Monday, January 26, 2015

The Perils of Research--Our Road Trip to Alaskaby Author Kat Martin

(Attention Readers - leave a comment and you are automatically entered into a special contest - Kat Martin will be awarding one lucky fan a copy of her new release - Against the Sky either as paperback or ebook).

I can’t speak for other authors, but having written more than sixty books, including AGAINST THE SKY, out the end of January, I’m always looking for new story ideas.  Which is why, when the opportunity arose to travel for a month to Alaska in a small pickup camper--I said yes.

With a contract for three new AGAINST novels at Kensington, I needed ideas.  A trip to Alaska seemed the perfect opportunity to find new plots and develop interesting characters--though the journey wasn’t my first experience with the vast beauty and rugged conditions of Alaska.

Against the Sky by Kat Martin
MIDNIGHT SUN was the result of my first trip some years back.  AGAINST THE WILD, Dylan Brodie’s story, was the first of my three new Alaska books.

In AGAINST THE SKY, the second book in the trilogy, out January 27th, Nick Brodie, a former Anchorage homicide detective, has a serious case of burnout.

Nick wants a new life, something that doesn't include violence and death.  Unfortunately when his neighbor, twelve-year-old Jimmy Evans, comes to him beaten and battered, claiming his father was murdered, Nick has no choice but to help him.

To make matters worse, Nick has a lady friend visiting from San Francisco.  Samantha Hollis, owner of the Perfect Pup pet grooming parlor, isn't cut out for the harsh life in Alaska.  Unwillingly swept into Jimmy's problems, she finds herself on a wild ride with Nick that leads them into passion and incredible danger.

The first kernal of an idea for AGAINST THE SKY arose when we were in Anchorage.  Something about the Russian mob? I thought.  And how about a woman who can’t deal with Alaska at all? 

As the novel took form, we traveled to Valdez, which became the setting for Nick’s brother, Rafe’s, story, AGAINST THE TIDE, which comes out the end of May.

I love road trips, just heading out with no particular destination, simply rolling along, encountering whatever life throws your way.  Dealing with flat tires and engine trouble can be exasperating, but there is the also the reward of meeting new people from all different walks of life.

If you love history, you might wind up in a place like Dawson City, way off the grid, the original destination for Klondike gold miners at the end of the nineteen century.  A lot of the buildings are still there, still being used, and the streets are still paved in dirt!  It’s a town right out of the wild 
West, a place that attracted authors like Robert Service and Jack London.

People often ask where I get the ideas for my stories and I can tell you that a five-thousand mile driving trip on a two-lane road is stuffed with fodder for books.  Whether you’re an author or a reader, it wonderful to open yourself up to new adventures, new places, and new people. 

In the meantime, I hope you’ll watch for Nick Brodie and Samantha Hollis in AGAINST THE SKY.

Very best wishes and happy reading, Kat  

Kat loves to hear from fans. Please visit her website:  

Readers enjoy an excerpt:

By Kat Martin

Chapter One

Samantha had almost reached her door when she saw a man walking toward her, tall and heavyset, weaving a little.  His suit was wrinkled, his brown hair mussed and falling over a wide forehead.  Obviously he was drunk.

She didn’t like the leering grin that appeared on his flushed face as he spotted her and staggered in her direction.  Samantha opened her purse and began digging frantically for her key card.  She was still searching when the man stopped in front of her.

“Hello there, sweetheart.  Aren’t you a pretty little thing?”

She ignored him, kept on digging, couldn’t find the damned card, prayed she hadn’t left it in her room.

“Not talking, huh?  I’m Howard.”  He stuck out a meaty hand she ignored, finally let it drop.  “Want me to help you find your key?”

“No, thank you.”  For once, she wished her purse wasn’t so big.

“Say, why don’t we go downstairs and have a drink?  There’s a lot of great restaurants in the hotel.  

What do you say I buy you dinner?”

His words were thick and a faintly slurred, though Samantha didn’t think he was quite as drunk as he had first seemed.

“I have plans.”  Like a soak in the tub and an early evening.  “Please leave me alone.”

Pain-in-the-ass Howard’s bushy eyebrows went up.  “No reason to take that attitude.”  He started crowding her, forcing her back against the door.  She wasn’t very big and he towered above her. 

He moved closer, knocking the shoes she had taken off to soothe her aching feet out of her hand.  “Come on, what do you say?” 

“I told you to leave me alone.”  Samantha set her palms on his thick chest and tried to push him away.  “If you don’t leave, I’m going to call security.”  She pushed, didn’t budge him.  “Please--I’m just not interested.”

“Come on, sweetheart, it’s only a drink.”

He had her completely boxed in against the door, and though her heart was thrumming away, she was more angry than scared.  There were hotel cameras everywhere.  In another second, she was going to scream. 

She might have done it if good ol’ Howard hadn’t suddenly been jerked away like a puppet on a string and slammed hard against the wall.  In an instant, he was facing the opposite direction, spread-eagled, legs splayed, one of his beefy arms forced up behind his back.

“Time to go home, buddy.  The lady has other plans.”

“What business is that of yours?”

Her rescuer, tall and broad-shouldered with wavy black hair, cranked the arm up higher, drawing a hiss of pain.  “I told you the lady has plans.”

“Don’t hurt him,” Samantha said.  “He’s just drunk.”

The most amazing blue eyes she had ever seen swung in her direction.  “He a friend of yours?”

“Heavens, no.  I was just trying to open the door to my room when he walked up and started accosting me.”

The black-haired man turned back to good ol’ Howard, who seemed to have realized the game was up.  “Thanks to the lady, I’m letting you go and not calling the hotel police.  If you’re smart, you’ll walk away, go back to your room and sober up.”

Howard stiffened.  The arm behind his back got cranked a little higher.  Howard hissed and nodded.
“Smart move.”  Easing up a little, her rescuer released him and stepped away.  With a last angry glance, Howard moved off at a loping stagger down the hall, heading back the way he had come.

“You okay?”  

Dear God, the man was handsome.  With his blue eyes, high-cheekbones, and straight nose, he was one of the best-looking men she had ever seen.  The shadow of a late-afternoon beard along his jaw gave him a slightly dangerous appearance that only made him more attractive. 

She managed to drag her gaze away from those arresting blue eyes and found her voice.  “Thanks to you, I’m fine.  Are you a policeman or something?”

“Used to be.  Nick Brodie.  Glad I could help.”

She smiled.  “I’m Samantha Hollis.  You came just in time.  I really appreciate what you did.  Most people would have just kept walking.”

“Not where I come from.”

“Really?  Where’s that?”

“Alaska.  Up there, people help each other.  Sometimes it’s a matter of life and death.”  He looked her up and down.  “You aren’t very big.  That bastard was twice your size.”

“As I said, he was mostly just drunk.”

“I guess.”

Trying to ignore the nerves she was beginning to feel, she grabbed the purse slung over her shoulder and started searching again for her key.  She could feel those amazing eyes regarding her with interest.   

“I hope I don’t sound like the guy who just left, but is there any chance you might like to join me for a drink?”

Surprise had her eyes flashing back to him.  “Seriously?  You’re here by yourself?”  Impossible, she thought, for a man who looked as good as he did.

He shrugged a set of impressive shoulders.  He was wearing jeans and a crisp white shirt, his hair curling slightly over the collar.

“I needed a break,” he said.  “Besides, my brother bought me a plane ticket.  I didn’t have much choice.  How about that drink?”

She should probably say no.  She wasn’t going to give him what he most likely wanted.  On the other hand, a guy who looked the way he did wouldn’t have much trouble getting laid. 

And she did owe him for coming to her rescue.

Samantha looked up at Nick Brodie and smiled.  “You know, after my wrestling match with King Kong a drink really does sound good.”

Nick smiled broadly, all white teeth and sex appeal.  The bottom dropped out of stomach.  Oh, my.  Maybe she was making a mistake.

“What are we waiting for?” Nick said.  “Let’s go.” 

Nick wasn’t sure why he’d asked her to join him.  He wasn’t really looking for female companionship.  Or maybe he was, but hadn’t found anyone worth the effort.  He’d come to Vegas to get away, see the city that had always intrigued him, relax, maybe gamble a little--not too much.

Samantha winced as she shoved her feet back into her high heel shoes, and he remembered seeing them in the hall in front of her door where she had taken them off and dropped them.

He was afraid he’d scare her if he suggested she open the door, go in and get a different pair, but he wanted her to be comfortable. 

“I got a hunch those shoes are hurting like hell.  Why don’t I wait for you by the elevator?  Give you time to go in and change?”

The smile she gave him was so full of gratitude he figured he’d scored another point--besides the one he’d gotten for pulling that big bastard off her.  

She opened her purse, found the key she’d been searching for, flashed it in front the lock and opened the door.   “Thanks, Nick.  I’ll be right there.” 

He frowned.  The lady was way too trusting.  He could have pushed her inside and done any damn thing he wanted.  He thought she would have learned her lesson with the bruiser who’d been manhandling her. 

His frown slowly faded, replaced by another smile.  In an odd way, he found her naivet√© refreshing.  Still, if he got a chance, he’d talk to her, make her understand the need to be careful with strangers.  

Clearly, his cop instincts hadn’t faded, probably never would. 

Time ticked past.  Standing next to the elevator, he checked his watch.  She’d been gone fifteen minutes when he spotted her coming down the hall.  She’d changed out of her pale peach linen suit into a short black skirt, pink and black top, and another pair of heels, just as tall but open-toed and apparently more comfortable.

“Thanks for waiting,” she said.  “I’ve been working all day.  It feels good to get into something that isn’t wrinkled.”  

His eyes ran over her.  “You look fantastic.”  Damned if she didn’t.  With her heart-shaped face and warm brown eyes, he’d thought she was attractive.  Now he could see she was way more than pretty, with a great figure, curves in all the right places, just a hint of cleavage above the neckline of her blouse.  She had taken the clips out of her hair, letting the springy light brown curls that hung down her back tumble softly around her face.  He wanted to grab a fistful, to see if it felt as silky as it looked.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Readers Get Cozy with Paranormal-Romantic Suspense Author Joanne Jaytanie

Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Author Joanne Jaytanie
Q: Your books focus on the paranormal and romantic suspense, what is it about these genres that inspire you as a writer?

Suspense has always been a draw for me; you are never sure which direction a story might turn. I love to immerse myself in a story, the suspense, tension, danger, and drama, are all pluses in my book. Throw in the paranormal element and you can create heroines and heroes that are larger than life. These two genres give me freedom and opportunity to go in any direction. I have the ability to intertwine a story that you, the reader are never one-hundred percent sure of where it may take you.

Q: Can you tell us a little about the Winter Sister Series?

The Winters Sisters Series is romantic suspense with paranormal elements. The series is about three sisters, all of whom have ‘special’ abilities that each were born with, but may not be natural. The main thrust of the series revolves around the sisters working with an √©lite group of military men called SOCOM, which stands for Special Operations Command. The men in this team also possess supernatural abilities. Together they are tracking an enemy whose goal is to create the perfect, supernatural soldier.

Chasing Victory: The Winters Series 
Q: Was writing something you always did or was it something you took up recently after having a business career?

I suppose the answer would be both. I have written since my freshman year in high school and have always loved to write. After my husband and I decided to close down our forensic engineering firm I was lost, wondering what I should do with the rest of my life. I realized that it was the perfect opportunity to finally follow my passion.

Q: I read that you like writing about the twists and turns for your characters. Many readers enjoy a good twist in a book. Do you already have an idea in mind of where you want the story to go when you start?

Twists and turns are my favorite part! When I start my book I have my basic story arc planned, but how my story gets to the end often changes along the way. If I feel something is too ‘straight line’ I will throw a curve into it. I love when someone says to me, “I didn’t see that coming.” That’s what I work for, to surprise the reader.

Q: As an author what has been the best part about writing and publishing your books?

The best part is when a reader tells me they love my book and can’t wait for the next one! That has to be the all-time best part of writing. Sharing something that I love to write and having others love to read it.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to say to readers who are new to you?

I hope you will give me a try. If you do, please tell me what you think. I love to meet and chat with new people.

Joanne loves to hear from her fans. You can connect with Joanne on Facebook on Twitter and do check out her website!  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Meet acclaimed author R. Scott MacKey and get a FREE book

Readers meet author R. Scott Mackey, whose first book, Barbary Baseball, achieved critical acclaim from baseball historians. MacKey later went on to write two young adult novels and is now the author of a newly acclaimed mystery series.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
In college.  My high school teachers and college professors kept telling me that I wrote better than their other students and encouraged me to keep developing my skills.  I've had a successful career as a corporate writer and along the way have written articles and books on the side.  My first book was published in 1995, with my first novel released in 2001.  I wrote some other books as well, but grew frustrated with the traditional publishing model and just wrote shorter pieces until a couple of years ago.

How many drafts did you go through?
For "Courage Matters" I went through four drafts of the manuscript. I spend a lot of time up front on plotting and outlining.  I don't always stick to the plan but it helps me to have some structure up front.  Then in the first draft I lay down the bones of the book.  In the second draft I really attempt to make the book complete, though it takes two more run-throughs to clean and polish the work.  For my next book, "Courage Resurrected," I have completed three drafts and am now using Beta readers to provide feedback before I make a fourth pass through the book.  After that I will use a professional proofreader to correct typos, formatting and grammar mistakes.  I find that after going over the manuscript four times that I get a bit numb to spotting things.

Who inspired you to start a career as a writer?
Again, I have to thank my teachers and professors for their encouragement. That started me working for the college newspaper, where I received more great feedback from readers.  From there, I just kept on writing.

What in your life made you realize no matter what you were meant to be an author?
I think the fact that I just couldn't stop writing even though the publishing industry is incredibly hard and frustrating.  After ten years of receiving ten or more rejections to each acceptance of my work I still couldn't stop.  I kept telling myself to keep writing because that's what I want to do.  When the Indie publishing market opened up that really turned things around for me.  I can now control not only the work, but the production, marketing and other aspects of the book that I had little control over in the traditional marketing world.

What is your writing goal for 2015?
I will be releasing book #2 in the Ray Courage Mystery Series.  Courage Resurrected will be released in March.  I will be releasing book #3 in the series in December.  I'm also researching a non-fiction book about college football. That project will be a couple of years in the making.

Courage Matters:  A Ray Courage Mystery launches the series about a college professor turned private investigator.  Critical reviews have been very strong, with one calling it "The 'Breaking Bad' of the private eye genre."  For a limited time, the author is offering FREE downloads of this book at

Ray Courage is asked by "Stockbroker to the Stars" Lionel Stroud to investigate an employee who's been acting suspiciously. Ray soon learns that not everything is as it appears at Stroud's firm. When his investigation uncovers a possible Ponzi Scheme orchestrated by Stroud himself, two people are murdered and Ray becomes Suspect Number One.

Ray needs to find answers fast to avoid prison ... or death at the hands of the killer. Complicating his efforts are threats from a Mexican drug lord, hostility from an octogenarian with a penchant for lap dances, harassment from a cop bent on putting Ray away for life, and a rekindled love affair with Stroud's daughter.

Scott Mackey lives in Northern California, where he writes both fiction and non-fiction. The second book in the Ray Courage series, Courage Resurrected, will be released early this spring, with the third book slated for release later in the year.

In addition to the FREE download of Courage Matters, readers will also receive the first portion of Courage Resurrected.  Download both at  Or visit

Friday, January 16, 2015

The inner thinking of author J. Santiago

The characters in my books often start living in my head, long before they make an appearance on any page.  I know their names, what they look like and what they have hidden in the back of their underwear drawer.  It was no different with my latest project.  Jackson Callahan, Magdalena Pryce and I were having conversations way back in April.  But then I met an amazing group of guys who were doing an amazing thing and I wanted to tell their story.   I approached them with something like this:  I write romance novels with some sex and a happy ending and would like to use parts of your story in my next book.

Theirs is a story that deserves to be told.  When they were sixteen, one of their best friends and teammates collapsed during their soccer practice and later died.  Tragic right?  But here’s the amazing thing.  They started a scholarship fund while they were still in high school.  They raised money hosting corn hole tournaments, silent auctions, anything they could think of to raise money.  And they did.  $50,000 over a couple of years!  Then, they placed five Automated External Defibrillators at youth athletic fields that needed them.  But they weren’t satisfied yet.  So they came together often over the next few years and began to put together a non-profit organization whose mission was to fight Sudden Cardiac Arrest, the number one killer of student-athletes.  They have provided free or low cost heart screenings to over 49,000 kids and detected over 60 life threatening heart conditions.  Did I say they are only twenty-four years old?

They were all about my project and have spent a lot of time with me over the last few months.  Which has been incredible…but difficult because I’m still writing a romance novel with sex and a happy ending.  The most challenging thing has been trying to keep my characters who they are without any of my interactions with the real people bleeding into Jackson and Magdalena.   I often have to check myself and my story to make sure I’ve stayed true and have kept them straight. 

It’s a different kind of pressure this time too.  You always want to write a good story and you want people to love and hate your characters when they are supposed to.  You want growth and a good plot and good dialogue.  But this time, I am representing more than just me.  I’m telling someone else’s story, albeit a fictionalized version of it. 

They call themselves Who We Play For now because they learned at a young age that you represent something bigger than yourself, a lesson many will never learn in life.  When they host heart screenings they have kids say who they play for.  I’m ready for them to ask me.  Because this time, this book, I’m playing for them.   

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Author Rod Pennington picks three winners who will be named in his book

StoryFinds in conjunction with author Rod Pennington created a unique contest in which entrants could have their name in one of Pennington's books. The results were great. 

Congratulations! You entered the contest to have your name in my next book and you were selected.

Grand Prize

Jim Notto. You will be the “Handler” for one of the lead characters and play a recurring role in future books.

Second Place

Dara Bowers. You will be “Gabe Indweller’s” estranged step-sister and will make cameo appearances in future books 

Third Place

Lynne Neidenbach. You will be the jaw-dropping Emergency Room Receptionist who gets courted and spends the night with one of the lead characters. If this is too bawdy for you, let me know and I’ll find a different role for you. Below is her scene:

Charlie was putting the time to good use. Between updating the Novem on the events of the evening, the cute twenty-something at the reception desk had beeped on his radar. Once, Charlie heard that Wilt Chamberlin bragged about having sex with 20,000 different women in his lifetime. He thought that was a record well worth trying to break and he spent every free moment in the effort.
“This one has real potential,” Charlie said as held up his smart phone for me to look at. It was the Facebook page of the receptionist. “Single, in an ‘it’s complicated’ relationship, she’s really proud of her body and…”
“Hold on?” I said as I cut across him. “How can you tell she’s proud of her body from a single photo of some social media page?”
“Rookie,” Charlie answered with a snort. He turned his phone around and rapidly swept his fingers across the screen. “Look at these pictures.”
Charlie tossed me his phone and I scrolled through a collection of ‘Selfies’ she had taken and posted.  They were all of her smiling broadly for the camera. Other than minor hair style changes and different wardrobes they all looked the same to me. “So?”  
“Ah, Grasshopper, you have so much to learn.” He took his phone back and held it out in front of himself. “Usually when someone takes a Selfie they hold their phone camera at arm’s length and eye level. She holds her camera above her head and…” He turned his camera back around for me to see an example.
I burst out laughing. “Only a hound like you would notice that.” The receptionist was voluptuous with a solid ‘C’ cup bordering on a ‘D’. She also had youth on her side and gravity hadn’t started to take a toll. I took the phone back and scrolled through the pictures again with fresh eyes. In the dead center of every frame was not her face but her cleavage.
“It pays to advertise,” Charlie said as he reclaimed his smart phone. “You need me anymore tonight?”
I shook my head.
“Excellent.” Charlie’s eyes locked on the receptionist who quickly averted her eyes and sub-consciously touched her hair. A huge smile broke across Charlie’s face as he headed in her direction.

Each of these entrants also received a FREE copy of one of Rod's books.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Why I decided to Re-Write It... by Stacy Eaton

Why I decided to re-write it…by Stacy Eaton

My Blood Runs Blue was the first book that I wrote and published. Back in 2010 when I started the process, I had no friends in the business, no one to guide me and had little idea of what I was doing. I signed on with a company who helped me publish my book and I paid to have it edited. Little did I know then that editing the commas and spelling errors was not enough, by far…

Two years later, I sat down to finish the last two books in the series, and had a hard time getting back into the storyline so I went back and started reading the first book. I couldn’t even get through it. I loved the story, but I hated the writing.

Since publishing the first two books, I have learned a great deal about what it takes to write a good and powerful story, and much of that comes from the way your books are edited. Not just punctuation, but content. After working with two awesome editors for a few years now, I found that you really can teach an old dog new tricks. I began toying with the idea of re-writing My Blood Runs Blue and Blue Blood for Life.

The one problem with taking on this task was that it was going to put me behind on my writing schedule. I had already slated out to write the second book in the Garda Series and the follow up book to Second Shield and knew that if I took on the task for re-writes, these would get pushed back quite a while. I wondered, would it be worth it?

I spoke with a few of my close friends who are authors and asked their opinions. Some of them said, never go back, always move forward; show your growth. Others told me to do what I felt was right.

Well, what felt right, was going back and doing some major overhauling on the first two books of the four book series. I felt that in order to finally complete the series, I had to do that, not just for me, but for the readers out there who were waiting so patiently.

So, earlier this year, I began the process. I am SO EXCITED about how My Blood Runs Blue turned out and Blue Blood for Life is going through final edits right now and should be available by early January 2015. I’m happy with my decision and thrilled to finally be finishing up the writing of book 3, Mixing the Blue Blood and starting on book 4, Blue Bloods Final Destiny. Both are slated to be released before summer of 2015.

Read more about Stacy and her writing