Thursday, January 17, 2019

Adding Local Flavor to a Story

With: Angi Morgan

GIVEAWAY ALERT!

I love to work local landmarks into my books. I’ve had several fans say they learn something about the Texas city where the story takes place each time they read. Dallas’ Pioneer Plaza is one of my favorite places to take friends and family. I’ve been several times and end up taking photographs each time because I always see more details. One of my favorites is pointed out in the video (and in my photos below): the horsefly.



In DANGEROUS MEMORIES I needed a location that could be slightly public but also add a bit of excitement to a chase scene. On the other side of the Cattle Drive Sculpture is one of thee oldest graveyards in Dallas County. And on the same acreage is the Dallas Convention Center. What better place to add a life and death chase. I actually have my husband to thank for this location. At the time, he’d done a lot of work at the convention center and knew how to get in and out of the underground parking facility.

Below is the chase scene through the statues and gravestones. Levi and Jolene are running from men who had abducted her. You’ll see a reference to Rainbow Man–it’s Jo’s dangerous memory from childhood that’s put her in peril. If you haven’t read Dangerous Memories…I hope you’ll give it a try.

Excerpt from Dangerous Memories:

They headed for the shadows, just out of the spotlight circling a larger-than-life statue of a cowboy wrangling longhorns. They hid in the darkness and tall grass. It wouldn't last long, the shadows were barely large enough for them both and not nearly dark enough to disguise them from someone walking past.
"Where are the cops? Or your friendly FBI? Didn't they want to tag along for the fun?" she asked, untying the sleeves of her shirt, rolling it and making a bandage of sorts under his pants leg. "This looks bad."
"Bad and I wouldn't be able to walk. I'm fine. You're in a chipper mood. You forgetting that you almost died back there?"
"I remember. But once you arrived, I didn't think about dying. By the way, you're getting slow," she whispered with a grin and yanked harder on the sleeves.
The jolt of agony blasted through his entire body.
A bullet pinged off a bronze longhorn. He turned back and discharged his weapon to keep the shooter pinned behind an oak tree.
"Jo." He grabbed her shoulder with his free hand, forcing her to look at him. "You're going to run up that hill, get across the street and call Lanning. He should be close."
"Does Lanning have the GPS info?"
"Yeah."
He handed her his cell, whispering as firmly as he could without being overheard. "Just like in the garage. You lead the way. I'll be close behind."
She understood and nodded her head.
"I'll lay down cover and you run." One step backward and his hand dropped. He took a couple of shots and she took off. She didn't let the gunfire slow her down.
Another shot hit a tree trunk just behind him, coming a little too close. He laid down cover fire and got to his feet to follow.
"Watch out for the horn," Jo cautioned.
He faced forward just in time to miss taking a two-foot longhorn across his neck. She waited long enough to see him miss it, then darted between the statues and the rock ledge up the path.
He had less and less feeling in his foot and it was harder to move. They'd made it across the cattle drive sculpture and into a cemetery at the top of the slope. A frickin' cemetery in front of him and an empty convention center to his right, closed businesses across to his left, and the driver of the van on the road behind him.
"Which way?" she asked. "Can you make it to the road?"
"No good, we don't know where the driver is."
"Then we go through the cemetery. We keep moving until George finds us. That's what you said, right?"
He doubted it. But he waved her onward. He had no intention of following the entire distance. He couldn't. The footsteps slogging up the hill were closer. The guy chasing was certain to see them with the multicolored neon lights from the Omni illuminating the place like the Vegas strip.
She darted to the next tombstone, then a tree, her silhouette as plain as if a spotlight shone upon her path.
It was imperative to stop the guy following them before he caught up with Jo. He searched the darkness. Waited for movement. Had the perp skirted the outside of the cemetery? Had he just sent Jo into an ambush?
Hide on the back side of the building and call Lanning, he instructed even knowing she couldn't hear him.
To his right. Next tree. Ten or twelve feet. There's the bastard.
No time for stealth. Levi stepped into the open. "That's far enough."
Taken by surprise, the man turned and fired. Levi dove and hit the damp leaves. Rolled. The man got closer. Levi fired twice. He didn't miss.
The man dropped to the ground covering a gravestone with his still body.
"Levi?"
Jo ran to him, tree branch in hand, ready to help as much as she could. He hadn't moved since LuLu's murderer had fallen. She hated to wish anyone dead, but this man had shot her old babysitter without a moment's hesitation.
She could hear sirens approaching. Heard a train whistle in the distance. And oddly, the lights shining through the trees and rippling across the tall hotel were beautiful blues, pinks and purples.
She dropped the stick.
Levi blew a long, forceful breath through his lips as he got to his feet. He limped to the body, kneeling on his good leg to feel for a pulse. Then he shook his head, confirming death. "Was this Rainbow Man?"
"I don't know, but he's the one that shot LuLu."
"What about the other guy?"
From the corner of her eye, something flew from behind a tall tombstone.
"Watch out!"
A knife.
She ducked and knocked Levi off balance, then they were both on the ground. A guttural wrenching cry split the air, as the man leapt for his long blade.
"Get out of here, Jo! Get help."
Easier said than done. The crazed man was still rolling across her legs, pinning her to the ground. Levi had the man by his hands, stopping him from reaching the weapon. In return, the driver straddled Levi, pinning him next to his dead partner.
Jo pulled the phone, wasting precious seconds finding Lanning's number. "We're in a cemetery. Levi needs help."
"We're almost there." Lanning's voice faded as she tossed the phone behind her, hoping they'd be found quickly.
She tripped over a branch. It was the only weapon she could find. She swung at the man, heard a grunt. The man pounded Levi's kidneys. The men struggled for dominance, constantly changing positions. But if she found the gun, she could save Levi.
As bright as she'd thought the neon lit night had been, it barely illuminated the ground. She dropped to her knees, feeling for the cold metal of the weapon. She let her eyes adjust to the darkness again. There it was. She got her hands around the handle and a cold hand pried at her fingers.
"Levi!"
If you haven’t read Dangerous Memories…I hope you’ll give it a try.

Here’s what a few people thought

"From the echoing shots in a cemetery straight through the hair-raising conclusion, this story of missing memories and murders will rattle readers from the opening pages, as they guess and guess again who the real culprit is." ~RT Book Reviews

 loved this book! From the very first page to the last, I could not put it down. The first few chapters were compelling, well written, pulled me straight into the plot and never let go. I loved the characters and from the beginning, I could envision them together. The author perfectly matched the two opposing forces so that from the romance angle, it was a delight to see their story unfold. ~Amazon 5 star review

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USA Today Bestselling author ANGI MORGAN writes Intrigues where honor and danger collide with love. Her work is a multiple contest finalist and Publishers Weekly best-seller. She drags her dogs –and husband– around Texas for research road trips so she can write off her camera. They now have a map with highlighted roads they’ve traveled. Every detour somehow makes it into a book.


Website   Facebook   FB Fan Page   Twitter @AngiMorganAuthr     
Check out my newsletter or follow me on Amazon or BookBub

~ ~ ~
DON’T FORGET TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY
by leaving a comment for the $5.00 gift card.

Giveaway on JRS ends at midnight January 18th.  Contestants enter drawing by leaving a comment on Just Romantic Suspense. Don’t forget to check back to see who won!


Do you read everything on an author’s backlist?




Monday, January 14, 2019

Wedding Mishaps…


Congratulations to "Marcie R.", the winner in Julie's giveaway. Please contact JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE to claim your prize!

I’m all about weddings in 2019 as my son is getting married later this year!

I hope there is nothing but smooth sailing for my son and future daughter-in-law. So far, they have the ceremony loosely planned out, a reception venue booked, an idea on colors, and the dress! (I was honored that my future d-i-l invited me to go wedding dress shopping with her and her mom.) We have a spot for the rehearsal dinner and a DJ booked to play music and keep the celebration going at the reception. There are many details still ahead of them, but it will all get done, I’m sure.

But often, with weddings, things don’t go according to plan. I’ve seen a groom run 2 hours late (nervous bride, anyone?). I’ve seen an attendant faint. I’ve heard a toddler flower girl yell out her need to pee and an elderly man snoring through the ceremony. At my own reception, as we were driving away and all the guests were waving to us, my hubby pulled the wrong handle in my car. Instead of releasing the parking brake, the hood flew up. So much for a dramatic exit. My dad had the best belly laugh. I didn’t think he’d ever stop laughing as he grabbed an umbrella (it was raining that day) and came down to close the hood so we didn’t have to get out in our wedding finery.

In my brand-new release, DO-OR-DIE BRIDESMAID, former childhood friends Conor Wildman and bridesmaid Laura Karr discover a dead body on the day of her sister’s wedding. That wasn’t on the wedding planner’s check-list! A spunky heroine determined to solve her friend’s murder, a cross-country chase when the bad guys find out she has evidence that can put them in prison, and a hero determined to protect the woman he’s falling in love with make for exciting wedding memories!

How about you? Any funny wedding mishaps?

Giveaway:
I will give away a print or digital copy of DO-OR-DIEBRIDESMAID (or something from my backlist if you prefer) to one lucky winner from the commenters who post a comment or question below.


Do-or-Die Bridesmaid

Always the bridesmaid,

never a killer’s target…until now.

Back in his hometown for a wedding, Detective Conor Wildman reunites with his ex-girlfriend’s sister, Laura Karr, once the tomboy next door. Now Laura is a beautiful woman…and someone wants her dead. Conor is the man to protect her and catch the killer, but will one heated kiss jeopardize their precious friendship? Or will it prove that he can trust her with his wounded heart?





Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST January 15th. Due to GDPR regulations you no longer need to submit your email address in the comments. If you have been selected as a winner your name will be posted at the top of the post. You may then contact maureen@justromanticsuspense.com to claim your prize. Your email address will be shared with the author/publicist providing the giveaway. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

On Writing Romantic Suspense


Writing romantic suspense involves the skillful juggling of romantic elements and nail-biting suspense. A daunting task but so rewarding when all the essential ingredients come together in a well-crafted, character-driven novel.

Here are eight tips:

  • Ask yourself: what is intriguing about the premise? What will attract readers to the book? In Sue Grafton’s Alphabet Series, protagonist Kinsey Millhone is a twice-divorced private investigator who is permanently stuck in the 1980s. In the Gilda Greco Mystery Series, the protagonist is a teacher turned lottery winner who moves back to her hometown and then finds herself embroiled in murder investigations. 

  • Grab the reader’s attention with a hook. Bestselling author Louise Penny offers the following advice: “If you’re writing your first work of crime fiction, place the body near the beginning of your book—preferably on the first page, perhaps the first sentence. In later books this won’t be as necessary, but agents and editors like it established early, so readers know what they’re getting.” In Book 2, Too Many Women in the Room, I used a three-page prologue to introduce the crime. In Book 3, A Different Kind of Reunion, a reference to the murder is made in the first paragraph.

  • Create believable characters. It is tempting to endow protagonists with beauty, intelligence, and other positive traits and then pit them against slow, unattractive villains. Too many or too few strengths are unrealistic. To avoid contrived tension and conflict, evenly balance the characters and have them show vulnerability. The reader must care about the characters, even the secondary characters. When a character dies, it should matter.

  • Get into the heads of your killers. When you have insight into their motivations and behaviors, even if they are twisted, they will seem more real to readers. You don’t have to be in their POV; you can understand them by their actions and dialogue. If you choose to be in the killer’s POV, be very careful you don’t reveal his/her identity. 

  • Escalate the tension. After starting with a bang, build tension, offer a few resting moments, and then throw in complications. Have strategies in place to help with the murky middle, that nebulous place usually around page 80, where it becomes difficult to continue or sustain the tension. You may have to set the manuscript aside and take a breather, work on a shorter piece, or reread craft books. Return to the manuscript with fresh eyes and a firm resolve to successfully navigate the murky middle.

  • Drop enough clues to keep the reader engaged, but be careful not to overwhelm the reader. Used effectively, red herrings will maintain reader interest right until the end. Many of the plots in Agatha Christie’s novels contain red herrings. In And Then There Were None, we assume a character who goes missing is the killer. Later, when his body is washed up on shore, we realize that his absence was a red herring that misled the other characters and the readers. 

  • Come up with a tantalizing title. If you’re writing a series, consider using the same basic pattern for titles. Janet Evanovich uses numbers: One for the Money, Two for the Dough, Three to Get Deadly... I have used longer titles—A Season for Killing Blondes, Too Many Women in the Room, A Different Kind of Reunion—for the Gilda Greco Mystery Series. Regardless of the method used, one fact is clear: The right title (and cover) will catch the reader’s eye in an overcrowded marketplace.

  • End on the right note. Romance readers expect an HEA (Happily ever after) or HFN (Happily for now) ending. Mystery readers (in particular cozy mystery readers) want to experience closure: the sleuth always solves the case, justice is served, and all loose ends are tied. But only for a short time...Another murder to solve is just around the corner.
Any other tips to share?


A DIFFERENT KIND OF REUNION

While not usually a big deal, one overlooked email would haunt teacher Gilda Greco. Had she read it, former student Sarah McHenry might still be alive.

Suspecting foul play, Constable Leo Mulligan plays on Gilda’s guilt and persuades her to participate in a séance facilitated by one of Canada’s best-known psychics. Six former students also agree to participate. At first cooperative and willing, their camaraderie is short-lived as old grudges and rivalries emerge. The séance is a bust.
Determined to solve Sarah’s murder, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers shocking revelations that could put several lives—including her own—in danger. Can Gilda and the psychic solve this case before the killer strikes again?

Excerpt

One missed email. While I couldn’t be one hundred percent certain it was the only one I had ever overlooked, I knew this omission would haunt me. And matters weren’t helped when the cantankerous constable on the telephone said, “If you had read that email, Sarah McHenry might still be alive.”

Leaning back in my recliner, I closed my eyes and tried to recall Sarah’s face. But all I could see were curtains of blond hair or, more precisely, three sets of curtains of blond hair. The Barbies—Mean Barbie, Mellow Barbie, Moody Barbie—came to mind. How I had detested those nicknames and some of the more cruel ones the students tossed about like puffs of cotton candy, oblivious to the pain and potential scarring that could linger for decades and even lifetimes. I spent the first two weeks of my teaching stint calling out the children whenever they used those nicknames and giving detentions to anyone who persisted. 

Moody Barbie. That had been Sarah’s moniker. Prone to tears and bouts of the silent treatment, she often retreated into her own world. A budding artist, she would take out her sketch pad and draw whenever she finished her work or needed to separate herself from the others. Had she decided life was much too difficult and retreated even farther? That had been my first thought when Constable Mulligan read the infamous email: We need your help. But the use of the first person, plural pronoun conjured up another meaning, one even more sinister.

Who was in danger? Family members? The Barbies? Other classmates? Why reach out to me after over two decades of silence? And how did she find my workplace email address? All these questions swirled through my mind, and I longed to ask for details. But I didn’t want to anger the grief-stricken constable who was bemoaning the senseless way Sarah had died, alone and exposed to the cool autumn evening. A shocking occurrence, but even more so in Parry Sound.
Giveaway

Joanne is giving away a digital copy of A Different Kind of Reunion to one lucky person leaving a comment. Remember to include your email address.

Trailer


Buy Links
Amazon (Canada): https://is.gd/vR5Sxn
Amazon (United States): https://is.gd/lU0qw7
Barnes & Noble: https://is.gd/ckNfhx
The Wild Rose Press: https://is.gd/nQ2ZjT

Bio
In 2008, Joanne Guidoccio took advantage of early retirement and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. 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 Guidoccio...



Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Writing in Multiple Genres


Congratulations to "Chrisbails", the winner in Peggy's giveaway. Please contact JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE to claim your prize.

I’m so excited to share the news that my new historical suspense novel, BluebirdFlying Backward, written as Anna Michaels is available today! Bluebird comes on the heels of reader favorite BREAKDOWN, the contemporary suspense series I wrote in collaboration with three of my most beloved friends.
Why the genre and name shift? I hear that question a lot, and the answer is neither short nor simple. Perhaps the best explanation for why I write in so many genres is that my own reading habits are wide-ranging and I’ve been writing for a very long time—thirty-four years, to be exact. Change was inevitable. I devoted the first ten years to romance, primarily comedies. As my stories began to outgrow the genre and I began to chafe at the confines of that market, I spread my writing wings into other markets…and took another name, two in fact, to identify those books as different from my usual fare.
When you see Anna Michaels on the cover of a novel, you will know that you’re getting historical suspense. You’re going to plunge into a sprawling, complex story set against a specific historical backdrop that will be interwoven with the fictional story. You will also know that the story will be suspenseful. Sometimes a heinous crime—murder, kidnapping--is at the heart of the story, as in Bluebird Flying Backward. Sometimes the suspense is more subtle, as in When We Grew Wings, the full length bonus novel that comes with Bluebird.
I love writing. I love tapping into a flow of words that sometimes spills onto the page like a river gone wild. Historical suspense novels allow me to swim in deep water, to fully explore every nuance of character and story. They also allow me to dig into history until I discover a thread I can weave into a novel that seamlessly blends fact with fiction.
Bluebird Flying Backward grew out my research into the Lindbergh baby kidnapping of 1932. When I discovered a little known fact (telling would be a spoiler) that led me back to another horrific event in 1925 where several of the victims were known but one was unknown, I knew I’d found a story I had to tell.
Writing this novel was pure joy! Bluebird will take you from the Jazz Age to the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. It will take you into the skies with Lindbergh and my female protagonist, Riley ‘Sam’ Samuels, an independent woman far ahead of her time. It will pull your heart strings and keep you turning pages. Fact and fiction are interwoven so closely, it might leave you wondering who is real and who is not. Most of all, I hope it makes you want to tell all your friends to get the book…and then leave you holding your breath till the next one. Crossing the Jordan, I think. Visit my website and sign up for my newsletter to learn more.

Giveaway:
A big thanks to Maureen A. Miller for hosting me and to you for stopping by. Leave a comment for a chance to win a lovely mug designed especially for me. I’d love to hear from you.

Peggy Webb is the USA Today bestselling author of more than 90 novels. The Mississippi author loves gardening, playing piano and singing in her church choir. Visit her at www.peggywebb.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST January 9th. Due to GDPR regulations you no longer need to submit your email address in the comments. If you have been selected as a winner your name will be posted at the top of the post. You may then contact maureen@justromanticsuspense.com to claim your prize. Your email address will be shared with the author/publicist providing the giveaway. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Hot Target Cowboy

With: June Faver

Giveaway Alert!


His loyalty is to his family. But his heart belongs to her.

Eldest son Colt Garrett is the biggest, strongest and steadiest of the Garrett brothers. Colt accepts his responsibilities, knowing his future is tied to the land. Colt has stayed centered—but when he falls in love, he falls hard. He is mesmerized by Misty Dalton, the younger sister of one of his brother’s friends.

Misty Dalton has held together a family plagued with problems since her mother passed away. But when the threats to her family turn deadly, Misty turns to Colt. If anybody wants to hurt Misty, they’re going to have to go through the toughest of the Garrett boys first.

About the Author:
June Faver loves Texas, from the Gulf coast to the panhandle, from the Mexican border to the Piney Woods. Her novels embrace the heart and soul of the state and the larger-than-life Texans who romp across her pages. A former teacher and healthcare professional, she lives and writes in the Texas Hill Country. Find her at https://www.junefaver.com/

Buy Links:



EXCERPT
It was at dinner that Misty announced her intentions of moving back to the Dalton ranch.
Colton could not have been more surprised if she had smacked him in the face.
There was a chorus of disappointment, but Misty seemed to have made up her mind.
Colton was angry. He tried not to show it, but he speared his food and shoveled it into his mouth in silence.
“Do you think it’s safe?” Leah asked, giving voice to his concerns.
Misty shrugged. “I don’t know why it wouldn’t be. Mark and I don’t know anything about the banker’s death or why he wound up there.”
Leah’s brow puckered in a frown. “But what about Joe? Whoever killed him is still out there. As I understand it, the sheriff doesn’t have a lead on the person who shot him.”
“Trust me, Joe’s death is on my mind all the time.” Misty’s lips trembled before she pressed them together in a firm line. “I—I don’t know anything about that, either. I mean...” Her voice dropped to a lower register. “Mark and I weren’t in the loop. Joe didn’t share his thoughts or his activities with us.”
Colton swallowed hard, his food going down like a load of concrete. “Yes, but whoever shot him might not know that. I don’t think you’ll be safe there.”
Her large, dark eyes appraised him, as though wondering at his motives … causing him to wonder what his own motives were. “Well, we can’t keep imposing on the Garrett family hospitality forever. We need to get back home and try to pick-up the pieces.”
Colton stabbed a piece of meat and poked it into his mouth, thus ending his commentary.
Later, he asked Misty to take a walk with him.
She hesitated, but took the hand he offered.
It wasn’t fully dark outside, but the sky was streaked with purples and crimson from the setting sun. Crickets chirped and the smell of damp earth and grass wafted on the light breeze.
Colton tucked her hand in the crook of his arm and laid his hand on top of hers. It always felt so small and soft when compared to his.
“What did you want to talk about?” she asked.
He sucked in a breath and blew it out in a huff. “I’m concerned about you and Mark moving back to your home so soon after all the violence. I wish you would give the sheriff a chance to find out who’s behind the murders of your brother and Mr. Hamilton.”
Misty hung her head, but stayed in step with him as they made a wide circle of the house and outbuildings. “I feel like such a moocher staying here. I appreciate you for taking us in when we were about to be thrown out. I appreciate you even more for all the sweet things you do without even thinking about it.”
He stopped, turning to face her, and lifted her chin. “Misty, honey—you’ve got to know how I feel about you.”
She gazed up at him solemnly. “No, I can honestly say, I don’t have a clue. I think you like me, but maybe you need to spell out your feelings for me.” The silence that followed was like a black vortex sucking him inside.
Colton’s chest tightened as though a steel band was constricting his lungs. He swallowed hard. “Well, I guess you could say I love you.”
She raised her brows. “Guess you could say? What the hell does that mean?”
He grinned. “Damn, you’re a tough woman. I love you. There! Are you satisfied?”
“Well, I don’t know. Why was that so hard to say?”
“Because I’ve never said those words to any other woman before. It’s you. You’re the one I love.” He stroked her cheek with the back of his fingers.
She broke into a wide grin of her own. “Now I’m satisfied.” She slipped both arms around his waist and delivered a fierce hug.
Colt wrapped his arms around her, holding her tight against him. Now she knows. He pressed a kiss against the top of her head, rocking her slightly.
“Oh, Colt. I’ve been hoping you felt that way about me.”
He snorted, indelicately. “Well, if you didn’t know, you were the only one. I’ve been taking heat from Beau and Leah … and my dad.”
She gasped, raising her head. “Your dad?”
“Yeah, everyone knew but you.”
She ducked her head again, but she was grinning. He thought she was blushing, but the diminishing light hid her embarrassment. “So, now what?”
“So now I ask you again, as the man who loves you, please don’t move back to your house until the sheriff has caught whoever murdered your brother and Fred Hamilton.”
“Well, since you’re the man who loves me, I’ll take your concerns very seriously.” She blew out a breath. “Do you suppose we could go talk to the sheriff tomorrow and see if he has anything new to tell us?”
He kissed her forehead and then her nose. “Sure thing. As long as you give him a little time to solve the murders.”
She broke loose with an impudent smile. “Why Colton Garrett. I do believe you like having me around.”
“More than you know.” He gave her a little squeeze. “Now promise to let the sheriff get to the bottom of the violence before you go moving back to your ranch.”
“It depends on what he has to say.”

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