How many times have you said, “I wish I had more time to write?” While we can’t cram more hours into a day, we can find more ways to incorporate writing into our busy schedules. Learn how from veteran freelance writer, author and writers coach Sarah Hamaker in the FREE webinar, Reclaim Your Writing Time.
Award-winning author Terri Reed recently stopped by my blog to share some about her writing life and her most recent romantic suspense, Secret Sabotage.
What’s the hardest part of writing romantic suspense? For me the hardest part of writing romantic suspense is finding inventive ways of putting my characters into jeopardy. There are only so many scenarios that are realistic enough to be dangerous, give the action and suspense necessary to keep the tension high. I try to balance my writing with the romance and keeping the tension of the relationship high while still giving a realistic arc so that the characters can fall in love by the end.
What’s the weirdest way someone has died or been killed in your novels? I’m always searching for creative ways to torture my characters or cause a secondary character’s demise. In my book The Doctor’s Defender, I had cupcakes laced with arsenic kill of a minor character. In Mission to Protect, I had salad dressing laced with hemlock that almost did in the heroine, but the K-9 dog alerted and kept her from dying. In Treacherous Slopes, the bad guy planted poisonous spiders in the overhead light of the hero’s trailer.
What’s your go-to when you need a pick-me-up to keep writing? My pick-me-ups depend on what’s keeping me from writing. If I’ve hit a wall in the story, I call my critique partner and we brainstorm ideas. If I’ve lost steam and motivation, I look for a class to take that will fill my creative well. If I’m tired/sore/don’t want to sit at the computer, I find some other place to write: dictate in the bathtub, use pen and paper at the dining table or go for a walk and think through the scenes I want to write.
About Terri Reed Terri Reed’s award-winning romance and romantic suspense novels have appeared on Publishers Weekly top 10 Romance Bestsellers and Publishers Weekly top 10 Religion Fiction Bestsellers, Publishers Weekly top 10 Mass Market Paperback Bestsellers, Nielsen’s Bookscan top 100 Bestsellers and featured in USA Today and have been Amazon Bestsellers, as well as Fresh Picks at Fresh Fiction. Her novel A Family Under the Christmas Tree was adapted into a Hallmark movie and retitled Picture a Perfect Christmas in 2019. She resides in the Pacific Northwest with her college-sweetheart husband. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends and agility training with her dog.
Secret Sabotage by Terri Reed The crash was intentional…But he can’t remember why.
With no memory of the crash that landed him in a hospital, Ian Delaney is determined to uncover who sabotaged his helicopter—without the protection of his family-appointed bodyguard. But Simone Walker’s used to stubborn clients and won’t let Ian leave her sight. To catch an unknown traitor, they must rely on each other…or the next attack could prove lethal.
Strength in the Storm by Laurel M. Blount — After the murder of both her parents, Emma Hochstedler returns to the small community of Johns Mill, hoping to resume her quiet existence. Reclaiming her place proves harder than expected—especially now that a movie is being made about her family’s loss. But then, an old friend offers her a lifeline that gives her new purpose. Amish builder Samuel Christner is the biggest—and the strongest—man in town. In fact, the gentle giant has only one weakness—Emma. Even though she broke his heart, he won’t let his childhood sweetheart face her troubles alone. He hires Emma as a nurse for his elderly aunt…and finds himself falling for her all over again. (Amish Romance from Berkley Penguin Random House)
Defending David by Barbara M. Britton — When a quiet journey to Jerusalem turns tragic, newly orphaned Rimona must flee a kinsman set on selling her as a slave. Racing into the rocky hills outside of Hebron, Rimona is rescued by a Philistine commander journeying to Jerusalem with six-hundred warriors. Exiled commander, Ittai the Gittite, is seeking refuge in the City of David. Protecting a frantic Hebrew woman is not in his leadership plan. Although, having a nobleman’s niece in his caravan might prove useful for finding shelter in a foreign land. Rimona and Ittai arrive in Jerusalem on the eve of a rebellion. In the chaos of an heir’s betrayal, will they be separated forever, or can they defend King David and help the aging monarch control his rebellious son? (Biblical from Harbourlight Books (Pelican))
Checked Impressions by Carolyn Miller — parks fly when a hometown hockey hero meets a classy art-loving museum guide hiding a secret…Jai Mullins is used to being the fastest man on ice. Trouble is, his ability to find a genuine woman is tracking at glacial melt levels. He’s trusting God she’s out there, but he’s wary of getting trapped by a superfan, when all he wants is someone with whom he can be real. Allie Davis has two great loves: impressionist art and hockey. More specifically, a certain hockey player. But between her shyness and her family, she’s convinced she’ll never meet him, let alone connect with him in a non-embarrassing way. Until she does. And they connect. And romance sparks. But she is hiding a big secret, and he’s about to find that first impressions sometimes need a reality check. Will they learn to trust and find a way forward, or will half-truths lead to further hurt on opposite sides of the country and lonely lives? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Her Tycoon Hero by Narelle Atkins — Cassie Beaumont believes in second chances. Cassie is set on proving she’s no longer a party girl, instead focusing on her career as an event planner. Ryan Mitchell, her dad’s top executive, proves to be a handsome distraction, especially when someone from Cassie’s wild past tries to draw her back into the life she has worked hard to escape. Ryan is taken with his boss’s beautiful daughter. But he is slow to trust, having been burned by a brother who ran in the same circles. When Cassie’s newfound faith works its way into his heart, Ryan wants to claim both Cassie and her faith as his own. Can they forgive past mistakes and navigate a future together? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
In Search of a Prince by Toni Shiloh — Brielle Adebayo is fully content teaching at a New York City public school and taking annual summer vacations with her mother to Martha’s Vineyard. But everything changes when her mom drops the mother of all bombshells–Brielle is a princess in the kingdom of Oloro Ilé, Africa, and she must immediately assume her royal position, since the health of her grandfather, King Tiwa Jimoh Adebayo, is failing. Distraught by her mother’s betrayal, Brielle is further left spinning when the Oloro Ilé Royal Council brings up an old edict that states she must marry before assuming the throne or the crown will be passed to another. Uncertain who to choose from the council’s list of bachelors, she struggles with the decision along with the weight of her new role in a new country. With her world totally shaken, she must take a chance on love and brave the perils a wrong decision may bring. (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)
Secrets of Their Past by Allie Pleiter — Facing the past could change his future. Veterinarian Neal Rodgers is in Wander Canyon seeking the truth about his past—not to rescue a litter of kittens under his next-door neighbor’s porch. But persistent single-mom Tessa Kennedy is impossible to ignore—especially when she uncovers a family secret of her own. Discovering the hidden facts of their histories could be the key to unlocking everything in this small town. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
The Valentine Proposal by Beth Pugh — Can Love Be 10 Years in the Making? Award-winning photographer Mason Montgomery is back in Pine Valley, Kentucky. Hopefully, for good, if his business proposal is accepted. On paper, he’s the perfect buyer for Forget-Me-Not Photography. Too bad the seller, Ol’ Man Rowe, doesn’t see it that way. He’s looking for a family man to take over, and Mason’s bachelor status doesn’t fit the bill.For shy Lily Anne Dawson, life has not turned out the way she’d hoped. Working at her mother’s bakery and editing for the local newspaper is a far cry from her journalistic dream. She’s a failure. A lonely failure worrying about infertility with no romantic prospects in sight. That all changes when a decade-old promise to marry on Valentine’s Day pushes the two together at their high school reunion. The impromptu proposal offers a solution to their problems. But marriage requires honesty―and both have secrets. Secrets that could make or break their budding love. (Contemporary Romance from Candlelight (an imprint of Iron Stream Media))
To Belong Together by Emily Conrad — Fame and money have a way of complicating love. Drummer John Kennedy can keep a beat, but he can’t hold a conversation, so he relies on actions to show he cares. Unfortunately, when he’s instantly intrigued by a spunky female mechanic, he can’t seem to convey the sincerity of his intentions. And the rejections don’t stop there. His own sister is pushing him away just when he could help her most. Erin Hirsh’s life would be easier if God hadn’t given her a love for cars. Only her father understood her, and she’s losing him to dementia. Her brief romances have always backfired worse than a mistuned engine, and she refuses to give John the chance to wreck her heart. A rock star with a supermodel ex can’t possibly see anything in her. At least that’s what she thinks until they find common ground in faith and their worsening family situations leave them each longing for a place to belong. Could God intend for this pair of opposites to belong together? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Avenue of Betrayal by Sandra Merville Hart — Betrayed by her brother and the man she loves…whom can she trust when tragedy strikes? Soldiers are pouring into Washington City every day and have begun drilling in preparation for a battle with the Confederacy. Annie Swanson worries for her brother, whom she’s just discovered is a Confederate officer in his new home state of North Carolina. Even as Annie battles feelings of betrayal toward the big brother she’s always adored, her wealthy banker father swears her and her sister to secrecy about their brother’s actions. How could he forsake their mother’s abolitionist teachings?Sergeant-Major John Finn camps within a mile of the Swansons’ mansion where his West Point pal once lived. Sweet Annie captured his heart at Will’s wedding last year and he looks forward to reestablishing their relationship—until he’s asked to spy on her father.To prove her father’s loyalty to the Union, John agrees to spy on the Swanson family, though Annie must never know. Then the war strikes a blow that threatens to destroy them all—including the love that’s grown between them against all odds. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)
Gold Rush Bride Tegan by Linda Shenton Matchett — Tegan Llewellyn has always been different than her adopted family, except Grandmother Hannah, a prospector during the 1829 Georgia gold rush. Now, seventy years later there are reports of gold in Nome, and the opportunity is too good to pass up. But Tegan doesn’t count on the dangers that strike from the moment she steps off the steamer, including the threat of losing her heart. Elijah Hunter has prospected for gold all over the US and Canada and likes being on the move. The last thing he expects to find on his latest search is a lady miner who proves to be nothing but trouble. Can he convince her that leaving is for her own good before it’s too late…for both of them? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)
Lumberjacks and Ladies by Jennifer Lamont Leo, et. al — Lumberjacks and Ladies Work Together to Build America…Struggling to remain independent in the 1800s, four women reluctantly open up to help from lumberjacks—and love. All That Glitters by Candice Sue Patterson, 1851—Maine. Winifred finds herself running the family lobstering business when her father and brothers join the California gold rush. Will she stubbornly reject help from a local lumberjack? Winter Roses by Pegg Thomas, 1865—Michigan. Elizabeth cooks for a logging crew, spurning the men’s advances, until reoccurring gifts capture her attention. Will she heed her mother’s warning about “shanty boys”? Not for Love by Naomi Musch, 1881—Wisconsin. Widowed, Maggie seeks a husband—in name only—from the logging camps, but the man who answers her letter is a surprise. Can she open her heart to love again? Undercover Logger by Jennifer Lamont Leo, 1890—Idaho. Carrie will not sell her timberland and allows the banker’s nephew to sign onto her logging crew to ferret out the reason she is losing money at an alarming rate. Will truth be revealed to her forlorn heart? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
Mrs. Witherspoon Goes to War by Mary Eileen Davis — A WASP Goes Above the Call of Duty to Free Captive American Soldiers. Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes–the heroines of WWII. Peggy Witherspoon, a widow, mother, and pilot flying for the Women Airforce Service Pilots in 1944 clashes with her new reporting officer. Army Air Corp Major Howie Berg was injured in combat and is now stationed at Bolling Field in Washington D.C. Most of Peggy’s jobs are safe, predictable, and she can be home each night with her two daughters–until a cargo run to Cuba alerts her to American soldiers being held captive there, despite Cuba being an “ally.” Will Peggy go against orders to help the men–even risk her own life? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
Until Leaves Fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin — As the Nazis march toward Paris in 1940, American ballerina Lucie Girard buys her favorite English-language bookstore to allow the Jewish owners to escape. Lucie struggles to run Green Leaf Books due to oppressive German laws and harsh conditions, but she finds a way to aid the resistance by passing secret messages between the pages of her books. Widower Paul Aubrey wants nothing more than to return to the States with his little girl, but the US Army convinces him to keep his factory running and obtain military information from his German customers. As the war rages on, Paul offers his own resistance by sabotaging his product and hiding British airmen in his factory. After they meet in the bookstore, Paul and Lucie are drawn to each other, but she rejects him when she discovers he sells to the Germans. And for Paul to win her trust would mean betraying his mission. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)
Wilderness Wife by Delores Topliff — arguerite Wadin MacKay believes her 17-year marriage to explorer, Alex MacKay, is strong—until sudden fame makes him announce their frontier marriage is void in Montréal where he now goes to choose a society wife—not one with native blood. Taking their son, MacKay sends Marguerite and their three daughters to a trading post where she lived as a child. Deeply shamed, she arrives in time to assist young visiting Doctor John McLoughlin with a medical emergency. Marguerite now lives only for her girls. When Fort William on Lake Superior opens a school, Marguerite moves there for her daughters’ sake. Newly assigned there, Doctor McLoughlin’s friendship with Marguerite grows. When he declares his love, she dissuades him from a match harmful to his career. She’s mixed blood and nine years older. He will have no one else. After abandonment, can a woman love again and fulfill the key role in North American History that is her destiny? (General Historical from Scrivenings Press)
With a Trusting Heart by Dawn Kinzer — Will trust be the winning ticket to mending two wounded hearts? The 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition is taking place in Seattle with participants from all over the world when Lizzie Clark accepts a position at an orphanage in the city. After suffering heartbreak and loss, she is determined to make a life for herself independently. Jack Butler’s mother abandoned their family when he was a young boy. Loyalty to his father cost him fulfilling his own aspirations, so Jack strives to take their family farm in a new direction. A newborn is left at the orphanage with a note asking Lizzie to take care of him. Why did the woman abandon her child? And why is Jack, a handsome local farmer so interested in helping Lizzie search for the infant’s mother? When shocking revelations disrupt their plans, Lizzie and Jack are faced with life-changing decisions. Will they open their hearts to trusting again? (Historical Romance from Morningview Publishing)
Cliffhanger by Susan Page Davis — The Novel Inn’s reopening goes smoothly until a guest vanishes. The new owners prepare for their first large group—a former squad of cheerleaders meeting for a reunion. Things go awry when the head cheerleader fails to show up. Sisters Kate and Jillian, the innkeepers, enlist the help of their brother Rick, a local police officer. They’re confident the missing woman will be found, but they soon learn to expect the unexpected, even during a walk on the beach. (Mystery: Cozy from Scrivenings Press)
The Prediction by Jean Rezab — Thea deals with the limits her father places on her when she has a vision of his death. He has never accepted her ability, and he also deals with his own depression regarding his past. (Mystery: Romance, Independently Published)
Safe House Exposed by Darlene L. Turner — Witness protection should have kept them safe. Instead, it left them completely exposed…Canadian border patrol officer Emma James has only one concern after putting a crime boss behind bars: keeping her daughter safe. But witness protection has a leak, and Emma’s enemies know exactly where to find her. Now on the run with no safe haven, trusting her estranged former brother-in-law, police constable Mason James, to shield them is her only hope… (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
That Scott Woman by Carlene Havel — Maggie Scott returns home in 1966 after serving four years in prison. She has only one goal in mind, to create a secure and stable life for herself. Then Maggie meets Blake Hamilton, ex-rodeo cowboy turned preacher. The chemistry between this unlikely pair is undeniable, but there are problems. Blake is sure his calling is to serve God. Maggie is convinced she is beyond redemption. Common sense tells Maggie her attraction to Blake will end in heartbreak. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance, Independently Published)
Touch of Innocence by Robin Patchen — How can she protect the child if nobody believes her? Grace used to try to save people, but that was before she realized how powerless she is. Now, she avoids emotional ties, working from her secluded cabin, content with her aloneness. When eight-year-old Lily starts hanging around, Grace enjoys her company but carefully keeps her distance—until she discovers the girl is being exploited. Little though she wants to, she must get involved, even if it means risking her own safety to secure Lily’s. Andrew can’t help but be drawn to his new neighbor and her beautiful foster child. When he learns about Lily’s disturbing history, he offers to help Grace prove her suspicions about the girl’s father. But the more they learn, the more puzzling Lily’s history seems. They work together to unravel the mystery, determined to ensure Lily ends up with a family who loves her. But Lily’s father isn’t giving up his muse—or his obsession—that easily. He believes Lily is rightfully his, and he’ll do anything to get her back. (Thrilled/Suspense/Romance, Independently Published)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
The Winter Rose by Melanie Dobson, In this gripping WWII time-slip novel from the author whose books have been called “propulsive” and a “must-read” (Publishers Weekly), Grace Tonquin is an American Quaker who works tirelessly in Vichy France to rescue Jewish children from the Nazis. (Historical Romance)
Award-winning author Jessica R. Patch recently stopped by my blog to share some about her writing life, plus the back cover copy of her most recent romantic suspense, Cold Case Takedown.
When do you find time to write?
I make sure to treat it as a business. I set work hours and then I don’t deviate from those hours. When my husband is out of town, I work nights. The house is quiet after 5 and that gives me uninterrupted time. If my deadline is tight, I will add couple of writing sessions—two hours each session—during the day plus my nightly writing time.
How do you come up with titles for your books?
To be honest, I stopped titling my books! When I send a proposal to Love Inspired for a new suspense series, I may title the series but I write Book 1, 2 & 3. They will end up asking for more suggestions to go along with some of their own and pull from that list. I rarely, if ever, keep my original title.
What’s the weirdest way someone has died or been killed in your novels?
I did throw someone in the woodchipper but my editor said it was too violent, so I threw her in but she was rescued in the nick of time. My latest I’m writing is pretty tough since it’s a thriller about a serial killer—but he’s knocking them out, surgically taking their eyes then suturing their lids shut so when they awake…well you can imagine. It’s not for shock value, there’s a twisted reason for him to do this. And it always happens off page, so readers don’t have to experience it in real time, for those who might be shying away right now. It’s a trade book through Love Inspired Trade.
Where do you get the inspiration for your plots?
Most of my inspiration comes from the Bible if I’m honest. I’ll read a scripture and see how a killer might twist this in his mind as motive, then I get the pleasure of taking that scripture and making it clear and straight and bringing a message of hope! Sometimes an author friend will send me a text with a link and tell me, “You need to write this.” I’m talking to you, Jodie Bailey!
How do you pick the location/setting of your romantic suspense novels?
It just comes to me when I’m thinking about the story, then I research it, visit, or am already familiar. Sometimes depending on the plot, I’ll google places to see how they fit. For example: if it’s a serial killer who feeds women to alligators, I’m heading to the Bayou. I’d research until I found the perfect spot and I know that spot when I read about it or see it.
What did you want to be as a child (and did that dream come true)?
I wanted to be a missionary. And I do believe it came true. My books go all over the world with the message of hope in Jesus!
What is one of your favorite ways to connect with readers?
Probably on my Facebook Author page. I post and interact with readers there often.
What are some of the questions you hear when you say you write romantic suspense?
“Oh, I have a story you’ll want to write.” LOL
How do you ensure your books are accurate?
I have resources through people, books, Google and groups of industrial professionals in law enforcement. I may google that profession, then call someone and they are always happy to help. Plus, we have fact checkers who read through our books. But sometimes we do stretch the accuracy for story sake—it is fiction!
About Jessica R. Patch Publishers Weekly bestselling author Jessica R. Patch is known for her dry wit and signature twists whether she’s penned a romantic suspense, a cold case thriller, or a small-town romance. When she’s not getting into fictional mischief with her characters, you can find her cozy on the couch in her mid-south home reading books by some of her favorite authors, watching movies with her family, and collecting recipes to amazing dishes she’ll probably never cook.
Cold Case Takedown by Jessica R. Patch Exposing a murderer is a deadly game.
When cold case podcast host Georgia Maxwell’s investigation into her friend’s decade-old murder unveils corruption in small-town football, she’s thrust into a deadly conspiracy. And it’s put her on the radar of Colt McCoy—cold case unit chief and her high school sweetheart—who wants her help solving the crime. But every clue brings them one step closer to someone who will kill to keep the truth hidden.
On this episode of “The Romantic Side of Suspense,” my guest is Kellie VanHorn, an award-winning author of inspirational romance and romantic suspense. She has college degrees in biology and nautical archaeology, but she’s always found her sense of adventure most satisfied by a great story. When not writing, Kellie can be found homeschooling her four children, camping, baking and gardening. She lives with her family in west Michigan.
“My first book, Fatal Flashback, was inspired by the setting,” Kellie says. “For example, my husband and I were living in Texas, and we went on a camping trip out to Big Bend National Park and I fell in love with the setting. I had never written anything book-length before and I thought this would be an amazing place for a romance between a park ranger and somebody else, and there’s going to be action and adventure.”
Listen to the podcast for more from our interview, plus an excerpt from Buried Evidence.