Category Archives: Romantic Suspense

Art Theft on the Alaskan Seas: Reviewing Perilous Waters

What’s not to love about art and Alaska?  I knew when I picked up Perilous WatersSandra Orchard’s latest release, Perilous Waters, I was in for a frigid, but fun retreat from my normal day to day.  Once again, Sandra delivers a creative story with a keep-you-guessing ending.  I love cruises as well, but know there are a lot of “mishaps” a suspense writer can utilize on board.  Sandra made good use of many of them and kept the story moving with a good flow.

As for the art theft aspect, I particularly liked how she tied it into the cruise theme.  I’ll admit I’ve purchased my share of art on the cruises I’ve attended.  (More than my share actually.)  But never mind that, Sandra opened my eyes to the many ways art can be “moved.”

And the dangers that could cause…..

I asked Sandra Orchard to come on today and share how she came up with the idea for Perilous Waters.  And now, here she is to share:

Sandra_OrchardHello Readers, the inspiration for Perilous Waters began with a newspaper article about Alain Lacoursière, a Montreal police detective who founded one of the top art-theft units in the world. The FBI estimates that the international black market in art is worth about $6-billion a year. It sounded like great fodder for a story and when my husband and I took an Alaskan Cruise to celebrate our 25th anniversary and I saw the art gallery and on-board auctions, not to mention a slew of potential deathtraps, I knew I’d found the perfect setting for the story. Find more behind-the-scenes tidbits, including location pics at: http://sandraorchard.com/extras/bonus-book-features/#perilouswaters

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The above pic is an auction I attended aboard ship. I also had a behind the scenes tour of the ship, which provided more ideas for mayhem than I could possibly use in the story. J

Thank you, Sandra, for dropping by and giving us a behind-the-scenes look into your research!

Sandra Orchard is the award-winning author of several inspirational romantic suspense/mysteries, including Deadly Devotion and Blind Trust. Her Love Inspired Suspense titles have garnered two Canadian Christian Writing Awards and a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award. Sandra has also received a Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. In addition to her busy writing schedule, Sandra enjoys speaking at events and teaching writing workshops. She lives in Ontario, Canada. Learn more about Sandra’s books and check out the special bonus features, such as deleted scenes and location pics, at http://sandraorchard.com.

 

Book Blurb for Perilous Waters:

 

UNDER SUSPICION

For FBI agent Sam Steele, there’s no room for error or emotions on his latest undercover assignment. Getting close to gallery owner Jennifer Robbins while on an Alaskan cruise is the only way to catch her dealing stolen art. Out on the icy seas, Jen suddenly goes from suspect to victim when she’s targeted by a deadly enemy. And Sam’s mission goes from investigating an art crime to protecting the woman who’s begun to melt his heart. As danger looms closer, he’ll do anything to save her life—even if it costs him his own.

Links:

 

Connect on Facebook ~ http://www.Facebook.com/SandraOrchard

Subscribe to newsletter ~ http://bit.ly/OrchardNews 

Explore Bonus Features ~ http://sandraorchard.com/extras/bonus-book-features/

Buy Links For Perilous Waters ~ http://sandraorchard.com/books/perilous-waters/

 

Harlequin’s Search for a Killer Voice

Announcing! The Search for a Killer Voice!

This is Katy Lee, and as many of you know, I sold to Love Inspired Suspense on one of their pitch contests. I have since gone on to sell two more books and hopefully many, many more to come. Seeing as I am a “success” with these contests, I can’t help but be a cheerleader for the latest and greatest contest, The Search for the Killer Voice. If you are an Inspirational Romantic Suspense writer, I do hope you will give it a shot and send your first page in.

Now, here are the details:

The Search for a Killer Voice photo

Love Inspired Suspense is on the search for some new superstar authors, and we want you! If you think you’ve got the chops to wow us with your high intensity, fast paced inspirational romantic suspense manuscript, we encourage you to pitch it to us in The Search for a Killer Voice!

For this pitch opportunity, Love Inspired Suspense editors Emily RodmellElizabeth MazerShana AsaroGiselle Regus and Emily Krupin will be on the lookout for fresh talent. We invite you to show us that you’re the total package in these four stages:

1. Voice—Demonstrate that you’ve got the voice to keep readers on the edge of their seats by submitting your first page. Authors who wow us will move on to Stage 2.
2. Plot—Show us that your plotting skills are as strong as your voice by submitting your synopsis. Authors that have an amazing plot and conflict will move on to Stage 3.
3. Substance—Prove that the first page wasn’t a fluke by offering us a bit more of what you got and submitting three chapters. Authors who keep the story racing along will move on to Stage 4.
4. Full package—Convince us you’re the real deal by submitting your full manuscript. The sky’s the limit for these authors. A contract could be within your reach if you bring it all together into a rockin’ Love Inspired Suspense manuscript.

If you make it through, you could be the next contracted author for Love Inspired Suspense. But we won’t leave you to do it all on your own. We’ll be sharing helpful master class blog posts along the way telling you exactly what is required in a “killer” Love Inspired Suspense manuscript. And once we decide who will be getting a synopsis request, each editor will choose a team of authors. So you’ll know exactly who is looking at your book throughout the stages, and you can ask questions on our individual bio threads. Every author who makes it to stage 4 will receive an initial decision (contract, reject or revision request) on their submissions by August 8.

Here’s our timeline: 
ROUND ONE
February 12
 – START WITH A BANG round. Submit the first page of your inspirational romantic suspense manuscript targeted toward Love Inspired Suspense to LISPitch2014@harlequin.ca from today until March 14.
March 14 – All first pages must be in house. Editorial team will review the entries over the next 2 weeks and choose the most exciting voices to move on to the next stage.

ROUND TWO
March 28
 – HOLD ON TIGHT round. Editors will announce which entries will be moving on to the next round. Chosen entries will be selected by the 5 editors to form our teams. The authors on the teams will be invited to submit their synopsis by April 7 to the email box.
April 7 – All synopses must be in house. Editors will review the submissions from their team over the next 3 weeks and choose the ones whose plots back up the potential in their voice to move on to the next stage.

ROUND THREE
April 28
 – REEL US IN round. Editors will review the synopses and announce which authors on our teams will be going to the next round. Qualifying authors will be invited to submit their first three chapters.
May 8 – All entries of the first three chapters must be in house. Editors will review the submissions from their team over the next 3 weeks and narrow down the ones that maintain the intensity we saw in the first page to move on to the final stage.

ROUND FOUR
May 29
 – SEAL THE DEAL round. Editors will announce which of our team members will be going on to the final round. Qualifying authors will be invited to submit their complete manuscript. Authors who are not moving on will privately receive personalized feedback. Authors who are moving on will have until June 9 to submit their full manuscripts.
June 9 – All full manuscripts must be in house. Editors will review the submissions from their team and decide next steps. During the next 60 days, decisions will be made to contract, send a revision letter, or reject each of the stories. All authors who submit full manuscripts will receive notification of our decision within this time frame.

FINAL RESULTS!!
August 8
 – We will announce the results of the pitch in a blog post that wraps up the pitch, shares our thoughts on the highs and lows, highlights any sales and gives stats on the results for the full manuscript submissions.

Sound exciting? If you think you could rock this pitch, get ready to show us your stuff. Read our team bios, the info on formatting guidelines, and the blog on an amazing first page, then start those books. Be sure to follow the guidelines for Love Inspired Suspense. Only one entry per author, please. Deadlines are tight, so keep writing while you’re waiting to hear back. And if your book is complete now, don’t forget to tell us in your email. You never know. We might want to pounce on your killer voice right away.  Ready, set, GO!

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Grave Danger by Katy Lee: Cover Revealed!

I don’t think I will ever tire of receiving my book covers. It is such an exciting email to receive. Although, I will admit I open them slowly and with one eye shut. It’s kind of like one of those trick cans that might or might not explode snakes in your face. Do you remember those? When my brother was little he thought “tricking” people, or I should say me, into opening them was the funniest thing. Me: not so much.

But back to the unveiling of Grave Danger. My childhood scars can wait. My point is, when I receive the email with my book covers, I really don’t know what the art department put together to express the story I have written. So that moment of clicking Open Attachment is definitely a breath-holding moment.

It soon becomes a sighing-smile moment, though. I shouldn’t fret. The artists know the market and what the readers like. I can trust that to be so. They have mine and the publisher’s best interests at heart.

And now for the second book that takes place on Stepping Stones Island, Maine, where the lobster traps are always full and romance awaits even the hardest of hearts. Here is Grave Danger.

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BONES OF CONTENTION

When skeletal remains are found on a small Maine island, forensic anthropologist Lydia Muir is sent to investigate. It’s Lydia’s job to determine whether the homicide happened long ago—or more recently. Island sheriff Wesley Grant seems sure the murder didn’t happen on his watch. But when Lydia uncovers the victim’s identity, someone goes to great lengths to get Lydia off the island. Wes vows to protect her, but is the handsome lawman holding something back? To help catch a killer, she’ll have to trust him—or become the next victim.

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

And now to show how the art department at Harlequin carried the seascape scene over from book one, Warning Signs, here is the first cover in the Stepping Stones Island series.

Warning Signs Cover

After these two, I am looking forward to seeing the cover of book three, Sunken Treasure, which will release in September. (I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what that one is about.) Maybe I’ll open that email with both eyes open. Maybe.

Readers, I do hope you will check out Grave Danger this coming May. It is available for preorder, and you can add it to your Goodreads TBR pile now by clicking here.

Thank you for stopping by for the unveiling!

A Great Whodunit, Sandra Orchard Style

“Step into my parlor for a cuppa tea,” said the spider to the fly.Deadly_Devotion_Sm

I am a huge tea drinker, but Sandra Orchard’s latest suspense series, the Port Aster Secrets, now has me questioning every ingredient that fills my teabags. The titles of the teas on my canisters all sound delightful, but after reading the first book in Sandra’s series, Deadly Devotion, I have to question what exactly goes into my African Autumn Surprise teabags…eeeek!

Deadly Devotion is the first book in a three-book mystery series in which a romance arcs the series, along with an underlying suspense plot. The heroine of the series, Kate Adams, is a research scientist who knows her herbs. She knows which ones are deadly and which ones could go undetected in an blind trustautopsy. But knowing this doesn’t mean she’s safe from their poison–especially when she starts sniffing more than tea leaves. She’s putting her nose where it doesn’t belong, and her amateur sleuthing is going to get her into trouble. Will the handsome FBI agent-turned cop, Tom Parker, be able to help her out? All I will say is they make a great team, and I am looking forward to Book Two, Blind Trust, releasing in January.

If you haven’t read the Port Aster series, you can get started with Deadly Devotion now, then preorder Blind Trust for January. Or see below for a chance to win them!

Deadly Devotion

Research scientist Kate Adams and her colleague Daisy are on the brink of a breakthrough for treating depression with herbal medicine when Daisy suddenly dies. Kate knows that if it hadn’t been for Daisy’s mentorship, she wouldn’t have the job she loves or the faith she clings to. So when police rule Daisy’s death a suicide, Kate is determined to unearth the truth.

Former FBI agent Tom Parker finds it hard to adjust to life back in his hometown of Port Aster. Though an old buddy gives him a job as a detective on the local police force, not everyone approves. Tom’s just trying to keep a low profile, so when Kate Adams demands he reopen the investigation of her friend’s death, he knows his job is at stake. In fact, despite his attraction to her, Tom thinks Kate looks a bit suspicious herself.

As evidence mounts, a web of intrigue is woven around the sleepy town of Port Aster. Can Kate uncover the truth? Or will Tom stand in her way?

Blind Trust

Kate Adams had no idea she was carrying counterfeit money, and she can’t believe that it came from her sweet neighbor. Or that it lands her in the middle of another one of Detective Tom Parker’s investigations. Determined to prove her neighbor’s innocence, Kate stumbles into a pit of intrigue that is far deeper than a two-bit counterfeit operation–and strikes too close to home for comfort. As family secrets come to light, her world–and her budding romance with Tom–begin to crumble. To Kate, it’s clear that she won’t be safe until she uncovers all of Port Aster’s secrets. But is it too late for her and Tom?

Sandra_Orchard_3

Sandra Orchard is a multi award-winning author of inspirational romantic suspense with Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense imprint, and Revell Publishing. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America and The Word Guild (Canada). A mother of three grown children, she lives in Niagara, Canada with her real-life-hero husband and now writes full time…when not doting on her young grandchildren.  You can learn more about Sandra’s books and bonus features at www.SandraOrchard.com or connect at www.Facebook.com/SandraOrchard

At her website, Sandra loves to offer readers extra bonus features for each of her books such as deleted scenes, character interviews, location pics and even related recipes. And…

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…as a special Christmas gift for her newsletter subscribers, she sends them a Christmas short story (this year’s is more like a mini-novella) that springboards from one of her novels.

If you’d like to receive it, click here to subscribe. You will receive a link to her 2011 Christmas story within the next day or two, so if you don’t see it in your inbox, be sure to check your spam folder. Your 2013 story will arrive in your inbox in December.

In the meantime, you can check out the rest of Sandra’s bonus features here:

http://sandraorchard.com/extras/bonus-book-features/

She also has a giveaway going on now until November 26th.

If you’d like an opportunity win a copy of Deadly Devotion (or an advanced copy of the second book in the series, Blind Trust) for yourself or as a gift for a friend, please check out the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review of Katy Lee’s WARNING SIGNS

After the lovely Indian Summer day we had yesterday, this morning’s chill here in the Berkshires and the skeletal trees are a reminder that summer is long gone and winter is just around the corner. Time to stock up, settle in, and spend some time with a few good books.

My fellow Scribes pals, Susannah Hardy and J. Monkeys have been talking a lot about what they’ve been reading lately. Since I always appreciate book recommendations, I thought I would share one of my own. I recently finished WARNING SIGNS by our very own Katy Lee. Yes, I do try to read books written by my friends, but I only write reviews for books I truly enjoy.

Review of WARNING SIGNS by Katy Lee

Warning Signs CoverLee’s main character, Miriam, is first and foremost a formidable heroine. A deaf Principal in a hearing school, Miriam has her work cut out for her. But when it seems that the town has it in for her, she doubts the wisdom of returning to the little town of Stepping Stones where she visited her grandmother as a child. The town is hiding a secret and Miriam may be the key to unlocking it. Enter Owen, a handsome DEA agent sent to infiltrate a drug smuggling operation on the island, and Miriam is forced not only to prove her innocence, but to protect her heart as well. This fast paced romantic suspense had heartwarming moments, action-packed adventure, and a mystery that kept me guessing right through to the end. Great job, Ms. Lee!

If you’re looking for a suspenseful, sweet romance, with a strong heroine and a wounded but worthy hero, this book is for you! 

What about you? Do you have a good book recommendation? I’m currently reading Kristan Higgins’ recent release, THE PERFECT MATCH. If it’s like her other books, I’m sure I’ll be laughing, crying, and wishing it wouldn’t end.

The Making of a Book Cover by Katy Lee

I received a sneak peek of my book cover for my October release, WARNING SIGNS, a few weeks ago. I tried to share the link, but it stopped working, so please forgive me and allow me another chance to show you my new cover.

Here it is!

Warning Signs Cover

It was so neat to see the end result after working with Harlequin’s art department back in December, especially since I had to repeat the process because I failed to do it correctly the first time. Oops! Now that I know what they want, my next books will hopefully be easier.

I write for their Love Inspired Suspense line, and if you’ve ever taken notice of this line, you will see the ominous, nail-biting mood each title expresses. They really are all about the suspense, which is what I messed up on in my first run-through.

I was making it all about the romance, and not about the intrigue.

The key to making the art department happy was to provide three scenes that set the tone and the premise of the book. I had to provide one scene that included my characters, but the other two scenes couldn’t have any people in them. But that does not mean there wasn’t a “character” in the picture.

For you writers out there, I’m sure you understand what I mean when I say that your setting is a character of your story. Well, that setting comes through on your book cover.

The scenes I provided depicted a small New England Island and fishing community where danger seeps in, lurking, and ultimately rocks the town upside down.

Do you think the cover captures this?

Warning Signs Cover

The mood on the cover needs to reach out to a prospective buyer perusing the shelves for their next book. It needs to say, “Something’s not quite right in this picture. What is it?” and it needs to make them pick it up to find out what this book is about.

Now, when they pick up WARNING SIGNS, they will read the back cover. And this is what it says:

GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT

When a drug-smuggling ring rocks a small coastal town, the DEA sends Agent Owen Matthews to shut it down. A single father with a deaf son, Owen senses that the town’s number one suspect—the high school’s new principal—doesn’t fit the profile.

Miriam Hunter hoped to shrug off the stigma of her hearing impairment when she returned to Stepping Stones, Maine. But her recurring nightmares dredge up old memories that could prove her innocence—and uncover the truth behind a decades-old murder. Yet Owen’s help may not be enough when someone decides to keep Miriam silenced—permanently.

The Unlocked Secret: Even the though WARNING SIGNS won’t be released until October, it is up for preorder on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and ChristianBook.com now at discounted rates! If you plan on purchasing it, and you like a deal, take advantage of the lower preorder prices now!

And let me know what you think, and if you’re a writer, please share your pointers on making an eye-catching book cover with us!

Choose Your Weapon

PJ here, talking about hand guns and blow guns, and everything in between.

I apologize ahead of time if this post is disturbing to readers who struggle with even the mere mention of guns these days. The tragedies of gun violence in society aside, weapons are a common theme in many of our fiction works. From Harry Potter’s wand to Katniss and her bow, most of our heroes and heroines use some kind of weapon to gain the upper hand against the villains in our stories. So whether you write YA, Mystery, Thriller, Romantic Suspense, or even Regency, you have likely had to research and decide how you would best arm your characters. So how does one decide what weapons or skills to give to imaginary people? If you write Regency or Historical romance–you might want to stick with swords and bayonets. Perhaps having your character be proficient in martial arts will be enough to give them skills to save the day. In my near future dystopian world, I considered that many people will still be carrying and fighting with guns, so that’s where my focus will be for today.

Although I’m a relative newbie to the weapons world, I’ve spent considerable time over the past few years researching handguns and weapons for various characters. I used to write adult romantic suspense and paranormal romance before I “shifted” to YA—no pun intended. I think choosing weapons depends on your character’s personality, training, purpose for having a weapon, and what fits best with the setting of your story. A cross bow is swift, silent and deadly–a definite consideration when fighting zombies. But in many cases, your characters will HAVE to carry guns as part of their job. If you are dealing with cops, PI’s, or military heroes, be sure to talk to someone in that field who is familiar with weapons and ask what they use so you can keep your story authentic and accurate.

Since most of my research was aimed at my female characters, here are a few tips I learned about arming your heroines with guns.

This post is in no way making any political statement about guns or gun control, and is purely for theoretical and research purposes in fiction writing.

Guns are generally chosen according to the purpose for which they are bought. Target/range shooting, sport shooting, concealed carry, or home defense are your main categories. Let’s talk handguns and heroines for example. If your character carries a gun for self-defense, she wants one that is compact and easily concealable. She also wants one that has some stopping power but isn’t going to have a ton of recoil. Revolvers, a.38 for instance with a 2 inch barrel, might seem like a good choice for a reliable, easy to use, and easy to conceal weapon, but unless she is very practiced, the recoil and sting will likely discourage her from pulling the trigger more than once, and accuracy might be affected. If you are target shooting, this is not the gun you want. A slightly longer barrel—say a 4 inch—will add some front weight that will reduce recoil, but is then much less concealable. This might be a good home defense weapon because of its “point and shoot” ease of use for someone who doesn’t plan on spending a lot of time at the range but wants protection.charter_pink_lady_right

Semi-automatic pistols, on the other hand, have a little more weight to them, generally have a smoother shot, and are made to fire rounds in quick succession. They make some very nice compact pistols that are good for both range-shooting and concealed carry, as well as being great for home defense. Yes, there are more moving parts to semi-autos, but once you learn how to use one (racking the slide takes some practice), a revolver seems archaic and impractical. In a zombie apocalypse, a semi-auto is what I’d want! Smith__Wesson_SW_MP_SHIELD_9mm_Sub-Compact_Pistol_MP9_NDIA_Joint_Armaments_2012_DefenseReview.com_DR_17

With new gun laws sweeping the nation, the days of fifteen round clips for semi-autos are likely soon to be over. In Massachusetts, we have had legislation for years that only allows for a maximum of ten bullets in a clip or magazine, which is more than enough to stop an attacker or a bear, providing you can shoot what you’re aiming at. It’s probably not surprising that men typically like larger caliber guns and will usually go for a .40 or .45, while a 9mm will put down an assailant with no problem and doesn’t have quite the same kick for us ladies. S&W, Browning, Ruger, and Sig Sauer all make fine hand guns. It’s all a matter of what features are important to your character and what matches them best. I’ll save shot guns for another time.

I’ve found a ton of YouTube videos on this topic and spent countless hours comparing handguns and shot guns. If you have specific questions, I’d be happy to answer if I can.

In the case of my character in THE CHRONICLES OF LILY CARMICHAEL trilogy, finding just the right weapon for Lily was exceptionally challenging. Lily is only sixteen and she is a healer, and as such, is opposed to weapons of all kinds, especially guns. Not that she hasn’t been trained how to fight and use weapons. Life in 2057 is rough, and after the collapse of society as we know it, weapons and who has them will ultimately determine our survival. It is a sad fact of our humanity that weapons equate with power, but in my future world, this is indeed a fact. One that Lily will struggle with throughout the trilogy.

Coming June 24th!
Coming June 24th!

For one thing, in this future world I’ve created, guns will likely be controlled by the government and by the few rebels who are able to hide them and find or create ammunition for them. In deciding what weapons Lily would carry, I figured utilitarian style tools would be her preference. In WESTERN DESERT, Book Two in the trilogy, she carries a buck knife and a blow gun given to her by a family friend. She is also armed with a very nifty high-tech gadget disguised as a locket. Her uncle, a former NASA engineer has retrofitted her aunt’s locket with a GPS tracker, a laser that can cut through metal, and an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) that can knock out electronics within a hundred yard radius. Lily prefers to use her brains rather than risk injuring someone to accomplish her mission.

On the flip side, Will is a typical seventeen year-old boy, alone and hardened by the harsh realities of a world in chaos. He would happily take a handgun, a shot gun, or any incendiary device he could get his hands on…if not for trying to appease Lily. An old Louis Ville Slugger and a hatchet hardly seem like enough weaponry to take on the Industry, a rogue government agency set on using Lily’s brother Zeph for some nefarious plot. You’ll have to wait until June for WESTERN DESERT to find out what happens, and see just how they survive the dangerous journey.

As far as my personal favorites, I’d pick a 9mm Smith and Wesson M&P Shield for a handgun, and a Mossberg 500 tactical 12 gauge for my home defense weapon and bear gun. Zombies beware!

How do you decide on weapons for your characters and what kind do they have?