Posted by Sarah Andre
Guest post by Rolynn Anderson.
Writing is a humbling career. Every day I make presumptions and end up red-faced because I was wrong-sometimes horribly wrong-about my reckonings. FAINT, my sixth novel, released this week, is living proof of author smackdown. I took on Alzheimer’s, blindness, embalming, burial rituals, organ transplants, and clairvoyant dogs in FAINT, third in the funeral planner suspense series. No wonder the novel took me two years to write! My research on all these areas made me woozy with revelations.
Let’s take embalming. Better yet, you take embalming. Whoa! Consider the instruments and chemicals involved, the cleaning of the corpse and plumping with injections…the make-up…the dressing. Lordy, I even watched a ‘Do it at home’ embalming on You Tube. I had to hide my eyes half of the time. Among all these new learnings: Embalmers are bound by strict rules, forbidden to stray beyond their ‘normal’ tasks. They can’t even take fingerprints off the cadaver!
Blindness. Pete, a character in my novel, is a blind forensic investigator. I’d learned about blind men and women employed by the FBI after 9/11 to analyze suspect audio tapes and I wanted to explore their skill sets. Some of my characters were prejudiced against Pete. New learnings: blind people are shunned in some cultures, regarded as ‘less than,’ even evil.
Telepathic dogs. I was worried Elwood (Elly) a Scottie, who warns his mistress when she’s going to faint, was pushing a paranormal envelop. New learning: dogs can be trained to alert their owners of impending seizures and insulin lows. Elly’s skill was not a stretch, at all.
Burial rituals. Turns out every religion has a specific way to deal with the deceased. New learning: Certain orthodox religions require mourners to kiss the corpse in an open casket, within twenty-four hours.
Sounds like fiction, huh? I love what research turns up, pleased to see my presumptions challenged and energized by the complexity I get to add to characters and plots. Now, with my sixth book published, I’ve learned to test each and every assumption…but I must admit I don’t mind being wrong, because I can use that new information in my story!
It’s your turn.
GIVEAWAY QUESTION On what topic did your research for a book point out faulty assumptions? A free e-book of FAINT (you choose the format) goes to a random commenter.
Here’s FAINT, my newly released third in the Funeral Planner Suspense Series. Happy New Year, everyone! Rolynn
Their dead clients refuse to rest in peace.
How did small-town boutique funeral planning morph into crime-solving? Ask freelance embalmer Trudy Solomon, or Pete McDonald, a blind, forensic investigator. They’re unearthing mysteries of the deceased for their pregnant boss, Jan Keller, while her journalist husband, Roman, is benched by a ten million dollar defamation suit.
A dead client goes missing, and investigating his disappearance forces Trudy and Pete to confront their fiercely independent styles. When danger stalks them, will they blend brains, brawn and belief in one another to solve crimes and save themselves?
Posted by Sarah Andre
We welcome back one of the modern day Romantic Suspense Greats: Allison Brennan! Besides being a wife and raising 5 children, she’s presently writing 3 separate series. 1)Her best-selling Lucy Kincaid novels, 2)A new series featuring Max Revere, a spunky investigative reporter and 3) the Moreno and Hart Mysteries collaboration with colleague Laura Griffin.
Therefore, it’s a quite an honor she took time out of her busy schedule to write this:
I am thrilled to once again guest blog here at Kiss and Thrill!
Sarah asked me to write something totally fabulous. There’s nothing that kills the muse faster than expectations. Which got me thinking about reader expectations for Romantic Suspense.
Romantic Suspense is a broad and thriving genre where any of us can write a story about two worthy people battling against all the odds to defeat the bad guy and live happily ever after. Any way you get there is a win. Because the only REAL expectation in a romantic suspense (other than a good story well told) is that the hero and heroine should at least be one step closer to a commitment. They need to overcome internal and external conflicts so that, even if there are no wedding bells or shared bedrooms, the readers know they will make it, together.
I wrote 12 romantic thrillers–each book with one hero and one heroine who were together by the end of the book. It was clear in the structure and set up, and I felt I had a broad canvas to play with, so I did. But after 12 of a similar type of story, I was a little burned out and ready to try something else…and was inspired by J.D. Robb’s successful IN DEATH series (which is one of my all-time favorite series.)
I was nervous about launching a romantic suspense series–where there is the same hero and heroine throughout multiple books. But I’m glad I did. Lucy Kincaid and Sean Rogan have had their ups and downs, but they are together in San Antonio in DEAD HEAT, the 8th book of the series, that comes out today!
But even though I’ve followed Sean and Lucy over the past years, and readers know they will stick together, I never want to get complacent about their relationship. One of the things I love most about Eve and Roarke (J.D. Robb’s characters) is that their personal conflicts are organic to who they are as people–so their arguments are never contrived, and while we know they are going to be together by the end of the book, how they overcome the conflict is an integral part of the story and keeps us turning pages as much as the mystery plot.
The season 5 finale of CASTLE illustrates how they do it right. The swing scene. Rick and Kate love each other, but there are some very real conflicts in their relationship. Where are they going? Kate has an opportunity to do something amazing with her career–a once in a lifetime shot at advancement that will take her out of New York City.
Rick has had two failed marriages and his mother has been a bit of a naysayer regarding whether he’s truly committed to the relationship. Add in external plot issues that highlight their core emotional and relationship problems, and you go into the last two minutes not knowing what each of them is going to do.
What I loved the most was that Kate said she was taking the FBI job, Castle proposed, and said they would make it work. Their love and respect for each other would not only help them overcome any hurdles, but empower them to do so. The first four episodes of season 6 were outstanding in how they handled Kate’s job and the transition back to New York. The wedding proposal and subsequent job conflicts were true to character, as was how Kate got fired and how she got her job back at NYPD.
There is nothing I dislike more than a contrived story plot point in order to keep characters together or apart. (Like the season finale of CASTLE 6 … they’d better nail Season 7 or I’ll be really mad.)
I thought a lot about the job conflict for Kate because in many ways Lucy has a similar conflict. After graduating from Quantico, the FBI rarely assigns an agent to the office from which they were recruited. So I knew if I assigned Lucy to the Washington DC office, it would be a contrived plot point to keep them in DC and Sean as a principle of Rogan-Caruso-Kincaid. So I thought back over the course of all the books to identify core conflicts.
One of Sean’s core conflicts, going back to even before the Lucy series when Sean’s brother Duke had his book (CUTTING EDGE), was that he never felt that he lived up to his brother’s expectations. I worked with that, and broadened it by diving into more back story in how Sean got to be who he was. There were tidbits spread throughout the series, but in STOLEN readers get to learn all about Sean’s criminal past and what he’s willing to do to protect Lucy from his past mistakes. And in the end, it feels right that he walks away from the family business and seeks to find his own path.
So moving Lucy to San Antonio, it’s a no brainer that Sean went with her. And right now, in DEAD HEAT, they are at a perfect place together – Sean has made friends (including a good friend working in Lucy’s FBI squad); Lucy loves her job and is working hard; and Sean has spent time fixing up their new house. But he doesn’t have a job and while he doesn’t need one, he would be miserable without something to do – or get into a lot of trouble. Lucy sees it now, while Sean hasn’t quite gotten there yet because he’s in the happy bubble of having the woman he loves living with him. But it’s a real conflict that they are going to have to address, and hopefully it’ll be organic to the story.
There are other issues that will have to be addressed, things that are partly resolved (like Lucy’s past) but that can and will come up. Whether they’ll get married and when and why. And there are a few unresolved issues from Sean’s past … maybe things that Sean didn’t even know were unresolved.
The fun thing about writing a continuing series is that I can explore more issues between two people—and a strong secondary cast–while also keeping the suspense on the front burner. Series like CASTLE, and to a lesser degree BONES, help promote such storylines.
What do you think? Do you like continuing characters? Let’s talk about series … or Castle or Bones! I’m a bit of a television addict, so I’m game to talk about whatever you are!
One lucky commenter will win a signed first edition hardcover of NOTORIOUS, the first book in my new Max Revere mystery series, OR a signed copy of DEAD HEAT, the latest Lucy Kincaid thriller – winner’s choice!
Thank you SO much for sharing your thoughts on creating a series with organic, ongoing conflicts, Allison! Readers, for more information, please visit her at:
Posted by Carey Baldwin
Carey says: I’m triple delighted today because the wonderful incredible fantabulous Cindy Gerard is here today to answer questions and comments… and...she’s going to tell us about a two-for-one rerelease of her classic early titles (I’ve never read them and now I get to!! ) and …we get to see the cover for her upcoming release- Killing Time- the first in her new series, ONE EYED JACKS! Let the fun begin!
Cindy says: First things first, a big thank you to Carey and everyone at Kiss and Thrill for inviting me back to blog with them again today. I’m so thrilled, I could kiss them. Okay. Bad pun (but I love a pun) and you get the gist of what I’m sayin’, right?
Second, thanks to all of you who support all of us writers. I don’t think that gets said often enough. It’s not that we don’t think it. We do. We know that if not for our loyal readers who go out and spend their hard earned money on our books that we would be out of a job – and a job is a precious thing. Especially a job that you love.
Third – just for the record. I love my job. :o) I love writing. I love the business of writing. I love the fans. I love my author friends. My editorial team. My agent and her staff and I LOVE seeing my work in print.
And finally – fourth – I love seeing new life breathed into old books and finding them on the shelves again or available as e-books. So many of my fabo authors buddies have been having fun reissuing much of their backlist. Well, I’m super excited to let you all know that I’ve joined the ranks. Two of my classic romances – INTO THE NIGHT and MAN AROUND THE HOUSE are now available in e-book format in one volume titled: WORTH DYING FOR.
It’s a bogo!! Buy one, get the other one free. Only thing better is a bogo on shoes. LOL!
Here are the blurbs for each book.
INTO THE NIGHT (National Reader’s Choice winner)
….It began as a gimmick to promote their new radio show, but the spirited sparring between Jessie Fox and Tony Falcone soon has listeners demanding to know more about their steamy romance – and sets loose a crazed stalker. Jessie swears that the fire burning in Tony’s eyes can’t be real—until he sets a seductive trap she can’t escape. Can Tony persuade Jess he’s never letting her go?
MAN AROUND THE HOUSE (Rita Finalist)
….Answering his neighbor’s cry for help, Matthew Spencer finds himself rescuing a sassy blue-eyed temptress. Katie McDonald is a walking disaster who falls off ladders into his arms and awakens his hunger with the speed of a summer storm, and her infectious spirit has him rediscovering the joy in life.
Matthew makes her feel too much, want more than she can have, and dare to dream of being loved, but Katie knows she’s all wrong for a man with a child. Despite the passion between them, Matthew needs someone nice and normal, not wild and reckless – and Katie’s passion for her work has placed her in grave danger. And once Matthew learns her deeply buried sorrow, can he love her for all time?…
As I’ve stated in other blog posts, do NOT expect these to be the high octane, high risk, adrenaline rushes of my Body Guard or Black Ops, Inc. books. They are absolutely not. I like to call them ‘suspense lite’ ) with a lot of fun and a hot love story at the heart of each book. I really hope you’ll enjoy them to. You can buy them here: B&N.com or here: Amazon.com
Speaking of high octane, high risk, adrenaline rushes … check out the cover of KILLING TIME, book one of my NEW series One-Eyed Jacks (release date 1-19-13). Swwwweeeeettttt! And for your reading pleasure, here’s a link to an excerpt from KILLING TIME. Excerpt.
Mike – Primetime – Brown showed up in With No Remorse and again in Last Man Standing and basically demanded he get his own story. And wow. What a story he has to tell :o)
Okay – Back to WORTH DYING FOR. I love that e-book technology is making it possible for me as a writer and a reader to have access to out of print titles that we would otherwise not be able to find. I like it so much, in fact that I’m giving away 2 e-book copies of WORTH DYING to someone who comments today by answering one of two questions: 1) How do you feel about reissues in general? 2) Is Mike Brown HOT or what???
Carey says: Cindy thanks so much for being here! And thanks for the giveaway! Commenters, I’ll be posting the Cindy Gerard winners along with the DP Lyle winner on Monday, so stayed tuned.