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Gathering Incriminating Evidence in the Land of the Midnight Sun

MidnightSun-frontcover-final-r1-72This month I have two books out, Midnight Sun (a re-release after being published in the Twelve Shades of Midnight anthology, which is no longer available) released on March 1st, and Incriminating Evidence (Evidence Series #4), which will release on March 24th. By sheer coincidence, both books are set in Alaska. It may sound strange to say it’s a coincidence, but it is. I’ve had versions of Incriminating Evidence in my head and on on my computer since 2010 – and it was always set in Alaska. It was the perfect setting for Alec and Isabel’s story. The inspiration behind Midnight Sun was completely different.

A little over a year ago, the fabulous Robin Perini approached me and asked if I wanted to participate in a paranormal romance anthology with her and ten other authors. Because the story would be paranormal, it couldn’t be connected to my existing books, and I began considering what my contribution to the anthology would be. My first inspiration was a story set in Hawaii, about an archaeologist who comes face-to-face with Night Marchers. The story excited me and I was ready to move forward with it, as we as a group were discussing via email potential titles and themes for the anthology. We settled on the name Twelve Shades of Midnight relatively quickly, and all agreed that something important in each of our stories had to happen at midnight. My Night Marchers story was perfect. I lived in Hawaii for three years — I know the setting well, and my husband worked as an archaeologist there, so the research would be a snap, and the story would be fun to write.

View of Denali National Park

Then one morning, I woke up with the kernel of the plot for Midnight Sun in my mind. Maybe I was inspired by the word “midnight” — I really don’t know — but in the space of five minutes I went from planning to write a novella set in Hawaii to one set in Alaska. Once the idea grabbed me, I couldn’t let it go. I’d only ever visited and conducted archaeological survey in Sitka, Alaska, but fortunately, my husband had worked in Barrow, and he knew other archaeologists who’d worked for a length of time in the Arctic Circle who were willing to answer even the most ridiculous questions (yes, I do need to know what the airport terminal in Kotzebue looks like, and if the vegetation is primarily muskeg…). And so Midnight Sun the story of Sienna and Rhys and an ancient Iñupiat mask, was born. The Hawaii story will be the second in the series, featuring Sienna’s sister, Larkspur (look for it in late 2015).

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As I mentioned above, I’ve had the story for Incriminating Evidence in the works since 2010. It was supposed to be the 3rd book in the Evidence Series (and I finished a draft of it in 2012, long before I wrote Withholding Evidence), but one problem I had with the execution of the story was the setting. It was clear to me that I needed to visit central Alaska if I wanted to get it right, so last summer, before tackling a major rewrite, my family and I visited Alaska and explored the area where the story is set.

One of the things I wanted to see while I was there was the forest at night–I knew in the summer it wouldn’t really get dark, but I wanted to see the phenomenon first hand. This photo was taken at midnight in mid-July in Fairbanks – without a flash.

Fairbanks forest at midnight

We were in Alaska for eight days and drove from Anchorage to Fairbanks in a loop, exploring Denali National Park on the drive north (we saw lots of animals including bears, caribou, moose, and a wolf!), and went east for the drive south, where we passed through the setting for Incriminating Evidence.

Denali National Park

En route, we saw salmon spawning, went whitewater rafting–necessary because a glacial silt-laden river plays an important role in the story–panned for gold, and hiked on a glacier.

Matanuska Glacier

I came home from the trip buzzing with ideas. There is no way to see something as magnificent as Alaska in just a week, but we tried.

The final story of Incriminating Evidence is very different from that first idea I plotted in 2010, but it is so much richer, so much better, for having visited the setting which plays a central role in the story. Also, even though there wasn’t supposed to be a connection between my paranormal romance and my 4th Evidence Series book, because they were both set in Alaska (even though hundreds of miles apart) I couldn’t resist slipping one thing in. I can’t wait to hear from readers who catch the connection…

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Midnight Sun

A woman on the edge…

Museum collections specialist Sienna Aubrey is desperate. A prehistoric Iñupiat mask in her client’s collection is haunted, and it wants her to return it to Alaska…now. Tormented to her breaking point, she steals it. But when she arrives in the remote Alaskan village, the tribal representative refuses to take the troublesome mask off her hands. Even worse, the manipulative artifact pulls the infuriating man into her dream, during which she indulges in her most secret fantasies with him.

A man in search of the truth…

Assistant US Attorney Rhys Vaughan came to the Arctic Circle to prove someone tried to murder his cousin. When Sienna shows up at his cousin’s office with the local tribe’s most sacred artifact, she becomes his prime suspect. Then the mask delivers him into Sienna’s hot, fantasy-laden dream, and his desire to investigate her takes an entirely different turn.

An artifact seeking justice…

But the mask has an agenda, and it’s not to play matchmaker. If Sienna doesn’t do what the artifact wants, she may pay the ultimate price, and only Rhys can save her.

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Incriminating Evidence

From enemies to allies…

When archaeologist Isabel Dawson stumbles upon an unconscious man deep in the Alaskan wilderness, her survival skills are put to the test. She tends his wounds and drags him to shelter, only to discover she’s saved the life of Raptor CEO Alec Ravissant—the man who may have covered up her brother’s murder to save his senatorial campaign.

With no memory of the assault that landed him five miles deep in the forest, Alec doesn’t know what to believe when he wakes in the clutches of the beautiful redhead who blames him for her brother’s death, but he quickly realizes he needs her help to uncover the truth about his lost hours.

Isabel never imagined she’d find herself allied with Alec, and he’s the last man she ever expected to find attractive. But the former Army Ranger-turned-politician proves seductively charming, and he’s determined to win much more than her vote. When their quest for answers puts Isabel in the crosshairs, Alec must risk everything—his company, his campaign, and his life—to protect her.

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Word Wars! Twelve Shades of Midnight Authors Share Their Most (& Least) Favorite Things

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Twelve Shades of Midnight, an anthology of 12 all new paranormal novellas is out today! My novella, Midnight Sun, is included and I’m thrilled to be part of this amazing lineup of authors for my first foray into the paranormal.

I’ve had a blast working with the other authors in the making of this anthology! From brainstorming titles to coming up with Easter eggs hidden in the stories, the messages between the members of the group have been hilarious. How lucky am I to be in this amazing anthology?

Twelve Shades of Midnight

The stroke of midnight ushers in many things. From hijinks and mischief to danger and evil, romance is the magic that binds these paranormal novellas together. Join 12 bestselling and award winning authors as they explore the different shades of midnight in exclusive, never-before-released stories.

Liliana Hart – THE WITCH NEXT DOOR
Darynda Jones – A LOVELY DROP
Shea Berkley – DARK SECRETS: STONE COLD DEAD
Dakota Cassidy – WITCHED AT BIRTH
Claire Cavanaugh – MIDNIGHT RENEGADE
Rachel Grant – MIDNIGHT SUN
Trish McCallan – SPIRIT WOODS
Angi Morgan – BODYGUARDS IN HEELS: HIT & RUN HALLIE
Robin Perini – NIGHT OF THE JAGUAR
Robyn Peterman – SWITCHING HOUR
Ann Voss Peterson – THE SCHOOL
Jenn Stark – GETTING WILDE

Watch the Twelve Shades trailer: Facebook | YouTube

We’re celebrating the launch tomorrow with a Facebook party with lots of games and prizes. This is your opportunity to find out what I mean when I say how funny these authors are! Click on the image to RSVP.

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Because I love exploring the similarities and differences in the answers, I subjected the Twelve Shades of Midnight authors to the Inside the Actors Studio quiz.

What is your favorite word?

Dakota: Serendipitous Robyn: Yes
Angi: Conundrum Rachel: Necropolis
Shea: I’m a writer. It’s nearly impossible to whittle it down to one…but I do love my name being said by someone who loves me. Jenn: Kabillion. Except that’s not a word I don’t think.
Robin: Cacophony, just because it sounds cool. Claire: Happy
Ann: Fabulous Liliana: Dude

What is your least favorite word?

Dakota: Can’t Robyn: No
Angi: Procrastinate Rachel: Racial and homophobic slurs
Shea: Snot. It’s just one of those words that sounds gross and refers to something gross. Jenn: Disappointed
Robin: Moist…just ’cause, well, yuck. Claire: Anything prejudicial
Ann: Ensconce Liliana: Moist

What turns you on?

Dakota: Serenity Robyn: Humor and a nice ass
Angi: Being shown love Rachel: Captain America
Shea: Kisses on my neck…soft, slow kisses. (sigh) Jenn: The eyes have it: If a glance is intentional, intense and interested (from the right guy), I’m in.
Robin: Slow dancing and swaying to the music Claire: Eagerness and humor. Cleaning my house doesn’t hurt either!
Ann: Coffee Liliana: Brains, baby. Followed closely by the ability to make me laugh like crazy.

What turns you off?

Dakota: Whiners Robyn: Negativity and lack of humility
Angi: Talk Talk Talk and More Talk Rachel: Rudeness
Shea: Hypocrisy and arrogance. They often go hand in hand except the person demonstrating these qualities rarely knows they’re doing them. Jenn: Abuse of any sort–mental, verbal, physical–no matter the scale. If you don’t choose your adversaries nobly, you suck.
Robin: Unkindness  Claire: Stress
Ann: Running out of coffee Liliana: Bad hygiene

What sound or noise do you love?

Dakota: Laughter Robyn: My kids laughter
Angi: Ocean waves and puppies playing Rachel: My children’s laughter
Shea: A drumline. It’s all about the beat, baby! Jenn: The gentle crash of ocean waves
Robin: A baby’s laugh Claire: My granddaughter’s magical laughter
Ann: Wind chimes Liliana: Rain and thunderstorms

What sound or noise do you hate?

Dakota: Sloppy eaters Robyn: My alarm clock
Angi: Leaf blowers Rachel: My husband’s alarm clock
Shea: My cat hacking up a hairball. Why is it always in the middle of the night? And does he clean up his mess? Nooo. He tries to bury it in the carpet, and I’m the one who’s got to clean up the nastiness he leaves behind. Jenn: My cat demanding breakfast at 4:15 a.m. Every. Morning.
Robin: Telephone ring Claire: A dentist’s drill
Ann: My alarm clock Liliana: Teeth scraping against a fork

What is your favorite curse word?

Dakota: Dicknuckle Robyn: Fuck
Angi: Damn Rachel: Fuck
Shea: Arse, but only when British people say it. It makes me giggle. Jenn: Fuck. Such a multitasker.
Robin: I don’t have one. Claire: Damn, and any variation thereof
Ann: Fuck. Really, so versatile! Liliana: Douchecanoe

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Dakota: Supermodeling Robyn: Chef
Angi: Photography Rachel: Travel writer who gets paid to go everywhere on vacation (Rick Steves, I want your job)
Shea: A falconer. Hunting with a bird would be fun. Jenn: Artifact Hunter
Robin: CIA Analyst, because I think it would be fascinating, and it would bring me that much closer to the books I write. Claire: FBI agent in my dreams. Travel writer as a possible reality.
Ann: Horse trainer Liliana: Professional shoe shopper and cheese fry eater

What profession would you not like to do?

Dakota: Porta Potty maintenance Robyn: Computer programmer
Angi: Anything with math Rachel: Wearing a hot dog costume and passing out flyers.
Shea: Sewage worker. Does anyone actually want to be a sewage worker? Jenn: Social worker. My heart would break or I’d want to seriously beat up people every day.
Robin: Sewer Maintenance. Self explanatory 🙂 Claire: Anything involving strange smells. I have a weak stomach.
Ann: School teacher, way too tough Liliana: Anything dealing with poop

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

Dakota: “Your castle with a turret, high on a hill, with all your family members and pets inside is to the right.. :).” Robyn: “It was a close one, but I was owed some favors. I was in the middle of a Scrabble tournament before you arrived, would you like to join me?”
Angi: “Welcome home.” Rachel: “I’ve decided to make an exception for you.”
Shea: “It’s about time you got here. You did good. There’s an all you can eat chocolate section next to the sushi bar and steaks grilling on the barbeque. And the mashed potatoes are so creamy…and fully loaded.” (yeah, the way to my heart is to feed me comfort food) Jenn: “Good job.”
Robin: “There really is a reason for everything, and if you’ll come with me, I’ll explain it all.” Claire: “You really gave your guardian angel a work out, but I’m glad to see you made it, Claire.”
Ann: “Everyone you love is here or on their way… eventually.” Liliana: “Your family and friends are waiting for you. And there’s an all-you-can-eat buffet.”

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And the winners from last week’s post are:

Kieran Kramer won Suzanne and Melanie Brockmann’s Night Sky

and Kim K. won Heather Ashby’s Never Forget.

Congratulations, ladies! Please use our contact page to claim your prize.

Thanks to everyone who commented!  ~ Sharon

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