People often ask how I come up with ideas for my novels. Sometimes it just seems to pop into my head. In my latest release, THE PERFECT MURDER, once I had told Chase and Brandon Garrett’s story, there was no doubt I would be writing Reese’s story.
Much of the story was determined by the previous novels, THE CONSPIRACY, and THE ULIMATE BETRAYAL. Reese, the middle brother, is CEO of Garrett Resources, a billion-dollar oil and gas corporation owned by the Garrett family. I knew him well by the time I started his story, the last book in the Maximum Security Series.
In THE PERFECT MURDER, Reese is a man with a past who is determined to retain his hard-earned reputation by avoiding an affair with the beautiful woman who works for him, a valued and trusted employee.
When McKenzie Haines is accused of murder, Reese is forced to make a choice—one that could destroy his career or get him killed. It’s a fast-paced, high-stakes action adventure as well as a love story between two smart, determined people who refuse to give up no matter the odds.
I hope you’ll watch for THE PERFECT MURDER and that you enjoy.
Till next time, happy reading and all best wishes,
New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin, 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 latest novel, THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, a Romantic Thriller, was released in paperback December 29th. The final 2 books in her Maximum Security series will be release in June, COME MIDNIGHT, a short story on June 1st, and THE PERFECT MURDER, a novel in hardcover on June 22nd.
Last Day of July
Seconds after the chopper lifted off the pad, Reese felt the odd vibration. Along with the pilot and co-pilot and five members of the crew, the Eurocopter EC135 was headed for the Poseidon offshore drilling platform.
For a moment, the ride leveled out and Reese relaxed against his seat. As CEO of Garrett Resources, the billion-dollar oil and gas company he owned with his brothers, he was always searching for the right investment to expand company holdings, the reason he was flying out to the platform.
For months he’d been working with Sea Titan Drilling, the owner of the offshore rig, to complete the five-hundred-million-dollar purchase, an extremely good value when the average price of a similar rig was around six-fifty.
The vibration returned and with it came a grinding noise that put Reese on alert. The men in the cabin began to glance back and forth and shift nervously in their seats. A sharp jolt, then the chopper seemed to fall out of the sky. It climbed again, began to dip and sway, dropped then climbed as the pilot fought for control.
The pilot’s deep voice rumbled through the headset. “We’ve got a problem. I don’t want you to panic, but we need to find a place to set down.”
There was definitely a problem, Reese thought, as the vibration continued to worsen. The chopper was out of control and the whole cabin was shaking as if it would break apart any minute. His pulse was hammering, his adrenalin pumping.
Along with the men in the crew who rode back and forth from the rig every few weeks, he stared out the window toward the ground. They were no longer above the heliport. Clearly the pilot was looking for an open space big enough to handle the thirty-six-foot blade span. All Reese could see were the rooftops of warehouses and metal commercial buildings.
The chopper kept shaking. The crew was grim-faced but resigned. The pilot did something to take the pitch out of the rotors and the chopper started falling.
“No need to worry,” the pilot said. “We’ll auto-rotate down. I’ve done it a dozen times.”
Auto rotate down. Reese knew the concept, the technique helicopter pilots used to land when the engine failed. The trick was to find a safe place to hit the ground.
Both engines went silent. The blades were flat now, the wind whistling through them, tying his stomach into a knot.
“Brace for impact,” the pilot said. Below them, Reese spotted an open flat slab of asphalt in the yard of a small trucking firm–the only possible landing site anywhere around. Trouble was it didn’t look wide enough to handle the blades.
At the last second, the pilot flared the helicopter in an effort to slow the descent, then the ground rushed up and the chopper hit with a jolt that wracked Reese’s whole body.
For an instant, he thought they were going to make it. Then one of the spinning rotor blades hit the corner of a building and tore free. The Plexiglas bubble shattered as the long metal blades exploded into a hundred deadly pieces, careening like knives through the air, slicing into buildings and the cabin of the helicopter.
Reese didn’t feel the impact. One moment he was conscious, then the world suddenly went black.
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Over the years, I’ve found one of the best ways to make your story believable is to use real places to locate the action and real names of restaurants and streets. Actually going there, of course, is the best way to make that happen.
In my new novella, COME MIDNIGHT, Breanna Winters, seated on an airliner next to a good-looking man in an expensive suit, finds herself kidnapped by Honduran terrorists. She doesn’t expect Derek Stiles, a corporate executive, to put his life at risk by volunteering to go along when Bree is dragged from the plane and marched into the jungle.
Unfortunately, I have never been to the jungle in Honduras or any jungle for that matter, aside from a brief visit to a tropical rain forest in Brazil and a stop in Belize.
So for this story, I didn’t go to Honduras, but I did do extensive research, and it wasn’t the first time. Beginning with with an old historical, SAVANNAH HEAT, set in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and more recently, THE CONSPIRACY, which travels from the Caribbean to Columbia, I’ve learned a lot about life in the jungle—and it is far from easy.
In the novella, the good news is Derek Stiles is a former Navy fighter pilot with extensive survival training who has spent time in the jungle before. Still, it’s soon clear they’ll need to depend on each other if they’re going to survive.
Till next time, all best wishes and happy reading, Kat
New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing in Missoula, Montana with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, Kat has written sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.
The sound of a baby’s high-pitched, incessant crying put his teeth on edge. Derek Stiles forced himself to relax as he settled back in his wide business class seat. The airplane engines hummed outside the window, dulling the noise a little, but the crying only grew louder.
Derek silently cursed. His trip to Colombia had already gotten off to a rocky start when a meeting in the Houston office of Garrett Resources, where he worked as VP of Mergers and Acquisitions, ran overtime and he’d missed his non-stop flight. Now he’d be landing in El Salvador, laying over a couple of hours before changing planes and continuing on to Bogota, not getting to his hotel until well after dark.
He pulled out his laptop and set it on the fold-down table in front of him. He usually worked on a flight. He always had plenty to do, but he’d been staying up late every night so he also needed some sleep. It was important to be at the top of his game first thing in the morning.
The baby’s cries grew louder and his nerves revved up. He hadn’t really noticed the woman sitting in the seat beside him until she stood up and turned toward mother and child in the row behind him.
She jangled her car keys over the back of the seat and smiled. “Look, baby. Look at these. I bet you’d like to play with these, wouldn’t you?” The baby’s crying slowed, turned to whimpers, then sniffles, then stopped altogether. Glancing over his shoulder, Derek watched a little girl bundled in pink, maybe a year old, reach up for the car keys.
“I never thought of that,” the mother said, sounding desperate and making him feel guilty. He didn’t have kids but he could imagine how tough it would be to take a child on an international flight.
The mom, a black-haired woman in her mid-twenties, took out her own set of keys and held them up, but the baby ignored them, fascinated by the glittering heart on the end of the other keychain dangling in front of her.
“I hate to ask you this,” the mother said, “but is it all right if Sophie plays with your keys for a while?”
“Absolutely,” his seatmate said. She was pretty, he realized, with long blond hair and big blue eyes. A little above average height, slender but curvy in all the right places. “Once we’re in the air,” she continued, “if you want me to hold her, give you a little break, I’d be happy to.”
The mother’s smile held relief mixed with gratitude. “I might just take you up on that. My name is Carmen, by the way.”
“Breanna.” Her smile went even brighter and Derek felt an unexpected kick. He was usually able to leave his libido behind when he was away on business.
“You have a darling baby,” Breanna said.
Carmen smiled. “Thank you.”
The flight attendant urged Breanna to sit back down so the flight could get underway, and the engines roared, preparing for take-off.
“So I guess you’re a mom,” Derek heard himself saying, though he made it a habit not to talk on a flight. He always had too much to do.
Breanna shifted toward him. “I’d love to have children someday, but I’m not a mother yet. I work with kids so I know a few tricks.”
“What kind of work do you do?”
“I’m with a non-profit called Shelter the Children. Abrego Los Ninos in Spanish. We support an orphanage in a little village outside San Salvador. That’s where I’m headed.”
He smiled and held out a hand. “Derek Stiles. I know your name is Breanna.”
“Yes. Everyone just calls me Bree.”
They were an hour out of San Salvador International Airport when Derek noticed a commotion at the rear of the cabin.
Then the curtain behind the business class section jerked open and a lean, black-haired man stood in the aisle. Derek’s blood ran cold when he noticed the assault rifle strapped across the intruder’s chest.
Linda O. Johnston enjoys writing, romance, puzzles, and dogs.
A former lawyer, Linda is now a full-time writer and has published 52 books so far, including mysteries and romantic novels. More than twenty-five of them are romances for Harlequin, including Harlequin Romantic Suspense and Harlequin Nocturne. Her latest release is Colton First Responder for Harlequin Romantic Suspense.
She has also written several mystery series including. The Kendra Ballantyne Pet-Sitter Mysteries, which was a spin-off of the Pet Rescue Mysteries and The Superstition Mysteries. Pets, especially dogs, frequently show up in Linda’s novels
She is currently writing a lot of books for Harlequin. Three new Harlequin Romantic Suspense books will soon be released. The first up is Her Undercover Refuge in July 2021.
A California native, novelist Tracy Reed pushes the boundaries of her Christian foundation with her sometimes racy and often fiery tales. After years of living in the Big Apple, this self-proclaimed New Yorker draws from the city’s imagination, intrigue, and inspiration to cultivate characters and plot lines who breathe life to the words on every page. Tracy’s passion for beautiful fashion and beautiful men direct her vivid creative power towards not only novels, but short stories, poetry, and podcasts. With something for every attention span. Tracy Reed’s ability to capture an audience is unmatched. Her body of work has been described as a host of stimulating adventures and invigorating expression.
Jann: What inspired you to write The Good Girl series?
Tracy: This is a very easy question, sort of. I was asked to be in a box set and needed a book. The box set was focusing on heroines in their twenties. I had a possible book, but the heroine was older and it wasn’t possible to make her younger. I kicked around a few possibilities and then I got an idea for a book. A young Christian woman gets her dream job and how she handles the possible ethical and moral challenges. I kicked the idea around some more and started writing.
Jann: How long did it take you to develop your characters, Gabriella Townsend and Phillippe, and plot for the series?
Tracy: I’m a pantser, so all I had was a basic idea…an office romance. I develop my characters on the fly as the story unfolds. I write books with faith and sex. In all my books someone is wrestling with their hormones, urges and faith. I call it real life. People of faith or Christians are not super heroes. They face the same challenges and temptations as anyone else. It’s how they handle them that’s different.
Since I use a basic template, it didn’t take long for me to develop this story. The biggest challenge is to keep Phillippe’s identity a secret. I think I handled that pretty good. I didn’t want Gabriella to come off as naive or not bright although she’s very perceptive. She knows he’s keeping something from her, but she hasn’t been able to figure it out. I sort of address it, by having him tell her there are things about his employment contract he can’t divulge.
I knew the characters had to be the opposite of each other. Gabriella is petite, curvy, pretty and has curly hair. She loves God and has a heart for people. She values character more than money. In the beginning of the series she sounds a little immature, but when she is exposed to Phillippe’s world, she grows up fast. Her dream is to work for Morgan Grant, eventually earning a VP position and a corner office.
Phillippe is a triple threat…handsome, smart and rich. To make him even more appealing, I made him very tall, dark, part French and African. He often slips into French when he gets excited. Which makes some of the love scenes very interesting. Gabriella refers to this womanizer as a walking sex dream. He’s amassed a fortune of his own, but heading Morgan Grant isn’t something he expected to do until much later.
Jann: The Good Girl Part Trois makes its debut this month. What major conflicts do your leading characters have to work through in this book?
Tracy: The way I write books is a little sadistic. I rope you in with a semi-sweet story and slowly turn up the heat throughout the series.
This book is no different. On a scale of one to five flames, I think this is about a 3.95. Gabriella is wrestling with her emotions and raging hormones. She’s promised herself she would save herself for her husband, but that’s a lot difficult to do when your boyfriend is a walking sex dream…your boss…and neighbor. She’s adjusting to her new life, feelings for her boss and convincing it might be possible to have a future with Phillippe. There’s just one thing gnawing at her, what is Phillippe hiding?
Phillippe has been hiding his identity from the outset of the series. He’s terrified if Gabriella finds out before he proposes, she might leave him. Oops, I let one of the cats out of the bag. The reader has known from book one, who he is, but not Gabriella. In a way it seems like their relationship is built on lies, but it’s more like half-truths and secrets. Phillippe is trying to figure out why his grandfather is insisting he get married before taking over the company and why is his ex-girlfriend back in town.
Without giving too much away, a quiet vacation in Anguilla changes the course of their relationship forever.
Jann: Part One and Part Deux in The Good Girl series are novellas, why is Part Trois a full-length book?
Tracy: Book one had to be a novella for the boxset. As I was writing, I thought it was going to be a one and done. But something happened towards the end. The characters took a turn and I really wanted to see if they could make their relationship work.
In book one, the relationship happened quickly because I was on a deadline. Once I got to the end, I did a horrible thing and ended it with a cliff hanger confirming there would be another book. When I started book two, I read something about the power of cliff hangers for sales. So that’s what I did. I amped if the sexual tension and left it with a cliffhanger. I immediately started writing book three and a couple of people and a highly respected author told me no cliffhanger. Readers don’t like them unless the next book is available.
When I started the third book, I really thought it would be a novella too and that I could tie up everything. Once I started writing, the story kept going. I wish I could tell you what happens. If you’ve read the series, I don’t think you saw the ending coming. I know I didn’t. I have to admit, I was tempted to make Gabriella pregnant, but I thought that was expected. Instead I did something else while keeping Phillippe’s identity a secret from her.
Jann: How many books do you plan for this series? If there is a book four, when will it be out?
Tracy: Yes, there’s a fourth book and I think it will be the end. Book four is a result of what happened in book three. The Good Girl is now a sophisticated businesswoman engaged to her boss. That’s the only spoiler.
I’m writing the last chapters now. My goal is to release it a few months after Part Trois.
Jann: What do you hope readers will take away from this series?
Tracy: Good question. You don’t have to sacrifice your beliefs for love. Or as some would say, It’s just as easy to fall in love with a billionaire as it is to fall for the average bloke.
Jann: I understand you’re planning on rebranding your Alex series. Tell us about the series and what’s involved to rebrand it.
Tracy: The Alex series are the very first books I’d written. The series is about five best friends and a pact they made in college to never get involved with any of their exes, employees or relative. Unfortunately, they break the pact.
It was originally written as a chick lit. It was the book I used to get my agent, I had. While it was being shopped around, I wrote another book and started reading a lot. [Early in my career, I was told not to read anyone else’s work. I later found out that was some very bad advice.] The more I read, I more I knew the series needed work. I did a major rewrite.
I stand by this series. I received an Amazon review from a reader who got my style. “Book one of the series was set on simmer, but book two was a rip roaring inferno. The word used incessantly throughout the book, passion, tells you all you need to know. My favorite couple, Alex and Moses, finally get married, and boyyyyyy they dang near tear each other’s clothes off with their teeth!!! Y’all know that feeling!!!😁😁😁 The second part is just as good as the first part, but be warned, there were some unresolved issues that cropped up. There may be a book three, SURPRISE!!😄😄😄 incess. Buy it, read it and enjoy!!”
Sales have been slow and the few reviews have been pretty good. I believe in this series but know it’s time for a new look The new covers scream contemporary, which is what I want. The female body image is being replaced with man chest. I’m also changing the fonts and updating the blurbs. I’ll be testing the covers with my reader group later this month.
Jann: You’re a multi-published author. How do you stay motivated? What drives you to keep writing?
Tracy: Good question. The answer for both questions is the same. I like telling stories.
Jann: Thanks Tracy for sharing with us today. Good luck with The Good Girl Part Trois!!
I love this time of year. Christmas. All the scurrying about, sending out cards, decorating our houses, shopping, cooking, baking —you know what I’m talking about. But what I really love is watching television, specifically watching Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life. These are love stories told with a sprinkle of stardust, a sense that magical things can and do happen, all within the context of real life. After watching these movies, I am convinced there are happily-ever-after’s despite the everyday muck. There is nothing our heroes can’t overcome. You root for them through their trials and your heart bursts with their triumphs.
Which brings me to my new favorite Christmas story: Eternal Love by Louis Moore.
This book is really a long short story. The man who wrote it, Louis Moore, is ninety-eight years old. He is a Chinese-American gentleman who wanted to honor his late Japanese-American wife, Nellie, by writing their love story. I heard about this book in a round about way. It sounded very sweet, very nice, but I really didn’t have the time to read—I was working on my own book. But then I learned that what this book was about: Mr. Moore’s 74 years of marriage to a woman he adored. It just so happened I was celebrating my 44th year of marriage to a man I adore. So, instead of spending a couple of hours with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in It’s a Wonderful Life, or working on my own book, I sat down with Eternal Love and read about a love story for the ages.
Lou and his wife faced prejudice on many fronts, rejection from his family. They built businesses and lost them, they moved more than once, they had professional set-backs, and Lou sometimes wondered if he had the ‘right stuff’ to succeed. Throughout the telling of this story, Mr. Moore shines a light on his wife with the wonder of a man truly, deeply in love. He writes about Nellie’s good humor, the kindness she showed to everyone who crossed her path, her intelligence, her beauty, and, the greatest gift of all, the love she had for him and the confidence she gave him.
What I am sure the author doesn’t know is that in the telling of Nellie’s story, Louis Moore revealed himself to be a man of manners, a hard worker, a man who got up even if he was pushed down. Above all, he was devoted to his wife and loved her beyond reason.
This book was shiny and bright because every word was chosen with care, every thought, observation, and aside moved the story ahead with purpose. Eternal Love was like opening a Christmas present I will use all year long. I will remember to write to my story, I’ll remember to write with verve, and I will remember—if I ever find myself peeved at my husband—to follow Louis Moore’s advice for a happy marriage. Be kind, be courageous, have eyes for no one else but your spouse because together you can accomplish anything.
Thank you, Mr. Moore, for a wonderful story of love written just in time for Christmas. Eternal Love is magical.
I’d like to give you a special Christmas present too. Check out my December newsletter for your FREE BOOK, the best recipe for Oreo pie and some other fun stuff. Wishing you all the best of the season.
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