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Welcome Suspense Bestseller: Anna DeStefano

Anna DeStefano

Remembering will save her life. But will the truth destroy their love forever?

 Shaw Cassidy’s nightmares are shredding her sanity. Her global empire, her freedom from federal prosecution for espionage, and her life are all on the line. Long-ago secrets of love and betrayal swirl like living fore through her dreams until she doesn’t know whom she can trust, or who is out to hurt her.

 Federal Marshal Cole Marino has one mission: infiltrate his former lover’s mountain retreat and force her to remember the shooting that triggered her amnesia.

 But when Shaw questions Cole’s motives, and his lies are revealed, will the connection they’ve begun to forge be torn apart, or will the soul-deep bond they once hadsave them both and crash through Shaw’s amnesia, once and for all?  Her Forgotten Betrayal.

Don’t miss this sexy, psychological thriller!

 Best-selling, award-winning author Anna DeStefano wants to you stop, look, and keep digging, until you find the soul of your own fantasies.

Her latest release, Her Forgotten Betrayal, one of the launch books for Entangled Publishing’s Dead Sexy romantic suspense line, is a psychological thriller she hopes will creep you out (she’s really playing up the Gothic imagery and spooky nightmares with this one).

But she’s also dying (heh) to inspire you with another of the happily-ever-after romance ending she’s famous for. No matter how moody the setting or impossible the dilemma, Anna’s characters and stories challenge you to hope and dream for your own exciting future, the way her strong heroines and hunky heroes do!

Read on for the answers to some of the frequently asked questions about Her Forgotten Betrayal and Anna’s unique approach to story telling. For more, follow Anna to her blog (http://www.annawrites.com/blog), which she updates several times a week on a range of topics such as The Soul of the Matter, Dream Theories, How We Write, and Things My Teenager Says.

WELCOME ANNA! Your backlist has been described as genre-bending. Do you see yourself as a writer who works “outside the box,” and is this a conscious choice you’re making for your career?

 I don’t remember making the choice to push boundaries, but I don’t think I’ve ever written a story that didn’t challenge the limits of whatever line or genre I’ve written for. I’ve won a lot of awards for my Harlequin novels. But I’ve always tended to write edgy and darker characters, often with heavy backstories, even when I wrote for the lighter Superromance “home and family” line.  I’m always searching for the emotional heart of a story, wherever that takes me.

 For example, in my very first novel, The Unknown Daughter, my heroine is terminally ill throughout the entire book. Of course she gets her happily-ever-after “cure” (this is category romance). But she’s sick the entire book…she’s so NOT your average Harlequin heroine. Oh, and that was “accidentally” my first suspense novel, too—again, in a home and family line. And it won a Gold Medal review from RT, and my first RT Reviewers Choice Award. Who knew “outside the box” was going to be my happy place from then on?

 Even my first foray into paranormal romance (my Legacy series), turned out to be more of a thriller series, and most definitely more science fiction than urban fantasy or paranormal romance. I love the science behind the metaphysics and parapsychology that Dark Legacy and Secret Legacy are based on. As I wrote, I simply couldn’t push those elements (especially the dream theory) to the background.

 So, I guess I write what inspires and motivates and challenges me, whatever genre I happen to be writing in, and hope that my readers join me for the ride.

 In Her Forgotten Betrayal, your heroine, Shaw Cassidy, battles debilitating nightmares that she has to get to the bottom of to survive. You write a lot about dreams. What fascinates you most about them?

Dreams… Where do I begin with my fascination about dreams? My agent asks every once in a while when I’m going to stop writing stories where dreams are a key theme. Not that she wants me to, really, but dreams have clearly become a running inspiration for me. My answer is usually—never ;o) I even blog most every week about dream theory. It’s been a fascination for me my entire life. That was the impetus for creating my Legacy, metaphysical fantasy world that explores the science behind dreaming.

 For my contemporary romances, my “every day” stories, dreams take on an even more powerful purpose, than in my novels where people have supernatural powers. Our everyday dreams are our minds working for us, at the subconscious level. Whether we’re sleeping or awake, our dreams talk to us about the true purpose and meaning and desires of our lives. I like to see them as the very best and worst of who we are, and I think it’s important to pay as close attention to them as we can.

 To me, honoring our dreams is another way to slow down and look deeply and really see our reality. Focusing on dreams (or any small moment of our lives), helps us process and choose. We then get to move forward a bit more deliberately. In Shaw Cassidy’s case in Her Forgotten Betrayal, her dreams are telling her exactly who her villain really is, and just how important her forgotten childhood lover (our hero, Cole Marinos) can be to not only her survival, but also the thriving, loving, magnificent future waiting for her, is she can grow and make the difficult emotional choices she’s been running from her entire life. See. Aren’t dreams lovely?

 Your heroine has amnesia through most of this novel. Is this the first of your heroines to suffer from forgetting who and what she is?

 Actually, in To Protect the Child (part of my Atlanta Heroes series for Harlequin Superromance), my deep cover operative heroine wakes with amnesia and no recollection of what she was doing on her latest mission and how important it is for her to return to it, before a little girl’s life is destroyed.

 I guess a key difference between that story and Her Forgotten Betrayal, is that my Dead Sexy launch is a psychological thriller. I’ve written fast-paced procedurals before, and loved those novels. But I wanted to do a gothic, creepy, isolated-on-the-top-of-a-winter-mountain-at-night kind of contemporary romance this time. Shaw Cassidy has been injured, but she doesn’t remember anything (except the faceless man in her dreams). Her first memories begin to return when a dangerous stranger shows up, and she has to decide whether he’s the faceless man, or a hero from her past who can help her. Her Forgotten Betrayal is just as fast-paced as my procedurals, but Shaw’s battles are mostly in her mind, and in her relationship with Cole Marinos, her hero. She’s not battling the villain himself until the very end—and it takes her the entire story to fight her nightmares and psychological demons so that she’s ready to beat the bad guy that’s been messing with her mind, at his own game. Bwahahahaha

 Your stories tend to span short periods of time, particularly your thrillers. Is this to enhance the pacing of the plot?

 I think the one running theme through all my novels has been the drive to stop and look at the world and a character as closely as I can. As a commercial fiction writer, I’m also hoping the reader is entertained and finding the story impossible to put down. But I want to take our romance journey together to a deeper level. In the midst of the action of each of my novels, I’m doing my best to deliver characters with complex backstories and multi-layered motivation. I want my readers to have a flawed but admirable heroine and hero to journey with. I want you to feel what my characters feel in each scene, as if you were living through that moment with them

 I love making that happen by writing novels with short time spans. Not only for the pacing—though, you certainly have to keep your plotting tight in order to pull something like Her Forgotten Betrayal off, where I was working with less than a 48 hour window for the heroine to believably realize she’s being stalked, have nightmares that will either drive her insane or help her regain her memory, meet the hero, wonder if this stranger is her “bad guy,” learn to trust him, fall in love with him, remember their tragic past, of COURSE then think he’s betrayed her (see, it’s a romance, really it is ;o), only to have to face the villain with him at the end, in the story’s black moment and resolution.

 Which sounds like a lot to accomplish in sixty-thousand words and less than two days of on-page time. But actually, limiting the time frame gives me the chance to slow moments down, those important relationship moments as well as the ones where Shaw must grow as a character or she’ll never succeed, so that the reader really lives them with the heroine. If I were trying to cover the passage of more time with the number of pages allotted to me, I’d have to move on more quickly, more externally, and I think some of the richness of this type of story would be missed.

 You write a lot of “returning home” stories, as well as second chances at love. What about these themes drives your imagination?

 My first title (and I never get to keep my titles), actually the novel that won the Golden Heart and was later re-titled for Harlequin Superromance, was Forever Ago. It’s a play on words that resonates with me even today. I’ll write a book with that title one day. I’m determined.

 What this and my “coming home” and “second chance” stories say to me is that you have to go back and work through the things in your past that you’ve shoved down or shouldered aside. At some point, if you want to move forward and really live the rest of your life, instead of merely fighting and existing and getting through one day at a time, you have to conquer the things you weren’t able to face when you were younger.

 My characters tend to get their happily-ever-after forever, because they finally take on the conflicts of long ago, and conquer what still needs to be resolved. It’s the same with second chances at love. I’m mesmerized by stories where couples who didn’t make it with their soul mate in the past, find the courage to face one another and their combined issues once more, stronger and with newer insight, and find a way to finally make their dreams a reality together. What could be better than that? Sigh… You’re going to DIE for Shaw and Cole’s amazing ending!

 Imagery and setting seem like an important part of Her Forgotten Betrayal. What led you to choose a gothic backdrop for your latest suspense novel?

 I’ve fallen in love with Gothic imagery, since long before I wrote my first Legacy book. I’m more of a Bronte girl, than an Austen girl ;o) Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights… These are novels that read and re-read every year.

 With Her Forgotten Betrayal, I not only got to explore this fascination within the context of a contemporary romance, but I LOVED how I was able to incorporate Shaw Cassidy’s creepy mansion and the winter weather and the darkness of the surrounding woods and so forth, as another character in the book. All of it becomes a very real threat to our heroine. Is Shaw imagining what’s happening to her? Is her mind becoming unhinged by her nightmares, so she’s seeing and hearing things that aren’t there? Is someone after her, or is she actually hurting herself in her isolated mansion? How can she possibly know the difference? That is until our hero shows up. But is he part of the spooky landscape that she can’t trust, or is he really there to help her???! Dun-dun-dunnnn! LOL!

 Playing with symbol and imagery has become one of my favorite things in novel writing. I’m even now pinning images from my stories and my personal journeys up on Pinterest. Just look for Anna DeStefano (http://pinterest.com/annadestefano/) ;o) Check out Her Forgotten Betrayal’s board, where she’ll be posting blog tour updates and other surprises.

 Thank you for being here today, Anna! Check out Anna’s other recent titles when you have a chance, including the July 1st Harlequin Heartwarming, A Sweetbrook Family, and  October Montlake release (the first in her women’s fiction/contemporary romance series) Christmas on Mimosa Lane.

From Anna: I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions, your dreams and what you love best about suspense or any other type of romance you read. Sound off in the comments for your chance to win a free digital copy of Her Forgotten Betrayal!

How to Electrocute Your Husband Without Getting Caught

If you follow Elisabeth Naughton or me on Twitter, you might have noticed we are friends (although it’s entirely possible you’ve assumed we are enemies, because there might be just a tiny amount of snark in someone’s Twitter stream…) and after reading her post, I want to make it clear, I adore Elisabeth.  Really.  I think she’s great.  And brilliant.  And I’m not saying that because I want to stay on her good side (but I really want to stay on her good side…).

Seriously, I’m delighted to be hosting Elisabeth today, a fabulous writer who keeps me on the edge of my seat with her Eternal Guardians series, and I’m anxiously awaiting the coming ebook release of her romantic suspense Stolen series.

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A former junior high science teacher, Elisabeth Naughton traded in her red pen and test tube set for a laptop and research books. She now writes sexy romantic adventure and paranormal novels full time from her home in western Oregon where she lives with her husband and three children. Her work has been nominated for numerous awards including the prestigious RITA® awards by Romance Writers of America, the Australian Romance Reader Awards, The Golden Leaf and the Golden Heart. When not writing, Elisabeth can be found running, hanging out at the ballpark or dreaming up new and exciting adventures. Visit her at www.elisabethnaughton.com to learn more about her and her books.

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If you post a comment today, check back on Thursday to see if you’ve won a copy of Elisabeth’s latest release, WAIT FOR ME.

And now, I’m handing over the blog to Elisabeth, for a tutorial on how to electrocute your husband without getting caught…

Thanks so much to Rachel and the crew at Kiss and Thrill for inviting me to stop by today!

When talking with a friend about what I should discuss today, she gave me five words of advice: Stick to What You Know. (Ya think she knows I can go off on tangents or what?) We’ve all heard this. Heck, writers are told this when they start writing. If you write what you know you’re more inclined to get it right. But does that mean if a writer writes about murder they’re really a serial killer? (If so, Thomas Harris is in big trouble.) Or what about me? I have a series about Greek mythology. Does that mean I’m really a secret goddess? (I lean toward saying yes. Rachel…don’t answer that one…)

These days, my mantra is: Stick To What You WANT to know. I’m more inclined to read—and write—books about things I want to know versus what I already know. My masters degree is in education. Do I read or write books about teachers? No. Why? Because I’ve lived that life. It’s boring to me. What does interest me? Murder, mayhem, mythology, history, sometimes paranormal abilities, and lots and lots of romance.

Of course, the wanting to know thing can get a person into trouble. Especially one who is a writer. When I was researching STOLEN SEDUCTION, the third book in my Stolen Series, I needed to know how to kill someone without making it look like murder. I contacted an ME via email (one I’d met before and who had spoken at my local writer’s meeting) who never responded to my questions. After brainstorming with my husband—who works for a pharmaceutical company—he decided to ask a doctor he had a good relationship with. Because he wasn’t scheduled to see this doctor for a few more weeks and I needed the info ASAP for my book deadline, he sent the doctor an email. In it he explained that his wife was a writer and was working on a new book and needed to know how to kill someone medically without it looking like murder. The doctor emailed back. Three words: GET A LAWYER.

Yes, I hear you chuckling, but that response reminded me what sorts of trouble I could get myself into. I’m sure I’m on some national watch lists for the things I research on the Internet. After that, I decided not to email research questions anymore. Paper trail! (I’m pretty sure my hubby upped his life insurance too but we won’t go there.) But a writer still has to get their questions answered, right? So I decided face to face is better.

Enter the husband again. (He’s fodder for my research.) My hubby has chronic back pain and in one attempt to fix it he had a neuro-stimulator implanted into his back. The device sends electrical impulses to the area of pain and in theory is supposed to take your mind off the pain you’re experiencing. Pretty cool idea. He was given a trial device to see if it would work for him. Electrical leads were placed into his spinal column for a week. The leads came out of his back and attached to a device—about the size of a pager—that was battery charged and clipped to his waistband. The writer in me pondered this for quite some time. (You see where this is going, don’t you?) There were electrical WIRES sticking out of his spinal column. Long wires. All one would have to do to commit murder would be detach the device when he’s asleep, plug them into an electrical outlet, then reattach the device when the deed was done. It would look like he was killed by an electrical malfunction of the neuro-stimulator. A brilliant solution to a character one must off in a story. But would it work? I needed to have the hubby ask his doctor for verification. So I convinced him to do so at his next appointment. And the doctor (after laughing his ass off) said yes. In theory that would work. Then he sobered and told my husband to keep one eye open when he was sleeping during the rest of the week-long trial.

Hm…on second thought…maybe I do write about what I know. But I digress…

The same is true for what you read. Do you read what you already know? Probably not. I’m guessing you read what you want to know more of. SEALs and detectives and knights and ladies and wizards and…gasp…sometimes even prostitutes. Does that mean you are a SEAL or a detective or a knight or a lady or a wizard or a prostitute? Well, maybe, but my bet is no.  If we all read (and wrote) about only what we already know, how boring would the fiction world be?

So where does that leave me? Continuing to read and research things that interest me. I’m not saying I’ll never write a book about a teacher—I did once, and you guessed it, there was murder involved (when I started asking the DH questions about erotic asphyxiation during the research of that book he told me point blank he wasn’t getting involved in THAT research question). But if I only stuck with what I already know, I—and my readers—would be missing out on a whole lot of good stuff.

I’ve got a copy of my latest book—WAIT FOR ME—a contemporary romantic suspense that includes all kinds of murder and mayhem (and yes, lots and lotsa romance!) to give away to one lucky commenter today. To be entered in the drawing, just for fun, tell me what your training/background/profession is and what your favorite genre to read is. Really curious if the rest of you are like me and read more what you want to know versus what you already do know.

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WFM

A woman without a past…

After a tragic accident left her with no memory, Kate Alexander struggled to fit in with a husband and world that didn’t feel right. She’s had no reason to question what friends and family have told her, not until her husband is suddenly killed and she finds a photo of a young girl in his office. A girl who can’t be anyone but a daughter Kate didn’t know she had.

A man desperate for a reason to live…

Ryan Harrison lost his wife in a plane crash five years ago. To cope with the pain of her loss, he dedicated himself to his job and to raising their daughter. Now a successful pharmaceutical executive, Ryan has everything a man could want—money, fame and power—but he’d give it all up in a heartbeat for just one more day with the woman he still loves.

Two lives about to converge.

As Kate begins to dig into a past she doesn’t remember, evidence leads her to San Francisco and puts her on the path toward Ryan, a man who sees in her the woman he loved and lost. Kate feels a draw to Ryan, one she can’t explain, but is that feeling enough to convince her this is where she’s supposed to be? As Ryan and Kate search for answers, they uncover lies long buried, a passion hotter than either expected and a danger that threatens…even now…when the second chance they’ve both been searching for is finally within reach.

“Full of twists and turns, lies and deception, and the ultimate revenge, WAIT FOR ME is a great romantic suspense read.”

Night Owl Reviews, Top Pick

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