Hi friends! I’m really excited to welcome Eileen Dreyer back to ALBTALBS, and she’s got an excellent post. It ties into one I posted last week, written a long time ago about some pitfalls in romantic suspense. Eileen made a comment on FB a while back about what she says below and I was like “omg yes exactly!” Then I asked if she’d be willing to write a guest post about it, and here we are! 😀 Enjoy!
Don’t Shoot Him In The Shoulder
This blog began the way a lot of conversations do around the bar at writers’ conferences. Somebody read a book in which the hero got shot and immediately rogered the daylights out of the heroine.
“I find that hard to believe.”
“Where’d he get shot?” I ask.
“Well, only in the shoulder….”
Ah, yes. The good old shoulder shot. On the screen everyone from Wild Bill Hickock to James Bond has shaken off the annoyance of a bullet in the shoulder as he saved the day. I mean, it’s a great place to shoot a hero (or heroine), isn’t it? There aren’t any major organs to worry about. Nothing but connective tissue.
Wrong. Besides the lungs, which have an annoying habit of getting in the way by expanding when we breathe, major blood vessels like the subclavian and brachial arteries run across the impact zone along with the brachial nerve, which impacts the entire arm. And that doesn’t even take into account the bones, from the easily fragmented collarbone (clavicle) to the humerus. Continue reading →
Hi friends! This was posted – gosh, February 23, 2011. It was my third post with H&H … and I’m sharing it for a few reasons. First of all, I plan on eventually reposting all my old HH stuff here. Secondly … this specifically ties into the guest post that will be going live next week. I’ve decided not to edit anything so it’s a copy and paste job. Enjoy. 😛
I used to say that I simply didn’t read the subgenre of romantic suspense (RS), but that’s not really true. In fact, some of the authors I would’ve put on my favorites list write RS. And then a few of my “top ten reads of the year” have been RS as well . . . so, slowly and surely, RS has been making its insidious way into my reading repertoire.*
So why didn’t I read it at first? Perhaps because I find the romance loses out in RS, or at least is unsatisfying/insufficient to me. The necessity of plot development and the focus on the burgeoning relationship are at odds. Especially with the shorter novel lengths. Maybe it’d work in a saga (although those to me are more grandiose story lines about generations of a family).
Relationships are complicated. Writing a believable suspense plot is also difficult, and combining the genres takes talent. Then there is also the development of series, and books that end with a cliff-hanger rather than the conclusion of a story arc. And I hate that. For some reason I can take that in films, but not books. Continue reading →
Mary’s Review of The Asset by Anna del Mar Romantic suspense released by Carina Press on February 1, 2016
Ash Hunter knows what it is to run. A SEAL gravely injured in Afghanistan, he’s gone AWOL from the military hospital. Physically and mentally scarred, he returns home to his grandmother’s isolated cottage—and finds a beautiful, haunted stranger inside.
Like recognizes like.
Lia Stewart’s in hiding from the cartel she barely escaped alive, holed up in this small Rocky Mountain town. Surviving, but only just. Helping the wounded warrior on her doorstep is the right thing to do…it’s loving him that might get them both killed.
Soon, Ash realizes he’s not the only one tormented by the past. Pushing the limits of his broken body, testing the boundaries of her shattered soul, he’ll protect Lia until his last breath.
I picked this book up while it was on sale. I’m a sucker for a wounded warrior story and romantic suspense is my most loved genre, so it was an easy purchase. I didn’t read any of the reviews on this book beforehand but I probably should have. What I thought I was buying wasn’t what I ended up with. Continue reading →
Hi friends! So I’m out and about and you know how this past ~year+ has been … so I’ve got open spots in the calendar! (Which considering I used to schedule two years in advance only makes sense…) But that’s fantastic, because it means that we have something from Beth Yarnall today! As you see she’s sharing an exclusive excerpt of her newest book that just came out Monday. Yup – A Deep and Dark December is now available! So everyone remember to congratulate Beth on her newest release!Continue reading →
It’s Tuesday! And I started this blog feature back in February(?) of 2011 (Yeah bitches! We started Teaser Tuesday on teh interwebz right here at ALBTALBS!) So anyway, it’s been this way for three years+ years. Maybe we’ll change it, maybe we won’t. But today we have the fabulous HelenKay Dimon sharing an excerpt with us from her upcoming book Running Hot. Whee!
A hot new romantic suspense series, Bad Boys Undercover, featuring the fierce men of Alliance—and the only women capable of taming their hearts.
Camped out at a resort bar in Fiji, CIA operative Ward Bennett may look like he’s on vacation but he’s really deep undercover, hunting a dictator on the run. Ward may be on the job, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time for the sexy female bartender. That is, until she drugs him.
When Tasha Gregory discovers the hottie on the barstool isn’t who he pretends to be, her MI6 training kicks into gear, and she has no choice but to take him out. Problem is, Ward’s not an easy man to put down for long. More than once, his interference almost blows her surveillance operation—and her ability to keep her heart to herself.
As the situation heats up, these two must decide whether they can trust one another—and quick. Working together might just make everyone safer, but getting close enough for comfort … might just get them killed.
She stood there with the unused zip ties hanging from her fingers. “We have a problem.”
“I can come up with six without even thinking about it very hard.” Without so much as breaking a sweat, Ward covered every footstep. Removed any sign humans once waited there.
Impressive work but not good enough. The stakes were too high. She knew it and now she had to make him understand it. “We can’t leave them alive.”
He nodded but didn’t take out his gun or do anything to suggest he agreed. “We need to watch the area from a distance so we can track movements in and out, count guards. Those sorts of things.”
She highlighted one of the “to do” items on the list. “We have to relocate.”
“You mean move?”
She wasn’t in the mood for a word debate. “I have a car. We need to pick it up on the way out.”
“Car as in the truck?” He shook his head. “If so, it sounds like they found it, which means they know what it looks like, and wherever we take it we’ll be tracked. Hell, with the number of people on this island, they could already know it’s yours.”
He assumed she would be dumb enough to use her own vehicle on this job. Typical. The guy needed a little work on his how-to-play-nice-with-others skills. “Wrong. Tasha the bartender hasn’t done anything wrong and doesn’t drive an SUV.”
“So, there’s nothing in that vehicle that will get your ass arrested or shot?” He leaned in closer. “If you’re as competent as I think you are, you’ve got weapons stored in there.”
That show of faith in her skills sounded better. Not great, but better than some of the men she got paired with. “My bum is fine.”
He frowned. “What?”
The man got thrown off by simple words. Lethal and stumbling for a British dictionary. For some reason, that combination when mixed with the lean body and escape skills snagged her interest. “The weapons are locked down.”
“They will take a blowtorch to the truck, and you know it.” Ward pointed to the lifeless bodies next to her feet. “These two are trained mercenaries. They were the scouting party. Can you imagine the skills on the experienced men in the group?”
Not a bad argument. “So, what’s the plan?”
After a quick check of the direction from which the two armed men came, Ward stood in front of her again. “Secure and hide the bodies as fast as we can, double back to take a look at the truck from an elevated, safe distance, and then once we know who is where and how many we have to shoot through, we hunt down Tigana.”
He’d clearly given the afternoon agenda some thought. She appreciated his planning. “Sounds like you’ve done this before.”
“Since the last part of the plan is to run like hell if they see us, you can assume that I’m a professional. Unless you think that’s an amateur move—then forget I said it.”
Oh my God, that smile. He aimed it at her, and her control puddled at her feet. She didn’t lose sight of her job, but she did entertain the idea of running her hands all over him if they ever finished this assignment and got to a safe place. “We have to move in on Tigana.”
“We have to live through the next few hours first.”
“You know how to kill the mood.” But those priorities made sense. They also reinforced her belief that they needed a more permanent solution for the men at her feet.
He leveled a serious flat-lipped stare in her direction. “Let’s hope that’s the last time you think that about me.”
“We’re not having sex.” The words shot out before she could stop them.
“Well, not here.” He glanced around the hard ground. “That would be stupid.”
“Not ever.” She tried to signal her brain to shut up, but the words kept dribbling out. Last thing she needed was for him to know she was thinking about sex.
She shifted her weight, and her foot hit against something. Before she could glance down, a hand clamped around her ankle. One hard yank, and her knee buckled. On the way down she reached for the gun Ward gave her, jerking at her clothes to free it and fire.
The shot stopped her. It rang out, echoing through the rough terrain. The grip on her loosened right as Ward grabbed her around the waist. She picked up the telltale metallic smell she’d been trained to detect and saw Ward’s weapon on the way back down to his side.
She leaned into Ward for an extra second, more out of shock from being caught off guard by the gunman than anything else. People rarely got the jump on her.
That would teach her to think about sex on the job.
She stood up straight and tugged on the bottom of her T-shirt. Retucked it into her shorts. “I got the impression you were going for minimal loss of life here,” she said as she stared at the two bodies, one lifeless and the other unmoving.
“No one touches you.” Ward’s eyes burned with a new intensity.
It sounded like a vow, and she took it as one. Too stunned to say anything else, she went with the first lame thing that popped into her head. “Okay.”
When the second guy stirred at her feet, she didn’t hesitate. Gun out and barrel down, she fired. The man’s face fell back to the ground with a thud.
Ward winced but otherwise did not move at her impromptu shot. He looked down at the man with the blood now pooling around his head. “Was that necessary?”
No way was she justifying saving them both from a shootout. Still . . . “We both know he’d have somehow gotten free and blown our cover, and that’s if he didn’t kill you first.”
Ward nodded. “Now he won’t be doing anything.”
A cryptic comment. One she jumped right over. “Right.”
“You’re in charge.” He let out a long breath. “So, lead.”
She almost felt bad about what she was going to say. “I’m happy you remembered that.”
If anything his frown deepened. “Why?”
“You need to start digging.” She skimmed the tip of her boot over the ground and listened to pebbles scrape against the sole. “We need these guys buried, and you should hurry.”
So what’d you guys think? Totally boring, right? :X
Hee! I love the premise of this series! I can’t wait to read it. And you know – there’s that new Bond movie coming out … 😉 You can pre-order a copy here!
You guys! I cannot believe it’s already December! I can’t think about it. It’s also 2:23 AM and I kinda feel like I want to die but I have to get this done because it’s ShannonMcKenna!!! Meltdown and Out of Control are like two of my most favorite romances ever. If you’ve never read them, you must. Must. But anyway, I got Shannon to visit with us today, and she’s our special author of the month, and can you believe it – the last one of 2013!! Eep! But way to end on a high note, right? 😉 I had the chance to meet Shannon a few years ago and she is delightful.
Ms. McKenna opted for an “Author Interview” so … here we go! (I hope you enjoy – one of them made me cackle snort. :X)
Hi, Lime! Thanks so much for inviting me to be on your delightful blog! I’m so pleased to be here! And hello to all of you reading!
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever done for research? what’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned while doing research? In general, or for this book?
Well, gee. I have been playing around with this mind control trope for several books now, because it fascinates me, and it’s a metaphor for the way I fear we are already being controlled, in subtle and not so subtle ways, by the media, by our addiction to our devices and our social media, etc. I have been unnerved by the ways we are expanding our mental function with devices, and I doubt it will stop there. My fantasies about neuroscience allowing people ever deeper into each other’s heads, challenging the very basic premise of what it is to be a human being, are becoming more possible every day. A couple months ago, I found this article.
I was so horrified! We as humans are just not ready to go where this research will inevitably take us (if it hasn’t already gone there, long ago!) No matter how many innocent applications this research might have, I am sure that greedy, opportunistic people are rubbing their hands together and thinking “ka-ching.” I call myself a “lazy conspiracy theorist,” which is to say, plenty paranoid, but I don’t really have the time to do the research to be a proper conspiracy theorist, having book deadlines and small children. So mostly, I’m left with just the sense of creeping menace, but no hard facts to back it up. So what do I do? I make up crazy stories about my worst nightmares, and then create heroes and heroines to defeat them utterly and rescue us all. Works for me.
Hostile alien invasion, or zombie apocalypse? Which one do you think is more likely to happen? Which one is scarier?
Alien invasion, no contest! I do not stay awake nights worrying about either one, because I believe we are doing an admirable job of destroying our world and ourselves without any help at all from zombies or aliens, but I think that it is almost a certainty that there are other beings out there. The only reason I don’t say “an absolute certainty” is because I have not seen them with my own eyes. But the universe is so huge. It makes no sense, that we would be the only ones—but they must be so different from us, their agenda so unfathomable and unknowable. And they would probably also have the same personality ranges, from saintly good to twisted evil that we have here on Earth—why wouldn’t they? I believe there is always roughly the same percentages of people in any given place who are either doing their best to be kind and decent, or else just looking out for number one. With a handful on the far ends of the spectrum, a few noble righteous heroes, a sprinkling of hideous monsters. Can you tell I love sci fi? Heh.
A twisted fairy offers you perfect health. You’ll never be sick or get a migraine again. The catch is you’ll break a bone every three years until your 70th birthday. Nothing crippling, but still a break. (Anything from a femur to your pinky toe.) Do you take the offer?
Hell, no! I’ll take my chances with colds and flu and whatever else happens! And what about after I’m seventy? I hope to live to be a hundred! That’s a long time that I wouldn’t be covered! A whole generation! (I had a great aunt that lived to be 104. My great grandmother died at the age of ninety-four after having eighteen children. Who knows if I inherited their tough Ukrainian sinews or not? Only time will tell.
What five dead authors would you invite to a dinner party if you could?
Charlotte Bronte, Emily Dickinson, Dorothy Parker, Louisa May Alcott and Sappho. Big hen party. Wow, what a mix.
Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions? Either for before you begin a book, while you’re writing it, or around the time the book is released?
Not a lot of them, but I am very nervous about talking about a book to anyone before I have at least finished a first draft, as if the energy of another person’s attention could derail that delicate point of contact between my subconscious mind and the blank page. It’s so important to be able to write bad, stupid horrible shit without being judged for it—the minute someone looks at the writing, they start to have opinions that need to be fended off. It’s a mysterious thing.
Assume reincarnation. You have the power to bring Hitler back as any animal/creature you want for his next ten lives. What do you pick? (Or would you switch it up? And if so, what?)
Wow, that’s tough! Ten lives? That would hardly be enough to work out the karma that guy took onto himself! But it’s a complicated question, because he was totally insane. My first thought is that he should definitely be reborn into lives in which he has to experience just what he dished out, but that is problematic, since it requires envisioning more concentrated cruelty. My mind boggles at the task. Maybe I’d just take him back to animal form. Let him be an ox, pulling a heavy plow for a hundred lives or so, and then a sheep chewing on the grass a few hundred more. Just let him take a big, loooonnnggg time out, and chill the hell out before he tries again with human form.
What is one question you always wish as an author people would ask but nobody ever does?
I don’t believe in having expectations, insofar as it is humanly possible. (This is my ideal, zen-calm self! I realized, as soon as I wrote that, that I have all kinds of expectations; about toilet seats being put down, and undies getting into the laundry, and homework getting done on time, and violins getting practiced, and people obeying traffic signals, but hey. I try) Longing for validation from people is just setting myself up for suffering and pissiness, and dissatisfaction in general. I’m just happy that people read my books. They don’t need to have any curiosity about me or my process at all, as long as they enjoy the end result!
If you were a serial killer, who would be your target? And what would be your modus operandi? [What would be your “calling card,” and what memento from each victim would you take?] (Is your target = old men, young men, school children, college aged women, etc.)
Um. Blinking, stupidly. I just can’t go there! I tried to watch Dexter, because I think that actor is brillaint, but I just couldn’t bond with a guy that would do that. And I do plenty of blood and guts in my stories, too! This is a tough one, because I have really internalized the concept that curses come home to roost tenfold, so you better watch out what you put out there into the universe. I’m such a wuss! I don’t want to take any chances!
Another issue is, if I create a character, I have to be able to love him or her, probably because s/he is just another facet of myself. I can’t imagine an instance in which I could love a serial killer. My imagination just won’t stretch that far! It thwacks right back in my face, like a rubber band! (ouch!)
Tell us two truths and a lie. (The catch is you’ll have to tell us what the truth is eventually in the comments. :D)
Let’s see . . . My favorite kid’s book is Anne of Green Gables. I love sexy high-heeled shoes. And I grew up in a in a hippie enclave, in a fragrant cloud of smoke.
Who/what is your favorite cartoon character of all time? Why?
Letterman, from The Electric Company! Who’s faster than a rolling O, more powerful than silent E, and able to leap capital T in a single bound? God, I loved that show when I was little. It taught me to read early, which influenced my destiny!
You have to listen to only one genre of music for the rest of your life. What do you pick?
Classic sixties and seventies rock. I just love the stuff. Gimme that old time rock and roll—that kinda music just soothes the soul!
You have the opportunity to be part of any TV show for one episode. (One that is on or off the air.) Which one do you pick, and what is your role?
I want to be in Prison Break . . . I want to be rescued by dreamboat Michael, mmmmm, and then break him out of prison with my intrepid brilliance, and go live with him on a desert island forever. Hell with Sarah. She was such a sad sack, always moping around. Kick her to the curb. Recast it, with me, me, me! Ahem. (cough)
What’s the most unique/strange silly skill your possess?
I can make a seriously awesome pancake man with chocolate chip eyes for my kids. Or a pancake teddy bear, too, when put to it. I have even been known to make pancake aliens, to return to the alien theme. I guess I have an affinity for aliens.
What’s the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you at school? What about at a conference?
I haven’t been to enough conferences to have embarrassments to recount, sadly, but how about the time I was caught reading a very erotic spoof of the Lord Of The Rings that I’d picked up from home, on my playground during recess, in the second grade. I believe the playground monitor caught me reading a very spicy interlude between Dildo Baggins and the seductive Queen of the Elves. They called my parents. Very bad scene. It was pretty embarrassing for my mother, but I think I weathered it all right. And just look how I turned out in the end! (cackling)
Which fairy tale would you most like to be in? least? Why? Which character would you want to be?
I’m really fascinated these days by the tale of the Frog Prince. I recently read this essay about zen meditation that talked about the trope of “finding the golden ball,” which requires the collaboration of some unattractive or scary or icky creature from the watery depths, like the frog, or the scary witch, or whatever; it depends on the culture, and the version of the tale. The essay asserts that around the age of eight or so, we lose that “golden ball” which represents the wonder and innocence of our childhood, and then we spend the rest of our adulthood trying to recuperate the mature version of that marvel and wonder. But in order to do so, we must make peace with the deep, scary, wild, unattractive aspects of ourselves which come from the barren wilderness or the cold watery depths. We have to kiss the frog, so to speak. So I’m just here to state, to everyone concerned, that I’m fully ready to kiss any and all frogs who come along. I want that golden ball. I really, really want it. It’s why I’m a writer. It’s why I love this crazy stuff so much. Not only do I want my own golden ball—I want my stories to help everyone else find their golden balls, too. Golden balls for everyone!
Thanks for the wacky and wonderful questions, Lime! I wish everyone many wonderful books and magical golden balls charged with wonder and mystery (Christmas balls, too!) for the holiday season to come!
Thanks so much for being such a good sport, Shannon! Now, I want to know – have any of you read Shannon McKenna’s books before? Do you like romantic suspense? And books with a lot of heat? (Sexytimes of omg yes.)
Lara Kirk lives in a shadowy world where reality and fantasy are one. Her captors have poisoned her body with concoctions that enhance psychic abilities – and they seem to be working. To escape, Lara has formed a deep attachment with a man whose virile, sensual presence in her mind is her only comfort. She’s not even sure if he’s real – until the six-foot-five-inch powerhouse bursts in to rescue her…Once freed, Lara has no choice but to trust Miles with her life as they run from enemies too twisted to imagine. But they’re also fighting a dangerous attraction that could kill – or save – them both. Either way, it’s going to be a hell of a ride…
And pssst One Wrong Move is on sale right now for just $1.99! Amazon tells me that’s 75% off! Come on – I saw you ogling that cover. Admit it. 😛
You know the drill – ask Shannon any question you like. Be it about her books, writing, or you know, try to top one of the crazy ones I asked her. 😉 I like being entertained. And someone will win a copy of Fatal Strike! Yay! And so you know what you might be getting…
Hi friends! Today we have my buddy Laura K. Curtis visiting with us! She is all sorts of awesomecakes, and guess what? Her debut book is out today! Whee! So not only is she a debut author, it’s also release day! *sing songs* So I hope you’re extra welcoming with her. 😀
Why I Love Serial Killers (In Fiction)
In college (lo these many moons ago), I double majored in English and Psych. I didn’t learn nearly as much about either one as I hoped to, but I did learn that people, whether on paper or in reality, are endlessly fascinating. In fact, I probably learned as much about the workings of the human mind and heart in my lit classes as I did in my actual Psychology coursework.
Here’s one thing I know: we’re all a little neurotic. I mean, seriously, do you know anyone who’s not just a little off? I certainly don’t. And I’m not at all sure I want to. Quirks are what make people interesting.
But serial killers…well, their quirks are well beyond the average. They set everyone else’s neuroses into perspective and allow the more normal relationships in the stories that feature them to coalesce in that normative light.
Now, that’s not to say that you can just toss a serial killer into a book or movie or television show and I will automatically like it better (I’m looking at you, The Mentalist…you could have left the Red John episodes out), but when a serial killer is well-written, he provides a certain balance that sharpens the other characters. One show that does this consistently is Criminal Minds. I’ll never forget the episode about the comic book artist who has a psychotic break—yes, he killed a lot of people very violently, but in the end you felt sorry for him. That’s an achievement.
And I love a rampaging killer in a romantic suspense. Shannon McKenna brings the crazy really well, I think. Her villains have some normal motive—a desire for power or for wealth—but then they take it totally over the top. Of course, her heroes and heroines are totally over the top, too; they have to be in order to go toe-to-toe with the lunacy of the villains.
When it comes to nature vs. nurture, I’m a believer in both. It’s not enough for me that a character is just plain nuts, I have to know how he got that way. But just a “bad childhood” won’t do it for me, either. Especially since so very often in romance, either the hero or heroine also has a troubled past. What’s intriguing to me is why the hero turned into the hero when the villain turned into the villain.
So bring on the serial killers…and the heroes and heroines who fight them. I’ll be sitting here in the safety of my living room, gobbling them up.
And I know you all want to hear about Laura’s book… so here you go!
Lucy Sadler Caldwell is a successful true-crime writer. But the one story she’s never been able to come to terms with is the murder of her own mother–until now. She’s returned to Dobbs Hollow, Texas, the hometown she fled seventeen years ago, to finally expose the real killer.
After a bullet took out his knee in Houston, Detective Ethan Donovan found himself without a lot of options, which is how he ended up as Chief of Police in Dobbs Hollow. Lucy sure isn’t asking for his help–she’s not big on trust–but he can’t help feeling a strong desire to come to her aid.
And though Lucy is armed to the teeth, she will need all the help she can get. When she starts digging into the past, she unearths a psychotic killer who will stop at nothing to silence her forever…
Guess what else? Lots of giveaways!!! Laura is giving away something every day on her blog. Seriously – check it out here. But more? Someone who leaves a comment here at ALBTALBS will win something as well! ‘Tis the season and all, yes?
So I hope you all respond to her post (comments of substance win me over…) And offer Laura many congratulations and felicitations on her fancy new book! Yay!
Can you guys believe it’s been four months? Time is just flying by – but as you see we’ve got an Indie Author spotlight, and the delightful Rachel Grant was kind and awesome enough to step in at the last minute. (So thank you!)
1. What made you decide to self publish?
My husband is a federal employee and his salary was our family’s sole income. Last January, fear of sequestration—it looked like he would lose 20% of his pay, possibly for as long as six months—pushed me to jump into self-publishing even though my agent still had one of my books out on submission. I could no longer afford to wait for New York.
2. What do you wish you knew when you started self-publishing that you know now?
This is a hard question, because I’ve learned so much—but I couldn’t have learned it without going through the process—so I don’t know if it’s possible to know the ins and outs of self-publishing ahead of time.
3. What are the pros and cons of self-publishing?
Pros – I’m in control of my product. No one stands between the published book and me. Mistakes are all mine, but I can also fix them quickly. In August, when two weeks after publication it was clear my new release wasn’t reaching my existing audience, I was able to call my cover designer and we had a new cover with better branding uploaded at all vendors a week later.
Cons – I’m the one making final decisions, and I’m not a marketing professional. Creating and changing covers is scary, because they are so important. Even though I loved it, I also had a gut-level concern about the first cover for Body of Evidence. I should have listened to that.
4. How did you find your audience? What have been the most challenging issues in self-publishing?
I was amazingly lucky and benefited from some marketing emails sent by Amazon right out of the gate. I have no idea how it happened, but I’m grateful.
Definitely the most challenging issue is to expand my audience and keep the books visible after the 30-day new release period, which is so favored by Amazon’s algorithms.
5. [If you have been previously,] Would you go back to traditional publishing?
I wasn’t traditionally published and ended up being very eager to self-publish the book my agent had on submission, but if I were to receive a good offer from a traditional publisher, I would seriously consider it. I no longer feel the need for validation from NY, but I’d love to reach more of the print audience.
6. There is the perception it is faster to get a book to your fans if you are self-published – do you think this is true?
It’s definitely true that I was able to release each of my books far faster than a traditional publisher would have. But it still takes me a few months after a book is written, critiqued, and polished, because after that I go through multiple rounds of edits with an editor and proofreader, cover design, etc. I have my own production process to ensure the quality of the work.
7. Do you read the reviews on site or blogs?
Yes, even though they terrify me. I look forward to the day when I have so many reviews, I don’t even notice when new ones pop up. 😉
8. What advice might you have for someone who is considering self-publishing?
Hire an editor. Be professional. Don’t rush to put out a book that isn’t ready.
9. Have you noticed changes to self-publishing since you started?
(I haven’t been self-publishing long enough—my first book came out in April.)
10. Do you think there are any particular new trends that are emerging?
Fingers crossed the next trend will be for romantic thrillers with an even balance between the suspense and the romance. Also, I want archaeologist heroines to be the next big thing. 😉
Seriously, in romance, the push seems to continually be for books to be hotter. I enjoy a good hot book too, so I understand this. My books are sexy, but there are limits—there isn’t time for more sex when my characters are on the run. But I’m writing romantic thrillers, so my style fits my audience. If I were writing contemporary or new adult, I’d up the heat factor to fit the current market.
11. Have you encountered the sentiment that self published books “aren’t as good”? If so, how do you go about overcoming that impression?
Honestly, I haven’t come across that in the reader community. The only times I’ve heard that sentiment is from other authors—and that has largely been on blogs or news articles that were not directed at me, and the authors are big names who have a lot to be thankful for from traditional publishing, an no reason to explore self-publishing. I ignore them.
Over the last several years, New York stopped publishing debut and mid-list romantic suspense authors, limiting my choices as a reader. The great thing about self-publishing is now I can find amazing romantic suspense at a great price. I’m not limited to the handful of authors that New York was willing to sell me.
More choices is always a win for everyone.
Yay! I hope you found her answers interesting, and educational. If that’s your thing. Do any of you read romantic suspense? Do you have any questions for Rachel? Let’s hear them!
*ETA: Rachel has very generously offered one person who comments her/his choice of one of her books in the e-format of her/his choice!
My darlings, please give a warm, warm, welcome to Kathy Ivan. She is a jewel among women. (I totally messed up on her blog date and she was incredible gracious and understanding, and had no problem with me scheduling her over a month after the originally agreed upon time. Try to find that in other authors. It’s not easy.) So I hope you’ll look into her books, and definitely show her some love today!
Thanks so much for letting me spend the day with you. I’m thrilled to be a part of your blog.
Let me be honest. I love the paranormal worlds in romance fiction. Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, psychics and zombies, I love ’em. Give me a paranormal romance and I’ll devour it faster than you can blink. It’s definitely one of my favorite genres to read. Throw in some steamy romance and I’m a goner.
Never thought I’d write it though.
Romantic suspense—that’s what I write. The suspense, developing the plot. Having the heroine and the hero race against the bad guy, overcome all the obstacles thrown in their way, follow the clues, have lots of sexy times along the way, figure out the mystery, defeat the villain, profess their love and live happily ever after.
Story after story, this was my premise, my formula. The problem—something was always missing. I didn’t get the satisfaction, the extra oomph I’d get from reading all those paranormal romances with their otherworldly specialness. So I decided to go for it and combine the two genres I loved, romantic suspense and paranormal. Desperate Choiceswas born. My heroine is a psychic living and working in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Her ex-beau is a private investigator who comes asking for her help. His godson is missing. And the story was off and running. It unfolded with just enough of a paranormal element added into the suspense that it was believable and the readers loved it as much as I did.
Desperate Choices became my first published book (from Carina Press) and it won the 2012 OKRWA International Digital Award for long suspense.
My latest story, Second Chances, is a paranormal romance, introducing you to the world of Destiny’s Desire lodge in the Colorado Mountains. It’s the first in a series, reuniting soul mates destined, though they’ve be separated due to outside interference. They’re helped to be together with a little assistance from the Fate-Keeper who runs this special place. The first novella is available now and book two will be out in Spring 2013.
For some people normal is normal and that’s okay. I’ve learned the hard way when it comes to my writing world, paranormal is my normal.
Bio: An avid reader of all types of romance, Kathy writes both romantic suspense and paranormal romance. Kathy makes her home in the heart of North Texas doing her best to deal with the Texas heat. She’s a member of Romance Writers of American (RWA) and the Dallas Area Romance Authors (DARA).
And guess what? Ms. Ivan is also giving away one of her books! The winner can choose a digital edition of either Desperate Choices, or Second Chances. What do you have to say to that? 😀
Luke Collier knows his duty. A marine corps combat medic, his job is to save lives-not satisfy his own desires. Megan Trayhern is his corpsman, but the beautiful redhead can’t be anything more. Luke has already given his heart once, and he understands the toll the corps can take on a woman, on a romance…on a marriage.
Megan has her own mission. While she doles out medical care in the nearby village, she’s also gathering intel. It’s a dangerous assignment that the onetime military brat undertakes without fear. She needs to focus-and be careful-and the growing passion she feels for Luke can only put them both at risk. Honor binds them both, but the heart gives its own orders….
I was immediately interested in this story, a continuation of the Black Jaguar Squadron storyline. This book takes us to the mountains of Afghanistan, and we meet two Navy Corpsmen assigned to a combat command. They soon discover they are kindred spirits mutually haunting the other’s thoughts. The persistent danger only draws them closer together.
Megan Trayhern is a demure redhead who arrives at a Marine base near a small village. She is trained to speak the local language Pashto and gather information from the local women. A trained medic, she is eager to do her duty. She also has an unwavering desire to help people in need. After college she joined the military to fulfill her families’ tradition of service. Upon arriving at the base she is looked at as a liability by her commanding officer. Soon she changes his opinion by gaining the friendship of the village leaders’ wife, and gaining valuable knowledge of the Taliban fighters.
Luke Collier is a seasoned combat medic. He doesn’t think twice about going out on another patrol, or putting himself between a wounded Marine and enemy fire. He shares the same unwavering desire to help people with Megan. Until she had arrived he was the only medic in the area. He’s well-liked by anyone who meets him. Still he has a slightly heavy heart, since his career in the military destroyed his marriage. He prides himself as a ‘scrounger’, which means he get hard to find items better than anyone.
Lindsay McKenna doesn’t overload the front chapters with backstory. There are Black Jaguar Squadron characters in the periphery of the narrative, but this book easily stands alone. Megan and Luke rarely interact with the Marines at the base. The most significant secondary character is Mina the wife of the village leader. She is almost too courageous to be believed, even considering her rare formal education. She is unexpectedly open to Megan’s progressive suggestions.
Megan doesn’t have much time to get used to her surroundings. During the night the base comes under attack. She has to stand there in terror until Luke comes back to check on her. His calmness is soothing to her and deepens her growing attraction to him. When they aren’t in danger they mostly talk about their common views of duty and war. Their single-mindedness is only thing that takes me out of the story. Navy Corpsmen are the salt of the earth. I know this from my 5 years in the Marines. Many of them were my close friends. One thing they didn’t do was sit around all day lamenting their place in the world.
The action definitely wanes in the middle chapters as their relationship builds. Megan does have to watch as Luke goes out on patrol, but he isn’t gone long. After an attack in the village they travel with wounded children to a large Air Force Base. The carnage makes Megan retch in horror. She’s surprised to learn that Luke has the same problem. He asks her to spend the night off-base, but don’t get the opportunity until the end of the book. There are constantly hindered by the military’s rules against fraternization.
In my opinion this book suffers from the matter-of-fact dialogue from all the characters. I can forgive this of Mina, since English is not her first language. I can’t always forgive it from Megan and Luke. They come off a little wooden. This could’ve been offset by some raucous secondary Marine characters, and made the story more interesting. The lack of contrast is lessened when the action picks up. I don’t want to include spoilers, but I’ll say someone is put in a dangerous situation. The situation is then mitigated in a blazingly fast fashion that makes you forget it soon afterwards.
Our lovers finally find themselves away from prying eyes at an off-base apartment. Exhausted from their trials they put sleep ahead of lovemaking. I know it’s realistic, but it’s boring. They could’ve and should’ve tried harder. They’re romantic tension had been building for months at this point, and the first time they are truly alone they shower and pass out. Finally the next morning they (and the reader) wake up and embrace each other. The story ends with them heading back into the fold together.
Their concern for each other and everyone else does help the narrative along. I would have liked to see more in their hearts than just their aspirations. They look at each other in brief moments without allowing fantasy to enter their thoughts. This might go along with their practical nature, but I don’t think it was intended that way. Without the constant danger and taboo of their relationship, I wonder if they would be interested in each other at all. Megan and Luke could’ve run into each other on Main St. USA, and after looking each other over kept walking by.
Still they are in this situation. They go thru it together courageously devoid of malice. They come out of it with a few scratches and in love. They promise to marry after serving their country. It would be interesting to check in on them a few years down the road. I’d like to see if their love lasts after the bombs stop exploding around them.