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Monday, July 21, 2014

Do You Hear What I Hear?


A few months ago I was invited to do an audio version of my book, "A Code of Love." I enthusiastically accepted the offer, never anticipating how different it would be to create a book based on sound instead of written words. 


Before delving into the creative side of audio book production, let me tell you a little bit about the technical side. ACX is the Do It Yourself branch of Amazon Audible. ACX provides support services for authors who want to release their book in audio format, serving as an interface of sorts. Authors can audition narrators and hire producers for assistance, or you can do everything yourself. Once a narrator is selected, the recording process starts. That's a lot of listening and then collaborating with the voice actor to produce a finished product.

Now for a look at some of the creative challenges. 

Written books and audio books share some similarities. Authors spend a lot of time constructing sentences and choosing words to inspire specific moods and emotions. And using the wrong pacing or inconsistent characterization can ruin any book, written or audio.

When readers listen to a story, the words still matter, but the delivery format changes. Instead of being distracted by misspellings or typos as in written books, readers will be pulled out of an audio story if the narrator stumbles over words or doesn't match the tone of the tale.  

"A Code of Love" is a romantic mystery set in Regency England. Both the hero and the heroine are members of the privileged class, meaning they are intelligent, cultured and subject to societal standards. It wasn't enough to hire anyone with a British accent to narrate my book. I wanted—no, needed—someone who sounded like an upper-crust Brit. And because it's a story of scandal, intrigue and danger, I required a narrator capable of infusing this drama into her voice.

I eventually hired Pearl Hewitt, a British voice actor based in Texas. Not only did she "sound" perfect, but her experience in producing audio books helped to shorten my own learning curve. As Pearl recorded each chapter, I would carefully listen and give approval or ask for modifications. Eventually we worked our way through the entire book. It was pretty amazing to "hear" Lady Henrietta Harcourt and Lord Cordelier Rathbourne. I'm happy to report they sounded exactly as I had imagined.

Visit my website for an audio excerpt of "A Code of Love."

Author Bio:  Heart-pounding adventure filled with danger, intrigue and romance from Jacki Delecki, award-winning author of the Regency suspense series "The Code Breakers" and the contemporary mystery series "Grayce Walters." Visit www.JackiDelecki.com to learn more about Jacki and sign-up for her newsletter. Follow her on Facebook (Jacki Delecki Author) and Twitter (@jackidelecki).

Book Summary:  Threatened by French spies, assassins, and calculating suitors, can Lady Henrietta Harcourt trust the infamous rake, Lord Cordelier Rathbourne, with her carefully guarded family secrets? In his new, undisclosed position as Director of English Intelligence, Cord faces more peril keeping the brilliant Harcourt family of code breakers safe than he did as undercover spy in Napoleonic France. Cord’s passionate attraction for the indomitable Henrietta hasn't diminished in his four years abroad, but neither has Henrietta’s memory of his libertine past. In pursuit of the missing brother, Henrietta and Cord become entangled in a web of international intrigue, danger, and white hot passion. THE CODE BREAKER SERIES Men and Women from the class of privilege risk their lives to defend England against the treacherous designs of Napoleon. They confront disaster, scandal, and passion as they pursue their code of honor and love.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Top Five Real (Badass) Female Spies

With: Pema Donyo

You think James Bond and Jason Bourne get all the fun and glory? Not while these amazing agents were around. These real historical figures lived through spy plots even better than what you see in the movies. The upcoming romantic suspense, THE INNOCENT ASSASSINS, features a badass female spy, Jane Lu. Her heroes include some of the women listed below. Their lives were filled with sex, intrigue, and a whole lot of adventure.

(1) Mata Hari: Flamboyant and fearless, the spy known as “Mata Hari” was born Margaretha Zelle. While working as a burlesque dancer, Zelle became a spy for France in German-occupied Belgium. She was willing to appear virtually nude during her public dances, allowing her to entertain officers and engage in espionage. Rumors swirled that she fed information to German officers about activities of the Allies. After accusing her of being a double agent, French authorities ordered her execution. According to an eyewitness on the day of her execution, she refused to wear a blindfold and blew a kiss to the firing squad soldiers – talk about sass.

(2) Nancy Morgan Hart: Don’t mess with Morgan. The feisty figure is best known for holding six British soldiers at gunpoint and defeating them all single-handedly. The British soldiers had killed one of her turkeys and commanded her to cook it for them while they waited in her house. While they were distracted, she started to sneak out their guns through a hole in the wall. Once they saw her, she held up one of their guns and turned it on them. During the Revolutionary War while her husband was away fighting, she regularly disguised herself as a man and entered British camps to gain information about battle plans. Gender roles? Hart had never heard of them.

(3) Amy Elizabeth "Betty" Pack: Codename? Cynthia. Methods? Unorthodox. Controversial? Definitely. Much of Pack’s information was acquired from promiscuity. She would sleep with high-ranking officials (or those close to high-ranking
officials) in order to secure information.  During one mission, Britain informed her they would like to have French codebooks. She chose the direct approach – burglary. While trying to crack open the safe with her lover, it was taking longer than they’d anticipated. Without warning, she got up and started removing her clothes. She convinced her lover to do the same. Within seconds, a watchman came into the room. He apologized for interrupting them, and left the room. Betty’s sixth sense was incredible, and she was able to open the safe and snatch the codebooks. 

(4) Yoshiko Kawashima: While born a Manchu princess, Kawashima paid no attention to her birth. She was raised in Japan and spied for the Japanese government while living in China. With her close ties to Chinese royalty, she was able to learn military secrets and convince the Chinese royals to support Japanese causes. She became an officer in the Manchuko Imperial army and led her own cavalry force into war. Oh yeah, and she regularly dressed up in men’s clothing and guys found her attractive anyway. Trailblazing pants in Eastern Asia and standing up for a woman’s place in the battlefield.

(5) Sarah Emma Edmonds: Or Franklin Thompson. Or Bridget O’Shea. Or Charles Mayberry. Or Cuff. A master of disguise, Edmonds enlisted in the Civil War disguised as a man. Eventually, she served as a spy for the Union Army. Traveling into Confederate camps required different disguises, and she knew how to pull them off. Once, she covered her skin in silver nitrate, put on a black wig, and told everyone she met in the Confederacy that she was a black man named Cuff. She also disguised herself as an Irish peddler and Southern sympathizer Charles Mayberry. As per true Civil War badass tradition, Edmonds was never caught in any of her disguises.

Read more about another badass female spy…

THE INNOCENT ASSASSINS

There are three rules to staying an assassin at the corporation of Covert Operatives: (1) your parents must be deceased, (2) your contracts must remain confidential, and (3) you must be under the age of eighteen.

After a murder mission goes awry a month before her eighteenth birthday, Covert Operatives assassin Jane Lu finds herself caught by the federal government and forced to spy for the CIA while remaining in Covert Operatives. Once her spying mission is over, she will be allowed to live a civilian life without facing criminal consequences—a life she’s only dreamed of having.

As Jane leaks information to the CIA, she uncovers secrets with enough power to both destroy Covert Operatives and her own boyfriend, Adrian King, who’s next in line to be CEO of the company. When her identity as a double agent for the CIA is discovered within Covert Operatives, she must decide where her allegiance, and her heart, truly lies.

Excerpt
Rough cloth slid across my face and pulled down against my shoulders. I screamed. Someone yanked my wrists behind my back and tied them together with coarse rope. Another set of hands bound my legs. How many were there?

I struggled to make contact with a body, swerving from side to side with wild abandon in spite of my inability to see anything. What worried me most weren’t the people trapping my body or the sudden needle injected into my neck which slowed my thoughts and faded away my consciousness.

It was the voice next to my ear—cold, hard, and determined.

“You’re right on time,” Adrian whispered.

****
Freezing ice water snapped my eyes open.

I blinked away the unconscious haze, my hair and face dripping from the unwelcome drench. The first thing I noticed was the boardroom, similar to the ones I negotiated contracts in. But there was no contract here—only a long, empty rectangular table and looming executives and agents on either side.

In front of me stood Adrian, his expression unreadable as he studied me.

“I tried to stop you.” His voice reminded me of the cold water dripping from my clothes. “I warned you.”

“By hiring assassins to scare me? I thought you knew me better. Nothing scares me.”

“Death should.”

“You know I never wanted to be…” I swallowed hard. “This.”

“I changed Covert Operatives for you.” Emotion leaked into his voice, brimming with frustration. “I tried to give you what you wanted.”

“And force others against their will to work for CO their entire life?” I spat. “I think not.”

“When did you switch sides?”

“When I was arrested, Adrian. It was after our mission went wrong. The CIA gave me a choice. Go to prison and face the death sentence or work for them.”

He gritted his teeth. “The CIA? You’re afraid of the CIA? You know as well as I do CO can keep you away from them. I can keep you away from them.”

I glared at him. “And hide away for the rest of my life?”

His shoulders stiffened. “No one would be hiding.”


“I want a life removed from murder. The CO job was always temporary! It was never what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” I averted my gaze. “Don’t you know there’s only one way this can possibly end? Kill me or let me go.”

ABOUT
Pema Donyo is a coffee-fueled college student by day and a creative writer by night. She currently lives in sunny Southern California, where any temperature less than 70 degrees is freezing and flip-flops never go out of season. As a rising sophomore at Claremont McKenna, she’s still working on mastering that delicate balance between finishing homework, meeting publisher deadlines, and… college. 

Her debut novel, The Innocent Assassins, is signed for publication with Astraea Press in June 2014. Catch up with her latest release information or writerly musings on her blog.

Website: http://pemadonyo.wordpress.com/

Buy Links:
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L9EWUQI
Barnes and Noble (Nook): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940149810512
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/451557
Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-innocent-assassins



Friday, July 18, 2014

Breaking Danger


Only one man and one woman can stop the world from burning in this thrilling final volume in Lisa Marie Rice’s sexy Ghost Ops series, in which an elite super-secret military team must face down doomsday and protect the gifted women they love.

Haven, a community of misfits and geniuses, is one of the few safe places remaining in a world on fire. Run by the Ghost Ops team, three dangerous, fearless, soldiers who were once betrayed and disgraced will fiercely protect their country and the women they adore from a deadly plague that has turned people into violent monsters.

Beautiful brilliant Dr. Sophie Daniels is trapped in her home with the only antidote to the plague. Former Ghost Ops elite operative Jon Ryan is sent on a suicide rescue mission, brutally fighting his way to her side. Together they must cross treacherous terrain before they can return to Haven. But for them to succeed, Sophie must trust this tormented soul and place her life, and her heart, in his hands.

Years of combat training has prepared Jon for this moment. Unafraid, nothing is too dangerous now that he’s found Sophie. He will risk everything, fight anyone, for her and a future filled with hope and love.

The Ghost Ops Series
Book 1: Heart of Danger
Book 2: I Dream of Danger

Author’s Note: BREAKING DANGER is the thrilling conclusion to the Ghost Ops trilogy. Each book can be read as a standalone.



About The Author
Lisa Marie Rice is eternally 30 years old and will never age. She is tall and willowy and beautiful. Men drop at her feet like ripe pears. She has won every major book prize in the world. She is a black belt with advanced degrees in archaeology, nuclear physics, and Tibetan literature. She is a concert pianist. Did I mention her Nobel Prize? Of course, Lisa Marie Rice is a virtual woman and exists only at the keyboard when writing erotic romance. She disappears when the monitor winks off.

Excerpt can be found here:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

WOULD YOU DATE THE RENEGADE RANCHER?


Congratulations to "Janice H.", the winner in Angi's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

WOULD YOU DATE THE RENEGADE RANCHER?
or What I learned from writing my hero's bio for a game show...

I love to write. I love to create fast-moving scenarios, put my characters in unusual situations, and as some people say: I chase them up trees and throw rocks until the branch breaks. But I had never thought about whether anyone but my heroine would date my hero. That puts another spin on creating the character. And another question to answer while I'm writing.

I was asked to participate in a character bachelorette game. Eight fictional heroes compete for a fictional heroine. They wanted an 800 word bio for the blog. My first response was sure, not a problem. Building a hero that appeals to a wide range of readers is what writers do. If we didn't, our audience would be very small. So this should be easy peasy.

Then I began writing… In some ways it was like writing about myself. After all, I had created this man. All of his imperfectness made him terrific and very vulnerable in my eyes. But I had created that character using 56,000 words. I needed to explain why Brian would be the perfect date. Honestly, I didn't have a clue. He didn't date. Ever. Circumstances in his story didn't make dating an option. He's a hero. Wasn't that enough? So over a weekend I asked readers to tell me why liked Brian.  


Brenda K.B.: I love that he'll do anything to help the people that he loves.
Kourtney P: Every day guy who performs as best he can in a terrible situation.
Misty G. C.: He seems like he is real and not a faker.
Cheryl K.: Brian was a protector without even realizing it.
Carole F.: He helped the ones he loved and was a protector!
Barbara V.: He's been so put upon in his life but he didn't let it make him bitter. He kept plugging along, not having a pity party for himself. Just a guy doing the best he can. He's the very definition of a quiet hero.

Wow. I had created a fictional character with all those qualities. The fans had summed it up nicely. Basically, every hero I write is someone I wish I had dated. And every heroine is someone I'd love to be my best friend. I had three paragraphs, I needed 

The Bachelorette game doesn't include pictures. Oh no…my cover is really good. How was I going to let readers know just how cute Brian was? And Brian wasn't a former SEAL like his brother. He was an everyday hard working man. Ah… Maybe readers would get a picture of him with this paragraph: 

"This man isn’t afraid to work with his hands or without his shirt. His Justins are as well-worn along with his black Stetson and his distressed jeans. I dare you to tell him apart from his twin brother. Most people can’t, but I’m certain that the right woman will never question who’s in her arms. Especially after their first kiss."

In most of my stories, the hero and heroine are thrown together for a fast escape, He needs to protect her, she needs to find out why she needs protecting. So I still didn't have an answer why Brian's date would be perfect. I wanted to be true to HIS story and I had honestly never thought about a date. Then my writing buddy Jan asked: Well, does he like campfires? And it hit me… Brian would have a very unconventional date:   


He might need some help with the perfect date. That is, unless you enjoy moonlight rides, picnics under the stars and a campfire with s’mores. Watch out, because breakfast is his specialty. His pancakes have a secret ingredient you might have to bribe him to give up.

Obviously, my heroes are from my imagination. And I do put a little of my husband into each one. There's an entire scene based on a phrase my husband uses. I'm not allowed to say, because my daughter is afraid of which one it is. (LOL) My bottom line? I would date Brian. Would you?
~ ~ ~
Check out WEEK 3 of the #CharacterBachelorette
You can vote for Brian, THE RENEGADE RANCHER 
if you think he's the perfect date.
~ ~ ~
ANGI MORGAN writes “Intrigues where honor and danger collide with love.” She combines actual Texas settings with characters who are in realistic and dangerous situations. Angi's work has been a finalist in the Bookseller’s Best Award, Romantic Times Best First Series, Carolyn Readers Choice, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and the Daphne du Maurier.. 

Website   Facebook   FB Fan Page   
Twitter @AngiMorganAuthr        Instagram  AngiMorganAuthor
A Picture A Day   Goodreads   Pinterest  Book Trailers on YouTube
Monthly Giveaway        Other posts by Angi on Just Romantic Suspense
~ ~ ~ 
ENTER ANGI'S monthly giveaway contest: register at Rafflecopter through August 3rd.

THE Giveaway for a blog Commenter. LEAVE A BLOG COMMENT to be entered for book 1 from my backlist OR another Intrigue I have lying around.

WOULD YOU DATE THE MEN YOU READ? Leave your opinion for a chance to win.

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST July 17th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email maureen@justromanticsuspense.com with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.

Monday, July 14, 2014

What Happens When I play What Would Happen If?


Congratulations to "Janice H", the winner in Nancy's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated.

Thank you, Maureen for having me back for a visit on Just Romance Suspense. I love spending time on JRS as a reader and as an author.

Being a romantic suspense author can be such fun sometimes because I get to sit in my writer’s cave and play an exciting game I call, What Would Happen If--- or WWHI for short.

I actually use WWHI as a tool to stir my imagination before beginning my next novel. I usually have a plan for my hero and heroine and understand the internal conflicts that keep them apart. WWHI comes in play and helps me to create the suspense element in the story. It’s that external conflict which deepens the friction between my couple while pulling them apart until it appears they will never find their happy-ever-after. 

So how does WWHI work? 

I began my newest novel ‘In the Shadow of Pride’ by scouring news articles and real life case in the FBI news blog for potential games pieces. One day, the words Unmanned Aerial Vehicle popped off the page. Drones! How fun would that be?

I disappeared into my writer’s cave and had some fun. I knew my hero was going to be a bad-ass FBI agent. What would happen if I placed a drone in the hands of a radical group whose aim was to keep our borders closed? And, what if I had my antagonist, the leader of this group, place all the blame for his nasty activities at the door step of a beautiful, spit-fire single mother who hates everything about the FBI as well as my hero, the only man who can protect her?

Great conflicts make great stories. Playing my WWHI game challenged me to come up with intriguing ways to force my couple together when it was the last thing either of them wanted. And I have to say answering the two WWHI questions kept me happily working in my writer’s cave for hours a day.  I loved every minute of writing In the Shadow of Pride. Throwing my gorgeous FBI Special Agent Mac McNeil and my spunky heroine Lexie Trevena into life altering situations, making them work through their animosity toward each other and then watching them fall in love on the page is what makes being an author such a joy.  
Have questions? I would love to answer them. Feel free to ask me anything and you will become eligible for a drawing for an autographed book from this series--your choice. By the way, my ‘In the Shadow’ series can be read out of order.  I hope you will enjoy both the blurb and excerpt below. It was great fun visiting with you.  

((Hugs to all))
Nancy C. Weeks

IN THE SHADOW OF PRIDE

Lexie Trevena buried her murdered husband, discovered he had cheated on her, and adopted his newborn son—all before noon. Now she just wants to raise her child in the loving, supportive home she never had. The last thing she needs is another man to complicate her life, but her best friends feel differently. Their matchmaking meddling accidentally places Lexie smack in the path of a terrorist who intends to use her as his pawn. 

The only person who can help her is the FBI agent she holds responsible for her husband’s death. 

Special-Agent-In-Charge Luke “Mac” McNeil watched his best friend and partner marry a woman he knew was too good for him, but he did nothing to stop the wedding. He stood by as Lexie adopted the cheating jerk’s son. But when someone goes to great lengths to make it appear that Lexie is responsible for launching a drone into the home of a prominent Texas senator, Mac’s conscience finally speaks up, and he fights for Lexie’s freedom ... even though all the evidence leads to her door, and she has never given him a reason to trust her. 

Can Lexie and Mac find the courage to forgive and trust, or will their pride stand in the way of love, allowing terrorists to bring another devastating attack onto United States soil?

Sensuality Level: Sensual

Excerpt for IN THE SHADOW OF PRIDE

Lexie leaned her back against the cool stone and made herself release Mac’s hand. She then took a breath of fresh, clean air and tried to hide the shakiness in her voice. “Now what?”

“I’m going to drop down to the roof. You will kneel on the ledge and, using the window to balance, turn so your legs hang over the edge. Let go of the ledge, and I’ll catch you.”

“Are you crazy? I can’t—”

“Lexie, look behind you.”

She turned her head slowly toward the open window. Flames appeared under the door and the small office was completely filled with smoke. One word escaped her lips. “Trapped.”

“Once we get down onto the roof, there’s a fire escape ladder to the street.” He reached for her hand. “Gabriel needs you. We can do this together.”

Finding her voice, she whispered, “Not fair using Gabriel.” She bit down on her lower lip and dredged up an ounce of courage. “Mac, do what you have to do.”

With the grace of a trained athlete, he lowered himself over the side until only the tips of his fingers were on the ledge. An instant later, he dropped, landing on his feet.

“Tag, you’re it, Lexie. Just drop and I’ll catch you. Trust me.”

Lexie’s heart pounded like she had just run the 100-yard dash. After a quick glance into the office, she knelt, and holding onto the window, rolled onto her stomach.

“That’s it. Now just ease your legs over the ledge.”

The instant her feet hit empty space, panic ripped through her and she swung a leg back onto the ledge as her fingers dug into the window frame. God, she couldn’t do this. It was freaking crazy.

“You have to let go of the window frame. I’m right under you.”

“This isn’t the time to be nice to me, Mac.”

“Okay, then how’s this? I’m loving the view of the sexiest red panties I have ever seen that barely cover an ass that will live in my dreams for years to―”

Lexie dropped. Before she could get out the ear-piercing, girly scream that roared in her head, she landed in Mac’s arms. The impact crushed the air from her lungs.

“You’re okay,” he whispered. “I’ve got you.”

Wrapping her arms around his neck, she allowed his strength and his herbal all-male scent to soothe her. He eased her legs back on solid ground, but she didn’t let go. She couldn’t remember a time in her life when she felt so safe, protected.

She raised her chin and met his amused stare. Of all stupid days to wear a skirt to work. As soon as she got out of this mess, it was going to Goodwill. Heat spread up her neck and her chest tightened. “This one time, I’m going to let that go.”

“Let what go, Lexie?” Mac’s hand moved slowly down her back to her waist and pressed her tightly against him.

His touch sent a flash of need that had been dormant for too long into her gut. Lexie swallowed but couldn’t look him in the face. “That wasn’t my best moment on that ledge. You shouldn’t have looked.”

“You told me not to be nice.”

RELEASE DATE FOR IN THE SHADOW OF PRIDE 21 JULY 2014 

Find Nancy at:
Website: http://nancycweeks.com
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/NancyCWeeksAuthor, 
Twitter: @NancyCWeeks
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7009278.Nancy_C_Weeks
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/nancycweeks/