Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Characters sometimes make the story

Giveaway Alert for 3 lucky winners!

I was thinking the other day about characters and how they make a book come alive. I think about the books I’ve read and how sometimes characters are the life and breath of the story. One of my favorite characters is Jack Reacher in the Lee Child series. He is alpha male to the max. He’s like Jack Bauer from the TV series 24, except he’s six foot five and over two hundred pounds. He solves problems in small towns, on dusty highways, in out of the way places by kicking butt and taking names. Whereas Jack Bauer in 24 both kicks butt and saves the world with his go-big-or-go-home philosophy. 

Not to forget about women in books, there’s Katniss in The Hunger Games, Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones diary, Eve Dallas in the J.D. Robb series and of course Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. They’re memorable. 

I also love when a character does the unexpected. The tough as nails Marine gets teary eyed when he encounters a wounded puppy. Jack Bauer shows a speck of emotion when he thinks Chloe might have betrayed her country. Katniss makes a life-changing decision regarding Peeta in The Hunger Games. You get the picture. They stretch outside their comfort zone. It’s what makes a character multi-dimensional.   

The old question about is the book plot driven, or character driven comes to the forefront. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. I love characters. I want to love them, hate them, be annoyed by them. Something to make me feel like I know them. I’ve included a short scene from my book, Hard to Kill, that shows the reader a totally different side to Sabrina. She’s tough and in charge 24/7, but sometimes, not so much, as you’ll see below. Because I love when characters do the unexpected. Who are your most memorable characters and why?

Jumping out of an airplane? She’d rather be thrown into a cage match with Attilla the Hun, and have people chanting ‘two men enter, one man leaves.’ than fly through the air. 

Boundryless. She didn’t do out of control. He should know that by now.

Heights petrified her. Ever since Max nearly died it had been her worst nightmare. 

Kane brought his hand behind her back, ushering her toward one of the planes. Her mind faded in and out as a bout of panic overwhelmed her. 

Sabrina glanced at Kane then out the window. She gulped, feeling the anxiety forced down her throat and into her gut. 

“Couldn’t we fly the plane in close and land like normal folks, not some crazy daredevils?”

His lips inched up in a slight smirk before he let loose a chuckle. 

“You think this is funny? I’m going to be covered in a cast from my neck to my toes and you’re laughing.”

He laughed again and she barely resisted the urge to pop him one. “After all the dangerous stuff you do, you’re scared about jumping out of a plane?” 

She folded her arms across her chest refusing to give in to his tease. “I don’t see the point. I’m sure there’s a better way to handle this.”

“We’re parachuting in because there’s no landing strip nearby. The place is in the middle of a forest with only a dirt road access. Besides, we don’t want to get too close and give ourselves away.”

The plane banked to the right then leveled out. Sabrina had a death grip on the seat cushion while the prospect of breaking every bone in her body seemed inevitable. 

“Would it be so bad to hike in?” She asked.

“Are you crazy? Look out the window. Do you honestly think we have the time to climb up and down those mountains? They know we’re getting close.”

“Really, I think—” He moved in behind her. The clink sounded seconds before  she opened her mouth and let out a blood curdling scream.

I will be giving away 3 copies of my ebook, Hard to Kill to commenters leaving a post or an email entry.

Author Links:


Trained as children to become assassins by the infamous Goren Petrovich, Sabrina Shaw and her two brothers have had a less-than-normal upbringing. After escaping his clutches, Sabrina and her brothers have tried to make a normal life for themselves. Now Sabrina works for an organization called The Alliance, specializing in the kind of jobs that no one else can or wants to do. Her current assignment: find the daughter of a prominent politician who has disappeared, categorized as a runaway by the authorities. It seems simple enough, until Sabrina uncovers the girl may have been the victim of a kidnapping that goes far beyond ransom requests. Now Sabrina must put her training to the test as she infiltrates a sex trafficking ring operating in Europe in order to find the girl…all while dodging a mysterious FBI agent and the demons from her own past.


Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Oct. 2nd. 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 with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Five reasons Seattle is a great setting for romantic suspense...

Giveaway Alert!

My contemporary romantic mystery series featuring Grayce Walters includes a colorful cast of characters. I carefully developed each one so they would bring something unique to the series. James, Grayce’s cross-dressing best friend, is her faith sidekick, but he also adds a bit of comic relief to contrast the darker elements of the stories. By-the-book hunky arson investigator Ewan Davis is Grayce’s love interest, but his straight-laced logical nature contradicts Grayce’s intuitive approach to life. 

Included in the lineup, and just as important as any human character, is Seattle, Washington. In both An Inner Fire and Women Under Fire, I used specific elements of the city when I was plotting the story and composing scenes. And as I travel through my Pacific Northwest hometown, I continue to find inspiration for the next book in the series.

What makes Seattle a great backdrop for a romantic mystery series? I’m happy to share my top five reasons.

1. Seattle’s proximity to Mt. Rainier–58 miles—offers potential for natural disaster scenarios.

2. As a port city on the border of Canada, Seattle is a logical location for stories that include international intrigue such as smuggling or terrorism.

3. There are numerous naval bases on the islands surround Seattle. Think military action, submarine subterfuge and heroic service men and women.

4. Seattle’s weather is notoriously dark and gray and rainy, which is equally good for setting up a cozy romantic interlude or bad guy skulking around.

5. Seattle is home to several high-tech icons, such as Microsoft and Amazon, which translates into corporate espionage, telecommunications disruptions or worse!

Seattle is my favorite destination for romantic suspense. What’s yours? Comment for a chance to win a digital copy of Women Under Fire, Book 2 in the Grayce Walters series. Good luck!

Women Under Fire

Life has heated up for animal acupuncturist Grayce Walters: thrust into the public eye and hounded by the media after solving an arson case with a critical clue from a French Poodle. When Ewan Davis, the sexy arson investigator Grayce has been steaming things up with, starts talking commitment, she definitely feels the burn.

Then a desperate mother begs Grayce to help find her missing daughter—an Afghanistan war veteran suffering from PTSD, and Grayce reluctantly takes on the case, following a disturbing clue provided by the missing young woman’s cat. Calling once again on the aid of her cross-dressing best friend and her shrewd assistant, Grayce uncovers a terrorist plot with chilling international implications.

Grayce races to rescue the young veteran before the escalating danger explodes. But if she manages to escape the threat, will she find the courage to commit to the fiery passion that awaits her wrapped in Davis’s arms?

Available at:
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunes | Kobo

Author Bio:
Jacki Delecki is the author of two romantic mystery series, the Regency-era Code Breakers series and contemporary Grayce Walters series. She lives and writes in Seattle, Wash. Learn more about Jacki Delecki at

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Sep. 30th. 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 with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Danger Is Their Middle Name

While I’ve loved reading mysteries and suspense novels for years I never thought I’d write one. I loved writing romance but I didn’t think I could throw my characters into danger or craft a treacherous villain.

Then I went to the movies with a friend and saw the movie Ladyhawke. All I knew was that I wanted to write a book about two lovers that were separated by circumstances beyond their control. My agent read the book, called me and said “why didn’t you tell me you could write romantic suspense?” My reply was “I didn’t know I could”. What can I say? Sometimes I’m a little clueless.

But I caught on fast and knew that if that book was a romantic suspense there was no reason why that would be my only one. 

There is nothing like writing what you love to read. I enjoy crafting strong heroes and feisty heroines that can go toe to toe with them. A woman who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty if they’re on the run. Tell me honestly, how many of you would be willing to go on the run with a sexy guy because your lives are in jeopardy, perhaps go without a shower for days, forget even having a chance to apply fresh lip gloss, and end up getting shot at? On the one hand, sexy guy. On the other, little sleep, lack of good hygiene for awhile, perhaps dodging bullets. 

But if you knew in the end that guy would be all yours? It just might be worth it.
I also have fun coming up with the right villain for the book. It has to be someone who’s equally strong, whose agenda works for the storyline and the kind of evil that makes the reader shiver want continue to turn the page to find out what will happen next. Villains can be tricky because you don’t want to go over the top or they become laughable when that’s not what’s intended. What I like are villains that you’d never suspect. How many times have we seen on the news where neighbors say they’d never believe a person was a serial killer because they were willing to help a neighbor. Does that make you reconsider that man/woman living next door? That always smiling man who lives across the street?

Romantic suspense allows you to let your imagination roam freely. You can visualize the characters, their situations and surroundings and that they would be killed if they don’t track down and catch the bad guy first.

In Double Jeopardy I wanted a man who was in danger from a stalker, but the woman he was falling for ended up as collateral damage. I’ve always felt the female is more dangerous than the male because we all know what we could be capable of if we walked on the dark side. And don’t we women come up with the imaginative revenge methods? But would we be willing to break the law just to prove to a man we’re the right woman for him even if he doesn’t want us?

That’s why we read romantic suspense. To mentally throw ourselves into situations we’d never be in. We can sit there and read about these strong characters that just might be doing what we prefer imagining we’d do rather than our actually doing it. Not because we’re wimps, but because it’s more fun to read about it than go without a shower for a few days.
So tell me, what attracts you to romantic suspense novels? The stories? The characters? Perhaps even the villains? Would you go on the run with a sexy guy?



He’s exactly what she needs…and everything the other woman wants. Assistant District Attorney Josh Brandon has made a life of helping women escape violence and abuse in his small desert town outside Los Angeles. But in doing so, he’s gained himself a new admirer who refuses to be ignored. She sends flowers. Leaves phone messages. Everywhere Josh goes, she goes, too. And when he meets Lauren, the gorgeous new Medical Examiner, his stalker takes notice.

Lauren Hunter swore off men after an attack led to her scandalous divorce from an LA detective. But she hadn’t counted on Josh, the sexy cowboy assistant DA she meets when she escapes to the dusty old town. He’s exactly what her damaged soul needs…until the threats begin.

Falling in love was never the plan, but as Josh and Lauren butt heads over a case, their arguments turn from heated to hot. But someone is determined to come between them. Someone whose rage is growing. And she won’t stop her attacks until Josh and Lauren are separated forever.

Friday, September 26, 2014

When I read romantic suspense...

With: Silvia Ami

Giveaway Alert!

When I read romantic suspense, I look for something different, something that would make the story unforgettable - new methods of investigations, unexplored settings or special heroes and heroines. The main characters of my story sort of walked up and introduced themselves to me as “something different.” Despite conventional backgrounds - Joss is an FBI agent and Ethan an ex-marine security guy – their working relationship takes them beyond stereotypes. They are two smart people, struggling to trust each other while working together. A woman in charge and a man who doesn't mind being her partner, a woman who doesn't secretly dream of picket fences and a man with no commitment issues. In short, Joss and Ethan feel like real people, with complex emotions, deep and complicated friendships, and personal histories to embrace and overcome.

I truly hope you’ll enjoy the suspense as much as the romance and I welcome questions, comments and opinions about Joss and Ethan’s story. Write a comment here or contact me after reading the book, and most of all, thank you for taking a chance on TAKE.


When FBI special agent Joss Dubois discovers that her best friend’s life is being threatened, she volunteers to be the Vegas dancer's official protection. Determined to solve the case before she loses one of the only people she loves, Joss becomes caught up in terrorism, attempted murder, and life behind-the-scenes of the seedy nightlife of Sin City.

Joss is forced to partner with the security manager at the Desert Casino, former Intel Marine, Ethan Gallagher. Despite her resistance to his charm, and her stubborn insistence on controlling the investigation, Ethan finds himself drawn to the smart, beautiful, tempting FBI agent. But Joss isn’t so eager to risk heartbreak after the tragedies of her past and her job has become the only thing she can count on.

When the threats against the people they’re protecting turn deadly, Ethan and Joss have to find a way to trust each other to track the hunter who lies in wait for the Desert’s dancers. But trust is a rare and fragile thing to Joss, and Ethan may not be up to the task despite the mutual attraction they can't deny or fight.

Will their new partnership blow up, or can it survive to take down the predator before it’s too late?
Available on AMAZON

Ethan leaned his back against the wall and crossed his arms over his chest while he waited for Joss. He checked his wristwatch at least fifty times before she came back with a guard carrying some special detecting devices. One was similar to a hand vacuum, capable of sniffing and recognizing explosive residue better than a dog. The others were a couple of small boxes as big as a walkie-talkie, a more sophisticated and sensitive version of the electronic nose used to analyze the light signatures of chemicals the way astronomers learned the composition of stars.

The officer and Joss were speaking so quietly that Ethan could only catch a glimpse of their conversation by reading their mouths. But when they were near the cart, Joss introduced the two men and stepped beside Ethan. She whispered in his ear, “Officer Basset has just given instructions to his colleagues to check their security tapes immediately. They're looking for the person who could have left the bag on our cart.”

He tilted his head back and glanced at Joss with an arched brow. His mind was working on all of the possible scenarios involving the duffel bag, while his heart craved to know who the hell the woman in front of him was. She'd remained calm and detached under a possible threat, so she couldn't simply be an average Jane.

Ethan reached for a strand of long brown hair that had fallen beside her face and pushed it behind her left shoulder. With his hand still lingering over her smooth pea coat, he leaned forward and spoke quietly next to her ear. “Your move was pure genius. Do you have the slightest idea what you've started? Damn, we'll be stuck here until-”

“Agent Dubois? Please come here,” called the security guard. And she left.

Ethan stood frozen with an arm suspended in the air, the tips of his fingers still feeling her touch, and the last sentence dead in his mouth. The shock hit his temples, a piercing ache that made him close his eyes for a few heartbeats. “What's happening?”

About the Author: 
Silvia Ami has been a project engineer, an executive in a small business, and lately a rocket scientist (Just kidding). She backpacked across Europe by train before the cheap-flight era, lived in Germany for five years, and learned Spanish from her husband. 

She, her husband, and their two boys live in a condo not far from the sea in northwest Italy. They share a huge Hotwheels collection, a kitchen full of cooking gadgets, and a home-office that resembles Doc's lab in Back to the Future.

Silvia wrote TAKE after dreaming about the story and not being able to shoo the characters from her mind. Now that they are finally out, they have been replaced by the rest of the Gallagher clan.

If you want to know more about them, stay tuned for upcoming releases.

Email: silvia.ami.books AT gmail DOT com
Twitter: @SilviaAmiBooks

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

HARBOR ISLAND With NY Times Bestselling Author Carla Neggers


In this vivid and suspenseful addition to her widely acclaimed Sharpe and Donovan series, New York Times bestselling author Carla Neggers takes readers on a heart-stopping journey from Boston to Ireland to the rocky coast of Maine Emma Sharpe, granddaughter of world-renowned art detective Wendell Sharpe, is a handpicked member of a small Boston-based FBI team. For the past decade Emma and her grandfather have been trailing an elusive serial art thief. The first heist was in Ireland, where an ancient Celtic cross was stolen. Now the Sharpes receive a replica of the cross after every new theft—reminding them of their continued failure to capture their prey. 

When Emma receives a message that leads her to the body of a woman on a small island in Boston Harbor, she finds the victim holding a small, cross-inscribed stone—one she recognizes all too well. Emma's fiancĂ©, FBI deep-cover agent Colin Donovan, is troubled that she's gone off to the island alone, especially given the deadly turn the thief has taken. But as they dig deeper they are certain there is more to this murder than meets the eye. 

As the danger escalates, Emma and Colin must also face do-or-die questions about their relationship. While there's no doubt they are in love, can they give their hearts and souls to their work and have anything left for each other? There's one thing Emma and Colin definitely agree on: before they can focus on their future, they must outwit one of the smartest, most ruthless killers they've ever encountered.


Boston, Massachusetts

As she wound down her run on the Boston waterfront, Emma Sharpe could feel the effects of jet lag in every stride. Three days home from Dublin, she was still partly on Irish time and had awakened early on the cool November Saturday. She’d strapped her snub-nosed .38 onto her hip, slipped into her worn-out running shoes and was off. With less than a half mile left in her five-mile route, she was confident she hadn’t been followed. Not that as an art-crimes specialist she was an expert at spotting a tail, but she was an FBI agent and knew the basics.

Matt Yankowski, the special agent in charge of the small Boston-based unit Emma had joined in March, hadn’t minced words when he’d addressed his agents yesterday on a video conference call. “This Sharpe thief knows who we are. He knows where we work. It’s also possible he knows where we live. If he doesn’t, he could be trying to find out. Be extra vigilant.” Yank had looked straight at Emma. “Especially you, Emma.”

Yes. Especially her.

This Sharpe thief.

Well, it was true. She was, after all, the granddaughter of Wendell Sharpe, the octogenarian private art detective who had been on the trail of this particular serial art thief for a decade. Her brother, Lucas, now at the helm of Sharpe Fine Art Recovery, was also deeply involved in the stepped-up search for their thief, a clever, brazen individual—probably a man—who had managed to elude capture since his first heist in a small village on the south Irish coast.

Emma slowed her pace and turned onto the wharf where she had a small, ground-level apartment in a three-story brick building that had once been a produce warehouse. Her front windows looked out on a marina that shared the wharf. A nice view, but people passing by to get to their boats would often stop outside her windows for a chat, a cigarette, a phone call. Although she’d grown up on the water in southern Maine, she hadn’t expected her Boston apartment to be such a fishbowl when she’d snapped it up in March, weeks before the boating season.

Had the thief peeked in her windows one day?

She ducked into her apartment, expecting to find Colin still in bed or on the sofa drinking coffee. Special Agent Colin Donovan. A deep-cover agent, another Mainer and her fiancĂ© as of four days ago. He’d proposed to her in a Dublin pub. “Emma Sharpe, I’m madly in love with you, and I want to be with you forever.”

She smiled at the memory as she checked the cozy living area, bedroom and bathroom. Colin wasn’t anywhere in the 300-square-foot apartment they now more or less shared. Then she found the note he’d scrawled on the back of an envelope and left on the counter next to the coffee press in the galley kitchen. “Back soon.”

Not a man to waste words.

He’d filled the kettle and scooped coffee into the press, and he’d taken her favorite Maine wild-blueberry jam out of the refrigerator.

Still smiling, Emma headed for the shower. She was wide awake after her run, early even by her standards. After three weeks in Ireland, she and Colin had thoroughly adapted to the five-hour time difference. Their stay started with a blissful couple of weeks in an isolated cottage, getting to know each other better. Then they got caught up in the disappearance and murder of an American diver and dolphin-and-whale enthusiast named Lindsey Hargreaves. Now, back home in Boston, Emma was reacquainting herself with Eastern Standard Time.

Making love with Colin last night had helped keep her from falling asleep at eight o’clock—one in the morning in Ireland. He seemed impervious to jet lag. His undercover work with its constant dangers and frequent time-zone changes no doubt had helped, but Emma also suspected he was just like that.

Colin would know if someone tried to follow him. No question.

She pulled on a bathrobe and headed back to the kitchen. She made coffee and toast and took them to her inexpensive downsize couch, which was pushed up against an exposed-brick wall and perpendicular to the windows overlooking the marina. She collected up a stack of photographs she and Colin had pulled out last night, including one of herself as a novice at twenty-one. Colin had put it under the light and commented on her short hair and “sensible” shoes. She wore her hair longer now, and although she would never be one for four-inch heels, her shoes and boots were more fashionable than the ones she’d worn at the convent.

Colin had peered closer at the photo. “Ah, but look at that cute smile and the spark in your green eyes.” He’d grinned at her. “Sister Brigid was just waiting for a rugged lobsterman to wander into her convent.”

Emma had gone by the name Brigid during her short time as a novice with the Sisters of the Joyful Heart, a small order on a quiet peninsula not far from her hometown on the southern Maine coast. In September, a longtime member of the convent and Emma’s former mentor, an expert in art conservation, was murdered. Yank had dispatched Colin to keep an eye on her. He’d tried to pass himself off as a lobsterman—he’d been one before joining the Maine marine patrol and then the FBI—but Emma had quickly realized what he was up to.

“I bet you were wearing red lace undies,” he’d said as he’d set the photo back on the table.

Emma had felt herself flush. “I don’t wear red undies now.”

He’d given her one of his sexy, blue-eyed winks. “Wait until Valentine’s Day.”

They’d abandoned the photos and had ended up in bed, making love until she’d finally collapsed in his arms. He was dark-haired, broad-shouldered and scarred, a man who relied on his natural instincts and experience to size up a situation instantly. He didn’t ruminate, and he wasn’t one to sit at a desk for more than twenty minutes at a time. She was more analytical, more likely to see all the ins and outs and possibilities—and she was a ruminator.

As different as they were, Emma thought, she and Colin also had similarities. The FBI, their Maine upbringings, their strong families, their love of Ireland. Their whirlwind romance wasn’t all an “opposites attract” phenomenon, a case of forbidden love that had come on fast and hard. They hadn’t told anyone yet of their engagement. On Monday night in Dublin, Colin had presented her with a beautiful diamond ring, handmade by a jeweler on the southwest Irish coast. She’d reluctantly slipped the ring off her finger when they’d arrived at Boston’s Logan Airport from Dublin late Tuesday.

Emma was so lost in thought, she jumped when her cell phone vibrated on the table. She scooped it up, expecting to see Co-lin’s name on the screen. Instead, it was a number she didn’t recognize. A wrong number? She clicked to answer, but before she could say anything, a woman spoke. “Is this Emma Sharpe? Agent Sharpe with the FBI?”

“Yes, it is. Who are you?”

“What? Oh. My name’s Rachel Bristol. I need to talk to you. It’s important.”

“All right. Please go ahead.”

“Not on the phone. In person. Meet me on Bristol Island. It’s in Boston Harbor. There’s a bridge. You don’t have to take a boat.”

“Ms. Bristol, what’s this about?”

“It’s about your art thief. Bristol Island, Agent Sharpe. Be at the white cottage in thirty minutes or less. There’s a trail by the marina.” She paused. “Come alone. Please. I will talk only to you.”

Rachel Bristol—or whoever she was—disconnected. Emma sprang to her feet. Thirty minutes didn’t give her much time.

She ran to her bedroom and dressed in dark jeans, a dark blue sweater, a leather jacket and boots. She grabbed her credentials and strapped on her service pistol. She didn’t leave a note for Colin. She would text him on the way.

Meeting confidential informants was a tricky business even with protocols, training and experience. But it didn’t matter. Not this time.

Her thief.

Her problem.

Excerpted from the book HARBOR ISLAND by Carla Neggers.  Copyright © 2014 by Carla Neggers.  Reprinted with permission of Harlequin Mira.  All rights reserved

Author Bio:
Carla Neggers is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 60 novels, with translations in 24 languages. Born and raised on the western edge of the beautiful Quabbin Reservoir in rural Massachusetts, Carla grew up with tales of her father’s life as a Dutch sailor and her mother’s childhood in northwest Florida.

At a young age, Carla began penning her own stories on a branch high up in her favorite sugar maple. Now she enjoys spending time at the family homestead (now a tree farm) with her six brothers and sisters and their families.

When she’s not writing, Carla loves to travel, hike, kayak, garden, and, of course, dive into a good book. She lives with her family in Vermont, near Quechee Gorge.