Friday, May 19, 2017

Interview with Robin Caroll and Giveaway!

Join Suspense Sisters in welcoming author ROBIN CAROLL! 


Robin is giving away a copy of her new release, WEAVER'S NEEDLE! (U.S. Only) To enter the drawing, leaves a comment with your contact information. 

For a little more about Robin Caroll, here's her bio: 

Best-selling author of more than twenty-five novels, ROBIN CAROLL writes Southern stories of mystery and suspense, with a hint of romance to entertain readers. Her books have been recognized in several awards, including the Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and more. Robin serves the writing community as Executive/Conference Director for ACFW. To find out more about Robin, visit www.robincaroll.com

And now let's hear from Robin!


If you had to describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say?

Robin isn’t what she seems.

What do you do when you’re not writing? Any interesting hobbies?

I love scrapbooking and card making, aside from reading!

What was your favorite book as a teen or child?

Trixie Belden series

Tell us three things about yourself that might surprise your readers.

I was a cheerleader in high school. I’m a certified paralegal. I’m an introvert.

What genre did you start out writing? Have you changed course? Why or why not?

I’ve always written what I enjoy writing the most—suspense and all the subgenres: romantic suspense, mystery, middle grade suspense, etc.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

Hmm…Toughest criticism was by my mentor who basically told me I needed to trash the first 30K words on my first novel because my story didn’t start until word 30,001. My mentor also gave me my best compliment when she agreed for us to co-write a book.

Any other genres you’d like to try? If yes, what and why?

Not really.

If you could go back in time and do something differently at the start of your career, what would it be?

Start Earlier!!!!

What is the most important thing you’d like readers to take away from your books?

That there’s hope….always, even when we feel it the least!

What is the most valuable piece of advice you’d like to give to unpublished authors?

Study the craft…hone your skill…then keep at it!

Now. . .more about Robin Caroll's latest release:

Weaver's Needle


Two recovery specialists.
One murder.
A hunt for the Dutchman's Lost Gold Mine becomes a race of survival.


Former Army MP Landry Parker fell into the recovery specialist role quite by accident—to help her ailing father. Now that she’s on her own, she is determined to prove herself and honor her family legacy.

After being shot in the line of duty, former police officer Nickolai Baptiste became a recovery specialist, and he’s good at his job—maybe even the best.

A potential client pits Landry and Nickolai against one another to find the Dutchman’s Lost Gold Mine map that was stolen from her murdered husband, and the potential payday is too enticing to pass up. The trail takes them from New Orleans to Weaver’s Needle in Arizona where legend claims the mine is hidden. Landry and Nickolai are no strangers to adventure, but the unlikely partners quickly discover there’s someone after the treasure and there are those who want to ensure the lost mine in Arizona’s Superstition Mountain stays lost forever.

Can Landry and Nickolai work together despite their distrust of each other to save the legend before more innocent lives are lost? Will they find the real treasure isn’t the gold, but something more valuable. . .true love and understanding? 

Thank you for joining us, Robin! And don't forget, readers, Robin is giving away a copy of Weaver's Needle! Enter the drawing to win by leaving a comment with your contact information. 






Wednesday, May 17, 2017

3D—WITHOUT THE FUNNY GLASSES

BY E.E. Kennedy

Fiction writers are artists who work in the medium of words, creating worlds out of thin air. In our art, however, we don’t have the three-dimensional media of clay or marble to work with, only words. We create pictures, but they are mental pictures, to be assembled in the reader’s head. This collaboration is special and must be treated with respect. And, when done properly, this partnership with the reading audience will result in a story that can seem more real and three-dimensional than any film or statue. Putting the philosophy book aside, let me give some suggestions of how we can make our characters seem to step off the page.

Let’s use a few items from the classic news reporter’s checklist to guide us:

WHERE: Make your setting realistic. Whether it’s the town you grew up in or the planet Zarzar, give your location authenticity and detail. Tell us about the gray, late winter snow that always piles up on the big-city curb or the dandelions that dance in the wind on your character’s lawn. Give us consistent descriptions that we can recognize and relate to. (By the way, in science fiction, it’s every bit as important to establish an environment with consistent rules of its own. Maybe the sky is green when a storm approaches, or the occupants of the planet only eat a kind of fungus. But keep in mind, no matter where you set your story, your audience must be understand the location and the story on human terms. Remember, there aren’t that many Zarzarians buying books these days!)

WHAT: Every story should have a kind of conflict. It can be large or small, but the reading adventure should contain an element of danger or frustration. It can be as large as the potential loss of a kingdom—as in Shakespeare’s Richard III--or as small as having to go to school in a beet-stained dress (from a favorite children’s novel of mine, Ellen Tibbets by Beverly Cleary). Determine what is important to your characters and give them some problems in attaining it. Decide what they’re afraid of and put that in their path. How the character comes through difficulties, whether large or small, is the reason the reader stays with a book to the end.

WHEN: Establish your time frame and be challenged to stay there. If you’re writing about the Nineteenth Century, remember that in society, rules for behavior were far more structured then. If it’s about the 1980’s, it’ll be a whole different story. Make your characters’ actions, the clothes they wear, even the words they speak consistent with the time frame. I once began reading a mystery set in Britain during WWII. Intriguing, right? But I put it down immediately upon reading this exchange:
       “No way!”
       “Way!”
London during the Blitz was a little before my time, but even I know that this expression didn’t appear until at least two generations later! Research is fun. Comb newspapers from the era you choose. Interview people who might remember how things were. The encyclopedia (primarily online now) is your friend. If you get something wrong, believe me, it won’t go unnoticed!


WHO: I’ve saved the most important for last: the people you write about. Everything you have your character do, say and/or feel tells your reader who they are. The task here is to make them three-dimensional, that is, realistic.
How does your protagonist speak? Is he formal, using few if any contractions like some characters Mary Higgins Clark’s thrillers? Or is he casual and even profane, like Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye? How does he dress? Impeccably, like James Bond, or rumpled, like Columbo? How can you make your characters as appealing as possible to your readers?

My cozy mystery heroine, Amelia, is the first to admit that she’s a terrible cook. Her bacon is half-raw, her scrambled eggs rubbery, and don’t even ask about her coffee! She barely tolerates the cat she’s inherited. And what’s more, she can’t swim. It’s a running joke among her friends which she finds occasionally irritating. Even though she’s a Christian, she stumbles sometimes, as in Irregardless of Murder, when she tells several white lies to deflect gossip about her and newspaper editor Gil Dickensen. In the same book, she’s even a little jealous of Sally, a former high school classmate.

And yet, Amelia is the hero of the story. It was important to write her that way. She’s a smart, well-educated woman who cares deeply about people, but she would be a cardboard cutout without these faults. It’s this kind of imperfection that not only makes a character realistic, but funny and, I hope, lovable.

As an interesting exercise, think about your favorite books, movies or TV shows and your favorite characters in them and see if you can put your finger on what makes them appealing to you. In The Closer, keen-eyed police detective Brenda is overly emotional and a sugar addict. In Downton Abbey, Lord Robert is snobby and stubborn, but we love him, because he genuinely loves his family.
It’s important for the reader/audience to identify and care about the characters. Reading a book should be a joint experience involving both the reader and the characters. So think: what makes your favorite book three-dimensional?
 __________________

Leave a comment below, with your email address, for a chance to win an Ebook copy of one of E.E. Kennedy's mysteries!

Monday, May 15, 2017

THIS WEEK ON THE SUSPENSE SISTERS!




We’re planning another great week on the Suspense Sisters. Check out our posts, our interviews, and our awesome giveaways!

THIS WEEK:

On our review page, senior reviewer Iola Goulton reviews A LADY IN DISGUISE by Sandra Byrd. Iola says: “I found the writing strong—I like the intimacy of first person point of view, although I know many readers don’t. The entire novel is from Gillian’s point of view, and she is a strong and intelligent character. I enjoyed the supporting characters as well, especially the irrepressible Ruby, who I feared for as much as Gillian did.”  

You can find her complete review HERE.



On Tuesday, Suspense Sister Dana Mentink will share What’s
Hot in Inspirational Suspense and Mystery. 



 

On Wednesday we’ll hear from Suspense Sister, Ellen Kennedy!  












Friday, we’re interviewing author Robin Carroll. You could win a copy of her new book, WEAVER’S NEEDLE! 

A modern-day treasure hunt begins when a client hires rivals to work against one another to find a stole map to the Dutchman’s Lost Gold Mine. Weaver’s Needle is where legend claims the mine
is hidden in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. Former Army MP Landry Parker and former police officer Nickolai Baptiste are the hired recovery specialists. Will they constantly be butting heads or learn to work together?

That’s what’s happening this week on the Suspense Sisters. Don’t miss a single day. Sign up through email so you’ll get updates in the exciting world of inspirational suspense and mystery!


The Suspense Sisters! We love books!

Friday, May 12, 2017

INTERVIEW WITH TOSCA LEE!



Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of THE PROGENY, ISCARIOT, THE LEGEND OF SHEBA, DEMON: A MEMOIR, HAVAH: THE STORY OF EVE, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker (FORBIDDEN, MORTAL, SOVEREIGN). A notorious night-owl, she loves watching TV, eating bacon, playing video games and football with her kids, and sending cheesy texts to her husband.

You can find Tosca at ToscaLee.com, on social media, or hanging around the snack table.

FIRSTBORN, the long-anticipated sequel to THE PROGENY, is in stores now!

INTERVIEW

If you had to describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say?  

“She’s only ever had one foot in the real world.”

What do you do when you’re not writing? Any interesting hobbies?

Last year I married a single father of four, so I play football and video games with my kids and cook. I’ve traveled my whole life, and try to get away with my husband when we can. Other than that, my main hobby is sleep.

What was your favorite book as a teen or child?

In high school, it was Clan of the Cave Bear and The Mists of Avalon. The research, concepts and characters were so rich, and both impacted me greatly as a writer.

Tell us three things about yourself that might surprise your readers.

I hate running, used to be a classical pianist, and I like shooting stuff. My kids give me exploding targets for Mother’s Day. 

What genre did you start out writing? Have you changed course? Why or why not?

My first (unpublished) novel was historical, a genre I’ve always loved, but I ended up publishing a suspense novel first because it was the one I had ready. Everything since has been a historical or thriller. I get bored if I do too much of the same kind of thing.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

I had a review several years ago I think for Demon: A Memoir, in which the reviewer said the book was written with the deftness and wit of an inebriated two year-old. LOL Sheesh.

The best compliment is just the loyalty of my readers, who are amazing. A more caring, loving group of people you’ll never meet. It’s such a privilege to do this journey with them.

Any other genres you’d like to try? If yes, what and why?

Maybe romance. I never thought I’d attempt it, but falling in love did something to me.

If you could go back in time and do something differently at the start of your career, what would it be?

I’d have written my second book while I was waiting to sell my first one. Guys, if you’re trying to get published, keep writing in the meantime. Trying to write your second novel on deadline while your first one is getting published is really hard!

What is the most important thing you’d like readers to take away from your books?

That’s so hard for me to say because I think what readers take away depends so much on what they are bringing to the story. If nothing else, I want them to enjoy themselves and feel like maybe someone else out there gets them.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you’d like to give to unpublished authors?

If you’re not published yet, this is a special protected time. Write a lot. Be prolific, bold and audacious. It gets harder to write this way as you publish and are constantly aware of those who will soon read your work. That’s why I say my #1 Rule of Writing is to write like no one will ever read this. Like you’re writing secret stuff in your closet. It helps keep fear from getting in the way.

THE PROGENY

When you wake up, you remember nothing. Not your name, or where you were born, or the faces of the people you knew. Just a single warning written to yourself before you forgot it all:

Emily, it’s me. You. Don’t ask about the last two years… Don’t try to remember and don’t go digging. Your life depends on it. Other lives depend on it.

By the way, Emily isn’t your real name. You died in an accident. You paid extra for that.

You start over in a remote place with a new name, a fresh life. Until the day a stranger tells you you’re being hunted for the sins of a royal ancestor who died centuries before you were born.

You don’t believe him, until they come for you. Now you’re on the run.

Every answer you need lies in a past you chose to erase. The only thing you know for sure is that others are about to die and you need those memories back.

But first, you have to stay alive.

Leave a comment, along with your contact information, and you could win a copy of THE PROGENY! (U.S. only, please!)