Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Keeping the Suspense Real

Giveaway Alert!

Writing suspense isn’t easy. I’ve found it’s a building process—creating an atmosphere, setting a tone, putting your reader on edge… If you want the big, suspenseful moments to be believable, you have to lay the groundwork first. The little scenes can be critical to the process. They’re the foundation that will support the greater structure. Here’s an example. In the following short excerpt, the heroine is on a hike with her daughters…

Jade shoved the empty wrapper in her pocket then lifted her head. “I heard a noise again.”

Ivy stared into the woods. “Maybe it’s the bears.”

“Or Jade’s overactive imagination.” Lark drank from her water bottle before returning it to her pack.

“No, I heard something, too.” Silence echoed in Rachel’s ears, sending a chill through her. 

“Is anyone there?”

Shadows stretched across the trail. Wind blew softly through the tree branches, and a bird chirped somewhere overhead. The forest was beautiful and peaceful, but the hair stood up on the back of her neck.

“No one’s there. Can we go?” Lark let out an exasperated sigh.

“Fine. I’m sure it’s nothing.” But she couldn’t resist one last look behind them.

When done correctly, the small details build tension from scene to scene, drawing ever closer to the black moment. Long before the reader reaches the climax, I hope she’ll have double-checked to make sure all her doors are all locked. A suspense author can’t ask for a bigger complement!


No matter where she goes, he knows her every move…

Long ago, Rachel Carpenter was a glamorous soap star. She gave it all up to move to Napa Valley with her daughters to open a bookstore near her family vineyard. Her life is safe and dependable, until she encounters Kane Lafferty at a wilderness camp in the rugged High Sierra. A burned-out police detective struggling with his own demons, Kane is instantly attracted to Rachel. And like Rachel, he isn’t sure if he’s ready to open his heart. But everything is about to change…

Someone is watching from the darkness. A fanatic obsessed with Rachel for years has decided to claim what he believes is his. It will be up to Kane to not only protect his new love and her family, but to uncover the identity of the stalker before it’s too late for all of them…

Buy Links:
Barnes & Noble

PDF copy of a suspense novella from my backlist. Winner choses from: We’ll Never Tell, She’ll Never Rest or He’ll Never Know. See Bookshelf for blurbs.

About the Author:

Write what you know. Jannine Gallant has taken this advice to heart, creating characters from small towns and plots that unfold in the great outdoors. She grew up in a tiny Northern California town and currently lives in beautiful Lake Tahoe with her husband and two daughters. When she isn’t busy writing or being a full time mom, Jannine hikes or snowshoes in the woods around her home. Whether she’s writing contemporary, historical or romantic suspense, Jannine brings the beauty of nature to her stories. To find out more about this author and her books, visit her website

Author Links:

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST April 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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Murder in Hindsight


There’s an unusual killer combing London’s streets—a vigilante is at work, killing suspects from prior cases who were never convicted; those who’d gotten away with murder, in hindsight.  

It’s a puzzler, though; this vigilante is staying to the shadows, and covering his tracks so that Detective Sergeant Kathleen Doyle is left to guess at his motivation.  Is the killer guilty about his own role in helping murderers get off, or is it someone who’s just had-it-up-to-here with the imperfect justice system? 

Meanwhile, the crises keep piling up; Chief Inspector Acton, her husband, is up to something having to do with brassy female reporters and the heir to his estate, and when Acton is up to something, murder and mayhem are the certain result.  Not to mention she’s needed to quash a messy little blackmail plot, and do battle with the dowager Lady Acton.  All in all, it will make for a busy few weeks; now, if only the ghosts that haunt the manor house would leave her alone. . .   


After peering over the hedgerow yet again, Doyle blew into her hands, since she’d forgotten her gloves, and reflected that the cold was actually a blessing, because the recently departed wouldn’t be further decomposing whilst they cooled their heels—she truly shouldn’t delay for much longer, or the Senior Investigating Officer might think they’d all gone for a pub crawl. 

“Here he comes, ma’am.” 

With a great deal of relief, Doyle looked up to see that Acton was indeed approaching; his tall, over-coated figure emerging from the evening fog.  In such a setting he appeared larger-than-life, and small wonder that the younger detectives at the Met called him “Holmes” behind his back.  He was a local legend, which only made her fret all the more whilst she entertained the bleak conviction that the whole thing was about to come crashing down around their heads.

“DS Doyle.” He nodded to her.  “Have you an ID?”

“I do indeed, sir.”  They kept up a professional façade at work, but she met his eyes and felt the chemistry crackling between them like an electrical charge.  No one could fathom why the great Chief Inspector Acton had married the lowly likes of her, and literally on a moment’s notice. She could fathom it, however, and did—sometimes twice a day.  

She continued, “No sign of robbery, and he was armed—had a .38 revolver tucked into the back of his belt.”   Lowering her voice, she indicated with a finger, “The entry wound is angled, and there’s no visible residue, so it’s at mid-close range—no more than a foot or so.”

He began to pull off his leather gloves by the fingers. “Allow me to lend you my gloves.”

“You mustn’t,” she warned. “I’ll never learn, else.”

“Your fingers are white.”

“Are you listenin’ to me?”

“Yes.” He glanced up at her. “He used a different weapon, this time.”

“I think so,” she agreed, mollified that he was paying attention. “He’s trying to disguise it, but it’s the same killer. And the victim has another cold case connection.”

Anne Cleeland is a lifelong Southern California resident, and currently makes her home in Newport Beach. An attorney by trade, she's been reading mystery and romantic suspense since her Nancy Drew days.  The Acton & Doyle series features two Scotland Yard detectives, and if you are a fan of Masterpiece Mystery, you may enjoy their adventures.  
Anne also writes a historical series set in 1814 because she loves historicals, too. Being a romantic at heart, all her stories have a strong romantic element.
She has four grown children, three wonderful grandchildren, and one nutty dog. @annecleeland

Monday, March 30, 2015

Riveting HARLEQUIN ROMANCES guaranteed to surprise and excite!

Congratulations to "Brook B.", "Vin G." and "Tammy Y.", the winners in the giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

By Delores Fossen

A Texas lawman risks his future to protect a woman from his past in USA Today bestselling author Delores Fossen’s latest Sweetwater Ranch book. (Harlequin; $5.50)

The woman fleeing a cold-blooded killer is no stranger to Deputy Colt McKinnon. Fourteen years ago, Elise Nichols was the love of his life. Now she’s back in Sweetwater Springs–to be the star witness in an upcoming murder trial that could tear the Texas lawman’s family apart.

With her explosive revelations certain to rock the town, Elise didn’t expect to be welcomed home with open arms. Certainly not by the cowboy with the badge who once meant everything to her. But after being run off the road and shot at, she has no choice but to trust him. Even more dangerous is the desire that’s reigniting, making Elise yearn for something she may not live to see. 

DELORES FOSSEN is a USA Today bestselling author with a family tree that includes Texas cowboys, Choctaw and Cherokee Indians, a Louisiana pirate, and a Scottish rebel who battled side by side with William Wallace. With ancestors like that, it's easy to understand why Delores, a Texan and former Air Force captain, feels as if she were genetically predisposed to writing romances. Along the way to fulfilling her DNA destiny, Delores married an Air Force top gun who just happens to be of Viking descent. With all those romantic bases covered, she doesn’t have to look too far for inspiration.

“Delores Fossen is just a delightful find! She’s witty, wonderful and wicked.” 
– The Belles and Beaux of Romance

“Fossen’s stories are known for non-stop, explosive action with nail-biting close calls and impressive booby traps, and her latest is right up there. Fans should appreciate the consistency in a genuinely solid series” 
RT Book Reviews

“There is just something about Delores Fossen’s writing style that I can’t resist.” – Riverina Romantics

By Delores Fossen 
Harlequin; March 1, 2015
$5.50 US; 217 pages
ISBN-13: 9780373698189

by Shirlee McCoy

After a prominent senator’s son is murdered, Captain Gavin McCord of the Capitol K-9 Unit wants answers. The senator was a mentor to Gavin, and Gavin will stop at nothing to bring the killer to justice in Protection Detail. (Harlequin $5.99) 

With his team of elite K-9 cops and his loyal dog, Glory, at his side, Gavin discovers that a child at Cassie Danvers’ nearby foster home may have witnessed the murder. 

He’s drawn to the determined and beautiful woman, but she doesn’t want him interviewing her traumatized charges. Yet trusting Gavin is the only way to stay one step ahead of the deadly gunman when Cassie becomes a target. 

SHIRLEE MCCOY knew early that she wanted to write inspirational fiction and began writing her first novel when she was a teenager. Still, it wasn't until her third son was born that she truly began pursuing her dream of being published. Three years later she sold her first book.
Now a busy mother of four, Shirlee is a homeschool mom by day and an inspirational author by night. She and her husband and children live in Maryland and share their home with a dog and a guinea pig.

“McCoy packs a lot of action into a short amount of time. The well-crafted characters show that struggles can often lead to a reward.” – RT Book Reviews

“Shirlee McCoy's writing style flows smoothly and this is a very easy story to get lost in.” –Fresh Fiction 

“McCoy’s writing is descriptive and contains a well-balanced blend of action and romance.” 
– RT Book Reviews

By Shirlee McCoy
Harlequin; March 1, 2015
$5.99 US; 215 pages
ISBN-13: 9780373446544

By Jennifer Morey

 Georgia has seen one wealthy Adair ruin her stepmother's life and swears she won't get involved with his son Carson, but she can’t resist his tempting good looks. Award-winning author Jennifer Morey pairs former special ops soldier Carson Adair with determined librarian Georgia Mason in THE MARINE’S TEMPTATION (Harlequin; $5.50). 
So what if he's a hot former special ops soldier who showers her with extravagant gifts? He is the sexiest man she's ever met and it's hard to hate him for searching for his long-lost stepbrother, or tracking down the traitor behind his botched mission. 
When Georgia is kidnapped by a disturbed ex-boyfriend and thrown in the line of fire, Carson protects her, igniting their scorching passion. But after all they’ve gone through together, will Georgia fit in with the elitist Adairs?

JENNIFER MOREY’S first stories were inspired by her childhood love of Man o' War, Secretariat and The Black Stallion by Walter Farley. Bubbles of dialogue above cartoon drawings of horses led to hand-written tales of adolescent love. Years later, and two months after graduating from Colorado State University with a B.S. in geology, her mother died suddenly and the course of her life changed. The writer in her resurfaced, and she pursued a serious career. As Associate Project Manager for the Spacecraft Systems Segment of a satellite imagery and information company, Jennifer works with the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. When not writing, she can be found playing volleyball, hiking, flower gardening, socializing, or cuddling with her rescued golden retriever and feisty yellow lab. A finalist in more than twenty contests, Jennifer has received several awards for her writing, one of which led to the publication of her debut novel, The Secret Soldier. 

“Morey’s nonstop, action-packed plot and intriguing characters create a compelling story.” 
– RT Book Reviews

“There is gripping suspense in every Jennifer Morey story.” – Cataromance

“Thanks to strong storytelling and smooth pacing, readers will be hooked.” – RT Book Reviews

By Jennifer Morey 
Harlequin; March 3, 2015
$5.50 US; 288 pages
ISBN-13: 9780373279104

1 copy of each book will be given away to 3 lucky people leaving a comment or email entry. (US postal addresses only.)

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST March  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.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Small Towns, Pets and Country Folk

Congratulations to "Mary P." the winner in Trish's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

Having grown up in Zimbabwe, in Africa, I had no clue what a 'redneck' was until I moved to the US. At one time the word was an insult, but times have changed and rednecks are now proud of who they are. I have found them to be wonderful, hard-working, genuine people who would literally give you the shirt off their backs if you needed it, and who are not afraid to speak their minds. I knew I had to write about them. 

Romantic suspense is what comes naturally to me, probably because life in Zimbabwe was quite exciting—there was a time when I had to keep a loaded UZI with me in case of an attack by insurgents. Also, I think adventure and romance go hand-in-hand. I usually refer to the Redneck P.I. Series as romantic suspense with a touch of comedy, and I have become quite attached to the quirky characters who have wormed their way into the pages. 

My stories are set in small towns or out in the country, where the pace of life is a little slower—and different. You won’t find glitzy nightclubs, fashion clothes, or sparkly jewelry here. I’m also an ardent animal-lover and I’ve created some memorable four-legged characters, including Scratch, the Cairn Terrier who rides on the back of Twila's Harley, and Riley's palomino, Flight-of-Fancy in Capricorn Cravings.

Redneck P.I. Twila Taunton is the kind of woman who doesn’t take crap from anyone—[can I use that word here?] except, maybe Harland O’Connor, her very sexy long distance lover. She champions the underdog, and will go to any lengths to help him or her. In Backwoods Boogie, released by Uncial Press in November 2014, she is determined to rescue gentle Brit Pam Taylor from being convicted of a murder she clearly did not commit. This means Twila has to work with Jimmie-Ray—the man who stood her up on her wedding day. 

In the course of the investigation, Twila discovers an illegal puppy mill, where several dogs are living in filth and squalor without adequate food, shelter or veterinary attention. She and her quirky friends make a plan to rescue them, while she also helps a biker gang break up a dog fighting operation.

She has one little problem, though. She could be pregnant.

I will be giving away one eBook copy of Backwoods Boogie.

On a more serious note, Aquarius Addiction was released by Soul Mate Publishing in January 2015.  This is the second in my Zodiac Series, in which each heroine belongs to a different star sign, and exhibits the typical traits of her sign. 

Aquarius Arlette Xylander is feisty, eccentric, freedom-loving, flirtatious, rebellious and unpredictable. Her emotions rage between denial, anger and tears when her doctor tells her she is suffering from a rare terminal disease. 

When hunky Andre Rossouw asks her to help find his sister who has been missing for four years, Arlette makes two decisions. To beat the disease, and to have wild and passionate sex with him. Then she finds out he has a fiancée.

The book includes some paranormal, and (I always write about animals)—a black cat called 'Marbles'. 

You can find out more about me and get FREE short story downloads, plus the recipe for the dessert Andre’s mom makes in Aquarius Addiction at my websites and 

Follow Trish on Amazon Here: 

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST March  29th. 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.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Love Scenes—Getting it Right

Congratulations to "Jennifer D." and "Rachel B." the winners in Cindy's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated.

Sex—many authors struggle with writing love scenes or as some dub them: sex scenes. The problem is that these types of scenes are oftentimes misunderstood by readers or sometimes misused by authors. How is that possible? Let me explain...

Most recently I received a three-star review for my newest release, To the Breaking Pointe, from a reader who posted, “A fun guilty pleasure. Liked the military and dance aspects. Wish there was a little more romance.”

Translation: I thought there would be more sex scenes. 

Sorry, I don’t roll that way (accidental pun? I think not).

Please don’t misunderstand; I’m not complaining about the review, I’m just trying to make a clear concise point here. That said there are two love/sex scenes within the storyline of To the Breaking Pointe. These two scenes are appropriate for the story—both scenes move the story forward. If I had included another love scene in the story it would have been pushing the envelope, or forced for no other reason than to include such a scene to please such readers—and this is where love scenes are oftentimes misused. 

Some of you may be thinking, okay, author, how does a love scene move the story forward? Let’s face it, most love scenes are in the story for enticement.

Not necessarily. In order to use the scene aptly so that it doesn’t seem out of place or added for overkill, the scene should:

1. Bring the couple closer together—solidify their relationship.

2. Something should be revealed, a secret, a confession, or perhaps
    information that has not yet been shared with the reader.

3. The new information listed in #2 can even come as a result of
    the lovemaking—perhaps one character feels compelled to share it.

In other words, you need to make the scene count—a scene that is thrown in just to have it there will feel out of place to an astute reader, and yes, they will be annoyed by it.

A well placed, well written love scene can be very powerful, but an ill placed love scene can turn the reader off, resulting in a poor review or lost readership. 

By the way, I don’t necessarily consider the three-star review in my example as a bad review, after all they stated that the story was “fun” and there were aspects of the story that they “liked.” The reality is that all reviews can’t be five-stars—but that’s for another blog post.

Still...I have to wonder, will my three-star reader pick up any of my books in the future? I certainly hope so. However, they will not find any excess love scenes.

I will be giving away one ebook copy of Into the Crossfire AND one ebook copy of To the Breaking Pointe--just leave a comment and your email address to enter the drawing!

Good Luck!

Author Bio:
For twenty-six years Cindy’s life whirled around a song and a dance: she was a professional dancer/choreographer for most of her adult life and never gave much thought to a writing career until 2005. She often notes: Don’t ask me what happened, but suddenly I felt drawn to my computer to write about things I have experienced with my husband’s Thoroughbreds and happenings at the racetrack (greatly exaggerated upon of course—I’ve never been murdered!). Viola! Cindy’s first book series, Unbridled, was born—there are four books to that series so far.

Cindy is a huge fan of romantic suspense series, and although she isn’t one to make New Year’s resolutions, on New Year’s Day 2013 she made a commitment to write one, Into the Crossfire is the first book for her new series, First Force.

People are always asking Cindy: do you miss dance? With a bitter sweet smile on her lips she tells them: Sometimes I do. I miss my students. I miss choreographing musicals, but I love my books, and I love sharing them with you.For more information, book trailers, and excerpts for all of Cindy’s books please visit her website:
Social Networks:


Twitter: @CindyMcDonald7

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST March 27th. 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.