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Posts tagged with: romantic suspense

Meet 2016 Golden Heart Finalist Diane Holiday!

Today we’re welcoming Diane Holiday, 2016 Golden Heart Finalist in Romantic Suspense with her novel LOVE IN HIDING.

dog in wavesDiane, who won first place in the 2015 RWA Pages From The Heart contest, lives with her husband at the Jersey Shore. An avid boater and beach lover, she spends her spare time on the water. She has a grown son and daughter who live out of state, so her adoring golden retriever gets a lot of attention. The dog also draws a crowd on the beach as she loves to surf the waves. Diane worked in corporate until she had children. She became a director of the Pampered Chef for nine years, then a substitute teacher for ten as she raised her family. She now volunteers in the public school system tutoring the children of active duty military families. If asked, “What’s the most important thing in life?” the answer right behind chocolate would be humor. Diane lives to make people laugh, often at her own expense. She incorporates that in her writing as well. If she can put a smile on one face, she considers her day a success.

Here’s a blurb for LOVE IN HIDING:

Prima ballerina Sarah Baker needs to disappear. She flees cross-country to hide from an obsessive stalker and winds up working side-by-side at a horse ranch with a former Navy SEAL. On the run, with a fake identity, Sarah isn’t looking for love. All she longs for is a normal life and to dance again.

Bruce Thompson is a horse trainer who runs a therapy program for amputee vets. He has no interest in another relationship after the tragic death of his wife. That is, until Sarah shows up and jump-starts his guarded heart. But Sarah has secrets, and he intends to find out what threat might follow her to the farm. His protective claws come out as he is determined to keep her and his clients safe.

While Sarah and Bruce fight their sizzling attraction, an unknown threat lurks in the midst. This one, closer to home. Will they find love and uncover the deadly plots before it’s too late?

I love the title–and the way both of them are struggling to rebuild a life for themselves! I want them to have their HEA!

Diane’s joining us today to talk about a personal act of rebuilding, and what to do when you hit the Black Moment…in your writing life.

Take it away, Diane!!

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diane holidayFirst, I want to thank the Rubies for this tremendous opportunity to share a piece of myself.

I thought long and hard about what to discuss and decided that I wanted to address one of the most difficult parts of being a writer. Self-doubt and rejection. We all know this journey is not for the weak-hearted. I don’t have a thick skin, and rejections hurt. So, it’s pretty amazing to me that I can make the statement that I am confident in my writing. As soon as I wrote this sentence my inner demon said, “Yeah, but are you published?”

How do we overcome these negative thoughts and rejections? I think we all ride a roller coaster of ups and downs. I got a request for a full! Champagne and dinner out. Only, a month later, it’s a pass. I got signed by an agent! Triple champagne dinner. Only, the big pubs rejected the manuscript.

I’d had a particularly tough week prior to the call about the Golden Heart. I had found out only days before that my agent, who I didn’t even know had cancer, had passed away. I was in shock. Sad for her family, unsure of my future, and no clue what might be going on with the book I had out on submission. I remember sitting under the stars that night and thinking about my journey. Had I wasted the last four years of my life in workshops, critique groups, studying grammar and writing techniques until my eyes crossed? What did I have to show for it? A folder of rejection emails, albeit some very complimentary, but the bottom line was still a no. If I were writing my story, that night would be the dark moment. In my heart, though, I knew there was no other answer but for me to get back up and keep at it. Writing isn’t optional for me.

Two days later, the Golden Heart happened. Talk about a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows. I got a personal call from Kristan Higgins congratulating me on my final. Kristan Higgins? I was a bit star-struck. I had my dog’s leash in my hand (because I kept checking the time, and hey, it was already nine a.m., so clearly I hadn’t made the cut), her water bottle (the dog, not Kristan’s), a hat, sunglasses, keys, and poopy bags (again, for the dog.) The dog ended up asleep in the cul-de-sac by the time I got off social media and texted my family. It took me a while to find her water bottle on the top of the refrigerator and her leash behind her food bin. I was a little excited and had mindlessly thrown things around to free up my hands.

shore pictureFor me, the Golden Heart was finally some validation. My hard work had paid off. I’d spent the last four years completely dedicated to writing after moving to the shore. My incredible, supportive husband insisted I take the time to do what I’d always wanted and write a book. Sure, I’d been writing for as long as I can remember, but it was always around my job, the kids, sports, you know…life.

This couldn’t have come at a better time, and what a ride it’s been so far. The journey’s not over, though. I’m working with a new agent and have met so many amazing people through the Golden Heart. I know there will be plenty of tomorrows filled with rejections and criticisms. It comes with the job. But, just for today, I’m enjoying one of the highs.

I’d love to hear from others. What do you do to overcome self-doubt and handle those tough rejections? What high have you had that’s kept you in the game?

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Connect with Diane Holiday on social media:

https://facebook.com/DianeHolidayBooks

https://twitter.com/ddiholiday

www.dianeholiday.com

Meet 2016 Golden Heart Finalist Melanie Novak!

Today we’re welcoming Mermaid Melanie Novak, 2016 Golden Heart Finalist in Romantic Suspense with RUBY RED!

Melanie Novak lives, reads, and writes in Pittsburgh. Though she lives with only her sixteen-year-old cat Jasmine, she has a posse of friends and family close by to rescue her when her toilet overflows or she locks herself out of the house. When not reading and writing, Melanie enjoys walking, going to the movies, and following Pittsburgh Pirates baseball. She can’t decide if she’s more excited about Outlander finally coming to the small screen or the upcoming Gilmore Girls revival.

About RUBY RED:

When a multi-million dollar ruby belonging to Marie Antoinette is stolen from Lamont Auction House, Addison Merritt’s career—and the survival of the boutique house—is on the line. Addison teams up with sexy U.S. Marshal Michael Wright, but they are not the only ones looking for Rosette’s Ruby.

And others are willing to kill for it. 

As the danger mounts and time runs out, Addison takes a bold gamble and risks everything—including her heart—to recover the ruby.

That sounds thrilling—and you KNOW the Rubies are psyched to have a ruby-centered story out there in this year’s Golden Heart! We’ll be cheering for you in San Diego, Melanie!!

Melanie’s here today to talk with us about first times…with romance novels, that is.

Take it away, Melanie!!

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Novak_Melanie HeadshotYou Never Forget Your First

I don’t remember how old I was when I read my first romance novel, but not old enough to know that what went on between the hero and heroine behind the closed bedroom door was a lot more than kissing. I read in absolute amazement as the scene unfolded. This was an eighties romance novel with all the trimmings—bodice ripper cover, politically incorrect hero, a not-entirely-willing-but-completely-satisfied-afterwards heroine.

I still didn’t understand everything that happened in that scene, but one thing was certain. 

I was hooked. 

When my mother sat me down to tell me about the birds and the bees, I informed her that I knew all about it. When a brief round of questioning confirmed this, she asked, “Did Cousie tell you?” Cousie was—of course—my beloved cousin and senior by four years. 

I will admit Cousie provided a few details and clarifications, but she hadn’t told me. Valerie Sherwood and her swashbuckling buccaneers and corseted ladies already had. 

I first tried my hand at writing a romance novel in 2006. I was twenty-five, and I’d read dozens of romances by then. Inspired by the Torino Olympics, I made my hero and heroine star-crossed figure skaters who were paired with the wrong partners. 

With FIRE AND ICE, I proved to myself that I could maneuver around work and life, overcome a dismal first draft, and research all the things I didn’t know about skating. 

I could finish.

I typed the final sentences of FIRE AND ICE on the fourth of July. As I did, fireworks exploded outside my window. Oh please. Personal fireworks for my finale? How cheesy is that?

Hey, don’t blame me. I didn’t write the scene. This was real life, not fiction.

FIRE AND ICE, it must be said, was met with deafening silence from the publishing world. I read it now, years later, and I see its flaws. But I still see those fireworks.

2016 is shaping up to be a year filled with firsts. My third novel, RUBY RED, has garnered a Golden Heart nomination. This is more than my first Golden Heart. This is the first external recognition I’ve received for one of my original works. Lack of external recognition wouldn’t stop me from writing—I’m not sure anything would stop me from writing—but let’s not lie to each other. External recognition is wonderful.

In July I’ll attend the Romance Writers of America conference for the first time, and in the process I’ll see San Diego for the first time. For the first time, I’ll be querying agents with a bona fide feather in my cap.

And this, dear reader, is my first blog post.

You can bet I won’t forget it.

Your turn readers! Tell me about a first in your reading or writing life: the first romance novel you read, the first book that made you want to write, or the first book you wrote. I can’t wait to read your responses in the comments.

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Find Melanie on the Web 

Twitter: @MelanieNovak31

Instagram: novak_melanie

Website: melanienovak.com

Meet 2016 Golden Heart Finalist Tracy Brody!

Today we’re welcoming another Mermaid, Tracy Brody, already a Golden Heart winner last year, who’s a DOUBLE finalist this year, in two different categories!!

2015-10-17 CRW Glam Party -cropTracy Brody lives in North Carolina with her husband and teenage daughter and has a son that shows up for a few weeks between college semesters and internships to let her feed him and do his laundry.

Though she followed her father’s advice and studied business, she continued to indulge her creative side with various crafts and scrapbooking until her overactive imagination dreamed up a story line that she wrote as a spec movie script. Being a housewife in NC with no ties to Hollywood, she eventually took friends’ suggestion to turn her script into a book and began writing romances. She joined RWA and Carolina Romance Writers in 2010. She loves walking in her neighborhood or, even better, being at the beach talking to herself as she plots books and scenes. She’s represented by Helen Brietweiser of Cornerstone Literary.

Her 2015 Golden Heart winner, A SHOT WORTH TAKING, is actually the second book in her series of single title romances featuring the Bad Karma Special Ops team whose love lives are as dangerous as their missions. This year, both the first and third books in the series are finalists—which means all three of her completed manuscripts have finaled in the Golden Heart!!

Here’s the blurb for THE SNIPER’S SECOND SHOT – Contemporary Romance:

Sergeant Mack Hanlon thought he could beat the odds, despite knowing that a Special Ops career and a stable, successful marriage don’t go together as smoothly as peanut butter and jelly or even guns and ammunition. His wife left him and the Army life, but when Mack meets Black Hawk pilot Kristie Donovan, he believes he’s found a woman who can support him and his career choice. However, he soon finds he’s battling more than regulations prohibiting romantic relationship between the ranks.

After losing one husband in combat, Kristie’s sworn she’ll never fall for another man in his dangerous profession. Mack’s persistence and charm in pursuing her are accomplishing his mission to win Kristie’s heart until his ex-wife threatens to expose their relationship if Mack won’t let her move out of state with their girls. Kristie ends their forbidden romance to protect their careers and keep Mack from losing contact with his daughters. But, after insurgents bring down Kristie’s aircraft and take the crew hostage, Mack’s team rushes to rescue Kristie and her crew. If he can save her, he still has to find a way to give them both a second shot at love.

And here’s the blurb for IN THE WRONG SIGHTS – Romantic Suspense.

A patient’s deathbed confession landed nurse Cassidy O’Shea in witness protection. However, her unauthorized trip to Fort Bragg for her ex-stepfather’s funeral necessitates putting her under temporary protective custody after learning he’s been murdered. The Marshal Service turns to her late stepfather’s friends, the Army Bad Karma team, to keep her safe.

A dedicated soldier, AJ Rozanski is supposed to be protecting Cassidy, not falling for his former mentor’s stepdaughter. But her acceptance of his career choice is a refreshing change from his parent’s disapproval of his military service and his ex-fiancée’s inability to handle his erratic deployments.

Cassidy going back into Witness Protection puts an end to their hopes for something beyond a few days and romantic nights together—until an assassin locates her and she flees to AJ and the Bad Karma team. Can they give her back her life—and a future with AJ?

Awesome stuff!!! And both very suspenseful! I’m sure these will be out in readers’ hands before very long!!

Okay, everybody–time to gather around in our super-secret Ruby bunker for a chat with Tracy Brody. (No bad guys allowed!!….um, unless they look like Tom Hiddleston and are eminently redeemable!! In which case, join us!!)

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Welcome, Tracy!! Lovely to have you back here with the Rubies!

Okay, so ALL THREE of your completed books so far have finaled in the Golden Heart, and the one that finaled last year actually WON. That’s incredibly impressive!! Did this come out of nowhere, or did you have experiences with contests before that? (Inquiring minds want to know.)

I’m a bit of a contest veteran, actually. I’d entered a few contests early on with RWA – when I didn’t know how much I didn’t know.  🙂 Some of the early feedback pinpointed areas I needed to improve in. Things like point of view, eliminating passive writing, establishing character’s goals, motivation and conflict, showing instead of telling, comma usage, et cetera and etc. I took classes and later entered a new WIP in the Golden Pen to see if my writing had improved. I was happily shocked when I finaled and kept working on learning craft.

I missed the Golden Heart finals in 2014 by one point. As most of the ladies in my critique group were not writing a lot, I felt bad asking them to keep critiquing for me. So in 2014, I entered a number of chapter contests for fresh feedback to see what I still needed to master. I developed a reputation as a contest queen (or whore depending on who you asked.) That year I think I entered eight different contests, entering both manuscripts in two of them. I had four misses but placed first in six contests.

Even after the wins in 2014, I almost didn’t enter the Golden Heart for 2015. I was very methodical in picking which contests to enter based on the submission size, the score sheet for judging, number of judges, whether they dropped a score, who the final round judges were. The Golden Heart didn’t tick the right boxes for getting feedback and in front of agent and editor judges I wanted. But, I decided to give it one more shot.

Clearly, a shot worth taking!! (Sorry, sorry…couldn’t resist the title pun.) You must have been excited that it finaled.

I’m thrilled it did! The Golden Heart is unlike any other contest I’d entered. With its reputation, it’s great affirmation to final and brings the perks of priority registrations for pitch appointments at convention – not just the year you’re a finalist. It’s a great credential to list when you query (and I got very quick requests.) Then there’s the networking opportunities, getting to shop for fancy dresses, and feeling a little like a celebrity. But the biggest difference was the sisterhood that developed among the finalists. Just being a finalist was a win and we worked to help and encourage each other. While I’d really hoped not to be eligible for the Golden Heart this year, since I hadn’t accepted an offer yet, I decided to enter again because of the friendships I formed with other finalists.

With your track record, I’m betting you won’t be eligible to enter Golden Heart again as of this time next year—but you may just have a second (or third!!) shiny heart pendant to add to your collection. So, I’m curious: your two finalists this year are part of the same series, but are nominated in two different categories, Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense. What’s the story behind that?

Several of the 2015 finalists had entered several manuscripts that year, and a few said it was the one they didn’t expect to final that did. While I tend to be a last minute kinda gal, I got IN THE WRONG SIGHTS (third in my series) submitted for the Golden Heart with a few days to spare. I kept thinking about the first in my series, which I’d entered in the GH back in 2011. It hadn’t finaled (hadn’t even come close then), but I’d revised it, and thought why not give it a shot. But it’s not as suspenseful, especially in the opening. (I was still learning how my series needed to be consistent in genre.) So the Friday before the GH deadline, I emailed my agent to say I was going to enter it and asked which category she thought I should put it in. I started doing an editing pass over the weekend. I only beat the deadline thanks to one of my awesome ’15 GH Dragonfly sisters saying, “Tracy, you know the deadline is 5 PM—not midnight?” Yeeps! I uploaded THE SNIPER’S SECOND SHOT with 10 minutes to spare and went with my gut to enter it in the contemporary category. My agent emailed a few hours later saying to enter it in romantic suspense. Ooops. My bad – I’m still learning, but it worked out despite the strong competition in that category. And having the first book of my series, that has undergone so many rewrites, changes, and edits, final is really special.

I love that you’re so open about having to learn to become the writer you are! I’m a teacher in my other life, and I always tell my students that screwing up and trying again is essential to growth…whether you’re a writer or Steph Curry. (And I’ll confess, my very first writing contest entry was a 35-page opening chapter. The judges very lovingly smacked some sense into me, and I quickly got to work on the dynamics of pacing.) But, in the short term, criticism can sting, can’t it?

While I’ve had friends who made the finals, even won, the first time they entered a writing contest, that’s not my story. We’ve probably all heard stories of mean judges and crazy comments and widely ranging scores. You learn to accept how subjective judging can be. Feedback can make you reach for a bottle of wine or make you dance.

Well, I’m sure you’re doing a lot of dancing these days!! Speaking of good times, are you going to Nationals?

Heck yes!! I get to see many of my wonderful friends from the 2015 GH class (am even rooming with two of them!) and meet new finalists. And I get to buy fancy dresses. Yes, plural. Last year I bought six dresses, returned four, and rebought one on sale – all for under $150 total. I’m about on that same track now. Still trying to decide between three, including one I didn’t wear from last year.

LOL! I’ll be looking forward to the fashion show!! (And everybody’s fabulous shoes!!) Before we go, do you have a question for our readers to get the conversation rolling today?

I’d love to hear your best or worst contest story. The good. The bad. The laughable comments from a judge. Feedback that made you cry or gave you that “ah, ha!” moment. Here’s your opportunity to let us commiserate or celebrate with you.

As a thank you for reading and responding, I’m giving away a $5 Amazon gift card and a pair of patriotic handmade red, white (okay, really they’re crystal) and blue earrings to two commenters. Thanks for stopping by and your support! Hope you all have the opportunity to fall in love with my Bad Karma heroes and their loves.

Bravo TeamAnd as a little reward for all, here’s a scrapbook collage of my Bad Karma Team for your viewing enjoyment.

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Connect with Tracy Brody online:


Twitter: @BadKarmaWriter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet 2016 Golden Heart Finalist Layla Reyne!!

Today we’re welcoming another Mermaid, Layla Reyne, a 2016 Golden Heart finalist in Romantic Suspense with her manuscript FOUR TRAGEDIES.

Layla Reyne - Author Photo-1Attorney by day, writer by night, Layla Reyne was raised in North Carolina and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her scientist husband and three smush-faced dogs. Growing up surrounded by generations of southern storytellers and at the knee of her soap opera loving grandparents, she began writing at an early age. Now writing romantic suspense and contemporary romance, Layla is inspired by her coast-to-coast experiences and delights in weaving the people she’s met and places she’s been into her stories for readers everywhere to enjoy. Layla is a member of Romance Writers of America and its Kiss of Death and Silicon Valley chapters. She is represented by Laura Bradford of the Bradford Literary Agency.

Here’s a blurb for FOUR TRAGEDIES:

University professors are dying in Hanover, North Carolina, and their murders bear a striking resemblance to the deaths of Shakespeare’s wronged heroines. Police Chief Charlie Reddmann is on the case, which becomes complicated when her ex-fiancé, FBI Agent Hayes Keller, joins the investigation. Hayes was forced to leave Charlie behind two decades ago when his parents threatened to expose a secret that would destroy her family. Since he’s been gone, Charlie’s done everything in her power to keep that secret buried and protect, at all costs, the son Hayes doesn’t know exists. But as the case Charlie and Hayes are investigating leads closer and closer to home, the tightrope they’re both now walking is stretched taut under the weight of their past and their secrets. If it snaps, the free fall will be deadly.

Awesome!! I’m a Shakespeare fiend, so I love the conceit! (Layla calls it “a second chance romance wrapped in a Shakespearean-themed murder mystery,” which is pretty much like crack for me.) Looking forward to this!

Okay, readers—it’s time to pin on your FBI badges and gather round for some intense (but friendly) interrogation of Layla Reyne!

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Meet 2015 Golden Heart Finalist Brynn Kelly!

Today we have the pleasure of welcoming another Dragonfly guest blogger: 2015 Golden Heart Finalist Brynn Kelly, whose book DECEPTION ISLAND is nominated for best Romantic Suspense.

Brynn Kelly is an award-winning novelist and journalist, and bestselling non-fiction author from New Zealand. She could well be setting a RWA15 record for the longest non-stop journey to New York—35 hours straight, including stopovers. The flight goes via Sydney—which means she starts out flying three hours in the wrong direction. She’s viewing it as a long (and cramped) writing retreat. And, hey, when you’re a parent of young children, any time alone is a luxury.

Not only is DECEPTION ISLAND her Golden Heart book, it’s also going to be her publishing debut, to be released by Harlequin’s HQN imprint in 2016.

In DECEPTION ISLAND, an action-adventure romantic suspense, a rogue French Foreign Legion officer and a Californian conwoman reluctantly team up to battle modern-day pirates and slave traders in the steamy jungles and azure waters of an Indian Ocean paradise.

 Brynn’s here to talk with us about an issue so many of us struggle with as writers: the yearning for external validation, and the temptation to give up on our dreams.

Take it away, Brynn!

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brynnkellyLet It Go

We fiction writers are a neurotic bunch.

We’re forever waiting for someone to tell us whether our writing’s any good—and by extension whether we’re any good.

When we’re unpublished, we hang on the opinions of critique partners, beta readers, contest judges, editors and agents. After we’re published, we add reviewers and readers and booksellers to that list.

We think we’ll have made it if we can just win that contest, land that publishing deal, get that five-star review, hit the bestseller lists, gather 1000 likes on that Facebook post… We’ll be good enough. We’ll be a real writer.

If a publisher or agent passes on our story, we call it a “rejection”. Ugh. What an ugly word—it hits you like a punch to the gut. You can’t help taking a rejection personally. (I’ve launched a personal campaign to ban the word from my writing circles. The professional word for this, a “pass”, is much kinder, and more accurate.)

Choose your poison

For some reason, my husband got nervous tonight when he found me cooking dinner and reading a book on poisons. If only he knew how normal this is in our house…

Research is a passion of mine, as it is with many authors. At the moment I’m struggling with Christmastime poisons in regency England. In 1800, over 90 percent of poisonings were due to plant toxicity. Today, that percentage is down to 7 percent. Since I need to kill my villain, I need something that was deadly and available in England at that time. Mistletoe? Not very toxic at all for an adult human, although it would make anyone sick. Holly berries? The same.

Now, the English or European Yew tree is another matter. Found in many church yards all over the British Isles and France, a tea made from the leaves is deadly in only a few hours. Withered leaves are even more potent than fresh ones, and fortunately for my Christmas story, the yew keeps its leaves year round. But how am I going to disguise the taste? Hmmm.

English nightshade is another possibility. Although it flowers in the summer, the deadly fruit doesn’t show up until fall. Even the roots are deadly. This plant is known for belladonna, used in small quantities to make pupils dilate by the rich and famous in the renaissance.

Hemlock is another good choice. While Socrates famously drank it, a sneaky writer would put the leaves in a salad along with spinach. Not a good choice for a Christmas story, so let’s put this away for a later tale.

Privet hedges are all over England and give wonderful privacy. The entire genus Ligustrum plant is poisonous, particularly the blackish berries. However, a well-tended hedge won’t flower or have any berries. The plant thrives in the wild, so our intrepid villain could go on a stroll to gather his murder weapon.

This was in the days before autopsies, CSI laboratories, or even the germ theory of disease. Poisonings could be passed off as natural causes or terrible mistakes. It’s impossible to know at this distance how many poisonings were never suspected or ignored by relatives, neighbors, and the community. 

Makes you wonder why Mr. Bennett put up with Mrs. Bennett all those years when relief was right outside his door. 

Kate Parker makes her living by killing people, but only in her stories. The third Victorian Bookshop Mystery, The Royal Assassin, comes out in July. Bon Appetit!

Meet 2014 Golden Heart Finalist Denny S. Bryce!

Today we’re delighted to welcome Denny S. Bryce, a 2014 Golden Heart Finalist in the Romantic Suspense category with her contemporary novel CHASING DAMN.

dennybryceAsk Denny for a bio, and she’ll tell you, “I want to break it into acts. I’ve had three careers (and working on number four—writing romance:), and each has had its own beginning, middle and end (except the romance author who is just getting started:).” After college, she danced professionally in New York, New York, working with modern dance companies including Matthew Diamond and Alvin Ailey II. After a few years of loving the life of a struggling NYC artist “way too much,” she returned to Chicago (she’d graduated from college in Lake Forest, IL) and managed to get a job in public relations. Ten years into that career, she launched her own marketing and PR firm. And during that block of time, she started writing fiction (actually fan fiction in the Buffy/Spike fandom). Her first books were urban fantasies, then the romance took over and she was writing paranormal romance. She’s written romances in four genres—paranormal romance, urban fantasy, contemporary romantic suspense and a historical set in 1925 Chicago’s Bronzeville community. She currently lives outside DC next to a lake, not far from her grown son, who’s married and lives in the city.

Here’s a blurb for CHASING DAMN:

FBI Special Agent Nikki Chase is a brilliant ethical hacker, and the middle sister who doesn’t follow the rules. Nikki returns home after three years to search for her younger sister, a twenty-two year-old law student, she believes is missing. But other family members don’t agree, and she sets out on her own only to discover a connection between a cyber theft and her sister’s disappearance. Can she count on a one-night stand to help her solve a crime and save a life? Or will her inability to trust a man with more than her body keep her from making the right choice?

Ray Taylor, owner of a private security firm, is a government contractor for Homeland Security with a talent for persuading mid-level criminals to snitch on their bosses. He is determined to catch a sex-trafficking gang leader, but after a snitch commits suicide in front of him, he’s reevaluating his priorities. But when a one-night stand is the adopted niece of his next sting, he has to answer the question what matters most? His hate or his heart?

CHASING DAMN is a romantic suspense about an emotionally scarred woman and a determined private security consultant forced to work together to catch a cyber thief, but they soon learn the cyber gang leader wants more than data—he wants revenge.

Sweet! Those kinds of wounded, prickly, intense (and deep down inside vulnerable) heroines and heroines are right up my alley! Can’t wait!

And now a treat for today’s visitors: Denny’s a champion of the Romantic Suspense genre, and today she’s offering one lucky commenter a $10 Amazon gift card, which you’ll have to promise to spend on a Romantic Suspense!

In keeping with the suspense theme, I invite you all into my secret, high-security underground computer surveillance lair for a highly confidential chat with Denny! (Don’t worry…the chairs are comfy and the coffee’s strong! Plus, the brownies should be out of the high-security oven any minute now.)

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Welcome, Denny! Here’s my favorite starter question: tell us the story of your Golden Heart Call…

It was the best call ever (so far). I had turned off the Internet and settled in front of my computer to work on revisions for a story that wasn’t the romantic suspense I submitted for the Golden Heart. When my cell phone rang at 9:30 am I looked at the area code, I saw it was from the Midwest. Definitely not a Texas area code because yes, I thought GH calls came from RWA headquarters. And in PR, you pick up strange skills—knowing area codes is my thing:).  I answered the phone expecting to talk marketing stuff to a client when the woman on the other end asked for “Denny”. Outside of the writing world, only my mom and dad call me Denny:). And I didn’t recognize the voice.  So, I said, why are you calling me? (Manners went out the window). “Denny, this is XXX (no typo here:). I asked the caller six times, but I still don’t remember the name of the wonderful woman who called me. But if you read this, please let me know who you are, and I’m sorry for all the yelling. Yes, I might have raised my voice for five minutes saying over and over again, “Oh, my God!”

Tell us about your inspirations as a writer. Who’s got your back when the going gets tough?

I met a group of women four years ago at my first Washington Romance Writers (WRW-DC) retreat. Thirteen of us formed a group called the Waterworld Mermaids. The original crew included: Alethea Kontis (our leader:)!, Avery Flynn, Robin Covington, Loni Glover, Carlene Love Flores, Kerri Carpenter, Masha Levinson, Susan Andrews (aka Susan Jeffrey), Dana Rodgers, Diana Belchase, Kimberly MacCarron, Pintip Dunn, and moi. These fantastic women writers (our tag line:) have inspired me every day with their generosity, humor, fearlessness, frustration, determination, and awesome talent.

Ah, yes—I’ve seen the Waterworld Mermaids around the web. And, aside from the published folks, some of the names from that list should be familiar to anyone who’s perused RWA.org lately….

Two of those women are also 2014 Golden Heart finalists, in fact, both are double finalists (Kim and Pintip – my critique partner:)! The rest of the group are authors you are familiar with (or should be:), or like me, authors seeking publication as others gear up to self-publish.

So yeah, although I sometimes point to a pretty face or a photo of a perfect set of abs as inspiration for a character’s looks, the real deal for me and writing are the authors that help me stay in the writing cave and loving it there (whether it’s a good day or a bad day).

Congrats to all of the 2014 Golden Heart Finalists! So happy to be a Dreamweaver!

Congrats to you, too, Denny! And best of luck in San Antonio! So, do you have a question for our readers to get the conversation rolling today?

Many of us love to write – which is a given – but writing ain’t easy. What and/or who keeps you grounded? Who helps you get through when the writing days aren’t your best days….

And don’t forget: It’s Buy Romantic Suspense Day:)!

To support romantic suspense authors, one lucky commenter will receive a $10 AMAZON gift certificate for which you’ll be honor bound to buy a romantic suspense!!!!

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You can visit Denny at her website, www.dennysbryce.com; on Twitter @dennysbryce or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/denny.s.bryce or visit waterworldMermaids.com

POWER

Words are like a living entity, with the incredible ability to spread on their own. And partnered with today’s technology their range and speed are vast. They have the power to influence one, or many, and in doing so change the world. They have the potential to span centuries and thus persuade or motivate generations.

Think about that, because as an author that colossal sovereignty comes through you.  What a huge responsibility.

As authors, we spend considerable periods of time thinking about our characters and plot. Then we write. After which, we layer in emotions, senses and setting details. And of course, there is the endless tweaking of dialogue, sentence structure, hooks and much more. However, have you consider the message of your story?

I love to learn new things when I read, and I believe my readers do too. My all-time favorite book is Jean M. Auel’s Valley Of The Horses. Yes. It is a romance, at least it is to me. A beautiful love story. The novel’s setting is the primeval world. I applauded Miss Auel for her research. I can’t imagine the years she spent doing the work. While reading, I learned tons about herbs and ordinary plants and their therapeutic uses. I also learned a valuable safe aid tips, not to mention I discovered a fantasying past world.

In my romantic suspense stories, I’ve embedded true crime cases and safety tips in hopes my readers take heed and share the pointers, because one day my message might just save them from harm. Each of my contemporary novels contain messages relating to honesty with one’s self, strength of character and of family the their importance. My readers have responded positively to my messages in their reviews.

We have the power to change others’ lives-save lives. We can change people’s perception of themselves, help them understand a different person’s perspective or perhaps handle a stressful, urgent situation in a much better way than they would’ve. We can change their beliefs about history, people, the world or the future. We can spur them to take action for a cause. When their life changes, they remember you.

Great stories share information as well as entertain. What is the knowledge that you want to share for the Greater Good with your readers?

Autumn Jordon is happy to announce the release of PERFECT HEARTS.

PerfectHearts2_1400 - Copy (533x800)Blockbuster Movies show it, Platinum Records praise it, great literature lauds it…every living soul searches for it. Good grief, Carrie Twines’ livelihood depends on it. Everyone in Black Moose, Vermont seems to be in love or in hot pursuit of it. Their bliss only reminds Carrie of what she lost as a teen when two geeky best friends became first loves—until heartache sent them on different paths.

Carrie returns to Black Moose to emerge from the shadows of her parents’ stardom and find a normal life, love and family, but the odds are stacked against her. However, her luck is about to change. As she contemplates the merits of spinsterhood, a game of chance brings her back to the man she’d walked away from years ago. He’s even more kind and sexy than he was fourteen years ago, but can she trust him with her heart again?

Luke McQuire is a man with two things on his mind: building his electrical business and evading the town diva, Olive Ann. But when Carrie shows up again like a lucky penny, he’s got more to think about—including why she left him in the first place. He’s a damn good electrician, but can he make sparks fly with the one woman he wants—the one woman who was able to resist him?

Readers loved PERFECT, and the rib-tickling, warm fuzzy feelings continue in PERFECT HEARTS.

Foreign Affairs: An Interrogation Report for Suspected Russian Spy

SUBJECT:  Ex-KGB Agent Nikolai Markov, hero of THE RUSSIAN TEMPTATION by Nikki Navarre

State secrets have never been this sexy.

State secrets have never been this sexy.

INTERROGATOR:  CIA Agent James Riley, hero of AN AFFAIR OF DECEIT by Jamie Michele

LOCATION:  CIA Interrogation Facility, Washington, D.C.

DATE:  Yesterday 

RILEY:  Given these anomalies in your travel documents and your, ah, colorful history, you’ll understand why we need to ask a few questions, Mr. Markov.  Mind if I call you Nikolai?

MARKOV (lighting a Gauloise cigarette): I’d prefer it if you didn’t, Dr. Riley. As I’ve explained repeatedly to your CIA underlings, my name is Nikolai Kirov, and I’m an independent security consultant. A simple case of mistaken identity, no doubt, that you seem to have confused me with this ex-KGB hit man I take it you’re looking for.

Meet Lucky 13 Golden Heart Finalist Chris Taylor

Today we’re delighted to welcome Chris Taylor, another of the fabulous Lucky 13s, and a finalist in the Romantic Suspense category of the 2103 Golden Heart.

Chris lives in rural Australia on 25 acres with her husband, five kids and two dogs. During the course of her career, she’s been a nurse, a lawyer, an English and mathematics tutor and is currently work part-time at her local high school as a learning support officer. She’s been writing seriously for nearly 4 years and has completed 7 books in a loosely-linked romantic suspense series set against the beautiful Australian landscape. Several of the books have already finaled in contests like the Emily and Australia’s prestigious RWA Emerald. Her Golden Heart finalist THE PREDATOR is one of these stories. It delves into the dark and horrifying world of online child predators.

Here’s a blurb:

Four years ago, Brandon Munro did the unforgivable: he betrayed the woman he loved in order to protect an undercover operation tasked with infiltrating a terrorist cell.

Alexandra Cavanaugh’s world fell apart with Brandon’s betrayal. Refusing to listen to his explanation, she fled their home, taking her secret with her. Now, four years on, she has built a successful life and career as an Australian Federal Police officer working in a High Tech Operations team hunting online predators. In conjunction with Interpol and the FBI, her team is in pursuit of a pedophile ring that has its origins in Belgium.

Fate intervenes when Brandon comes striding into Alex’s office and back into her life. Thrown together in a race to uncover a global ring of pedophiles stalking vulnerable school girls online, Alex and Brandon are forced to confront their past.

While both struggle with guilt and forgiveness and the resurgence of love, they are unaware of the predator who stalks close to home.

You can learn more about Chris’s books online at http://christaylorauthor.com.au/WP/

Take it away, Chris!

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Chris Edited for profileI’m so thrilled and honoured to be invited as a guest blogger with the Rubies and to join the haloed ranks of RWA’s Golden Heart Finalists. It was such an exciting moment to receive the call. Me, an ordinary, everyday, nobody-special writer from Australia. It made me realise dreams do come true and anyone can make it if they dream big enough.

There are so many ordinary heroes in our everyday life. They’re not necessarily blessed with movie star looks, they’re not necessarily built like supermodels, but they are just as brave, just as deserving and more humble than many of the heroes we tune into on our TV screens and social media platforms on a daily basis.

These unsung, ordinary, everyday heroes have always called to me and it’s for this reason, I give them centre stage in my books. Given my legal background, it’s not surprising that I’m attracted to law enforcement and all of my stories contain at least one main character who is a police officer.

They are good looking (of course they are, these are a romance books, after all), but they are ordinary, everyday people, with ordinary, everyday flaws and imperfections, dealing with the myriad of stresses (big and small) that we all face during the course of our lives.

To keep it interesting, I like to write about topics that are confrontational and not necessarily popular. As mentioned above, in my Golden Heart story, The Predator, my hero and heroine are investigating online pedophiles. The story’s shocking and quite confronting, but I think it’s an issue that needs to be exposed and somehow dealt with.

Another story in this series is titled, The Wall and I deal with the issue of incest. In other stories, I have written about betrayal by a trusted friend, child kidnappings, suicide and serial killers.

Heavy stuff and not exactly the kind of thing you might expect in a romance novel, but as much as we might not want to believe it, scary stuff like this happens. I like to think my stories might help raise awareness in a small way to some of the darker sides of our society.  With awareness, comes knowledge, education and change and that can only be a good thing.

But I also believe in love and I truly believe love can conquer all. My stories are, above all, love stories. Despite the horror and the fear and the despair all around them, my unsung hero and heroine still find time for love. And of course, despite the seemingly unsurmountable odds, love wins out every time. (I am an optimist, after all).

Do you believe in the power of love? Do you believe each of us, either singularly or collectively, have the power to change what is not right in our society? I would love to know your thoughts.

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