Dangerous Dozen Release Day

It’s still morning on the west coast, so, Morning y’all!

I’m so excited for the Dangerous Dozen Romance Authors and happy to join the celebration. As part of the party, I’m gifting a paper copy of The Professor.

To enter, answer this question: Where do you prefer reading on romantic suspense spectrum? Plot heavy or primarily romance? (The party’s over and the contest closed.)

The Professor compressed cover

The Professor presses his palm against her flank, feeling the liquid warmth of her blood, hotter than her skin. Hot, like the life force that he has claimed… The power over life and death is the ultimate thrill.


Someone is murdering women on South Carolina’s college campuses: three women, three different schools. The Governor’s order to State Law Enforcement Agent Mick O’Shaughnessy is simple: make it stop. More political maneuvering diverts Mick to nearby Douglass College. There, instead of another dead body, he finds Meg Connelly, grad student and faculty advisor for the latest victim. 

Determined to finish her master’s degree, Meg doesn’t need anybody’s help – including her estranged family – to succeed. There’s something irresistible about Mick, but the last time she let someone get close to her, she lost everything except her self-respect.

As the investigation heats up, so does their relationship. But Mick’s interest in Meg doesn’t just endanger her heart–it puts her in the sights of the killer.

Once he gets her alone, he can take all the time he needs…

 

>> GRAB your copy at Harlequin (paper): http://bit.ly/1hoeMMv 

Amazon http://amzn.to/1lSuQXS

or B&Nhttp://bit.ly/1afRz6B

>> CONNECT with Cathy on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCathyPerkins and website http://cperkinswrites.com

 

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Merry Post Christmas!

I thought about writing something profound for today, reflecting on the season. Instead, I found myself looking back at an astonishing year and forward into the Great Unknown.

Mostly I thought about our mountain property.

I wrote my very first blog post (ever) right here at Blame It On The Muse, almost exactly two years ago - I Didn’t Get a Tractor for Christmas.

Since then, I’ve shared bits and pieces about our adjustment to rural life. My husband and I actually enjoyed clearing the property (for a while there, we were in a close personal relationship with the guy at the county dump!) and loved watching the birds and critters who showed up on the new paths through the woods or at the pond and river.

We’ve met most of the people in our valley and enjoy the genuine friendships that aren’t looking to further a career or do anything other than get to know you.

 

This fall, we’ve begun working on house plans. Sure, we have a small weekend place that will one day be a guest house (fabulous for the two of us). It’ll be interesting to have both kids, spouse, and multiple dogs here for several days. Let’s just say the sleeping arrangements will get creative. :)

The further we got into the planning process, the more the reality of the transition took hold. In order for us to live here full-time, my husband has to take early retirement. With my day job, I can work anywhere, as long as I can access the internet. Not possible with my husband’s career.

That Next Great Transition is what taps at the back of my head as I wrap the last presents, grocery shop and plan meals. Part of me leaps at the opportunity for travel, for not being tied to his work schedule. Another part worries, have we saved enough money. And another part thinks, Oh my (fill in your own blank), he’ll be home All The Time.

 

So, what transforming events do you see on your planning horizon?

 

Writing news update – the MysteryThriller Horror Box Set is still on the Amazon Top Ten in its category and For Love or Money will be included in Entangled Publishing’s Valentine’s Day Boxed Set, releasing January 27, 2014!.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

This originally appeared on  my group blog, Blame It On The Muse

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Creativity

Creativity is one of those slippery terms to define, but generally includes words like “new” and “innovative.” Do you see creativity as something you were born with – one of those innate talents like athleticism? Maybe, but just like that “natural” athlete works at refining skills, an author – or anyone working in a creative field (oops, there’s that word again) – can strengthen creativity.

I’m working through The Artist’s Way (Julia Cameron), and loving the insights for this creativity guide. In addition to dealing with the ways we shoot ourselves in the foot and learning to recognize the (ahem) less than supportive people around you, it also recommends … well … play dates for your inner child artist. Remember how much fun art was before someone told you to stay inside the lines and the sun must be yellow and the grass green?

While I do occasionally haul out the watercolors, I look for other ways to amuse that inner child. I had a free afternoon on a recent business trip.

Rather than hang out in the hotel, I took a walk.

C’mon, walk with me through Portland.

I knew Portland had lots of pocket parks, but didn’t know about the linear parks in the downtown core. People read, napped, skateboarded, chatted, played chess, knitted – you name it. The parks were more than the area’s backyard, they reminded me more of a community gathering spot.

Now as I got further into the park, I admit I was highly amused to discover that Southerners aren’t the only ones who put up statutes of mounted men. No clue who this guy might’ve been. Even more amusing when you consider the laissez-faire attitude of most of the Pacific Northwest.

 

Other elements take time – slow down, let your gaze wander.

This church is nearly hidden by the trees, but isn’t that a gorgeous bell tower?

 

Or ooh, what about the gingerbread detail on that house?

 

And can you go anywhere in the Pacific Northwest without stumbling upon a flower market?

 

So what about you? What have you done lately to “feed your Artist Child?”

 

This originally appeared on my group blog – Not Your Usual Suspects  

 

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Two Sides of Suspense

Today I want to offer a warm welcome to Cathy Perkins, an award-winning author (and Golden Heart Finalist) of compelling-yet-terrifying suspense stories and lighter mysteries with a financial twist. After I read The Professor (which was fan-tabulous and kept me up reading all night!), I knew I wanted Cathy to spend the day with us.

Cathy: Good morning Sharon! Thanks for letting me hang out with the Romantic Suspense authors at Kiss and Thrill. I released two books this summer which are shelved as romantic suspense, The Professor (Carina Press) and For Love or Money (Entangled Publishing), but (shh, confession!) mine are really mystery/suspense with a romantic element rather than romantic suspense.

Sharon: That’s okay, Cathy. We love all kinds of suspense and mystery stories! When we chatted about this post, you mentioned you write both dark and light stories. Care to explain that comment?

Cathy: Sometimes writing in a different genre (paranormal or YA rather than suspense, for example) will keep ideas fresh for an author. I find writing different kinds of suspense stories stretches me as an author (and hopefully makes me a better one).

As far as “light” and “dark” suspenses goes, just like romantic suspense has varying degrees of heat between the hero and heroine, mystery/suspense can contain degrees of darkness. All suspense novels have a villain who places the hero/heroine—or the world—in danger and shows the dark underbelly of human nature.

Tapping into the inherent conflict between right and wrong, good and evil, makes for some interesting stories. The best ones are page turners that keep you up past your bedtime. Now not all suspense novels keep you awake, afraid to turn off the lights (although a few of Patricia Cornwell’s had me wondering if that sound was a house noise or an axe-murderer breaking in—I had to back off of those!), but there’s always a sense that Something Really Bad will happen if the heroine doesn’t unravel the mystery, find the killer, defuse the ticking bomb or stop the assassin.

Sharon: I can honestly say The Professor kept me up all night worrying about axe-murderers breaking in! Where do you think the dividing line between “light” and “dark” stories lies?

Cathy: Maybe it’s the tone of the story that makes people label a story “light” or “dark,” but the protagonist plays a role in the distinction for me. In The Professor, the main character is a state law enforcement agent who matches wits with a serial killer. Mick O’Shaughnessy must stop The Professor before he kills again. Readers tell me the scenes from the Professor’s point of view are deliciously creepy. (We are so not delving into anything that might say about me! No axe-murdering!)

At the other end of the “darkness” scale, For Love or Money, an amateur sleuth mystery, is told from Holly Price’s perspective. A CPA (Certified Pain in the Ass according to the killer, and maybe according to the detective on the case), Holly relates to elements in the victim’s personal life, giving her a different motivation to ask questions and dig into details that don’t add up (in her opinion). She ultimately solves more than one crime, and makes the villain angry enough to come after her in the process.

Sharon: Oh, so the story is light or dark, depending on the POV character? Or is it the emotional tone of the book?

Cathy: Hmm… Good question. While I mentioned that the main character drives the investigation and influences the way that investigation is handled, the emotional depth of the characters is a good indicator of the degree of darkness. I find the emotional depth comes from the characters’ inner conflicts, which may include a relationship issue. Maybe that’s why romantic suspense is so successful—integrating the external conflict with the relationship issues, drawing the hero and heroine together to overcome obstacles. But I digress. :)

Many mystery/suspense authors completely avoid any relationship in their books. Jonathan King’s debut, The Blue Edge of Midnight, is a wonderfully atmospheric (very dark) suspense, whose guilt-ridden protagonist is in as much conflict with himself as he is with local law enforcement. At the other end of the spectrum, I think it’s safe to say Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum stories don’t spend much time on introspection. (Although Stephanie does have a relationship issue or two :) )

Like many of my favorite mystery/suspense authors, I always include a relationship element in my stories. I say “include” because the relationship (the romance) isn’t the primary focus of my books as it is in a romantic suspense. The emotional conflicts—romantic or other personal ones—flavor and complicate life for the main characters. They sharpen external conflicts when the internal conflicts force the main character to change and grow.

Now that I think about it, maybe the “light” or “dark” aspect is how deeply the story delves into the villain’s mindset, either directly through POV or indirectly through the investigation. Both draw the reader deep into a life or death situation.

Sharon: I think both of your answers are right. The light/dark issue is played out through the villain’s POV as well as the internal conflicts of the hero and/or heroine. But the villain POV scenes are usually what add the extra terror! What prompted you to change from dark suspense to lighter mysteries?

Cathy: I can only write so many dark stories and research really awful things people do to each other before I need to take a break. One of John Douglass’ (top FBI profiler) books gave me nightmares. Clearly, it was time to lighten up!

I also find darker stories like The Professor revolve around the actual investigation and the law enforcement officer, which means understanding how the detectives approach a case. Readers, including some from law enforcement, complemented me for “getting it right.” (I have wonderful resources; thanks y’all!)

The lighter stories allow more latitude. With For Love or Money, Holly can do her thing while JC’s over there doing whatever it is cops do. In her role as friend, confidant, or professionally as an accountant, Holly has access to people and information that would be more difficult for a police officer to obtain. She definitely does things no police officer could get away with.

Sharon: Do you decide ahead of time what type of book you want to write? Or is the type (light or dark) dependent on the characters who show up in your head?

Cathy: I’m drawn to darker stories, wanting to know the “why” behind a villain’s motivation as well as enjoying matching wits between my protagonist and villain as the investigation unfolds. It’s a choice for me to write something light when I need the emotional break.

I recently finished another dark story which my agent has on submission. I’m supposed to be working on Book 2 for Holly and JC (a sequel to For Love or Money that’s under contract) but this really dark story showed up and the characters will not leave me alone. . .

Sharon: I can’t wait to hear more! And now for one of my favorite part of the interviews–the blurbs. :)

FOR LOVE OR MONEY

When Holly Price trips over a friend’s dead body while hiking, her life takes a nosedive into a world of intrigue and danger. The verdict is murder—and Holly is the prime suspect. Of course, the fact that the infinitely sexy—and very pissed off—cop threatening to arrest her is JC Dimitrak, who just happens to be Holly’s jilted ex-fiancé, doesn’t help matters.

To protect her future, her business…and her heart…the intrepid forensic accountant must use all her considerable investigative skills to follow the money through an intricate web of shadow companies, while staying one step ahead of her ex-fiancé. She better solve the case before the real killer decides CPA stands for Certified Pain in the Ass…and the next dead body found beside the river is Holly’s.

THE PROFESSOR

The Professor presses his palm against her flank, feeling the liquid warmth of her blood, hotter than her skin. Hot, like the life force that he has claimed… The power over life and death is the ultimate thrill.

Someone is murdering women on South Carolina’s college campuses: three women, three different schools. The Governor’s order to State Law Enforcement Agent Mick O’Shaughnessy is simple: make it stop. More political maneuvering diverts Mick to nearby Douglass College. There, instead of another dead body, he finds Meg Connelly, grad student and faculty advisor for the latest victim.

Determined to finish her master’s degree, Meg doesn’t need anybody’s help – including her estranged family – to succeed. There’s something irresistible about Mick, but the last time she let someone get close to her, she lost everything except her self-respect.

As the investigation heats up, so does their relationship. But Mick’s interest in Meg doesn’t just endanger her heart–it puts her in the sights of the killer.

Once he gets her alone, he can take all the time he needs…

So, K&T readers, do you prefer light or dark stories? And if you have a preference, we’d love to know what your favorites are!

This post originally appeared at the Kiss & Thrill Blog

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Sunset on Summer Fun


It’s been a busy summer for me with two new books releasing:

FOR LOVE OR MONEY (Entangled Publishing) an amateur sleuth mystery with some sizzling chemistry between the heroine and hero

and

THE PROFESSOR (Carina Press) a dark suspense that keeps you turning the pages ahead of a serial killer who has targeted the hero’s new girlfriend!

To celebrate, I’ve joined the Sunset on Summer Fun Blog Hop along with a number of authors who can’t wait to share their new stories with you.

Giveaway Details – (Note the giveaway is over)
One winner will receive their choice of a Kindle Fire 7 HD or NOOK HD winner’s choice (US Only), or Paypal Cash (International). Enter via Rafflecopter: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Visit all of the authors participating in the event at
The more you visit, the more chances to win, so be sure to visit as many of the blogs as you can.

Once I convince the email widget to work, I’ll have a separate prize for people who sign up for my new release notification, so check back on the landing page!

The contest will run through September 30th and the winner will be announced and notified by midnight, October 1st! Be sure to leave your e-mail address at the end of your comment so I can contact you if you’re a winner! Winner for my contest will be chosen by Random.org!

 

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Mystery Men of Entangled Ignite

The Entangled authors are tempting you this week with our favorite body part from the hero of our current release. Even more fun is teasing you with the celebrity who provided the inspiration.

Now I can appreciate a nice set of abs as well as the next woman, but a smile, a grin–or even better, a set of dimples–reveals personality, a sense of humor…

In For Love or Money, Holly notes some men have nice smiles, but JC’s dimples can raise the temperature in the room by ten degrees.

[Holly] caught her breath. Oh, man. How could she have forgotten about his dimples?

It didn’t matter how many times she told herself they were just a simple indentation of flesh. Dimples made serious, grown-up men look like they still had a mischievous little boy inside. The kind who sledded down the forbidden steepest slopes, dyed the dog green for St. Patty’s Day, or knew how to be especially devilish in bed.

And she personally knew every one of them applied to JC.

Too bad they have a history that ended in a crash and burn. And of course, there’s that detail about JC thinking Holly is part of some giant conspiracy that ended with Marcy dead…

So who inspired the hero in For Love of Money? Like JC, this mystery man balances a hard exterior and wicked sense of humor with intelligence. Neither has his smile constantly on display. But this celebrity has the Tall, Dark and Ruggedly Handsome thing going, even if he’s Scottish while JC’s ancestors were Greek.

Good luck guessing the identity of this mystery man! Join us at the Entangled Suspense Facebook site on Thursday, August 8 from 7 – 9 PM (Eastern). We’ll provide more clues and fun along with a $100 Amazon gift card.

 

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Top Ten Favorite Vacation Destinations

Exotic or a retreat, everyone needs time away—from the job, the routine, maybe the kids :)

These are my favorite places to get away with a few for the “bucket list.”

  1. Our cabin in the Cascades – so peaceful and close enough to visit often
  2. Scottsdale – art and sunshine, two of my favorite things
  3. Any South Carolina Beach – ‘nuf said
  4. Hvar, Croatia – gorgeous dramatic scenery, people proud of their heritage, and it hasn’t been turned into a tourist trap
  5. Madrid – love the mix of old & new (when they say “old” in Spain, they mean Roman!) and the energy of the city; plus the Spanish raised eating to an art form
  6. Washington DC – museums, monuments and restaurants
  7. Santa Fe – another art and sunshine mecca with Anasazi artifacts for additional interestThree on my bucket list: 
  8. Great Barrier Reef – I learned to scuba in the freeze your butt off Puget Sound for this one!
  9. China – the terra cotta soldiers Xian
  10. Greek islands – love the visual of the water, the white buildings, mountains – and the food!

 

What are your favorite places to get away – or your dream destination?

This list originally appeared at My Reading Room blog

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Top ten items every author with a book on deadline/about to release needs

Top ten items every author with a book on deadline/about to release needs: 

(Note – I’m eternally grateful to the fantastic members of my GIAM group who helped compile this list.)

  1. A forgiving editor who still pushes you to write the best possible book
  2. A fabulous art department to come up with fantastic book covers
  3. A copy-editor who is NOT interested in rewriting your book
  4. A muse that doesn’t take a vacation on page 250 of a 400 page book
  5. A life-time supply of M & Ms to keep your energy level high.
  6. Since we can’t actually add additional hours to the day, time management strategies
  7. Visine to get the red out.
  8. A spouse who knows to do the laundry, vacuum the floor, and cook something edible
  9. A sense of humility and a sense of humor. Humility for when you receive glowing praise, just so your head doesn’t grow too large, and humor for when your manuscript baby gets bashed by people who may not understand it.
  10. A vision for the story. If you don’t have one for each story (whenever it comes: early on, mid-stream, or when you’re in final edits), it’ll be too easy to get blown around by other people’s opinions, too difficult to assess whether feedback is valuable (and requires change) or superfluous (and can be appreciated and then discarded).

Thanks for inviting me to visit with you today on Refreshingly Riki.  (Where this list originally appeared) 

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An interview with My Written Romance

It’s my great pleasure to have the author of For Love or Money, Cathy Perkins here with us today at My Written Romance.

You will be able to read my review of For Love or Money shortly.

And now for the interview:

Hi, Cathy and welcome to My Written Romance!

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m a transplanted Southerner, currently living in Washington, the setting of FOR LOVE OR MONEY, with my husband, children, several dogs, and the resident deer herd. My books are predominantly financial-based mysteries, but I enjoy exploring the relationships in my characters’ lives. Inspiration comes from a financial day-job–I’ve  learned firsthand the camouflage, hide in plain sight, skills employed by my villains.

A member of Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America (Kiss of Death chapter) and International Thriller Writers, I help coordinate the Daphne du Maurier contest and manage the ITW Debut Authors program and blog, The Thrill Begins.

Can you give us the Cliff’s Notes version of what your book is about?

The back cover blurb sums it up!

When Holly Price trips over a friend’s dead body while hiking, her life takes a nosedive into a world of intrigue and danger. The verdict is murder—and Holly is the prime suspect. Of course, the fact that the infinitely sexy—and very pissed off—cop threatening to arrest her is JC Dimitrak, who just happens to be Holly’s jilted ex-fiancé, doesn’t help matters.

To protect her future, her business…and her heart…the intrepid forensic accountant must use all her considerable investigative skills to follow the money through an intricate web of shadow companies, while staying one step ahead of her ex-fiancé. She better solve the case before the real killer decides CPA stands for Certified Pain in the Ass…and the next dead body found beside the river is Holly’s.

What is it that you love about this book, and in particular your hero and heroine?

I love that Holly is a smart, take charge woman, but vulnerable underneath it. When her parents’ lives go off the rails, she steps in to keep the family business running. The last thing she expected to get involved with is a murder investigation, but as she looks into the life of her murdered friend, she finds parallels to her life, her parent’s pending divorce, and suggestions the victim wasn’t entirely blameless. Holly may be nosy and tenacious, but her heart is definitely in the right place.

Dealing with her ex-fiance, JC, is also on Holly’s Do Not Do list, but the sparks keep flying between them. Holly doesn’t know if JC really thinks she’s involved in the crime(s) or if he’s using it as an excuse to keep seeing her…and maybe start something new between them.

My favorite part to write was the dialogue for these two–RT Reviews called it ?funny, snappy dialogue.?

What is your favourite part of the writing process? Is it creating characters, world-building or is it typing The End?

Is there a D, all of the above?

If I have to choose one, it’s the characters. While creating the plot is huge fun – I love twisty mysteries where so many people, I mean characters, have a motive for the crime – you’ll notice the characters and their motives snuck right in there! Adding layers of complexity to the characters draws me into the story. So far, readers agree!

Who is your writing superhero – the author or writer who inspires your own work? Why?

So many books and authors!

There’s a different list when I’m working on a darker book, but FOR LOVE OR MONEY is lighter in tone and more amateur sleuth than police procedural mystery. The relationship is more tightly woven into the story’s conflicts, so I’m calling it a romantic mystery.

For this book, I looked to authors such as Hank Phillippi Ryan, who writes about smart women drawn into solving mysteries; Sophie Littlefield, whose Bad Day series introduced an intriguing, crusty heroine with Stella Hardesty; and Toni McGee Causey’s Bobbie Faye series grabs you by the hand and whirls you through a hurricane worthy of south Louisiana.

The other thing that inspires me about each of these women is how professional, gracious and generous each one is, giving back to the writing community.

Outside of writing, what do you do to relax?

If anyone can figure out how to add a few hours to each day, I’d be so grateful!

Like many authors, I have a demanding day job that takes up a huge chunk of time. Most weekends, though, I’m at our place in the mountains. Lots of things to build there, but I enjoy the woods and river, playing with our dogs and kids, or spending time with friends on the deck, savoring a glass of wine. My daughter gave me scuba-diving lessons for Mother’s Day, so apparently there are new adventures on the horizon.

What’s next for you?

There are so many possibilities! Are you sure you can’t add an extra hour or two to the day?

Let’s see, my agent just put a dark mystery out on submission, so cross your fingers and think, lots of offers! I started the second, contracted book for Entangled, imaginatively titled Book2 (which so far features rock-crawlers, the llama, and lots of Holly & JC sparks) and my editor asked me to write a shorter story for the Flirt or Ever After line. And then there’s a book I really want to write about … oh, I should stop now.

 This interview originally appeared on My Written Romance
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Mid-Life Crisis

Have you ever wondered where all the mid-life crises come from? I figure it has to be a recent phenomena. I mean, how often did you hear about a turn-of-the-century farmer shaving the family mule into something rakish and ambling off into the sunset to find himself?

According to Wikipedia, the term was first used in 1965 (the 60s—why am I not surprised?) as a time “where adults come to realize their own mortality and how much time is left in their life.” Some attribute the concept to Carl Jung, while others say it all goes back to Freud.

Most often, a mid-life crisis includes making significant changes—career, work-life balance, marriage, romantic relationship, large expenditures or physical appearance. Reassessing your goals and priorities from a more mature perspective sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? So why does “a mid-life crisis” smack of selfishness and immaturity?

Much as we enjoy laughing at the old dude in the hot red sports car chasing a long-faded youth, research shows about 10% of 40 – 60 years-olds have a true psychological crisis. The rest? Well, maybe it’s best described as overwhelmed by one too many of life’s daily stressors.

It seems the Western culture of youth may play a role in the situation and that it hits men longer and harder than women. I can’t help but wonder if part of that statistic is due to the age of the study—the 80s, when fewer women were far enough along in their careers to have big regrets…but I digress.

In For Love or Money, Holly Price’s dad followed the all too typical pattern—dumped his spouse, walked away from career and responsibility, and basically did whatever he wanted, without thinking about the impact on the people affected by his decisions.

Ouch. That was harsh.

How about: Holly’s dad questioned the choices he made and the validity of decisions he made years before.

Either way, Holly took a sabbatical from her career and came home to run the family business, staging it to sell. The last thing she expected was to face her own career choices and have to deal with her own emotional baggage—a six-foot hunk of testosterone, AKA her former fiance.

This post originally appeared on the  Just Romantic Suspense blog

 

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