Tag Archives: romantic suspense

Guest Interview–Min Edwards

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I’m a retired archaeologist, archaeological illustrator and former owner of an independent bookstore, A Thirsty Mind Words & Wines (books and wines, what’s not to love!). I’ve lived in some rather eclectic places in my life; the high plains of Texas, the Philippines during the Marcos regime (I had more shoes than Emelda Marcos), London during the Northern Ireland unrest, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba before the prison was established there, Downeast Maine, Austin Texas and now back to a small farm on the shore of Cobscook Bay, Maine with my own private beach which since I began writing I haven’t visited much.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

Reading, reading, reading. However, I’d like to say cooking but although I do it every day I’m awful at it. The kitchen was my mother’s domain when I was a kid. In fact, she wouldn’t even let me in there to do dishes (we had a dishwasher, but she didn’t trust it). I loved her for this. But a few months before I married I tried to make a Thanksgiving dinner for my fiancé. I should have started my writing career then because that Thanksgiving was a date to remember, a true tragedy. I didn’t know the turkey had to be thawed so I got out a hammer and big flat-head screwdriver and tried to hack out the giblets (thank goodness I knew there were giblets inside wrapped in waxed paper!). All day I wrestled with that bird until about 6 pm, then threw the bird into the kitchen sink and left him there until 10 pm and threw it in the over regardless of its defrostedness. When we sat down to eat at 3 in the morning, I have to say the turkey was tasty… not like my mom’s but my fiancé liked it. But then he’d eat roadkill if he was hungry enough. Faint praise for sure.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

I’m a dialogue person, so usually I start jotting down dialogue, then I figure out what type of person is saying these sentences, then somehow the story fleshes out from there. Of course, I find myself spending way more time doing drafts than in writing the initial story. My debut novel wasn’t finished until the 17th draft. However, now I can have a finished manuscript to my editor after 3 drafts normally.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

Freestyle, for sure. I can’t even plan a meal much less a novel!

What is the starting point for research—story concept or when you get stuck while writing?

I’m still working on my writing process, but with my recent work in progress, I found myself researching as the story unfolded… not the optimum step for sure. Now that I’m in the 2nd draft stage of that historical novel, I’m scrabbling for trivia to enrich my scenes. And unfortunately, I sometimes get lost in the research… bookmarking way too many sites on-line which have no bearing on the current scene or even the current book!

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

Yes, so far all my books carry memories of places I’ve been. In PRECIOUS STONE I’ve gone rather far afield though. Of course, I live in the village where the story begins, but after that my journey is merely wishful thinking. I’ve only dreamed of visiting the land of the painted caves in France and Scotland as well is just at the moment a number in my bucket list. However, in one scene in my novel STONE FALL, book 3 in the High Tide Suspense series, I describe a large snake, a constrictor. That snake didn’t come out of my imagination or from watching Animal Planet. Oh no, that snake, a reticulated python, showed up in my drainage ditch during rainy season when I lived in the Philippines, all 18 feet of him. He’d washed down from Mount Pinatubo… yes the one that exploded and covered Clark Airbase in central Luzon, in feet of ash… the mountain (which we didn’t know was an active volcano) stood at the end of my street. But I digress, a neighbor or someone must have seen this snake slither into the ditch because I was made aware of his presence only when a big base maintenance truck parked and many men jumped out and wrangled the huge thing into the back of the truck and took him away… probably to the base ‘jungle survival school’ where animals such as this were kept and we heard that men trained for jungle warfare there (this was during the Vietnam war). Of course, we didn’t know for sure. It was the military after all. Loose lips, you know.

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).

I get up, put on the coffee, and eat a light breakfast while reading. I can’t start or end my day without a story. Most days I get interested in the story and when I look up it’s almost lunch. I eat again, do some chores, then by about 2 pm I’m ready to write… and do other things related to publishing, like marketing (Yuck). I try to write 1000 words every afternoon, sometimes it’s more, sometimes less, but I write every day. I know lots of writers do their work in the mornings, but I’m not my best then. It has to do with being a night owl. Most nights I don’t go to bed before 1 or 2 am. This aggravates my old dog to no end. He has a schedule and expects his human to adhere to it. Buy hey, I’m paying for his kibble and dog treats so I can do what I want without his input.

Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?

Yes, PRECIOUS STONE is a romantic suspense but I also write straight contemporary romance, historical women’s fiction and am co-writing a new archaeological thriller series with a long-time friend and retired archaeologist.

In what genre do you read?

Romance, Romantic Suspense, Action/Adventure/Thriller and hard Science Fiction… not much fantasy.

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

Yes, since the age of 2. My current love is a 90 pound 11-year-old rescued black German Shepherd… neurotic and so funny. He’s actually too big for my current house. When he decides to leave the comfort of his huge leather club chair and stretch out on the floor, he fills up the space between my fireplace and the opposite wall. I’m not kidding! And in the past, he’s been a detriment to my health. Two broken shoulders (mine not his) when he was in his middle years and still pretty peppy. Thank goodness, he’s slowed down because I’m not getting any younger and broken bones shouldn’t be in my future!

Thanks so much for having me today, Linda. I found romance writing rather late in my professional career, but now I can’t imagine doing anything else. I hope your readers enjoy a peek into my process and my life.

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PRECIOUS STONE: Book 4 in the High Tide Suspense series by Min Edwards

A gift of thanks to a young girl from the Tsar more than 100 years ago… and now the Russians want it back. 

Collee McCullough, the owner of The Bakery in Stone Bay, Maine, has a perfect life until early one morning men in suits come calling. She has something someone dangerous wants. Something that her Russian great-grandmother Natasha took when she fled Russia in 1913. Too bad great-gran never told her son or anyone else what she had or where she left it.

Jake Elsmore, visiting Stone Bay to sell his mother’s house, walks into The Bakery for a cup of Earl Grey tea, but gets more. There she is. Collee McCullough, stepping out from behind the Chief of Police, a lovely, fiery-haired fairy toting a shotgun while two men lay insensate on the floor of her shop. Looks like that tea will have to wait.

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EXCERPT

Collee McCullough stood at one of her wall ovens in The Bakery. She knew she needed to begin coordinating her day, it was after all 5 a.m. But this morning wasn’t working for her. She was fuzzy, confused, thinking of anything but baking. That was so unlike her, but she’d had that dream again last night… the one about running through snow, someone chasing her, knowing she was going to die. Since childhood that dream of fleeing in the snow haunted her nights, not every night, and after her teens not often. But when it came, it messed her up like nothing else. She’d never figured out where the damned dream came from. When she remembered details, which wasn’t often, the images in the dream weren’t familiar. The forest wasn’t the woods around Stone Bay, the snow was even different. She’d never figured it out.

Why couldn’t she dream of standing before an audience naked? That dream was supposed to be the worst, but that one never crept into her sleep… just snow-running.

Behind her the bell over her door jingled out its merry tune. Someone needed their coffee, or a sweet roll, or bacon. She needed to yank up her big-girl panties and get to work.

“The Bakery isn’t open yet, but what the heck. Come on in and find a table. I’ll be right out,” she yelled still trying to concentrate on the muffins coming out of her oven. Not the most professional thing to do, the yelling, but her customers and friends in tiny Stone Bay, Maine, thought it normal for her to bellow at them.

There was no sound from the dining room though, not even the scrape of a chair across her newly mopped floor. Some people don’t take direction well, she thought.

Collee shook herself, trying to knock last night’s dream out of her head. She didn’t need this distraction today. It was Friday, her busiest day of the week. She opened early but not at 5 a.m. as her customers seemed to think.

Walking out of the kitchen and up to her service counter, she was startled to see two men standing just inside her door. That was odd. Why were they merely standing there? What did they want? They certainly didn’t look like locals. Nope, no overalls, no foul weather jackets, no rubber boots, no gimmee caps on their heads. These men were city men, tailored suits, shiny shoes which of course wouldn’t stay shiny for long now that mud-season was in full swing. Mud-season, now that was an apt word for a Maine spring.

Being a safety-conscious person, Collee reached down under the counter and put her hand on the stock of the shotgun her brother Nick, the police chief, insisted she keep there. He said just the sound of cocking the damned thing normally scared the bejeesus out of people… unless they were high on something. But here on the coast of Maine, the edge of America, she didn’t see too many druggies. She knew some kids smoked pot… jeez, she’d done that herself in her younger years. But without a pharmacy in town, there weren’t any places to steal the bad stuff. And the clinic was down the road, five miles at least from her shop. There wasn’t much there to steal either.

While the men stood silently, staring at her with what she interpreted as mean, cold eyes, Collee slowly gripped the stock tighter and pulled the shotgun above the level of the counter, cocked it, then pointed it at the intruders, thinking to herself, Damn, I should have loaded it.

“What do you want? As I said, I’m not open yet.”

The man in front gave her a brief and not at all friendly smile, then began slowly walking toward her across the old oak-planked floor, leaving the other man behind guarding the door. Guarding? Why did she think that?

“Stop right there. My brother is the police chief. He comes in about this time every morning to pick up his coffee. He’ll kick your ass then throw your skanky butt in jail.” This was a load of hogwash because Stone Bay didn’t have an actual jail. Her brother, Nick, processed prisoners quickly and transported them to the sheriff’s department in the county seat. The only cell was his back spare office, which he kept bare of any furniture except a chair and a card table. He called it his conference room. The Stone Bay Police department was relatively new, and Nick had only been the chief for a little more than eighteen months. However, a jail extension on the police/fire department building on the hill was planned to begin in a month. She didn’t think this situation could wait a month though.

“Colleen Onegin?” The bigger of the two men asked with a small crooked grin, almost sinister-looking.

“No, Collee McCullough. You must have the wrong woman.”

“I don’t think so, my dear,” the man growled low in his throat as he came closer.

She kept her eyes glued to him but noticed in her peripheral vision her brother stepping up onto the sidewalk just outside the door. He noticed the interlopers because he gave her a wink, the rat, and nodded his head slightly. Then she watched him slowly reach for the handle on her front door.

In the next moment, that front door slammed open shattering the glass, hitting the second man who’d remained at the entrance in the back and throwing him across the room. Chief Nick McCullough stormed through the destroyed door, gun drawn, a menacing look on his face. “Get back to the kitchen, Collee. I’ll take care of this.”

She didn’t have to hear another word. Her brother was beyond tough, serving four tours in the military police in Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan. He could take care of her and anyone else in his sphere with his hands tied behind his back, and by the story she heard from him one night while he was, as they say, in his cups, he’d once done just that.

BIO

Min Edwards is the pen name of retired Archaeologist and owner of A Thirsty Mind Publishing and Design, Pam Headrick. She toyed her whole life with writing but it wasn’t until she moved to her small seaside farm on the far eastern coast of Maine that she began her career in earnest. She’s published five novels with her sixth being released in just a few weeks, THE RUSSIAN PHOENIX, a women’s fiction historical novel and prequel to PRECIOUS STONE.

Drop in on her alter-ego, Pam at the business website at www.athirstymind.com where you can learn all about the book design business, and visit with Min at www.MinEdwards.com where you can learn about her writing life.

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Guest Release Promotion–Escape to Africa Anthology

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6 stories by 6 Authors for ONLY 99 cents!!

Take a trip to fascinating, breathtaking, beautiful Africa, without ever leaving your home! These stories will send you on a journey filled with danger, love, and excitement. Travel from Casablanca to Morocco, across the plains of the Serengeti, to the ruins of Carthage, from the desert of Algeria, to the shores of Tripoli. Six international romance authors share spellbinding love stories told across time.

PREORDER LINK  Amazon  Releases July 14th

Dangerous Liaison – Historical Romance by Denyse Bridger

In late 1942, Casablanca, liaisons can be deadly, especially those that involve intelligence the Germans are willing to kill for…

A Pirate’s Lady – Time Travel Romance – Lynn Crain

Amanda Hoskip, a Time Travel Bureau agent, is intent on discovering who is tampering with time. But when she’s captured, she must pretend to be the wife of fellow agent and rescuer, Trevor Haines, which seems impossible because he thinks she’s failed her mission.

 Dying to Love You – Contemporary Romance with Paranormal Elements by Alicia Dean 

To avoid purgatory, unloving and unlovable Autumn Baines is sent to the Serengeti where she must perform a selfless deed and find someone to fall in love with her. What she didn’t count on was falling in love herself, or that her selfless deed could save a life, but sentence Autumn to eternal damnation.

 Treasured Times – Romantic Suspense – Gemma Juliana

Nerissa Noir is a woman with many secrets. Leon Rizzo intends to figure them out, without revealing his own. From the shops of the exotic souk in Tunis to the ancient ruins of Carthage and beyond, deadly mysteries must be solved before time unravels… can they trust each other?

The Ravine of the Wild Woman – Historical Romance by Marie Laval

Algeria, North Africa, 1865.

Lenora Sharp is Azerwal’s perfect woman. Brave, determined and unconventional, she is also related to the man who stole his name, his childhood and his identity – the very man and he has vowed to destroy, even if it takes him all the way to hell. Will love get in the way of revenge, or will Azerwal lose his soul before he loses his heart?

An Object of Desire – Romantic Suspense by Jenny Twist

Two students on holiday in Morocco discover that two sinister looking characters are following them. They meet an attractive man who offers to take them to their next destination.  All seems well until one of the girls disappears.

Find excerpts and more here: World Romance Authors

Guest release promotion–By Design by Beverley Bateman

Why I wrote the book:

An editor talked about doing a medical-based boxed set. She asked if I’d be interested. I said yes and thought about doing a hospital mystery – disease, murder, etc. Then I thought about cloning and the possibilities for illegal cloning. I started to research it and found the subject fascinating, both the pros and cons. We didn’t end up doing the box set.

By Design--June 2

 

 

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Nurse Evie Dalton succumbs to greed and a chance to work with sexy Dr. Adam Marsden. She accepts a position at an isolated hospital with an onsite animal farm, screams in the night, and mysterious limos arriving in the dark. People disappear and turn up dead. There’s no way to leave and no communication outside the town. Dr. Adam Marsden left his past behind. Now he has it all; a great job, money, and a chance to buy his own hospital. But he hadn’t counted on Evie Dalton. Because of him, she’s at risk and might be the next victim.

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EXCERPT

On the way to the shower she heard a car. She detoured to the window, opened the curtains slightly and watched two limos pull up beside the hospital. Nine or ten people got out and disappeared into the back wing. They appeared to be both men and women. Most of them carried small black bags. The limos backed up, turned around and left.

Now what would all those people be doing going into the hospital? They didn’t look like patients. What else could they be? They were obviously going to be there for a while since their transportation had left.

They’d gone into the back wing; one of the wings Evie hadn’t been shown.

Evie let the curtain close. She frowned, chewed her lower lip, and tried to figure out what they might be doing. Her mind was a total blank. She shrugged and gave up. Maybe she could ask Adam. He might know.

In the shower she let the hot water pulsate against her skin and turned so the water hit directly at the base of her neck. It might help to wash away some of the stress. She’d talk to Adam tonight. He’d have some answers. She could trust him. He’d give her a logical explanation and make her feel better.

She glanced out the window again. This time an ambulance slipped quietly through the dusky night. It slid up to a large door down from where the other group of people had entered. Evie couldn’t resist. She stood to one side so she wasn’t reflected in the light and let the curtains almost close together so she wouldn’t be noticed. She watched the ambulance attendants open the back door and remove a stretcher. They carried it inside. By the shape, it appeared to be a body under the covers. She couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman or even if it was dead or alive.

Things got more curious. Evie was sure there was probably a good explanation, but what kind of surgery would they be doing on someone brought in by ambulance out here? To the best of her knowledge, they didn’t have staff working in the operating rooms at night. Warren said he worked nights. She should go down and ask him what a group of people and a body did at night.

Evie turned away from the window. A scream pierced the air. A chill ran down her spine. She stopped and listened. It wasn’t repeated. She wasn’t even sure if it was human. It might have been an animal. Maybe a wild animal.

What was really going on here? She felt like she should do something, but what? She didn’t know what it was or even where it came from. She couldn’t phone anyone. There really wasn’t much she could do.

A residual chill still claimed her body as she buttoned her blouse. Her mind tried to figure out what was going on at the hospital. She’d ask Warren about it next time they talked. Right now, she had to hurry so she’d be ready for Adam.

It wasn’t just her over active imagination. That scream had been for real. Something unusual was going on and they didn’t want people to know about it.

* * *

On the other side of the hospital another black limousine eased to a stop in front of a side exit door. The hospital door opened and Grethe Byrne stepped out, reflected in the yellow light. She allowed the door to close behind her. The light was extinguished. She stood in the darkness. She’d been waiting for the limo to arrive but didn’t want to call attention to it.

The driver unwound himself from the front seat, stood up and adjusted his cap. Then he strode around the front of the car across the headlights and along the side toward the back. Reaching the door, he opened it and stepped back.

A slender woman, maybe in her mid-thirties, wearing a simple, but very expensive designer black suit and hat, stepped out and tripped up the stairs in her four inch heels. Diamonds flashed on her wrist and her ears.

The driver closed the back door.

When she reached the top step she turned toward the driver. “Charles, check with my husband in about a week. I should be ready by then.”

“Yes ma’am.” He nodded, slid back behind the wheel, and turned the key. The engine purred quietly as it slid down the driveway. The taillights disappeared into the night.

Grethe Byrne watched the car fade away.

“You have what we want?” the woman asked.

“Of course, that’s why you’re here, isn’t it?” Nurse Byrne snapped.

“No. I mean exactly. Do you have exactly what we ordered? White blonde hair, sky blue eyes, IQ of at least 130?”

“Yes. Don’t worry. It will be exactly what you ordered. Did you bring the balance of your payment? In cash and small bills?”

“Yes of course. I’ve kept my part of the arrangement. You had better keep yours.” This time it was the woman’s turn to snap.

“We stand on our reputation. We deliver what we promise. We’ve had no complaints so far.” Nurse Byrne punched in the code to unlock the door. Light flooded the area again as they entered the hospital. Nurse Byrne whisked the woman down the corridor and toward the back rooms.

“Your room is through here. I’m sure you’ll be very comfortable during your stay with us. I have the papers for you to sign.”

“What papers? I should have my lawyer here to review any papers before I sign them.

Nurse Byrne fixed her with an icy stare. “I really don’t think you want your lawyer or anyone else to know what you’re doing, do you? You know what the consequences might be.”

Beverley Bateman

Beverley Bateman is a Canadian author who writes romantic suspense and medical thrillers. She’s the author of several books who loves traveling, good wine and a mystery. She also enjoys watercolor painting, glass fusion and tai chi. She lives with her husband and two Shiba Inu dogs in southern Alberta.

 

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Guest Release Promotion–Bad Lies by Rolynn Anderson

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Italy’s haunted caves spell danger for an American golfer and a NATO geologist

Sophie Maxwell is a late-blooming, unorthodox golfer, and mother of a precocious thirteen year-old. Determined to put divorce, bankruptcy, and a penchant for gambling in her past, Sophie goes to Italy for a qualifying golf tournament.

Jack Walker turned his back on a pro golfing career to become a geologist. As a favor to his ailing father he’ll caddy for Sophie; off hours, he’ll find caves on the Mediterranean coast, suitable for NATO listening posts for terrorist activity.

Someone is determined to stop Jack’s underground hunt and ruin Sophie’s chances to win her tournament.

On a Rome golf course and in the Amalfi coast’s haunted caves, all the odds are stacked against Sophie and Jack.  In their gamble of a lifetime, who wins?

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EXCERPT

A wave of sadness about the chasm separating Jack from his father hit him hard. He covered his discomfort by picking up his water glass.

Sophie lost her smile. “You didn’t know your dad was coaching me, did you?”

“I told you, we don’t talk about golf.”

“Yet now you have to because you’re my caddy.”

He gave her a shrug. “He’s never asked me to do something for him, not since I quit golf. My mother’s been trying to get him to offer an olive branch for fifteen years. Seemed cruel not to accept one when he’s sick.”

“I get all that,” she said. Her expression morphed to calculating. “You wondered how I could afford your father, didn’t you? He told you I’m not paying for coaching lessons and—”

Raising his hand to stop her, he said, “Not my business.”

“I knew it. I could tell you were mad about something.”

Irritated she presumed to read his thoughts, he said, “I repeat—”

“You can’t figure out why he’d work free for a nut like me, but you won’t ask him. And you’re mad at me because you think I’m taking advantage of your dad.”

The sun and Sophie had him pinned down. He’d rather explore a dank cave.

“You won’t ask him and you won’t ask me. Do I see a pattern?”

Jack widened his eyes at her comment. When he saw her teasing smile, he exhaled. “Every time I talk to him on the phone, his motives get muddier. This isn’t about his heart problems or the operation. He’s using something about you or getting back to golf, or both, as catalysts for repairing my relationship with him.”

Sophie gulped. “Yikes.”

Jack nodded. “Like dropping the bomb about you not paying. He keeps upping the ante.” He huffed. “My inclination is to resist his manipulation.”

“So is mine,” she blurted. In the next moment, she looked down, appearing confused.

“Sophie?”

Her eyes met his. “Your father’s a good coach.”

“Okay.”

“I’ve learned what he says works, if I apply it. Like the new Vision 18 concepts.”

“So?”

“I want to win this tournament.”

“Of course you do.”

“I don’t blame you for feeling set up. But for this one week, could you erect a temporary bridge between you and your dad? Could we do exactly what he wants?”

Once again, Jack felt trapped. In the airplane, perpetually facing Sophie, on a dreaded golf course, all engineered by a father he hardly knew. He examined his hands, which hadn’t held a golf club or embraced a father in fifteen years. The tremor in his fingers spoke volumes.

When he raised his eyes to look at Sophie, he read genuine fear in her expression. She thinks if I balk at Dad’s bidding, she’ll fail.

Time stopped for a moment, underlining their separate fears, so strangely entwined. I thought I could do this without really getting involved. Now I’ve got her and my dad to worry about. Give me a cave to spelunk any day; rocks I understand.

Brows knit, she said, “Only five days of staying with your dad’s program.”

“Believe me, I know his philosophy.”

She gave him a not-that-well look.

“I’ll help you in every way I can.”

Sophie added narrowed eyes.

Feeling panic, he let out a breath. “Okay, I’ll talk to him. Later.” He ran his fingers through his hair.  “You, too. I’ll ask you later,” he said, his gut twisting as he made both promises.

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Scandinavian, Army Brat, Wife, English Teacher, High School Principal, Golfer, Boater, World Traveler, Author.  She delights in creating imperfect characters faced with extraordinary, transforming challenges.  Her hope: You’ll devour her ‘makeover’ suspense novels in the wee hours of the morning, because her stories, settings and characters, capture your imagination and your heart.

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Guest Release–TARGETED (FBI Heat Book 2) by Marissa Garner

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FBI Special Agent Marissa Panuska faces the most explosive case of her career when she impersonates a female terrorist to infiltrate an al-Qaeda cell. Her dark hair, olive complexion, and Arabic fluency make her the perfect imposter, but each passing hour raises the risk of discovery. Can she stop the dirty-bomb plot—alone—when the Feds don’t even know the target? And should she trust the mysterious man who bursts into her life when her cover is blown?

Former Navy SEAL Ameen Ali has a very personal reason for hating the terrorists and vowing to stop them. But when a beautiful woman joins the sleeper cell spreading death-to-America propaganda at his mosque, he doesn’t want to believe she shares their evil goals. Can he convince her to join forces before it’s too late?

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EXCERPT

Night had fallen when Samir parked the truck in front of the dilapidated house in the drug-infested Tijuana slum. Once he killed the headlights, the moon provided the only illumination along the crumbling asphalt road. Wedged between Samir and Omar on the seat, Marissa Panuska scanned the neighborhood of decaying buildings, hoping to catch a reassuring glimpse of the two agents who were out there—somewhere—following her, watching her back.

On five previous occasions, the terrorists had brought her to their hideout in Mexico, just across the border from San Diego. Marauding drug gangs ruled the area where crackling gunfire was as common as barking dogs. The constant smell of weed permeated the air and stung her nostrils. The residents were rarely visible, preferring relative safety behind walls.

Marissa’s gaze swept over the run-down house, checking for any signs of change or trouble. Boards protected the windows from prying eyes, and a padlock secured the door against thieves. The electrical connection dangling from the sagging overhead lines was one of the few in the slum, and the satellite phone antenna on the roof was definitely unique.

After an anxious look around, Omar jumped out to unlock the door before all three darted inside. Samir switched on the lamp that sat on the floor by the door. Ignoring the stench from the barely functioning bathroom, they hurried past it and the bedroom on the left. A narrow archway separated the front room from the larger back room, which included a rudimentary kitchen along one wall. The furnishings consisted of six metal folding chairs, a wooden table, and three tall lamps. Several boxes of electronic parts, including a new one, were lined up near the rear door. The place was filthy, but no one cared.

The stifling heat in the closed-up house stole Marissa’s breath. Sweat dampened her skin beneath the long, black abaya and niqab, the Muslim robe and veil she wore over her other clothes. While the men turned on the lights, she sank onto one of the flimsy chairs, morbidly wondering if she was more likely to die from heat stroke than at the hands of the terrorists.

Holding the niqab away from her face, she drew slow, deep breaths and grimaced at the pain in her lungs and stomach. The stress of impersonating Baheera Abbas, of pretending to be the female terrorist previously unknown to the US intelligence community, gnawed at Marissa’s nerves. If only she could determine Baheera’s role in the planned attack, she might be able to finish the covert operation, might be able to survive. Every passing minute held the threat of discovery and diminished that possibility.

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Marissa is a wife, writer, chocoholic, and animal lover, not necessarily in that order. As a little girl, she cut pictures of people out of magazines and turned them into characters in her stories. Now she writes edgy romantic thrillers and steamy contemporary romance. She lives in SoCal with her husband, but enjoys traveling from Athens to Anchorage and many locations in between.

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Guest Release–Hard Silence by Mia Kay

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FBI profiler Jeff Crandall returned to Fiddler, Idaho, to work on new Bureau protocols in peace…and because he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Abby Quinn. Kind, beautiful and quietly sexy, the petite rancher next door is loved by the entire town but keeps fiercely to herself. She’s a mystery that doesn’t want to be solved, though he’s desperate to try.

Whether that interest is professional or personal is a question he’ll sort out later.

Abby knows sharing her secrets would bring death and destruction to Fiddler. She survived her childhood, barely, but a long list of stepfathers weren’t nearly so lucky: their bodies are buried across the country, waiting to be discovered. The best protection is silence, anonymity and isolation, though the handsome agent next door seems hell-bent on destroying all three.

And he just keeps kissing her

When Jeff is called in to investigate an interstate serial killer case spanning two decades, Abby knows it’s only a matter of time before he connects the dots, sees her for who she really is and walks away. But it’s when he’s standing in the crosshairs of Abby’s past that Jeff faces his biggest challenge yet: how to give the woman he loves the life she doesn’t believe she deserves.

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EXCERPT

The other horse remained quiet in his stall. “Good morning, Hemingway,” Abby whispered as she stroked the giant black gelding’s nose and danced her fingers through his forelock. He was becoming such an elegant animal. “How are you, handsome? Ready to work this morning?” He dropped his head to her waiting hand. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

She forced her left arm up, ignoring the persistent pain, slipped the halter over his head and scratched his ears until he quieted. “No saddle today, I promise. Let’s get used to this first.” She opened the door but let the lead rope dangle as she walked away and let him follow. He needed to know she wouldn’t tug and pull. His clopping tread reminded her of Beau and her wobbly bike ride.

Shaking the memory free, she stood in the stable doorway. The pasture was cloaked in fog, and dew silvered the grasses not already trampled. It was like looking through a soft-focus lens. In this moment, right before sunrise, the world was fuzzy, tinted green, blue and gray. The birds chirped quiet, sleepy greetings. Hemingway froze when she picked up the rope.

“I won’t hurt you.” Abby took one step, keeping the lead slack, and waited. When the animal moved forward, she took another step. They inched through the paddock and the gate to the edge of the field.

“Good boy,” she murmured as she offered him a carrot and stroked his graceful neck. “See? No pain.”

Leaving him there, she went back into the stable only to run out when an equine scream ended in canine yelps and snarls. All that remained of Hemingway were his thundering hoof beats and the waving grass.

Abby knelt next to Toby and ran her hands over him, checking him for injuries. The dog’s shame gave way to a plea for a belly rub.

“I know you want to herd him,” she scolded as she gave in and scratched his chest, “but he hates to be crowded right now.” She stood and sighed. “Let’s go get him.”

Hem’s trail was marked in the dew, and easy to follow. The tall grass swallowed Toby in a gulp, and Abby waded through the swaying fescue to the river, her bag of carrots and apples bouncing against her hip. Stepping carefully on the slick rocks, she hopped to the Simons’ pasture and continued up the hill.

Off to her left, a covey of quail clattered clumsily into the sky, scaring her as much as she’d startled them. Toby shot off, intent on catching the slowest prey. Abby trudged on alone.

The giant gelding was stopped at the fence, munching on Deb Simon’s newly budded shrubs. He watched her approach with one dark, wild eye.

“Shh.” She touched his neck and pursued him when he flinched away. When he quieted, she rubbed his sweaty coat and stared down at the ragged plant. “I hope you haven’t killed that. I’ll never find a replacement.” At least the Simons were gone for the summer. It would be enough time to determine the damage and do some shopping, if necessary.

Comforting pats grew to long strokes as Abby ran her hands over the horse’s shoulder and then down his back. When she reached his ribs he stepped away and tossed his head. She kept a steady grip on the lead rope. “Quiet. I need to see if you’ve reinjured yourself. It won’t hurt. I promise.” She hoped she was right.

She got farther the second time. “Good boy, Hem.” He moved away again, and she started over.

It took four tries before she could run a light hand over his bones and feel the spots that were once jagged pieces. The horse shook beneath her, but he stayed still. “Good boy. I know it’s scary to trust someone, but you’re a brave man.” She pulled an apple from her bag. “You’re going to be good as new.”

The horse ignored the treat and stared over her shoulder, his nostrils flaring at a new scent. They weren’t alone.

Abby’s skin tingled as her muscles tightened. If she faced the intruder, she risked chasing Hem again. She tensed and moved her weight to the balls of her feet and whistled for backup. Toby came at a run. The dog was too well trained to bark, but his eyes stayed glued on their observer. Abby kept her focus on her dog.

Instead of growling, he wagged his tail. He’d seen whoever it was before. Convinced it was safe, Abby turned to face their audience.

“Hi, Abby.”

Jeff Crandall stood on the Simons’ porch, barefooted, in a wrinkled T-shirt and faded jeans. Lounging against a newel post, he was sipping a cup of steaming coffee, holding it with one hand while the other was shoved into the front pocket of his jeans.

Abby swept her gaze from him to the yard. She’d been so intent on the horse, she’d missed the car parked in front of the barn Hank Simon used as a garage. The silver Audi roadster with Illinois plates was the sort of car she only saw in magazines, and it would have easily fit in her horse trailer.

Maggie Harper’s reminder echoed through Abby’s scrambled brain. Jeff was renting the house for the summer, something about a project related to his job with the FBI.

He descended into the yard and started toward them with an easy gait, frowning slightly like he always did when she caught his eye. She’d seen that look for so many years, from so many people—teachers, doctors, ministers…stepfathers.

Would she ever get used to him appearing without warning? For the past year, since Gray Harper had asked for his help figuring out who was stalking Maggie, Jeff had come and gone with predictable unpredictability, always keeping her on edge.

Mia Kay

Mia Kay spent years writing legal documents and keeping people out of trouble. Now she spends her days looking for ways to get her characters into trouble. She lives in Arkansas with her husband, who doesn’t mind discussing (and sometimes causing) mayhem over breakfast.

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Guest Release–A Taste of Tragedy by Kim McMahill

ATasteofTragedy_ebookcover 200x300

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Morgan Hunter sacrificed everything for her career. She had yet to encounter anything she wasn’t willing to do to succeed…until now. When she uncovers evidence that the healthy foods she’s been hired to promote may be dangerous, she must reevaluate her priorities. As questions mount and the body count rises, she finds herself caught in the crosshairs of an organization that will stop at nothing to hide its secrets and protect its profits. With no one else to trust, Morgan is forced to seek help from the man she drove away, but whom she never stopped loving.

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EXCERPT

Morgan woke to pitch black. Not only were her hands and ankles bound, and her mouth taped shut, but she was also cocooned in a thick wool blanket. The bouncing told her she was in a vehicle, but she was clearly no longer in the back of her car.

Fear coursed through her veins as she struggled to understand where she was and what had happened. She wanted to take a deep breath to help calm her nerves, but with one nostril filled with dried blood and her mouth taped, it was difficult to breathe at all.

Forcing herself not to panic, she sucked in tiny bursts of air through her one open nostril until she was confident she wouldn’t suffocate. She wiggled her toes and fingers to try and get the blood flowing and the tingling to subside.

As the fog slowly cleared from her mind, she wondered how long she had been out. The last thing she remembered was trying to stand and keep her balance, so that she wouldn’t fall on the floor of that filthy warehouse. Now, she was here, but where was here?

Morgan tried to unroll herself from the constricting blanket, but soon bumped into a cardboard box. Despite the aches and pains emanating throughout her body, she bounced her body back toward her starting place, trying not to rewrap herself in the blanket, which would negate any progress. She unrolled herself again and repeated the process until she was free from the blanket.

Her body throbbed nearly everywhere, but being free of the wrap felt liberating. She wasn’t sure what to do next. She didn’t know if the driver of the vehicle was working with the woman who abducted her, or if he or she would be surprised to find her in his or her truck.

Morgan wasn’t sure how long she lay there in the dark when the truck finally slowed. She listened to the loud staccato noise of its Jake brake, and eventually the rig came to a stop. It was now or never. When the truck got back on the road, the driver would not be able to hear her.

She scooted around until her back was braced solidly against a large cardboard box. Once the truck motor silenced and she heard the door slam shut, Morgan kicked at the back door with all her might.

After several moments, she heard the lock and then the latch being opened. Light flooded the interior, blinding her. As her eyes adjusted, she found herself staring into the startled eyes of a man in a faded t-shirt.

KimMcMahill

Kim started out writing non-fiction, but her passion for exotic world travel, outrageous adventures, stories of survival, and happily-ever-after endings soon drew her into a world of romantic suspense. Along with writing adventure novels, Kim has also published over eighty travel and geographic articles, and contributed to a travel anthology and cookbook.

WEB CONTACTS

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Special Promotion—Hello Again by Susanne Matthews

As an author, I’m always looking for ways to stretch my wings. Last year, Amazon developed the Kindle Scout Program, which is reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. Readers determine the worth of a book for publication based on four criteria: the author’s previous work since a Q&A and social links for the author in question are included, a short blurb for the book itself with a kitchy tag line, the first 5,000 words in the story and the cover. Amazon promotes the book in the Scout program as well as on Amazon and Goodreads, but the author has the responsibility to promote the campaign, too. To thank the readers, Kindle Press provides an early, free e-copy to those who nominate a book that receives a publishing contract. For readers, it’s a win-win situation. For authors, it’s a chance to get published and maybe win a few new followers in the process.

Hello Again began its campaign on April 2. The campaign runs for 30 days. At the end of that period, the author learns whether or not a contract will be issued. If the answer is yes, then Kindle Press provides editors just like any other traditional publisher does.

Cover Hello Again

Book Blurb for Hello Again

Can she lift the curse and find love again?

For Charley Winters love means loss and pain. She’s spent the last five years struggling with her grief. Existing, not living. Drawn to Saskatchewan, she isn’t prepared for life’s latests kick in the teeth. Behind schedule, she’s rescued from a vicious tornado by her dead husband’s double, a man who makes her feel things she hasn’t in years. Add to that a native myth, a shaman, a green-eyed wolf, and her husband’s ghost … Can she lift a millennia old curse and find joy and love again?

If you’d like to support the book, a paranormal, romantic suspense, you can check it out here. https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/18M9BEDK8IVLH

As a bonus, here’s an additional excerpt that follows shortly after what is available on the Kindle Scout page.

The letter Mike had left for her, the one he’d written before he’d been deployed, sat on the coffee table, now covered with watermarks from the glasses littering its wooden surface. She reached over and picked up the sheet of paper. His instructions were specific, but she’d never be able to follow through with his requests. It wasn’t fair of him to expect her to.

“Damn you, Mike for dying, for leaving me this way. You didn’t have the right,” she said aloud, her voice echoing in the empty room. Drawn to the page, she read the words once more although she didn’t need to. Each one was engraved on a piece of her shattered heart.

Charley,

If you’re reading this, it’s because I let you down. I didn’t come back to you the way I promised, and I’ll always regret not being able to look into those baby blues of yours, and say goodbye. I never thought it would come to this, that we’d have so little time together. I wanted to take care of you, make you happy, and spend the rest of my days telling you how thankful I am that you are part of my life. We knew this might happen, and it was a choice we made when I enlisted and you married me, but saying goodbye like this is a lot harder than I ever thought it would be.

You’re the light of my life. I imagine our children running around the house, around that garage we were going to open—a boy who’d resemble me, a little girl who’d look just like her mama. We’d grow old together doing the things we loved, checking off each item on that bucket list we made before we were married.

I still want you to do those things, babe, even if I can’t be there to do them with you. There isn’t a lot of insurance money—I always meant to get more, but there was always something else that needed to be done, and since I expected to be there, earning it side by side, I figured fifty grand was enough.

There were so many things I wanted to show you, places I wanted to take you, but you’ll have to find someone else to do those things with now. That’s right. Once I’m gone, you need to move on.

I can hear you saying no, see you shaking your head, but you need to listen to me. I know you’re still mourning your father, but you have to let me go, let both of us go, and the best way to do it is to get rid of the things chaining you to the past—like that old car you baby all the time. You need something safe and reliable. You may be the best damn mechanic in the world, but eventually, a car needs to be scrapped. As far as I go, I’ve left instructions with Phil to cremate my body as quickly as he can after my death. I know you’ll want to see me, but babe, I want you to remember me the way I was when I was with you. Scatter my ashes on the wind. Don’t keep me cooped up in a fancy vase or box like my mother kept my dad. Once that’s done, I need you to open your heart and find a good man, a decent man who’ll love you and make you happy. I’d find one for you, if I could, but there are some things you’ll have to do for yourself.

I don’t know what there is after death, and religion wasn’t part of my life growing up, but when I think of moving on like this, I’m reminded of the stories my grandfather told. He was fascinated by his First Nations’ ancestor, even if he couldn’t claim status. The Sioux believed that the living and the dead lived together, even if only the shamans could see those who’d died. If that’s true, I’ll never leave you. I’ll watch out for you in any way I can. You won’t see me, hear me, or feel me, but I’ll be there waiting for the day when I can say hello again.

Right now, I can picture you standing there, tears running down your cheeks, and that’s the last thing I want. I know how stubborn you can be, but Charley, this is important for both of us, so please, mourn a little like I know you need to, but then move on.

Live, love, laugh, darling. Enjoy life the way you were meant to. I’ll always love you, now and forever,

Mike.

She swiped at the tears that crept down her cheeks.

“You’re wrong, Mike. I’ll never be happy again. The only way there’ll ever be a man in my life, is if you find a way to come back to me, because I’m not going looking for one. So ‘Rescues Wolf Pup and Gets into Trouble,’ if I can’t have you here and now, I’ll wait until we can be together, but don’t make me wait too long.”

Susanne Matthews

About the author

Susanne Matthews lives in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. A retired educator, she enjoys writing and creating adventures for her readers. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.

 

Follow Susanne on her:  Website    Blog    Facebook page    Twitter @jandsmatt

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Guest Interview–Helena Fairfax

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I’m a British author, and I live in Yorkshire, in the north of England. My first contemporary romance was released in 2013, and there’s been no stopping me ever since :)

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

Heartwarming romance with believable heroines, strong heroes, and uplifting endings

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I live near the Yorkshire moors – close to where the Brontë sisters used to live – and I walk the moors every day with my rescue dog. I love to watch the changing seasons, and now, in spring, everything is coming alive. It’s wonderful to see the colours creeping back over the barren winter landscape.

Besides walking, I also read, read, and read!

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

I start with the characters. Romance novels are all about internal conflict – the personalities of the hero and heroine, and what it is that’s keeping them apart. I will also have a particular setting in mind. The story evolves naturally out of these elements.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

I generally have a good idea of the overall structure of the story and the character arc of the hero and heroine. In The Scottish Diamond – the novella I’ve just released – things didn’t go quite according to my initial plan, and the hero turned out to have a secret that surprised even me! That was really exciting to write, and I love this hero possibly more than any of my others (and that’s saying something :) )

What is the starting point for research—story concept or when you get stuck while writing?

It’s a bit of both. I’ll research as I’m mulling the story over, and then when I get stuck I go away and research some more. It’s easy to get sucked into the research side of things, so I try not to let it become a distraction. Having said that, I’ve had some of my best ideas for moving the story forward while researching.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

My stories are set in various locations, from France to Scotland, London, and the north of England. I’ve been to all the places I’ve written about. I think it is possible to write about somewhere you’ve never been to – the internet is a wonderful resource – but it would take a lot more effort and possibly not be as realistic.

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

I take a break from it. Sometimes as little as ten minutes away from staring at the screen. By the time I get back, I’ve worked out what to do next, and it seems obvious. Other times, it takes a lot longer. When I’m really stuck, I find it useful to discuss the story with someone else. Just talking about it can often help you see the solution. My husband is brilliant at seeing an answer, especially when it involves the development of a character. Talking things through with him will often fire me with new enthusiasm

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).

On a normal writing day I take my dog for a very long walk first, before sitting down to my computer. I get my emails, social media, etc, out of the way, then settle down to write as much as I can before my brain starts to freeze and the words start to dry up. I find it quite hard to write in the evening when I’m tired.

 

What’s your dream vacation destination?

Anywhere by the sea. I love Cornwall, and also the Welsh coast, and the Mediterranean for the sunshine.

Do you use visual aids (storyboards, Pinterest, collages) when plotting or writing?

I’ll find a photo of someone – usually someone famous, like a film star or musician, and I use it as the basis for my main characters – the hero especially. I’ll refer to the photo when I’m describing them. This helps me have an image in mind, and it keeps my descriptions consistent. There’s no changing the hero’s eyes from grey to brown half way through the story, for example. I’ve pinned some of the photos I’ve used for each story to my Pinterest board.

In what genre do you read?

I read a lot of contemporary romance in order to keep up with what’s happening in the genre. Besides that, I read pretty much anything, apart from horror and psychological thrillers, which I find too tense. I like detective novels and sci-fi, and I read a lot of literary classics. I’m just reading some Chekhov short stories. They’re really entertaining and a surprisingly easy read.

What resources do you use for picking character names?

It depends on the age of the character, what they do for a living, etc. If it’s a child, I might have a look at newspaper lists of most popular names, for example. Once I’ve decided on a name, then that’s it – I find it very difficult to change it. It would be like renaming one of my own children!

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

As I said above, I have a rescue dog. She’s a Staffie cross, and was abandoned as a puppy on the streets of Leeds (a large city near where I live). She was already called Lexi when we adopted her, and so we’ve kept the name. She’s a brilliant dog with us – very loving, playful, and affectionate – but she gets very stressed around strangers and other dogs. Living near the moors is ideal. We can walk in splendid solitude, which suits us both – Lexi so she can chase rabbits, and me so I can dream up my stories!

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I’d like them to find my stories a page-turning and entertaining read, to fall in love with my characters, and to come away feeling uplifted.

The Scottish Diamond 300 dpi

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What do you do when nothing is what it seems…even the man you love?
“Fair is foul, and foul is fair…”  When Lizzie Smith starts rehearsing Macbeth with her theatre group in Edinburgh, she’s convinced the witches’ spells are the cause of a run of terrible luck. Lizzie’s bodyguard boyfriend, Léon, is mysteriously turned down for every job he applies for, until he’s finally offered the job of guarding “The Scottish Diamond,” a fabulous jewel from the country of Montverrier.

But the diamond’s previous guard has disappeared in mysterious circumstances. The Scottish Diamond has a history of intrigue and bloody murder, and Lizzie is plagued by nightmares in which Macbeth’s witches are warning her of danger.
Then Lizzie discovers she’s being followed through the streets of Edinburgh, and it seems her worst fears are about to be realised…

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EXCERPT

I continued to frown up at him, troubled. He took my face in his hands and kissed me.

‘I know what it is,’ he said, his eyes twinkling. ‘It’s all your talk of witches and ghosts. Your Scottish superstitions are rubbing off on me and I’m seeing things in this gloomy weather that aren’t there at all.’

He swung me into his arms and kissed me again.

After that, Léon dismissed his vigilance as something brought on by the strangeness of his new city. And once he began his new job at the Castle, he didn’t mention being followed again, and in fact, all the tension he’d been showing disappeared, and he became almost his old self. He left the house with a sense of purpose that had been lacking in his previous aimless wanderings around Edinburgh. And the best thing was, he was beginning to understand more and more of our Scottish brogue every day.

I later discovered it wasn’t just our Scottish way of speaking he was mastering. A few days after he started work, I was in the kitchen preparing our evening meal, when I heard the front door close and Léon’s light tread in the hall. Usually he went straight upstairs to change, but this evening he came directly to the kitchen and put his head round the door. His eyes brimmed with amusement.

I stepped closer to give him a kiss, and he pushed the door wide. My mouth fell open. He was dressed in a kilt. The green tartan cloth was thrown over one broad shoulder in Highland fashion, and the pleated skirt revealed an inch or two of tanned, muscular leg above a pair of thick, cream-coloured socks.

‘Wow,’ I stuttered. ‘You look…’ I breathed out in a long whistle. ‘You look amazing.’

He smiled broadly, showing his white, even teeth in one of the first real smiles I’d seen him give since we left Europe.

‘This is my new uniform.’ He spread his arms a little, glancing down at himself. ‘Not a bad effort for a half-Italian, half-Montverrian. What do you think?’

‘Not bad at all.’ My face decided right then and there to turn a decided pink, and to hide the fact that I couldn’t keep my eyes off him, I threw my arms around his neck and planted a kiss below his ear.

His arms encircled me, and he murmured, ‘Ever made love to a man in a kilt?’

And after that, everything between us was perfect again. All my worries about Léon wanting to go home to Italy, and all his former tension vanished, and we were just as we had been during those idyllic two weeks we’d spent at his home on the Amalfi coast that summer.

But of course, perfect times can’t last forever. Everything changed when I realised it wasn’t Léon who was being followed. It was me.

Helena Fairfax photo

Helena Fairfax writes engaging contemporary romances with sympathetic heroines and heroes she’s secretly in love with. Her first novel, The Silk Romance, was a contender for the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme Award and a runner-up in the Global Ebook Awards. Helena Fairfax was shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize in 2014.
Helena is a British author who was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She’s grown used to the cold now, and these days she lives in an old Victorian mill town in the north of England, right next door to the windswept Yorkshire moors. She walks this romantic landscape every day with her rescue dog, finding it the perfect place to dream up her heroes and her happy endings.
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If you’d like to get in touch, or find out more about my books, writing, and photos of my settings or the Yorkshire moors where I live, please follow my newsletter by subscribing here: http://eepurl.com/bRQtsT

All new subscribers to my newsletter will receive a FREE copy of Palace of Deception – a romantic suspense novella

You can also visit me on my website at www.helenafairfax.com, or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HelenaFairfax/, or Twitter https://twitter.com/HelenaFairfax

Guest Interview—Nicole Fitton

Tell us a bit about you and your background

Hi Linda, thank you so much for making me so welcome and hosting me on your blog today. I live in a truly beautiful part of the UK – Devon. I grew up in London and have lived in New York. Devon is as far away from those 2 cities as you can get, all green fields, farms and beaches. We often times would dream about living here when on holiday with our 3 boys. We were fortunate enough to make it happen so here we are! My career has seen most of my time spent within PR and marketing in the music industry, although over the last decade or so I’ve been working within healthcare. A real mixed bag which has afforded me some amazing experiences and great ideas for writing!

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

Contemporary romantic suspense. Chicklit with a twist is how it has also been described.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I have an 18-month-old Springer Spaniel called Poppy who I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time training!  When not running through fields full pelt chasing her, I like to crochet and bake (not at the same time although that could be interesting). Oh and reading, of course. I try to read at least one book a week, sometimes it happens other times not!

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

The simple answer is both. For me it seems to be that wherever the catalyst for the story starts that’s how it then develops. With my debut novel All Tomorrow’s Parties, I had a strong powerful image of the lead main character Laine Marshall first, the plot then evolved from her. However with my current WIP, it’s the other way around. I had a light bulb moment where the plot unfolded to me, the characters are developing through the storyline as we speak. For me this works well as it’s the inspiration that keeps me passionate about my writing.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

Most definitely freestyle. Most days I feel as if I’m a time thief. I’m constantly grabbing 10 minutes here, stealing an hour there. I often travel with my job so I’m becoming quite skilled at blocking out the noise of the train station or airport lounge and quietly sitting and writing a few pages (I carry a notebook everywhere these days).Interestingly in my day job, I have to be incredibly well organized and plan out everything emmm… maybe that’s why my writing is so freestyle….

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

Yes I have. All Tomorrow’s Parties is set in London and Venice, places I’m fortunate to know well. I would urge anyone who has never been to Venice (or Italy in general for that matter) to go, it really is magical. My second novel (planned for release in May) has three main locations – the West Country of England (about 100 miles away from where I live), a small town called Monflanquin in France where I spent last summer and New York where I once lived. I like to draw on locations I know. I use them as stages in which to place the characters. It really helps me to visualize the characters sitting in a café or catching the subway. Hopefully it drives the descriptive side of my writing.

AllTomorrow'sParties

TAGLINE

Can you really have a happy ever after?

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Set in the music industry of 1980’s London, All Tomorrows Parties is a journey through life and love. Laine Marshall isn’t a product of the 1980’s she is the epitome of it. 18 years of age and working for one of the hippest labels around Vestal records. She takes the day to day hedonism of working for Vestal in her stride and experiences every emotion under the sun except the one she craves the most – love.
She has a DJ boyfriend Danny she ‘likes’ and a music editor lover Tony ‘she could love’, but no smack bang between the eyes kind of love. That is until a chance encounter in Italy sets her pulse racing and her heart in pieces. With her life turned upside down, she tries to navigate towards love with tragic consequences. Someone is trying to derail her happiness but who and why? Can her heart be broken and rebuilt?
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EXCERPT

“Let’s find a café somewhere, grab some lunch and plan our day, agreed?” said Andy as they finally stood on the quayside.

They made their way to Café Pietro just off St Mark’s Square. After a quick lunch and glass of wine, they all decided to go their separate ways and explore elements of the city that appealed. They agreed to meet back at the quayside to catch the vaporetti at 6pm.

Andy, Pete, Mary and Ella went straight to St Mark’s Basilica whilst John whispered to Laine he had a surprise to show her and they headed off towards the waterfront. “You’re being quite secretive John, what’s this about?” asked Laine.

“Ah you’ll see”, he said, grabbing her hand and moving towards a small ferry.

The boat took them to the small island of San Lozarro degli Armeni. The island was home to the order of Mekhitarist Monks, originally from Armenia. John explained that the island had been a place of love for the poet Byron. He knew from their conversations that Byron held a special place in Laine’s life. It was also fortuitous that San Lozarro deli Armeni was also home to some of the world’s rarest roses – a favourite for them both. Walking along the beach that first night, they had both been surprised by the other’s love of roses. It had sparked a debate on the origins of the rose and a discussion around why both the UK and the US had adopted it as their national flower. It had been the first of many coincidences.

As they approached the island they were struck by its beauty. The monastery tower framed picture perfect against the powder blue sky, the jade blue sea contrasting against the backdrop of the soft coral stonework of the island. The island itself seemed to be perfectly square with the monastery centrally placed.

Laine had heard of the island when she had read about Byron’s life and his love of Armenian culture but had never expected she would be able to visit it. “This is amazing John – how did you know about this place?” she said, taking hold of his hand. “One of the guys at the base mentioned it a while back, it’s not that well-known, but really worth the trip. When you mentioned you loved Byron, well, it all kinda fitted together”, he said, squeezing her hand just a little.

They walked hand in hand through the cloisters of San Lorrazo del Armeni. The air was heavy with hints of musk and tea rose. Their olfactory senses at first overwhelmed as the subtle changes in scent presented itself, ebbing and flowing like the tide. The roses in the gardens were nurtured like much loved children, now resplendent in a wild spectrum of colours. A monk knelt, a trug by his side. His secateurs delicately dead heading the myriad of rose bushes. He turned and nodded as they passed.

These roses had seen lovers come and go. The memory of their scent imprinted, able to trigger emotions of either love or sorrow. Petals fell as the breeze drifted through and scattered them onto the cobbled path. A carpet of resplendent blooms in multiple colours lay ahead of them. They walked slowly along the path; petals appeared to drop from the sky as if heralding their arrival. Instinctively, Laine took off her sandals. A mix of smooth velvety gloss and heat from the cobbles tickled the soles of her feet. John smiled. The more time he spent with Laine the more he realised how similar they were –both cherished simple beauty where they found it.

NFitton

Nicole Fitton is a freelance writer who lives in Devon with her children, husband, 10 old hens, 1 very old rabbit, an even older cat and a very young springy springer. Her career to date has spanned 3 decades working in PR and marketing within Europe and the USA. She currently works within healthcare management in the UK. When not ‘doing the day job’ and apart from writing, she enjoys field trialing her spaniel (who is very trialing!), playing golf (badly) and drinking copious amounts of coffee. She likes all things shiny and really really likes fast cars.

She is a member of the group Authors Helping Authors. Her second novel is due for release in 2016.

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