Friday, January 29, 2010

Dream Man--Review

Dream Man
Wild Rose Press
Nancy Parra
(304 pages) Spicy


Dr. Eva Stanford only wants to help her patient sleep through the night. Little does she know that the old woman holds the secret to a thirty-year-old mystery that threatened the political life of a presidential candidate and Eva’s own family.


FBI Agent Nate Cancaid has a reoccurring dream of a woman with dark hair and blue eyes whose murder he is unable to prevent. When the blue-eyed doctor enters his office, he feels the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.


It’s bad enough when Eva’s patient claims that Eva and Nate are her married assistants, but coincidences grow too complicated for her scientific mind when some of the clues come straight out of Nate’s dreams. Can Eva keep from losing her heart to a man of intuition or has fate already dealt her a losing hand?


Nate thought about how beautiful Eva was...

How soft, how she held him close and tore him apart bit by bit. But she never promised him anything. That simple truth was hard to swallow. He was the one who pursued her. He was the one who pushed her into his bed. All she did was ask him to help her client.

It was no wonder she came at him like she did this morning. In her mind, the sex was good, but that was all they had. He pounded the pavement beneath him and scowled. No, it was more than that and he knew it. Nate swore she knew it too. They could pretend otherwise, but it didn’t make it any less real. It complicated things. She was hip deep in this damned
mystery and he felt fate closing in around him.

Fate was a tricky thing. Sometimes free will wasn’t strong enough to combat it.

How the hell was he going to keep her safe? She didn’t want him around
twenty-four-seven. And yet that was what he needed to do if he was going to keep the dream from coming true. Speeding up, Nate turned a corner and headed home. He was certain of one thing. He
shouldn’t have let Eva go to the clinic alone.

Available to buy in paperback or e-book format:
Dream Man

My Thoughts:

I’ve read and enjoyed other books written by Nancy Parra. Dream Man wasn’t all what I expected it to be. I expected a contemporary romance. What I got was a tightly written, very entertaining, suspense. I made the mistake of opening it just to see the opening scene before I went to bed. It grabbed me and didn’t let go. I read a fourth of it before my eyes simply would not stay open. I read the rest the next day in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down. Nancy has a way of developing interesting characters and this was the first real suspense of hers I had read. I had no idea she could write such a gripping story.

This is well written suspense involves politics, love, and an unsolved, thirty-year-old cold case. While I won't give away any spoilers, I will say the premise of using dreams is fascination and current.

The story begins with a mystery. An older woman has been sleepwalking and brought to the sleep Clinic for help. Mrs. Patterson, who during the day, is an innocent and sweet grandma, but during her deepest sleep cycle and becomes someone totally different for an hour or two. Further more, she claims to be someone who has been dead for thirty years. How is that possible? This is the riddle facing Dr. Eva Sanford.

Eva can’t make up her mind whether her patient is a multiple personality or is it an elaborate charade. If it’s the truth, then it’s a very dangerous one. Eva’s family is well connected politically and Eva is well acquainted with that world. She knows that this secret can bring down a presidential candidate. A candidate with connections who will do whatever it takes to see their *boy* as the President of The United States, and if it’s the truth, already has several dead bodies hidden. If Eva pursues this, she knows that not only is life of her patient, Mrs. Patterson, in danger, but so is Eva’s.

Eva contacts Nate Cancaid, an FBI agent specializing in solving cold cases. He’s a very much “just the facts ma’am” man who doesn’t believe in anything woo-woo—except he’s had a reoccurring dream every night and at the same time, for years. Coincidence or Fate?

Nate reluctantly meets with Mrs. Patterson’s alter ego and is unnerved when she recognizes him. How is that possible? He’s never met her before. He’s convinced it’s some sort of sophisticated hoax, because the truth isn’t possible, or is it?

What I enjoyed about Dream Man is as each piece of the puzzle falls into place the tension tightens and danger stalks Eva and Nate. My background is in psych and the dialog is realistic. You know Eva is a doctor from the way she speaks. She uses current terminology, as does Nate.

Both have issues and internal conflicts that both have to work through for their relationship to succeed. Eva swears she’ll never marry and doesn’t believe in happy ever after—she’s never seen it in her world where marriages are bartered for the good of the political party. Love has nothing to do with it.

Nate, due to his reoccurring dream, has sworn off blue-eyed brunettes for fear she’ll die if he marries one. Yet he recognizes Eva as the one for him. Externally conflicts come from someone who will do anything to keep the secret behind the thirty-year-old cold case buried. It’s a race against time.

Dream Man was a joy to read and I have to say, kept me on my toes right up to the denouement.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Nancy J. Parra holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism but turned to writing fiction when she discovered it was more fun to interview the people in her head. She lives in the Midwest with her wonderful husband. Since her two, almost-perfect children have left the nest; Nancy now fills her free time nurturing a mutt named George Bernard, and a bichon-poo, named Gracie Lou.

Nancy is currently hard at work on her next book. She loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her at her website

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Novel Ending

From time to time I like to feature professionals to share their experience and knowledge with us. Whether we're just beginning with our writing or are published, there is always the world's largest room--room for improvement.

My guest today is Beth Hill. She is a fabulous writer you may recall her Christmas Story, Christmas Cookies and Holiday Joy, December 23, 2009. Beth is also a gifted editor with the knack of working on a manuscript like a sculptor does on a block of fine marble. She takes good material and makes it better. The resulting piece of art is something to behold. We have been known to say, “Beth is a Goddess!” And since she works magic, sees the issues and solutions so clearly, she truly is one.

I invited her to visit with us Over Coffee to share some of her insights and practical wisdom with us. I’ll be running several of her articles in the coming months.

Today, her topic is endings and how to satisfy our readers.

As a writer, what do you owe your reader?

A fast read? A world of escape? Adventure or thrills or beauty he can’t experience at home?

Do you guarantee 300 flawless pages with characters who overcome odds or solve the mystery or promise to love forever?

Maybe your stories teach a lesson, open eyes, spark conversations over late-night coffees or breakfast-table cereal.

No matter where you take the reader, what you drag him through or under or around, you must see that he’s satisfied. Ensure that at the moment he reads the final page, he feels the satisfaction that yes, this story could only end this way.

When the hero limps home with a prize many times more valuable than the one he sought, when the amateur sleuth cracks the case that stumped professionals, when love succeeds where animosity failed, then the reader feels the world is back in balance. The ride is over. And it’s been a rewarding one.

You want him to feel his foray into your fictional world was worth every minute that he spent with your characters. That it was worth passing up every other endeavor he missed or put off in order to read your book.

But a satisfying ending is not easy to write. You must answer major plot questions without rehashing every event. You must remember to pull Aunt Edna off the roof where you stashed her when the terrorists took over her home. You must have given your readers something to love in both hero and heroine so that when you tell them they’ve fallen in love for life, the readers believe, can actually feel the love.

Your mysteries must not have been so simple they could be solved by page twenty. Your leads must face conflict and emerge victorious, even if they’re beat up by the time they reach the end.

Even if your story doesn’t include a happily-ever-after, is the end still inevitable? Did you plan each step so the reader feels that sense of certainty when he reads the final pages?

Authors don’t owe their readers a happy ending (unless it’s an expectation of the genre). They don’t owe annihilation of all evil. They don’t owe restoration for every injustice faced by their characters. But they do owe their readers satisfaction, a completion of the contract entered into when the reader laid out money and/or time to live in the writer’s world for a couple hours. It is justice, of a kind. Fair dealing between writer and reader. And if it’s done well, this completion of the author/reader contract, the writer has reason to hope the reader will both recommend the novel and look for more from the same author.

Authors owe their readers a good read. A satisfying ending is one way to ensure that good read. A reader will forgive; maybe forget, a saggy middle if the end sings. But there’s no remedy for a bad ending. The bad taste remains in the reader’s mouth with nothing good to wash it away, except maybe a different novel with a more satisfying ending. But what writer wants to send his readers from his worlds to those of another writer?

Please your readers. Pay them back for their investment in your book. And invite them into your next story by giving them the expectation that each novel will not only take them on an adventure, but also return them to their world fulfilled and rewarded for having lost themselves in yours.

Checklist for reader satisfaction:

  • Is the end inevitable? (Or would
    other endings make more sense?)

  • Was the end hard won? (Or did the hero fall
    into his triumphs?)

  • Does it make sense by every measure? (Or were
    vital steps glossed over?)

  • Is the end long enough—deep enough—for the length
    and breadth of the novel?
    (Or does a 400-page novel get a two-paragraph resolution?)

  • Are major plot points addressed without being
    (Or does the ending drag?)

  • Are burning questions answered? (Or
    are they relegated to nothing status by the end?)

To set up the satisfying ending, be sure:

  • The main character is someone the reader identifies

  • Conflict and tension are present and

  • Reader emotions are engaged.

  • Pace varies.

  • Action is seen, not only talked

  • The story is layered, so the reader must be
    satisfied by several outcomes on several levels.

  • The ending grows out of earlier

As a writer, what do you do specifically to insure your readers are satisfied with your stories?

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Beth Hill is a freelance fiction editor who loves to bring out the best in every manuscript. At the same time, she’s eager to share tips with writers so their subsequent novels will each be stronger than the last.

You can find Beth at A Novel Edit.

She edits full-length fiction manuscripts and also offers an edit of those important first thirty pages, especially helpful to those submitting to agent or publisher, or entering a contest.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Dusk Book Blurb:

Alexandra Leveau comes from an ancient voodoo priestess clan that's been feuding with sexy vamp Vadim Blerinca's family for centuries. The mysterious "bad blood" between the Leveaus and Blerincas is what keeps Alexandra and Vadim burning for each other, yet it also makes them a very dangerous match: by making love, each could kill the other.

Added to the erotically charged mix are Alexandra's ex-boyfriend, the poetic wraith Skipp, as well as a gargoyle who is devoted to Alexandra and will kill anyone who tampers with her. Add one more wraith to the mix plus an insane vamp sire and the true Venus de Milos. Now mix in elements of murder and mystery: the deaths of elderly citizens for unknown reasons.

A sexy, romantic romp of forbidden love and lust!

My guest today is Lana Griffin. She's the author of twenty-one books and has created pseudonym Lana Griffin for her paranormal erotic romances. She's a busy author with three more books scheduled for this year. She also has a great sense of humor, which I love.

Her topic is what makes a hero, especially a Vampire hero, sexy and hot.

My thanks to Over Coffee for hosting me today. DUSK (Ravenous Romance, 12-30-10) is my first erotic romance novel.

DUSK is a sexy vampire tale, in which an ancient voodoo priestess and her vampire lover must overcome their "bad blood" to save the lives of ordinary humans.

Amazon, Lana Griffin Author, Ravenous Romance

In keeping with the topic of sexy vampires, today I’m going to talk about quantum physics, and what you, as romance readers, can do about it. I mean, how erotic is quantum entanglement? Does the thought of it get your heart beating, or what?

Okay, I didn’t think quantum physics would turn you on. It doesn’t turn me on, either.

So just what does make your heart race? For me, it has to be a sexy vampire, a cute guy, someone rugged, strong, and sure of himself. If he’s sensitive and he loves me, so much the better. Most important, he has to be hot. Passion is critical.

So let’s review (do you see how simple quantum physics can be?):

  • Nibbles on my neck?
  • Eyes glow when he sees me?
  • Hot hot hot?
  • Hypnotic?
  • Immortal?
  • Nocturnal?
  • Sexy as hell?

And did I mention, hot hot hot? (I guess you know what’s on my mind.)

Let me tell you, ladies, I really don’t care if he can fix the plumbing or mow the lawn. He doesn’t have to cook gourmet meals for me. For all I care, I’ll eat Fritos while he drinks blood.

There’s something about vampires that appeals to all of us. Yet when writing a vampire romance novel, the author has to inject something new to the mix. If she doesn’t do that, her story will feel stale.

With DUSK, I decided to add some love triangles, and along with my lead vamp hero, I made my heroine an ancient voodoo priestess and gave her a longtime lover, who just happens to be a poetic wraith. I even tossed in a gargoyle, who falls in love with the true Venus de Milos: hey, they’re both statues, so why shouldn’t they fall in love? Finally, I gave DUSK an underpinning of mystery to drive the plot.

  • My goal is to entertain readers. So if you read DUSK, I hope you like it.

  • Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, there’s absolutely no quantum physics in it!

  • What do you think makes a hero sexy and hot?


LANA GRIFFIN is the alter ego of a New York Times Best-Selling author. Her work has been published in approximately twenty languages. Publishers Weekly listed one of her books as a 2009 Best Seller. She's particularly fond of anything involving vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, wraiths, and other paranormal entities.