Monday, September 1, 2014

Jams fuel page-turning conflict

Giveaway Alert!

Rough Waters began with a character and stolen treasure. For this third book in my Mossy Bog series, I started with a character that had appeared briefly in earlier books, Jeanie Munro.

After her husband ran off with another woman, leaving her with two kids and a crapload of debt, Jeanie painfully reinvented herself as a florist with pink hair. That was my backstory. To craft Jeanie’s story and happily ever after, I knew she had to be pushed to the near breaking point again.

Her family’s safety, their home, and her business are breached. Her choices are to crack under pressure again and let her friends and family make decisions for her, to retreat into the pre-divorce world she’d once known with the man who abandoned her before, or to go on the offense and neutralize the threat.

Former SEAL Rock Mackenzie believed his luck changed when he and his business partner found gold sovereigns after reading the journal he inherited upon his mother’s recent death. But his boat exploded, his buddy died, and Rock nearly lost his life. When he healed up enough to leave the hospital, his coins were long gone.

His only lead is the guy who used to work at the marina and who also temped for Rock’s lawn service. Rock came home once to find this guy’s nose pressed against his window. The guy’s in the wind, but his ex-wife is Rock’s best hope for recovering his stolen property and paying off his investor. Without the coins, he must relinquish the journal, written by the only survivor of an off-the-books shipwreck, and forfeit all rights of salvage from the wreck.

The story opens with Rock in Mossy Bog, receiving a flower delivery from Jeanie. Rough Waters is my 12th published novel, my 6th romantic suspense.

Excerpt from Rough Waters:

Rock could tell her everything, but the less Jeanie knew about the stolen gold sovereigns and the wooden chest, the better off she’d be. “Your burglary might not be related to my accident, but I’m cautious now. I didn’t think my boat would blow up either. The accident changed my perspective. I came here to regroup. If what happened to you is because of me, I’m sorry about that.”

“Why would someone try to kill you?”

“I keep asking myself that question.”

“How is Avery involved in this?”

He held her gaze. “I have no proof he is involved.”

“So then why did you come to Mossy Bog?”

He shrugged. “From Avery’s description, Mossy Bog sounded like the perfect place to regroup. I’d never heard of the place before, so I thought I’d be anonymous here.”
“Why would someone who’s after you trash my shop? We barely know each other.”
He prayed she wouldn’t put it together. He needed more time to search for the stolen treasure. Time for a diversion.

“My accident doesn’t make any sense,” he said, catching her hand and drawing her close. “But you have my word, if your break-in is on me, I’ll make this right.”

“You don’t need to do that,” she said, pulling away. “I can take care of myself.”

He gave her a moment to feel comfortable again, then leaned in, giving her room to escape, but she didn’t. She didn’t move a muscle as her warm coffee-laced breath feathered his face. The urge to kiss her fogged his brain.

“I just bet you can,” he whispered, then closed the distance between them and nuzzled her neck. Her startled gasp of delight added fuel to his fire. He edged the rest of his body closer until they stood toe to toe, hip to hip. Her fingers gripped his, and her head dropped back. Oh, yeah. Her scent pulsed though him like a freighter bound for the coast.

“Damn,” she breathed. “Is this going to be about sex?”

His lips brushed hers. Liquid gold sluiced through his veins. “I sure hope so.”

How to find Maggie Toussaint
Mudpies, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Jeanie dyes her hair pink as a personal statement to the world that she has Girl Power. If you decided to dye your hair a nontraditional color, what color would you choose? Why? Leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of Rough Waters, your choice of format.

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Sep. 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. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Interview with NY Times Bestselling Author, Sandra Brown

What inspired you to start writing novels for the romantic suspense genre?  

I started out writing genre romances.  In the early ‘80s, the American publishers wanted a piece of the Harlequin pie. Romances from American writers, with American settings were in high demand.  My timing was good.  Fast forward several years.  I wanted to branch out – both from a creative standpoint as well as a marketing standpoint -- by incorporating more suspense and mystery into my books, while maintaining the love story. That’s how I came to write “romantic suspense.”  I love this genre!   

What are some common misconceptions about writers?

That we sit around waiting for inspiration.  I get inspired to eat a bag of Fritos all by myself, or to watch “Pretty Woman” yet again, or to buy a pair of shoes that I don’t need.  But writing is my profession.  I approach it as such.  Yes, ideas strike me, and I dream up characters and stories for them, but I don’t wait for a thunderbolt.  I roll up my sleeves and go to work every day.

Can you offer any advice to new or aspiring authors?

My advice to aspiring writers would be to read, read, read and to write, write, write.  Reading is the fun part, of course.  Writing is the work.  I know of no other way to write than to string words together one word at a time.  It requires hours of lonely, diligent, often tedious labor.  Don’t aspire to do it unless you’re willing to work.  As hard as you think it is, it’s harder.  But the rewards are many!  

Who would you like to meet in person?

I presume you mean living or dead?  I’d like to meet Audrey Hepburn.  Such beauty, class, talent, but mostly such selflessness.

How do you come up with the titles for your novels?

Titles can be tough, or terribly easy.  I sent in PLAY DIRTY without a title and rejected titles suggested by the publisher.  Ultimately I was given a weekend to arrive at a title because the book was going into production the following Monday.  “Untitled Sandra Brown” just wasn’t going to cut it!  I was doing a power walk through my neighbourhood, when the title popped into my head.  I knew immediately it was perfect for the story – from many angles.  I wanted to ask myself, “Was that so hard?  Duh!”  MEAN STREAK, by contrast, was there as soon as I began conceiving the story.  


Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina. By the time her husband Jeff, miffed over a recent argument, reports her missing, the trail has grown cold. Literally. Fog and ice encapsulate the mountainous wilderness and paralyze the search for her.

While police suspect Jeff of “instant divorce,” Emory, suffering from an unexplained head injury, regains consciousness and finds herself the captive of a man whose violent past is so dark that he won’t even tell her his name. She’s determined to escape him, and willing to take any risks necessary to survive.

Unexpectedly, however, the two have a dangerous encounter with people who adhere to a code of justice all their own. At the center of the dispute is a desperate young woman whom Emory can’t turn her back on, even if it means breaking the law.

As her husband’s deception is revealed, and the FBI closes in on her captor, Emory begins to wonder if the man with no name is, in fact, her rescuer.

About Sandra:
Sandra Brown is the author of sixty-three New York Times bestsellers, including DEADLINE (2013), LOW PRESSURE (2012), LETHAL(2011), TOUGH CUSTOMER (2010), SMASH CUT (2009), SMOKE SCREEN (2008), PLAY DIRTY (2007), RICOCHET (2006),CHILL FACTOR (2005), and WHITE HOT (2004).

Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over seventy novels, bringing the number of copies of her books in print worldwide to upwards of eighty million. Her work has been translated into thirty-four languages.

A lifelong Texan, Sandra Brown was born in Waco, grew up in Fort Worth and attended Texas Christian University, majoring in English.

She is much in demand as a speaker and guest television hostess. Her episode on truTV’s Murder by the Book premiered the series in 2008. She appeared in 2010 on Investigation Discovery’s new series, Hardcover Mysteries.

In 2009 Brown detoured from her thrillers to write Rainwater, a much acclaimed, powerfully moving story about honor and sacrifice during the Great Depression.

Brown holds an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Texas Christian University where she and her husband Michael Brown, have instituted the ELF, a scholarship annually awarded to a student pursuing a fiction writing career. In 2008, she was named Thriller Master, the top award given by the International Thriller Writer’s Association. Other awards and commendations include the 2007 Texas Medal of Arts Award for Literature and the Romance Writers of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2011 she and four colleagues went on a week-long USO tour to Afghanistan, meeting with service members on numerous bases.

Sandra is the past president of the Mystery Writers of America in 2012. She lives in Arlington, Texas, with her husband, Michael Brown.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Escaping Into Story

Giveaway Alert!

I've often heard that the best ideas for a story come from real life. That was certainly my experience in writing my time travel romance trilogy, Moonseed. My heroine first came to me when I was on holiday in beautiful California wine country and going through a particularly painful time in my life.

Victoria materialized in my imagination already fully formed. The first thoughts she shared with me told of her longing to escape her meaningless life and to find love and purpose and belonging. Intrigued, I began to follow her into a story that troubled me, challenged me, and ultimately gratified me as she found answers and solutions to problems that we both shared.

Of course, I had the fun of providing her with all the elements that personally satisfy me most in a story: romantic intrigue with a hero worthy of her, mysteries to be solved, and truths about life to be discovered. I got to visit old San Francisco at the turn of the century and to live the slower paced life of rural California that has always appealed to me.

I believe we read to discover ourselves in a character's reflection or to learn something new and interesting about how life works. Although it's true that we can't travel through time to escape our troubles, we can follow a character into her story, adopting her reality and caring about how things turn out for her, and in that imaginary escape discover real relief and pleasure and satisfaction for ourselves.

Borrowed Promises

On the night of the new spring moon, a near-fatal accident propelled Victoria Reeves-Ashton over a century back in time to awaken in the body of Katherine Kamarov.

Now, after three months of pretending to be Katherine and laboring to repair relationships damaged by Katherine's brash and selfish personality, quiet and gentle Victoria finds that her heart is putting down roots in Katherine's world, in her family relationships, and especially in a deepening friendship with Katherine's winsome cousin Michael.

Hidden letters reveal the story of other moonseed, time travelers like herself, and Victoria realizes that she and Katherine will likely be returned to their own times the following spring. Tension mounts when a rich and handsome suitor applies to marry her, and Victoria must choose whether to accept him for Katherine's sake or to follow her own heart.

Purchase Links:
Amazon Kindle
Amazon Paperback
Barnes and Noble

Author Bio: 
Judith Ingram weaves together her love of romance and her training as a counselor to create stories and characters for her novels. She also writes Christian nonfiction books and enjoys speaking to groups on a variety of inspirational topics. She lives with her husband in the San Francisco East Bay and makes frequent trips to California's beautiful Sonoma County, where most of her fiction characters reside. She confesses a love for chocolate, cheesecake, romantic suspense novels, and all things feline.

Author web links:
Website, blog and free weekly devotional:

If you could change places with someone for one year, would you prefer to live in the future or the past, or would you stay in the present time, and why?  Comment for a chance to win a bundled set of paperbacks: Book One and Book Two of the MOONSEED trilogy: Bridge to the Past and Borrowed Promises.

Book Excerpt:
    I couldn't allow Michael to guess where my heart was taking me—because of Raymond.

    Although many things were unclear to me, one fact seemed certain—Katherine must marry Raymond Delacroix and have at least one child with him. If I gave in to my new feelings for Michael, and if I were cruel enough to let him see them, then I risked both hurting him and ruining Katherine's chances with Raymond when she came back to her own time.

    And Katherine would come back. I was convinced of it, all my desperate wishes to the contrary. She would marry Raymond, give birth to Elise, and secure a future that would eventually lead to her daughter painting a picture of Katherine and me at the bridge over Two Trees Creek. By the same token, I would return to life as a lingerie model and a cold marriage with Ryan Ashton. Ryan.

   "What?" Michael's voice made me jump and turn my head.


   "You said 'Ryan' again."

   "I did?"

   Michael had removed his glasses, and he blinked at me from only a foot away. God, he has beautiful eyes, I thought. Soft gray-green depths that held me breathless, fighting a slow, aching pull to be in his arms.

   "He's…nobody," I said.

   Michael was studying me, his eyes so solemn and searching that I couldn't look away. He didn't speak, but in that moment my heart yearned toward him, and he saw it. His expression changed. His gaze moved slowly from my eyes to my mouth.

   I turned my face away and shut my eyes over a sudden sting of tears.

    "Kat?" he said softly.

    His voice held a new, cautious note of intimacy. A moment later his thumb brushed my wet cheek, and the tenderness of his touch wrenched a low cry from me. I pushed his hand away and struggled to sit upright.

    "Don't touch me!" Pain made my voice sharp. "You can't touch me, Michael!"
Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Aug. 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.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Congratulations to "Bn100" and "Brooke B", the winners in Susan's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated. 

My romantic suspense novels usually feature a law enforcement hero or heroine, and the other in the romantic pair will be an ordinary person forced into extraordinary circumstances, life or death situations. I love torturing my people—virtually, you understand—and making them face all sorts of dangers and decisions that also draw them together and challenge their beliefs and needs. I love building the tension between them, so they’re hot for each other but circumstances or their own fears make them hesitate.

This is exactly what I’ve done with my characters in Task Force Eagle. DEA Agent Rick Cruz, the hero of Never Surrender, appeared as a secondary character in my first book for Harlequin. Ever since, readers have asked when I was going to publish his story. It took years, but finally I found the perfect heroine and a story that would challenge him and his task force partners. I added ATF Agent Jake Wescott and DEA Agent Holt Donovan to the task force and the series was born. 


NEVER SURRENDER  - When charming DEA Agent Ricardo Cruz has a lead in Maine to the cartel that killed his brother, his vanished suspect’s loyal sister, the beautiful Juliana Paris, refuses to cooperate. Threats force her to accept Rick’s protection, and their search leads them into deadly danger and each other’s arms.

ONCE BURNED - ATF Agent Jake Wescott, undercover in his hometown to find a link to the Mexican smugglers, becomes the reluctant protector of Lani Cameron who was scarred in the long-ago fire that killed her twin. As they uncover secrets, intimacy ignites passion, and they face dangers more explosive than they feared.

TWICE A TARGET - Disaster hits DEA Agent Holt Donovan twice. A gunfight ruins his mission and a car crash kills his brother and sister-in-law. Home on the Colorado ranch to raise his orphaned nephew, Holt hires a nanny, Maddy McCoy, who once jilted his brother. Can danger and a shocking discovery bring them together?


The agent regarded her with professional suspicion. Mocking her efforts at cool control, her cheeks burned under the scrutiny. She made a production of stashing the flashlight, cracked and probably useless, in her bag.

“I suppose you’re who you say you are, but what are you doing in my brother’s apartment—in the dark?” Straightening to her full five-foot-three, she folded her arms. 

“Your brother.” The DEA agent rubbed his knuckles on his jaw. “Can you prove that Jordan Paris is your brother?”

She would not be reduced to jelly by a good-looking man with a sexy voice. “Prove? Not really.” She rummaged in her bag. “But here’s my driver’s license.” 

Agent Cruz didn’t take the license from her, but framed the hand holding it with his own. “Portsmouth, New Hampshire? You drove here this afternoon?”

She nodded.

He continued to grip her hand. His tanned fingers contrasted starkly with her pale redhead’s skin. When he released her, she snatched back her hand as if from a flame.

“Why the flashlight?” 

“Sometimes Jordan forgets to pay his electricity bills. My brother has issues but he’s no criminal.” For the first time, the condition of the room registered. Everything strewn around. One hand flew to her throat. “What’s going on? What have you done?”

“First explain why you’re here and what you know about Jordan’s recent activities.” He gestured for her to take a seat.

Until he sat, she would stand. She wasn’t about to have him looming over her. “I’m not sure what Jordan’s been up to lately. That’s sort of why I came.” 

“You must know where he works.” His gaze concealed whether he knew the answer.

“Until two months ago, he worked for Vinson Seafood on a dragger. When the boat went in for repairs, he was laid off. He’s been out of work since.”

Juliana wished he wouldn’t keep looking at her with such concentrated focus. It was unnerving. She licked her lower lip.

As if too warm, the agent threw off his windbreaker. His black flak vest emblazoned with the yellow letters DEA confirmed his status. His black turtleneck and pants displayed a trim yet powerful build. With a cape, this man would make a better Zorro than that Spanish actor. No, she wouldn’t think of him that way. She blinked away the image.

I am giving away 2 digital copies of the Task Force Eagle bundle to two lucky readers posting a comment or sending an email entry.

Susan Vaughan wanted to write as soon as she learned to read. Her favorite books have always been mysteries and romances, so the mix in romantic suspense was a natural. Her books have won the Golden Leaf, More Than Magic, and Write Touch awards and been a finalist for the Booksellers’ Best and Daphne du Maurier awards. A former teacher, she’s a West Virginia native, but she and her husband have lived in Maine for many years.

Twitter: @SHVaughan

Individual books in print and digital at most online retailers

Never Surrender – Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iTunes  

Once Burned – Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iTunes  

Twice a Target – Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iTunes  

Task Force Eagle (ebooks 1-3) Amazon 

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Aug. 28th. 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, August 25, 2014

Balancing “reader” and “writer.”

Congratulations to "Willa" and "Donna S.", the winner's in C.A.'s giveaway. Thank you to all who participated.

I have always been a reader AND a writer. I started writing my first book when I was about 8, but I didn’t finish a book, writing anyway, until I was 17. 

I tend to “binge” anything I like to do, LOL. So I will go through long periods of JUST writing, where I don’t even think about any books but my own. Or get frustrated with myself because I “missed out” reading a new release from one of my fave authors because I just had to finish the book I was writing.

Reading has always been the same for me. When I am having a streak, I can read 4-5 books a week. I discovered a new author (to me) a few weeks ago (The FAB Coreene Callahan) and burned through ALL her books in the last three weeks.

It’s harder for me to read AND write at the same time, but I find that as a person, it makes me happier when I do. 

Binging is bad.

When I do one and not the other, I MISS the other. And I find when I don’t write it’s worse than when I don’t read. I get grumpy. LOL.

So what works best for me is writing daily, then making myself see the reading as a reward for the work I got done. Sometimes works fabulously. 

Other times I just want to watch TV in my downtime, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post. LOL (I watch way too much TV!)

I feel like writers SHOULD read. I don’t know about other writers, but if I do nothing BUT write, I get too much up in my own head, if that makes sense. It just wraps me up and gives me trouble spots in my stories.

It’s good to see what else is out there, what other awesomely creative people are doing. I love it! And I love to explore different genres.

Some authors will tell you not to read the genre you write, but I personally will read anything as long as it’s a good story. 

Historicals (especially Scottish Highlanders) are one of my fave things to read. And I love to read paranormal, and of course a fab romantic suspense, almost as much as I like to write it. 

Balance seems to be key for me in anything I do. Blame it on being a Libra, I dunno. Just seems when I have balance I function better, especially with reading and writing.

How do you find balance? When you read, do you prefer one genre over another, or are you good-story-driven like me?

Two winners will be selected from all the commenters, and I will give away an ebook to each! Winner’s choice of Collision Force (Crossing Forces Book One), Chance 
Collision (Crossing Forces Book Two) OR Calculated Collision (Crossing Forces Book Three)! Please make sure you leave your email with your comment!


Special Agent Lee Dawson has secrets. Secrets that forced her from Dallas to New York City in disgrace two years ago.

Dallas County Assistant District Attorney, Nate Crane, visits New York and witnesses the brutal murder of a friend. When Lee is assigned to the investigation, her personal and professional life collides. She can’t avoid the man she ditched six months ago. 

She’s the one Nate can’t stop thinking about. The one he let get away. He’s determined to get her back, no matter what she thinks she wants. Being a witness in her case puts them close—and Nate intends to keep it that way.

After Nate’s attacked at a safe house, Lee knows there’s a leak – a dirty FBI agent working with the human trafficker her unit has been hunting for years.

Can Lee protect her witness and resist the heat between them or will she succumb to her desires and throw them both into danger?


Sweat broke out on her brow and Lee gripped her Glock tighter instead of wiping the moisture away. She bit back a curse.

What’s taking so long?

They should’ve already heard shouts of “Federal agents!”

She hated being in the back. Being back-up. 

Lee and her partner, Clint Downs, were the lead agents of their unit, and usually headed raids.

Not today. 

Their boss, Special Agent Olivia Barnes, wanted them—Lee in particular—to take a breather from going hard and fast. 

Nothing wrong with the passenger seat, right? 

Maybe if she kept telling herself that, it’d sink in.

Hard and fast was all Lee knew. How she got the job done. But even her partner had reminded her there were twelve members of their human trafficking unit. They were all partners. 

Ugh. She’d rather hang a ‘Doesn’t play well with others’ sign around her neck. 
“You good?” 

Her partner’s gravelly voice made Lee tense. “Yup.” She didn’t look his way.
“You seem shaky.”

“I’m good.” Flexing her fingers on her gun’s grip, she inched forward. “Wanna get this done.”
Downs didn’t have a chance to answer. The battering ram exploded the door in front of them and wood splinters went flying. 

Collective shouts of “Federal agents!” coupled with “FBI!” surrounded her and she rushed forward behind her teammates. In correct formation, head in the game.
We’re doing this.

Screams and whimpers greeted her ears. Her heart used to jump with the fears of the victims every time they did a raid, but not anymore. Instead it was steel, and her gut made of iron. 

Lee was used to seeing tears, and hearing them cry. What she’d never get used to were the bruises and skimpy clothing on kids that were less than half her age. 

Babies. They’re all babies. 

Most weren’t even sixteen, yet in a lot of cases they’d been bought, sold and forced to have sex with more pieces of scum than she could count. The lucky ones got owners that didn’t beat them, but a sex-slave was still a sex-slave. 

Bastards. They all needed to die.

The relief on the girls’ faces when they first realised they were being rescued was always a reward. Reminded Lee she was a good person—why she did the job. If only the sentiment lasted in her mind. 

A shot rang out and her instincts kicked in. She dropped to the dingy carpet and rolled to the nearest cover—a dark-coloured couch. 

Someone returned fire just as her partner crouched beside her. “Shit,” Downs spat. “It’s going south, fast.”

Lee smirked and raised her Glock. “Nah, we got this.” She popped up over the couch for a quick survey. A bullet whizzed overhead and her partner yanked her back down.

“Don’t be reckless.” 

When he flashed his perma-scowl, she almost rolled her eyes. How many times had he said that? 

Welllllllll, for today it’s probably the first time.

Orders to drop weapons went unheeded as more bangs made her ears ring. She risked another look over the couch. Other members of their unit had taken cover, but several were returning fire. 

Buylinks for the Calculated Collision:

Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon | KOBO | Barnes and Noble | Totally Bound | Are

Where to find C.A.:
Twitter: @caszarek

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Aug. 26th. 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.