Thursday, January 23, 2014

5 Ways To Keep Your Romantic Suspense Readers On Edge

Congratulations to "Kai", the winner in Jo's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

1. Become an “armchair” Crime Scene Investigator (CSI). Okay, so maybe it isn’t convenient to go back to college at this point in your life (or attend college for the first time) to study forensics. No worries. There are so many entertaining and truly enjoyable ways to learn about crime scene investigating. Take your pick from TV series such as Castle, NCIS, CSI, and Bones. After a few episodes, you will start picking up on the technical terms and jargon unique to law enforcement. The more authentic the crime scene you can build in your novel, the more believable and chilling the experience will be for your readers.

2. Join a network of suspense readers, writers, or reviewers. Groups such as the Suspense Thriller Mystery Street Team and Just Romantic Suspense are always seeking new members to spread the word about the latest hottest reads. This is one of the most effective ways to cross promote your suspense book to newer and bigger audiences.

3. Ask an expert. Calling 911 to ask research questions for your next suspense novel will NOT generate the response you’re looking for. Instead, post your questions to groups such as Crime Scene Questions for Writers on Yahoo at  and let CSIs, forensic scientists, and medical practitioners assist you in creating that perfect heist.

4. Delve into your personal deepest, darkest fears. Zombies? Spiders? Walking alone in a dark alley on the rough side of town? Then pick one, and incorporate it into a scene in your next book. If your own mouth is choking on the bitter taste of real terror while you write, believe me! Your audience will feel the goose bumps popping across the backs of their own arms and necks as they read.

5. Give your characters a Star Wars moment. You know…the “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” type of moment. Why do we writers feel such a desperate need to protect our main characters? Way too many times we let the hero or heroine walk close to the fire without ever allowing them to get burned. Or maimed. Or scarred. In suspense writing, this is not optional. Our characters MUST feel the flames in order to give our readers the experience they covet. It’s so-o-o-o hard sometimes, but we have to let go and let bad things happen. For example: Dangle something in front of your main character that they want so badly they will sacrifice anything to reach it. Give them a faint ray of hope, and then yank it just out of reach. Again and again and again. That’s bad, I know, and that’s suspense in a nutshell…the kind that will have your readers shivering beneath their covers long after the lights go out.

ROSE PAYNE'S world is shattered after a secret betrothal to the duke’s son ends up costing her job as a clerk in his father's household. Without a letter of recommendation, Rose becomes an easy target for recruiters to the Colonies. Desperate for work, she signs up for a risky overseas venture and sails for the New World, hoping for a fresh start and vowing to never again fall for a wealthy gentleman.

Returning from a diplomatic tour in London, CHIEF MANTEO is bewitched by the fiery-haired ship’s clerk and determined to overcome her distrust. He contrives a daring plan to win her heart – one that forces her, honor bound, to serve as a slave to his tribe – a plan he prays will protect her from a chilling conspiracy involving murder, blood money, and a betrayal of their fledgling colony so terrifying it can only be revealed in BREAKING TIES.

If you could step inside your favorite creepy book or movie and experience the chill for yourself, which book or movie would you choose and why? 

(Answer the question for a chance to win a free Nook or Kindle copy of Breaking Ties – reader’s choice. Winner will be chosen via and contacted by email.)

Jo is an award-winning author at Astraea Press who loves to indulge in marathon showings of CSI, NCIS, and Castle. From St. Louis, Missouri, she holds an M.B.A. and has served as a banker, college finance instructor, and high school business teacher. She is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America and From the Heart Romance Writers RWA Chapter.  The mother of three children and the wife of a soldier, she serves as a literacy volunteer for elementary school students.


Twitter: @jografford
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Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Jan. 24th. 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.


  1. I can't think which books or movies to be in. I do know I would like to be in Grimm the TV series. It would be just creepy to figure out who is human and who is vessan and even who to trust.


  2. Ooo…shivers. I love Grimm! As well as Sleepy Hollow, the Walking Dead and TrueBlood. So many good shows out there to steal your breath and haunt your dreams.

  3. I would want to be in Nora Roberts Sign of Seven books. Thanks for the giveaway.

    1. I appreciate you stopping by, and best wishes on winning!

      Nora creates the most amazing heroes in the most magical worlds, does she not? For me, it's a toss up between the Sign of Seven and the Born In trilogies. Oh, yeah, and I'm also a complete sucker for Roarke in J.D. Robb's In Death series. ;-)

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  5. Harry Potter because it sounds intriguing

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

    1. Epic! I found out recently that some colleges and universities actually have quiddage teams. Can you imagine?! Depending on how you look at it, I guess that means some folks have figured out how to step into this particular story, or at least a piece of it. LOL

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  7. It would have to be something not too creepy. I'd just be scared out of my wits. I must admit I'm a big fan of the HARRY POTTER books too. I'd love to live in a world full of magic.


    1. Another vote for Harry. Go Team Potter! Fabulous chill factor and J.K. Rowling certainly took the world of magic to a whole new level. No big surprise that Universal Studios continues to command some very long lines to this particular themed attraction.

  8. It's so hard to decide! Hmm. I think I would want to be in Along Came a Spider. The James Patterson novels with Alex Cross have always given me goose bumps!

    brookeb811 at gmail dot com

    1. A completely fabulous read hands down, Brooke! I have a neighbor that would join you in half a heart-beat. Mega Patterson fan. Although I love Patterson (both James and Robert - heehee), I will not be tagging along into this set. Sadly, spiders are my kryptonite.


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