Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What If Everything You Believed In Was A Lie?



Congratulations to "Cher", the winner of Lena's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

That’s the question that drove me to write my newest release, Simon Says Die. On the surface, this story is a reunion story and a woman in jeopardy story, reuniting two secondary characters from my previous book, He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not. But as FBI special agent Pierce Buchanan and young widow Madison McKinley are forced back into each other’s lives, reality is not what it seems.

The ‘Simon Says’ killer is stalking Savannah, Georgia. And someone is stalking Madison - or at least, that’s what she tells the police. They aren’t so sure she’s telling the truth, neither is Pierce, and at some point - neither is Madison. Like I said, nothing in this story is what it seems.

Simon Says Die is more complicated, and more of a psychological thriller than its predecessor, He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not. And it was an incredible challenge to write, not only because of the complex plot, but because Madison is such a polar opposite character from the heroine in my first book. Madison is independent and strong, determined to protect those she loves at all costs. Those qualities are both strengths and weaknesses for her, because she tends to take everything to extremes. She’s also a leap-before-you-look kind of person, and a speak-before-you-think woman as well.

So what made it so challenging to write such a strong heroine? The challenge was how to keep her true to her personality without her coming off as unlikeable. You know the old saying - aggressive women are sometimes labeled with that ‘b’ word. Madison is certainly aggressive. I had to re-work and re-work her scenes throughout the novel to take her snark and independence to the limit without making readers hate her. (Hopefully I succeeded!)

The key to making her sympathetic was in showing her through Pierce’s point of view. He knows her better than anyone, even better than Madison knows herself. And even though the often crazy situations Madison gets herself into frustrates and exasperates Pierce, he’s loyal above all else. He sticks by her, first as a favor to his best friend - Madison’s brother Logan - but later because he just can’t help it. Madison is in his blood, and no matter how much he wishes that weren’t true, he has to eventually face the fact that they are meant to be together. And so does Madison. But it takes an enormous amount of obstacles for them to both come to that realization.

The story is tense, and I torture the characters endlessly, but there’s humor too. It’s impossible not to have humor when Madison is such a woman of extremes. Her gun fetish gets her into some situations that make Pierce want to shake her (but of course he doesn’t!) There are cameos by some characters from the previous novel, which I hope my readers will really enjoy. And the last scene - in my unbiased opinion (smile) - is romantic, poignant, and funny.

So, that’s it. An overview of Simon Says Die, without giving away spoilers - which is pretty tricky for a novel full of surprises. I hope you’ll give it a try, and let me know what you think of Madison and Pierce’s story. They have become two of my very favorite characters, and I hope they become yours as well.

I’d love to hear about any unusual or ‘extreme’ characters that you love from novels you have read. They don’t have to be heroines or heroes. Sometimes those secondary characters are the ones that stick in your mind long after you turn that last page.

Anyone who comments on this blog post today will be entered in a drawing to possibly win a free copy of Simon Says Die - ebook or print - your choice. Winner must meet below eligibility requirements.

Contest Rules: One winner will be chosen. To claim your prize, winner must accept ebook via Amazon or B&N gift certificate. If winner chooses print copy, they must provide a USA snail mail address.

Giveaway ends 9pm EST March 22nd. 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 justromanticsuspense @ gmail.com with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.  


38 comments:

  1. looks like a great read! I love strong heroines!! dianalayne @ yahoo .com

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    1. Thanks Diana. I hope you like snarky ones too. Madison has little patience and isn't shy to speak her mind. Part of her growth in this story is to learn to trust others, and that sometimes it's okay to accept help.

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  2. I can't wait to read this sound really good. Cher123@cableone.net

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    1. Thanks! I hope you'll give it a try.

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  3. Simon Says Die sounds like a great read!!

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    1. Hi Cynthia. I think it's good but I'm biased. I really love Pierce, the hero in this story. He's fiercely loyal and is extremely strong. He has to be strong to be a good match for Madison.

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  4. If you would like to read a 'sample' of SIMON SAYS DIE, The prologue and entire first chapter are on my website, www.LenaDiaz.com .

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  5. I think I would like to read, is it necessary to read He Kills Me first? Would love to win

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    1. Not at all! Both books are completely stand-alone. You will have no problem understanding the plot or characters in SIMON SAYS DIE if you haven't read HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT. Excellent question!

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  6. This sounds like a good read. I like strong female characters and I like snarky characters too.

    lmyost@roadrunner.com

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  7. Still to this day I think one of the most extreme characters is still Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs.
    I would be interested in reading Madison & Pierce's story. I enjoy psychological thrillers.

    janet(underscore)kerr(at)msn.com

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  8. Janet, did you read the book or just watch the movie? I LOVE that movie but haven't had the pleasure of reading the book. I think Anthony Hopkins in any role is fantastic. He was so creepy and yet somehow polite and sophisticated in SOTL. I also love Alan Rickman in any role, like the bad guy in DIE HARD. Can you tell I'm a movie nut? One of the most memorable characters in books is the hero in Laura Kinsale's historical novel, Flowers in the Storm. Incredible book where the hero can't speak because of some illness and they think he us mad. I also love all the characters in any book by Linda Howard.

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  9. Oooo, I love your bright cover and title! That will jump off the shelves. :)

    Sounds like an awesome plot, Lena, and I applaud all the twists you say are in there. That's real skilled writing and I look forward to reading it. I loved your novel "He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not" mostly because you had me guessing right to the end and I'm such a jaded reader I can usually figure out the killer way too early.

    Very smart move making the reader see your aggressive heroine thru the eyes of the hero. I just finished rereading an online course I took with Allison Brennan last year and that was her suggestion too.

    I had not only never thought of that, but usually my heroine is a cardboard prop in my first few drafts because I'm so focused on the alpha hero. It takes many tries to get her just to barely-assertive, LOL.

    In my very first novel I made her a carbon copy of me and think one contest judge's description was "spineless." Yikes! Now I go out of my way to make sure nothing about my heroines even remotely resemble how I look/react at the world.

    LOVE Alan Rickman! He stole the show in Robin Hood.

    Good luck with sales!

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    1. Hi Sarah! Thanks so much for your kind words, and for mentioning me in the same sentence as Allison Brennan. (grin) I'm so glad you enjoyed my previous book, and that you like the SIMON SAYS DIE cover. It's definitely an eye-catcher.

      Rickman in Robin Hood! Yes! He was awesome. Thanks for stopping by.

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  10. Toni McGee Causey's Bobbie Faye comes to mind. She's a take no prisoners type of gal - funny with lots of action.

    Simon Says Die sounds great - look forward to reading it.

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

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    1. Hi Mary! Sounds like my kind of character!

      I hope you enjoy Simon Says Die. Thanks for stopping by.

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  11. I would pick Milla from Linda Howard's Cry No More as one of my favorite heroines who is also pretty single minded.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

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    1. Maureen, I totally agree with you there! And how about Sam Donovan in Mr. Perfect? LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Linda Howard's characters.

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  12. I really love the Julie Collins series by Lori Armstrong (Blood Ties, Hallowed Ground, Shallow Grave and Snow Blind). Julie Collins is a chain smoking, neurotic, borderline annoying PI that is opinionated and set in her ways. It is favorite mystery series! I even love Tony Martinez, the bad (BAD) boy she falls for. This series is such a departure from anything in my life that I can't help but feel I've been transported to another place when reading it.

    I would love to read about Madison and Pierce! Added to my TBR list.

    Heather E
    hregtvedt@aol.com

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    1. Thanks Heather. I love being on a TBR list. :) Sounds like I need to add Lori Armstrong's books to my TBR list. Is the tone of the series funny or serious? I'm more of a dark/gritty book lover myself. But I can go for a funny book every now and then too. When I read historicals, Julia Quinn and Amanda Quick are some of my faves, and they both write funny.

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    2. Lori Armstrong writes dark mysteries, definitely serious. Julie Collins is one kick ass character and braver than I will ever be! Sometimes I just wanted to say, 'no Julie, don't do it' and close my eyes. You think you have it all figured out then something else happens. You'll love them! I read all 4 books in less than 2 weeks. Lori Armstrong also writes as Lorelei James in the 'erotic' romance genre. If you're looking for something hot, but good she's your gal. Her mysteries are tame by comparison, but definitely just as good!

      I'd love to know what you think after you read her books. Feel free to send me an email at hregtvedt@aol.com Heather :)

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  13. I don't even want to read this blog, because I can't handle spoilers so I glanced at it. I loved Pierce and Madison as secondary characters in - He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not. Can't wait.

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  14. LOL! No spoilers, I promise. I've been being as vague as I can whenever I talk about this book. I don't want to spoil any of it for anyone. I'm so glad you love Pierce and Madison! I hope you enjoy their story.

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  15. Hi Lena,

    I'm so excite to learn that Madison and Pierce have their own book! I loved them in He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not. I think because they were so polar opposite, they really stood out to me.

    Congratulations on the upcoming release. Wishing many, many sales!

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    1. Mary, you are so right! They ARE total opposites, which made it a challenge, and a lot of fun, watching them spark off each other. Thanks for stopping by.

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  16. I enjoyed your post. This sounds like a very interesting book.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, glad you enjoyed the post. Take care.

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  17. Yay, just minding my own business and I see that the author of He Kills Me, He Kills me Not and Simon Says Die is in the house. Folks, don't be too jealous but I have an Advanced Reader Copy and I'm digging in very soon. I love a good thriller and Ms. Diaz knows how to deliver.

    What a great blog... But then I'm partial to JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE. DQ me from the drawing of course. Hope you have a wonderful send off, Lena!

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    1. Donnell, I'm such a fan girl of yours! Thanks so much for stopping by! Folks, if you haven't read Donnell Anne Bell's debut romantic suspense - The Past Came Hunting - stop everything and go buy it. Fabulous book. It's an Amazon bestseller!

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  18. Thanks for a great post! I just got your first book and now I'm "dying" to read it :)

    I love strong heroines with a bit of snark and even though sometimes they drive me crazy with the leap first and ask questions later or the rush in with no help and get into impossible situations, I'm still breathless til the end :)

    I haven't read a lot of romantic suspense lately... been in a pnr kick but I'm definitely going to start reading He Kills Me this weekend!

    have a wonderful rest of the week!

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    1. Erin, thanks so much for buying HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT. Amanda is the heroine in that book and she had a lot of healing to do emotionally because of a traumatic past. She doesn't realize how strong she is until she becomes the target of the same killer who hurt her years ago. She has more of a quiet inner strength. I hope you enjoy the story.

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  19. We have an email comment from Sandra,

    "I have recently read one of Lena’s books via Amazon Kindle. Would love a copy to read on my Kindle."

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    1. Sandra, thanks for stopping by. Good luck in the drawing.

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  20. I love romantic suspense and this sounds fantastic! I haven't read HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT yet, it's sitting on my dresser waiting for me to start it and tonight is the night... but now I have to get SIMON SAYS DIE!
    Wishing you much success :)

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  21. Janice, thanks so much! I hope you enjoy BOTH of my books!!!

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  22. I would love to win a copy of this book. Sounds great and romantic suspense is my favorite genre. Thanks for the give away.

    boomer21(at)rogers(dot)com

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    1. Hi Judi. Nice to meet a fellow romantic suspense fan. Obviously I'm a fan myself. Love Karen Rose, Brenda Novak, Kay Hooper...the list goes on and on. Good luck in the give away.

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