NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A. Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!


What’s better than candy on Halloween? Actually, I can think of few things better than candy except for maybe free books and movies! Click the links below for free Halloween reads and online movies.


Brush up on your horror classics with these free e-reads.


In which a pair of Faebled nemeses come together for an All Hallows sewing bee. 

Ione Cain is known for her stitch witchery; her garments cause tongues to wag in wonder at the life they possess. Tonight, beneath the All Hallows Moon, with her Nemesis at her side, Ione will bend her talent to quilting a memorial to her lost loves. Whipstitch is a tale of revenge and love gone wrong—but horribly right.


Read reviews of current movies, movie news, watch original horror web series, and best of all. . .free movies!

Spooky Audio Book Samples from Penguin

Listen to audio excerpts of the novels Dust, Dark Prophecy, Servant: The Awakening, and Dracula.

Enjoy!
Angela ; )

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Perils of Constance

When last I blogged here, two months ago, I bemoaned the fact that my work-in-progress had gone off the rails and was hurtling down the embankment toward the river.

I’ve learned in life that if you whine and complain enough, people will help you, if only to shut you up. :-)

So I got a lot of good advice from many good writers: stuff that worked for them, or that they’d heard had worked for other writers (hey—beggars can’t be choosers).

Just to recap, the premise of the story was that an A’lle ship had crash-landed in what is now southern Quebec three hundred years ago. Society is growing accustomed to these aliens in their midst—they look very human-like, but are just different enough to be unsettling. Still, there is an ultra-religious faction that believes the A’lle have no souls and represent a serious threat to the souls of all God-fearing humans. In 1911, Constance is the first A’lle investigator, part of the constabulary of St. Vincent, and she is investigating the murder of another A’lle.

There I was, nearing the end of the story when I realized I was forcing myself to put words down and worse, I was bored. Not good. SO not good.

So with all that good advice in mind, I went back to the beginning and started rereading. Sure enough, I found the kink in the rail—and how appropriate was it that it happened to be *on* a train, while Constance was on her way to Montreal with her boss, the chief investigator? I suddenly realized that while she was off following a lead, the bad guy would be doing something, too: he would be trying to prevent her from doing her job.

Now I’ve picked up Constance’s story again and the push-pull of showing the antagonist’s needs and the actions he takes to resolve his needs is making all the difference.

So thanks, eh. Good advice, from good writers, and now Constance’s story is back on track, full speed ahead.

Okay, I’m done with the train metaphors.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Love Affair with Halloween

My favorite time of the year is upon us. Yes, I'm talking about Halloween. Any time I can work Halloween into one of my books, I do. Protective Custody, for example, begins with a murder on Halloween night!

So it should come as no surprise that I have quite the collection of spooky decorations. Or that I do up my house big time for the holiday. My husband is floored that our attic is packed with more totes full of Halloween decor than Christmas/Hanukkah decor! So without further ado, here's a sampling.





This little display is in my office.


I love that this lighted pumpkin is carved top side forward instead of the usual way.




The jack-o-lantern below has fiber optic lights strung through the straw hair and around the hat, eyes, mouth and nose.




 I fell in love with the wreath on the right. The witch has so much detail from her multi-colored tulle broom to her pointy shoes and frizzy hair!


This is the front entrance to my house. I have a mini graveyard complete with tombstones and a spooky fence.




Here's a closeup of the guy guarding the door. When I brought him home from the store several years ago, my son asked my daughter what it was supposed to be. Without blinking, she said, "That's Mom right before we have company." That moniker has stuck!
 This grim reaper hangs from the dining room chandelier.



And this little guy is animated. He plays Great Balls of Fire as he plays the organ. His eyes light up and his hands actually move along the keys.  He's an old family favorite.



And this lovely lady hangs next to DH's computer desk.



This is another animated decoration. He sings Hot, Hot, Hot. His eyes light up bright red and his mouth moves.


I hope you've enjoyed my tour of my Halloween props. Everything goes up October first and comes down November first. As I decorate, I can be heard singing It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

I hope you and your family have a happy, safe and spooky holiday!

Monday, October 24, 2011

That’ll Teach You to Watch the Movies

It’s not as if I write the kind of suspense novels that involve guns. I confess to having really enjoyed clay pigeon shooting whenever I’ve done it, but I've never fired at anything else in my life. I abhor violence, I'm scared by loud noises, my testosterone levels are waaaaaaay below my gentle feminine ways...

So how come I enjoy the gun-toting, action-packed thrillers at the movies?


I'm a late follower to the blog Cracked - when I scooped up its feed, I found loads of other online friends already following! Some of its articles - or are they just lists? - are fun, some of them are bizarre, and all of it fascinating. So as I'm currently winging my way over the Atlantic on my way home from an extended trip to New Orleans and San Francisco (yes, maybe I'll tell you all about it in my *next* blog post *g*) and I'm time-challenged AND jet-lagged, I'm going to borrow shamelessly today for our entertainment from one of Cracked's posts, called:

5 Ridiculous Gun Myths Everyone Believes (Thanks to Movies)
(I've only posted brief excerpts here, scroll down to find the link to the full article)

#5. Silencers Turn Gunfire Into a Gentle Whisper

Where You've Seen It: In The Line Of Fire, Die Hard 2, No Country For Old Men, Shooter, practically every James Bond movie.

The Myth: Cautious spies and assassins know that if you're going to take out a bad guy in an office or a library, be sure to use a silencer. It turns the concussive "bang" into a neutered "ptew." Itty-bitty handguns aren't the only things you can silence. Giant freaking shotguns can even be fitted with a special silencer that renders them inaudible in quiet suburban neighborhoods.

The Problem: Exploding gunpowder is loud. Really loud. A little metal tube won't do a whole lot to stop that. It does not make a soft phut that you could mistake for a kitten landing on a pillow. An unsilenced gunshot is around 140 to 160 decibels--that's in the range where hearing it once can permanently damage your ears. If you've never had a gun go off next to you, trust us when we say it's loud enough that your whole body will flinch at the sound of it. So a silencer really just makes a large gun sound like a smaller gun. If you're James Bond and are sneaking into the enemy's compound with a silenced pistol, you're basically hoping the guards will decide your gun is too small and wimpy to be a serious threat, and leave you be.

#4. Machine Guns are Magical Death Machines

Where You've Seen It: Starship Troopers, The Mummy, Max Payne, Commando, every John Woo movie, Scarface.

The Myth: It's an old joke by now that nobody runs out of bullets in action movies (unless it's suddenly convenient to the plot, that is). So much so that that most of us have wound up with an utterly ridiculous concept of how those guns work. They're seriously depicting these things firing a hundred times more bullets than they can actually hold.

The Problem: Full-auto is only really used for suppression, that is, to make the bad guys duck their heads and hunker down while your people maneuver into position. In fact, virtually all bullets are used for this. For each insurgent killed, 250,000 shots are fired that hit absolutely nothing. About three tons of ammunition for every one dude killed.

#3. Bulletproof Vests Are Magical Force Fields

The Myth:  In movies, body armor (made from a material called Kevlar) turns most guns from magical death-wands to hilariously overbuilt Airsoft rifles. A burst of fire from an AK-47 at point-blank range would turn most men's torsos into gooey paste suitable for spreading on crackers, but add a slab of Kevlar and you might as well have a Gandalf's magic protection bubble glowing around your torso.

The Problem: In the real world, the type of bulletproof vest you can actually conceal under your clothes provides exceptional protection against most handguns. But against an assault rifle like the terrorists use? It's only slightly more effective than body paint and prayers to Khorne. When police wear body armor they don't tend to wear full military body armor. Probably because it weighs 33 freaking pounds and costs thousands of dollars. Since less than one percent of gun crimes involve military-style rifles, this is generally a pretty safe trade-off.


#2. Gratuitous Cocking

Where You've Seen It: Boondock Saints, Die Hard, Reservoir Dogs.

The Myth: Movies treat the cocking of a gun like an exclamation point. When Hardass McBadCop interrogates the lone surviving henchman, you can safely assume that, at some point, he's going to make his gun go "clickety-clack" to let the poor schmuck know he means business.

The Problem: That "click" is the sound of a hammer being cocked back, but it doesn't mean anything. The gun was already good to go. Guns are made so that pulling the trigger also cocks the hammer for you, to save you the extra step and the extra two seconds during which you could get shot. The "cocking the gun to show you mean business" must date back to Westerns, back when those old revolvers forced you to cock them between each shot. When movies show somebody with a gun that doesn't have a hammer back there to be cocked (like a shotgun or assault rifle) they substitute either the pumping of the shotgun or pulling back the slide on the automatic. It's the only way to get a cool clicking sound for dramatic effect.



(am I worried this is my favourite picture?! LOL)

#1. Bullets Explode Everything

Where You've Seen It: Jaws, Casino Royale, Matrix Reloaded.

The Myth: In the movies, bullets and anything mildly flammable have a matter/anti-matter relationship. The second hot lead touches a car's gas tank, it and everyone inside are going up in flames.

The Problem: The manufacturers of automobiles and pressurized containers really don't like liability lawsuits. If their products could be turned into a fireball the size of a city block with nothing more than a sudden impact or puncture, every car accident would look like the Fourth of July, every pile-up would look like a Michael Bay movie. The Mythbusters famously demonstrated the falsehood of both the "shoot the gas tank" myth and a ton of other gun myths in two of their episodes. As it turns out, you actually have to coax a car into exploding by doing things in a very particular way. If you can punch a small hole in the tank, light a fire outside of it, and vaporize the gas inside to the point that the tank over-pressurizes, then you could probably get it to light. Assuming you use special tracer bullets.

*******

And here's the link to the original post at Cracked, penned by Robert Evans. 

So how many of these were a surprise to you? How many of these scurrilously misleading movies have you watched and loved (like me) - and will you ever be able to watch the re-runs of Die Hard with quite the same wide-eyed innocence again?



Friday, October 21, 2011

Pink Hair Dye & Promises

Ever had those times when writing was unbelievably difficult?
Someone is hospitalized...or worse...they die? Been there.
Acts of God, George, or Government derail you? Been there, too.
The Clairol-Impaired becomes a shade less desirable? Computer crashes? Muse deserts and takes the WIP with her? - I've got the CD, the ugly tee-shirt, and the bad hair.

Point is, you're not alone. It's not what happens to us that matters - it's how we deal with what happens.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my RWA groups got into a heated discussion over a comment someone made. She said that real writers write every day and that wannabes don't. Within minutes, as an officer, I began receiving angry emails and wails of "I'm ready to quit". I sat on my fingers to keep from typing for a few minutes. They'd forgotten, I guess, that the same woman had spouted in a monthly meeting not long ago that she didn't want group monies spent on bringing in an agent or an editor. Said there wasn't a damn thing they could teach her and that the group would be best served by simply learning to write better books.

By her definition, Sabrina Jeffries, Deidre Knight, and Sherilyn Kenyon - and others who have stated that they don't write every day and sometimes not even every week - are wannabes. *blink*

Yes, she'd recently sold and was feeling rather smug. And she had gone through most of the above mentioned reasons for not writing every day. Well, good for her. But what did it gain her to use her self-righteousness as a weapon and make others question their own place in the writing world? Absolutely nothing. She wound up losing a friend or two, not to mention consumers.

Whatever we accomplish should be due to the promises we make ourselves, not that we measure ourselves by someone else's yardstick. Chances are that they'd only beat us up with it at a later date anyway. Nobody determines our success but us, and our fellow writers - our competition, if you'd prefer looking at them that way (I don't - to me, they're just friends)...they should be cherished. They provide us with support and even mirrors by which we can see ourselves as others see us.

Here's sending every writer a cyber bottle of Windex so they can get that shine, that sparkle. Here's offering up chocolate, a kick in the pants, or whatever is needed. But if you take nothing else, take hope. You are not alone. Sit on the platitudes and instead deliver your best self.

Now. Somebody wanna come help me with my hair?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Where Do Your Characters Shop?


Where do your characters shop? One might think that discussing a character's wardrobe is off-topic from the mystery/suspense genre, but is it?


My poor characters are usually subjected to abysmal weather, and are up to their eyeballs in danger. With that formula, fashion is often the least of their concerns. Sweaters, boots, and jeans are all staples for both hero and heroine alike. The fact that I bundle them up so much can make for some frustrating delays in front of the fireplace. But the extra work makes the prize all the more rewarding, right?


One side-effect of a diverse wardrobe happens to be an editor's worst nightmare...remembering what the character wore in the last scene. If your heroine is wearing a red sweater at the top of the stairs and a blue one at the bottom, we know the author took a vacation sometime in between there. 


When your heroine throws on a coat, do you daydream about what type of coat you would like to buy and live vicariously through her, or do you seek out the most practical garment for the scene? When your leading lady slips on a pair of heels, are they shoes you know you'll never be able to wear, or like me, is the leading lady hauling on a pair of boots?


Is the wardrobe a major concern for you as a reader or writer? Does your novel need a visit from the What Not To Wear crew?



Monday, October 17, 2011

How to Spot a Writer at a Party

In case it’s not obvious, I’m anti-social. I often use work or family as an excuse to decline invitations to social events because people think I’m lying when I tell them I’d prefer to relax at home on the weekends. (Not that I have time to relax on the weekends while I’m working on the MBA, but that’s temporary. I hope.) I have very few close friends, but I value those relationships and work hard to maintain them. For instance, although I live in Calgary, I’ve gotten to know the restaurant scene in Toronto very well because I order a lot of food to be delivered to my friend who had to move in with her parents while she’s dealing with cancer. The Peking duck I had delivered last week was a huge hit.

With my buddy, Adam (not his real name), turning forty this week, I prettied myself, bought a bottle of Baileys as big as my head and a bottle of Bacardi Mojito, and went over to his house last Saturday to help him celebrate (or is it commiserate?). Since Adam is the nicest guy in the world and a social butterfly, his house was packed. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know a few of his boot camp buddies, but I can’t bring myself to do more than greet those people. Instead, I, being the writer that I am, headed straight for his wife’s best friend, Hannah (not her real name), because she works for the police department. (Yes, the sad truth is other people are research material for writers.) She’s not an officer, but she works with them and I love getting insights from her about the workings of the police department and its people–and the occasional introduction. She knows almost everybody, including the police chief, the head of the homicide unit, the head of the drug unit, and the mayor, whom I got to meet when he stopped by to wish Adam happy fortieth and deliver a gift. (I’ve met the previous mayor at public functions and charity events, but last night was the first time I got to meet a mayor at a private function…which gave me a chance to note that the current one wears very colorful socks.)

Anyway, I plied Hannah with Baileys and got great tidbits and stories. At one point, I even took out my 11″ MacBook Air (it’s small enough that it’s always with me) to make notes. Even the stuff I didn’t think I would use, I recorded because I might decide to write about a narcotics detective one day. All in all, despite not getting to bed until 5 AM and having a headache telling me I’m too old for late nights, I enjoyed myself.

Next time I see Hannah, I’m going to wrangle an invitation to meet the tact team–and not because she says they're the fittest guys on the force. Really.

So, how do you spot a writer at a party? She’s the one taking notes while everyone else is talking. Or the one drinking alone on the sofa.

Friday, October 14, 2011

5 Deadly Resources

Like so many writers, I love writing books. Er, I mean I love books about writing. Although I do certainly love writing books.

Anyway, I have a nice little collection that I turn to for inspiration -- this practice is also known as stalling. A certain amount of my How To shelf space is devoted to writing books specifically in the mystery genre, so I thought I'd share some of my favorites and perhaps some of you could share yours.

The Mystery Writer's Handbook (edited by Herbert Breen). Sure, you probably have the current MWA edition edited by Sue Grafton -- that's certainly a good one -- but my favorite is the 1956 edition which offers articles and advice from writers like Rex Stout, Margery Allingham, Anthony Boucher (who does an essay titled "You and the Reviews and the Reviewers") and John D. MacDonald. It's loaded with tips and tricks and insights. Okay, in fairness the market tips are no longer relevant, but good writing is good writing, and the fundamentals don't really change that much.

Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction by Patricia Highsmith - This is a wonderfully dry little book from the 80s by a true master of the art of suspense. Like my vintage MWA edition, I love this for the insight it gives into the mind of the wickedly clever Highsmith.

Writing Crime & Suspense Fiction and Getting it Published by Lesley Grant-Adamson - I have no clue who Lesley Grant-Adamson is. I've never read her fiction, but this slim offering from Britain is a little different in its perspective on...well, everything. And that's what I like. I don't always agree with Grant-Adamson, but she's not rehashing the same old tired advice we see in current mystery writing books. She's thinking it through and coming up with her own take. It's a splash of cold water when you're in a writing funk.

Writing Detective and Mystery Fiction (edited by A.S. Burack) - I don't know how many editions there are of this thing. Mine is dated 1967 and its revised from the 1945 edition. Like the MWA edition, a lot of the advice pertaining to market and contacting publishers is only of historical interest. But it offers insight and advice from everyone from S.S. Van Dine (I didn't say you had to TAKE all the advice) to Dorothy L. Sayers.

The Fatal Art of Entertainment (Interviews with Mystery Writers) edited by Rosemary Herbert. This is exactly what the title describes ruminations on writing crime fiction from talents like Sue Grafton, PD James, and Tony Hillerman. There are thirteen essays plus a foreward by Antonia Fraser. It's an enjoyable read. I wouldn't say that it was chock full of practical advice, but sometimes you just want to hear about writing from people who really do know what they're talking about.

That's it for me. Anyone feel like sharing your own favorite mystery and crime writing books?

================================================
Twitter: @JoshLanyon
 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

ESPIONAGE


Until and unless, an author achieves financial success with his or her writing—a second job is a necessity. Man may not live by bread alone but a few meals a day keep the stomach from growling. Some writers work as editors or teachers, we have an ex marine biologist in the group, several Carina authors are technical geniuses, I sang for my supper. But is there anyone here who ever considered spying? Would you be willing to Infiltrate the International Spy Museum and test your nerve, memory and gut instinct with hands-on exhibits, video and audio displays and touch-screen computers? Potential recruits are taught to use surveillance, photography, audio-capture equipment and disguise.
In the heart of Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown, a building filled with intrigue, treachery and terror draws enthusiastic fans, fascinated by the game of espionage, into a world of conspiracy. Can a novice learn to pick a lock? Bug an office, set up a listening post, and hack into a computer?
The father of our country, George Washington, authorized a spy network in New York in 1777. A letter exhibited at the museum illustrates his skill in the art of deception. In 1861, Abraham Lincoln hired Alan Pinkerton to organize our secret service. The all-seeing eye, Pinkerton’s symbol, led to the tag Private Eye, popular in genre novels, and noir films.
The museum’s artifacts include cameras that can be hidden in a cigarette pack, a wristwatch or a buttonhole in a coat. Cigarette guns, lipstick guns, a ring gun and a single shot device hidden inside a tube of skin cream seem like toys but all were carried by agents and are displayed at the museum. Russia’s KGB examined the exploits of Ian Fleming’s Agent 007 James Bond and our intelligence agencies studied and were inspired by his Aston Martin DBS that sported innovations such as a machine gun, bulletproof shield and dashboard radar screen.
James Fenimore Cooper wrote a novel, The Spy, in 1821; Joseph Conrad penned The Secret Agent in 1907. Alfred Hitchcock frightened the film-going public with The Man Who Knew too Much featuring Peter Lorre as the evil antagonist and North by Northwest with Cary Grant portraying a man mistaken for a spy.
Graham Greene’s The Third Man brought Orson Welles to the screen in 1949 with a part said to be modeled on the Cambridge spy, Kim Philby. The chase through Vienna’s sewers remains a classic. John Le Carre’s novels introduced George Smiley and we avidly read Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum and Frederick Forsyth; authors of books that send a chill up our spines and sell in the millions.
Television introduced Mission Impossible, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Avengers with Diana Rigg and Patrick McNee, and I Spy with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby to the then small screen—before Cosby became America’s much loved doctor and father. These shows led to spoofs like Get Smart, written by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry starring Don Adams as Agent 86, Maxwell Smart. More recent send-ups of the genre include the Austin Powers and Spy Kids motion pictures.
How about it writers? Do you have an itch for espionage? Can you use your book as a cover? Ouch!

Bests,

Elise

Monday, October 10, 2011

PERSEVERANCE

PERSEVERANCE by Kathy Ivan

per•se•ver•ance
noun
Steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

Synonyms
Doggedness, steadfastness. Perseverance, persistence, tenacity, pertinacity imply resolute and unyielding holding on in following a course of action. Perseverance commonly suggests activity maintained in spite of difficulties or steadfast and long-continued application: Endurance and perseverance combined to win in the end. (dictionary.com)

This afternoon I went to the annual Buns and Roses Tea for Adult Literacy. This event is held every year to raise money to fund further education and help adults and children learn to read. A most worthwhile cause. New York Times and USA Today bestseller Jodi Thomas spoke. She's a fabulous speaker and talked about her road to publication. As she spoke the above word kept popping into my head over and over.

Perseverance—It's what she had. It's what each and every one of us needs to have day in and day out as writers.

Read that definition again. It's the perfect description of a writer, whether published or unpublished. In spite of difficulties. In spite of obstacles, even in spite of discouragement or maybe in some cases because of discouragement. We persevere. We write the next word, the next sentence, page, and chapter. We maintain our course when life gets in the way, when we have a headache, the job wants to take up all our time and energy, or the kids have so many activities you begin to feel like a taxi service.

We plow through when we get rejection letter after rejection letter. We maintain our love of writing even when the contest judges' scores tell us we aren't good enough.

We PERSEVERE. We ENDURE. We WRITE. We do it because there is one person out there waiting for that special story you and only you can tell and if your story touches just one single person, it makes it all worthwhile.

We have a story to tell. We have characters to breathe life into, heroes who are larger than real life, and villains so evil they make our skin crawl. Nobody else can tell your story better than you can. As the line from the movie Galaxy Quest goes--Never Give Up, Never Surrender. As writers, that's what we do--never quit.

Friday, October 7, 2011

What is romantic suspense?


On the surface, the definition seems pretty straightforward. It’s a romance that is set in a world of suspense, surely. Isn’t it?
So what’s that? I thought I knew until I won the Romantic Suspense EPPIE for my book “Harley Street.” Because that book is part of my Richard and Rose series. Richard and Rose meet in “Yorkshire,” court in “Devonshire,” honeymoon in “Venice,” and begin to settle in to married life together in “Harley Street.” That’s until Rose finds a dead parlor maid in her aunt’s house and when Richard sees the maid, he recognizes her.
So there’s a murder, and that escalates to a lot more, in fact to the problems that feature in the last few books of the series. But there’s a murder in the first book, too. So is that romantic suspense?
To be honest, damned if I know.
I just write. I don’t sit down to write a “romantic suspense” or a “historical romance” or anything else. The only thing I sit down to write is a romance. I love the way a relationship moves towards its happy ending. Things just happen along the way, that’s all. And what happens always enhances or helps to develop the romance. I don’t write books about couples who set out to solve a mystery and find love along the way. The romance is the most important part of the story. So if there’s a murder, it’s part of the hero’s story, or the heroine’s. It could be that the hero is a policeman, or, as in Richard’s case, someone interested in developing a civilian police force. Or the heroine could be a government agent, or have a dicey past.
But the hero and heroine are stuck, somehow. They need to move on with their lives and enter a new phase. They might realize it, or they might not, but they are ready for their romance of a lifetime. The external events of the story help them to move on, push them into a realization and help them to overcome something in their character that might prevent them from moving on.
All my writing career I’ve been trying to write the perfect Harlequin Presents story. Why? Because they can be a great read and the requirements for writing them are so stringent that it’s really hard to write a living, breathing romance. Sadly for me, there’s no formula. If there were, it would be easy. But there isn’t and it isn’t.
That’s how “Learning to Trust” came about. I planned it carefully and started it as a Harlequin Presents. But I wanted a bit of edge, and I made the heroine an ex drug addict, trying to restart her life in a small suburb in Naples. The hero was the requisite billionaire, who had history with the heroine. He would discover her, fall in love and take her back to New York, where she tries to restart her life.
That was okay until the hero, Jon, made a comment. He didn’t want to tell the people in the café where the heroine worked that he was a rich businessman, so he glanced at his Nikes and said he was a knockoff merchant. After all, they were all over the Bay of Naples in streets and stalls, and not all the Armani watches were real.
Then I needed motivation for the heroine to leave Naples, so I had the Mob threaten her.
When the first firebomb arrived, I realized I’d left the Presents line behind. And the hero and heroine were burning up the sheets, which meant hotter scenes than you usually find in a Presents.
I stopped and rewound. What had happened here? I did some research. Ah. I discovered that these days, the Naples “families” run the place. That’s why there are mounds of garbage in the streets, and why every business pays a premium. Why the no-go areas in Naples are deeper and more frightening than anything you can find anywhere else. In one of those fortunate occurrences, there was a major documentary on TV about the Naples families. I didn’t call them “mafia” on purpose, because that brings forward images of the Godfather, Omerta and so on. While there are a few similarities between that and today’s organization, there are also significant differences. Honor, if it ever existed, has disappeared. And the Naples families have extensive connections with the East, where they make knockoff items, “designer” bags and t-shirts, and jewelry. But not just that. The items are lucrative in themselves, but they’re also used to smuggle drugs. The major grower of the opium poppy these days is Afghanistan. The more I researched, the more a story formed. Naples is ideally situated as a base to bring these items into Europe and ship them to America. How could I ignore all that?
So I replanned and rewrote.
The result is “Learning to Trust.” It’s still a story about two damaged people finding each other, and in the process, themselves, still most importantly a romance, but now the background is packed with action and danger. It’s what I hope will be the first in a trilogy, because a background like that is too good to use in just one book. But each story has a different couple and is complete in itself. They just have that background.
I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it. It started me on a whole new area to write about and explore, and to a writer, that’s always exciting.

The Richard and Rose series is out with Samhain Publishing
"Learning to Trust" is out from Carina press in November, 2012

Lynne Connolly

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Have you heard about Kindlegraph?


Kindlegraph
lets authors send personalized inscriptions and signatures ("kindlegraphs") directly to the electronic reading devices of their fans.

To request a kindlegraph you must have a Twitter account.  But you do not need to own or buy the book in order to receive a Kindlegraph, nor do you need to own a Kindle. You may enter a regular email address at the time of your request and you will receive a Kindlegraph as a PDF attachment via email.

The Kindlegraph is not inserted into the e-book. It arrives as a separate document. This allows a reader to create a "collection" on their reading device and keep all of their Kindlegraphs together.
As long as the author is registered, any book (even paperbacks and hardcovers) can be Kindlegraphed.  Your inscription and signature is attached to a cover image of the book.

To request a personalized signature go to http://kindlegraph.com/books or click on the authors link:

Participating Carina Press Suspense authors:
Toni Anderson              http://kindlegraph.com/authors/toniannanderson
Wynter Daniels             http://kindlegraph.com/authors/WynterDaniels
Marcelle Dubé              http://kindlegraph.com/authors/MarcelleDube
Rita Henuber                http://kindlegraph.com/authors/ritahenuber
Kathy Ivan                   http://kindlegraph.com/authors/KathyIvan
Clare London               http://kindlegraph.com/authors/clare_london
Maureen Miller             http://kindlegraph.com/authors/MaureenAMiller
Julie Moffett                 http://kindlegraph.com/authors/JMoffettAuthor
Wendy Soliman            http://kindlegraph.com/authors/wendyswriter
Carol Stephenson         http://kindlegraph.com/authors/CStephensonFL
Shirley Wells                http://kindlegraph.com/authors/Shirley_Wells

Come and support these great authors. It's a chance to say "HI", and enjoy a personalised souvenir for books you've enjoyed - or are looking forward to!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

In the Name of Writing Research

I often worry that the authorities will someday look at my browsing history and decide I'm a menace to society.




I imagine them breaking down my door, confiscating my computer, and leading me away in handcuffs as my neighbors gawk and gossip.


My defense, I've already decided, sounds a bit flimsy. "I was doing research for a book."


When I was writing THE FIRST VICTIM I researched serial killers and pistachio muffins. (Yes, some research is incredibly difficult, but there comes a time when you just have to bite the bullet...or in this case the muffin.)


I also asked too many questions of a former FBI agent and a forensic psychologist.



For CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN I spent a lot of time researching guns and prison visits.


I also spent endless hours reading up on the diets of lizards....don't ask.


Right now I'm working on a book that has had me searching out information on meth labs (did you know people now "cook" it in cars???)


and how to remove blood and other bodily fluids.


Now, I'll tell you my dirty little secret. This research, this suspicious activity that could land me in jail or worse, I don't enjoy doing it. BUT...you knew that was coming, right? BUT research is a necessary evil. Understanding how things work, gettign all those little details right, are what sells a story. The reader needs those details to believe in the world the author is creating.

I sometimes wonder if less dry research would be more enjoyable. The FBI's Citizen's Academy looks like fun, as does a police ride-along, or maybe I should just take myself to the nearest firing range and pop off a couple rounds.



If you're a reader, do you appreciate it when an author gets the little details right? If you're a writer, what's the strangest thing you've looked up/done in the name of research?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Unfinished Business


When my husband got tired of trying to kill himself in racing cars, light aircraft, helicopters and all the other stuff men turn to in their hour of mid-life crisis, he suggested that we try boating. We were at home in Andorra at the time, up to our ears in snow and the heating was on the blink, so pretty pictures of sleek motor cruisers cutting through the calm, crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean seemed rather appealing. And safe. Before we knew it, we were the owners of an ancient boat in need of a considerable amount of tlc.

For Andre, that was the start of an on-going love affair with the sea and all things nautical. For me it was more a hate-suppose it's ok- what the hell have I got myself into situation. When the sea is actually as calm as they make it out to be in those glossy ads then boating is a dream. But those days are few and far between. Most of the time you’re tossed about like a loose coin in a washing machine, feeling sick and staggering about like you've had a few too many
.
Still, never waste an experience, that’s my motto, and one good thing to come out of hours of staring at endless expanses of sea was The Hunter Files, my series of marine crime mysteries. The first, Unfinished Business, will be released by Carina Press on October 17, written under my other persona, W. Soliman. 


Charlie Hunter is, like me, a Brit. He shares my husband’s passion for boating and, at forty, having taken early retirement from the police to live aboard his trawler yacht in Brighton marina and spend his days restoring it to its former glory. Sound familiar?

Charlie’s dream life doesn’t get off to a good start when a woman involved in one of his first cases as a detective accosts him, trying to persuade him to look for her missing sister. Charlie, a soft touch when a pretty woman turns on the tears, reluctantly agrees. Mind you, if he’d known his investigation would lead to a gang of ruthless Russians who dislike the intrusion into their affairs, leaving him and Kara fighting for their lives, he probably would have stuck to boating!

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Writing this book was a departure for me, since it’s in the first person, obviously from a male perspective. Andre came in useful here, both with technical boating issues and likely male reactions in given situations. Can’t say more than that!

Anyway, get a feel for Charlie by seeing how he reacts to his first sight of Kara.

“Excuse me, I’m looking for Charlie Hunter.”
The spanner flew out of my hand and clattered into the bilge. “Shit!”
“Hello there, is Mr. Hunter on board? I was told to ask on this pontoon.”
I swore again. The female voice responsible for breaking my concentration clearly wasn’t going anywhere. Bare-chested and bloody-minded, I hoisted myself out of the engine room of my motor cruiser and slowly wiped the oil from my hands on the rag protruding from the pocket of my jeans. I took a moment to shake the hair out of my eyes and rotate my shoulders to smooth out the kinks before turning to the woman, ready to let rip. One look in her direction and the words stalled on my tongue.
The policeman in me took stock of the evidence. Midtwenties was my guess. Tall, slim, curly red hair tumbling down her back, big green eyes, a dusting of freckles across her nose, curves in all the right places, no wedding ring. The man in me couldn’t help approving. She was just my type, or would be if I hadn’t sworn off all women as being more trouble than they were worth. Still, there was nothing to say I couldn’t indulge in a spot of window-shopping.
“I’m Hunter,” I said tersely. “Something I can do for you?”
If the woman was discouraged by my churlishness, she gave no sign. “My name’s Kara Webb, Mr. Hunter.” She introduced herself as though it ought to mean something to me.
“Congratulations.”
“You don’t remember me?”
“Can’t say that I do.” The name rang a vague bell but I was willing to swear I’d never had the pleasure. Kara Webb wasn’t the sort of woman a man was likely to forget.
“Is there somewhere we could go to talk? I could buy you a coffee, or something.” She nodded towards the café on the landside of the approach to the marina.
“Can’t see that we have anything to talk about.”
“Please, I—oh!”
She broke off as Gil bounded out of the boat’s salon, a growl rumbling in his throat, long tail wagging like crazy. Talk about mixed messages. I made a mental note to have a chat with my dog a bit later on about his duties. It would be useful if he could get into the habit of warning me of imminent intruders before they caused me to drop spanners in bilges.
“Gil!” Too late. He’d already leapt onto the pontoon and was jumping all over my lovely visitor. He’s a huge beast in an interesting variety of colours, and although I wasn’t about to admit that he’s a big softie, a lot of people were intimidated by his size. “Careful, he’s a bit edgy ’round strangers.”
“So I see.”
And then she smiled. I found myself silently repeating the words I’d said aloud when I’d dropped that spanner. Miss Webb, when she smiled, could put the sun itself to shame. It changed the whole tenor of her face and dispelled the air of despondency I’d sensed when first checking her out. Uh-uh, Charlie boy, I told myself severely. This looks like trouble. Don’t let that bloody smile influence you into buying whatever it is she’s come to sell.
Kara reached out a hand to tickle the dog’s ears. Gil, sensing a soft touch, had already rolled onto his back, ready to lap up any attention on offer.
“Gil,” she said, “that’s a strange name for such a handsome beast. Something to do with fishing?” She nodded towards the fishing rods attached to the roof of the cockpit.
“It’s short for Guilty.”

Stop by my website if you get a moment. It’s at http://www.wsoliman.com. You can read the entire first chapter of Unfinished Business there and enter a contest that offers a chance to win a copy of the book.

Good luck!

Wendy

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