November is over. That’s notable in many ways, including that we’re now in the final month of this year.
And for me, one of the notable matters is that I’m no longer Author of the Month on A Slice of Orange!
I was so delighted to have had that honor last month. The blog website mentioned it with wonderful graphics showing quite a few of my books. I saw it posted several times on Facebook, and I posted it myself, as well.
It was a good month for it to happen. I had a new book released then: Colton 911: Caught in the Crossfire, a Harlequin Romantic Suspense book. As I mentioned here last month, it was my first book in the HRS long-lived series about the Colton family, which is large and has family members living in branches all over the country. A Colton is a hero or heroine in each of the books in that series, so it contains lot of highly romantic members.
And now? Well, my next Colton book will be a February 2020 release: Colton First Responder.
Anyway, thank you so much to A Slice of Orange, and to Marianne Donley, for the delightful recognition. I loved being Author of the Month!
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 hardcover, THE DECEPTION, a Romantic Thriller, was released on September 10th.
I’ve always loved a good plot. People ask me how I come up with ideas for my novels, but the truth is, I really don’t know.
Sometimes the kernel of an idea grows out of a newspaper article or something I see on Facebook or just some old movie. Most of the time, it’s so long ago I don’t actually remember, but my mind does.
The novella, SHADOWS AT DAWN, blossomed the way most of my stories do, basically out of nowhere. Jaxon Ryker first appeared in THE CONSPIRACY, a former Navy SEAL, now a detective working for Chase Garrett, the wealthy owner of Maximum Security, an extremely successful private security firm in Dallas.
I liked Jax right away. He was definitely hero material, but at the same time, Jax was different, kind of soft-spoken, not arrogant, just a really nice guy. Unless you pissed him off.
Turns out Jax had a protective streak a mile wide and the sweet little receptionist at The Max was his weakness.
When Jax happens upon three men attacking her in the parking lot after work, his hero instincts kick in—big time.
Jax is convinced the attack isn’t random and that even after the fight that saved Mindy and drove the men away, she might not be safe. And no way is Jax letting anything happen to her.
I liked the two of them together from the start. These days, readers want kick-ass women, but there are other ways a woman can be strong. What Jax sees is a sweet girl he believes would never be able to handle a tough guy like him. But Mindy proves him wrong.
As the danger unfolds, Mindy and Jax are forced to work together to find the men who want her dead and figure out why.
I hope you’ll give this fun read a try and that you like Jax and Mindy as much as I did. If you do, you can also find them in THE DECEPTION, book #2 of my Maximum Security Series after THE CONSPIRACY.
Till next time, happy reading and all best, Kat
Finally satisfied with her progress for the day, Mindy shoved her round tortoiseshell glasses up on her nose, slung the strap of her purse over her shoulder, and headed for the door to the parking lot behind the office. She managed not to glance at Jax, but it wasn’t easy.
The early April weather was humid, warm but not hot, the last of a pinky gold sky fading to darkness. She spotted her little red Volkswagen Beetle, one of the few vehicles left in the lot, and started in that direction.
If she hadn’t been working for a security firm, listening to crime stories on a daily basis, she might not have noticed the white Chevy van whose motor sparked to life and began idling in the shadows not far from her car.
When her steps unconsciously slowed, she told herself she was being ridiculous, a paranoid response to the guys’ sometimes gruesome, often frightening tales.
Pausing to dig her car keys out of her purse, she took a deep breath and tried to calm her racing heart. When the effort failed, she forced her feet to move, closing the distance between her and her vehicle. She had almost reached her destination when the van doors slid open and three men dressed head-to-foot in black wearing black ski masks jumped out and started running toward her.
Terror struck. Mindy let out a high-pitched scream, dropped her purse, whirled, and started running.
Jax’s long day wasn’t over yet. Before he picked up a pizza and headed home for a couple of beers, he had a meeting with a client on the other side of Dallas, a cold case he had been working where the mother of a murder victim had discovered new evidence she believed would help find her daughter’s killer. The police weren’t convinced, but Mrs. Donahue had hired Jax to prove it. Or at least find out the truth.
He checked his heavy black wristwatch. If he wanted to make his appointment on time, he needed to get on the road. Grabbing his laptop off the desk, he headed for his dark blue Dodge Ram pickup, parked in the lot behind the office, his mind on the case he figured would earn him a nice fat fee—and maybe help bring a killer to justice.
He had just stepped out the backdoor when a blood-curling scream cut through the sticky night air. A petite young woman with long dark hair and glasses struggled with three masked men.
Adrenaline shot into his blood. Mindy! Even as he bolted into a run, Jax registered their appearance: one tall and lean, one average height and weight, one big and beefy, thick-shouldered and muscular. He was flat out running by the time Mindy spotted him and started screaming his name.
“Jax, help me! Jax!” Kicking and biting, she fought like a wild thing, but she was no match for the men. As they hauled her toward the open van doors, Jax grabbed the tall man and pulled him off her, pounded a fist into his face and slammed another into his stomach, doubling him over. A hard right sent the guy careening backward, hitting the ground on his back and sliding across the asphalt.
The second man, Mr. Average, stepped in and swung a punch Jax ducked. He shot out a kick, knocking the assailant into the side of the van, then heard the sound of a switchblade snapping open behind him.
“Jax, watch out!”
Whirling toward the threat, he dodged the flashing blade and shoved Mindy toward safety, then went back in for the kill. Rage burned through his usual calm. She worked with him, as far as he was concerned, was under his protection. More than that, she was kind and sweet and he cared about her far more than he should. Jax wanted to end the bastards who were trying to hurt her.
“Run!” he shouted. “Go back to the office and lock the door! Call 9-1-1!” The knife flashed. Jax dodged the sweep of gleaming silver wielded by a big, thick-fingered, extremely capable hand, jumped back from out of the way of another slashing attack as he and the big man crouched and circled each other. From the corner of his eye, he saw the tall, thin man back on his feet and rushing toward him.
Jax looked up to see Mindy swinging her purse like a ball and chain, smashing the bag into the side of the tall man’s head, sending him staggering, grunting as he landed on his hands and knees.
“Bitch! he screamed, shaking his head to clear it, providing the distraction Jax needed. He kicked the knife out of the beefy man’s hand and threw a punch that sent him reeling. Mr. Average had already climbed into the van and shoved the vehicle into gear.
“Come on!” the man shouted through the open passenger window. “Let’s go!”
The tall man turned and ran, leaping through the open van doors, and the big, muscular man shot in behind him. Tires burned and smoke rolled up from the wheels as the vehicle screeched away.
“It’s a quick, easy to read, entertaining, action packed read and is just as amazing as the other books in the series!”
“Mystery, suspense, thrills and chills with a whole lot of action!”
“This story is a cute, sweet and steamy romance full of suspense, excitement and unexpected twists that keep readers hanging on to the edge of their seat.”
Last month, I wished you all a happy August, the eighth month of the year. Guess what! It’s a month later.
And those deadlines I mentioned? I had to ask for an extension.
That’s a hard thing for me to do, although this time I perhaps could have anticipated it since the deadline for the book I’m working on now was a bit shorter than I usually agree to. I thought, at the time, that I’d be able to meet it. But as September 1 grew closer, I realized I needed more time—which, fortunately, I got.
I’m certainly making progress, but I feel bad that more time was needed. How about you? Do you meet all your deadlines, for writing or anything else? Do you ever ask for extensions? If so, how do you feel about it?
Anyway, time marches on in other ways, too. It’s now closer to the release of my next book, the first of my Colton continuity series books for Harlequin Romantic Suspense.
Colton 911: Caught in the Crossfire is a November release. Looking forward to it!
“I couldn’t put it down!” Those words are some of the most satisfying comments an author can receive. Nothing pleases me more than a note from someone grumbling about staying up late to finish one of my books.
It’s music to my ears.
There are lots of ways to earn those precious words. Writing a fast-paced novel is one of them. It is certainly my goal every time I start a new book.
My latest, THE DECEPTION, was no different. I knew I would be writing Hawk Maddox’s story. Hawk had been on my mind since he first appeared in a previous novel, BEYOND DANGER. I knew what he was like—strong, determined, tough as boot leather, and at six-foot-four, two-hundred-twenty pounds, a total beefcake hunk.
He was also a bounty hunter, which made him an interesting character with an interesting job. I always try to find the hero’s perfect match, and Kate Gallagher was just right for Hawk. Tall, blonde, and curvy, she loved country music and drinking tequila at the Sagebrush Saloon.
But that was her secret side. She also owned her own business consulting firm, so she was smart and hard-working.
I like to read books that draw me in and won’t let go, books I can’t wait to pick up again to find out what’s going to happen next.
There are lots of ways to do it. Pairing down description makes the story move faster—or as Elmore Leonard once said, “I try to leave out the parts people skip.”
A Hollywood movie trick is to jump right into the scene. Leave out the the Hello, how are you? I’m fine, how are you? and just start talking.
I try to use hooks at the beginning and end of chapter, though some authors end a chapter in the middle of the action to keep you turning the pages.
I’ve found I do a lot of characterization by showing how the hero, heroine, and sub characters react in a situation, rather than telling about their past. For instance, I don’t mention what the heroine did in high school unless it’s important to how she’ll solve the problem she’s facing.
These are a few of my techniques, though every author has his own style and there is nothing wrong with any of them as long as they work.
In THE DECEPTION, 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 Kate of the danger, nothing he says can convince Kate to walk away.
I hope you’ll watch for THE DECEPTION and that you find it a fast-paced, high-action page-turner.
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.
Linda O. Johnston’s first published fiction appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for Best First Mystery Short Story of the year. Since then, Linda, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, has published more short stories, novellas, and over 50 romance and mystery novels, including the Pet Rescue Mystery Series, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. She currently writes the Superstition Mysteries and the Barkery Biscuits Mysteries for Midnight Ink, and also writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense as well as the Alpha Force paranormal romance miniseries for Harlequin Nocturne.
I’ve been friends and reading author Linda O. Johnston for many years and it’s a pleasure to do this Q & A with her today. Welcome Linda to Jann Says . . .
Jann: I remember reading your first novel, A Glimpse of Forever, in 1995. What is your writing process and how has it changed since then, if it has?
Linda: My process has changed a lot from what it was back then. When I started getting my novels published, I was a full-time lawyer with young kids. Back then, I would get up an hour before anyone else in the household and write for an hour, then bring printed copies to edit at lunchtime. Now, I’m a full-time writer, and my sons are grown and living elsewhere. My dogs will often tell me what to do—time to eat, time to go out—and occasionally my husband interrupts for something important, but otherwise I spend most of my day on the computer writing, editing and promoting.
Jann: If you could go back in time, is there one thing you would do differently with your writing career?
Linda: Not really. I feel as if I’ve been very fortunate. I’m still working on turning my stories into best sellers, but I’m happy with where I am, too. I’ve had more than 50 books published!
Jann: Many authors, including you, have a deep love for animals, but they don’t necessarily have them play such big roles in their books. You write in several different genres—mystery, romantic suspense, paranormal romance and romance. Throughout all of these genres, animals are a focus. Why?
Linda: I love dogs! I’m a dogaholic. A cynophilist. I didn’t always include dogs in my writing, although one of my favorite time travel romances from way back when is Once a Cavalier, where Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, the breed I particularly adore, were the avenue that allowed my heroine to travel in time back to the court of King Charles II of England, where the ancestors of today’s Cavaliers were lap dogs to the courtiers to take the fleas off them. And my own Lexie was the model for the Lexie in my Kendra Ballantyne, Pet Sitter Mysteries, my first cozy mystery series. Kendra was a lawyer who lived in the Hollywood Hills with her Cavalier Lexie. At the time, I was practicing law, I live in the Hollywood Hills, and one of my Cavaliers was Lexie. Unfortunately, dogs’ lives are shorter than ours, so Lexie is no longer with us, but I still have two Cavaliers: Mystie and Cari. They always inspire me to write—and to give them treats!
Jann: Book #5 is a Barkery and Biscuits mystery, For A Good Paws, which is coming out this month. Tell us about the series, characters and story.
Linda: In my Barkery and Biscuits Mysteries, protagonist Carrie Kennersly is a veterinary technician. She bought a bakery, Icing on the Cake, from a friend who had to leave their town of Knobcone Heights, California, and Carrie turned half into a barkery, Barkery and Biscuits, where she bakes and sells healthy dog treats she developed as a vet tech. In the first book, Bite the Biscuit, Carrie became a murder suspect and had to figure out whodunit to clear herself. In the subsequent stories several of her friends also become murder suspects so she has to help them, too. Since I always include romances in my mysteries and suspense or mystery in my romances, Carrie has a romantic interest, Dr. Reed Storme, a veterinarian at the clinic where she still works part time as a vet tech. Her brother Neal lives with her in her home, and one of her closest friends is Councilwoman Billi Matlock, who owns a day spa and Mountaintop Rescue, an animal shelter. Carrie also has several assistants at her shops who are also her friends, and several other townsfolk appear a lot in her books including the head vet at the clinic, Dr. Arvus Kline, and the owners of Cuppa Joe’s, a coffee shop.
In For A Good Paws, Carrie takes notice when she hears that a local killer is being paroled. Mike Holpurn, the parolee, was convicted ten years ago of murdering Flora Shulzer, who was then mayor of Knobcone Heights. On his return from prison, Holpurn confronts Flora’s husband Henry Shulzer, whom he claims was Flora’s murderer. When Henry is found murdered, the town assumes the killer is Holpurn, but Carrie’s not so sure… and she gets involved once more in solving a murder.
It’ll be the last in the series, since the publisher, Midnight Ink, is closing. I might find another publisher or self-publish more… but I suspect I’ll go on to a new mystery series.
Jann: How do you stay motivated? What drives you to keep writing?
Linda: Writing is who I am. Even when I tell myself to take a rest, my mind still keeps churning and I take notes!
Jann: What are you dying to try next?
Linda: Another mystery series! And also a possible stand-alone story featuring dogs. My problem about doing that is a good one: time. I’m busy with deadlines, writing four new Harlequin Romantic Suspense books.
Jann: Do you ever run out of ideas? If so, how did you get past that?
Linda: My mind is always at work, whether I’m awake or asleep, at the computer or anywhere else. Ideas are never the problem. I’ve plenty of them. But time to do something with them is more of an issue with me.
Jann: Thank you Linda for sharing with us today. Looking forward to the release and reading For A Good Paws!
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