Friday, March 22, 2013


My guest romance author, Suzanne Ferrell. Not only does she write on the edge of your seat Romantic suspense, but also writes western historical, and  erotic romance. She is a busy woman. She writes absorbing stories and works at night as Labor/Delivery nurse and has delivered over 200 babies in her career. On any given day you can find her working on her latest craft project or listening to good music (and rock –gotta love her for that!). 
I've read her romantic suspense and they tend to grab you and not let you go. As a writer, I had to ask her how she manages to produces an engrossing tale filled with danger and suspense and yet maintains the romance of it all-without dropping either one.
I love the thrill of a suspense and the feeling of danger especially when one weaves in romance. It ups the ante. It makes for a more interesting story, don't you think?

That’s the thing I like about it. Putting the hero, heroine or both in a situation where their lives depend on each other heightens the emotional, physical and often the sexual tension. It pulls the reader (and writer) in and should keep the pages turning.

What's the hardest part of writing suspense for you? 

I tend to tell you who one of the bad guys is, or hint at it. I don’t write mysteries, well at least not straight up who-done-its. Having said that, I did fool my editor Tanya on who the ultimate bad guy in Close To The Edge is. (I think that’s a good thing.) Usually the reader can see the bad guy coming in my books, but not necessarily the hero and heroine. I like to think of my books as action/adventure with danger around every corner and a ticking-clock forcing the characters to act in order to survive.

So, the hardest part, is putting enough believable twists and turns into the book to keep that sense of danger moving along. Then there’s the whole romantic side that has to come into play. I've read books where the characters are in mortal danger and they just stop to have sex, because hey, it’s a romance, sex must play into it. OR there is no sexual tension anywhere in the book, and poof at the end when the suspense is done, they’re in love.

That’s probably the hardest part of writing romantic suspense. Finding the believable balance.

I agree with you there, Suz! What do you have to do, once the story is done, to tighten up your suspense and danger? 

This question is making me smile. My son calls it “getting my Ludlum on”.

I've read all of Robert Ludlum’s books and one of the things I learned he does is as the book is getting closer to its climactic end, the writing gets tighter.

I try to employ this structure in my books. Shorter, succinct sentence structure. Shorter paragraphs. Lots of action verbs. I tend to flip POV scenes more frequently, so the reader gets the feel of things moving. What’s the hero doing? What’s the heroine doing? What’s the antagonist doing? What are the secondary characters doing? Boom, boom, boom. Keep the reader’s brain involved.

Another trick is to force a character to do the last thing in the world they’d ever want to in order to save the person they love. Sort of like Indiana Jones has to face down the snakes in the pit. In HUNTED my heroine had to go back and face the camp where she’d been tortured as a teenager in order to find something. She also has to repel down the side of a mountain—again, another fear she has. And ultimately, she has to face the cult leader once more before he dies.

I did the same thing in Close To The Edge with my heroine…but I can’t tell you what, or it will ruin the book for you! J

What's the best thing about writing suspense? 

Getting to push the envelope and letting the characters react to what you write. In KIDNAPPED, my heroine is abducted out of a parking lot on the same night she’d planned to kill herself. Talk about a wake-up call! From that moment on, she’s forced to deal with the hero and his injured witness and eventually help them. In HUNTED, my heroine’s cover in WITSEC is blown and she forces the hero, at gunpoint, to help her. And my hero and heroine in Close To The Edge are investigating a seemingly harmless little case, when they find a dead body.

Often their first reactions set in motions events that make the situation worse. I’m at that point now in the book I’m writing. The heroine’s actions make sense, but they make the situation worse. A friend once told me, the best thing to do is kick your characters to the floor and once they’re down, kick them a few more times for good measure.

Your latest book, CLOSE TO THE EDGE, is to be released March 25th. I like the premise of it and I like the sense of humor you employ. I have to say, the opening line caught my eye and made me laugh, “Her ass was by far the finest he’d ever seen in this town.” And the “ass” in question is dumpster diving, of all things. What made you think of dumpster diving?

The book came about after a PI talked to my local RWA chapter. He was talking about public dumpsters being public domain and anyone could take anything out of it and it couldn't be considered confidential. This is the opening scene that played out in my head.

It doesn't start out dark and terrifying, but Bobby’s arrival in town sets in motion events that could destroy the town. These two [characters] are hip-deep in cow manure and don’t even know it yet. That to me can be suspenseful. Finding out your sleepy little ordinary world might not be as peaceful as you once thought. That the neighbor or acquaintance you once thought “normal” isn't quite all together right-in-the-head as you supposed.

Well, the opening line certainly got my attention! Suz, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions and share your latest book. 

To see the full opening scene, do click on the excerpt link at the end of the blurb.


Close To The Edge is the second book in the Westen series. The series is about life in a small Midwestern town, but this particular book really lent itself to suspense.  
After facing death as an undercover narcotics cop, Gage Justice has come home to heal. His recuperation is cut short by his father’s unexpected diagnosis of cancer and subsequent death. Now he’s honoring one of his father’s last wishes by taking over as the sheriff of his boyhood home, Westen, Ohio. Biding time until his father’s term is finished, he fights boredom more than crime in the sleepy little town—that is until one sexy little teacher-turned-Private-Investigator literally falls into his arms.

Bobby Roberts is looking for adventure. After giving up her own dreams to raise her two sisters after the death of their parents, she’s been trapped in a schoolroom for nearly two decades. The suffocating claustrophobia of the classroom has set her on a new career path. She arrives in Westen, complete with brand-spanking-new PI license, a handgun and a simple case—investigate a lien on property of a dead man.

Little does she realize her “simple little case” will lead her into the world of one sexy sheriff and the path of a murderer intent on keeping them both from discovering his secrets or stopping his plans that could destroy Westen. Excerpt
Available March 25,2013 Amazon

Suzanne discovered romance novels in her aunt's hidden stash one summer as a teenager. From that moment on she knew two things: she loved romance stories and someday she'd be writing her own. Her love for romances has only grown over the years. It took her a number of years and a secondary career as a nurse to finally start writing her own stories.  A double finalist in the Romance Writer's of America's 2006 Golden Heart with her manuscripts, KIDNAPPED (Long Contemporary Category) and HUNTED (Romantic Suspense), Suzanne has also won The Beacon Unpublished and the CTRWA's contests in the erotica categories with her book, The Surrender Of Lacy Morgan, now an online e-book with Ellora's Cave. Suzanne's sexy stories, whether they be her steamy Western Eroticas, her on the edge of your seat romantic suspense, or the heart warming small town stories, will keep you thinking about her characters long after their Happy Ever After is achieved. Where you can find Suzanne:, 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Today, I have the pleasure of having one of my favorite historical fiction authors, Elizabeth Chadwick, as my guest. I love her her stories and have read many of them. What draws me to Elizabeth's books is her love of history. To write good historical fiction one must first know the era well. It's the only way an author can truly open the door to the past and make it alive. It's not just a matter of knowing the clothes or hairstyles someone wore, or who was King or the barons of the land. It's knowing the characteristic features of everyday existence shared by people in a particular time or place the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits. Elizabeth does it very well. Her characters live and breathe and it's a joy to read such a story.J 
Today's authors are very much involved with promoting their work. We tend to think of promotion in terms of online presence and, of course, that is one facet of promotion. Elizabeth shares another formpublic speaking. Meeting with audiences and readers can be quite daunting and she shares how she goes about it. 

One of the things I really enjoy doing as an author and that allows me to unfasten my chain from  from my desk, is talking to audiences and meeting and chatting to my readers over tea and biscuits or a glass of wine.  I've had some great days out and experiences – and I hope the readers have enjoyed the experience too.

When I first set out on this published author lark in 1990, I was a stay at home mother to two small boys.  I  had never done any public speaking  in my life and was terrified at the thought of doing so. I finally found my courage down to financial incentive!   My local arts council was running a series of talks and wanted to do an author discussion panel, where three writers would discuss their experience of publishing for about 15 minutes each, followed by a question and answer session. I was invited to be on the panel as a newly published author.  I was so tempted to hide my head in the sand and say no, but they were offering a fee of £80  ($120)  which was a pretty decent sum in 1990 for a 15 minute talk and a few words on the Q&A.   So I screwed up my courage and spent the next several weeks trying out things to say, practicing like crazy and biting my nails.
On the big day I was fine, I didn't fluff my lines or embarrass myself, but I was terrified before going up on that stage and if ever I was a candidate for a heart attack, that moment was it.  I don’t think my pulse rate has ever been so high! It wasn't even fight or flight, it was rabbit stuck in the headlights. For anyone, public speaking for the first time is a huge mountain to get over.
Once I had done the deed, there was that huge sense of relief that while it hadn't been a thing of polished beauty, neither was it a flop and I’d survived.  Nevertheless, I then had to face the fact that this wasn't the end of it and a career as an author meant that I’d have to go out and do more on a regular basis.  The local library asked me to do a talk on my own to a reading group, so that was the next hurdle to get over.  Again, I was terrified, and again I scrabbled through without mishap.  And on to the next and the next.  Somewhere along the line I lost my fear and it actually began to become enjoyable.  These days I can go out and give a talk off the cuff and be barely nervous at all.

There is no secret.  In my case familiarity bred an ability to take it as a norm and deal with it.  I also found that doing detailed preparation beforehand and knowing what I was going to talk about helped tremendously.  Doing that donkeywork meant I was ready.  I still have occasions when my brain just steps out of the room for a moment, and that is unnerving, but so far, if I pause for a drink of water,  it comes back in and I can pick up the thread.  It’s like anything; the more you do something, the less daunting it becomes.  Coping strategies of deep breathing and pretending you’re talking to one or two close friends also helps.  Also beforehand, visualizing the talk in a positive way will put you in a positive frame of mind.  Dressing to suit the occasion and to feel positive helps too.  I usually turn up in smart casual clothes with perhaps a statement piece of jewelry, and I usually get my hair done.  I do confess though to putting my nail varnish on in the car en route (I’m being driven!).  There’s an art to it…

Most authors will give readings from their work but I prefer not to and just tell the audience about the background to creating my novels – how I came to write them, and the research entailed.  I bring a case of items with me including examples of research works and replica items from my re-enactment resources, including replicas of a 12thc sword, shield and helmet from the 12th century!  I feel that the strategy of not giving a reading allows me more time to talk to readers about novel writing processes and about history, and they can read the books for themselves.  My aim is to whet their appetites and it certainly seems to work.  I know many authors do like to give readings, but my point is that it is not the only way, and that when giving a talk, a writer should do whatever feels the most comfortable for them.
After I've finished my talk, I make sure I’m available not only to sign books, but to hang around and speak to people and let them look at the things I've brought along.  Many readers enjoy staying to chat a little longer and it’s a great opportunity to exchange more stories and information. It’s another way too of building an audience.

Nothing worthwhile is easy. Not becoming a knight. Not when you don't fit in anywhere.

Brunin Fitzwarin knows this better than anyone. Lost in his own home, he's now a knight-in-training to the Lord of Ludlow—and still utterly alone. That is, until the youngest daughter of the house befriends him.

But England is in turmoil, and Brunin must fight with his lord to support King Stephen for the English crown.

As the war rages on and his particularly close to home, Brunin must defeat the shadows of his childhood and take on the mantle of knight, confronting the future head on.

A rich tale of coming of age in a world where chivalry is a luxury few can afford. Shadows and Strongholds is a tale of earning your place and finding your way home. Excerpt


Elizabeth Chadwick lives in a 200 year old beamed cottage in the English countryside not far from Nottingham with her husband and their three terriers.   She has been telling stories since she was little and went from an ordinary life stacking supermarket shelves to help make ends meet, to having her first novel win an award that was presented to her by HRH Prince Charles.  Many of her other historical novels are award nominees and winners too.  She is currently engaged in writing a trilogy about Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Did you know that Elizabeth creates musical soundtracks of popular songs when she writes? I didn't either--but they do fit the story.

Monday, March 18, 2013


Hope you all had a great St. Paddy's. Ours was interrupted by rain/snow. It's the new catchword this spring around here. Rain/snow. It's almost April I'm still contending with rain/snow. It's not even one word, but two, although you wouldn't know it if you listen to the weather forecasts--or read them. 

To have rain/snow it has to be cool. Okay, cold. That whole windchill factor and gusty winds just wrecked havoc with my desire to do a jig. Or even move at all. It just cut right through to the bones and mine aren't real happy, right now, with rain/snow. The good news is, today, temps are back up to 50 and we have drizzle. But tomorrow and Wednesday we get sunshine and nice southwest breeze that reminds me again that it really is spring.

I have to tell you, not only do I have an aversion to rain/snow, but cold dark days and I don't get along well either. Ugh. I get the urge to hibernate. Creativity is at a low and so is my mood. In the defense of rain/snow and icky gray days I've surrounded myself with bright lights and flower catalogs. Not as good as the real thing but it focused my mind onto something else. 

At least the birds are singing outside my window. I'm planning on reveling in the sunshine the next two day because Thursday and Friday plan on dumping more rain/snow and cold temps. Oh, and another word I don't like to hear, accumulation--as in a chance of snow accumulation. 

All I gotta say is April better come in like a lamb.