Today we’re pleased to have a guest post by bestselling author Kat Martin. Kat a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin. More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film. Kat’s next hardcover, THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, a Romantic Thriller, will be released on July 28th.
From birth to death, romance is part of everyone’s lives, a mother’s love for her newborn baby, a son or daughter’s love for a parent, or love for the person who shares your life.
Falling in love is the part that intrigues me. I love giving my characters obstacles that reveal their strengths and weaknesses, everything from murder and mayhem to running for their lives. The obstacles they face form the plots of my stories. The way the characters overcome them shows their strengths and weaknesses and eventually is what draws the two of them together.
In my latest Romantic Thriller, THE DECEPTION, book two of my Maximum Security series, Kate Gallagher is devastated when she learns her sister has been murdered. Determined to find Chrissy’s killer, Kate hires lethal bounty hunter, Hawk Maddox. Working together, they follow a trail of clues that lead them deep into the city’s underbelly. Though Hawk warns her of the danger, nothing he says can convince Kate to walk away.
The best part of writing a romantic thriller is that the reader can be sure the perils the couple faces will be worth it. By the last page of the book, the hero and heroine are going to find the forever kind of love and get the happy ending they deserve.
After her meltdown at the bar, which still embarrassed her, Kate spent the following week hounding the Dallas Police Department.
Chrissy’s case had been assigned to a homicide detective named Roger Benson, an older guy with thinning brown hair and a bad attitude. She’d done a little digging, found out he had previously worked in the sex crimes division, an unabashed misogynist who acted as if he believed all women were whores and was completely the wrong person to be handling cases in that department–which was probably why he now worked in homicide.
She tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, figuring the crimes he had worked had changed him into the man he had become. Or maybe he had always been like that. Either way, Kate didn’t like him.
“Your sister was using the name Tina Galen,” he told her when she appeared in his office demanding answers for the fourth day in a row. “She was a heroin addict and a known prostitute.”
Her heart squeezed, though the police had already told her those things. “She was murdered, Detective. Her killer needs to face justice.”
“I’m sorry for your loss, Ms. Gallagher. We’re doing everything we can to locate the person who killed her, but in circumstances like these, the odds of finding him aren’t good.”
“The killer must have left evidence. Fingerprints or DNA. Something.”
“We’re working on it. We believe Tina hooked up with a john who liked rough sex. That night, he got carried away, beat her worse than he meant to, and killed her. If that’s the case, he may have assaulted women before.”
“So you’ll be able to find him.”
“Like I said, we’re working on it. You need to let us do our job, Ms. Gallagher. Coming down here every day and badgering us isn’t going to help. Now if you don’t mind, I’ve got things I need to do. Your sister’s case isn’t the only one on my desk.”
She glanced over at the stack of files on the detective’s desk and bit back a sharp retort. “Yes, I can see that.” And clearly, arguing with Benson wasn’t going to get her anywhere.
As she left the police station, it occurred to her there was a good chance nothing she said or did was going to get the answers she was determined to get in regard to Chrissy’s death.
She needed someone to help her. A detective who worked directly for her and strictly on her sister’s murder case.
At twenty-nine, she was the owner of Gallagher and Company Consulting, an up-and-coming management consulting firm. And though there were only two other analysts in the office so far, plus a receptionist who acted as her personal assistant, she had built a solid reputation during the time she’d been working in Dallas, and the company was making money.
She could afford to hire a private investigator.
Arriving in the lobby of the five-story building on North Akard near McKinney where the office was located, she waved at one of the security guards, a big guy named Clay, as she passed.
Kate’s stomach tightened. Clay didn’t have the thick dark hair and gorgeous blue eyes of the man she had nearly had sex with in the parking lot of the Sagebrush Saloon, but he was almost as tall, with the same rock-solid body. Every time she saw Clay, who was older and not nearly as good-looking, she thought of Jason “Hawk” Maddox and felt a combination of embarrassment and a ridiculous rush of heat.
Dear God, she had never been more turned on in her life. When he’d hauled her out on the dance floor and pulled her into his big, powerful arms, it occurred to her for the first time, she might really go through with the hookup she had only imagined.
Maddox really knew how to dance. And he could he kiss. She could have kissed him for hours.
Thank God, she had come to her senses before it was too late. She didn’t do hookups, especially with hot, muscle-jocks in jeans and scuffed boots. She didn’t have sex with strangers.
But after she’d left the morgue, she had gone a little crazy. Crying hadn’t done a lick of good and eventually she had managed to pull herself together, but the terrible feelings of guilt and failure would not go away.
It didn’t matter that she and Chrissy, an accidental baby eleven years younger, had never been close, that by the time Chrissy was in high school, Kate had moved from the small Texas town of Rockdale to Dallas.
She was working full time for Bain Consulting as a junior member of one of their teams when Chrissy began having problems with drugs and alcohol, and behaving promiscuously with boys. Kate had gone back to Rockdale to talk to her but it hadn’t done any good. A few months later, her sister had run away from home, and though the police had done everything in their power to find her, Kate had never seen her again.
Not until the police had called with the terrible news of her murder and Kate had gone to the morgue.
How she’d wound up half drunk at the Sagebrush Saloon still wasn’t completely clear. She’d just been desperate to get the image of Chrissy’s battered and bludgeoned body out of her head, and for a while in the backseat with Jason, it had actually worked.
It was impossible to think of anything but those big hands on her breasts and the thick ridge beneath the fly of his jeans. God, she had never known that kind of want before.
Diagnosing What Ails Your Career
As a writer, working from home during the Coronavirus outbreak is nothing new. What is unusual is that I have not been successful in starting a new novel. Not wanting to waste time stewing about my lack of inspiration, I decided clean house. At stake is my 35 year, 39 book , traditional and indie published career. This includes:
Having retained my rights over the course of my career, I republished all my books when Kindle hit the market. I did not reread those books, I have not re-formatted them since the original uploads, and I have not sold more than a handful. The category romances are so far removed from my thrillers that they don’t seem to be written by the same person. That led me to ask myself this: Is my early work hurting my brand? The answer was yes. Readers made that clear with every review. Now the question became, what should I do about it? The answer to that was a bitter pill.
I have an attachment to these category romances. They are proof that I paid my professional dues, that I worked hard, and that I grew into the author I am now. I thought readers would embrace this journey, but I was wrong. I also thought I loved these books, but I do not. That was hard to admit because these early books represent years of my life, the agony and triumph of traditional publishing, and my point of view not only as an author but as a woman moving through the decades. Admitting these books are amateurish was difficult. Once I did though, it was time for professional triage. This is what I have done.
1. Immediately removed all category romances from every platform.
2. All stand-alone thrillers and series work remain viable and were not touched.
3. Analyzed all 100,000 word Women’s Fiction novels, and determined these books informed by current brand as a thriller writer. They share the elements of intricate the plots, rich characterization, and suspense.
4. I am rebranding the Women’s Fiction into The 90s Collection complete with new covers and a collection banner. I am also editing to create smoother dialogue and expository while removing politically incorrect elements. I have left the flare, fun, and romantic inclinations that were hallmarks of that decade.
I will release these novels as second editions with letters to the reader regarding what they represent in my career arc. I will include my thrillers in the ‘also by’ section of these books, and publish them in Kindle Unlimited since I do not plan to put a lot of advertising money behind them.
It was difficult to admit that I was not ready for primetime all those years ago. A sharp professional scalpel will not leave a lasting creative scar; a prescription for moving forward will make my brand healthier. Bottom line? I know that this triage has been good for my soul, and I have faith that it will be good for my career.
LOOK FOR THE 90S COLLECTION COMING SOON!
I’ve been writing for a lot of years. It started somewhere in my corporate career when the girls were little, with short stories I’d read to them for birthdays and holidays. First book I’d written began as a story to celebrate my oldest daughter’s 12th birthday. That’s when the muse came a calling, and next I know, the story was over 300 words. It had all the faux pas of a newbie, repeating words, passive voice, minimal sensory and bad spelling (didn’t have spellcheck in those days). I had it bound as a hard copy, gold lettering for the title – cost me a fortune back then, but it was worth it. She liked it so much; I wrote a sequel of similar length. It is still one of my daughter’s most precious possessions.
The muse took up residence, and it wasn’t to be denied. With a job that had me boarding planes weekly, how was I supposed to satisfy the writing urge? Weekends were out. That was family time—and chores—and honey-dos—and kid’s events . . . I learned to access time slots while a prisoner of an airplane (seats were bigger then) and forgo watching hotel television at night (there wasn’t anything worth watching anyway). Can’t write on a plane anymore unless in first class. Coach seating is a sardine tin where we’re all a little heavier, the tray table might fit a drink glass with a deck of cards, and the seat in front of me is maybe ten inches from my nose.
At home, I’ve got the writing cave and silence, where the muse happily homesteads, ready to fill my thoughts with new directional themes. When I’m traveling, almost always with my wife/kids/grandkids/siblings, it’s a non-stop cornucopia of distractive activity, surrounded by the din of fellow humans. The muse had become accustomed to the safe zone of my writing cave and doesn’t appreciate the competition for my attention. No sooner do I sit down at the laptop, somebody calls my name.
Why don’t I write at night like I used to, when things quiet down? Unlike many writers who thrive on burning the midnight oil, I have become a morning writer. The muse is fresh, unfettered by the noise of life. Skipping the cocktail hour might help, but it’s the only time my wife and I convene to compare notes of the day, eat dinner, then wait for the daily Facetime call from kids who are on western time (grandboys are rather insistent I take part). When traveling, I’m expected to be participative, and young folk participate after work. By the time it all ends, the muse “has left the building”.
So, what’s a morning writer to do? For short trips, I might do some editing, or compose a few notes of the current project, which is kind of aggravating for the muse and I. We’re both hardcore pantsers. Plotting gives us hives. On the long winter forays where we’re domiciled near the kids out west, I go in search of a quiet haven. Local library is a good start, but it’s best to know when toddler reading hour is scheduled. Last time I went, a little nose-miner saddled up to me while I was typing, begging to crawl in my lap. It’s enough to instill fear in today’s times. We rent a condo when visiting mother down south. Most have nice gathering areas that nobody uses in the morning. Again, awareness of scheduling is important. The local women’s club du jour might show up, ask a lot of embarrassing questions, then seduce me to join them. Last year’s rental had a front-row seat at the ladies seventh-hole tee box. All day long, whack—thump—followed by ample cussing. And to think many of them were grandmothers.
I may go days, or weeks, writing nothing meaningful. I grab whatever opportunity arises. When I return to the word processor, the muse is waiting with a head shake and impatient foot-tapping, but ready to rock. Booting up after a long absence, the magic is even more special. I guess the saying: “absence makes the heart grow fonder”, works for us writers as well.
DT Krippene is a contributing author in the recent BWG’s paranormal anthology, Untethered (available below). A man buys a house for a price that is too good to be true, until he discovers the bizarre strings attached in “Hell of a Deal”. He’s also contributed articles for the Bethlehem Round Table Magazine with “Snowbelt Sanctuary”, and “In Simple Terms”.
A native of Wisconsin and Connecticut, DT Krippene deserted aspirations of being a biologist to live the corporate dream and raise a family. After six homes, a ten-year stint in Asia, and an imagination that never slept, his annoying muse refuses to be hobbled as a mere dream. Dan writes dystopia, paranormal, and science fiction. His current project is about a young man struggling to understand why he was born in a time when humans are unable to procreate and knocking on extinction’s door.
You can find DT on his website, and his social media links.
I first discovered the Titanic nestled among paperback romance novels on a shelf in a small library branch near the sea.
‘A Night to Remember’, that wonderful tome definitive of all things Titanic, had found an unlikely home among princesses and maids. I imagine the Walter Lord book was shelved there by a fussy librarian because of its provocative title, but oh, what a lucky break for me.
I was thirteen and living in a small beach town on the coast. Every day that summer I’d walk to the small library branch and take out as many books as they’d let me. Then I’d walk down to the beach and sit under the boardwalk, listen to the roar of the pounding surf, eat strips and salsa, and read.
Read… read… read.
I read ‘A Night to Remember’ a million times, imaging myself on the ship of dreams wearing an elegant gown and long white gloves, dancing in first class with a handsome gentleman. Then reality would set in and I realized I’d more likely be in steerage since my family came over from Ireland.
The place dreams are made of…
When I was a little girl, I lived with my Irish grandmother for a while and I remember sitting at the big, wooden table with her as she added flour, milk, and herbs to leftover mashed spuds for potato cakes, or wound her blue rosary beads around her gnarled fingers while she spun tales about life in Ireland. Grand times they were, and a lovely thread woven through the quilt of my childhood.
Books were my companions back then and I’d read anywhere, anytime. I read tons of romances, but I’d often end up in the history section of the library looking for more stories about the Titanic. Imagining sneaking into first class and pretending I belonged there. Something I found hard to do growing up since we moved a lot and I was always the ‘new kid’ (I went to fifteen schools before college). I yearned to be among the popular kids at the beach, but somewhere in my heart, I knew the way to better myself was reading and the rest would come later.
Reading was my world.
That became the basis of my heroine, Ava O’Reilly, in THE RUNAWAY GIRL, a girl who wants to better herself by reading books but it’s forbidden to the servants in the grand house in Ireland where she’s in service.
Then when she’s wrongly accused of stealing a diamond bracelet, she escapes.
To the Titanic.
And every tale I’d heard at my grandmother’s knee, every book I’d read, every film about the ship of dreams I’d watched over and over again became the fodder for telling my own story about the Titanic.
Based on my girlhood and love of books.
And the sea.
And yes, romance, too.
And how an Irish girl makes a daring choice on that fateful night when the Titanic hits an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. that changes her life forever…
And mine, too.
Two women hold the keys to his heart. Only one will survive that fateful night…
When Ava O’Reilly is wrongly accused of stealing from her employer, she has no option but to flee Ireland. The law is after her, and she has only one chance at escape – the Titanic.
Aboard the ship of dreams, she runs straight into the arms of Captain ‘Buck’ Blackthorn, a dashing gentleman gambler who promises to be her protector. He is intrigued by her Irish beauty and manages to disguise her as the maid of his good friend, the lovely Countess of Marbury. Little does he realise, that the Countess is also in love with him.
As the fateful night approaches, tragedy strikes further when Ava is separated from Buck, and must make a daring choice that will change her life forever…
A sweeping historical romance set aboard the Titanic, from the author of Her Lost Love (Christmas Once Again).
Praise for Jina Bacarr:
‘A delightful holiday romance that has all the charm of a classic Christmas movie. Christmas Once Again is perfect for anyone who loves a holiday romance brimming with mistletoe, hope, and what ifs.’ Andie Newton, author of The Girl I Left Behind
‘A breathtaking holiday romance that is sure to stay with you long after reading’
‘A mesmerizing holiday romance that is sure to sweep you off your feet and take you away to another place, another time.’
‘A fabulous book you won’t want to miss’
THE RUNAWAY GIRL e-book, print and audio book:
I had the most interesting conversation this week with Brad Borkan. He co-authored the book, When Your Life Depends On It, about Antarctic explorers of the early 20th century. At first, I didn’t think I’d find this very interesting at all; I just wanted to interview him to talk about writing nonfiction.
But boy, was I wrong! Brad studied decision sciences and works during the day with a major software company understanding how businesses and people make decisions. He wrote his book as a study of how these explorers made so many life and death decisions – and stayed alive most of the time. And then he showed us how to apply those lessons to our own lives.
I think you’ll find this episode really interesting, just like I did! I hope you enjoy it. 😀
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