Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Chat with William Graham

1.When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

One of my clearest memories of childhood is teaching myself to type when I was around seven, using my mother’s manual Royal typewriter.

  1. How long have you been writing?

Ever since!  I had some luck in the early 1980’s, tried to make things progress.  I got very very close selling a television series I created, and when that didn’t work out I stopped writing for years.  I’ve been back at it since 2001 or so.

  1. What drew you to the subject of SOMETIMES THERE REALLY ARE MONSTERS UNDER THE BED?

Since 2002, I have been the owner and lead investigator for a licensed firm specializing in computer forensics, and have had the opportunity to work with both State and Federal law enforcement. 

  1. Did you encounter any obstacles in researching it?

Sadly, no, I did not.  While a lot of the technical things in the story are glossed over for the sake of brevity, MONSTERS is solidly based on professional fact and experience.

  1. What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it?

(laughing)  If memory serves, it was titled THE CASTLE EXECUTIONER, about a haunted castle.  I think I was 13 or so and no, I never tried to get it published.  Around that age, I DID try and sell a short story to “Playboy”; they published John D. MacDonald, they published Ed McBain, they published Ian Fleming…. I really DID read it for the articles!  In retrospect, all I can say is something about the exuberance and confidence of Youth…J

  1. How many rejections have you received?

I’m not certain, I don’t believe today’s computers are capable of producing that number…J

  1. What was the best writing advice someone gave you?

Keep it your story.  Always remember, this is YOUR story.

  1. What was the worst? Did you know it at the time?

A producer in Hollywood told me once he was going to try and make this happen without screwing me too badly.  If it worked out, terrific, if not, well, God bless and maybe next time.

  1. Why did you pick the publisher that ultimately published your book?

I surrendered gracefully and embraced the eBook revolution.  International Thriller Writers accepted my story SPIDER’S TANGO for inclusion in the newest THRILLER 3, due next summer, and that re-ignited the flame for some earlier efforts.

  1. If you could ask your readers one question, what would it be?

What did you NOT like?  No one is without flaws, and I’m always curious as to what a reader DIDN’T like about my works.  Maybe I can avoid it next time, maybe not, but I am curious.

  1. Tell me one thing about yourself that very few people know?

I collect DVD versions of 1960’s British detective series; THE SAINT, THE BARON, THE PROTECTORS, etc.  Back when a hero was a hero, and that was that.

  1. If you have a day job, what is it?

As mentioned above, I am a licensed computer forensic investigator.  Most of the time, I enjoy my work, but I have learned the hard way the truth of the adage, “Once you see something, you can’t UN-see it.”

  1. Describe your book.

I have two currently available; the aforementioned MONSTERS, and a police thriller titled STREET HEAT, very much in the ‘Lethal Weapon’ style of police work.

  1. What’s your writing schedule?

Depending on workload, I seem to be at my best first thing in the morning.  I’ll just let the keyboard do what it does, then go back and clean things up in the afternoon.

  1. What’s your favorite quote?

Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible.

T. E. Lawrence
(Lawrence of Arabia)

  1. What three things would you want with you on a desert island?

The Complete Sherlock Holmes in book form, the James Bond movie series on DVD, and my iPod with an assortment of music.

  1. What is your favorite word?


  1. What place that you haven’t visited would you like to go?

London.  That city has always had a siren’s call to me for no reason I can explain.

  1. What’s your favorite thing about your book?

One of the best compliments I’ve ever received was from a reader who read MONSTERS, and said I’d handled ‘a terrifying subject with restraint and grace’.  That one I value.

  1. What do you do when you are not writing?

I read.  Obsessively.  Compulsively.  When I gave in and got an iPad, it stuns me to carry an entire library around.

  1. Who is your greatest cheerleader?

If I have to pick one, it would be my lovely wife.  I’m lucky enough to have a circle of friends who are also writers, and we back each other up all the time.

  1. What would you like to learn to do that you haven’t?

I’d love to be competent with wood-working.  My father did it as a hobby, and he was remarkable with what he could build.  Give me a picture, a nail, and a hammer, and someone needs to be around to dial 9-1-1.

  1. What was your favorite scene to write?

The last line of actual dialogue in MONSTERS is something I’m proud of.  I don’t mean to tease but, taken in the context of the story, all I can hope for is the reader has the same reaction to it I did.

Author Bio:

William Simon publishes under the pseudonym ‘Will Graham’.  His two novels, STREET HEAT and SOMETIMES, THERE REALLY ARE MONSTERS UNDER THE BED are available for both Kindle and Nook.  His website is:

Book Blurb:

STREET HEAT:  A former detective in San Francisco confronts the serial killer who got away.... and the woman who broke his heart.  (Kindle, Nook)

MONSTERS:  An investigator and his heiress partner find not all monsters are make believe on that most special of days, Christmas Morning.  (Kindle, Nook)

Monday, July 25, 2011

ExcerpTuesday: Larriane Wills

“Anytime the subject of Indians comes up they talk about Jim, at least in Ester. Jim was a white boy captive taken back from the Indians. He couldn’t adjust to white ways. Ask me, knowing them Hoody boys, they wouldn’t let him, but the up-shoot of it is, he tore into them one day and nearly killed them before he could be pulled off.”
“How come?”
Poppin shrugged. “Maybe he didn’t have Sam’s sense of humor. I don’t know and half of what they said, I don’t believe. The point I’m making is, the boy was white, born white anyway. He was taught to live like the Indians, and no way around it, the Indian way is savage. So Jim was savage. A white savage, if ya will.”
“How long would it take to turn a child?” Queens wondered aloud.
“Who knows, but it sure takes longer to unlearn than it takes to learn. That was ten years or so ago, and it don’t sound like he has yet.”
“Raping,” he said, shaking his head.
“An Indian takes what he wants.”
“Don’t ever set that dog on me or I will kill him,” he warned coldly.
“A man like you would never know or understand fear.  You have to live it to know how desperate a person can be to never be alone.”
Even if it was someone she despised as much as she did her husband or feared as much as she did him, he thought. He said, “Having someone with you won’t make it go away. You just need someone to make you feel safe long enough to know you don’t have anything to fear.”
“Who? Henry? The man who left me with a total stranger for money?” she asked with a sardonic smile and scoffed. “A man who’d just as soon be rid of me? No, no one can, not even a man like you who’s never known a day of fear in his life.”
Clay watched her silently as she put the dog out of his way in the pantry and closed herself away behind the bedroom door with defeat and resignation in her manner.  She was wrong, of course.  He did know what her kind of fear was like.  If he could stay longer than the time it would take her husband to return, he might even be able to help her learn how to control, if not conquer, the fear.  But he couldn’t stay longer than he’d given his word he would.  He shouldn’t even be here.  He shouldn’t have stopped.  Every minute made the fear he fought to control claw stronger in his guts, just knowing they were near. Telling himself there was little chance they’d ever know he was anywhere in the area didn’t do any good.  He shouldn’t have let his first look at the blonde-haired, green-eyed beauty influence him into staying, no matter how afraid he thought she was.
Larion Wills, a multi-genre author, also writes under the name of Larriane Wills. From science fiction to western romances she holds up to her tag of ‘two names, one author, thousands of stories.’
 Born in Oklahoma, but raised in Arizona she feels a native to the state and has settled in the high desert country. In a quiet, rural area with a family who tolerates her writer’s single-mindedness, she presents us with a series of unique westerns while still producing contemporary romances, many laced with paranormal settings, all with strong characterizations and suspenseful plots, capable of dragging you into a story in a genre you thought before you didn’t care for. At her website, , you can keep abreast of releases under both pen names, keep up with new releases through various publishers, and she invites you to contact her at

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chat with Lauren Carr

1.When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Always. I believe writers are born writers. It’s what we are. If you’re a writer, you’re going to be writing in your head the way a singing sings in the shower, even if you end up flipping burgers to pay the rent.

If you’re a mystery writer, you’ll be drinking coffee at McDonald’s with your son while listening to the couple in the next booth arguing about her blowing the grocery budget. By the time they leave, you’ll have a whole storyline in your head about her finding him dead in their bed and calling your detective to prove her innocence.

2.      What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it?

Thirty years ago, I wrote Murder Among the Stars on an electric typewriter. It was about a series of murders among movie stars in Hollywood. At that time, I had never been west of the Mississippi River and all I knew about Hollywood was what I saw on Entertainment Tonight.

Determined to be a novelist, I devoted all of my spare time to banging away on my IBM Selectra. The television was off. Meals consisted of peanut butter sandwiches that were quick and easy to make. Hours that I used to sunbathe for a golden tan were spent composing my masterpiece. I stopped going out with my friends. Not a minute that could be devoted to literary creation was wasted. At the end of the summer, I proudly emerged from my bachelorette apartment pale, thin, and socially bankrupt.

In three months, I had written the Great American Catastrophe, all 846 pages of it in hardcopy. This was back before Internet and I had no idea where to send it to get it published. I think when I did find someone in New York willing to read it, the cost of making photocopies prohibited my sending it. But that was okay because I was already working on my next book. Murder Among the Stars is now buried in my mother’s basement.

  1. What do you know now that you are published that you didn’t know pre-published that you wish you knew?

Publishing is a business of selling books to the public. While writing your book, you’re an artist – a writer. But after typing out, “The End”, when you start looking to publish your book, you become a business person.

At this point, you need to readjust your thinking, even if you go the traditional route of publishing. Think like a business person when making decisions about selling your product, which is your book.

Is your book ready to go up against the competition? Where is the best place to put your marketing dollars? Will you sell enough books and get enough exposure at that conference to be worth the travel expense? Answer these questions with the hard-hearted honesty of a business person, not the emotion of an artist who believes her baby just as good and, therefore, worthy of the same marketing budget as Dan Brown’s latest.

If I had put all this together three books ago, I would have saved myself a lot of money and frustration.

  1. Why did you pick the publisher that ultimately published your book?

After A Reunion to Die For, the second in the Joshua Thornton Mysteries, came out with Five Star Mystery in hard back, I knew that my next book had to come out in paperback. It’s very hard to sell a $26 book when you’re an unknown.

By the time I found a traditional publisher who could publish It’s Murder, My Son in trade paperback, I was already looking at CreateSpace, which is an Amazon company. Since I had self-published my first book, A Small Case of Murder, with iUniverse, I had the experience of both self-publishing and traditional publishing. So I was able to compare my publishing experiences when making my decision.

CreateSpace ended up being the best choice for me because I have all the experience and resources to do it on my own. I was so pleased with them when I published It’s Murder, My Son, that I went back when I released Old Loves Die Hard, the second installment in the Mac Faraday Mysteries. I also used CreateSpace for the re-release of A Small Case of Murder and A Reunion to Die For.

Since I didn’t tie up my rights with a traditional publisher, I released the Kindle versions of all of my books with DTP Kindle on the same day that the print versions were available.

  1. Describe your book.

It’s Murder, My Son opens with the worst day of homicide detective Mac Faraday’s life. After a messy divorce hearing, the last person that Mac wanted to see is another lawyer. Yet, this lawyer looked very unlawyer-like, wearing the expression of a child about to reveal a guarded secret. This secret would reveal Mac as heir to undreamed of fortunes and lead him to Spencer, Maryland, the home of his late birth mother, who happened to be America’s Queen of Mystery, and a new life that unfolds like one of her famous mystery novels.

In It’s Murder, My Son, Mac jumps into investigating the murder of his neighbor, Katrina Singleton, who was found strangled in her lake house. All evidence points to a stalker, who is now nowhere to be found. With the help of Mac’s late mother’s journal and two newfound companions, this recently retired cop puts all his detective skills to work to pick up where the local police have left off to follow the clues to Katrina’s killer. 

Old Loves Die Hard continues Mac’s rags-to-riches story with the return of his ex-wife, Christine. Before Mac can send her packing, Christine and her estranged lover are murdered in Mac’s private penthouse suite at the Spencer Inn, the five-star resort built by his ancestors. The investigation leads to the discovery of case files for some of Mac’s murder cases in the room of the man responsible for destroying his marriage. Why would his ex-wife’s lover come to Spencer to dig into Mac’s old cases?

The Mac Faraday Mysteries are set on Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, where my family vacations. The resort area struck me as the perfect location for a detective. The area has everything I love to find in a mystery. From a diversity of characters to locations either up on the mountain or down on the lake. Deep Creek Lake has it all.

6.      What’s your favorite thing about your book?
I enjoy the characters and the chemistry they have with each other. They’re the type of people that I would like to spend an evening with.

  1. What is the one thing your hero would do that you wouldn’t?

That’s the beauty of being a writer, isn’t it? Your characters get to say and do things that you could never get away with. Since Mac is in the prestigious position of being the only heir to Robin Spencer, whose ancestors had found Spencer, Maryland, plus he inherits a five-star resort. He’s the man. So he gets away with saying what he thinks, which still gets him into trouble.

  1. What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Making the mystery. I write complex mysteries with a lot of twists and turns. I have as much fun weaving together the mystery as the readers have solving it.

  1. Who is your favorite character in your book?

Gnarly. I based Gnarly on Ziggy, my Australian shepherd.

Gnarly is another part of Mac’s inheritance. He’s a German shepherd who’s very bad, but very loveable. He’s the only dog to be dishonorably discharged from the United States Army. No one knows why. They refuse to talk about it.

  1. Where do you write?

My husband spent a whole summer building a writer’s studio on the top floor of our house. It’s got a gorgeous view of the mountains, which I don’t spend much time contemplating because I usually have my snout in my laptop, but Ziggy tells me that it’s quite spectacular.


Lauren Carr fell in love with mysteries when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime. The first installment in the Joshua Thornton mysteries, A Small Case of Murder was named finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award. Both A Small Case of Murder, and the second Joshua Thornton mystery, A Reunion to Die For, are in re-release.

It’s Murder, My Son has received only rave reviews from both reviewers and readers. The Mac Faraday Mysteries take place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, where Lauren and her family vacation. Old Loves Die Hard, released in April, is available in print and e-book.

Book Blurb:

In Old Loves Die Hard, Lauren Carr continues the rags-to-riches adventures of Mac Faraday, an underpaid homicide detective who inherits two-hundred-and-seventy million dollars and an estate on Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, from his birth mother on the day his divorce becomes final.

Mac Faraday is settling nicely into his new life at Spencer Manor when his ex-wife Christine shows up—and she wants him back. Before Mac can send her packing, Christine and her estranged lover are murdered in Mac’s private penthouse suite at the Spencer Inn, the five-star resort built by his ancestors.

Monday, July 18, 2011

LBF Books Week: Alexis D. Craig

  1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? It was never any kind of conscious decision on my part. I just wrote down things that came to my mind and told stories to my friends. I’ve been doing it since I was very young, so it has always been a natural thing for me to tell stories to other people.
  2. Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants? I do a combination of both. I have a large outline of overall plotpoints I’d like to hit and then it’s an adventure getting to them.
  3. What drew you to the subject of Imminent Danger? The job I have, as a police dispatcher is a strange and ever-changing one. We have the unique roll of helping both the public and the police officers, and do so in an environment rife with its own politics and intrigue. I’d been trying to write something about the job since I’d been hired, and this was my first successfully completed piece. Think Dangerous Liasons, with guns.
  4. Did you encounter any obstacles in researching it? No. The wonderful thing about my job is the close relationship I’ve developed with the officers on my district. Several of them were more than happy to answer any and all questions about police work. There is a scene, toward the middle of the book, that was the product of a conversation between me and three of my officer friends in the middle of shift. They were happy to help, even if the question was completely off the wall and apropos of nothing. Friends will help you move, good friends will help you plot your novel.
  5. What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Dark Flowers and Forever. Did you try to publish it? Good Lord, no. It was a 450 page Tolstoyan epic about vampires, demons, and the angst of a 14-year-old girl. It was written in the early 90’s, when I was, in fact, a 14-year-old girl, so the subject matter was very current for me. I’ve read it again, and while it has promise, the market is so full of vampire novels right now; I don’t think it would contribute meaningfully to the genre. I was ahead of the curve.
  6. How many rejections have you received? Nine. Each one sucked, but you just have to press on and keep working and submitting. It teaches you to believe in yourself and to persevere. I was very grateful that Sinful Moments Press finally gave me a nod.
  7. Tell me one thing about yourself that very few people know? I am 34 years old, and I have never made my bed.
  8. If you have a day job, what is it? I’m a police dispatcher. I provide support to the officers on the street by completing their requests, researching their suspects, and contacting other agencies when the need arises.
  9. Describe your book. My book is romance novel that doesn’t shy away from the grit of life. It’s a love story to my day job as it is between the hero and heroine. Love finds both of them when neither was particularly looking, and love has strange allies. In all, it’s a love story with the daily violence that pervades the life of a cop and his radio dispatcher.
  10. What’s your favorite food? It goes through phases. Right now I’m kind of addicted to Caprese salad with basil, mozzarella, and tomatoes.

Author Bio:

Alexis lives in Indianapolis in the family home with her mother, stepfather, husband, three dogs and three cats. It’s a full house inside and out, with the varying wildlife that comes to visit. She has a ton of godchildren and two sisters.

She works in the communications division for a local law enforcement agency, and spends her free time reading and writing romance novels, feeding her closet addiction to ‘Masterpiece Classic’, and investigating reports of local haunted houses.

Book Blurb:

Dani had sworn off dating cops. Then during a bad week where she banged up her knee and almost got mugged, the officer on scene was one of the sexiest men she had ever laid eyes on.

Jacen’s nice, relatively low key existence left him unprepared to deal with the chaos that limped into his life. Instantly attracted, he tried, but couldn’t resist her great rack, a great right hook, and a great sense of humor.

Through their jobs, they share a life that was like two sides of the same coin. With work and circumstance repeatedly throwing them together, she has a hard time keeping her distance. As she begins to fall for him, things are complicated by a terrifying stalker, and Dani finds out quickly that her heart and sanity aren’t the only things in imminent danger.

LBF Books Week: David Lee Summers

From the journals of Dr. Jane Heckman:

Toward a Theory of Vampirism

I have been a vampire for just over a month now and I'm still sorting out what exactly it means to "be a vampire." I am not aware of any formal, scientific study of vampires. It would appear that we are rare creatures. Classical studies such as Montague Summers'The Vampire, His Kith and Kin and The Vampire in Europe do little more than survey vampire literature and relate second and third-hand accounts of vampire encounters. More recent studies do little more.
My own field is ballistic and explosive physics, not anthropology, biology or any other field of study that might be more relevant to the study of vampires, which are also known by such names as nosferatu, revenant, vrykolakas and so forth depending on the region of the vampire's origin. This journal will endeavor to be a first-hand account of my observations. However, since the study of creatures such as vampires is outside my discipline, these notes may lack completeness.
I was born a human but became a vampire through a process of being attacked by a vampire that drank my blood. I, in turn, drank the blood of the attacking vampire. My attacker claims to be a 550-year-old vampire who calls himself Rudolfo.

* * *

"For the record, my name is Rudolfo Jésus Juan Ramírez de Córdoba." Rudolfo's voice caused me to jump involuntarily.
"How long have you been looking over my shoulder?" I asked huffily laying my pen down.
"Only a few minutes. I saw the title and thought I'd do what I could to clear up any misconceptions you may give your poor readers about me or about vampires in general." Rudolfo shrugged nonchalantly.
I took a deep breath then let it out slowly. "I'd rather you not stare over my shoulder."
Rudolfo grinned. "What do I have better to do than watch a beautiful woman work? Besides, it's interesting."
I waved my hands at the older vampire. "You could go watch television or something. There's lots of women to watch there."
"I hate television," said Rudolfo, wrinkling his nose. "The stories jump all around. Just as they get interesting, some shill comes on to sell me something I don't need. It's very annoying."
"All right, all right," I relented. "Get a chair or something, just don't stand there. It makes me nervous." I paused for a moment then looked at Rudolfo again, my brow furrowed. "Are you really a vampire named Jésus?"
"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet," he said, eyes twinkling as he pulled up a chair.

* * *

As a vampire, I find my outward appearance is very nearly the same as it was when I was human. At the time I became a vampire, I was a woman of 42. Admittedly, some of the changes I record are qualitative: My skin has become smoother and more taut, yet somewhat more pale, taking on something of an alabaster quality. My eye color seems more vivid. My lips seem fuller and a brighter shade of red.
My senses also seem to be improved. I can hear fainter sounds and see more distant objects. Looking up at the night sky, I am able to distinguish the rings of Saturn, something well beyond normal human ability. I should emphasize that my vision does not seem to magnify objects. I simply seem to have improved resolution, as though there are more rods and cones in my eyes. Perhaps an eye test with a qualified optometrist would be in order.
I appear to have acquired the ability to sense the thoughts of others and to project my own thoughts into the minds of others. Though various studies have been made, I know of no study that has definitively demonstrated the existence of telepathy in humans. I also know of no satisfactory hypothesis describing a mechanism for telepathy. Perhaps further study of this ability with vampires would yield better results than it has with humans.
I have become stronger. It is much easier for me to load my crossbow than before I became a vampire. I can now easily subdue and feed upon human males that I estimate to be two and a half times my weight. Because I was neither a violent person nor the subject of an attack prior to becoming a vampire, I do not know what I was capable of as a human. However, I strongly suspect I was not capable of such a feat of physical prowess.
More quantitatively: My canine teeth now extend approximately 0.125 inches below the neighboring teeth. In spite of what is shown in many vampire movies, my canine teeth do not retract, they are fixed much like those of a dog.

* * *

"What an unflattering comparison," muttered Rudolfo.
Turning around, I scowled at him. "What do you mean? Dogs have long canine teeth. It's a reasonable comparison."
"So do cats," he said, grinning wistfully, displaying his own fangs. "And I would say you have feline grace and charm."
"If you don't stop interrupting, you'll see what a bitch I can be," I growled.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Stars of Romantic Suspense: Vincent Zandri

I got myself in a jam. I asked someone to post for this week and then didn't get their e-mail address. I couldn't find them on Facebook or Twitter. I reached out to Vincent at the last minute and even though he was at Thrillerfest he came through for me.
That's class.

Now Google This: Vincent Zandri, Romantic Suspense Writer

By Vincent Zandri

Vincent Zandri, romantic suspense writer…

If anyone called me that just a year ago I might have knocked their block off, or at the very least pressed them to “take another sip.”


I’ve always thought of myself as a tough guy. An apple that fell off the Robert B. Parker or even the Norman Mailer tree, and didn’t roll very far. I write books like THE INNOCENT, a psychological thriller about a prison warden accused of killing his own escaped cop-killing convict. Or MOONLIGHT FALLS about flawed P.I. and suicide survivor, Dick Moonlight who must live with a little piece of .22 caliber bullet lodged inside his brain—a man who could die at any moment should the bullet frag shift.


Even though my books are big E-Book bestsellers (THE INNOCENT sold 100,000 copies in just six weeks this past Spring), I’m not necessarily known for sentimental stuff. I write hard-boiled thrillers propelled by pile-driving plotting with tough characters who say what they mean and mean what they say and are willing to back it up with their actions, fists and automatics.


But then there’s THE REMAINS.


A novel that began in the wake of my second divorce a few years ago. I’m not sure where or how I got the idea for the novel, but somehow (and this might very well have come from a dream) I became obsessed with the notion of how one person views a piece of abstract modern art very differently from the next person. Taken a step further, what if a woman begins to see words and messages inside a piece of art that other people couldn’t see? That is, unless the words were actually pointed out to them?


And what if this person has an identical twin sister and what if the two sisters were abducted back in the late seventies and held against their will inside the basement of a house in the woods behind their parent’s farm? What if the two kept the abduction a secret from their parents for fear that the man who did it, Joseph William Whalen, would somehow kill them?


All these ideas and more kept going through my head, not the least of which was using a woman, Rebecca Underhill, who is an artist and art teacher, as the narrator for my novel. To make matters more difficult, I wanted Rebecca’s twin sister Molly to be deceased as the novel opens, and for the two to still be able to communicate almost telepathically.


To make an already difficult novel even harder, I wanted the hero of the novel to be an autistic savant. Francis Scaramuzzi is a brilliant painter who, because of his emotional disability, can only communicate with Rebecca through his paintings. So when the man who abducted she and her sister all those years ago is finally released from prison after thirty years and has his mind made up to go after Rebecca to finish off the job he started and failed at, it becomes Francis who must take on the awesome responsibility of warning her through his paintings.


You still with me here?


I know what you’re asking: Now that we know about the suspense in THE REMAINS, where dies the romance come in?

  Gina Occhiogrosso

Rebecca is divorced from her husband Michael, a writer. But the two still spend almost all their time together. In fact, Michael can only write if he’s writing inside Rebecca’s apartment. As the novel opens, the two team up to try and find out if Whalen is in fact about to go after her. In doing so, the two realize a love for one another that, despite their divorce, will never die.


Sentimental? Maybe.


Taken from my own experience with my ex-wife, Laura?


Most definitely.


Which is probably why the novel works so well. In many ways, I not only created the story of THE REMAINS, but I lived inside it.


But judge it for yourself.  This novel should make you sit on the edge of your seat. But it should make you cheer and laugh and cry. You may even feel the need to close your eyes for a brief moment or two. But don’t close them for too long, you’ll want to see what happens next, and why Rebecca and Michael can’t help but love one another forever.



Monday, July 11, 2011

Stars of Romantic Suspense: Lori Foster

I've been friends with Lori Foster on Facebook for awhile now. She was very gracious when I reached out to her for this blog. Then I bought some of her books and became a fan.

Lori Foster is a Waldenbooks, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly and New York Times bestselling author. She has received Romantic Times’ “Career Achievement Award” for Series Romantic Fantasy and for Contemporary Romance; Amazon’s top-selling romance title for  Too Much Temptation; the BGI group’s “Bestselling Original Contemporary” romance for the The Secret Life of Bryan & “Bestselling Romantic Comedy” for Jude’s Law; and Amazon’s #1 Editors’ Pick in Romance for Servant: The Acceptance., written as L.L. Foster.

She’s been featured as a clue in the New York Times crossword puzzle, and the USA Today “Quick Cross” puzzle.

Visit Lori at:

  1. How did you pick the genre you write in?

I didn’t really pick romance – it picked me. I’d never been much of a reader. Most of the books I’d been “forced” to read seemed depressing in one way or another. They often ended with that realistic but unsatisfying idea that life is unfair and sometimes cruel. Not my idea of entertainment! Then my sister introduced me to romance novels. I was instantly hooked! For awhile, I devoured those books, figuring out my favorite authors (who remain favorites!) and enjoying the whole discovery of books that truly entertained. Of course, it didn’t take me long to want to try my own hand at writing... and once I started, I couldn’t stop. It took me awhile – over 5 years and 10 complete novels – before I sold. But I taught myself to write by doing it, and since then, there’s been no going back!

  1. Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I’m a total panster. I get an idea of two characters, usually within a specific scene, and everything branches out from that. I “see” them in that scene, how they talk, their attitudes, almost like I’m watching a movie. Before I start writing, I know enough to have their romantic conflict and some of their external plot conflict figured out. Then I start writing, and figure out the rest as I go along.

Sometimes secondary characters come out of nowhere – like Joe Winston in the Winston Brothers and Visitation series – and sometimes I know they’ll be there before I start writing – like Sawyer, Morgan, Gabe and Jordan – in the Buckhorn Brother’s series. Sometimes the secondary characters demand their own stories – as the above characters did – and sometimes they...don’t. If the story for a character isn’t clamoring in my head, I can’t just make it up. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works for me.

I hate to disappoint readers who’ve requested particular books, but I know if I try to twist the muse and force a story, it just doesn’t work.

Also, there are times when I DO have a story for a character, but other issues have factored in. For instance, I would love to one day write stories for the kids (after they’ve grown up, of course) in the Visitation series. But I wrote the Visitation books for Kensington, and then went to Berkley, and now I’m at HQN. It’s complicated when you carry characters from one publishing house to another, and I have fresh stories in my head, so for now, I’m happy to be writing those. Maybe one day fate will lend a hand and I’ll get back to Visitation. Who knows!

  1. What drew you to the subject of human trafficking, in your “Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor” series?

Actually, I watched the movie, “Taken” by Liam Neeson. Loved the movie, and I always enjoy Liam. For those unfamiliar with the plot, his daughter is taken by traffickers and Liam moves heaven and earth to find and rescue her. But along the way, he sees many other young ladies caught in the web of trafficking. Some handcuffed to beds, most horribly drugged... and he passes them by in his desperate quest to locate his daughter.

While I understood that for the movie, he couldn’t pause to rescue everyone because that would have alerted the traffickers to his pursuit, it broke my heart.

So the old muse started ticking and very soon I had an idea in mind for the first book. But I also started researching human trafficking, and that sparked the rest of the series.

The movie “Taken” sort of sensationalizes the problem, but the truth is that it’s a widespread tragedy affecting many communities, rampant in the US (along with forced labor) and it crosses all boundaries of education, wealth, citizenship, age, and influence. I found many articles that labeled Ohio, my state, as a “hotbed of human trafficking.” It’s a heartbreaking crime that affects everyone. Making it a backdrop in a series really appealed to me. Who could be more heroic than men who tackle that crime on a very personal basis?

  1. What place that you haven’t visited would you like to go?

Hawaii! I know, it’s right THERE, and I could go... but I’m an animal lover. We have a lot of pets and until it becomes easy to fly with them, I don’t see me going anywhere for any length of time where I can’t take them along. We bought an RV just so we could travel easily with the animals. We’ve found that we actually love RVing, but initially, it was “pet transportation.” We would use it to get from point A to point B, and then rent a pet-friendly hotel room. Insane, right?

Then once, we went to Georgia and were going to stay at a cabin in the woods with a hot tub and great scenery... But we got to the cabin it was totally unlike the advertisements. Spiders everywhere – egads, I am NOT a bug person! – and it smelled of mildew... We got a refund, found an RV park, and fell in love with the “home on wheels.” J Now there are some local places that I like to visit in the RV. Hubby parks me next to a lake, and I get all kinds of writing done!

Maybe someday I’ll make it to Hawaii, but in the meantime, I’m happy exploring places I can drive to.

  1. What do you do when you are not writing?

I’m a HUGE movie buff. Love to go sit in a theater and chow down on popcorn and slurp up a cola. I rarely do popcorn or cola under other circumstances. We probably see two movies a week, more if there’s a variety that I want to see. About the only time I’m not plotting on some level in my brain is while watching an engaging movie. But I keep my notepad nearby (always!) just in case an idea does spark.

My favorite genre is horror. A mediocre horror flick entertains me more than an award winning chick flick, romance, or drama. ;-) Next I love action, and then sci-fi. That said, I have enjoyed a few drams and chick flicks, but I usually get dragged to them kicking and fussing.

My favorite movies are: History of Violence, The Perfect Get Away, Kill Bill 1 & 2, The Bourne trilogy, Aliens, Predators, Resident Evil, Texas Chainsaw movies... probably a lot more, but I can’t think of them now. We see so many that I sometimes lose track.

I recently really enjoyed Paul, and The Lincoln Lawyer, and Limitless. J

I interact regularly with readers on Facebook: and on Twitter:

I love to hear from readers. My email address is on my website. I answer all my reader emails, but snail mail takes me a little longer to get to.

For free bookmarks and other goodies, send a self-addressed, business-size envelope to me at:

Lori Foster

P. O. Box 854

Ross OH 45061

Thank you everyone!

The tougher they are, the harder they fall…

Dare Macintosh believes that business should never be personal.  But then Molly Alexander asks him to help track down the men who’d had her kidnapped—and Dare’s tempted to combine work with pleasure.

Molly vows to trust no one until she’s uncovered the truth. Could the enemy be her powerful, estranged father?  The ex-fiancé who still holds a grudge?  Or the not-so-shy fan of her bestselling novels?  As the danger heats up around them, what Molly feels for Dare just might be the most frightening thing of all…

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Stars of Romantic Suspense: Caridad Pineiro

I have known Caridad for many years. She's tireless, and the one of the most encouraging writers I've ever met.

Caridad Pineiro is the NY Times bestselling author of over twenty-six paranormal romance and romantic suspense novels and novellas.  Look for THE FIFTH KINGDOM, a romantic suspense from Carina Press in July 2011 and THE LOST, the first book in the new SIN HUNTERS paranormal romance series in August 2011.  Caridad has also done the foreword for OBSESSED:  EROTIC ROMANCE FOR WOMEN edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel which will be available in August 2011.  Her popular THE CALLING vampire series returns in 2012, but vampire lovers will enjoy A VAMPIRE FOR CHRISTMAS (October 2011) which includes Caridad's novella, WHEN HERALD ANGELS SING. For more information on Caridad, please visit

  1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?  I wrote my first book in the fifth grade when a teacher assigned a class project.  I knew from that moment on that I wanted to be a writer.
  2. How long have you been writing?  I started seriously pursuing a career in publishing shortly after the birth of my daughter.  I had been writing off and on for nearly a dozen years, but her birth gave me the impetus to finally finish a book and try to sell it.
  3. How did you pick the genre you write in?  Even in the fifth grade I wrote a romance.  I loved reading romance and so there I never had any hesitation that what I wanted to write was a romance.
  4. Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?  I used to be a pantster, but now I find that doing a synopsis really helps me find the focus of the book and keeps me from straying.
  5. What drew you to the subject of THE FIFTH KINGDOM?  I had taken a business trip to Mexico and had an opportunity to visit some Mexican pyramids and also explore several areas in Mexico City.  That adventure got me thinking about what would happen if someone found Montezuma’s tomb and a unique relic within the tomb and voila, THE FIFTH KINGDOM was born.
  6. Did you encounter any obstacles in researching it?  It took some time to research it because I wanted to get the history right.  The hardest part was trying to lay out a plausible explanation for the location of the tomb and its possible existence close to Mexico City.
  7. What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it?  The name of my first novel was LONG WAY HOME and yes, I did try to sell it, but couldn’t.  I still hope to revisit it one day and maybe finish it.
  8. What do you know now that you are published that you didn’t know pre-published that you wish you knew?  I know now that writing the book is just a small part of the work involved.  The editing after the fact as well as promotion and marketing take a great deal of work and it’s sometimes difficult to find the balance between writing and the other aspects of the publishing world.
  9. How many rejections have you received?  Too many to count.  Way more than the 27 books I’ve published.
  10. What was the best writing advice someone gave you?  Actually, it was my mom who gave me invaluable life advice:  Nothing worthwhile is every easy.
  11. What was the worst? Did you know it at the time?  The worst advice was to sign a contract for a big advance before my career was really ready for that kind of pressure.  It didn’t work out well and in retrospect, I’m sorry I did it.
  12. Why did you pick the publisher that ultimately published your book?  I went with Carina Press for THE FIFTH KINGDOM because it was a very different kind of romantic suspense with a twist in the middle of the book that I would not have been able to do elsewhere.  I know readers will be saying, “Oh, no, she didn’t!”, but then go on with the rest of the thrill ride in the story.
  13. If you could ask your readers one question, what would it be?  What do they like best about reading romance.
  14. Tell me one thing about yourself that very few people know?  I am basically shy.  It’s taken me a very long time to be a more public person.
  15. If you have a day job, what is it?  I’m an attorney by day, romance writer by night.
  16. THE FIFTH KINGDOM is a romantic suspense revolving around the search for a missing archeologist and a terrorist group who may have kidnapped her.  The CIA Agent searching for the group and the woman is forced to work with the woman’s daughter, who has a dysfunctional relationship with her mother.  There is lots of action and emotion in the story.
  17. What do you consider your strengths in terms of your writing?  Action and emotion.  I try to create characters that come alive for readers and have them on the edge of their seats as they wonder what will happen to them.
  18. What do you consider your weakness and what strategies do you use to overcome it?  I am not good at description.  I usually write the dialogue and  action first and then go back and layer in the description during later drafts.
  19. What’s your writing schedule?  I write for at least 2 to 3 hours every day and for several hours on Saturdays and Sundays.
  20. What’s your favorite quote?  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
  21. What authors do you admire?  Nora Roberts is up there, especially for her JD Robb IN DEATH series.
  22. What three things would you want with you on a desert island?  The complete IN DEATH SERIES, my daughter and a computer run by solar power with an Internet connection.

Dr. Deanna Vasquez hasn't spoken to her mother in years, not since the renowned archaeologist abandoned her family in her quest to find the lost tomb of Montezuma. When CIA agent Bill Santana shows up in her classroom with the news that her mother has been abducted by terrorists, Deanna has to help in any way she can.

Bill needs Deanna's expertise to determine the location of her mother's latest find, before her kidnappers do. He fears whatever mysteries the tomb holds could be deadly in the wrong hands. In an effort to make contact with the terrorist cell, Bill accompanies Deanna to Mexico posing as her fiancé-a ruse made doubly dangerous because of the very real heat between them...

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    Jenny Hilborne

    Isabelle Kingsley didn’t think her husband would ever cheat. Her husband didn’t think she would ever find out. Now he is missing, and his mistress is dead. Suspected of killing her, Isabelle turns to her best friend, only to discover another betrayal. Is there no one she can trust?

    Homicide cop, John Doucette, is on the case. Something about Isabelle unnerves him. Could she be innocent? If she is, how did the murder weapon come to be in her possession? Someone from her past connects them; someone that Doucette does not want to face.

    Doucette must set aside his personal feelings and fears to work through the tangled web of deceit before the case goes cold and a killer goes free.

    A Talk with Stephen L. Brayton

    Stephen's a litte more serious than yesterday's guest.
    And he can follow directions.

     1. What drew you to the subject of Night Shadows?

    I sometimes listen to a radio program that features subjects of the paranormal, supernatural, a little science, astronomy, etc. This particular night the host and guest discussed shadow creatures. Immediately, my creative juices started to burble or flow or whatever creative juices tend to do. I asked myself, “What if the shadows killed people?” Then I answered, “Cool!” The homicide investigator’s character came first followed soon after with the F.B.I. agent. A little research, a little shifting around of scenes, and ta-da, Night Shadows.

    1. Did you encounter any obstacles in researching it?

    I used many places around the Des Moines metro area and I visited each one to get realistic descriptions. Soon, I had all but one place located. I still needed a place to put the portal from which the shadows emerge. I searched for months looking at various places. A cemetery, a downtown art project, the skywalk. (I made a security guard a little suspicious with my poking around in stairwells, looking into corners, and such). Finally, a friend suggested an art exhibit in one of the Principal owned buildings. I booked a tour and when we entered the room, I knew I had found the place. The room actually exists and the public can view the ‘window’ that is used in the book. Whether it is actually an inter-dimensional portal, well, one never knows…

    1. What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it?

    I had an idea for a high school classmates tribute series, whereby the main character, years after graduation, visits each of his classmates to reestablish the bond they had all formed back in school. Each book would be a different adventure based upon the type of job each classmate had. I wanted the first story to contain a love interest and then to have the love interest end up partnering with the main character throughout the stories. I actually completed the story and it’s sitting in a box in the closet. This was many years ago before I discovered editing, critique groups, and the work authors needed to do to be published. By then I was onto other stories. Who knows, though, I may dig out the story one day…

    1. How many rejections have you received?

    I printed out every email rejection and kept the ones I received in the mail. (including the two I received after I was contracted with Echelon and almost two years after I sent the query. I have a stack about three inches thick of rejections. (Rubber banded, of course.)

    1. What’s your writing schedule?

    I have loads of free time at work since my hours are 11p-7a. I rarely see anyone. I will either write at the beginning of the night, or near the end of the shift. I’m in the middle of a rewrite and I’m taking it a chapter at a time. However, I’m stalled on it so I jumped to another project and am writing, again, about a chapter at a time.

    1. What three things would you want with you on a desert island?

    I only get to pick three? Shucks, that means I have to narrow it down to Miss May, Miss October, and…oops, sorry about the pig part of me rearing up again. Let’s see. Well, first I’d have to have enough food to last however long I was forced to stay on the island and I’m not talking K-rations, either. I’d love to take all my books I have yet to read. Finally, since we’re playing “What if…” well, yeah, I guess I gotta go with an attractive woman willing to share the island with me.

    1. What’s your favorite food?

    Seafood – crabs, oyster, lobster, catfish. My best meal was a crab boil at my relatives who live in Raceland, Louisiana. They put the crabs and other goodies in a big cooker, then dumped the whole mess onto newspaper covered tables. We all pulled ourselves up to the proverbial trough and snarfed till we could snarf no more.

    1. What do you do when you are not writing?

    Fishing, taekwondo, reading (duh!), and I’d really love to get back to playing racquetball, but I dropped my membership at the Y and they have the only courts in town. I’m also a book reviewer for Suspense magazine.

    1. What is your favorite writing reference book and why?

    The Novelist Boot Camp by Todd Stone. It has everything from developing plots and creating characters to editing drills. I attended part of his seminar at the Love Is Murder conference back in ’07. I refer to the book when I’m in the rewrite/editing stage.

    1. What was your favorite scene to write?

    There is a scene where these two guys enter a strip bar, watch the shows, decide to purchase time in private rooms, and end up being casualties when the shadows attack. Yes, the strip bar is based on a real one in Des Moines although I change the name and description. I liked writing the scene because it has a little bit of humor before the blood starts flowing. Oh, I also enjoyed the scene in the library where I kill off a critique group. I couldn’t resist.