Friday, August 16, 2019

The latest in Amish Romantic Suspense and a chance to win a copy of one of these books!


In June, we begin to explore the ever-changing world of Christian Suspense. Today, I’d like to share one of my favorite Suspense genres with you. Amish Suspense and Amish Romantic Suspense.

Here are some new and upcoming Amish books that you don’t want to miss.



Blurb: When elderly Amish widow, Ettie Smith, was invited to the local fair to help judge the cookie contest, the last thing she expected was to find a murdered woman in the quilting tent. With so many people bobbin about, Ettie didn't want anyone to cotton on to what had happened, so quickly covered the body with an Amish quilt. Ettie forced her sister to inform the local detective, knowing he would only needle her about finding another murder victim.
Can Ettie and her sister stitch the clues together, or will this be one murder that will leave them completely unraveled?




Available now! 


Amish Covert Operation – by Meghan Carver. I loved Meghan’s first venture into Amish Suspense and this one is good as well.  


Blurb: She witnessed a crime
Can an agent in disguise keep her safe?
After Amish widow Katie Schwartz’s search for her reclusive brother results in a shooting and her finding a cryptic message, she must rely on federal agent Adam Troyer to shield her. But, undercover as a Plain man, can Adam save her brother’s life and protect Katie? Trusting the handsome Englisch agent is already dangerous…but falling for him could risk everything Katie holds dear. 



Available now! 

Shattered Silence: An Anthology (Echo Falls Book 3) by Marta Perry. I may have mentioned this before, but I love anything Marta Perry writes.
Blurb:
A woman on the run seeks sanctuary in a peaceful Pennsylvania Dutch community—and finds a protector in the most unlikely of men…
One moment Rachel Hartline is secure in her career and community. The next, she’s in the wrong place at the wrong time—watching her ex-husband commit a crime that puts her in unfathomable danger. Fear and hurt send her home to an Amish farm and the family she’s always trusted. But a private investigator is close behind—and he may be a threat to her in more ways than one…
Cold, calculating Clint Mordan isn’t convinced Rachel is as innocent in her ex-husband’s schemes as she claims, but when her ex’s enemies target Rachel, Clint is driven to keep her safe. Maybe the terror in her beautiful eyes and the target on her back aren’t an act. But as his feelings toward her deepen, Clint realizes he’s the only one who can keep Rachel alive in a game where only the killer knows the stakes.



Available now!

Summer of Suspense. There are several Amish tales of suspense in this anthology.  
Our very own Mary Ellis has a release in this anthology.
Missing - by Mary Ellis
Murder in Sugarcreek – by Serena Miller
Fading into the Night  - by Vannetta Chapman
Wedding Day Revenge – by Rachel J. Good


They all look great, don’t you think? So, leave me a comment for a chance to win a copy of your choice of the books mentioned above. Please leave your email address. Print, when available to US residents only, eBook otherwise. I’ll announce the winner on Friday, August 23th.

Blessings always!

Mary Alford


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

A Review of the mystery THE SCENT OF MURDER by Kylie Logan

Happy August, readers, and the weather is hot and steamy. If there's one thing we all love in summer (or spring, fall or winter!) it's a good mystery. And the book I just finished reading, The Scent of Murder by Kylie Logan, fits the bill to a tee!


Here's what the story is about: The way Jazz Ramsey figures it, life is pretty good. She owns her own home in one of Cleveland's most diverse, artsy, and interesting neighborhoods. She has a job she likes and volunteer work she's passionate about--Jazz is a cadaver dog handler. Jazz is working in an abandoned building with Luther, a dog in training, when Luther signals a find. Jazz is stunned to see the body of a young woman who is dressed in black and wearing the kind of makeup and jewelry Jazz used to see on the goth kids back in high school. She's even more shocked when she realized that beneath the tattoos and the piercings and all that pale makeup is a familiar face. The murdered woman is a former student at the school where Jazz works, the lead detective assigned to the investigation is an old lover, and Jazz finds herself sucked into the case, obsessed with learning the truth.

And here's my review:  I have read and enjoyed every book this author has written, but The Scent of Murder is by far my favorite. I loved how Kylie Logan wove the details of cadaver dog training seamlessly throughout the story. Her research is spot-on, her pacing perfect, and the suspense builds to a satisfying surprise ending. But by far, Logan’s gift lies in creating realistic, multi-layered characters you’ll remember long after the book is done. Feisty Jazz Ramsey won’t rest until she finds out the truth about a young woman’s murder, a young woman you will come to care deeply about. Well done! I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

Kylie Logan is the national bestselling author of the League of Literary Ladies Mysteries, the Button Box Mysteries, the Chili Book-off Mysteries, and the Ethnic Eats Mysteries. The Scent of Murder is the first of a new series.

The Scent of Murder is available in hardcover edition and in ebook, including B&N, Apple and Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Scent-Murder-Mystery-Kylie-Logan/dp/1250180619/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2C0VZ60MQDBOX&keywords=the+scent+of+murder+kylie+logan&qid=1564598859&s=gateway&sprefix=The+Scent+of+mur%2Caps%2C391&sr=8-1

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

What's Hot in Inspirational Suspense?

by Patricia Bradley


Wondering what's HOT in Inspirational Suspense? Here are two Love Inspired Suspense books that released in June!



Her child’s life is on the line

A Roughwater Ranch Cowboys story

After putting his serial killer brother in prison, former US marshal Mitch Whitehorse chooses a solitary country life—until his brother escapes. Now Mitch’s former sister-in-law, Jane Reyes, needs protection…for herself and the toddler she’s kept a secret. Mitch still isn’t sure of Jane’s innocence in his brother’s crimes, but to keep his nephew out of a killer’s grasp, trusting her is his only option.


You can purchase Danger on the Ranch here:



She’s keeping secrets. He must keep her safe.

An FBI: Special Crimes Unit page-turner

Were it not for Tessa Carlson, Special Agent Henry Miller’s daughter would have been abducted. But rescuing the little girl has thrust Tessa—a woman in hiding—into the media’s spotlight…and into a criminal’s crosshairs. Now her survival depends on putting her faith in widowed single father Henry if she wants to live to see another day.


You can purchase Lone Witness at:
B&N

Friday, August 9, 2019

TWO BIG RELEASES!

FIRE STORM released on August 6th! Hope you've ordered your copy! 


When FBI profiler Kaely Quinn's mother is diagnosed with cancer, Kaely takes time off work to go to Dark Water, Nebraska, to help her brother care for their mother. Upon her arrival, she learns of a series of fires in the small town, attributed by the fire chief to misuse of space heaters in the frigid winter. But Kaely is skeptical, and a search for a pattern in the locations of the fires bolsters her suspicions.

After yet another blaze devastates a local family, Kaely is certain a serial arsonist is on the loose. Calling upon her partner from St. Louis, Noah Hunter, and her brother's firefighter neighbor who backs Kaely's suspicions, Kaely and her team begin an investigation that swiftly leads them down a twisted path. When the truth is finally revealed, Kaely finds herself confronting a madman who is determined his last heinous act will be her death.


Order it here!


SUMMER OF SUSPENSE Anthology also released on August 6th! 

Start your summer off right with 16 gripping and never-before published tales of Christian suspense from today's most popular mystery and suspense authors. 

Join Mary Alford, Christy Barritt, Patricia Bradley, Vannetta Chapman, Mary Ellis, Debby Giusti, Rachel J. Good, Ruth Hartzler, Shaen Layle, Ruth Logan Herne, Loree Lough, Elizabeth Ludwig, Nancy Mehl, Serena B. Miller, Samantha Price, Alana Terry on a dangerous journey filled with mystery, suspense, and faith that that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end!

Order your copy here:

Nook https://bit.ly/2DZC0YQ
Apple https://apple.co/2VcpYkA
Amazon https://amzn.to/2VsrPqs


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

PTSD: Fear and Anxiety


First things first, my book is out!!!  

Fight Write: How to Write Believable Fight Scenes with Writer's Digest is available online and with all major bookstores. Buy it with abandon!

Ok, in our last round on FightWrite.net we looked at how the PTSD symptoms of intrusive thoughts and insomnia manifest in the behavior of our characters. In this round, we will look at fear and anxiety more closely. 

Fear and Anxiety
Fear and anxiety are sometimes used synonymously and the two are quite different. Fear is an intense physical and emotional response to an impending or assumed impending threat. Anxiety is less intense but sustained feelings of worry, nervousness or unease that arise from impending events or situations. Both fear and anxiety are completely normal. They exist to save us from harm and are in proportion to the threat or impending event.

And, then, there is panic. Panic is uncontrolled fear and anxiety that is not in proportion to the threat. Panic pulls out a shotgun to get rid of a housefly. We'll look at that in our next round. Today, let's focus on fear and anxiety. 


Physical Manifestations of Fear


The great thing about fear is that if you feel it, whatever you're afraid of hasn't happened yet. What do I mean? Well, if you are afraid the plane you're in will crash, it's because it's not falling from the sky yet. Once it starts a wild descent, you are not afraid. You are in "survival mode". And, while survival mode is a very intense feeling, it's not one of fear.

Survival mode is a jet-fueled nothingness. You are completely aware of that moment. Not the second before or after. Just the one your'e in. Though you are fighting hard, you are numb. Pain may register, but it's as if you are feeling it second hand somehow. You can't believe it is you. After the incident, you may remember nothing. The memory is a blur. If you see the incident on film, it may surprise you. You may have no recollection of what you are seeing. Or, you feel suddenly remember every moment and relive the event. But even then, there's not fear so much as shock.

I mention the book The Gift of Fear quite bit when I teach
self defense as well as when I teach fighting to writers. And if you only buy one book the rest of your life, you should buy The Gift of Fear. Unless you don't have a Bible. Bible, then Gift of Fear. Ok, so TWO books! Then, my book third! But, fear is a precious thing. Your character should heed it. However, when the feared thing attacks or moment happens, that fear needs to leave. Fear is a warning. It exists to spare you from what may come. It is not intended to help you survive the coming thing but rather avoid it. It creates a storehouse of adrenaline for you to use to survive the thing you fear. That make sense?

For more on that see my posts on Adrenaline, here's one and here's another, as well as this interview with an assault victim.

Also, I want to add that what you feel in survival mode is not the same as what you feel when in a sanctioned fight. When you are in a fight that you have trained for, there's more clarity. That is one of the purposes of training. You bathe yourself in adrenaline constantly so that you learn to be productive while splashing around in it. You do still feel its effects, such as diminished pain (thank goodness!) but you do not get lost in its fog.

Ok, where were we? Ah, yes, fear and its physical manifestations!

* going pale
* freezing in place
* inability to speak
* goosebumps
* rapid heartbeat
* rapid breathing
* voice tremor
* knees buckling
* fainting
* running away
* sweat above lips or on forehead
* visible pulse
* trembling all over or in regions of body
* body odor (fear makes you stinky)
By the way, according to science, fear does have a smell although, they aren't really sure what it smells like(1). However, when study participants smelled sweat of those who were afraid, the participants also felt fear. Go figure! Also, ew.

Behavior Associated with Fear 

* elbows pressing into sides or cowering to make one's self appear smaller
* looking all around and behind one's self
* clenching teeth
* keeping one's back to a corner or wall
* easily startled
* gripping something so hard the knuckles turn white
* grabbing on to something or someone to feel protected

Physical Manifestations of Anxiety  

* sweating
* fatigue
* dizziness
* headache
* edginess
* shortness of breath
* insomnia
* upset stomach
* muscle aches
* difficulty swallowing
* tingling in limbs

Behaviors Associated with Anxiety  

* rubbing the back of the neck
* crossing arms to create a physical barrier 
* wringing hands
* bouncing foot
* rocking in place
* shifting in seat
* adjusting clothes as if they are tight or uncomfortable
* rolling the shoulders
* clutching an object such as a purse
* working a small item with the fingers
* constantly glancing at clock or door

If your character is anxious or afraid, show the reader their anxiety and fear. Not only will showing these feelings make the moment on the page more realistic, but, anxiety and fear are contagious. You're reader's brain will sink its claws into those emotions and be pulled along with the character.   

For a great, exhaustive reference on the physical and mental effects of emotions, check out The Emotion Thesaurus. It's brilliant.

Until the next round at FightWrite.net, get blood on your pages! Oh, and be sure to check out my FightWrite podcast and book!

(1) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/3545435/The-smell-of-fear-is-real-claim-scientists.html


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

What's New In Inspirational Suspense

Patricia Bradley

What's Hot in Inspirational Suspense



Wondering what's new in inspirational suspense and mystery? Lisa Harris's new suspense releases today ~ Deadly Intentions. 


Research scientist Caitlyn Lindsey is convinced that someone is taking out her team one by one. First, a friend and research partner was killed in a home invasion. Three months ago, her boss died in a suspicious car accident. Four days ago, another partner supposedly committed suicide. And now Caitlyn herself has miraculously survived a hit-and-run. Afraid for her life with nowhere to turn, she reaches out to one of the victim's husbands, Detective Josh Solomon.

Though initially skeptical about Caitlyn's theory, Josh soon realizes that the attack that took his wife's life was anything but random. Now the two of them must discover the truth about who is after Caitlyn's team--and what their end game is--before it's too late.

In this nail-biting thriller, award-winning author Lisa Harris will have you believing that there's no such thing as random.


You can purchase Deadly Intentions at:

Monday, August 5, 2019

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!

On Tuesday Mary Ellis will be talking about what's hot in Inspirational Suspense.






On Wednesday, Carla Hotch will be talking about anxiety and fear in out characters.

And on Friday, Nancy has exciting information about two exciting new releases--Summer of Suspense and Firestorm! And she's giving away 3 copies of Firestorm!


Be sure to tune in for these awesome posts!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNER OF THE SUMMER OF SUSPENSE CONTEST!







DANIE WALTHER!

Please look for an email from us, Danie. We'll need some information so we can get your prizes to you. 

CONGRATULATIONS FROM THE SUSPENSE SISTERS!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Summer Memories and a Texas Best Chocolate Cake Recipe!




As a child, I loved summer. I still love it, but I’m not as immune to the heat as I once was. Back then, on the very first day school turned out I shucked my shoes and went barefoot all summer long. I don’t think I put them back on except for church until school started back again in the fall.

One of my fondest memories from summer was camping with my dad’s family. We’d camp out down by the river. We slept in the back of our station wagon and cooked over an open fire. The food tasted so good. The water was shallow enough to go wading, and I still remember the smell of coffee brewing on the fire.

And I remember my mom’s homemade chocolate cake.

I loved watching her in the kitchen. She was an artist in her own way. Mom never used a recipe because she knew them all by heart. A talent I have yet to master.

Today, I’m sharing my favorite chocolate cake recipe with you. Perfect for summer picnics and parties. Though I’m not sure it matches up to the one my mother made, it’s awfully good and I hope you enjoy it.

Texas Best Chocolate Cake recipe
INGREDIENTS:
Cake:
2 cups sugar
1 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup boiling water
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
Cake:
Cream together sugar, shortening, and eggs. Beat well. Sift together 3 times flour, cocoa, and salt. Add and mix well buttermilk, boiling water, baking soda, and vanilla.
Spread into a greased 13″x9″x2″ baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Icing:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Mix together in medium saucepan sugar, cocoa, milk, and margarine. Boil 1 minute. Add pecans and vanilla.
Leave this thin like syrup and pour over cake while icing is hot; reheat if needed. Will form a sweet glaze.



And don't forget to enter our Summer of Suspense contest for a chance to win some great prizes!

Happy Summer Everyone!

Mary Alford 



Tuesday, July 23, 2019

SUMMER OF SUSPENSE!



While we're running a SUMMER OF SUSPENSE contest, you can also order a SUMMER OF SUSPENSE anthology that includes several of the Suspense Sisters!

Only .99 now, but the price will go up on August 6th. So get your copy now!

Nook https://bit.ly/2DZC0YQ
Apple https://apple.co/2VcpYkA
Amazon https://amzn.to/2VsrPqs

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A Perfect Summertime Dessert ~ Fresh Lemon Sheet Cake



Happy Summertime, readers! Mary Ellis here. 


Here's my favorite cool dessert for when the weather turns hot!


Lemon Sheet Cake

Cream together:

1 ½ cups white sugar
½ cup butter (1 stick)

Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

2 cups cake flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

Add dry ingredients to creamed ingredients alternate with 1 cup milk. Next add in the juice of ½ lemon and about 2 tsp lemon zest. (Optional: a few drops of lemon food coloring) Fold in 2 well beaten eggs last.

Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees – your oven temp may vary) for approximately 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Hint: This cake is great with lemon sherbet for a cool summertime treat or you can frost with a lemon butter frosting…

LEMON BUTTER FROSTING:

Cream 3 tbsp room temperature butter

Blend in 2 egg yolks

Stir in 2 ½ cups powdered sugar

1 tsp grated lemon rind (zest)

2 tbsp lemon juice

Don't forget to enter our Summer of Suspense contest! There are a-maz-ing prizes to be had!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

SUMMER SAUSAGE...IN SUMMER!

Cooking hot meals in the summer isn't appealing. But everyone loves summer sausage served with sliced cheese and crackers.

Here's a recipe I've used for many years. My family is crazy about it!



Homemade Summer Sausage

Ingredients:

5 lb ground hamburger (no lean burger)
5 Tbsp liquid smoke 
5 Tbsp Morton salt tender quick (found in dark blue bag in spice aisle)
2 Tbsp coarse ground pepper
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp mustard seeds

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients with your hands like making meatloaf. Cover and Refrigerate 24 hours. Take out and knead one more time then make 4 (14x2 inch) logs. Put them on a cookie sheet with 1-2 inch sides. Bake at 300 degrees for 3 hours. Take out and wrap in wax paper with aluminum foil around that. Refrigerate until well chilled. Serve by slicing and eating alone or with crackers and cheese.

NOTE: When rolling logs into shape, make sure you knead the meat and form a tight log so there's no cracks forming while baking.

Hope you enjoy it!

Nancy Mehl
 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

One-Pot Meal for Summer

by Patricia Bradley

I don't know about you, but during the summer I'm always looking for an easy, one-pot meal. My daughter shared this one with me and it's so easy! 

Chicken Tacos

I use a pressure cooker to cook my dish in, but you could cook it on top of the stove or in an air-fryer or a quick cooker.

Ingredients:
4 Chicken breasts
1 each, red, yellow, green bell pepper
1 sliced onion
1 jar of thick salsa
5-6 tortilla or hard taco shells
sour cream 
shredded cheese

In your pot, place the chicken breasts, then the sliced peppers and onions. Add the salsa and pressure cook for 12 minutes. Let the steam fall and after you open the cooker, slide the chicken and veggies into a shallow dish and make your tacos. I always put a dab of sour cream and shredded cheese on mine.


Don't forget to enter our Summer of Suspense contest! There are a-maz-ing prizes to be had!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Meet Virginia Vaughn, author of Risky Return

by Patricia Bradley

Wednesday I featured Virginia Vaughn's newest Love Inspired Suspense on What's Hot in Inspirational Suspense and now I'm interviewing her on the Suspense Sisters.


I've known Virginia for...hmmm...at least five years and probably longer. Time just seems to get away from me.  Anyhoo, here's my interview...Oh, and don't forget to leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for Risky Return!


If you had to describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say?  
It’s not hordering if its books. Sorry, I can’t help myself. I love everything about books—the touch, the smell, and especially the story waiting to open my imagination and draw me inside.

What do you do when you’re not writing? Any interesting hobbies?
When I’m not writing, I can usually be found reading, of course! But I also enjoy movies and finding a good show to binge watch on Netflix or Amazon Prime. I’m also a fan of disco music—I even taught my 8 y/o nephew to shake shake shake his booty, lol—and I adore true crime podcasts. I’m definitely what you would call an inside girl, but I’m raising two rambunctious boys who love to swim so, these days, you can often find me at the pool when I’m not writing.  
What was your favorite book as a teen or child?
My teacher read the class Where the Red Fern Grows when I was in fourth grade and that book cemented my love for reading. I still remember the laughter and the tears that story evoked in me. So much so that I recently bought it to read to my nephews at night only to discover it's on the 10 y/o’s summer reading list.
Tell us three things about yourself that might surprise your readers.
  1. Murder runs in my family. Just kidding…but my family is always helpful when it comes to brainstorming plot holes in my stories. My mother once pointed out an interesting place I could dump a body and neither of us even blinked at having that conversation. We may, however, have frightened the neighbors and got put on some kind of community watch program.
  1. I have an ever expanding list of ways to kill you and I’m not afraid to use it…in my books, of course. Insert evil suspense writer laugh here. 
  1. I’ve been known to talk about how I’m going to murder a character and then quote scripture all in one conversation, a paradox my son finds hilarious.

How did you come to be a writer?
I had my first creative writing class in fourth grade. I wrote a story about a purple people eater and my teacher and classmates raved about it. On the swings at recess that day, I decided I wanted to be a writer. But it wasn’t until many, many years later that I looked around at all the books I loved and thought if those authors could write and publish their stories, so could I. It took a lot of years of learning the craft, along with a lot of determination and persistence, but it finally paid off.
What is the most important thing you’d like readers to take away from your books?
A few years back, I read a secular romantic suspense book and, having spent the previous years exclusively reading Christian works, something about it nagged at me. It wasn’t the language or the sex scenes, but the utter lack of hope that struck me about that story. The heroine was determined that if she could just reinvent herself or do this or that better then her life would matter and the hero would love her. All I could think was Girl, you need Jesus. If readers take away nothing else from my stories, I pray its that we don’t have to do this life alone. Our hope is found not in ourselves but in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I so agree about some of the general market's lack of hope in their books. What is the most valuable piece of advice you’d like to give to unpublished authors?
The best advice I ever received is the same advice I always give to unpublished writers. Target a genre and READ, READ, READ in it before submitting.
 Thanks so much for visiting with us today. 
Back cover copy for  RISKY RETURN
“Stop investigating or you will die.”

A Covert Operatives story

Searching for a missing pregnant foster teen, Rebecca Mason stumbles across a human trafficking ring. Now with criminals determined to silence Rebecca, security specialist Collin Walsh appoints himself her protector. But how can the secret husband who once abandoned her to join the military regain her trust? Collin will do anything to make up for the past…but first he must ensure they survive.



Risky Return deals with human trafficking. Do you think books like this help inform the public about the dangers of this terrible crime? Leave a comment and I'll enter you in a drawing for a copy of Risky Return. (US addresses only for paper back. All other digital)

Award winning author Virginia Vaughan lives by the motto ‘It’s not hoarding if its books’. Always the kid with her nose stuck in a book, becoming a multi-published author of inspirational romantic suspense hasn’t stopped Virginia from continuing to grow her own collection of favorite reads. Her family has refused to help her move anymore because of the sheer number of boxes of books, but she’s no quitter. She’ll keep buying books and, the next time she moves, hire a moving van.

Oh! I almost forgot!! You can hop over to my blog and read my review of Risky Return and leave a comment, and I'll enter you in another drawing for Virginia's book! Click here!
If you love stories where romance intersects danger and faith, subscribe to Virginia’s email list at http://eepurl.com/dtFeVP  and be the first to know when a new story arrives.
Connect with Virginia:
Email Newsletter:   http://eepurl.com/dtFeVP