Category Archives: Thriller

Welcome Tahlia Newland!

Happy Monday,

PJ Sharon here today! I know it’s not my usual day to post, but I’m filling in for one of my lovely Scribes sisters. I hope you won’t mind seeing me twice in one month.

Now that we’re all crawling out of our turkey comas and forging on, I thought I’d share some love with my pal Tahlia Newland, the woman who put the “Awesome” in Awesome Indies. She’s here today to talk about her latest release, PRUNELLA SMITH:WORLDS WITHIN WORLDS; part thriller, part magical realism, and part stress management instruction manual. She’s going to touch on one aspect of her new book that affects us all these days…cyber-bullying.

Please give a warm welcome to our guest, leave comments, ask questions, and feel free to follow her on social media or check out her books on her website.

Post by Tahlia Newland, award-winning magical realism author. Read more from her on her blog. You can also join her on Facebook , Twitter Google+  and Linkedin.

Take it away, Tahlia!

How would you deal with a cyber-bully?

Have you ever been bullied or had to deal with nasty comments online? How did it feel? What did you do?

The anonymity of the internet makes it all too easy for those who might never say something nasty to your face to say it online. Cyber-bullies can hide behind a false identity and vent their anger without concern for the kind of repercussions they might get otherwise. They can live on the other side of the world, but their venom can come right into your home and shout at you in black and white from your computer or mobile device. And no matter how hard you try to ignore it, it’s an unpleasant experience, and one that can, if you don’t have the skills to deal with it in a stress-free way, cause a lot of anguish, both mental and physical.

Dealing with this reality is the focus of my latest book Prunella Smith: Worlds Within Worlds.  Prunella Smith is a book reviewer, and an author unhappy with her review of his book begins systematically abusing her online. The recent publicity over a case where an author upset by a negative review actually located and physically assaulted a reviewer makes this theme all too real and raises questions for those who review books, especially if they are an author themselves as Prunella is.

When the bully and his friends leave negative reviews of Ella’s own book, she experiences the situation from the other side—as an author, rather than a reviewer—so we see both sides of the issue of dealing with negativity, whether designed to be helpful or blatantly vindictive.

This book raises many questions: Should reviewers not publish negative reviews and remain silent when they have nothing positive to say? What happens to freedom of speech if readers are too scared to share their honest opinions? Should reviewers moderate their language to avoid upsetting the authors? What use are reviews to readers, if no low ratings only means that those who didn’t like the book aren’t telling? This book does not offer definitive answers, but it does look at options and their repercussions. And most importantly, it does model a way to deal with such situations with the least amount of upset.

That’s what you’ll get from this book: a way to handle the difficult people in your life packaged in a heart-warming and inspiring story. This book is more than just a novel; I draw on my many years of meditation study and practice to provide Prunella with realistic and practical ‘solutions’ to her problems. As always, I write ‘real magic’. The magic in my magical realism is a very real way of working with your mind that makes you strong in the face of adversity.

And that is just one strand of this multi-layered book!


Worlds_Final-WEB‘The barrier between the worlds shatters like the window. The beast is loose. My nightmare has become real. The guy has totally lost it. If he finds us here, we could die. No, I don’t doubt it; we will die.’

Author and editor Prunella Smith inhabits a multilayered reality. Physically, she lives in the Australian bush with her crazy cat Merlin. In her work world, she edits the love story of Kelee, a Magan Lord’s daughter, and in the cyber-world of social media, she’s subjected to slanderous attacks by a disgruntled author. To complicate matters further she sees things through the eyes of a Tibetan Yogi, has strange dreams and relives forgotten memories.

Separate worlds, interconnected and complementary, but can they help when Prunella becomes victim to a real life stalker and her sanity is threatened?

Worlds Within Worlds has a unique perspective on the nature of creativity. Its touch is light, its humour distinctive but it reaches deep into the nature of human experience.

Comments from readers:

 “This is riveting stuff, part magical realism dreamscape, part taut psychological thriller, and I was literally on the edge of my seat when the final twist—and what a twist it is—came around. Phew, what a ride! I can honestly say it is the best book I have read this year.” Frank Kusy, author of Rupee Millionaires.

 “This book will make you think. Considering the deluge of new works streaming from authors these days, that may be the highest praise a novel can receive.” Amy Spahn, literary critic.

“A fascinating insight into the mind of someone using meditative techniques to deal with stress.” Kevin Berry, Awesome Indies reviews.

Purchase outlets


Kindle Stores


Barnes and Noble

Apple stores


The paperback will be available from all outlets in early December.

Tahlia Newland, author of six books, including the award-winning Diamond Peak Series (AIA Seal of Excellence in Fiction and BRAG Medallion for Outstanding Fiction), writes heart-warming and inspiring magical realism and contemporary fantasy. She is also an editor and the coordinator of Awesome Indies Books, a website that accredits and showcases quality independent fiction.

Tahlia began writing full time in 2008 after twenty years in the performing arts and a five-year stint as a creative and performing arts teacher in a High School. She has had extensive training in meditation and Buddhist philosophy and lives in an Australian rainforest south of Sydney with her husband and a cheeky Burmese cat, who features in most of her novels.

Thanks for being with us today Tahlia. Let me leave readers with a few questions for discussion.

Have you ever been bullied online or off? Do you post negative reviews, or do you find yourself hesitant to do so, even if a book deserves a low grade? How do you handle negative reviews?

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?

Goodreads Giveaway by Katy Lee

I have to be honest. Since I joined Goodreads this past year, I had my doubts if it was worth my time. I just didn’t see the benefits of investing the little extra time I had in it. I wondered if people really hung out there enough to read updates and reviews from their friends, or if those updates scrolled down the page, never to be heard or seen again.

But before I made my final judgement call on this social media, I decided to hold a one-week giveaway of Real Virtue. (Click here to enter if you would like.) And so far, I have to say, my opinion is being swayed toward the positive.

First of all, readers are adding my book to their libraries constantly. (So people are hanging out there) Whether they will buy it is another study, but more people are seeing the ad and having to respond in some way to it versus other (PAYING) ads where they glance over it and move onto the next thing. And notice I said PAYING ads. The Giveaway is free, minus the book, of course.

And second? It was easy. I like easy. Plus, once I sign up, Goodreads takes the campaign from there and gives me the tools to get the word out on my end…as I’m sure all my Facebook and Twitter friends can attest to. But honestly, I would LOVE it if one of my followers won the free copy.

When you are reading this on 12/16/12, I will still have another two days left of the giveaway, and won’t be able to give concrete numbers, but at the rate I have seen action, I’m pretty positive it’s not going to let up. I’m thinking as it crunches down to the final seconds, more and more people will see it and make the decision to enter and add it to their lists.

The Unlocked Secret: In the end, it’s not about numbers of sales for me, but rather the chance to bless someone with the message of Real Virtue. But if no one knows about the book, that will be hard to do. I know God gave me a story to tell, and He’s not going to leave it on the shelf. It’s nice to know there are sites like Goodreads that want to help me get it out there.

Question: Have you done a book giveaway? How did it help you spread the word? Or did it?



Shaken, Not Stirred

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here. It’s Skyfall day!

Image from Skyfall – Official Movie site –

If you’ve hung around the Scribes blog long enough then you know we are movie fans. I’m sure I’m not the only James Bond aficionado around here. I started my 007 love affair at a young age, first watching Sean Connery, George Lazeby and Roger Moore on ABC with my family. At the time, I had no idea they were heavily edited. And, of course, all the double entendres went right over my head (Pussy Galore!).

The first James Bond movie I ever saw in a theater was Moonraker. One of the more campier offerings, but I distinctly remember everyone loving the metal-mouthed bad guy Jaws, played by Richard Kiel. I was probably in my early teens and still pretty naive about all the innuendo!

Over the years, I faithfully followed all the Bonds as they changed over time. I was thrilled when Pierce Brosnan finally got his chance with the Astin Martin. And while, I was sad to see him go, I loved Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. The harder edged story and the intensity really made me fall in love with the franchise all over again.

As writers there are some lessons to take away from the Bond movies. Part of Bond’s enduring success is a formula that’s stood the test of time and multiple actors playing our hero.

1. Action – I can’t think of a single Bond flick without several pulse pounding action sequences. And they aren’t there just for the thrill value either. They have a purpose and serve to move the plot along (although sometimes you have to wait until the end of the movie to see all the connections).

2. Babes. Lots and lots of babes – skimpy outfits required – Aside from our favorite secret agent, there are always at least two sexy women. One could be loosely considered to be the “love interest” (at least for the duration of the movie). The other (mostly in the earlier movies), slept with Bond then ended up dead later. Who could forget Goldfinger? Jill Eaton dead on the bed, clad only in gold paint. Or in Moonraker, when the sexpot is eaten by dogs. After a while, the first woman to have sex with Bond had the life expectancy of a red-shirted ensign on Star Trek.

3. Villains – no one has more fascinating, campy villains than Mr. Bond. Granted they have stepped away from some of the more cornball aspects of the series (Man with the Golden Gun – extra nipple anyone!). 007 always shines best when the villains are a match for him . Who can forget Sean Connery strapped to a table with Goldfinger cackling overhead – “No. Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!” Classic.

4. Gadgets – Bond has done it all and with the most amazing gadgets. Explosive pens, cars that morph into submarines, even a rocket jetpack. And the cars. So many beautiful and classic Astin Martins. I know, they strayed away from the AM in some of the films, but I hear it’s back and more awesome than ever in Skyfall.

5. Super sidekicks/happening henchmen– Q, Miss Moneypenny and Felix Lightner. They’ve all helped anchor James Bond and provide a sense of continuity no matter which actors have played them. And those henchmen – Jaws, Oddjob, Xenia Onatop (the fabulous Famke Jensen) and May Day (Grace Slick). There are way too many to name, but for a complete list – click here.

6. Exotic Locales – the locations are characters in their own right. I’m pretty sure Mr. Bond has been just about everywhere – including space.

7. Awesome catchphrases – Nothing says Bond like – “Bond, James Bond.” Or “Shaken, not stirred.” No one can quip like 007. There is always some humor. Depending on the actor and the decade, it’s dry or downright corny, but we fans love it all the same!

8. The Opening Credits – Nobody does it better. The classic theme song.That gun barrel eye view often followed by an amazing action sequence which culminates in opening credits (silhouettes of nude models, weapons – you name it) often sung by the pop star du jour.

Okay, back to writing. Yes, I know I got a bit carried away. Watch any Bond film and you’ll find all or most of these elements. And if you’re wearing your writer goggles, you will find the basics elements – the call to action, GMC, twists, black moments, love (okay, sex) scenes, and final victory.

I’m sure Ian Fleming, when he was writing his books in his hideaway Goldeneye, had no idea that fifty years of movies later, his characters would still be alive and thriving. Something most of us can only dream about.

I’m looking forward to seeing Skyfall. Anyone else? Favorite Bond actor? Favorite movie? Bond moment? Bond girl, villain, location?

Falling Into Sandra Orchard’s Latest Book

Happy fall! Katy Lee here, excited to be ensconced in my favorite time of year—and not just because October is my birthday month, although I love that it is! Especially when I can buy myself books to read while I enjoy the beautiful fall colors of New England.

And so, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that for my birthday this year, I snatched up a fellow Love Inspired Suspense author’s latest novel, Critical Condition.

This is Sandra Orchard’s third novel in her Undercover Cops series, and I when I saw the cover, a little bit of the peace that autumn offers descended upon me like the fluttering leaves themselves. But I will say peace was not the feeling I received while reading it—at least not at first.

Sandra packs every page with twists and turns, emotional highs…and more highs, and a story that equated to a medical thriller romance that felt like The Fugitive meets luuve. Best of both worlds, in my romantic opinion.

But I also can’t forget the inspirational arc Sandra wove into the story so beautifully, touching on the many battles cancer patients and their loved ones face daily…and how many turn away from God instead of to Him. We live in a world where we have so much hurt and pain to deal with, and blaming God will not bring us healing. And it will not bring the blessings that God has for us, either.

And so, for me, autumn is a time of reflection. While I take in the beauty around me, I pray I will see every blessing God has given to me this year—even in the moments I didn’t feel His presence or I thought He didn’t care. I don’t want to enter the holidays feeling resentment of not accomplishing something I set out to do on January 1st. Or holding a grudge because my year, or even life, did not turn out the way I thought it should. If I am harboring even a bit of anger toward Him, I want to catch that before it festers so big that I disable Him from blessing me more.

The Unlocked Secret: God loves blessing us. Jeremiah 29:11 proves this. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Now THAT’S a blessing I don’t want to miss. And thank you, Sandra Orchard, for allowing God to bless you in your writing, so that you can pass His blessing onto others who don’t want to miss it, either.

Dark Things II: Cat Crimes – J.D. Revezzo ‘Fesses up!

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here! Today’s guest author is J.D. Revezzo. For some cat myth de-bunking, JD is also over at my website: Kitties for a Cause!

JD, thanks for joining us today. Let’s start with the Scribes’ favorite question.

How do you battle the doubt monster? 

The best way is that I give the scene to a friend and ask her if it’s as bad as I think. If she says yes, I toss it and try again; if she says no, I know to stop worrying.

Have you thought about writing something that is completely different for you?  Perhaps writing in a new genre or just taking a story someplace that you haven’t done before.

Funny you should ask that, I have three things I’ve been working on for the last two years that are completely new to me, when I started dabbling in Romantic suspense and cozy mystery. However, like the story I wrote for Dark Things II: Cat Crimes, which involves a furious Sekhmet, her priestess, magic, curses, and time travel, I’m most comfortable in Paranormal, Fantasy and SF worlds.

Would you like a peek at it?

“What Sekhmet Keeps”

by J.D. Revezzo

Betrayed by a false lover, cat shifter priestess Onfalia Mau lost her lioness soul and freedom to her lover’s treachery and Sekhmet’s wrath. Now, after three thousand years, Donquar has returned with one thing in mind: to steal the goddess’s scepter. Onfalia knows that to do so means to unleash Sekhmet’s unholy, bloody Slaughter on the world and she’ll stop at nothing to foil Donquar’s plans.


Claws dimpled his skin, as if she sought attention. She nuzzled her head into his hand, and purred. Chibale tapped her on the nose. “Now, don’t try to charm me, kitty. I can’t keep you. Out.”

She purred louder and nuzzled his chest.

“Oh, hell.” He carried the cat into the kitchen and poured her the last of his milk. “I don’t mind black coffee, anyway. But tomorrow, we’re finding your owner.”

He dropped his jacket onto the chair, then set down before his computer. The cat leapt onto the desk as he went to work. When he misspelled the goddess’ name, the cat reached out a paw and hit the delete key back to the S-e-k. Chibale stared at her. “Did you belong to an English teacher?”

The search engine suggested Sekhmet, and he carried on with his work. The cat slipped into his lap as he read the first promising page.

Goddess of Lions. A daughter of Ra; represented the scorching power of the sun. “Lion. Sun.” He shook his head. “Never did understand these stupid stories. ‘When mankind rebelled against Ra’s domain, Sekhmet attacked, slaughtering thousands and drinking their blood.’ Sounds like a nice wholesome girl.” The cat shifted in his lap and stretched up, resting her paws against the edge of the keyboard. “You’re so interested in mythology, should I give you to Onfalia?” She looked at him, and he scratched her ears as he returned to his search.

Scepter, Sekhmet. “How does this tie into the stolen scepter? Any idea, kit?”

Two hours into his search, a headline caught his attention: Slaying uptown. Occult in Nature?

“So obvious.” The cat meowed and Chibale looked down at her, meeting her tawny eyes. “Oh, you think so too, do you?”

Festival to appease Sekhmet’s slaughter.

“Hopefully they won’t do the opposite, eh kitty?”


I hope you’ll check it out, and enjoy these fabulous stories! All proceeds from the sale of our anthology will go to Cat House on The Kings, a no-kill cat sanctuary in California.

Their URL

Buy links for the anthology:

In Kindle and paperback at Amazon

And in Epub at Lulu.

What story haven’t you told yet that you want to tell?  What is holding you back?

Oh, there are a couple. What’s holding me back? I’m still in research mode for a them. There aren’t enough hours in the day, I suppose! LOL

What would you do if you couldn’t be a writer any longer?

Well, I have a degree in art history so I’d definitely want to work in a museum.

They say that every author has a partially completed, quite-possibly-terrible half a story shoved in a drawer somewhere.  What is yours?  What is it about?

You’re going to laugh. I tried to write an “Arthurian retelling” back in high school.

What makes it terrible?

*Laughs* You mean other than the fact that it’s a God-awful mess and not exactly original? I think it’s more character sketch than actual story. What can I say? It was a first attempt and, looking back, I’m glad I never finished or tried to do anything with it.

 Would you ever consider picking it up and finishing it?

Probably not. But maybe. Never say never.

How do you come up with your shtick? That signature that makes your writing unique.

I try to insert some paranormal or fantasy something, however slight, into just about everything I write. For instance, a ghost, a curse, a god or goddess, a string of bad luck for the character, some sort of family legend. Something…weird, always creeps in.

What was your biggest misstep in your writing career so far?

There are two actually, one I waited too long to get serious. Don’t do that, folks. If you think you want to write (or paint or whatever your artistic muse leads you to), at least try. The other is that I have a bad habit of taking the wrong advice from the wrong people.

Do you have a word related pet peeve?

Yes. Two sets of words, actually, bug me when I see them in manuscripts (speaking as a critique partner or, in the past, a chapter contest judge): Its/It’s and There/Their/They’re. YES, there is a difference between those forms of the words. Get it right or get a big RED X on your mss from me. ;) It’ll even make me roll my eyes if I see it in ads, in webpages, or …just about anywhere. Yes, I’ve even seen it in books, from time to time. Those sets of words, when used wrong, drive me up the wall.

What is your junk food of choice?

Anything salty. Mostly potato chips though.

What’s the most dangerous or risky thing that you’ve done?

I’m not really a thrill seeker. I won’t even do roller coasters! I guess you could say “Every time I get in the car”. I mean, heck, anything can happen.

What is your guilty pleasure? {Remember: this is a ‘G’ rated blog! :) }

I guess I could say books. I enjoy collecting books—and writing. :)

 About J.D. Revezzo:

J.D. Revezzo has long been in love with writing, a love built by devouring everything from the Arthurian legends, to the works of Michael Moorcock, and the classics. Her short fiction has been published in Dark Things II: Cat Crimes, The Scribing Ibis, Eternal Haunted Summer, Twisted Dreams Magazine and Luna Station Quarterly.

You can learn more about her works at her site:

 or if you wish, follow her on Facebook:

Or on Twitter:!/juliannewrites/

Thanks for being our guest today JD! Best of luck with the anthology.

Scribes fans – have questions for JD – ask away!

We Give You Fever — Interview With Debut Author Joan Swan

Happy Thursday, Scribesters!  It’s an especially Happy Thursday for me, Suze, because after our freak October snowstorm and multi-day power outage, my neighborhood has been restored to full capacity. Thank you, O Great Electricity Goddess!  

Please welcome triple RWA Golden Heart finalist/double Daphne Du Maurier finalist Joan Swan, whose debut novel FEVER will release on February 28, 2012 from Kensington Brava.  Joan is generously giving away a $10.00 Amazon gift card to one lucky random commenter, and a handmade custom FEVER bookmark to five more.  (Check out that cover, romance lovers — you KNOW you want a bookmark!)  Contest ends Friday, November 4, at midnight EST.   Take it, Joan!

Temperature's Definitely Rising At The Scribes!

How do you battle the doubt monster?  Doubt Monster: the nagging feeling that your prose is terrible, your plot is silly, your characters are insipid and no one in their right mind would read this drivel, let alone buy it.

I respect the doubt monster.  It’s taken me a long time to get there, but I’ve learned that if that doubt is creeping in, my subconscious is trying to tell me something.  If it’s whispering, “Your plot is silly.” I take a harder look at my plot.  If it’s nagging, “Your characters are insipid.” I say, “Er…um…hold on, let me look that up…” *tick tock* *tick tock* *gaspFlat, dull and uninteresting?  I say, “How rude! Get out of my way. I need to smack a few characters into shape.”

Now, if it’s saying things like, “This is drivel, no one will buy it.”  Here’s how I approach that:

1)      Go to a movie

2)      Take a walk on the beach

3)      Buy myself something pretty

4)      Get a massage

5)      Generally kick myself in the ass, tell myself to take a pill, suck it up and get back to the freaking keyboard already

Have you thought about writing something that is completely different for you?  Perhaps writing in a new genre or just taking a story someplace that you haven’t done before?

Best Bookmark Ever!

Every story.  Every time I contemplate a new story, I push myself to take it a step further.  If what I just wrote was sexy, I want the next one to be sexier.  If what I just wrote was dark, next one has to be gritty.  This one had three povs, next one will have five.

What story haven’t you told yet that you want to tell?  What is holding you back?

I have a contemporary story I want to tell.  A sexy, sensitive cowboy; a feisty, independent horse trainer.  A small town with lots of history.  A secret…or three.

A trilogy, I think, the other two books stemming from the sexy, sensitive cowboy’s two brothers: sexy, secretive and sexy, saucy.

The only thing holding me back is this too freaking short 24 hr day, the human need for sleep and the pesky needs of husband, children, pets, day job…  Ah, the trials and tribulations of daily life.

What is the most surprising thing that has happened in your writing career?

That I got this far.  This industry is truly brutal.  If I didn’t feel compelled to write, if I didn’t know this is where I was meant to be, I would have dropped out of the race a long time ago.

What would you do if you couldn’t be a writer any longer?

I’d be a publicist.  I’ve discovered that I love the promotional avenue of publishing.  The website design, advertising, coordinating blog tours, organizing interviews, etc.  I mean…for someone else—coordinating and scheduling them for someone else. J

They say that every author has a partially completed, quite-possibly-terrible half a story shoved in a drawer somewhere.  What is yours?  What is it about?  What makes it terrible?  Would you ever consider picking it up and finishing it?

FEVER is my 10th novel.  This could take a while because I feel that all my past stories are salvageable to some degree.  And I’m completely impartial!

Author Jane Haddam says that anyone who seriously annoys her gets bumped off in her next book.  How do you incorporate your real-life experiences into your stories?

Torture.  I don’t let them off as easily as Jane.

What made you decide to write romance?  Who are your favorite romance authors?

I write romance because I can’t seem to NOT write a romance into a story.  When I read, I prefer suspense or thrillers with a romantic thread.  But when I write, romance seems to take over a lot more of the book than those I read.  And I could never answer that second question…I’d have to commit hara kiri because I could never name them all—and they’d all be favorites for different reasons.

Your book, FEVER, will release on February 28th, 2012  Tell us about it. 

Debut Author Joan Swan

Oh, I love FEVER…even two years after writing it, fully rewriting it once, rewriting the second half again and editing it…I don’t know how many times.

FEVER is the first of the Phoenix Rising series.

The overarching series plot broils around a government conspiracy after the explosion of a military warehouse injures a team of seven hazmat firefighters, killing one.  The contents of the building, extremely confidential and dangerous radioactive chemicals used by the Department of Defense in secretive scientific experiments, have inflicted the team with various paranormal abilities.  Abilities the government wants to study covertly.  Abilities the team wants to understand and expose.  With military advancement and national power at risk on one side and personal health and freedom at stake on the other, each group is fighting for precious stakes.

FEVER is about one of the seven firefighters, Teague Creek, convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, framed by a government threatened by his prying questions into the warehouse explosion.  Teague has been denied an appeal, lost the daughter he lived for, and the career as a firefighter he loved.  With no hope left, he plans an escape.  But his plan goes wrong when the woman he kidnaps as leverage to get his daughter back turns out to be someone else.  And this woman quickly clues into the abilities he tries to hide, creating a bond neither can afford while they’re on the run from both the cops and undercover operatives who want Teague silenced.  This time, permanently.

What was your biggest mis-step in your writing career so far?

Not connecting with writers and readers sooner.  Not taking the career seriously sooner.

My first final in the RWA Golden Heart was in 2006.  When I was notified, I was polite and pleased and said thank you.  The woman on the phone was clearly disappointed, saying, “You’re the only person I’ve called today who hasn’t screamed.”  And all I could think was, why would I scream?

I didn’t understand how important RWA was.  I didn’t understand how much a final placement in this contest could have meant for me at that time if I’d pursued it.  I didn’t understand how important relationships and networking is in this business until very recently.  I let a lot of time and a lot of opportunities pass me by.

Do you have a word-related pet peeve?

Oh, I have a lot of pet peeves, but words aren’t typically among them.  Wait, wait…yes.  I really, really hate the word ain’t.  Really hate it.

What is your junk food of choice?

It would be easier to tell you what’s not my junk food of choice: anything green and leafy.

Love: jelly bellies, chocolate covered macadamia nuts, spice drops…this could go on for pages.

What’s next for you?  Can you give us a sneak peek?

I’m having a lot of fun with a new paranormal that ventures deeper into the genre, exploring witchcraft, demons and true evil.  It’s complicated, dark, gritty and sexy.  Very fun!

Here’s a little unedited, never-before-seen excerpt of the WIP:

Delaney didn’t wait for an invitation.  She pushed her shoulders back and rounded the doctor, stopping on the threshold. 

Beckett wasn’t sitting on the gurney or pacing the room as she’d expected considering his itch to leave.  He was lying on the gurney on his back, one filthy black cross-trainer dirtying the crisp white sheet with soot, the other foot crossed over the opposite knee.  He wore only jeans.  Dark jeans.  Unbuttoned.  And above that unfastened button stretched a canvas of bronzed skin tight over a lean torso.  A torso mottled with collections of furious bruises and marred with raw red gashes that had been glued back together.  One forearm lay over his forehead, the other hand holding a notebook at arm’s length directly above his face, where he appeared to be studying notes.  His biceps were as equally bruised and scraped and as equally sculpted as that chest.

Delaney stepped into the room, but kept a healthy distance, unsure what to expect.  “Chief Beckett.”

The arm on his forehead jerked down and his head swiveled toward her.  His face may have taken the hardest hit.  She couldn’t even tell what he truly looked like with all the swelling and bruising.  And another few lines of super-glue stitching made him look Frankensteinish.  But his eyes were…beautiful.  Big and brown and warm.  Outlined in thick black lashes.  Accented with heavy black brows—one of which sported another nice gash.

He squeezed his eyes shut, winced and brought a soot-blackened hand to his forehead.  “Holy f***.”

“Don’t touch your face until we get those cuts covered,” Garner said, moving closer.  “And I told you, no sudden moves.”

“Then don’t flash a piece of a** like that in front of me.”

Delaney tightened the cross of her arms and the clench of her teeth.

Garner cast her an apologetic look.  “Like I said…”  Then turned back to Beckett, helping him as the man struggled into a sitting position.  “This is Agent Shaw from Special Crimes.  She’s here to work with you.  Considering your condition, Chance, I think it would be in your best interest to keep your mouth shut for a while.”  


Delaney turned to Dr. Garner.  “If you drug him into oblivion, and only if you drug him into oblivion, I’ll take him off your hands.” 

Thanks, Joan!  I can’t wait for FEVER.  It’s available for preorder here from Amazon, and here from Barnes and Noble.  Don’t forget to comment for your chance at Joan’s great giveaways today.  For more information about Joan, see