Posts tagged with: romantic suspense

Ruby Release: Snow Bound by Dani Wade

Today I am thrilled to host the fabulous Dani Wade as we celebrate her debut release, Snow Bound.  I was instantly sucked into this story as soon as I started to read.  The writing was beautiful, the characters nuanced and engaging, and the chemistry just jumped off the page.  (Excuse me while I take a moment to fan myself.)  This is EXACTLY the kind of book you want to curl up with on a winter’s night (and I’m Alaskan, I know winter nights).  A perfect winter’s escape, and I got to grill the author!

So now, without further ado, let’s hear what Dani has to say about her fabulous new release!

Vivi: Damon is exactly the kind of guy you want beside you in a tough spot – or cuddled up in the middle of a snowstorm (yum). Studly ex-military who will protect you no matter what? Who can say no to that? And just because I like daydreaming about him, who would you pick to play Damon in a film of Snow Bound?

Dani: OMG, Channing Tatum ALL THE WAY! Ahem, sorry. I may have a little obsession when it comes to this actor, but he most definitely embodies most of Damon’s studliness and rough-and-tumble attitude. Did I mention his body?

Vivi: Oh wow, excellent call. 😉 Trapped by a snow storm and stalked by an unwelcome blast from her past, it would be easy for Tori to fall into the damsel-in-distress category, just waiting for a big strong man to save the day, but I loved the way she broke away from the pretty princess image Damon had of her. How did you strike that subtle balance between a heroine who can accept help, but also defend herself with shotgun blazing when she needs to?

Dani: Tori spent her life being typecast by those around her — head cheerleader, abuse victim, orphaned and alone — but she refuses to let those stereotypes change who she really is. She forged ahead to build a profitable business on her own. Supported herself with no family around. She’s not above accepting help, but only when she can’t do it herself.

She’s not a bad ass — more of a woman who does what she has to when the situation arises. A girly girl at heart, she loves skirts and sexy underwear. While she’s not comfortable with a gun in her hands, as us southern women know, you gotta do what you gotta do to survive.

Vivi: Cadence feels so real! I get the sense you really know a lot about small town life. Is it based on a real place? Are any of the characters taken from real life?

Dani: The town’s characters are an amalgam of the people surrounding me as I grew up in the deep South. But the town, it’s definitely based on one nearest my family during my childhood. I grew up on a farm in Tennessee where the nearest gas station was 20 minutes from home and “town” was even further. Everybody knew or knew of everybody else, and southern expectations reigned, whether you attended cotillion or hung out at the local honky tonk.

I loved writing about Cadence, its inhabitants, and quirks, because it felt like coming home in many ways. I can’t wait to revisit it for another book in this series!

Vivi: Tori remembers (in a rather steamy moment, ahem) a harem girl scene from one of her favorite romance novels. I love those little winks to the genre. Were you referring to a particular book? What would Tori’s favorite romance be?

Dani: That particular thought referred to my own fascination with Bertrice Small’s The Love Slave when I first started reading romance. As a small-town bookstore owner, Tori knows what every woman in town wants to hide behind her Sunday School study guide. But her faves are sexy romps that bring spice into her ho-hum romantic life, like Rhonda Nelson and Kira Sinclair’s Blaze books, Lauren Dane, and Maya Banks.

Vivi: I hear tell there are some exciting things in the future for you. After Snow Bound, I’m hungry for more. What can I expect next from Dani Wade?

Dani: Snow Bound was a wonderful Indie project for me to work on, and I hope to bring at least 2 more to readers in the next year. My website will keep readers up-to-date on my upcoming projects. My first print release will debut with Harlequin Desire in August of 2013. The working title is Master Designs, and features a disavowed heir, uptight executive assistant, wedding gowns, prostitution, and a sexy trip to Las Vegas!

Vivi: I’m so excited to hear you have more in the works – and an upcoming release with Harlequin Desire!  How thrilling!  Would you care to share your call story with our readers?  (I always love to hear about an author’s journey to publication!)

Dani: My first call was a long time coming — 8 years to be exact. I was only just coming out of the worst period of writer’s block I’d ever had — one rejection too many took their toll. An author friend, Andrea Laurence (Desire author), had read Designs and loved it. So when the Desire Senior Editor Stacy Boyd put out a request on Twitter for submissions, Andrea insisted I submit it. After all those years, I finally found editors who got my voice. Stacy passed the book on to Shana Smith, who put me through my paces with revisions, and bought the book just 4 days after receiving the latest version. Though I’ve been moved on to editor Charles Greimsman, I’ll always be grateful to Shana for her encouragement and belief in me!

Vivi:  Thank you so much for letting me grill you today and good luck with all your upcoming projects, Dani!

And now, here’s a peek at Snow Bound!

Snow Bound Cover

The last thing Damon West wants is a trip to his bookish neighbor’s house in the midst of the worst snowstorm Cadence, TN, has seen in a decade. Still, his military instincts warn him that Miss Priss could use a little help. His arrival is met with an attack by an unknown assailant and the sight of Miss Priss in a sexy wisp of nothing-much, confidently wielding a double-barreled shotgun.

Tori Anderson carefully portrays herself as a responsible bookstore owner and capable young woman to anyone willing to look twice. But two men grappling in her backyard called for speed more than decorum. That’s how the guy she’d been secretly lusting after since he’d bought the house next door sees her in a silky robe and panties—with nothing in between. Damon’s sudden interest thrills her, but she can’t help worrying about the unknown threat scared off by her shotgun blast.

Trapped in her house, snow blocking the roads and no way to reach the outside world, Tori finally has the chance to indulge her wildest fantasies. But she isn’t sure which is more daunting—the abusive boyfriend back to punish her for helping convict him of murder or her desire to have more than one night with the town’s most unavailable bachelor.


Today two lucky commenters will take home $5 Amazon Gift Cards for your book shopping pleasure.  Just tell us who would YOU most like to get snowed in with on a winter’s night?

Interrogation of Suspected Double Agent: Nikki Navarre

Q&A with Ruby Sister in Disguise Nikki Navarre

Interrogated by:  Jamie Michele


nikki navarre publicity photo head shotDOSSIER

SUBJECT: Nikki Navarre

ASSIGNMENT: Double Agent

COVER: Diplomat.  Playgirl.  Author of The Russian Seduction.

Nikki Navarre is the diabolical twin of unsuspecting historical romance author and Ruby Sis Laura Navarre.  Her literary credentials are suspiciously similar to those of her innocent sister.  Nikki’s notorious adventures in the world of diplomacy will get her in trouble one of these days.

The Russian Seduction may be the last mistake she ever makes.


To open a can of flat worms you need a nail, hammer and a flat-head screwdriver. The extraction should be done outside, because flat worms are smelly buggers, and man, can they move fast.  You wouldn’t want to find them slithering between the sheets later. They like 800 count Egyptian cotton.


Did I get your attention? Good because that is what this post is about, openings which grab you and hold on.


There is no one set rule for beginning your story. Story telling is an art and as we have seen countless times since woman first poked her man to pick up a chisel and strike rock that the artist who breaks the presumed rules and creates in a heartfelt manner is remembered long after his or her demise.  With that said, it is important to remember the purpose of starting a story.  A story is a journey. The reason for any passage is to reach a destination. Finding excitement, joy, wisdom, or love along the way, is a huge plus and makes the trip an enjoyable adventure.  And who doesn’t love an adventure.


Our job, as an author, is to create a beginning that will entice our readers to come along for the ride. But how do we convince them our story is the excursion for them?  From our first line and every line after, we show them that the world we’ve built is interesting, we introduce them to characters they can relate to and root for as they change and grow, and we intrigue them with a story line that lets the reader escape from their own world.


I don’t know about you, but I agonize over my opening. I did for this blog and I’m still thinking I could do better. I think my first line is the most rewritten line of any. A great hook is a must. The line can be action or dialogue or internalization, as long as it is intriguing and sets the tone of the story.  And more often than not, my first draft opening (which could be one or more chapters) ends in the trash or finds a place somewhere else in the book.  Openings are hard.


The following is my short list for writing a great opening.


1)    Openings should introduce the main character because the first character presented to a reader is usually the one they bond with.  Connection is key. Characters need to be flawed and they need to do something we could do ourselves. So if you kill that character off, you better be writing romantic suspense and/or have a reason for doing so. The reader will be leery of investing in another character.


However, shocking the reader is another way to drawn them into the story.  Choice your POV carefully when writing the scene this way.


2)    The author reveals secrets, asks an intriguing question or creates high stakes.  GMC, right?  I always think of Romancing The Stone when thinking about this one.  In the first moments of the movie we learn Jean Widler’s heart’s desire— to have a hero of her own— and that her sister’s life is put at risk. The screenwriter used all three.  What’s the third you ask?  Will Joan answer the call to adventure?


3)    Introduce the reader to a strange new world in little interesting bits, so that they want to learn more. This advice is not just for paranormal or fantasy authors.  Every world written is different from the ones in which we live, in some ways. Every section of New York City is unique.  Your world could be a planetary station, small town in USA, large city, foreign soil, somewhere in the future or the past. Build the world through different characters’ POV. I see walking through the forest as enjoyable and relish the coolness and peace, but someone else could see it as frightening, looking for snakes and bears and slapping at deer flies. Also, remember we came to learn our world through our senses.



4)    An author can briefly start their story in the ordinary world.  The optimum word here is briefly. Once, I heard an editor panel discussion where they stated that by page two you better turn the character’s world upside down with an enticing incident or you’re done.  Editors don’t have time for more and readers want to escape now. Not after the character gets up, has breakfast, takes the bus to work, greets her co-workers, etc.  That is boring.  Drop into the story near the moment everything changes and make the disruptive incident so unpleasant your characters will want to turn back time and gain their safe world back.


5)    The opening should show your voice.  This part of the promise you are making to your readers.  You don’t want to open with a comic scene and then the follow chapters turn dark. The dark element should be part of your opening, if that’s the case.  If it’s not, you might need to rethink opening POV or ditch the scene altogether.


6)    Don’t use the opening for an information dump on character’s backstory.  Reveal bits of necessary information over the length of the book.


Okay, that is my short checklist.  Does anyone else have suggestions for making  openings great? Oh, and FTW, I have no experience with flatworms.


Visit Autumn at . Her new release Seized By Darkness is available on Amazon and B&N.


Curves Ahead!

Curves Ahead!


We read, and write, because we enjoy it. And, whether I’m reading or writing, there’s nothing I enjoy more than a good twist. Maybe it’s the suspense writer in me, or maybe I’ve read so many books and seen so many television shows and movies in my life that many plots have become predictable. It’s easy for me to guess the endings. So when a writer hits me with an amazing twist…yeah, I get goosebumps.


As a suspense author, I try to provide that same kind of “I didn’t see it coming” sucker-punch in my books. The twist in the book that releases today (Avenging Angel) actually crept up on me and I surprised myself. I didn’t realize who the villain was until 2/3 of the way through the first draft. And boy, a major light bulb – the wattage of which could have lit a Las Vegas marquee – went off when it hit me.


I love those aha! moments. Those shouts of “Eureka!” that make all the torture worthwhile. I swear, there’s a burst of adrenaline or endorphins that accompany the sudden connections in the brain, the synapse firings that pair ideas in a unique way that pays off big as it creates a new idea, a new concept, or twists your old ideas in a new way.



Today, I’m celebrating the release of AVENGING ANGEL – Book Two in my Mindhunters series – by giving away an e-copy to one commenter. (And you may be pleased to note that ONLY FEAR, the first book in the Mindhunters series, is on sale through 7/31/12 for 99 cents! Print copies of ONLY FEAR are also available through

In keeping with the twists and turns this story took as I revised it, below is a “twisted” excerpt where my heroine and hero first meet…and she misunderstands why he’s there. He goes with it because he’s looking to get on her good side.


A knock at the studio’s front door jerked Vanessa out of the creative fog she’d happily sunk into. From her perch in the back corner, the canvas shielded the door from view.

Maybe Fiona had left something behind. But she would eventually dig out her key and let herself in. Despite the work she had yet to do for the auction, Vanessa had finally had a breakthrough on the piece she’d been trying to start for weeks. She just needed a little more time to get the color just right.

A harder, louder knock brought on a flutter of nerves. She debated whether she could simply play possum, but the studio lights were clearly evident from the street. She forced herself to leave her stool and move to the door.

“Miss Knight?” a male voice called through the door. “Someone at the gallery told me I could find you here.”

Not a complete stranger, then. At least he knew who she was. And he seemed polite. Killers weren’t polite, were they? Still, she was hesitant to unlock the door. “Just a minute.” She ran to the back, grabbed her phone and texted Fiona. Did Lance send a guy over?

It only took a minute for Fiona’s reply. No, I did. You’re welcome.

More curious than scared now, she unlocked the door. Vanessa’s breath caught at the sight of the owner of the male voice—and the decidedly male body it belonged to.

“I thought maybe you’d snuck out the back.” In an endearing boyish manner, the man tucked his fingers into the front pockets of his jeans and rocked back on his heels, a half grin on his face. Though his dark blond hair was short and well-groomed, a shock of it fell across his forehead.

But it was his eyes that drew her. As an artist, Vanessa had always found eyes so expressive. The window to the soul, some people said. The light blue ones focused on her now held a certain uncommon crystalline intensity. The shade of sky she’d been working on in her painting a moment ago suddenly seemed drab and gray. This man’s eyes…now there was a blue sky. The edges crinkled. “Are you okay? Fiona said it would be okay to come over…”

“Yes, of course.” She’d been staring. “I’d forgotten I’d placed that ad. It’s been weeks and nobody responded. Please, come in.”


She closed the door behind him. He came to a stop in the middle of the studio and she eyed the specimen. He had definite potential. She walked in a slow circle around him, her eyes taking in the hint of a chiseled chest beneath his gray T-shirt, the lines of a fine gluteus beneath his faded but nice-fitting jeans. His biceps rippled and forearms contracted as he crossed his arms.

“Like what you see?” Amusement laced his husky words. Still, he let her finish her circuit.

“I have to make sure you’ll be a good fit.” The double meaning of her words came rushing at her and she nearly tripped.

His eyebrows lifted. “For?”

“The position, of course.” She cocked her head, her hair brushing a bare shoulder and making her skin turn to gooseflesh as if he’d touched her. She tugged off her paint-smeared apron. “You’re here about the ad I placed for a nude model, aren’t you?”

His nostrils flared, and Vanessa was reminded of the magnificent, proud stallions from the days in her youth when her mother had pushed her into riding lessons. The pleasant smell of hay and warm, fresh-cut grass suddenly came to her, along with a remembered sense of freedom.

She cleared her throat and stepped away. “You’re just in time. I’d given up on getting a response before my class focuses on anatomical sketches next week.”

“Anatomical sketches?”

“Would you mind taking your shirt off?”

The smile that took a slow trip across his lips had her heartbeat stuttering. “Part of checking out the merchandise? I assure you everything’s there.”

Thank you for being here with me today! If you’re okay with giving some spoilers, what twists and turns have surprised you in your own writing, or in the books you’ve read recently? (And if it’s a spoiler for a book others may be reading, please indicate that in the beginning.) And remember, I’ll be giving away a copy of AVENGING ANGEL to a commenter (at random) at the end of the day.


Meet 2012 Golden Heart Finalist Jean Willett

Today we’re welcoming the wonderful Jean Willett to the blog. Jean’s done great work for all our sakes as President of The Golden Network, an organization she talks about below, so we all owe her a big debt of thanks!

Also, Jean’s post contains some big news about the 2012 finalists: we finally have our group name!!! We’re thrilled to have a symbol to rally around at last.

2012 actually marks Jean Willett’s third Golden Heart nomination, which makes her eligible for the Golden Network’s Hall of Gold status.

A multi-award winning author, Jean loves escaping into a story, whether it’s mystery, romance or women’s fiction.  A former chemist, she now prefers the chemistry on the page. Her years as a Navy brat traveling just about everywhere provide a rich tapestry of material for her stories.  Her mystery with romantic elements, RESCUING REMBRANDT, is a 2012 Golden Heart Romantic Suspense finalist.

You can learn more about her at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter @jmwillett.

Take it away, Jean!


I’m sending a boatload of thanks to the Ruby Slippered Sisters for inviting all the Golden Heart Finalists to their Blog for a fun time. I’ve enjoyed reading the heartfelt words of my fellow 2012 GH nominees, the new FIREBIRDSForged in fire and flying higher! I am looking forward to cheering for everyone in Anaheim. The connection fostered through our common bond- the Golden Heart – creates wonderful friendships. That said, it’s kind of hard to follow the humor of Romily and the historical savvy of Oberon, but I can offer up tidbits and facts on breaking-and-entering, potential poisons for nefarious purposes and ways to kill someone only on the pages of mystery fiction, of course. Better yet, how about we keep it safe and chat about friendship…

Our GH bond creates a friendship that continues when we go on to join The Golden Network, a chapter established to support all Golden Heart finalists. It was established as the internet was sinking into a writer’s life and used as a way to connect everyone. Each year, the chapter celebrates the new finalists, hosts a retreat and/or cocktail party and provides a networking opportunity for its members.

The individual GH Loops started several years after the chapter as a way to instantly connect all the current GH Finalists. It’s fun, exciting and entertaining. As Past-President of TGN, I’d love to see that same enthusiasm continue on the chapter loop. The Rubies are a shining example of what TGN hoped to become and I think we can get back to those roots. There is a wealth of talented writers within TGN, published and unpublished. If we tap the well, we’ll all benefit.

Last year in NYC, TGN hosted two panels of industry editors and agents. We had a great spirited discussion between the professionals and if you were there, you’ll remember the moment we thought we’d have to open a few water bottles and douse the fire. I could just hear our group gaining the reputation for creating war…ah…passionate debate. The passionate expressions from the industry members were heartfelt and wonderful to see. It means they love their work and we provide the content to keep them happy.

This year in Anaheim, TGN has a panel of industry professionals ready to answer your questions. What would you ask them? What do you want to know? And has the GH helped you find a few new friends?  I know I’m mining gold and I can’t wait to meet all of you.

This year in Anaheim, TGN has a panel of industry professionals ready to answer your questions. What would you ask them? What do you want to know? And has the GH helped you find a few new friends?  I know I’m mining gold and I can’t wait to meet all of you.

He’s a Man, Dang It!

Recently— Actually, two months ago, I read a story in which one male character, an ex-marine, was so in-tune with the heroine’s wants and needs that I found him totally unbelievable.  I know good guys, I’m married to one, but in all my years, I haven’t met one man who totally understands what it means to be a woman, especially a pregnant one.

Yes, I understand we’re writing romantic fiction and we have the right to create our fantasy men in our heroes, but we also have the obligation to our readers to write characters they’ll buy into.  Men are different than women, it’s a fact.

Alpha, Beta and Gamma males don’t worry about cleaning the house because company is coming. It’s his cave. If they don’t like his cave, it’s their problem. Men certainly don’t worry about choice of pillows for his guests.

A meal is a slab of meat (bread optional) not a four course dinner.  Setting the table means putting the meat on it—(silverware optional).

His idea of organizing is to pile items somewhere on a shelf in a specific 10’ X 10’ area. His hope to find the item later is to ask his woman where she put it.

Men don’t remember to pick-up the dry cleaning unless it’s the only chore on their to-do list, which is pinned to their shirt, and there is not a bar, hardware or sports store on the direct route to the cleaners.

In conversation, they tend to use simple words and less of them.  Women rationalize, offer direction or explanation while men just get to the point. Men also use lots of fighting four letter words and more often than women.

Men don’t bond with other men by sharing. They bond by competing with each other.

Men zoned out when resting and they fall to sleep faster than women.  Our minds continue to work—probably wondering what they will do or not do next.

Men saunter, swagger or strut. They don’t pad across the floor.

They scratch and it not always their heads above.

They hook their leg over the other, not cross them.  If he sits with his legs wide, he is interested in you.

When asked to describe a car, they don’t start with the color. It’s usually make, model and engine size.

The Crayola® eight pack contains their realm of color descriptions.  No man says teal or fuchsia. Exception; they might, however, say cherry.

Watching a baby, means he needs a babysitter.

They’re particular about their razor, jeans, footwear and choice of alcohol. Anything else, they’ll make do.

My brief list is not meant to bash men. They’re known facts. The point I’m trying to make, I read this story written by a NY Times author two months ago and still the fact that she dropped the ball in a big way disappoints me.  Faulty characters, written over the top, cardboard or totally off can and will cost you readers.

Research your material. Watch the guy who thinks he has the power over the TV remote. Remember you know where he stored the fresh batteries.

Interview with Romantic Suspense Author Annie Solomon, the editing process

Today we have Rita award winning author Annie Solomon here to talk about her latest release and the struggles she had to get this one out there. Welcome Annie!

Guest Author Elisabeth Naughton

Welcome to guest author Elisabeth Naughton

A previous junior-high science teacher, Elisabeth Naughton now writes sexy romantic adventure and paranormal novels full time from her home in western Oregon where she lives with her husband and three children. Her debut release, Stolen Fury, heralded by Publisher’s Weekly as “A rock-solid debut,” was recently nominated for two prestigious RITA® awards by Romance Writers of America in the Best First Book category and the Best Romantic Suspense category. When not writing, Elisabeth can be found running, hanging out at the ball park or dreaming up new and exciting adventures.

Guest Author – Elisabeth Naughton

Elisabeth_NaughtonThanks so much to the Ruby Slippered Sisters for having me here today! For those of you who don’t know me, I write romantic adventure and paranormal novels and was a 2007 GH finalist in RS. My GH finaling manuscript – STOLEN FURY – went on to sell in 2008 and was released just a year ago in January 2009. Since then I’ve had three books release and have two more scheduled later this year.

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The Latest Comments

  • Darynda Jones: Love this, April! I could see this for any age. Your protagonist could be a child haunted by a...
  • Darynda Jones: Oooooo, this would make a great opening, Cynthia! Great job!
  • Darynda Jones: YES! Love it, Lydia! Creepy and dark. Two of my favorite things, and if that’s wrong, I...
  • Darynda Jones: BAM! There you go. Fantastic, Diane! Super creepy.
  • Darynda Jones: Nice, Joyce!!! You included scent. It’s something I’m always overlooking. Great job!