Muse Wednesday — Annette Dashofy

In the Bleak MidwinterWelcome to the first in a series of Muse Wednesday blogs leading up to the Bouchercon 2015 panel “Maintaining Pace in Mystery,” scheduled for Saturday, October 10th at 1 pm EST.

I have the honor of moderating the panel consisting of Annette Dashofy, Hilary Davidson, Laura Benedict, and Rebecca Drake. The ladies have enthusiastically agreed to share their Muses with you.

Leading off this Muse Wednesday series is author Annette Dashofy, author of the Zoe Chamber mystery series.

***********************

When Monette first invited me to blog about my muse, I thought what fun! But then I thought some more and it struck me what a complicated mission this was. Or maybe I was over thinking the whole matter. I’ve been accused of this in the past.

My inspiration has changed over the years, going back to books like My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara, and Walter Farley’s Black Stallion and Island Stallion series. Yes, I love horses, but what stuck with me about those novels was the sense of place. Setting.

I also devoured anything about the Wild West, especially those written by Zane Gray. Again, the stories transported me to another place.

But the novel that changed the direction of my youthful attempts at fiction writing was Where Are the Children? by Mary Higgins Clark. Suddenly nail-biting suspense became vital in everything I read. And my fiction has been entirely crime related ever since.

As an aside, I met Ms. Clark a couple of years ago and had a chance to shake her hand and thank her in person for setting me on the path of mystery writer. She was as sweet as can be. A true Lady.

Fast forward a couple of decades to the point where I became serious about publication. I found another muse—Dick Francis. Still in love with horses and Walter Farley’s series, I penned two mysteries set in the world of Thoroughbred racing. Two agents and many rewrites later, that first series of mine remained unsold. I moved on to another series, my Zoe Chambers mysteries. I had completed a rough draft of the first, Circle of Influence, when my friend (and soon-to-be-debut author) Joyce Tremel put Julia Spencer Fleming’s In the Bleak Midwinter in my hands. I was enthralled. Like Circle, it had a rural setting, took place in winter, and had dual protagonists, including a small-town police chief. Unlike mine, Julia’s writing was exquisite! I immediately proclaimed (and continue to) that “I want to write like her when I grow up!”

Another aside—I met Julia for the first time at the same conference where I’d met Mary Higgins Clark and was equally fan-girl over her! I remain completely in awe of her skill with the English language.

To this day, she remains one of my muses. And I’ve added another, perhaps influenced by my early love of Westerns—Craig Johnson and his Longmire series. Any time I find myself stuck and trying to figure out how to show-not-tell emotions, setting, character, dialogue—just about anything—I crack open one of Julia’s or Craig’s novels and soak in their words, trying to learn by osmosis.

 

Annette Dashofy-small fileBio:

Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE, published by Henery Press, was a finalist for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel and for the David Award for Best Mystery of 2014. The second in the series, LOST LEGACY, was released in September 2014 followed by BRIDGES BURNED in April 2015. Her short fiction includes a 2007 Derringer Award nominee featuring the same characters as her novels. Annette is vice president and past president of the Pittsburgh Chapter of Sisters in Crime. She serves as vice president of Pennwriters, as well as being their 2013 recipient of the Meritorious Service Award. She also belongs to Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. Annette and her husband live on part of what used to be her grandfather’s dairy farm in southwestern Pennsylvania with one very spoiled cat.

*****************

Featured Book: Bridges Burned, Book Three in the Zoe Chambers mystery series.

BRIDGES BURNED front

Buy Links:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Mystery Lovers Bookshop

Muse Wednesday Redux

It’s been awhile since I posted regular Muse Wednesdays. I missed them.  I love learning what set my fellow authors on the road to writing. But social media is a time suck and so I put the Muse blogs aside for only special occasions and the odd one-off author who actually seeks me out to do one.

So why bring them back now?  What’s special about the next four Wednesdays in September?

Bouchercon 2015 will be held in Raleigh, NC, from October 7-11th.

And once again, I have the distinct honor of being a Moderator for a panel entitled, Maintaining Pacing in Mystery.

The panel consists of published authors Annette Dashofy, Hilary Davidson, Laura Benedict, and Rebecca Drake.  Our panel is scheduled for Saturday, October 10th at 1 pm.  If you’re attending, we’d love to see you there.  If you aren’t, there is still time to register for this conference which is the largest mystery convention in the world. See the full scheduled of events and panels, HERE.

My four panelists are all at the top of their game in the mystery/suspense/thriller field, so I thought it would be fun to ask them who or what their writing Muse(s) are — and at the same time get some promo and advance excitement for our fabulous panel.  Yes, I am devious that way. 😉

The Muse Blog schedule is as follows:

September 9th –Annette Dashofy

September 16th –Hilary Davidson

September 23rd–Laura Benedict

September 30th – Rebecca Drake

I’ve already seen Annette’s blog and I love her choice.  And, no, I’m not telling, you have to come back next week and see who she picked.

And to remind you what a Muse Blog is all about, I am re-blogging my original Muse Blog which addressed why I write what I write:

103059

MARY STEWART’S THE MOON-SPINNERS

Monette Michaels

 In the summer of 1964, I picked up The Moon Spinners.  From the opening line, Mary Stewart had this twelve-year-old girl hooked: “It was the egret, flying out of the lemon grove, that started it.”  Such a simple line filled with questions. Who is the narrator?  Where was the narrator that she chanced to see an egret fly from a lemon grove? And what exactly had started?

From that little line, I traveled with Nikky Ferris, a young British woman, on a journey of discovery and danger. When Nikky takes that first step off the beaten path to Agios Georgios, she didn’t know it yet, but she has changed her life forever.  As she makes her way into the rugged mountains lining the Greek coastline, I tasted the dust Nikky’s shoes cast into the air.  I smelled the lemon flowers as she wends her way through the grove.  I shivered at the coolness of the mountain water when Nikki pauses to rinse her hot, dusty hands.  I shared her sense of isolation and the building anticipation that something was going to happen.  When Lambos drops into her path, knife in hand, my heart rate jumped right along with Nikky’s.  What had started out to be a pleasant little getaway with her aunt in a sleepy little Greek seaside resort, has now become a life and death matter as Nikky’s future becomes inextricably intertwined with Mark and Colin Langley’s lives – – lives that had been changed forever when the brothers stumbled across murder in the wilds of Greece.  And I was with her every step of the way.

What amazes me, now that I also write novels, is that the set up in The Moon-Spinners is done so effortlessly and in less than two chapters. There are no wasted words or lines in a Mary Stewart book.  Just as the fabled Moon Spinners spin the moon, Ms. Stewart spins her story, effortlessly and inexorably pulling in her reader.

So what is it about Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense novels that has captured several generations of readers and influenced a generation of authors?

For me, other than the amazing settings and sense of place, it is her ability to create an atmosphere that holds you breathlessly in its thrall from her novels’ first words until the last. Her usage of words rivals a poet’s.  No doubt about it:  Mary Stewart is a master wordsmith.   Added to her perfect selection of words is a superb sense of pacing.  Each word, each line of text builds upon its predecessor, building tension and  providing relief, only to escalate again until the final climactic scene.  Her plots are a perfect balance of description, suspense, and romance and as seamless as a Mobius strip.  This is why myself and a whole generation of authors have attempted to emulate Mary Stewart’s style.

In my romantic suspense novels, I sweat every word, every line, striving to recreate the  suspense-romance symmetry, the perfect pacing of a Mary Stewart novel. My villains are driven to commit evil.  The heroes are strong; the heroines, just as strong or stronger. Fate throws them together, changing their lives for better – – or worse, as the case may be.  In my books, as in Stewart’s, good always triumphs over evil, but sometimes the line between the two is a bit smudged.  From lean first lines to the end, I strive to take my readers on just as breathless a ride as Mary Stewart always gave me.  Do I do this as gracefully and seamlessly as she did?  I only hope so.  Time will tell.

Copyright, Monette Michaels, 2006. This essay  is not to be reprinted without the express permission of the author. Worldwide print anthology rights are held by Crum Creek Press.

 

Muse Wednesday: C.J. Lyons

This Muse Wednesday my guest Muser is best-selling author C.J. Lyons. C.J. along with me, Heather Graham, Jordan Dane, and Lori Armstrong (aka Lorelei James) will be in Cleveland next week at Bouchercon 2012. Our panel, The Murder, Mayhem, and the Mattress Mambo panel is scheduled for Friday, October 5 at 4:00 P.M. If you are in Cleveland or nearby, you need to come see us.

C.J. ‘s muse, Robin Cook, will be one of the Guests of Honor at the convention. Oh, and C.J. is a doctor, so is it any wonder that medical-legal thrillers are her muse books?  Read on and see what it is about Cook’s book Coma that inspired her. — Monette

Not Without a Price: Robin Cook’s Coma

CJ Lyons

Robin Cook’s classic medical thriller, Coma, didn’t inspire me to become a writer. I first read Coma (and saw the movie) almost a decade after its publication. By that time I’d already written three novels: a YA Fantasy I wrote in high school and two space operas written in college and med school.

Coma changed my attitude towards both writing and medicine. As a writer, I realized that my words could both entertain and empower. And as a medical student practically living in the lecture hall and labs, I was drawn to any depiction of how “real” doctors treating “real” patients lived.

Although most of Coma‘s audience was captivated by the conspiracy theories and the creepy long-term care institution (all those bodies strung up like marionettes!), what interested me was the depiction of a woman medical student as the main character.

After all, I was a woman in a male-dominated field about to encounter the same challenges that Susan Wheeler was facing: her fear of losing her femininity, her uncertainty about how to approach handsome male patients, her need to assert herself—and the repercussions she suffered after being too frank. As Cook notes, “She felt that she was entering a male club; she was an outsider forced to adapt, to compromise.”

I loved the scene where Susan rejects the nurses’ scrub dresses and enters the doctors’ lounge (male only), surprising her male classmates and the surgical resident in charge of them. A decade later, when I was in medical school, similar attitudes prevailed. Seeing a woman—even a fictional character—meet and overcome those attitudes with a sense of humor, fast thinking, and sheer perseverance was inspiring.

The medical professionals in Coma, both heroes and villains, are well drawn and share the same motivation. They each want to play God and save the world—but on their terms. At one point, Susan berates the resident in charge of her as being an “invertebrate” for not standing up to the powers that be and challenging their assumptions about why patients are succumbing to mysterious comas. His answer is that he “just wants to be a surgeon,” to which she replies: “That, Mark, in a nutshell, is probably your tragic flaw.”

Even the villain wants to save humanity—despite his attempts to kill Susan, murder innocent patients, and profit from the sale of his bootlegged human organs. When Susan confronts him at the end, he answers her accusations by saying, “Breakthroughs do not come easy, not without hard work and sacrifice. Not without a price.” Then he goes on to compare himself to Leonardo da Vinci and Copernicus.

Isn’t that the heart of a good thriller? Both good and evil striving to rule the world—not solely for personal gain but because they each feel they know how best to save humanity. With stakes that high, and danger lurking in places like hospitals where we all are at our most vulnerable, compelling fiction is certain to follow.

About CJ:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sixteen novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.

CJ has been called a “master within the genre” (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as “breathtakingly fast-paced” and “riveting” (Publishers Weekly) with “characters with beating hearts and three dimensions” (Newsday).

Learn more about CJ’s Thrillers with Heart at www.CJLyons.net

Muse Wednesday: Jordan Dane

Welcome to another Muse Wednesday. This week my guest author sharing her Muse, or Muses in this instance, is best-selling author Jordan Dane. Jordan will be sharing the platform at Bouchercon 2012 in Cleveland in a few weeks along with me, Heather Graham, CJ Lyons, and Lori Armstrong (aka Lorelei James) on the Murder, Mayhem and the Mattress Mambo panel. We’ll be talking about everything Romantic Suspense/Thriller/Mystery.  Read on and see what influences made Jordan the successful RS author she is today. — Monette

The Absolute Truth about My Muse—as Far as You Know
By Jordan Dane
@JordanDane

Every time someone asks me about my muse, I lie. (If you write fiction for a living, is it really lying?) I tell some people it is my two rescue dogs Taco and Sancho or I blame my weirdness on my peculiar rescue cats. There are days these aren’t lies exactly, but they’re not entirely the truth. Today I’m finally coming out with the truth, as best I can figure this out. My muse is a seven headed hydra with a flying horse body. There, I said it. And it looks something like this.

The flying horse comes from my love of anything HORSE. That love turned me onto reading as a kid in elementary school. I read every book in my school library that had a horse in it. I love westerns, but my favorite horse book was a fantasy with a flying one. I actually worked to buy my first horse and ended up with my family owning several. Noble creatures.
The first good-looking hunk (head) on the left is actor Eric Etebari who played the dark assassin, Ian Nottingham, in the short run TV show on TNT, Witchblade. I became so enthralled with his character of a noble assassin that I wrote fanfiction on the show for six months. When the show got cancelled, I could have shriveled up and forgotten about my writing, but it was the best thing that could have happened to me, as I look back. I made up my mind to write original stories after that.

Next to Ian Nottingham is Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker who flipped a light bulb over my head when he said that he wrote his non-fiction book doing it a page a day. I thought, “Hell, I could do that” and made up my mind to try. Zig isn’t a motivational speaker for nothing.

Next to Zig is Robert Ludlum (RIP), the master of espionage thrillers who wrote the Jason Bourne series and many other great spy novels. He amazed me with his style and pace. Even as a reader, he struck me with his amazing talent and still does when I replenish my writer’s soul by rereading books of his from my personal library. He made me a crime fiction author for life.

The Cyclops dude represents my crazy family. It takes a village to raise a writer and I was no exception. I still call my mom everyday and read her what I write in its raw form. My siblings are all very supportive. And my husband is my number one fan, but not in a creepy way like Kathy Bates and he axe. (In the book Misery by Stephen King, she used a turkey carving knife. Read it and you will never see Thanksgiving the same way again.) My husband clears the way so I can focus on my work every day and is my brainstorming partner when I need a level head.

The Grizzly bear is my memory of Alaska where I lived for ten years. My heart is still there. Whenever I get lonely for it, I contact friends I have who still live there, but I can also write about it. My books EVIL WITHOUT A FACE and ON A DARK WING are set in Alaska.

The dangerous looking woman on the right is my love for strong empowered women in the books I write. Even when these women have incredible emotional baggage, like my bounty hunter Jessica Beckett in my Sweet Justice series, they find a way to survive and thrive. Creating the right man to deserve them is a bonus.

But perhaps the most important muse is the one who reminds me why I started writing in the first place. The central woman with a book in her hand is YOU. With every book I write, I start a circle (my journey), but that journey is only half complete. It takes a reader to take that trip with me and complete the circle. Hearing from my readers, especially in the wee hours of the morning via email, can absolutely lift me to a higher place. No lie.

So as you can see, I am surrounded by my muse every day and it’s a seven-headed winged horse Hydra. Did you really think my muse was a puppy? Pffftt. Wiggly puppy tails and the smiley faces of my rescue dogs feed another (no less important) part of my soul, but my writing muse is a beautiful magnificent beast.

What about you? Do you have a hydra of influences in your closet…maybe wearing a jet pack?

Bio:
HarperCollins launched Jordan Dane’s suspense novels back to back in 2008 after the 3-book series sold in auction. Ripped from the headlines, Jordan’s gritty plots weave a tapestry of vivid settings, intrigue, and dark humor. Publishers Weekly compared her intense thrillers to Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner, and Tami Hoag. This national best selling, critically acclaimed author’s debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM was named Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2008. Dane writes her Sweet Justice adult thriller series for HarperCollins. Her young adult novels, IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS and ON A DARK WING, are with Harlequin Teen. Currently, she is writing a new series for Harlequin Teen – THE HUNTED – slated for release in 2012-2013. Formerly an energy sales manager, she now writes full time. Jordan and her husband share their Texas residence with two cats of highborn lineage and two very lucky rescue dogs.

Visit Jordan at http://jordandane.com/

Muse Wednesday: Heather Graham

This Wednesday I am thrilled to have best-selling author Heather Graham sharing a book that made a deep impression on her and one she recommends to other authors for its true to life characters living in one of the most tumultuous times in American History, the Civil War.  And if you are in Cleveland, Ohio or even nearby, join Heather and me along with CJ Lyons, Jordan Dane, and Lori Armstrong as we talk about how we use romance and sex to spice up the genres of mystery, suspense, and thrillers. Our panel is scheduled for 4 P.M. on Friday, October 5th. Here is the complete Bouchercon schedule. –Monette
Heather’s essay:

There are books that we read that are so powerful they stay with us forever. For different people, they may certainly be different books—but there’s always something about the human character within those pages that becomes something almost like nostalgia. Often, they’re books you can read over and over again throughout your life.

There are many authors out there—from the past and the present—I love. I hate to be asked what I’m reading most of the time or what books I would recommend because I read so many and have so many author friends I’m afraid I’m going to forget a wonderful author or great book.

But for me, there’s one book I never hesitate to recommend, especially to author friends. It’s a book about the American Civil War written by Michael Shaara and the title is Killer Angels.

Now, I don’t recommend the book because it’s about the war. It takes place at Gettysburg—in fact, the movie made from the book is titled Gettysburg. And I think it was a good movie with fine acting by an excellent cast. But, a movie can’t possible give you what this book gives you because—although it takes place during an incredibly important time in our history; the turning point of the war, most scholars agree—it isn’t half as much about war as it is about people.

I’m first generation American so I didn’t even have family here during the war, but reading this book, I cried for men on both sides. Shaara gives us men who fought together in Mexico, who went to school together, who were fathers and sons, in-laws, cousins and boyhood friends—and faced one another in a monumental divide. You come to know so many of the important players, where they came from, what they believed, and why they felt the passion they did for their causes. I’m going to paraphrase a bit, but through Shaara’s eyes, we come to tremendously admire generals Armistead of the Confederacy and Hancock of the Union; they were dear friends. Armistead was godfather to one of Hancock’s children.

Armistead is one of the leaders in Picket’s Charge. Through correspondence, he and Hancock had talked about getting together when they could—their bond of friendship being deeper than war. But, Armistead charged right at Hancock’s troops. Being mortally wounded, he told the soldier who tried to help him, “Please give General Hancock General Armistead’s regrets; he will not be making dinner.”

It is easy now for us to look back at slavery and wonder what those who came before us could possibly be thinking—it’s anathema to us to consider ownership of another human being. But we see the society that created that vein of thought, and from our lofty perches looking back, we can say they were pretty much so greedy capitalists.

But, in a world where we still judge and dictate—as you can hear in the Broadway play Avenue Q we’re all a little prejudice, we’re fighting over gay marriage, abortion rights, etc., and women have really not had the vote all that long!—Shaara gives us a deeper insight into the lives that were led when our nation faced its mighty challenge for unity. We meet Lincoln and Lee, and see the heartache of Lee losing his wife’s family home, Arlington—built by George Washington’s stepson. We are able to see the courage of Mrs. Lee as well as the general—as she fled many times, she’d leave notes to the Union soldiers to please not destroy artifacts that had belonged to the Father of our country.

I recommend this book as I said, especially to authors, because high concepts are great—but it’s always characters that make up a story be mystery, romance, suspense or in any genre of fiction.

Michael Shaara won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1975 with this title. He didn’t live to see the movie version but I think he would have liked it. Still, no matter how excellent the movie, it doesn’t compare, to me, with the pure written magic of the book.

No one has ever made people come alive to me with such excellent characterizations put forth in this novel. For that reason—even if a reader loathes history!—I suggest that they read Killer Angels. Watch the movie, too, if you like—but Shaara’s words are true magic in creating scenes that the reader truly envisions and bringing to life men and women who lived at a pivotal and traumatic time in our history.

Heather Graham’s Bio:
New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Heather Graham majored in theater arts at the University of South Florida. After a stint of several years in dinner theater, back-up vocals, and bartending, she stayed home after the birth of her third child and began to write, working on short horror stories and romances. After some trial and error, she sold her first book, WHEN NEXT WE LOVE, in 1982 and since then, she has written over one hundred novels and novellas including category, romantic suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, and Christmas holiday fare. She wrote the launch books for the Dell’s Ecstasy Supreme line, Silhouette’s Shadows, and for Harlequin’s mainstream fiction imprint, Mira Books.

Heather was a founding member of the Florida Romance Writers chapter of RWA and, since 1999, has hosted the Romantic Times Vampire Ball, with all revenues going directly to children’s charity.

She is pleased to have been published in approximately twenty languages, and to have been honored with awards from Waldenbooks. B. Dalton, Georgia Romance Writers, Affaire de Coeur, Romantic Times, and more. She has had books selected for the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild, and has been quoted, interviewed, or featured in such publications as The Nation, Redbook, People, and USA Today and appeared on many newscasts including local television and Entertainment Tonight.

Heather loves travel and anything have to do with the water, and is a certitified scuba diver. Married since high school graduation and the mother of five, her greatest love in life remains her family, but she also believes her career has been an incredible gift, and she is grateful every day to be doing something that she loves so very much for a living.

Muse Wednesday: Lori Armstrong

This Muse Wednesday’s guest author is mystery author Lori Armstrong. Lori is a fellow panelist of mine for the upcoming Bouchercon in Cleveland. Our panel – Murder, Mayhem,and the Mattress Mambo is scheduled for Friday, October 4th at 4:00 PM (EST). If you’re in Cleveland, come see her, me, Heather Graham, Jordan Dane, and CJ Lyons talk about all things romantic and sexy in suspense/mystery/thrillers.

When asked who influenced her to write in the genre she writes, she came up with the following essay. I was happy to see old friends in Laura Ingalls Wilder and Nancy Drew.

Laura Ingalls Wilder and Nancy Drew – Lori Armstrong

Two questions I get asked more than any other, as far as writing, are:

  • Where do I get my ideas?
  • Who are most influential authors/books?

The first question usually receives a smart-ass response—I buy them in bulk at Costco. The second response is a no brainer—Laura Ingalls Wilder and Nancy Drew.

Like most authors, my love of reading led to my love of writing. I can’t recall the first book I read on my own, but I remember the giddy sense of…WOW, I can read anything! And I loved going to the library and loading up on as many books as I could carry—which a suspect now was all they’d allow us to check out.

I’m a native South Dakotan, 4th generation on both sides of my family. Third graders in South Dakota in history class, spend most the year reading about how immigrants came to settle in this part of the country. One of the assignments was to read a Laura Ingalls Wilder book because it chronicled the trials and tribulations of a family finding a place in this new land, through the eyes of a child, about the same age we were. I started with the first book, “Little House in the Big Woods” and was hooked. I devoured all the books in the series and decided I’d been born in the wrong century. I wanted to be a pioneer. Laura Ingalls was resourceful, a hard worker, devoted to her family, sometimes mischievous but she exhibited that can do attitude we South Dakotans are so proud of to this day. For a number of years I’d go back and re-read the series until I got too old…oddly enough, when my daughters were old enough to read the books, I didn’t re-read them because I didn’t want to taint that childhood experience of discovery.

After I finished all the “Little House” books, I was perusing the school library, when I came across a set of books bound in pink. I’ll admit to being somewhat of a girly-girl from a young age, so I picked one up. The main character was a teenage girl who had her own car, cool friends, great clothes, a college boyfriend…and had adventures galore in her smallish hometown. Once again I was smitten.  I had another character to admire and aspire to be like—I just knew I’d grow up solving crimes. Nancy Drew was clever, kind, curious, and loyal. I tore through those books and actually convinced my mother to buy me the ones the library didn’t have. Yes, I still have those books, and like the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, I haven’t gone back and re-read them.

It might sound odd—sharing the author/books that have most influenced my writing, and then saying I haven’t re-read them since childhood. Yet, I’ve talked to other writers and other parents who have revisited those childhood favorites and because their perspective has changed, they find things in the books they never noticed that changed how they felt about the book. I’d hate for that to happen to me, so I keep the memories of the book alive by remembering how much I loved them and how they shaped what I wanted to write.

Besides, given my reading choices, I was pretty much predestined to write a PI series set in South Dakota, don’t you think?

Bio:

Lori G. Armstrong left the firearms industry in 2000. Her first mystery novel, BLOOD TIES, published in 2005, was nominated in 2006 for a Shamus Award for Best First Novel by the Private Eye Writers of America. The second book in the Julie Collins mystery series, HALLOWED GROUND, released Nov. 2006, was nominated for a 2007 Shamus Award for Best Paperback Original, a Daphne du Maurier Award and won the 2007 WILLA Cather Literary Award for Best Original Softcover Fiction. SHALLOW GRAVE, released in Nov. 2007, was nominated for a 2008 High Plains Book Award, a Daphne du Maurier Award and was a finalist for the 2008 WILLA Cather Literary Award. The fourth book, SNOW BLIND, released in Oct. 2008, won the 2009 Shamus Award, from the Private Eye Writers of America, for Best Paperback Original. Lori is a proud fourth generation South Dakotan and lives in Rapid City with her family.

Great Romantic Suspense Beach Reads

Welcome to the Love’s A Beach blog hop from the folks at JustRomanceMe.  If this is your first time on the blog tour bus, you’re in for a treat.  If you’re a regular welcome back!

If you started here, you might want to go back and begin HERE. That way you will take the blog tour bus from the beginning, won’t miss any of the great blogs, and then have the chance to enter for FREE to win great prizes provided by the participating authors including a Nook with Glowlight loaded with books. Oh, and winners will be announced at Gem Sivad’s place on Sunday, August 19th at 7 pm (EST), during a live chat with many of the authors and fellow hoppers.

Oh, and if you read all the way to the end — there is a chance to win a FREE book on this blog, also!

What do I like to read in the summer? What books would I take to the beach? My favorite genre to escape it all — and let’s face it when you’re at the beach, you want to escape your usual 24/7 life — is the romantic suspense/thriller/mystery genre.

And it just so happens, I will be moderating a panel of some of the bestselling romantic suspense/thriller/mystery authors this October 4-7, in Cleveland, Ohio during Bouchercon. Our panel is titled the “I Used to Love Her, But I Had to Kill Her” panel, named after a song from Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Guns ‘N Roses.  The subtitle of the panel is “Murder, Mayhem, and the Mattress Mambo.”  Heather Graham, Jordan Dane, CJ Lyons, Lori Armstrong, and myself will be discussing how sex plays a role in suspense/thrillers/mystery books.

Here are some sneak peeks into what this panel is all about– and  I’m sure, like me, you’ll find the perfect book for that lazy day on the beach — or wherever you go to escape every  day life.

From bestselling author, Heather Graham, comes the third and final book of her Krewe of Hunters Trilogy (publication date 8/28/2012).

Blurb:

  Philadelphia mansion plays host to uninvited death

1777: In the throes of the Revolutionary War, Landon Mansion is commandeered by British Lord “Butcher” Bedford. He stabs Lucy Tarleton-who spurned his king and his love-leaving her to die in her father’s arms.

Now: After the day’s final tour, docent Allison Leigh makes her rounds while locking up…and finds a colleague slumped over Bedford’s desk, impaled on his own replica bayonet.

Resident ghosts may be the stock-in-trade of stately Philadelphia homes, but Allison-a noted historian-is indignant at the prospect of “ghost hunters” investigating this apparent murder.

Agent Tyler Montague knows his hauntings and his history. But while Allison is skeptical of the newcomer, a second mysterious murder occurs. Has “Butcher” Bedford resurfaced? Or is there another malevolent force at work in Landon Mansion? Wary, yet deeply attracted, Allison has to trust in Tyler and work with him to discover just what uninvited guest-dead or alive-has taken over the house.Or their lives could become history!

For more on the Krewe of Hunters Trilogy and all the other fabulous books Heather has authored, visit Heather Graham’s website.

From bestselling author, Jordan Dane, comes the third book in her Sweet Justice series, The Echoes of Violence (pub date 9/2010).

Blurb:

The Echo of Violence The man she’d trust with her heart could sabotage everything…

When terrorists attack a Haitian missionary school, brutally killing their hostages and posting videos of the senseless murders online, time is running out. Sentinels’ agent Alexa Marlowe is forced into an unlikely alliance with a relentless mercenary. But he is no stranger.

Jackson Kinkaid witnessed the raid, and only he can track the killers to their mountain stronghold. Guarding a dark secret, rumored to sell his services to the highest bidder, Jackson is not the same man Alexa once knew. And although he can lead her to the terrorist leader she’s been ordered to take alive, how can she be sure he won’t sabotage her mission to save the one person who got him through the worst nightmare of his life?

For more books from Jordan visit her website.

From bestselling author CJ Lyons comes the print re-release of her best-selling e-book with new material, Blind Faith (July 31, 2012).

Blurb:

When her husband and son are murdered, she thought she’d lost it all. But for Sarah Durandt the nightmare is just beginning…

Sarah has just witnessed the execution of the man who confessed to killing her husband and son, among others. She leaves with no closure as the killer has refused her repeated requests to reveal the site of her family’s graves. Sarah returns home to her small town of Hopewell in the Adirondacks Mountains and vows to search until she finds Sam and Josh.

Her hunt leads her to a trail of lies and unearths a new killer. In a race to save everything she holds dear, Sarah is forced to place her faith in the man who betrayed her…her husband.

Note: This new edition contains material not found in the original e-version which hit #2 on the New York Times Bestseller list!

Want to see more from CJ Lyons? Visit her website.

From bestselling author Lori Armstrong comes the second book in her Mercy Gunderson mystery series, Mercy Kill (pub date 1/2011 ).

Blurb:

Former Black Ops Army sniper, Mercy Gunderson isn’t adjusting well to the laid-back rhythm of civilian life on her family’s ranch in South Dakota. To fill her time, Mercy accepts a temporary bartending gig at a local watering hole. Yet her attempts to settle in back home are tested when Titan Oil, a Canadian company proposing to run an underground pipeline through Eagle River County, sends Jason Hawley, Mercy’s former Army buddy to the area to convince ranchers to get behind the project.

While local business owners support the pipeline, Hawley’s presence riles the landowners and Mercy is torn. After ugly threats and multiple altercations escalate tensions in the county, Mercy discovers Hawley’s brutally mutilated body in the bar parking lot. When it appears Sheriff Dawson cares more about campaigning for re-election than investigating the case, Mercy vows to find Jason Hawley’s killer—even if she has to run against Dawson for sheriff to ensure justice is served.

But Mercy soon learns her former military pal had plenty of secrets. Her search for the truth brings unwanted exposure to the county’s dark side and risks deadly repercussions for the entire community.

Visit Lori’s Website.

And finally we come to my most recent top seller, Cold Day in Hell, Book 2 in the Security Specialists International series.


Blurb:

Calista Meyers is a world-famous, soon-to-be-ex-supermodel. After arriving for a fashion shoot in Cartagena, Colombia, she realizes her agent has misled her about the nature of her last modeling assignment.

Paramilitary leader Jaime Cruz paid her slimy agent a lot of money to get Callie to his part of the world. Cruz has threatened to kidnap and kill her younger brothers if she attempts to leave the country.

What’s a Marine brat to do? Callie calls on her childhood friend Keely Walsh-Maddox and Keely’s husband Ren, the owner of Security Specialists International, to help her.

SSI sends operative Risto Smith to rescue Callie. The former Marine has had a thing for the model ever since he’d first seen her picture on a magazine cover. But he knows he isn’t nearly good enough for a lady like her. She’s an assignment and can be nothing else.

Callie knows Risto is just the man for her and decides to use the close quarters of their escape from Colombia to convince the stubborn male. When Risto leaves her in Panama and disappears, Callie is upset but not defeated. But after two months passes with no word from Risto and with her enemy Cruz in the US and back on her trail, Callie once again turns to Risto for protection.

This time, it would be a cold day in hell before Callie allows Risto to turn his back on their love.

To find out more about my books?  Check out the book pages on this blog or go to my website.
Thanks for visiting my little piece of the blog tour — please comment and share your favorite romantic suspense/thriller/mystery, and I will award one person a FREE download of Cold Day in Hell!
Have a book-filled rest of the summer! — Monette