Thursday, July 16, 2015

An Eye for an Eye by Irene Hannon

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I'm always on the look out for a new author to read. Because I write Cozy Mysteries that is what I tend to read. I'm so glad that a friend told me about Irene Hannon who writes Romantic Suspense. I started with "An Eye for an Eye" which is the second book in the Heroes of Quantico Series.

The main character, Mark Sanders, runs into former girlfriend, Emily Lawson. Literally minutes after the reunion Emily is shot. The questions is was she the target or FBI agent Mark Sanders? Either way Mark isn't about to leave Emily's side until the shooter is found. Keeping a close watch on Emily has stirred feelings he was unaware he still harbored for Emily.

You must read the book to find out if Mark can keep Emily safe and if they can rekindle a relationship that has been dormant for years. "An Eye for an Eye" will literally keep you turning the pages to find the answers. The first book in the series is "Against All Odds," starring Evan Cooper and the third book in the series, "In Harms Way," focusing on Mitch Bradley.  by Deborah Malone

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Back Cover: After an accidental shooting during a tense standoff, FBI Hostage Rescue Team member Nick Sanders is sent to St. Louis to work as a field agent and get his bearings while the bad press settles. Just weeks away from returning to Quantico, Mark has a chance encounter with his first love Emily Lawson. But their reunion is cut short by a sniper. Now Mark must find the shooter before he strikes again. But what is his motive - and who was the intended target? Can Mark put the pieces together, keep Emily safe and rekindle a relationship at the same time?
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Irene Hannon is the author of more than thirty novels, including the bestselling "Against All Odds." Her books have been honored with the coveted RITA Award from Romance Writers of America, the HOLT Medallion, and the Reviewer's Choice Award from Romantic Times Bookreviews Magazine. Irene and her husband make their home in Missouri. You can learn more about Irene at her website 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Janice Cantore: Drawing Fire

By Kelly Bridgewater

Back Cover Copy:

One case from her past defines homicide detective Abby Hart.

With a possible serial killer stalking elderly women in Long Beach, California, Abby’s best lead is Luke Murphy, an irritating private investigator who saw a suspect flee the scene of the latest homicide. When Abby discovers that the most recent victim is related to the governor, she’s anxious to talk to him about a cold case that’s personal to her—one Luke is interested in as well.

As she learns more about the restaurant fire that took her parents’ lives years ago, Abby discovers why Luke is so invested in finding the ones responsible. The more they uncover, though, the more questions they have. Can Abby find peace without having all the answers?

My Review:

I have become a fan of Janice Cantore’s police procedural romantic suspense when I read Accused, the first book in her Pacific Coast Justice Series. I love how Janice Cantore uses her knowledge from working on the police force to create a realistic look into all the drama and struggles that occur for the men and women who serve our local communities. Drawing Fire gives readers a ride along for the hunt to bring justice to a cold case.

True to a romantic suspense, the story needs to start with an inciting incident and try to solve that mystery, which propels the story forward. The conflict starts in the first chapter, allowing Abby Hart and Luke Murphy’s world to collide as Abby is called to a home of a dead elder lady. The officers call this a case of the serial killer they nickname granny murder. Most romantic suspense stories wrap themselves in trying to solve the initial problem, but Cantore solves this murder pretty quickly and does not return, leaving the one suspect to take the fall for the murder without question.

The incident that drives Abby and Luke is the cold case of the Triple Seven murders. Abby is blinded by drive to seek justice and revenge for her parents’ death. Similarly, Luke is determined to hunt for a young runaway named Nadine who ran away from home because she is pregnant. As much as the inciting incident being solved so quickly bothered me, Cantore allows Nadine to get beaten up, but there is no mention of what happens to her pregnancy. Along the same lines, the first sixty percent of the story is back-story and catching the reader up on all the research that Luke and Abby have personally done on the Triple Seven Murders. It was slow going. I kept waiting for something exciting to happen, but it didn’t. Once Luke went on a run and got shot at, the story started to take off and moved like a suspense book, but it was about sixty-five percent in.

Cantore created Luke and Abby to be practically equal foils. While Luke is a private investigator, Abby Hart is a homicide investigator. Both of them have lost significant people in their early life. Both of them have had mentors who helped them settle in their final career choices. Cantore does a good job at showing the readers how Abby and Luke think, but I feel disconnected between how Abby and Luke actually feel. Cantore tells us how they feel, not show the readers. One of the favorite aspects of the book was the laid back romance. Abby is engaged to someone else, but she wonders about Luke. Luke can’t stop thinking about Abby. It was nice to see the guy falling for Abby, which breaks tradition because most books have the girl falling in love first. Even with the difficulties of the plot, I still like the characters of Abby and Luke.

Writing is what can make or break a story.  As for the dialogue, Cantore does allow words to flow naturally and reflect the attitude of Abby and Luke. The story world of Long Beach, California, is not described that well. It appears to be an afterthought for Cantore, not an important element to tie the reader to the story. Lastly, I never doubted Cantore’s expertise into the police world. Abby and the other officers treaded through this world naturally. I enjoyed this peek into the world of police work.

Drawing Fire has no questionable content that conservative readers of any age would question. The last thirty percent of the book would bring a great story to the romantic suspense genre. I just wished Cantore would weave in all the back-story while working hard to solve the cold case of her parents’ death while having complications to the serial killer and finding Nadine. Abby and Luke were never in any harm until the last third of the book. It was an original idea with using Abby as the victim and the investigator on the sly, but the story is not predictable. I had no idea who the actual bad guy was until Cantore revealed it at the last minute. If you can sludge through the first part of the book, the last part is more of Cantore’s style, which is evident in her other books. I truly enjoyed her first five books, but this one is not her usual writing style.

Overall, Janice Cantore’s Drawing Fire uses her vast knowledge in police work to bring three mysteries to the table with wounded characters on the path for justice but tells the story of leaving justice and revenge to God.

This review first appeared on The Christian Manifesto where I am an Assistant Editor and a Featured Reviewer.

Janice Cantore’s Writing Bio:

Janice Cantore
Taken from Cantore's Amazon Author's Page
A retired Long Beach California police officer of 22 years (16 in uniform and 6 as a non-career officer), Janice Cantore worked a variety of assignments, patrol, administration, juvenile investigations and training. During the course of her career in uniform Janice found that faith was indispensable to every aspect of the job and published articles on faith at work, one for a quarterly newspaper called "Cop and Christ", and another for the monthly magazine "Today's Christian Woman".

With retirement Janice began to write longer pieces and several novels were born. Janice is excited and honored to now be a part of the Tyndale Publishing House family. Accused, the first installment in her new suspense offering, The Pacific Coast Justice Series, was released February 1, 2012 and kicked off a brand new chapter in her writing career. In addition to suspense and action, her books feature strong female leads. Janice writes suspense novels designed to keep you engrossed and leave you inspired.

Where to connect with Janice:
Where to purchase Drawing Fire:
Your local Favorite bookstore

What aspect of police procedurals draw you into the story?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Interview and Giveaway: Heather Day Gilbert, Trial by Twelve

I've been a fan of Heather Day Gilbert since I read her debut novel, God's Daughter. Not only is she an amazing author, she's also an encourager to new writers. She was one of the first people to push me toward taking my writing more seriously. I'm honored to interview her about her latest release, Trial by Twelve. Heather is also giving away an ebook copy of her latest novel. Check for details at the end of the interview!

Trial by Twelve is the second in your Murder in the Mountains series. How is writing this one different than writing Miranda Warning?

Great question! Going into this one, I knew I wanted it to be shorter, so I could get more books out per year in this series. So Trial by Twelve was around 52,000 words, whereas Miranda Warning was around 82,000. I prefer the shorter length!

Since this is a series, the tricky thing was matching up timelines and making sure all the details remained consistent from one book to the next, such as ages of the characters. I also had the task of re-introducing repeat characters, which meant I had to make their backstories/connections clear for those who had never read book one, without boring readers who were already familiar with them. To do this, I sent out early reader copies specifically targeting those who hadn't read Miranda Warning yet. I was grateful most seemed to pick up on the relationships easily and follow right along with the characters, having just "met" them.

Do you put a lot of yourself into your characters? Is there any one you identify with more than others?

Ha...funny you should ask that. I think most people who read the A Murder in the Mountains mysteries and know me or my husband realize that yes...I draw a lot from our relationship (my husband happens to be a lawyer, like Thomas Spencer). And of all the characters I've written, Tess Spencer is probably the most like me, personality-wise. But she has a really messed up childhood (mine was great), she tends to plunge into dangerous situations (not like me so much), and there are several other key differences I use with her to keep her distinct and separate from me in my mind.
But yes, we both enjoy coffee, video games, and our in-law bonds, among other things. :)

Your novels are very character driven. How does that make them different from other mysteries?

I think my novels seem like cozy mysteries in many ways--they are set in a small town, with an amateur sleuth, and no graphic sex/violence or cursing, and we get to know townspeople, family, and friends over time. However, they're like traditional mysteries, as well (think Hercule Poirot or Rebecca) in that the psyche of the killer is key to figuring out the villain. So people's personalities/character traits are very important to each storyline and that's why I call my mysteries "psychological" mysteries.
I had one reviewer compare my mysteries to a cross between author Lorena McCourtney's cozies and Karen Kingsbury's family-driven series. I think that's probably accurate, because I couldn't divorce the characters in this book from their family situations. Having Tess Spencer be a married main character who lives next to her in-laws was an important part of the dynamic of this series because it made it deeper and more believable.

You've done very well with indie publishing and have even written a book about it. What's the most important thing you've learned about the indie world?

I guess my best advice would be to try everything you can afford to try. You will learn what works and what doesn't work for you, and each book you publish will be better for it. Also, don't be afraid to ask people to read your book (from reviewers to advertising). You believed in that book enough to write, edit, and publish it, so stand behind it and make sure it doesn't become invisible in the sea of books on Amazon. Finally, plug in to indie groups online or follow/contact indie authors. It's their business to stay up-to-date, if they're taking it seriously.

What's coming up next for you?

Hmm! I tend to fluctuate in my day-to-day writing plans and I have no less than five series swirling in my head now. But suffice it to say I will continue to add books to my A Murder in the Mountains series (hopefully one more this year), and book 2 in my Vikings of the New World Saga, Forest Child, is also on the agenda for next year. Aside from remains to be seen! I have both Viking historical readers and contemporary mystery readers I want to try and keep "feeding" both groups as much as possible.

Thanks for letting me visit!

You can find Heather online here:
Twitter: @heatherdgilbert

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment to enter. Be sure to include your email. One winner will receive an ebook copy of Trial by Twelve.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Interview with Beverly Nault

Deborah Malone

Debbie: Tell us a little about yourself.
Bev: My husband and I decided that when our children both got married last summer it would be a really good idea to sell our house and put everything in storage for a couple of months while we found a condo closer to his office. So we moved into our RV, a 36' Diesel pusher, and we're still there! Do we miss the yard work, pool maintenance and house cleaning? Nope! Because he's a pilot, and well, maybe because we really are, we call her "Flight Risk." LOL Seriously, I'm enjoying more time to write, and we are enjoying the freedom of being downsized. Now we plan trips, for now they're close to home, but after retirement we're thinking of Alaska, the Midwest, and the Florida Keys, but probably not all in the same month.

Debbie: Tell us about your most recent book.
Bev:  "The Kaleidoscope" s the most recent, and a new genre for me. My fans will notice this one is written by B K Nault, but it's still me. I wanted an easy way for people to distinguish between my previous "cozy small town" style, and the high concept, suspense-mystery-romance style I'm tackling now.

In "The Kaleidoscope," the main character is a computer forensics expert named Harold who finds himself the guardian of a mysterious kaleidoscope that shows people a glimpse into their future. When the book starts, he a bit of a loner and know-it-all, but the 'scope forces him to ally with a colorful bunch of people who help him both come out of his shell, and also figure out where the mysterious gizmo came from and what makes it work. There's a ring of bad guys, but that's all I'm going to say about them, they will reveal themselves soon enough.

Here's a piece of the action from "The Kaleidoscope."
While living downstairs in the structure that had been around since De Mille directed epics beneath the Hollywood sign, Walter had persevered through his own endless trials, which took longer because of his equipment - an outdated computer, laughable to programmers pecking and coding elsewhere in the world, and a temperamental Dremel he'd found in a second-hand shop years ago. If he'd toiled in a state-of-the-art laboratory, his invention might have been ready years earlier.
Forced into hiding and sacrificing everything precious to him, Walter had accomplished something the rest of the tech-world vigorously debated was impossible. He'd worked as quickly as his limited resources allowed, but he finally reached his goal.
Now the prototype awaited one final step, and it would be ready for the real-world testing. A few more tweaks and the soft launch of which he'd dreamed was within his grasp. He unwound the protective length of fabric from the metal tube and exhaled a breath of adoration and pride. He'd polished the creation until it glimmered in the rays probing down through the high window into his basement workroom-slash-bedroom. He sighted down the shaft. His masterpiece, his swan song, was almost ready for the world.
One more piece of the puzzle, and the technology anticipated, even feared, would be born. If he'd calculated correctly, and Walter was meticulous about calculations, the day's mail should contain the gem he'd saved and scraped for. Every tip, handout, or penny literally scraped from the gutter had gone into that jar, and last week he'd exchanged the sum for a cashier's check and placed the order. If this final trial didn't work, he'd lose everything he'd slaved over. His ideas were running out, his home was about to be razed, and what made the urgency even more crucial, he sensed "they" were about to discover his hiding place.
Flipping the wall calendar over his workbench, Walter circled a date two weeks hence. That would give him sufficient time to install the final part, to test. and make note of his achievement. Perhaps even enjoy it himself before he turned it over to the one who would carry it to the world, who could safely deliver the technology where it would do the most good. It was time to plan the handoff.
Debbie:  What was your journey to publication like?
Bev:  I worked as a technical writer, but always wanted to write creatively for the general market, so I took a year-long correspondence course, began attending conferences, workshops and critique groups, and reading everything I could get my hands on about writing novels and narrative non-fiction.
In March 2011, my first two general market books released in the same month and I called them my fraternal twins! Both "Lessons from the Mountain, What I Learned from Erin Walton," that I co-wrote with the actress Mary McDonough about her experience growing up as a child actor and "Fresh Start Summer," came out side by side. "Fresh Start Summer" launched The Seasons of Cherryvale series about a fictional small town, similar to the Mitford or Cedar Cove stories, and I went on to write five more books about Cherryvale. (Four seasons + two bonus holiday novellas = Bev's math)
Debbie:  What are a couple of your favorite books and what are you reading now?
Bev:  So glad you asked! I'm reading Mary (Erin Walton) McDonough's first novel, "One Year," which ironically released this month, very close it its cousin, "The Kaleidoscope." I didn't help her with this one but I totally recommend it! She did a great job weaving together three women's lives in a small Virginia town. Hey, Mary, way to go!
Debbie:  What are you working on now and can you give us a little peek inside?
Bev:  My next project has the working title, "Misdirect," and it's another suspense-mystery-romance. The main character is a former CIA operative turned desk analyst who has to brush off her tradecraft skills and go back into the field. She finds herself riding camels in the Sahara desert to rescue her soon to be son-in-law who has been taken hostage. Again, more bad guys.
Here's a sample from "Misdirect."
Eve sighted down the barrel of her 9MM, raised to the height of an average man's heart. She took controlled breaths measured to match her own pulse. In. Out. Blood thrummed in her ears threatening to drown crucial communication. She sensed rather than saw the others in the hallway made dark by her advance team's removal of bulbs from Nixon-era fixtures. Shadows surrounded her with stealth movements. Bracing against the wall, Eve uttered, "Go."
A booted foot struck just below the knob with enough force to explode the doorframe. Dry rot splintered onto peeling linoleum and left a gaping hole into a black abyss. Before the rebounding door flew back someone blocked it and the team glided through. Backs together in simi-circle, their synchronicity so finely tuned, an infrared footprint would for decades confuse intelligence analysts as to the number of bodies at once. In silent choreography, they starburst, boots gliding silently, floating from room to room.
Debbie:  What advice would you give authors who are on their own journey to publication?
Bev:  Try new things, stretch yourself and be as creative as possible. There are a lot of "rules" about  what you should be doing as far as grammar, but what readers really want is a great page-turner. There are tons of ways to be published and to find an audience, and that's the fun part about being a writer these days. Find a group to meet with for honest feedback, and most of all, enjoy yourself!
Debbie:  Do you have any books or websites that have helped you with your writing that you could share?
Bev:  It's hard to narrow them down, but there are a few that spring to mind right away. I have subscribed to www.thepassivevoice for years and always find some article or information that I find helpful. Also, I read every blog post Kristen Lamb writes at We Are Not Alone. There are also some great podcasts for writers. Jack Cavanaugh's Let's Talk Novels is good for beginners, and Writing Excuses covers Fantasy and Sci-Fi, but they also do a great job discussing style and technique and how to give readers what they want.
Here's a list of books I highly recommend:
On Writing by Stephen King
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
On Writing Well by William Zinsser
The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder (screenwriting, but excellent on writing page-turning tension)
Writing the Breakout Novel, and The Fire in Fiction by Donald Mass
Any writing book by James Scott Bell. And read the classics and bestsellers. Read. Everything.
Debbie:  Is there anything you'd like to tell us we haven't covered?
Bev:  It's a terrific time to be a writer and a reader! The world of publishing is opening up to so many new and interesting niches, allowing new voices and stories to be told like never before. If you're a writer, go for it, and if you're a reader, have fun exploring new stories, maybe you'll discover a new writer no one's heard of yet. And please, everyone, be kind enough to share positive reviews on books you like on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Reviews are the new word of mouth and telling other "guess what kept me up into the wee hours reading!?" will do a lot to keep encouraging readers to buy and writers to continue penning good books.
And if you see a writer sitting behind a desk or table somewhere waiting to sign a copy or share a candy, don't be afraid to approach and ask about their book, we don't bite, I promise!
Debbie:  Please let us know where we can find you on the web.
Bev:  My blog, "Bev Said What?" is where I try to behave myself sometimes. The blog and all my titles are on my website, and my Facebook is Beverly Nault,author. Tweet me @bevnault.
Thanks for having me, it's been fun!
Thanks for stopping by Bev and giving us a little more insight into what an author goes through in writing. Not only is Bev a great writer, but she is also a great editor. She has edited all of my Trixie Montgomery Cozy Mystery Series. Now hop on over to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and pick up a copy or two of Bev's books!
Deborah Malone's first novel Death in Dahlonega, finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer's Category Five writing contest! Deborah was also nominated for 2011 and 2012 Georgia Author of the Year in Novel category. She has worked as a freelance writer and photographer, for the historic magazine "Georgia Backroads," since 2001. She has had many articles and photographs published, and her writing is featured in "Tales of the Rails," edited by Olin Jackson, as well as the "Christian Communicator." She is a member of the Gerogia Writer's Association, Advanced Writer and Speaker's Association and the American Christian Fiction Writers. 



Sunday, May 10, 2015

Lynette Eason: No Place to Hide

By Kelly Bridgewater

Back Cover Copy:

It's not every day you see your childhood friend and one-time crush on national news. Jackie Sellers just wishes it were under different circumstances. She can't believe that Ian Lockwood is wanted in connection with a terrorist plot, and she's determined to find him and help him clear his name. But she's not the only one looking. The FBI wants him captured. The bad guys want him dead. Ian just wants to stay alive long enough to save thousands of innocent lives.

My Review:

Lynette Eason is one of my favorite romantic suspense author. Every time she has another book coming out, either from Revell or Love Inspired Suspense, I purchase the book and devour the story within hours. I even met Lynette Eason once at a writing conference. Such a nice lady. So approachable. As for No Place to Hide, it fulfills my expectations for a top-notch ride of a chase with no end in sight.

As we all know, characters make or break a story. The characters of Jackie Sellers and Ian Lockwood grab my attention from the first scene where Jackie is breaking into Ian’s house. The story takes off with a car chase through town and keeps moving, tightening the noose around the character’s neck as they sink faster and faster, hoping for a resolution. Ian is an intelligent God-fearing man with a background in Tae Kwon Do, which he uses a lot to be Jackie’s knight-in-shining armor. As for Jackie, she doubts God because she believes he abandoned her. While there is not mention of any change for Ian, Jackie finally rests her trust in God. The discussion of God felt natural and not preachy. Just like the popular saying, “there are no atheists in a foxhole.” Jackie relies on God when she is in trouble and finally sees God’s hand in her life. The characters brought depth to such a spine-tingling problem.

Eason’s writing proves why she is still a best-selling suspense writer. She uses the correct amount of prose and dialogue to show the backstory and allows the readers to follow the flow of the high conflict moments without getting lost. The dialogue matches the personality of Ian and Jackie, allowing me to feel like I am sitting in the car or hotel room, running for my life. The unique setting of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade feels realistic and important to accomplishing the terrorist act on American soil. It is creative and well-researched. This story could be labeled a thriller because of the terrorism element, but I still enjoyed it.

A good story must have tension, and a romantic suspense must have two types of tension. Romance and external conflict. The conflict threatening Jackie and Ian’s life is a number of external events that allows Jackie to find solace in God. The story jumps right into a conflicting moment, propelling the rest of the story into action. The tension moves at a great pace just like I want a romantic suspense to do. It is a page-turner, and I could not put the book down. On the other hand, the romantic tension is not really the forefront of the story’s dilemma, which is how I like romantic suspense. As a reader, I knew Ian and Jackie had a past, and it is hinted at a couple of times, but it did not distract Ian and Jackie from running for their lives and using their vast knowledge to save themselves and others. Conflict, either romantic, internal, or external, is essential to any good story. 

As always, Eason’s No Place To Hide concludes another great series. This story is for any age. I would allow my ten-year-old niece to read this book. Nothing is really inappropriate or scary for her to imagine. I would recommend everything Eason writes to anyone who enjoys mysteries, thrillers, suspense, or romantic suspense. This book proves why she is at the top of her game.

Always thrilling, romantic suspense author Lynette Eason finished her Hidden Identity trilogy with a harrowing defeat against terrorism while sparking a renewed interest in first love and reminding the reader to lean on God through the difficulties life throws at us.

I received a complimentary copy of No Place to Hide from Revell Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.

This post first appeared on The Christian Manifesto where I am the Assistant Editor and a Featured Reviewer.

Lynette Eason’s Writing Bio:

Lynette Eason is the best selling, award winning author of the Women of Justice Series, the Deadly Reunions series and the soon to be released Hidden Identity Series. She writes for Revell and Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line. Her books have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists. She has won several awards including the 2013 Carol Award for WHEN A HEART STOPS in the Romantic Suspense category. Lynette teaches at writing conferences all over the country. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA).

Where to connect with Lynette Eason:
Lynette Eason
From Eason's Website "About Lynette" Section

Where to purchase No Place to Hide:
At your favorite local bookstore

What is your favorite part of Lynette Eason’s writing?