On this episode of “The Romantic Side of Suspense,” I’m chatting with Sami Abrams, who grew up hating to read. It wasn’t until her 30s that she found authors that captured her attention. Now, most evenings you can find her engrossed in a romantic suspense. In her opinion, a crime and a little romance is the recipe for a great story. She lives in Northern California, but she will always be a Kansas girl at heart. She has a love of sports, family, and travel. However, a cabin at Lake Tahoe writing her next story is definitely at the top of her list.
Under Susie May Warren’s Sunrise Publishing, Sami worked with Lynette Eason in the Elite Guardians story world developed by Lynette in a previous series. “Lynette is my mentor for this book,” Sami said. “We collaborate as far as brainstorming, but she does help me if I run into a problem. … And she’s also the one editing it, so it’s a Lynette-style book.”
Multi-published author Dani Pettrey recently stopped by my newsletter and blog to share some about her writing life.
Why did you start writing romantic suspense novels? My love for mysteries began when I read Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie when I was eight, and my enjoyment of whodunnits and suspense stories has remained strong ever since. When I was a young adult, I started reading romance novels, and while I thoroughly enjoyed them, I missed the puzzle of solving a mystery. I missed the adrenaline rush of watching the couple falling in love in the throes of danger, and seeing their love grow stronger through it. Romantic suspense combines both genres I love and wraps them up in one satisfying story.
What is your favorite spot for reading or reflecting on your current work-in-progress? I’m at my favorite place while I type this. My happy place and sweet spot for writing or reflecting on my work-in-progress is the beach, hands down. There’s something so soothing yet inspiring being by God’s majestic creation. The rhythmic splash of the waves and the squawk of seagulls in the air still my thoughts on everything else and allow me to put my full focus on my story. I often head to the beach near my book deadlines to have a “story power week,” as I call it. I write close to double my daily word count while at the ocean. Thankfully, I have a gracious friend with a beach house, so I’m able to visit often.
What’s your go-to when you need a pick-me-up to keep writing? Starbucks. Actually, any coffee beverage. I’m a self-proclaimed coffee fanatic, especially when it comes to long writing days. When I need a breath of fresh air, I’ll hop in the car and open the sunroof (weather-depending) and head for a Starbucks run. The combo of a scenic ride and some strong espresso always brings me back to my desk refreshed and ready to go.
What does your family think of your writing romantic suspense? They think we have very interesting discussions at the dinner table as I plot ways to hide a body or talk through the best way to stalk someone. Don’t worry, my kids are adults. In all honesty, they take it in stride and buy me coffee mugs that say things like: Pay no attention to my browsing history. I’m a writer, not a serial killer.
About Dani Publishers Weekly and #1 Amazon bestselling author Dani Pettrey has sold 800,000 copies of her novels to readers eagerly awaiting the next release. Dani combines the page-turning adrenaline of a thriller with the chemistry and happy-ever-after of a romance.
A painful secret that threatens to tear two hearts apart.
CGIS Agent Noah Rowley is rocked to the core when several of his valued team members come under fire on his Coast Guard base. He and his remaining team race to the scene and end the attack, but not before innocent lives are lost. Furious and grief-stricken, he vows to do whatever is needed to bring the mastermind behind the attack to justice.
Stunned by the ambush, Coast Guard flight medic Brooke Kesler evacuates in a helicopter carrying the only surviving gunman. The gravely wounded man whispers mysterious information to Brooke that immediately paints a target on her back.
As Brooke and Noah race to uncover answers, emotions between them ignite. Noah struggles to protect Brooke at all costs and to conceal the secret that prevents him from becoming what he longs to be—the right man for her.
On this episode of “The Romantic Side of Suspense,” my guests are Dana Mentink and Terri Reed. Among other things, we chatted about the dangers of exploring Death Valley with GPS and introducing too many characters at once.
“You can’t really hand over your brain to any electronic,” Dana said. “I say that as somebody who’s lost all the time—I’m perpetually lost everywhere.”
“You don’t want people to have to have a roadmap to get through your book,” Terri said. “That’s the beauty of series, though. You can introduce a seemingly throwaway character in the first book that’s going to be very, very important later.”
Dana is a USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author as well as a two-time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner, and the recipient of a Holt Medallion. She’s written over fifty titles in the suspense, lighthearted romance and mystery genres. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Heartwarming and Poisoned Pen Press.
Award-winning, multi-published author Terri found solace from a chaotic childhood in the pages of books that took her far away to different realms and realities. When she discovered Christian fiction, she also discovered her own story telling voice. Now she writes books of heart-warming romance and heart-pounding suspense infused with faith. Her romance and romantic suspense novels have appeared on Publisher’s Weekly top ten and Nielsen BookScan top hundred lists, and have been featured in USA Today. She’s a member of the Honor Roll of Romance Writers of America. Her books have finaled in Romance Writers of America RITA contest, National Readers’ Choice Award, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, and the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award. One of her romance novels was adapted into a Hallmark movie for Christmas 2019. Terri resides in the Pacific Northwest with her college-sweetheart husband. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends and running the agility course with her Australian shepherd.
Thank you to all who participated in this blog tour & giveaway. Our winners are:
Grand Prize: Kimberly S.
First Prize: Phyllis H.
Happy Christmas in July! Welcome to the 2022 Christmas in July Reader Blog Tour & Giveaway, which runs July 15-22, 2022 (contest closes at 8 p.m. Eastern on 7/22). At the bottom of each author’s blog post, you will find the name of a Christmas song. Write them all down and provide the provide all song titles (26 in total) on this Google form. See below for a list with links of all participating authors or stop by each blog for the next author link!
Note: You must grab all the song titles from every author in the 2022 Christmas in July Reader Blog Tour & Giveaway to be eligible to win the grand prize of a $520 Amazon gift card, plus a copy of each participating author’s book OR first place prize of a copy of each participating author’s book. At the end of this blog post is a link to the next blog, and so on, to the final blog post (26 authors in all).
The weather and letters played a large part in my Christmas novella, Mistletoe & Murder. First the weather, because isn’t that the topic of conversation we often start with when meeting new acquaintances? I set the story in the fictitious town of Twin Oaks, placed in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Being in the South, Virginia weather at Christmastime can be unpredictable, but not in the way winter weather is unpredictable elsewhere. No, here in the Old Dominion, we’ve had Christmas Day highs in the 70s and snow on rare occasions. Often, the entire month of December can be rather mild, with temperatures not dipping below forty. I used that local knowledge (I’m a Virginia born and raised and lived in the state nearly my entire life) in my story to show why a particular plant would still be green in December when in other parts of the country, it would already died for the season.
Now the letters. I incorporated a Cyrano de Bergerace storyline as an integral part of the plot. As a writer, I’ve always been intrigued by the story of two people falling in love through letters. When my husband and I were dating, we wrote a lot of emails back and forth—one of the modern-day equivalent of letters! One of my daughters loves the movie, “You’ve Got Mail,” which is one of many iterations of the Cyrano de Bergerace. There was even a recent musical called “Cyrano” too. In Mistletoe & Murder, the letters happened offstage, and are only referenced as part of the background of the current happenings.
Here’s more about Mistletoe & Murder. Don’t forget to grab the song title and enjoy the rest of your tour.
Alec Stratman comes home to Twin Oaks, Virginia, after his Army retirement to contemplate his reentry into civilian life. Instead he’s greeted with the murder of his beloved Great-Aunt Heloise.
For Isabella Montoya, the loss of Heloise Stratman Thatcher goes beyond the end of a job. Heloise had encouraged Isabella to follow her dreams and helped fund her studies. Now, accused of her mentor’s murder, Isabella is scrambling to prove her innocence.
Since his great-aunt had written glowing letters about Isabella, Alec is unwilling to believe the police’s suspicion of the former housekeeper. Instead, he works to help clear her name.
Will Isabella and Alec be able to navigate the secrets that threaten to derail their budding romance and uncover the truth about Heloise’s death before the killer strikes again?
I’d love to hear what the weather’s usually like on Christmas for you! Tell me in the blog comments.
Now, it’s time to for my Christmas song title: Silver Bells
Save the holiday song titles from each of the 26 blog stops, and when you reach the final blog, enter all the song titles on this form for a chance to win the grand prize of a $520 Amazon gift card and a copy of each participating author’s featured book OR first prize of a copy of each participating author’s featured book.
Thank you so much for visiting! The next author on the tour is Jill Kemerer and her Christmas book The Prodigal’s Holiday Hope. You can find it at this link. Remember, the 2022 Christmas in July Reader Blog Tour & Giveaway ends July 22 at 8 PM EST!
Contemporary Romance: Leaving the Past Behind by Sandra Ardoin — The joy Danni Barnett found in her job as a travel writer and photographer faded around the same time her husband walked out on her. When her late sister-in-law’s will brings the couple together to care for her children, Danni must face her fear of motherhood or lose a second chance with Brooks. Brooks Barnett’s life has spun out of his control. A crumbled marriage. A career on hold. The loss of his sister. Brooks determines to keep Danni at arm’s length, but it’s a daunting task when his niece and nephew love her as much as he does. How will Brooks protect two grieving children from more loss when he can’t even protect his heart from Danni’s pull? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Muskota Blue by Carolyn Miller — For Sarah Maguire, spending the summer at Lake Muskoka was supposed to be about finding the courage to put back the pieces of her shattered life—not falling in love with the charming yet unsophisticated hockey player from next door. Daniel Walton may have been praying for Miss Right to appear, but Sarah’s ice princess act just cries Miss Wrong. Dan’s summer plans hadn’t included befriending a redhead with a sassy tongue and cute accent, but as Muskoka works its magic he soon discovers that underneath the frost and prickles is the funny, feisty, loving woman he’s waited all his life to meet. As their friendship deepens, Sarah comes to appreciate Dan’s patience and kindness yet struggles to let go of the past and embrace the future, while Dan, only too conscious of the personal history he wants to forget, questions the wisdom of pursuing a girl whose heart may never be wholly his – who may soon return to live on the opposite side of the world. Will past regrets lead to further heartbreak? Or can Sarah and Dan learn to leave the past in the past and embrace God’s promises for the future? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Seaside Proposal by Narelle Atkins — Billie Radcliffe has a secret. And she isn’t sharing it with anyone, including Zach Montford. Even though she feels an instant connection with the good-looking banker and youth leader, she’s wary of rejection. Besides she’s only in the close-knit beach community until she meets the one man who can fill in the blanks about her history. Zach hopes his temporary stint with the church will help him decide whether to go into full-time ministry. Though his career plans are uncertain, he’s sure about his growing feelings for Billie. When a shocking revelation throws everything into question, Zach and Billie have a chance to put the past to rest … and walk into the future together. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
To Begin Again by Emily Conrad — Michaela Vandehey’s reality show win transformed her from the girl whose own father ignored her into a pop singer loved by the masses. But fame has proven hard to keep. To bolster her floundering career, she heads to Wisconsin to snag a collaboration with the iconic rock band Awestruck. There, she meets bass guitarist Philip, a dad whose devotion challenges her skepticism about love and family. Whatever faith Philip Miller had died with his wife. Now, “Amazing Grace” is nothing but a lullaby to sing to his children in her memory. Thanks to Awestruck, he can provide privileged lives for his kids, but he has no intention of finding love again. If only he weren’t so drawn to Michaela. When he falls for her despite himself, Michaela learns the dark secret that threatens his family’s future. The grace they’ve heard so much about might grant them the fresh start they need, but to begin again, they’ll first have to sacrifice what they hold most dear. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
General Contemporary: The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip by Sara Brunsvold — Frustrated reporter Aidyn Kelley begrudgingly agrees to help a hospice patient prepare her obituary. But old Clara Kip has some incredible stories–and some surprises up her sleeve–that promise to make this seemingly throwaway assignment a life-changing one. (General Contemporary, from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)
More Than Sparrows by Claire SpencerChristensen — Kate is at a crossroads. A lapse in judgement has her clashing with management at Westbrook Community Justice Service, her offer to accommodate a client in her own home breaching department regulations. Not only does this infuriate her team leader, but it provides the clever, charismatic department psychologist, Dr Paul Leeuwin, yet another opportunity to heap scorn on her world view and rubbish her belief in God. The pressure increases when she dares to question a church leadership decision to fund an extension, seemingly ignoring needy families in the surrounding suburbs. Her concerns dismissed, she falls out with friends when she suggests the community could be better served if the money was spent on a parachurch organisation. In conflict at work and at odds with fellow believers, what is God trying to tell her? (General Contemporary, Independently Published)
Perfectly Placed by Liana George — Six weeks after leaving China, Nicki Mayfield returns to complete two critical tasks: restore order at New Hope Orphanage and re-connect with the little girl who stole her heart. However, between a stubbornly stone walling supervisor, missing documents, and personal tragedy, Nicki faces challenges at every turn. Is she the best person to bring order – and longevity – to the place these children call home? Then, with the help of an unexpected ally, Nicki makes a life-altering decision that upends her well-planned life and the lives of those around her. Will she lose it all, or has she found the way to save what matters most?
(General Contemporary, from Scrivenings Press)
Historical Romance: A Feeling of Home by Susan Ann Mason — Isabelle Wardrop’s well-to-do life has completely unraveled. Within months, she’s lost both her parents, her fortune, and her home. With nowhere else to turn, she and her younger sister move in with a trusted former servant in an impoverished area of the city. Desperate for work but having no qualifications, Isabelle is forced to accept help from Dr. Mark Henshaw, the very man she blames for her mother’s death. (Historical Romance from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)
Byway to Danger by Sandra Merville Hart — Everyone in Richmond has secrets. Especially the spies. Meg Brooks, widow, didn’t stop spying for the Union when her job at the Pinkerton National Detective Agency ended, especially now that she lives in the Confederate capital. Her job at the Yancey bakery provides many opportunities to discover vital information about the Confederacy to pass on to her Union contact. She prefers to work alone, yet the strong, silent baker earns her respect and tugs at her heart. Cade Yancey knows the beautiful widow is a spy when he hires her only because his fellow Unionist spies know of her activities. Meg sure didn’t tell him. He’s glad she knows how to keep her mouth shut, for he has hidden his dangerous activities from even his closest friends. The more his feelings for the courageous woman grow, the greater his determination to protect her by guarding his secrets. Her own investigations place her in enough peril. As danger escalates, Meg realizes her choice to work alone isn’t a wise one. Can she trust Cade with details from her past not even her family knows? (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)
Inventions of the Heart by Mary Conneally — Her heart seeks safety. But will trouble find her even here? After her sister’s marriage, Michelle Stiles is left hiding at Two Harts Ranch with the handsome but stubborn Zane Hart. She’s managed to stay one step ahead of her stepfather and his devious plans, but if he finds her, she will no longer be safe. Zane has problems of his own. Having discovered a gold mine on his property, he must figure out how to harvest it without kicking off a gold rush. Michelle, educated and trained to run her father’s business, wants to manage all aspects of the mine, but Zane thinks for a person so smart she can have some misguided ideas. Running the mining operation will be a dangerous job, and he can’t risk putting her in harm’s way. But danger finds Michelle anyway when she’s suddenly attacked. If they go to the sheriff, they’ll reveal her location, but if they do nothing . . . their troubles have only just begun. (Historical Romance, from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)
Matters of the Heart by Heidi Gray McGill — Katie is an unconventional and impatient Irish immigrant with a determination to champion the needs of Civil War orphans and widows, no matter the fallout. Hans served his time and has no desire to join another cause to help the needy unless he’s the one in question. Stubbornness and demons of their past may keep them from their goals and each other, yet in the end, they realize the answer isn’t always in the one you seek. (Historical Romance, ACFW QIP (Qualified Independently Published))
Speculative Fiction: Aivan: The One Truth by Kayla E. Green — Rune has grown up all of her life in the mountainous northern nation of Kansanai. As granddaughter of the Senior Elder, she has been a devout believer of the Vihishki gods her whole life. Yet, when a prophet challenges the Vihishki gods against his Aivan, the One Truth, everything she thought she knew is turned upside down. Will she be able to let go of the life she thought she deserved for something far greater than what she could have ever imagined? (Speculative Fiction from Ambassador International)
When Legends Rise by Daphne Self — He is now one of them. Genetically altered… Designed to kill… Trained to eradicate…Until he became more. Juliet 7-A was the top elite assassin for the Global Federated Territories until an ambush deemed him unsalvageable. He was scheduled for decommission. His only recourse for survival is a new identity and his search for the one friend he had–a friend who deserted him. Those he once hunted will save him. Yet it comes with a price. A price that demands much of him. What happens when an assassin awakens? (Speculative Fiction from Ambassador International)
Sabotaged Mission by Tina Radcliffe — When a failed mission leaves CIA operative MacKenzie “Mac” Sharp injured and her partner presumed dead, going off-grid is the only way to survive. But her old flame, CIA officer Gabe Denton, has tracked her down and led a well-connected enemy right to her door. Now with someone trying to frame and kill her, working with Gabe is the only way to clear her name…and stay alive. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
The Sister’s Search by Susan Page Davis — Molly Weaver and her widowed mother embark on an arduous journey at the end of the Civil War. They hope to join Molly’s brother Andrew on his ranch in Texas. When they arrive, Andrew is missing and squatters threaten the ranch. Can they trust Joe, the stranger who claims to be Andrew’s friend? Joe’s offer to help may be a godsend—or a snare. And who is the man claiming to be Molly’s father? If he’s telling the truth, Molly’s past is a sham, and she must learn where she really belongs. (Western from Scrivenings Press)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
Love at the Garden Tomb by R. F. Whong, Love—one plus one can’t be two. Longline: Chance meetings at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem force ex-lovers to journey through betrayal, guilt, redemption, and reconciliation. (Contemporary Romance)
Shadow of Honor by Ronnie Kendig, Faced with her true identity, Eija sees her purpose snap into focus, and she realizes the war Marco fears may be the very one he has been called to start.(Speculative Fiction)