Wednesday, April 23, 2014

CONTEST! Win a Romantic Suspense

A romantic suspense is a thrilling ride with lots of danger and fast-paced action. It will leave you breathless, leave you wondering if the hero and heroine will manage to escape the villains who want them dead.

Enter the contest below and you might win one of the exciting romantic suspense books written by our Not Your Usual Suspects authors.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Where Do Characters Live?

Where do Characters Live?

Has everyone here at NYUS already discovered a great blog—Writer Unboxed?  If not, you might want to take a look.  I revisited the site recently and found a fascinating discussion underway—the importance of place in a novel.  Both the host and commentators were in agreement that setting can virtually become another character.  We all know that, right? 

 One of the commentators, however, famed literary agent, Donald Maass who is a regular on the site, took that awareness one step further.  He said it’s the protagonist’s description of, or attitude toward, place that causes a setting to come alive. 

 For example, if the character describes a boating trip as an idyllic return to nature, chances are good the reader will see it that way too—at least for as long as the scene lasts.  Or if the main character goes camping and the mosquitoes practically carry him off, the reader well may itch in sympathy.

With so much riding on place, it’s not surprising writers think long and hard before deciding where their characters should live.  I’m no exception and made a mental trip around the US before choosing Naples as amateur sleuth Deva Dunne’s home.  In Rooms To Die For, #4 in the Murders by Design Series, Deva’s still enjoying Florida even though the humidity continues to frizz her hair, and the sun hasn’t stopped turning her freckles into polka dots.  She has a lot to enjoy in Naples.  Her interior design business is thriving.  So is her crime-busting relationship with studly Lieutenant Victor Rossi.

 As I began the series, I think I was only subliminally conscious of the fact that Deva’s happiness with her surroundings, the gorgeous sunsets, the beach, the small town feel of Naples helped heal her psychic wounds and gave her the courage to rebuild her future. 

 Today, as I’m now aware, Deva’s attitude toward her new home has helped me turn her brushes with crime, even murder, into a fun-filled, light-hearted series.

 Writer Unboxed:

 Rooms To Die For: Amazon   

Friday, April 18, 2014

Romancing the Runaway

One of the challenges about writing historical mysteries is that two hundred years ago there were no phones – mobile or otherwise – no trains, cars, planes, or any motorized forms of transportation. A journey that takes two hours today could easily have taken two days in Regency times.

Happily, people still murdered, cheated, lied and double-crossed. No change there then. And all those long journey meant there were posting inns dotted along all the main roads, with taprooms that were hotbeds of gossip, (a bit like modern English pubs, I guess). They were also great places for trysts and nefarious activities that keep us writers in business.

In those days a woman owned nothing. Or, if she did, the moment she tied the knot, what was hers became her husband’s. In Romancing the Runaway, the fourth and final book in my Forsters series, Miranda Cantrell is being kept locked in her room until she agrees to marry his horrible son. Not being the submissive type, Miranda legs it out the window and runs off, only to finish up on Forster land, rescued from near freezing to death by Lord Gabriel Forster.

The only thing Miranda owns that is of any value is her dilapidated family home in Cornwall, so Gabe figures that what must be what her guardian wants to get his grubby hands on. But why? The West Country was a haven for smugglers, but that would seem rather obvious.

Hiding from those looking for her at the Forster’s palatial home, Miranda makes a journey on foot into the local village. Gabe holds her to account for it:

“Precisely.” Lord Gabriel regarded her with a combination of severity and sympathy. “Now perhaps you understand the seriousness of your situation and will have the goodness to tell me what business took you into Denby.”

“I can’t, I—”

“I can easily discover who lives in the cottage you called at, but I would prefer to hear it from you.”

He was right. She’d only known him for a few days, but she owed him her life, which was no small consideration. He could have sent her packing as soon as she recovered, but that thought didn’t appear to have crossed his mind, even if by being here she was putting him in an awkward situation. Since she had regained her wits he’d done everything he could to be of service to her, asking nothing in return other than her cooperation. It must now seem as though she’d let him down, and he couldn’t be blamed for considering her the most ungrateful creature on God’s earth.

She instinctively understood he wouldn’t betray her confidence. She hadn’t behaved well and the very least she could do was be honest with him, especially since he appeared determined to take an interest in her affairs. Not many people in his position would adopt that stance and so he deserved to know as much about her sorry circumstances as she herself did.

“Very well.” She paused to assimilate her thoughts. “As I told you before, it was always my intention to return to the Wildes when I finished at Miss Frobisher’s establishment. It was only as I neared the end of my final year there that I turned my mind to practicalities, namely money. I can hardly start my business without funds but I won’t come into my inheritance until my one-and-twentieth birthday. The alternative was to remain with the Peacocks for another three years, which was out of the question.”

“Quite so.” Lord Gabriel flipped his coattails aside with an elegant movement of his wrist and finally sat opposite her, saving her from gaining a permanent crick in her neck by continuously looking up at him. “Did you discuss your plans with the Peacocks?”

“No, they never asked.”

“What, they just assumed you would remain with them, or spend your time flitting between your friends?” He seemed angry again, but this time she sensed that anger wasn’t directed at her. “Did they take no interest in your welfare at all?”

“None whatsoever. I always felt I was a burden to them, but Mr. Peacock could make a profit out of me, so that made the arrangement satisfactory from his point of view. Not from mine, however. I needed to know the precise terms of the guardianship and under what circumstances I could legally return to the Wildes before reaching my majority. To do so I needed to apply to the other trustee, Papa’s solicitor, Mr. Nesbitt. But when I saw Mr. Nesbitt, he told me there was nothing I could do to take possession of the Wildes before the appropriate time. He more or less told me not to waste his time. I found him disagreeable and most disobliging.”

“He didn’t let you see the trust deed?”

“No.” Miranda wrinkled her nose. “He treated me in a most condescending manner, and told me to go back to the Peacocks’ and forget all about it. I was furious.”

A ghost of a smile flirted with his lips. “I can imagine.”

“The only good thing that came out of those two visits was the friendship I struck up with his articled clerk, Matthew Blake. I explained my difficulty to him and he promised to try and gain access to the trust deed and let me know its contents. I planned to write to him when I was again in London and arrange a meeting. He’d told me not to contact him at his work since he could be dismissed from his post if anyone found out he was trying to help me. So he gave me his mother’s address instead.”

“Ah, now I begin to understand.”

“Before I could return to London my guardian demanded my presence at his home, told me I was to marry his son and has held me a virtual prisoner ever since.”

“Blake?” Lord Gabriel fell into momentary contemplation. “I know that name. Those cottages in the village belong to Hal and, if memory serves, we have a tenant by the name of Blake.”

“Yes, Matthew’s mother. He comes down to Denby to see her for two days in the middle of every month. I’ve been unable to contact him since being held prisoner and was most anxious to know if he’d managed to gain access to the trust. I can’t move forward with my plans until I know what the trust says, you see.”

“Yes, I do see. Was Blake able to reassure you?”


The Forsters Book 4, Romancing the Runaway by Wendy Soliman – Available everywhere from 28th April.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

CONTEST! Win a Romantic Suspense Novel

The NYUS authors write some fantastic romantic suspense novels. Complete the rafflecopter below and go into a draw to win one of the following books.

Betrayed By Trust by Ana Barrons

Protective Custody by Wynter Daniels

Only Fear by Anne Marie Becker

Point of No Return by Rita Henuber

Edge of Survival by Toni Anderson

Danger Zone by Dee J Adams

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What Are You Reading?

A lot of people are surprised by my general reading material. Don't get me wrong, I read a lot of romance. Right now I'm in a Kristen Ashley phase. I love hate her. The woman keeps me up late every night.

I'm also in a research phase and I'm currently reading...
Fantastic book. I can definitely see a K&R in one of my near future books. Ben Lopez has a very easy-to-read writing style.
I also finished...
which is full of useful information for me as I'm in the midst of writing the third book in my Cold Justice FBI series.
I also could NOT resist buying this when I saw it in the store...
because the SAS are my kryptonite and I intend to write more books featuring secondary characters from my book THE KILLING GAME 

which just so happens to be on sale for 99c for a short period of time. 

I want to know what you're reading--fiction and non-fiction. Why's it so good?

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Tax Man Cometh

Did you feel that? That…ghostly pinch?


It's that time again. Tax time. The time of year where we all start worrying whether we should be brave enough to actually claim our home office or we should, for this month alone, pretend that room at the end of the long, shadowy corridor doesn’t exist. Time to start sifting through receipts. What the heck happened to the receipt for the new keyboard? Why did I keep a receipt for Trader Joe’s? Hey, I never heard back from that agent about the Paris thing!


Tax time.


Once upon a time tax time meant refund time. I used to do my taxes early. I couldn’t wait to get that money back! But those days are behind me now and every year my tax bill gets higher and higher and my accountant and I argue more and more. How can forty percent possibly be right? The math HAS to be wrong! How can I owe this tax if this tax is more money than I have?


And so it goes. It always ends the same. Me borrowing against my no-interest-credit- cards to pay my taxes during the lean spring months. This year I have decided to look at paying my taxes as contributing to my favorite charity. My taxes buy a lot of stuff I consider important, so…good. I’m glad about that.


Which doesn’t change the fact that tax season is VERY painful.


But here are a few sites and tips that might help you get through it. My own personal experience? Keep accurate and complete records. Don’t wait until April to start adding stuff up. And last but not least, stay informed about changes to the tax code. (Also -- I hire a professional to do my taxes because this is NOT my strength.)







What about you? Do you have any useful tax tips? Have you formed an LLC or incorporated? Heck, have you filed your taxes yet?

Josh Lanyon's latest release from Carina Press is Stranger on the Shore, due out May 5th. You can find Josh at this fine social media venues:

Twitter: @JoshLanyon

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Enjoy Reading Romantic Suspense? Enter Our Contest!

The NYUS authors write some fantastic romantic suspense novels. Check out our snippets then enter the contest below to go into a draw to win a great book.

Betrayed By Trust by Ana Barrons

If only his cellphone had been on that night, she wouldn’t have taken care of Mike and he wouldn’t have found her in his bed in his sweats and that tiny tank top, snuggled up with his little brother. And he wouldn’t have made the fatal mistake of touching her, or the doubly fatal mistake of kissing her. He had tightened the noose around his neck by making love to her last night. And Catherine had very coolly kicked the stool out from under him.

Protective Custody by Wynter Daniels

The electronic chime from the reception area dinged, reminding her she hadn’t locked the front door.
Now the killer was after her. All the air sucked out of her lungs.
Footsteps advanced slowly, louder and louder. Get out!

Only Fear by Anne Marie Becker

"Why did you do this?” The man was insane.

Again, Owen’s voice flipped from thrilled to threatening in the space of a stuttering heartbeat. “There is only fear. All other emotions are born of fear. You have to understand that before we move on to your next lesson.” 

Point of No Return by Rita Henuber

Major Honey Thornton and her team were hustled to DC for intel sessions on the hostage extraction and some overdue R&R. She’d had many assignments but frequently returned to Washington for temporary duties, her favorite being in the Pentagon. Its charged air, its smell of power welcomed and renewed her. On hot and humid DC days, the faint smell of aviation fuel and smoke validated her work with the Corps.

Edge of Survival by Toni Anderson

Everything felt so violently alive—his senses sharpened, nerve endings stripped, survival skills on fire. His body was primed by sheer muscle memory and cognitive reflex. Even though worry for the Doc gripped his chest, he’d forgotten how good this felt. He’d forgotten how alive a body could be.

Danger Zone by Dee J Adams

“How about a nice romantic dinner tonight? Just the two of us. Maybe some candlelight. Soft music.”

Her lips curved into a smile, but she didn’t take her eyes off the road. “Trying to go out with a bang, huh?”

We’ll do that after dinner.”

Now enter the NYUS contest to win a romantic suspense e-book!

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Search Terms

 A common subject for writers is the topic of research. I once attended a Nora Roberts workshop where she stated that her office was filled with three-page stapled internet searches. Or, back in the day, three-pages of library notes.  She would pick up one small stack and announce, "Here is The Reef." It looked like a scant three pages. "No," she added, "I did not fly to the Caribbean and take up deep sea diving lessons. Everything I needed to know could be found somewhere."  

Of course, with the number of books Nora has, her three-paged stacks could probably build a fort now.

I often wonder what NSA would make of my internet searches.  Yesterday was, "purposely scuttled ships".  I've looked up, "plasma thrusters", "Pacific Tsunami Warning Center", "famous drug lords", "Jupiter's moons", "Heterochromia" and "HAARP", the last being the research facility in Alaska which will probably blow us all up one day.  A few seconds after the HAARP search, an ad for Harp Insurance appeared on my Google screen.  

I once joked that I was going to do a search everyday for naked aardvarks just to see what type of spam Google could produce from it.  Of course, in testing this theory out I began to learn a lot about aardvarks.  They don't make a sound unless you poke them (very similar to me). Aardvarks sleep during the day, but not at night (not at all like me). Their name translates to "Earth pig" (like many men I've known).

The search for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is included in HIGH TIDE, which is part of the DANGEROUS DOZEN 12-book Romantic Suspense boxed set released this week.

As a writer or a reader, what are some of the strange search terms you've typed into your browser?

Monday, April 7, 2014

The difference between books and music

When you reach my age (seriously, my favourite pastime as a kid was watching Noah build the Ark), you think you've sussed out life's little anomalies. Not so.

I've always believed that when it comes to any of the arts, the works we love best stay with us. For example, if someone says one of my books stayed with them for days after they finished it, I walk round in a happy little daze for ages. That, to me, is one of the greatest compliments a writer can be paid.

If I see a wonderful painting or photograph, they will stay in mind and bring pleasure long after I've left the gallery.

But music...

Perhaps I'm alone in this but the music that sticks in my head for days after hearing it is stuff I hate with a passion. Why is this? Is it me?

I say this because, for the last five days, ever since seeing it played on TV, I've had Donovan's Mellow Yellow stuck in my head. (No offence, Donovan, but I've never been a fan and I hate that song. Hate it!) I can put my iPod on shuffle, spend hours listening to music I love, and STILL have that damn Mellow Yellow stuck in my head.

I've been known to run for cover if Joe Dolce's Shaddap You Face is likely to be played as I know that will be on rewind in my head for weeks. (Watch this video at your peril!)

Then, of course, there's this crime against humanity. If only we could erase stuff from our memories...
Is it just me? Or is it true that the great books stay in your head for days after reading them whereas only the crap music hangs around?

Friday, April 4, 2014



How many of us have heard this?

Or maybe this:



Uhh! Come on, people. Writing is hard work. Very, very hard work. I don't know about everybody else, but I don't just sit down at my computer, start typing on Friday afternoon and by Sunday have a completely finished 400 page, polished, spell checked, squeaky-clean, edited, ready-to-send-to-the-publisher manuscript (which of course she's going to immediately call and make an offer on because it is just too fabulous they have to have it before anybody else even has a chance to read it)!

Yet some people believe this is really all it takes. That's like saying I lounge on my purple velvet chaise, a glass of wine in one hand and a box of Godiva dark chocolates bon-bons on my lap while I dictate the next New York Times bestseller to my assistant. I wish it was so. I really do. Not only would it save wear and tear on my poor wrists (not to mention the horrible eyestrain from staring at a computer screen all bloody day, too), I'd be raking in tons of cash. Maybe I could quit the day job. LOL

I say this not to discourage anybody who wants to write. In fact, I encourage you to sit down at your keyboard, or grab your paper and pen, or pull out your handy-dandy mini-recorder and go for it. Writing is rewarding. It's fulfilling. It opens up that magical place inside where something wonderful waits.

Wait—what? You don't have a magical place deep inside? Sure you do. All writers have it. It's that deep well where characters and stories come alive, waiting for us to call them forth and share them with readers. They speak to us (the writer), telling us their secrets, unfolding a plethora of clues, one by one, revealing not only who the nasty villain is, but if you write romance, they reveal the love of their life, their soul mate, and share their happily-ever-after. Le sigh!

Writing is rewarding, not just financially but emotionally. I'm never happier than when I'm working on a book, finding out each detail, the subtle nuances that make it unique and different from anything else.

If you want to write—then write. Nobody else can tell the story the way you can. Reach down into that empty place deep inside and set free the hero or the heroine or even the villain, and let your imagination soar!

Kathy Ivan writes romantic suspense and paranormal romance. Her latest, release, Connor's Gamble, a romantic suspense if available now.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Writing Rituals

I think every writer has at least a couple rituals they use to get them in the creative mode. I never really thought about all the little things I do when I am in my writing cave until I misplaced a small malachite stone that lives on my desk. I'm not sure what it is about the polished rock, but I rub my thumb over the smooth surface when I am plotting and thinking about what to put on the page next.

Another of my many rituals is to stare at the wall of my book covers whenever I feel overwhelmed, or as if my prose aren't good enough. The many covers remind me that I have dozens of stories under my belt, and am capable of completing my WIP. 

When I enter my office, I usually plug in my color-changing salt lamp. This relatively new addition to my work area provides me with something pretty to look at other than the organized chaos that is my work station. 

When thinking about what I was going to write about for this post, I started looking around my desk area and it struck me that another ritual I have is to write with our kitten very close by. This isn't happenstance. I call her in when I enter my office, and she is happy to oblige. Of course, sometimes she takes the togetherness thing to extremes. Olive is happy to sleep on her cat tree, which is next to my desk. Problem is, the kitten has the energy of a toddler on steroids! She doesn't much care to play second fiddle to my computer, so when she wants to play, she cries, or plops herself down either on my keyboard or right in front of the monitor so I have no choice but to take a break with her. Hmm. I'm not sure if that's a writing ritual or a dodge work ritual;-) 

Overall, all the distractions around my work area serve to prevent me from walking away and giving in to my ADD! Somehow, they keep me on task.  

What about you? For the writers - what are your favorite writing rituals? For readers, do you have reading rituals when you sit down to read? 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Love is Murder

Love Is Murder.

Have you ever considered attending a crime fiction conference or event? Did you know there are several amazing conferences where readers, authors and mystery fans gather every year? I love these weekend gatherings. Local law enforcement, private detectives, doctors and amateur sleuths spend three or four days talking about every aspect of murder from plotting to execution to cover up. The food is great. The company is even better and the authors are hilarious. Maybe this shouldn’t sound so exciting to me, but I have to admit, crime fiction lovers are my kind of people!

In February, I had the pleasure of attending the Love is Murder conference in Chicago. I took my husband as a “plus one” and we had a blast. I went to sign books and ended up buying far more than I sold. I read something new every night until I conked out in the big comfy bed I didn’t have to make the next day. A woman’s dream come true.

I made the most of my time away from home, taking selfies and collecting autographs from my favorite authors. I met smart, sassy librarians from around the country and made a few new private detective friends too. The event wasn’t a “writer’s conference” though there were certainly plenty of opportunities to learn about the craft. Instead, readers of mystery and crime fiction were the honored guests and treated as such. The conference coordinators did an amazing job bringing us all together. There were equal chances throughout the weekend for me to fangirl on Heather Grahmn and then participate on panels as well as sign post cards for my new release, Murder Comes Ashore.

I was shocked and honored to learn Murder by the Seaside was nominated for the conference’s Lovey Award. The awards were distributed during a ceremony and the authors are recognized for their work. It’s quite an honor to be nominated. It’s especially exciting to know I had a hand in voting for the winners.
As a bonus to attending and participating as a panelist and author, I met my Merit Press editor, Jacqueline Mitchard (a brilliant author who everyone adores), got the call from my agent that she sold another of my manuscripts AND met a Harlequin representative who let me know my cozy ebook series at Carina was selected for the Harlequin book club! Best. Weekend. EVER.

Love is Murder is one of many annual crime fiction conferences. Bouchercon moves from city to city each year. The East Coast Crime Bake happens in Massachusetts. Killer Nashville occurs every summer in Tennessee. Thrillerfest happens every July in New York City. I’m sure there are many more. If you’re thinking of attending an event like this, I hope you’ll look into it. It’s a weekend you won’t soon forget and you’re likely to make friends that last a lifetime. Hey, if you do register at one, let me know. Maybe we can meet!

Murder Comes Ashore
Patience Price is just settling into her new life as resident counselor on Chincoteague Island when things take a sudden turn for the worse. A collection of body parts have washed up on shore and suddenly nothing feels safe on the quaint island.

Patience instinctively turns to current crush and FBI special agent Sebastian for help, but former flame Adrian is also on the case, hoping that solving the grisly crime will land him a win in the upcoming mayoral election.
When the body count rises and Patience's parents are brought in as suspects, Patience is spurred to begin her own investigation. It's not long before she starts receiving terrifying threats from the killer, and though she's determined to clear her family's name, it seems the closer Patience gets to finding answers, the closer she comes to being the killer's next victim.

Amazon       Barnes&Noble       

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What Shall We Talk About?

So… I had a list of topics to possibly blog about.

1. Destructive squirrels and my efforts chase them from my yard and attic.

2. Comfort food.  

3. What is up with the news media?

4. Why does the US have to keep the Bieb?

5. The leader of N. Korea telling the men of the country they must get a haircut like his.

Since 1, 3, 4 and 5 are about bat sh*t crazy creatures I picked… wait for it…2. Comfort food! Put your hands in the air and clap.

Before I start, you should know I’m old. So old, I hesitate to participate in buy one, get one free because I fear I won’t get the chance used the second one. That said I grew up in Florida on a barrier island 22 miles long, one paved road, three bridges to escape hurricanes. 2 were wood and barely above the water line no side rails. Scar-ee. If it rained a lot, gators came into the back yard and I witnessed more than one wild pig shot in the street.

Now the scene is set you can imagine what follows.  

A big meal, Sundays and holidays that was generally eaten and sometimes cooked outside was sea food paella.
Yellow rice and whatever clams, oysters, crabs, and fish we could get at the end of the street. Still love it today but, there is no fun in collecting the ingredients.

Then there was grits with red sauce and fried fish.


Gator, when one crawled into the back yard. Turtle, land and sea.

Fried Spam, with fried egg and straight from the can in sandwiches. We lived in Hawaii a few years and Spam was a favorite there. On the menu in local places.

Fry a thick slice of bologna with eggs. Bologna sandwiches on white bread with plenty of mayonnaise.  Every tackle box I can remember held cans of Vienna sausages and potted ham. 
                                             Ya know for a snack.  

And.... popsicles, drippy, syrupy, sweet, popsicles.

Reading this over maybe I just call it weird crap I ate growing up.

So what do you call comfort food? Or just share the weird crap you ate.
Don’t forget to enter our fab contest to win books. See the blog below for details.

I guess I can also tell you I have a new release, Point of No Return   and a FREE sexy prequel, No Holding Back.