cold and bitter by now.

“You’ve not said it in a long while, either, you know.” Leila pulled her now drying hair behind her ears and gnawed on the inside of her lip. Trent didn’t answer, instead just sat back down and grabbed his phone. “I have my reasons but they’re not the same as yours, you coward. You’re afraid.”

About the Author:Born and raised in the heart of the Ozarks, Dixie Jackson learned a love of the written word at a young age. She remembers spinning tales before she could even write them down, but it was the encouragement of her sixth-grade creative writing teacher which would plant the idea that just never seemed to go away. She wanted to someday see her works in print.

Dixie makes her home in the Great Smoky Mountains with her retired Marine husband, two rescue dogs, and her beloved chickens. When she’s not writing, you can find her digging in the dirt and nurturing her plants while plotting the next step in one story line or another. She also loves experimenting in her kitchen, embroidering, quilting, crocheting, tracing her family’s twisted tree, and of course reading.

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