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Exclusive Excerpt: There Will Be Lies

From Nick Lake, Printz-winning author of In Darkness, comes an emotionally charged thriller that deftly exposes the lies we tell others—and the lies we tell ourselves. There Will Be Lies is available now on Kindle.

TherewillbeliesSummation: Shelby Jane Cooper’s sheltered life consists of weekly Ice Cream for Dinner Nights, hitting baseballs, and checking out “the Boy” at the library. But a sudden car accident forces her to confront the harsh truth: everything she knows about herself might just be a lie.

Excerpt:

I go out onto the sidewalk, and walk to the spot where the cab will pick me up. I glance at my watch— it’s about four minutes before she’s due to arrive, and she always arrives when she’s due.

I stand there for a moment, holding the book. I don’t know how I’m going to explain it to Mom. I guess I’ll just say it’s from the library and hope she doesn’t look inside and see that it doesn’t have a stamp.

I look at my watch again. Three more minutes, and then Mom will be there to take me home.

But no.

That doesn’t happen.

What happens instead is:

A car, which is actually a Humvee, and as it will turn out is being driven by a driver considerably under the influence, bounces up onto the sidewalk, takes out a trash can, slows just enough not to kill me instantly, then collides with my body hard enough to throw me ten feet through the air.

Lying there, on the concrete, I don’t feel any pain at first. I am on my side and there is a warm trickling feeling all over my leg which doesn’t seem to forebode anything good, though I can’t just now remember how I got to this position.

I am facing the library, or at least the gap between the library and the next building, which I think is a software company. In the cool dark shadow between the buildings, I see two eyes, gleaming.

A coyote steps out and toward me, right there in the dusk. I’ve never seen one before— I know people do at night, especially in North Scottsdale, but he’s my first. I sense that it’s a he.

He, the coyote, comes closer and sniffs at me. He’s beautiful—this wild thing, here in low- rise suburbia. Like walking into a bedroom and seeing a tree growing in there. His fur is red like sunset, his eyes are shining and telling me something that I don’t know how to read, but there’s a kind of light of intelligence in them.

I think: of course, it’s not a dog, Mark’s tattoo. It’s a coyote. I don’t know why I thought it was a dog.

I stare at the coyote. There’s a crackle about him, almost a halo, like his life is running at a voltage different from other living creatures. Like he’s magic. I could really believe that. Then I believe it even more, because the coyote speaks directly into my head, or that’s what it feels like.

There will be two lies, it says. Then there will be the truth. And that will be the hardest of all.

There’s something weird about the way the coyote says this, like the words are somehow inside my head,

echoing, but I can’t put my finger on it. It’s like grasping a slick frog—it squirts out of my hands.

Then something startles him and he backs away, turns skittishly, almost falling over, and runs back into the shadow where he disappears.

And it’s like he was never there, and I feel bummed about that. This is all wrong, anyway, I think, remembering the book in the library, the open one. You’re meant to see the coyote BEFORE the horrible

thing happens to you. Not after.

I roll a bit and look up and see the moon, pale in the still- light sky, looking down on me like a parent looking down at a sick child.

This is— I think.

And then blackness.

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Andrew E. Kaufman: My Book in 15 Seconds

Andrew E. Kaufman, shares an overview of his book, Twisted, in a 15 second video.

 

Kindle Most Wanted | Masters Series with Max Allan Collins

Max Allan Collins, New York Times bestselling author of Supreme Justice, discusses his journey from reading classic detective fiction to becoming a bestselling author.

 

Guest Post by Brighton Walsh: Contemporary Romance Vs. Romantic Suspense

When I set out to write Captive, I had no idea I was writing a romantic suspense. None. I was blissfully 91T3Y3KgheL._SL1500_oblivious, just truckin’ along thinking I was writing another contemporary romance—a very difficult and time-consuming contemporary romance, but a CR nonetheless. And then a while later, well after I’d turned in my final copy to my editor, I saw a pre-reader classify it on a virtual bookshelf as suspense.

It was a light bulb moment.

The entire time I spent writing Captive, it was an uphill battle. Not because I didn’t like the characters or the world (I loved both), but because it was so different from anything I’d done before. When I saw that virtual bookshelf proclaiming it suspense, it was then that I realized exactly why it had taken me three times longer to write than anything else I’ve written thus far: Writing romantic suspense is hard.

Well, writing anything is hard, but when I compare it to the other genre I know and can speak to—contemporary romance—it’s like night and day. So much so that I’m going to go on record right now and say it’s at least twice as hard for me to write, if not more.

Why is that? Writing is writing, and coming up with characters and worlds and plots all involves lots of imagination and planning (whether on the backend or during writing). The main difference is the content within.

In contemporary romance, nearly everything that happens within the pages of that book could happen to the writer, or may already have happened, whether to them or to someone they know. Romantic suspense, on the other hand, is packed with stressful, sometimes life-threatening situations. Car chases and gun stand-offs and kidnapping and heists. For most writers, our lives aren’t anything like that—well, mine isn’t anyway, and to any writer out there who lives the life of a word slinger by day and a vigilante by night, I tip my hat to you.

For me, when I write contemporary, I just sit down and write. That’s it. It’s not a big production, and I produce a pretty steady stream of words each day. When I write romantic suspense, however, it takes planning. Research. There are stops and starts and fact checking. Whatever I’m writing about within my romantic suspense books is not something I’ve ever endured, nor is it something I can bluff my way through. I have to dig deep to get answers on everything from how long chloroform lasts to how to write a realistic fight scene to how to treat a gunshot wound. And, yes, I’ve researched all of those things. And, yes, I’m probably on the FBI’s list somewhere by now (but hopefully my editor can vouch for me).

While oftentimes difficult, writing romantic suspense also opens up a whole slew of possibilities one wouldn’t otherwise have in a straight contemporary romance. The tension is always higher, the stakes perilous. And that’s where the fun comes in. As a writer, I can make my characters go through the craziest things—events I’ve only dreamed about or seen in the movies. And that makes for a much more adventurous writing—and reading—experience.

'Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off' by Amy Andrews

Ahh, alcohol, the great social lubricant. A chilled glass of white, a long tall beer, a fruity cocktail or a shot of Cuervo can all help our fictitious characters loosen up a little but there's a fine line between loose and frank and there's nothing quite like drunken honesty. 


71mBEUn7GoL._UX250_I seem to write a lot of tipsy heroines. Those who know me would probably say it’s a reflection on my own social drinking habits and it is true, I do love me a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc. But, even more than that, I love the dynamic that develops when a character’s internal filter is temporarily down for the count and we get to see the real person.

I like it when a character says things, does things, they’d never normally say or do. I like it when their subconscious takes over. And that’s where booze comes in. After all, alcohol’s been switching off filters for centuries!

Take Josie, the heroine from my book, No More Mr Nice Guy. Josie’s a super-straight, good-girl just out of a very beige relationship. She’s looking for fun and adventure. She wants to live a little and she’s even bought a ticket to London to get her party started.

Then Josie meets Tequila...

Don’t worry, she doesn’t lose any of her clothes - not at that point anyway. But after a night drinking cocktails with her best friend, Sal, she wakes to discover she’s composed a ten point sexual  to-do list and Mack, Sal’s brother, has not only discovered it but thinks it’s hilarious. To add insult to injury she finds herself having to explain the nearby illustrated sex guide open at The Standing Wheelbarrow.

Good-girl Josie does not write sex lists. She does not perve at books with explicit pictures. But tipsy Josie lets it all hang out and from that moment on, things get really, really interesting.

Score one for Tequila.

And then there’s Sal, who gets her own story in Ask Me Nicely. Sal’s the opposite of Josie. She doesn’t need loosening up. She’s definitely no good-girl. In fact she’s perfectly happy to use alcohol and men to soothe the huge, angry, ball of grief inside her. Yep, she’s sad, bad and mad-as-hell. And Tequila is her friend. 

Until one night Cuervo lets Sal down bad…

Or, so she thinks the next morning, anyway, when everything comes back with sickening clarity. No, her clothes don’t fall off either, but then whoever said you needed to lose your clothes to indulge in a little sexy times with the most inappropriate man on the planet? A man who is your flatmate. And your employee. Oh yes, it seems Doyle can get Sal off fully clothed! Sal who’s been having trouble in that department for quite some time…

Except, bad-girl Sal does not do relationships. She does not do repeat performances. Tipsy Sal on the other hand…

Score two for Tequila. 

So what can we infer from this?

A)     My heroines can’t hold their booze?

B)     I like that Joe Nichols country song a little too much?

C)     I love the way the word Cuervo rolls off the tongue?

Yes. To all three. In fact I definitely chose Tequila as my heroines drink of choice solely because of  B and C. And it’s also true that whilst my heroines may over-indulge from time to time, they are far from lushes. But I think we can also infer that a little alcoholic lubrication goes a long way to a much-needed dragging out of their comfort zones.

And, let’s face it, we all need a little push sometimes… Hic!

Find the Perfect Post-Fifty Shades Romance with M.Q. Barber

You’ve finally read Fifty Shades of Grey and you’re standing at a crossroads. Let M.Q. Barber help you translate the signposts before you pick a direction for further travel.

817CopdtQ8L._SL1500_Is it the wealthy, powerful man who takes what he wants while concealing a deep vulnerability? The billion-dollar deals, the private helicopter rides, the jet-setting vacations and lurking enemies? You’ll want to move on to more alpha billionaire bad boys with Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series, Maya Banks’ Breathless trilogy, Christina Lauren’s Beautiful series, or Jodi Ellen Malpas’ This Man trilogy. These are the perfect picks if you want a book boyfriend who’ll stalk you at your home and office, never give you a moment’s peace, and just maybe be worth calling the cops over.

However, if the peek at Christian Grey’s special interests—spanking, teasing, bondage, sensory deprivation—are what kept you turning the pages, jump tracks to Cherise Sinclair’s Masters of the Shadowlands series. Mr. Grey’s controlling ways didn’t necessarily adhere to the safe, sane, consensual ethos (or even the risk-aware consensual kink standard) affirmed by many responsible kinksters. Sinclair gives her dominants and submissives a healthy dose of reality while still bringing the fantasy to life. Meet the members of the club starting in Club Shadowlands.

Maybe you cared less for Mr. Grey’s specific interests than for boundary-pushing in general. My own Neighborly Affection series straddles that line with a kinky trio. Yes, bisexual, polyamorous people can find love, enjoy kinks, and still end up in closed, committed, and faithful happily-ever-after relationships. Henry, Alice, and Jay start negotiating that road in Playing the Game.

For a steamy-sweet take on the long-term threesome scenario, start with Kelly Jamieson’s Rule of Three series. When a couple in love brings in an old college friend for more than flirtation, three lives are irrevocably changed. For boundary pushing with more raw grit, go straight to Kit Rocha’s Beyond series. This goes double for you dystopian young adult lit fans, who doesn’t want to see a grown-up version? Boundaries will get pushed, but even in the hardscrabble, anything-goes, gang-infested future, love still rules.

When all of Mr. Grey’s serious drama gets you down, hop off the brooding billionaires bandwagon and hang out with more blue-collar gents who can make a woman laugh and melt in the same moment. Rie Warren’s Carolina Bad Boys series marries humor with heart-racing romance, starting with Stone, At Your Service.

Finally, if your reading choices have you itching to be doing, too, get informed before you go inviting anyone to act out fantasies with you. Get help with rope bondage from Two Knotty Boys (Showing You the Ropes), because shibari isn’t just a sensual act, it’s an art form. Explore a loving, real-life power exchange in Living M/s. Start outlining your interests and expectations with The Loving Dominantor The New Topping Bookand The New Bottoming Book. And if you’re going where CDC surveys say nearly half of Americans have gone (yes, heterosexuals too) please pick up Jack Morin’s Anal Pleasure and Healthor Tristan Taormino’s Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women. You’ll thank yourself later.  

Above all, stay safe, have fun, and read what makes you happy.

Interview with Ines Saint on Her Small-Town Romance Series

Q: What inspired you to write a series with a home improvement hook?

A: I spent a few of my formative years in the Boston area and many of my friends lived in historic houses 81-xFE07stL._SL1500_that had such wonderful stories attached to them! My best friend’s house had a tunnel that wound throughout the closets of the second floor bedrooms and it was rumored that Minutemen had hidden from the Redcoats in them. Some of the houses in the area seemed neglected, but their beauty and strength were still palpable. I think we’ve all felt rundown at some point and I thought it would be fun to do a series where characters find love as they rebuild both their lives and the homes they feel a connection to.

The titles came to me that reflected the sentiment: Flipped! (love can not only flip a house around, but also your entire life), Needs a Little TLC (both homes and people need it to survive!), and Fixer Upper (we’re all a bit of a fixer upper, aren’t we?). 

Q: What made you want to base the series in the Rust Belt?

A: My love of second chance stories and a penchant for rooting for the underdog. A few years ago, my husband was offered a great job in Dayton, Ohio…a city that had just recently made it onto a ‘top ten dying cities’ list. I began researching the area and found a region that was anything but dying. Dayton is home to such is a rich, diverse, and interesting history. It’s where the King and Queen of the entire nation’s gypsies settled, where the Roswell aliens were rumored to be stored, where Mound Builders dwelled, and so much more. I tried to sprinkle the fun and magic throughout the stories.

Q: Although you base the story in the Dayton region, the town itself, Spinning Hills, is fictional. Is there a reason for that?

A: I came across blogs and articles about a few historic neighborhoods here that people were working hard to bring back. The before and after pictures of some of the houses (even entire blocks), left me in awe. One neighborhood, The Oregon District, is nearly completely restored. The level of caring, hard work and determination that goes into achieving so much is inspiring. That’s where the idea of three brothers working to restore an entire town came from.

When we moved here, we learned the region was home to a hippie town, the most haunted village in Ohio, and an entire town made up of houses built mostly between the 1920s and 1940s, it looks like it was lifted from the page of a children’s book. I thought it would be fun to create a town that captured a little bit of everything. The result was Spinning Hills, a town founded by wintering gypsies and made up of storybook architecture.

Q: How did you come up with the name Spinning Hills?

A: I saw it on a map of the area, near Spinning Road and the Mad River. Somewhere between Spinning and Mad…I loved it.

I hope you visit Spinning Hills and get to know the Amador Brothers, learn about their “curse” and meet their quirky friends including the meddlesome owners of the Gypsy Fortune Café and Bakery who believe in great coffee, pies with meaning, and that plenty of unsolicited advice can make any situation better.  

 

Guest Post by Tamara Hughes: Weird Writing Quirks for the Slightly Deranged

81V4ITXL2LL._SL1500_Tamara Hughes writes historical romance and is the author of Tempting the Pirate (Released Jan. 2015): As violence and danger mounts on the high seas, Charity will have to put all her trust in the most untrustworthy of men...the arrogant pirate who just might steal her heart.

Crack an egg for inspiration? Tamara Hughes contemplates an unusual tip given by a life coach for more effective writing.

Many years ago, I attended a workshop where a writing/life coach suggested that when you first sit down to write, break an egg into a bowl. I wasn’t the only one in the class who thought this guy was nuts. Break an egg?

Yes, break an egg, shell and all, and then periodically stir it. Hmm, yeah…What? We were told the purpose of the egg trick was to make ours brains focus on writing instead of letting our minds wander. I guess the act of stirring the egg was in some way a reminder to stay in the present.

Along with many of my classmates, the problem I had with this was how I’d be wasting an egg. The lecturer soon was riddled with questions about if the shell really had to be mixed in, or if it could be discarded. That way, the egg could be used later. Maybe as an omelet, or scrambled eggs? But what if you write for hours? Would the egg still be good? Of course, then everyone in the class started talking about what recipes they could use to cook the egg once the writing was done. I don’t think the instructor was all that thrilled with us. To him, it was just one egg that could be thrown away because it had served its purpose. Ah, men and women obviously see things differently.

However, I did get his point. I just don’t want to waste an egg to achieve the goal. Instead, I’ll waste a candle. Not sure why this is better, but…I light a candle every time I sit down to write. It represents my writing time. When that candle is lit, I’m not supposed to think about what I’m going to make for supper or if I’ve forgotten to put pickles (or eggs) on my grocery list. It’s the time set aside for me and my writing, nothing else. Yes, easier said than done, but I’ve got to try. There’s also something less icky about looking at a candle flame vs. playing with a goopy egg.

So, egg or candle, the intent is still the same. A little weird, but usually pretty effective.

 

Guest Post by Suzanne Enoch: Romance Heroes and Why We Love Them

Romance heroes are cool. Authors and readers alike describe them in sweeping terms, from arrogant to mysterious, dark to deadly, and wild to unrepentant. They're in that Indy 500 race, taking that dip in the shark cage, going on that trek through tiger territory we all want to experience.... vicariously.  They’re archetypes, embodying emotion in well-cut trousers – or jeans or cargo pants. We read about them, we swoon, we inwardly shout at their wicked, wicked ways, and we love them.

We love them in our books, that is. In real life, especially modern-day life, half of them would be in jail for stalking, public intoxication, fighting, kidnapping, murder, theft, piracy, smuggling, and in a few cases, treason. So while they might be perfect fantasy material, would we really want the real thing looking in our direction?

912SQnHoJSL._SL1500_Princes, for example, are a romance writer's stock in trade. We write about princes based on the fairy tale belief that these guys are better than real life because they are rich (Yay!), well-bred and arrogant. Wait. Arrogant? Who wants a guy who's arrogant? Who wants a guy who thinks he knows better than you, a guy who manipulates "for your own good"? In real life, these men are better known as creeps. And that's being polite about it. In A Pirate's Wife for Me, by Christina Dodd, Prince Taran grows up indulged and arrogant. Also degenerate, self-serving and cruel. It takes being usurped, sold to the pirates, tortured, sailing for years under miserable conditions: in general being sent through the fires of hell before Taran becomes the tough, triumphant, noble and arrogant prince of legend. Yes, he's still arrogant. But, you know, if he wasn't, Caitlin MacLean would fall instantly in love with -him. And she's far too stubborn for that.

And what about a man with dark compulsions and sexual obsessions?  Untreated OCD in a new husband might not be very much fun for a modern day woman to deal with.  But those attributes sound much more intriguing when we're talking about a rich and handsome (and fictional) regency earl.  A brand new debutante bride could tame that beast, couldn't she? Would she have any choice? That's exactly what happens in Julia London's The Devil Takes a Bride –Grace Cabot discovers some shocking and heart-pounding secrets about Jeffrey, her new husband.  Grace makes it work because she must, and eventually comes to understand and love this mysterious, aloof, and deadly handsome man.

We can’t forget those wild, untamed, kilt-wearing Highlanders, either. Take Lachlan MacTier, Lord Gray, for example. He’s rough and tough, and most definitely does NOT want the girl next door. In my newest Scandalous Highlanders book, Mad, Bad, and Dangerous in Plaid, Lachlan goes from trying to hook up with Rowena MacLawry’s friends just to show how uninterested he is in her, to trying to get a selection of her potential beaux humiliated and possibly killed (okay, injured) – and subsequently pushing everyone in the area to the brink of open clan warfare. Sure, he does it to win his lass, but in real life he probably would have been imprisoned for aggravated mayhem.

Romance heroes are larger than life. They make our – and their heroines’ – hearts pound, and our pulses race. Thankfully most of them stay happily in our romance literature, where only our very capable heroines have to deal with them. Really, they’re all about the heroines, aren’t they? And about we, the readers, knowing that if we had a man like that, we would be enough to tame them.

 Can you name a romance hero who is perfect on the page, but would probably be a felon in real life?

 

Author Guest Post by Hannah Howell on Highlanders

912JziyJx7L._SL1500_Highland Master was the nineteenth Murray story and although I love all my characters, some linger in my heart and mind longer than others. They are ones who eventually get their own story. Like Sir Simon Innes, a dark, somber man who acts like a sixteenth century Holmes, and who helped Tormand Murray in Highland Sinner by hiding Tormand and his lover Morainn from danger. He says something that nicely sums up his need for justice.

“When did ye arrange this?” She asked Simon as she set her small bag of belongings down next to a small chest at the foot of the bed. “I began preparing it the moment I heard the first whisper of blame placed at Tormand’s feet.  I have seen too many innocent men die because a judgment of guilt was made too quickly.” He shrugged.  “Wherever I am, I make certain I ken where there are hiding places, places where one can wait safely until the truth is found and they can return home without fear.”

A man with skill and that philosophy demanded his own tale, finally getting it in Highland Protector.

I like heroines who are strong and clever like Gillyanne Murray in Highland BrideShe’s faced with three men demanding she choose one of them for a husband. Inviting one and his men to a meal, she drugs them all.  As the hero realizes what she has done, he says:

“Ye poisoned the food.”

“Nay poisoned.  Just something to make ye all sleep.”  Gillyanne yawned again.  “After all, I wouldn’t poison myself, would I?”

“Clever lass,’ he said as he stood up, even as he wondered why he was doing so.

“I would sit down, sir.  Ye won’t have quite so far to fall that way.”

 

Then there is Fiona MacEnroy who meets the hero of Highland Warrior while fleeing an enemy.  The hero attempts to take her for ransom. She faces him and a dozen warriors with sword in hand.

“Ye can’t be thinking to fight with me, lass,” he said, scowling at her.

“And why shouldn’t I?” Fiona asked.

“Because I am a mon, bigger than ye in height and breadth.”

“I did notice that.”

There were characters in those tales who demanded their own stories as well. It also happens in my Wherlocke series. I am now finishing Sir Bened Vaughn’s tale in If He’s Noble. He stumbles upon Primrose Wooden wandering in the woods searching for her horse. Before he knows it, his natural inclination to protect pulls him into her troubles. He joins in her hunt for her missing brother and elects himself as her shield against the dangerous plots of her greedy aunt. 

“You are moving again.”

“I know.”  He took one swift, large step and snatched the pistol from her hand.

“Stop moving!”

“I told you, I mean you no harm but I prefer not having a pistol pointed at me.”

“Fine.  I quite understand, but I need you to stand still. Considering your size I suspect you have large booted feet and I have lost my spectacles.  I would rather you did not find them by stomping on them.”

Suppressing a sigh Bened stepped closer, ignoring how she tensed, plucked the spectacles caught in the button loop of her coat, and gently put them on her.