Please welcome Susanne Matthews to the blog. While you’re at it, wish her a happy release day for The White Carnation, the first installment in The Harvester Series. Happy book birthday Susanne! Now, I’ve mentioned before that I’m a cover kind of girl and when I saw Susanne’s cover, I said “Wow!” I’m so excited to share it along with an excerpt and a get-to-know the character, Faye Lewis. Named after Susanne’s own best friend, she sounds like my kind of gal! The last person disgraced reporter Faye Lewis wants back in her life is Detective Rob Halliday, the man she blames for ruining her career and breaking her heart. But when she finds an old friend murdered, he’s the one she calls. For the past year, Rob and his team have been hunting the Harvester, a serial killer who ritualistically murders new mothers and vanishes with their infants. What Rob doesn’t need is another case, especially one involving his ex-fiancée. Then Faye is assaulted, and Rob realizes the cases are connected. She may hold the answers he needs to find the elusive killer. But the more they investigate, the more complex the situation becomes. Can they set the past aside and work together, or will the Harvester and his followers reap another prize? EXCERPT: Every hair on Faye’s body stood on end as she approached the oak door. It was open. Mrs. Green never left the door open. The woman double- and triple-locked everything. The last time she’d been here—was it really two years ago?—it had taken forever for the woman to undo the locks and let her in. “Mrs. Green, are you there? It’s Faye.” She pushed open the door and the unmistakable scent of blood—that slightly sour, coppery scent she’d never forget—greeted her. She swallowed a scream. The place was a disaster: furniture overturned, papers, books, CDs, and DVDs littering the floor. There, amidst the chaos, lay Mary’s mother, the jagged red line along her throat testifying to her death. Faye dropped the flower and damaged purse, some of the contents spilling out and landing in the pool of blood—a tube of lipstick, a pack of gum, a roll of breath mints—strange sprinkles on the deep red surface. The pristine white petals of the carnation soaked up the redness, adding to the eeriness. She ran to the powder room and threw herself on her knees barely in time to spew what was left of her cucumber and watercress sandwiches into the toilet. The pungent, sour aroma of vomit filled the room. Tears tracked down her cheeks. The gut wrenching heaves that followed brought up bile and left her exhausted. She sat back on her heels, trying to control her anguish. With a shaking hand, she pulled her cell phone out of her jacket pocket and dialed a familiar number. “Homicide, Rob Halliday.” The voice was tired, bored, resigned. “Rob, it’s Faye. She’s dead. Lucy Green’s dead. There’s so much blood. Someone’s murdered Mary’s mother.” “Where are you?” Rob was all business, as if there were no painful history between them. Deep down, she knew this no-nonsense, professional side of him was what she needed, why she’d called him and not 9-1-1. “Third floor, seventeen thirty-seven Marlborough. It’s in Beacon Hill.” “I know where the damn street is, Faye. Stay there, and don’t touch anything. I’m on my way.” Meet Faye Lewis: Creating three dimensional characters the reader will identify with is a challenge faced by most authors, including myself. For Faye to be “real” to the reader, she had to be “real” to me. I wanted my readers to love her, identify with her, and care about her and her struggles the same way I did. Faye Lewis, the heroine in The White Carnation, Book One of The Harvester Series, is named after my best friend, and in writing the story, I tried to give Faye Lewis those qualities I admire most in my friend. With apologies to the real Faye, I’ve tortured my heroine, but she’s a fighter, and believe me, she gets her happily ever after in the end. So what kind of person is Faye Lewis? Dedicated: Faye’s an aspiring journalist who’ll do whatever it takes to get the story. She’ll work long hours, and make whatever personal sacrifices are necessary on the way to her ultimate goals—a Pulitzer Prize and the number one spot on the crime beat at Boston’s most prestigious newspaper. Caring: She has a soft spot for underdogs, and befriends those who are marginalized by others. She also jumps to help those who ask for her help. She accepts people at face value, but if you get on her bad side, forget it. She can and does hold a grudge. Knowledgeable: Faye’s intelligent and well-read, and has done a lot of research on a number of different topics in her quest for the truth in reporting her story, and her search for the story that will win her that Pulitzer Prize. Perceptive: She has the ability to look at a number of seemingly disconnected points and pulling them together so that they make sense. She’s invaluable to Rob as they try to solve the Harvester case. But, in order to be well-rounded, Faye also has her faults. Stubborn: When Faye thinks she’s right, nothing can make her change her mind. Distrustful: Due to her father’s behavior, Faye expects to be let down by people. She doesn’t trust anyone, not even the man she purported to love. Quick-tempered: Irish to the roots of her chestnut hair, she loses her temper quickly, jumps to conclusions and says things she regrets almost as soon as she’s said them. When the story starts, Faye has two fears: clowns and electrical storms. The White Carnation is available for pre-order from most major e-retailers. Visit my website http://www.mhsusannematthews.ca/ for direct purchase links to this and the rest of my books. AUTHOR BIO: Susanne Matthews was born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. She’s always been an avid reader of all types of books, but always with a penchant for happily ever after romances. In her imagination, she travelled to foreign lands, past and present, and soared into the future. A retired educator, Susanne spends her time writing and creating adventures for her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love. WEBSITE/BLOG FACEBOOK TWITTER AMAZON GOODREADS
It’s a month long celebration and I’m there! Well, I’ll be there tomorrow for a Question & Answer type game. I’m offering up an ebook copy of Drive Me Sane to the person who wins. And along with me, there are hundreds of other authors with prizes galore! Head on over to The Romance Reviews for all the details. Please note that you must be registered and logged into their site to take part in the giveaways.
I must admit, I’m partial to this site. Unknown to me, my publisher submitted Drive Me Sane to them for a review. Needless to say, I was beyond words and in tears with their response. No lie! I bawled like a baby.
You can find Angi’s 4 Star Review here or below:
“They fell in love as teens but their fears and frustrations as young adults drove them apart. Years have passed and, now, both their lives are on a downward spiral. An unforeseen chance to reconnect is the second chance they both desperately need to exorcise old hurts, as well as conquer the troubles that are currently holding each of them hostage.
Discharged from the Army and suffering PTSD after a tour in Afghanistan, Sera Cavins makes a quiet return to her Uncle Roy’s empty home in Kentucky to attempt to get her broken life back together. The remorse, regret, and guilt she feels has manifested into fears she’s not ready to confess to anyone. Finding her former fiancé Tyler Creech at her uncle’s home brings back even older hurts that make it doubly hard for Sera to hide the many secrets that steal her peace of mind and sap her wounded spirit.
Up and coming country music star Tyler Creech’s life is being consumed by the demands of his career, and his life no longer seems his own. The mounting pressure is taking both a physical and mental toll on him, so a few weeks’ hiatus at his mother and stepfather Roy’s home in Kentucky is where he hopes to work through some of the issues that are leaving him sleepless and torn. He never expected to run into Sera Cavins, the woman who pushed him away and who still haunts him with unresolved heartache and regrets.
If they can bear to share the same roof, maybe they can finally uncover the reasons behind their broken engagement and broken lives, let go the pain and fear and, finally, heal and move forward together.
Debut author Dena Rogers makes a spectacular entrance to the field of romance with this nicely paced emotional tale that’s sole focus is on mending broken hearts and broken lives. In my humble opinion, one can’t help but applaud the author’s tackling of the subject of PTSD in a former female soldier, and I thought her handling of the subject was relevant, vividly moving, and very well done.
With regards to Sera, I found her attempts to repress her emotions, as a means of self-protection, to be utterly convincing and understandable, even though I found I didn’t always like her when she engaged these defense mechanisms. Ms. Rogers nicely countered Sera’s actions with the often understated actions of Tyler, whom she characterized with the compassionate ability to understand and sense Sera’s needs in the face of his own troubled emotions. This balance of give and take in characterization truly enhanced the gradual changes in this couple’s relationship and kept the plot moving with new revelations and just enough valid recriminations to keep Tyler and Sera’s relationship grounded and real.
Despite the novella length of DRIVE ME SANE, this tale has lots of depth, adequate back story, and there are few psychological or emotional issues that are left untouched. Crafting such a compelling story in approximately one hundred pages is a feat that deserves recognition and surely designates Dena Rogers as a talented new author to watch.”
In honor of it being the weekend for all things red, pink, and lovie dovie, I thought I’d talk about for many, what Valentines Day symbolizes and why I enjoy reading and writing about it-Romance.
If you haven’t realized by now, today is Friday. It also happens to be the 13th. I’m not a superstitious person. It’s never bothered me that nearly every cat I’ve owned has been black, a broken mirror simply means you need to sweep, and today, well … it’s just another day on the calendar. Except I had one of those “Oh God” moments this morning. The kind where you think this may be the day it all comes to an end. Okay, so now I might be mildly making more of the situation than what it really was, but for a moment I did think “things are about to get real ugly around here.”
As I’m dropping my youngest off at school this morning, we’re going through the ritual: a hug, kiss, another hug, I love you, have a good day, see ya later buddy, and then I watch him until he walks through the door. Just as he’s cleared the stairs, I hear a tap, tap, tap on my window. I crane my neck to the side and see a man standing there holding a hatchet with an evil grin on his face. It took me a moment to register what was happening and then reality sunk in- I know this man. Oh God! I know this man! In case you’re wondering that wasn’t an excited “Oh God!” At this point, I’m stunned with stupor. I don’t know what I should do. I can’t gun it because there are kids crossing in front of me. I can’t back up, because I’m holding up a line of cars. All I can think about is that I’ve really pissed him off. You see, Hatchet Man is someone whom I come in contact with through my day job. He’s quite the colorful character and we don’t always see eye-to-eye. Okay, we rarely, if ever agree, but he’s not one I’ve ever considered dangerous. Not knowing what to do, I do nothing. I sit there looking at him like WTH? He nudges the hatchet toward me as if to say “see this?” I look back like “Yeah, I do.” And then vaguely I hear my oldest son say “Dad told me to put that up.” My head swivels to the right. My oldest son sits there quietly. “What?” I ask. “Dad told me to put it up last night and I forgot,” he says again. Things start becoming a little clearer, so I face Hatchet Man again. This time his evil grin doesn’t look so scary. He’s actually kind of smiling humorously. I roll my window down and he sort of thrusts the hatchet forward. “Hey, this was on the back of your car.” He laughs like it’s funny. I suppose it is now. But, at the time, I was still trying to make head or tails of it all. “Thanks,” I say, grabbing the hatchet and putting it in the back seat. He goes on his way, I roll up the window, and we pull forward. My oldest explains that one of them laid it on the car last night. They didn’t put it away like their dad asked, it apparently froze to the trunk and made the trip with us to school this morning. So, it turns out, Hatchet Man wasn’t out to chop my body into a hundred pieces. He was being nice-oops, my bad!
At this point, I would like to request that no one ask me what my children were doing with a hatchet. Honestly, I can’t think of one responsible answer to that question, so I’d likely plead the fifth. I would love to say, they were cleaning up a mess of their Dad’s and got sidetracked or that someone had borrowed it and they were being nice and had intentions of putting it back for them, but the truth would likely be that they were attempting something they saw on the show Ax Men. No, I’m not kidding. My driveway was once turned into a wash station so that they could mine gold like the men on Gold Rush.
So what does any of this have to do with why I read and write romance? Ahh, yes, that was the reason I was writing this wasn’t it? Unfortunately, my lunch hour is up, so you’ll have to find out on Part II tomorrow.
Until then, Happy Friday the 13th!
The first in a new series aimed at New Adults, Fractured Immortal is the tale of Ilia Rose, a vampire and a tortured soul and Nathaniel Dayton, a vampire with secrets that will force them together. For a chance to win a digital copy of Fractured Immortal see the end of this post.
After a terrifying vampire attack in 1810, Ilia Rose spends the next two centuries hunting Sol, the man responsible for turning her and her friends into vampires.When Ilia discovers he’s run to the one place she’s running from, she’s forced to face her most painful memories back in her hometown, Bearwood.
There, Ilia finds herself face to face with Nathaniel, an insanely hot vampire, and despite the evidence he’s working for her enemy, Ilia can’t fight her attraction to him, especially when he seems to show up whenever she needs him most.
But Nathaniel is keeping secrets and as they begin to unravel, instead of running away from him, Ilia finds herself falling for him. When his last secret is revealed Ilia’s past comes together in a way she never imagined and she’s left with only one option: trust Nathaniel to help her kill Sol, or risk relinquishing her new found strength thus causing catastrophic and devastating consequences for her and everyone she loves.
Ilia begins a gut-wrenching battle to save her life and the lives of her friends, a battle which not everyone will survive.
A vampire tale like none other, love, pain, devastation and revenge, all weave together to create the first in a dark and unmissable new adult series.
Due to sexual content, this book is intended for readers age 18+
Enter here to win a digital copy of Fractured Immortal. Open to everyone and running from 21st December 2014 to 7th January 2015
In 1810, an army of vampires tore through Bearwood on a terrifying rampage of death and destruction. Turned to a vampire that night, Ilia Rose fled the many painful memories soon after, walking the Earth for two centuries to seek revenge on army leader, Sol. When Ilia learns he has returned to her hometown, she follows. But the reason for his reappearance puts her life in further danger, and an unwelcome revelation about Sol’s ally, Nathaniel, means Ilia and Nathaniel must unite to defeat the enemy. Thus Ilia begins a gut-wrenching battle to save her life and the lives of her friends, a battle which not everyone will survive. A vampire tale like none other, love, pain, devastation and revenge, all weave together to create the first in a dark and unmissable new adult series.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Of course, over the years I wrote many more, none of which I finished, until last year when I read a book and loved it so much that I wanted to be able to do the same – write a book that someone out there would love. So I did. Whether it is loved by one or many remains to be seen, but I did it and I am so happy I did. It opened the floodgates to so many, many more words. And while I am busy working on ‘Finding Immortal’ the follow up to ‘Fractured Immortal’ I am also writing another book too. I just can’t seem to stop.
I love to talk to people, so if you ever have something you want to say, please do but be warned, it’s very difficult to get me to shut up again 🙂
Click HERE for a chance to win a digital copy of FRACTURED IMMORTAL (Kindle users only) or you can stalk her at one of her sites below!
What goes into writing a song? I suppose it’s a lot like writing a book, something sparks the idea and there you go, but I’ll get more into that in a minute. Right now I want to address what’s more important. It’s RELEASE DAY! I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. Well…if I’m being honest, I haven’t really been sitting around and waiting. It’s something I’ve thought about, but never imagined would happen. I began writing seriously about ten years ago. I dabbled in it as a teen and always loved writing essays for school, but it was never anything I ever considered for a career. My plans included law school, but then I met my husband, moved to Kentucky, had kids and well you get the point. Law school never happened, and I’m thankful for it every day. Because I work closely with the field and know without a doubt that I would have been miserable. Besides, for the most part, I like what I do, even though it isn’t always easy. It’s probably why I read so much-to escape the real lives of everyday people whom I encounter. But that isn’t necessarily true either. I’ve always been a reader. It started when my mom took my sister and I to the library one day and I checked out a book by Christopher Pike. I was about eight, so it’s been a while since I’ve read any of his books and I can’t remember any of their titles, but his name has always stuck with me. Needless to say, my obsession with mystery and suspense was born. I remember the way my heart raced with anticipation and how even though I’d be scared to death, I’d still want to finish the book. From then on I’ve had a love affair with reading and although I haven’t always been faithful, I always seem to come back to it. When marriage, kids, and work took a front seat, it was another trip to the library that again sparked my interest. I took my son to story time and while waiting for it to begin, passed by a rack of paperbacks. A book by the name of Night Sin’s caught my eye. Tami Hoag is now one of my favorite authors. It seems weird that my passion has always been in mystery and suspense and that I write romance, but I’m not particularly choosy in what I read. I love a little bit of everything, but romance for now, is where I’m comfortable.
When I say I began writing seriously ten years ago, everyone automatically assumes Drive Me Sane has been ten years in the making. Nothing could be further from the truth. My first completed novel still sits on my hard drive. I’ve never submitted it to anyone and I’m not really sure if I’ll ever do anything with it. I think the storyline is decent, but it needs a lot of work. I’ve considered turning it into short story for an introduction to another work in progress, but I just can’t seem to get on the ball. It’s like one of my kids that I don’t want to let go. Drive Me Sane is actually a relatively new story for me. It’s not been quite a year since the idea popped into my head, while driving home from a race at two in the morning. Both kids were asleep in the backseat and as usual, I had the music turned up and was singing away. Then a song came on that I didn’t know, so I just listened. I’m not one of those people who hear a song and immediately fall in love with it. I’d never heard of Tyler Farr or his song Redneck Crazy before that night, but the words really drilled inside me and made me think about relationships and how we handle breakups. I know some of you that don’t listen to country music might be turned off by the title, but it’s not a hyped up in your face redneck song. It’s actually a love ballad and the lyrics made me realize that we don’t always react to a breakup the way we’d like to. In fact, we do some silly and sometimes embarrassing things. I went home that night, bought the song and the next morning began what would eventually become Drive Me Sane. I’d like to go ahead and answer what anyone who knows this story asks. Is my hero based on Tyler Farr? No. I do not know, nor have I ever met Mr. Farr-although, I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea :). I did catch one of his shows at The Tin Roof in Lexington, but in no way is my hero a reflection of him in anyway. I do enjoy his music though. In fact several of his songs are on my Drive Me Sane playlist, but he as a person was not an inspiration. My hero and him simply share the same first name and profession. In fact, I tried to name my hero anything but Tyler. I toyed around with different names and nothing would stick. Tyler isn’t a name I particularly love. No offense, but it’s not something I’d name one of my boys, but it seemed I kept coming back to it and so I finally gave up. That’s the problem a writer. Sometimes your characters speak to you and you may not always like it or agree, but you have to go with what they want. It’s just the way it is.
It took me five months to get my story at a place I was happy with and confident enough to submit. I was in the process of writing query letters and synoptsis’ when I saw an online pitch opportunity through twitter. Prior to writing Drive Me Sane, I had only submitted one other piece of work. It was declined and looking at it now, I completely understand why. It was rough and like my first finished novel, still needs a lot of work. But I felt good with Drive Me Sane and although apprehensive, I was determined not to let one reject deter me. So I entered the online pitch and had not only one, but two of it’s editors interested. Needless to say, three weeks later, I got a nice email saying your storyline is strong, but there are some issues with the manuscript that don’t make it as strong as we’d like. I’ve done enough research to know that not every publisher gives detailed feedback, but I was lucky enough that I got a few pointers of where my story faltered. So I put my manuscript away, thought about what they said and began working through the suggestions in my head. Two weeks later, I was well into the new edits. And then I saw another twitter pitch for a different publisher. For days leading up, I thought about entering and finally decided I wasn’t ready. I still had some work to do and I’m not the kind that throws things out half finished, but on the day of the pitch, it was still on my mind. I had taken my son to the doctor and we decided to stop by my mom’s work to say hi. Sitting in the car, waiting for her to get off, I scanned through twitter and there it was again. For whatever reason, it was just too tempting. So I typed out my 140 characters and waited. Nothing came quick, but then I got a response asking for more detail. I’m not good at being put on the spot, so I nervously typed out something and waited. My next response was, “I’m not sure I understand the plot, but I like the characters.” Then they asked for the first five chapters. Two day’s later, after frantically combing through those first five, I sent them along with a query letter and synoptsis to Crimson Romance. A week went by and I didn’t hear anything. But, I did see a post advertising an online editing workshop. It was a three week course and it covered the topics that were what I had been initially told was wrong with my manuscript. So I decided to give it a go. It’s been the best thing (as far as my writing is concerned), that I’ve done. It not only taught me about dialogue tags and comma splices, it let me know that I had no clue what an editor was looking for. A great idea and a terrible manuscript will not get you published. A decent idea with a decently edited manuscript, might. Three weeks, $75.00 and no word from Crimson (I assumed they weren’t interested), I began a major overhaul of Drive Me Sane. I completely tore it apart. And then one day, in the midst of doing this, I woke up to an email that said, “I’m really intrigued by Sera and Tyler’s reunion. Could you please send me the full manuscript.” My exact words were “OH SHIT!” Remember me telling you about the adrenaline I felt as a kid when I read Christopher Pike’s books? Yeah, it came back except that it was much worse. I was excited and scared at the same time. My husband said, “That’s good.” But it wasn’t. Drive Me Sane was in a state of complete mess. I had about thirty five thousand words in a novel I submitted as having fifty-six. So for two weeks, I threw myself into getting it together. I worked on it through lunch, I shut myself in my room after work and barely came out. I lived on coffee and whatever I could find left over to eat. I did it, but it wasn’t easy and I couldn’t have done it without my husband who stepped up to the plate and took over at home. I added about fifteen thousand words and completely rewrote the ending, but I wasn’t all that hopeful when I sent in my full manuscript ten days later. I still wasn’t up to the word count they required and my story had changed so much, it didn’t coincide with the synopsis I’d sent them, but I was honest and up front. I explained what I had done and that I understood if it was no longer something that they were interested in. Five days later, I got the news. They wanted to acquired my manuscript.
So here we are five months down the road and I have a published book. Yes, it was fast and crazy. It’s been thrilling and overwhelming at the same time. It’s even been scary, but it’s also been an experience that I’ll cherish forever. If I never get the opportunity again, at least I can say I accomplished what I set out to do. Thanks Crimson for taking a chance on me and Jess, my editor, for truly understanding my characters. I hope I don’t disappoint.
So what goes into a song? I really don’t know, but I can tell you want comes out of one. Sometimes it’s a mended heart or the strength to carry on. Sometimes it’s a memory of a good time. And sometimes it’s the idea for a book.
The full playlist of Drive Me Sane can be heard here: http://open.spotify.com/user/1235812/playlist/2HJxkCYiejpa4DZGpaov8B