Thursday, August 17, 2017

All About Tag Lines

At a recent meet-up, I was surprised to learn that many of the writers in the room (myself included) didn’t know the difference between a log line and a tag line. I had always assumed the two terms could be used interchangeably. While both terms originated in the film industry, the two concepts have very different structures and functions.

A log line provides the main conflict, main character, and the stakes in a well-constructed sentence that is usually less than 25 words in length.

A tag line is a catch phrase that sets the tone. It sums up the entire plot in one compelling phrase or sentence that is at most 10 words in length. 

In my research, I discovered that several synonyms exist for taglines, among them tags (United States), end lines or straplines in the United Kingdom, payoffs in Italy, baselines in Belgium, and signatures in France.

Here are sample tag lines from the film industry:

One ring to rule them all. Lord of the Rings

Don’t go into the water. Jaws

The list is life. Schindler’s List

Not every gift is a blessing. The Sixth Sense

The Toys are back in town. Toy Story 2

Collide with destiny. Titanic

There can be only one. Highlander

Whoever wins...We lose. Alien Vs. Predator

While these tag lines evoke interest and emotion, they provide few specifics about the individual movies. Instead, puns and clever wording set the appropriate tone and succeed in hooking potential moviegoers. 

In the same way, a tag line for a novel needs to tantalize prospective readers with a minimum of well-chosen words and images. Less is definitely more when it comes to taglines.

Here’s the tag line for Too Many Women in the Room: 8 women → 8 motives to kill.

Any memorable tag lines to share?


When Gilda Greco invites her closest friends to a VIP dinner, she plans to share David Korba’s signature dishes and launch their joint venture— Xenia, an innovative Greek restaurant near Sudbury, Ontario. Unknown to Gilda, David has also invited Michael Taylor, a lecherous photographer who has throughout the past three decades managed to annoy all the women in the room. One woman follows Michael to a deserted field for his midnight run and stabs him in the jugular.

Gilda’s life is awash with complications as she wrestles with a certain detective’s commitment issues and growing doubts about her risky investment in Xenia. Frustrated, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers decades-old secrets and resentments that have festered until they explode into untimely death. Can Gilda outwit a killer bent on killing again?

Carlo’s hand caressed my thigh. More sex. The man could be insatiable. And it had been almost two weeks since our last romp. We started to kiss and then his cell phone vibrated. 
Carlo groaned as he leaned over and picked up the phone. He sat up, his back to me. “What’s happened?” he barked. Carlo’s shoulders tensed. A long sigh and then his terse words. “Clear the perimeter, stat.”

Clear the perimeter. My heart beat faster as I recalled the last time I had heard those dreaded words. It could mean only one thing. Another murder. Two murders in less than twenty-hours. What were the chances of that happening in Sudbury? At the Christmas party, the police chief had bragged about one of the lowest murder rates in Canada during the past twelve months.

I swallowed hard. “What’s wrong?” 

Carlo turned and gave me a long glance. “Andrew Frattini was found dead in the alleyway behind the ReCareering office.”

The nightmare couldn’t be starting again. This time with different players but still with the same intent. To pin the murder on me. But that strategy wouldn’t work. I had an iron-clad alibi no one could refute.

Carlo dressed quickly. He picked up his phone and then turned toward me. “Stay clear of this, Gilda.”

“How can I ignore it?” I said as I felt myself tearing up. “Someone’s trying to frame me again.”

He leaned over and kissed me. “Well, they didn’t succeed, did they?”

Amazon (US):
Amazon (Canada):
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Barnes and Noble:

In 2008, Joanne Guidoccio retired from a 31-year teaching career and launched a second act that tapped into her creative side. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

Where to find Joanne...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Mystery, suspense, or thriller?

Congratulations to Joyce M. and Alex, the winners in Susanne's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

Hello and many thanks to Maureen for having me here again today. Please take a moment to comment on this post for your chance to win one of two digital copies of No Good Deed.

Many of my books are romantic suspense novels, but I’m beginning to think that with some of them, including my new release, No Good Deed, I’ve gone beyond that. I haven’t stepped into the Twilight Zone, but I have edged a different category, one I can only classify as romantic thrillers.

According to International Thriller Writers, a thriller is characterized by “the sudden rush of emotions, the excitement, sense of suspense, apprehension, and exhilaration that drive the narrative, sometimes subtly with peaks and lulls, sometimes at a constant, breakneck pace.”
This description suits many of my novels, especially my Harvester Saga which includes The White Carnation, The White Lily, and The White Iris. Here are a few comments from reviewers.

“I love a book that makes me shiver, and The White Carnation by Susanne Matthews was just that. The concept of a serial killer combined with a cult was so creepy that I couldn’t put the book down. Throw in the chemistry between Faye Lewis and Rob Halliday, and you’ve got me hooked.”

The White Lily is book two in the Harvester Series ... Grab a glass of your favorite beverage (snacks and something to chew on, besides you nails, is suggested) settle in for a great read you won’t want to put down.”

The White Iris takes the reader on the final journey of the cult and the people who are desperately trying to take it down. I would say the majority of this story was suspense and thriller that let me focus on the answers I have been demanding throughout this whole series. The romance between Julie and Trevor was quite literally the icing on the cake.”

I’d suspected for some time that my books had drifted away from the traditional romantic suspense formula and No Good Deed confirmed that. The cover isn’t what you would expect from a romance novel, but neither were those on my white flower books. As my publisher put it in the first sentence of the book blurb, “Psychological chills and thrills are woven around a heartwarming love story in this action-packed romantic suspense novel.

This year, Canada celebrates 150 years as a nation, and I chose to honor that accomplishment by setting No Good Deed in an area I know well. There are even scenes in my hometown. Both main characters are broken people on the run, and it is their brokenness that pulls them together as they face an unknown enemy. I hope all of my readers will enjoy this dark romantic thriller as my hero and heroine face not only physical danger, but emotional and psychological fear and their own inadequacies.


Escaping from her abusive fiancé, Alexa O’Brien pulls into a gas station only to walk in on an execution. She’s in protective custody until she can identify Nicoli Zabat, Montreal’s mob boss, at his trial. But her safe house has been compromised, setting in motion a dangerous cat-and-mouse game.

Lieutenant Mike Delorme on the Sûreté Du Québec has spent the last eighteen months undercover in narcotics to take down Zabat, the man he blames for the death of his wife and unborn child. He doesn’t have the interest or patience to babysit a woman whose memory isn’t clear—but he’ll carry out his assignment to show the brass he’s a team player.

As Mike and Alexa dodge danger, it appears she’s in deeper than merely being in the wrong place at the wrong time. When the mafia hit she witnessed is revealed to be just the tip of an international terrorist’s plot, they must rely on each other to survive—but only if they can learn to trust their instincts and let love map out their next move. 

Sensuality Level: Behind Closed Doors

No Good Deed is available in digital format from the following retailers:

Thank you so much for the support you’ve shown me since I began my career as an author. Enjoy the rest of your summer and don’t forget to comment with your contact information for your chance to win.

Susanne will be giving away a digital copy of NO GOOD DEED to two lucky readers leaving a comment or email entry.

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST August 16th. 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 13, 2017

Escape Into Books

Congratulations to "JoAn V.", the winner in Maureen's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

Hello all! There was a cancellation so I decided to pop in and say hi to everyone, and to share some pictures from last weekend's ESCAPE INTO BOOKS book signing in Atlanta. Several JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE authors were in attendance!
Maureen A. Miller

Escape Into Books was a free multi-genre, independent book signing event. It featured authors at different stages in their career, from veteran New York Times and USA Today Bestselling authors to new authors who were attending their first signing. There were over 30 authors in attendance. It made for quite an entertaining day for readers to experience a wide array of authors, and to pick up some fun swag!

I was there showcasing my BLUE-LINK romantic suspense series. I had blue diamonds on my table because the series features an enigmatic woman who wears a blue diamond ring and runs the global company, Blue-Link.

The lovely and talented, Misty Evans was there promoting her SCVC TASKFORCE romantic suspense series along with her SHADOW FORCE INTERNATIONAL romantic suspense series. 

I was a little melancholy because I had to leave my puppy at home. It was my first time away from her. Some of you may have seen her on my Facebook page. She's a nine-month-old Corgi entering her tweenage phase. Misty's little ones are so well-behaved, they got to come along! No, they're not hiding under the table, but that would have been fun! :)

Misty Evans

Dianna Love, Misty Evans, Maureen A. Miller
And we had the uber-awesome Dianna Love sitting a few tables down from us featuring her SLYE TEMP romantic suspense series. Dianna was surrounded by adoring fans at this event, and I was one of them! 

What are your thoughts on giant book signing events? Are you more apt to head out to the book signing of a specific author, or do you like the idea of browsing past a diverse group of authors and seeing all your reading options?

Series Starters!

Test out some of these romantic suspense series for FREE or a super low price!

DEADLY PURSUIT, the first book in the SCVC TASKFORCE series is only $0.99!

LAST CHANCE TO RUN, the prequel of the SLYE TEMP series is FREE!

SHADOW, the first book in the BLUE-LINK series is FREE!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 11, 2017

What Makes a Compelling Villain?

Giveaway Alert!

In Barrel Proof, the third and final book of the Agents Irish and Whiskey trilogy, our heroes, Aidan and Jamie, finally confront villain, Pierre Renaud, an international terrorist who has wreaked havoc on Aidan’s life for the past year and a half. As AIW is a continuation series, Renaud is in play the entire way through, a series-long big-bad dropping bodies and attempting to murder Aidan, the loose thread in a long game that’s coming to an end. So what went into creating Renaud and making him a compelling villain? Three tips that can be widely applied to romantic suspense villains:

1.   The Right Time to Reveal – Renaud is the one pulling the strings in Single Malt (AIW1), but he does so through henchmen and lackeys. Renaud also makes an attempt on Aidan’s life at the beginning of Cask Strength (AIW2), but we still don’t see him. It’s not until Barrel Proof, when our heroes have chased him for months, that Renaud finally appears on page. By delaying the reveal, Renaud’s shadowy persona grows, along with Aidan’s and Jamie’s—and the readers’—fear and anticipation. And for a villain who’s played the chess match so well, it makes sense he doesn’t show himself until the final move. This is not to say the villain’s appearance should always come late. It depends on the narrative and genre. For example, in thrillers we usually meet the villain early. The point is, always ask the question.

2.   Know the OTT Line – Dr. Evil is over the top and on point for Austin Powers. He would not be on point for Agents Irish and Whiskey. The OTT line varies by narrative and must be considered. If a villain goes past the OTT line, it’s difficult to take the villain (and hero’s pursuit) seriously. Renaud works in AIW because he is a refined, master chess-player, a perfect foil for the Bureau’s best crime solver and best hacker. He does have a slight larger than life flair, but then so do all the AIW characters.

3.   Motive/Relation to the Hero – Most importantly, a compelling villain’s motive will be human/real and directly related to the hero. Personally, I find the most compelling villain to be a worst-case reflection of the hero. As revealed in Barrel Proof, Renaud is out for revenge after losing his wife. It’s a very human motive, and a parallel to Aidan. When Aidan lost his husband, he could have turned away from love, like Renaud, and solely focused on revenge. But neither his family nor Jamie would let him; that’s what separates him from Renaud, what separates the hero from the villain.

With those rules in mind, Renaud comes to life (and death) in the Agents Irish and Whiskey series, and in so doing, he brings our two heroes, Irish and Whiskey, together. Who are some of your favorite compelling villains?


FBI agents Aidan "Irish" Talley and Jameson "Whiskey" Walker can't get a moment's peace. Their hunt for the terrorist Renaud seems to be nearing an end, until a fire allows him to slip through their fingers—and puts Jamie's life in danger. When Jamie is nearly killed, Aidan learns how many forms loss can take.

Aidan says I love you just moments before learning that Jamie's been keeping a devastating secret about Aidan's late husband. How quickly trust and love can go up in flames. When Aidan requests a solo undercover assignment, Jamie hopes Aidan will find a way to forgive him.

But the explosions are far from over. Aidan's cover lands him in the heart of the terrorist's conspiracy, and Jamie will have to put his life, his career and his freedom on the line to save the man who has become his entire world. Partners, always is a promise he intends to keep.

RT Magazine - 4.5 Stars, Top Pick:

Barrel Proof is the third and final book in the Agents Irish and Whiskey series. After two books that follow the formation of a heated M/M romantic relationship, Barrel Proof starts off with a climax as secrets are revealed and the romance is tested. … Fans of the series will be equally challenged and delighted by the twists and turns Reyne takes. The book flows into a more action-oriented focus as the plot progresses, but Reyne ends the romance with just the right amount of heft to keep any reader of romantic suspense and M/M romance delighted.

Night Owl Reviews - 4.5 Stars, Top Pick:

Layla Reyne finishes her trilogy with an absolute bang! As sorry as I am to say goodbye to this fabulous pair I couldn't have enjoyed their ending more.

The Romance Reviews - 5 Stars, Top Pick:

BARREL PROOF is the emotional, high impact, AMAZING finale to the Agents Irish and Whiskey series.

Heart-breaking and heart-fulfilling, this book is the perfect finale to the series, and Layla Reyne now has a brand new reader completely addicted to her work. Without a doubt, absolutely recommended by me.


Aidan snatched his hands away. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“She ordered me not to.”
“Wrong answer.” He rocketed out of the chair, snatched a tumbler off the table by the door and hurled it at the opposite wall, glass shattering.
“Aidan, please, stop.” Jamie used a bedpost to haul himself to standing, swaying. He moved toward his partner, putting as little weight as possible on the braced leg, the pain excruciating but not as unbearable as the thought of losing Aidan. “You’re going to hurt yourself.”
Aidan grabbed another glass and heaved again, keeping him back. “Why the f**k didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t want to break your heart until I knew the whole story.”
“Too late, baby.” He spat the cherished endearment, full of spite and hatred.
The verbal punch landed right where he intended, robbing Jamie of breath. “Irish, please,” he whispered hoarsely. “I’m sorry.”
Aidan shot forward, forcing Jamie back to seated. “I trusted you, with my back and my heart, and you lied to me for months.”
“I’m sorry, I thought I was protecting you.” Jamie reached for him, and Aidan batted his hand away.
“Wrong! We protect each other. Keeping critical information from me about our case, about Gabe and Tom, about my family, is not protection. It’s lying. And me not knowing the full story means I can’t protect them or you.” His shrill voice pained Jamie’s ears.
“Baby, please.”
“Renaud came after my husband, he came after my partner, he came after me. F**k, Jamie, he keeps coming after me, and now he’s coming after you too. And my brother and my best friend. Maybe even my goddaughter. You didn’t think I needed to know that? I could lose them. I could lose you! I told you what would happen if I loved and lost you.”
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Jamie stood and reached for Aidan’s arm again.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Sneak peek behind the scenes of PERILOUS TRUST

Hello lovers of romantic suspense! It's fun to be here with you today!

I have always enjoyed reading books that incorporate some sort of a puzzle, a mystery to figure out, a moral dilemma, a life or death choice and tension that keeps me on the edge of my seat. I like writing these kinds of books, too! I'm thrilled to be here to announce the release of a new romantic suspense series with PERILOUS TRUST, the first book in my OFF THE GRID: FBI SERIES.

So, to give you a sneak peek behind the scenes…

The idea for the series came from several different tiny seeds. That's usually the way most of my ideas come. One idea leads to another and another and often the book that springs from those tiny seeds doesn't actually in any way resemble the original idea, so I prefer to think of the ideas more as inspiration.

I was inspired to do an FBI series after watching a documentary on the FBI in New York and hearing agents talk about their jobs and their lives. Another seed came from a friend who had recently finished training at Quantico and some of the stories he told me about the training.

Since I also love to write about people who are connected in some way, I decided to focus my series on five agents, who originally met at Quantico when they first trained to become agents. There were actually six agents who became a tight knit group during the academy, but one was killed before graduation, a tragedy that affects them all in some way.
Now the agents have been on the job four years. They have been assigned all over the world, but when one of them is in trouble, at least one person comes to help!

The first book features Damon Wolfe, and if there are any fans out there who read my LIGHTNING STRIKES TRILOGY:  BEAUTIFUL STORM, LIGHTNING LINGERS and SUMMER RAIN, you'll recognize Damon as the FBI agent who helped the Monroe siblings solve a decade-old mystery and foil a huge terrorist plot.

But getting back to the present… In PERILOUS TRUST, Damon's world is spun around when his FBI mentor is killed and it's possible that the death was caused by someone in the Bureau. Even worse, his mentor's daughter, Sophie Parker, is missing. Damon and Sophie met at a very low time in both of their lives and had a night to remember, but they haven't seen each other since, and neither really wants to reconnect now. Things didn't start or end well between them. But when bullets start flying, they have to go on the run. The only person they can really trust is each other, but that's not easy, given their history.

Here's a little preview from PERILOUS TRUST…

"I don't know if my father trusted you," Sophie said, shaking her head.

Surprise and anger flared in Damon's eyes. "Why would you say that?"

"Because he told me not to trust anyone from the bureau, and since you're an agent, that includes you. Please, just go. Just leave me alone," she pleaded, desperate to get him out of the cabin before she did something even more stupid—like start to trust him. "I'll disappear. I'll go somewhere no one else knows about. You don't have to worry about me. You've done your duty. You came after me. You did that for my dad. Now do something for me—leave me alone. You've managed it for four years. You can keep going."

His mouth tightened. "I'm not leaving you alone. You won't be safe. You can't get help from a friend, because you'll put them in danger, and even if you are very careful, you'll make a mistake. You don't know how to stay off the radar, but I do. You're going to have to trust someone at some point. You're going to have to put your anger aside and let it be me."

Before she could answer, she was suddenly hit with a shower of glass from the nearby window.

What the hell had just happened?

Another pane blew out, and something whizzed by her ear.

Damon grabbed her arm and pulled down as a third window exploded.

Someone was shooting at her!

I loved writing Damon and Sophie's story, and I hope you'll check out PERILOUS TRUST – it's available in both digital and print. I think the best thing about romantic suspense is that it combines my two favorite genres into one: romance and suspense! To celebrate the release of my new book, I'm giving away TWO copies of PERILOUS TRUST to two lucky winners! So be sure to comment below.

Happy Reading!


Perilous Trust (Off The Grid: FBI SERIES #1)
By Barbara Freethy
Release Day: August 1, 2017

In PERILOUS TRUST, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Barbara Freethy brings you the first book in a new romantic suspense series! OFF THE GRID: An FBI Trilogy offers three breath-stealing books filled with action-packed plot, heart-stopping romance, and page-turning suspense.

It was one dark night that brought Damon Wolfe and Sophie Parker together. They were two tortured souls, looking for escape, and they weren't supposed to see each other ever again…

Four years later, Sophie's FBI father, who is also Damon's mentor, is killed in a suspicious car crash after leaving Sophie a cryptic message to trust no one from the agency. When Damon shows up looking for her, she isn't sure if he's friend or enemy, but she knows he could easily rip apart what is left of her heart.

The last thing Damon wants is to get involved with Sophie again. It was hard enough to walk away the first time. But she's in trouble, her father's reputation is under attack, and the lives of his fellow agents are at stake if there's a traitor in their midst.

When someone starts shooting at them, they have no choice but to go on the run and off the grid. Everyone in their world becomes a suspect. They want to uncover the truth, but will it turn out to be the last thing they expect? Proving her father's innocence might just cost them their hearts…and their lives…



"Powerful and absorbing...sheer hold-your-breath suspense."-- NYT Bestselling Author Karen Robards on Don’t Say A Word

"A fabulous, page-turning combination of romance and intrigue. Fans of Nora Roberts and Elizabeth Lowell will love this book." NYT Bestselling Author Kristin Hannah on Golden Lies

"In the tradition of LaVyrle Spencer, gifted author Barbara Freethy creates an irresistible tale of family secrets, riveting adventure and heart- touching romance." -- NYT Bestselling Author Susan Wiggs on Summer Secrets

"This book has it all: heart, community, and characters who will remain with you long after the book has ended. A wonderful story." -- NYT Bestselling Author Debbie Macomber on Suddenly One Summer

"Freethy has a gift for creating complex characters."-- Library Journal

"Barbara Freethy is a master storyteller with a gift for spinning tales about ordinary people in extraordinary situations and drawing readers into their lives." -- Romance Reviews Today

"Freethy’s skillful plotting and gift for creating sympathetic characters will ensure that few dry eyes will be left at the end of the story." -- Publishers Weekly on The Way Back Home

"Freethy skillfully keeps the reader on the hook, and her tantalizing and believable tale has it all– romance, adventure, and mystery."-- Booklist on Summer Secrets

"A page-turner that engages your mind while it tugs at your heartstrings...Don’t Say A Word has made me a Barbara Freethy fan for life!" -- NYT Bestselling Author Diane Chamberlain on Don’t Say a Word

"I love The Callaways! Heartwarming romance, intriguing suspense and sexy alpha heroes. What more could you want?" -- NYT Bestselling Author Bella Andre

Barbara Freethy Bio
Barbara Freethy is a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of 60 novels ranging from contemporary romance to romantic suspense and women's fiction. Traditionally published for many years, Barbara opened Fog City Publishing in 2011 and has since sold over 7 million books! Twenty-three of her titles have appeared on the New York Times and USA Today Bestseller Lists, including one title, SUMMER SECRETS, which hit #1 on the NYT. In 2014 Barbara was named the Amazon KDP Bestselling Author of all time! She was also the first Indie writer to sell over a million books on Barnes and Noble.
Known for her emotional and compelling stories of love, family, romance and suspense, Barbara is a six-time finalist and two-time winner in the Romance Writers of America acclaimed RITA contest for her novels DANIEL'S GIFT and THE WAY BACK HOME.
For more information, visit her website at

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