Sunday, March 29, 2015

Kelli Hughett: Red Zone

By Kelly Bridgewater

Back Cover Copy:

There's nothing random about this murder.

When Marcy Farris comes face to face with a murder victim at a high school football game, she's plunged into a game no one wants to play. Despite police conclusions, she knows it wasn't a random murder. Could she be the next victim? To defeat her opponent, she'll have to tackle painful memories of her husband's suicide. He may have made one too many enemies before he died.

Struck down by an injury in his prime, former NFL linebacker, Jack Briggs, wonders if there's life after football. The game changes when he meets Marcy. She's his heart's number-one draft pick. Now, Jack's got to prove to Marcy they're on the same team.

There is no overtime in the game of murder. Marcy and Jack must discover the madman behind the murder before the killer has a chance to score the game-winning drive, and exact his revenge on Marcy.

My Review:

When there came a chance to receive a free book from a fellow writer on Amazon for my Kindle, I jumped on the chance and downloaded it. Many of my writers’ friends have been gushing about this book, so I could not wait to try it out for myself.

The characters of Marcy Farris and Jack Briggs tell the story of the murder and the trouble behind the injuries to the football players.Marcy Farris knew her husband, Peter, checked out of the marriage a long time ago, then she falls head over heels emotionally with Jack Briggs, the former football player, within minutes of meeting him for the first time. I was glad Hughett took a step back and allowed Marcy to realize where she has allowed her heart to go when Jack mentioned he won’t surrendered to God. It was Marcy’s redeeming quality. In a similar vein, Jack liked Marcy kids, but there was nothing to gush about. He hung out with Marcy’s kids all the time and made a difference in Marcy’s son. Jack was the character who changed the most, spiritually, throughout the entire novel.

 The romance and the suspense drew the readers into this widely popular genre. The romance part of this story was too rushed for my taste. Every time Marcy and Jack were together, they were kissing, and their internal dialogue showing their emotions was on full alert. They were acting like teenagers who just discovered their hormones for the first time. As for the suspense, the story had many twists and turns, but as a reader of the romantic suspense, mysteries, and suspense genre, I pay close attention to the behavior of the characters, so I figured out whom the bad guy was about thirty-five percent into the story. As for the story’s pace, it does open with the bad guy’s point of view and starts off at a nice clip, intermingling the romance, the mystery, and football. The middle of the story dragged especially all the events around Christmas. It felt too slow for me. Personally, I wish the suspense was more in-depth while the romance was sprinkled in the story.

The writing was good. Hughett stayed in the each individual point of view, not head hopping around the plot. We understand the explosive emotions from Marcy and Jack along with their struggles and hurts. There was an even amount of prose and dialogue with grammatically sound sentences. The settings were detailed enough that the reader could imagine there were in a car, a hotel room, or a stadium.

Overall, Kelli Hughett’s, Red Zone, invites the readers into a romance story with a suspense aspect, moving the football plot along. It was a sizzling romance with just enough suspense to satisfy suspense lovers.

Kelli Hughett’s Bio:

A good morning at my modern Colorado farmhouse begins with a cup of flavored coffee and a few minutes with my husband. Since our house overlooks a pond, we sit outside and watch nature's effect on the water and chat before we both dive in to our busy day. He's a minister and I spend my time home schooling our three kids and helping him with Church work.

That said, I don't spend my days writing, but I squeeze it in where I can. From my office window, I see barns, the Rocky Mountains, yards of farm fence and wide swathes of green grass surrounded by trees that are just starting to turn this fall. You'd imagine me writing Amish or Prairie Romance, right?!

Many people who know me well have asked me why I chose to write suspense. It is a little out-of-character for me, I suppose. I collect tea cups, read Austen and classics regularly, wear frilly dresses and dote on agricultural landscapes. My favorite book is Anne of Green Gables. So, why suspense?

I guess it taps an unseen part of my personality. What's more exciting than a murder mystery? Suspense is the spice of life, even if we aren't standing over dead bodies all day. It enhances marriages, gives authority to news and announcements, and makes our hearts beat fast. No book, no matter the genre, would be interesting without a little suspense!

And what story is complete without romance?

I hope you'll find my books entertaining without offending your soul. I hope you'll discover the magic of ordinary days and characters in extraordinary circumstances. Maybe you'll find yourself in one of my books. I know you'll find little pieces of me.

Kelli Hughett
Taken from Kelli's Amazon Author Page
Where to connect with Kelli:
Author’s Personal Website:

Where to purchase her books:
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

What is your favorite aspect of a romantic suspense that deals with a sport? Do you feel disconnected if you do not know anything about that sport?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Interview with Bethany Macmanus

1. When did you start writing? What inspired you to become a writer? 

I started writing when I was in elementary school. Poetry and two-page short stories were first, followed by a novella in middle school. I think writing was in my genes, because my father wrote skits when I was little, and continues to write plays for church. He writes mostly humor, though. I've never felt I have the knack for humor.

2. Tell us about Nerve, your latest novel. 

Nerve has a lot of medical thriller elements, though technically it's a romantic suspense. Lauren "Wren" Masterson is the environmental photographer heroine, coupled with her small-town cop hero, Lieutenant Justin Breck. Their story goal is to find out who stole her father's medical invention and why he is using it to kill people.

3. How were the writing and publishing processes different this time from your first novel, Six Solitude Road? 

This time I released the book with an online party which included movie trivia, recipes and prizes. It was fun, but a LOT of work. I gained a precious handful of new readers, who I love! However, I don't think I will be doing it again. The return on investment wasn't large enough to warrant a repeat.

Also, this time the book has been released across all platforms: iBooks, Nook, and Amazon (instead of Amazon only). This is also something I'm not sure I will repeat. Being brutally honest here, I can count the ebook downloads from the other platforms on one hand.

4. What made you choose indie publishing over traditional? 

I have a large indie support group, for one thing. Also, I love having control over my book's design and cover. And, if I do it right, I stand to receive a much bigger profit off my books with indie than with traditional.

5. What's coming up next for you? 

I'm currently hard at work on the book following Six Solitude Road, titled Seven Sentinel's Gate. It will follow my character, Allison Reese, to California where she will have to tackle her past head-on. 

I'm also working to drive more blog traffic by doing book cover modeling shoots for independent authors. I know how to sew and do vintage hair and makeup, and I have connections with other models and a wonderful photographer. I'm working to bring all possible options to the table for authors to have AMAZING covers!

You can find Nerve here: 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Interview with Tammy Doherty

Please welcome Tammy Doherty to Sleuths and Suspects.

Tammy, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I live in central MA with my husband and two children. As I write this, we are having the snowiest winter in many years – and all the snow has happened in the last 2 weeks! My favorite season is autumn so all this white stuff is not my idea of fun. Interestingly, the house I live in now was my best friend’s house when we were growing up. I’ve lived in this area all my life. Sometimes I dream of emigrating to Ireland but I wouldn’t really want to give up life in New England.

As a Texas gal, it's hard for me to fathom the snow y'all are having in the New England right now! Do you have a job other than writing?

Yes, I have two in fact (other than being a wife and mother). I work almost full time for  a company that distributes supplies to veterinarians. And my husband and I have a family business of growing and selling perennials. That business takes up a great deal of my time during the spring and summer months. Recently, we expanded into winter sales by offering bird seed.

How interesting! Who do you credit with supporting you the most in your writing journey?

My husband has been my greatest supporter and encourager. When I wrote my first novel, he’s the one who convinced me to self-publish. That was back before eBooks. It was scary, putting out my “baby” for the world to read. My husband also organized a book release party with many of my coworkers and family members attending to celebrate. I sold quite a number of books through my coworkers and their support meant the world to me. Later, I joined American Christian Fiction Writers and met my current critique partner, Nike Chillemi. She drags me, kicking and screaming sometimes, into things that typically turn out to be wonderful ideas.

I can see Nike doing that! She's a great encourager. Do you have any words of advice for novice writers?

Well, the tried and true “write, write, write” is the best advice. I would also recommend reading a lot in the genre you wish to write. And join some groups that will help you hone your craft as well as connect you with fellow writers. Get your work critiqued by people who will be honest (not always what you want to hear, mind you) and people who will encourage while critiquing.

Excellent advice. Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in between?

I consider myself a pantser but in reality I’m somewhere in between. I don’t outline but I do think a great deal about the plot points, planning out scenes in my head before actually writing them.

I love hearing about how other writers actually do the job of writing. Do you set a writing schedule for yourself?

I’ve never set a writing schedule for myself in the past. However, now that I’m moving forward with the Mystique of Naultag series, I want to get each novel written in a set time frame. That means I need to figure out a schedule for myself. When I first started writing, I worked at night after my daughter went to bed. After my son was born, this schedule vanished. I just can’t do those late nights anymore!

Boy do I understand not being able to do the late nights anymore! What challenges do you face in keeping to your writing schedule?

There are so many demands on my time, with two jobs and a family. If I can find a few hours a week that can be dedicated to writing, I’ll consider myself blessed. Otherwise, I’ll have to keep trying to squeeze writing in wherever each day permits. I also like listening to music as I write and often this clashes with whatever is on television in the other room. Still, I’d rather enjoy my children while they’re still kids than lock myself in a room to write.

So true. Your kiddos are only children for a short while. Do you belong to any writer's groups - online or in person?

I am a member of ACFW and actively participate in the Northeast regional loop. I am also a founding member of Grace Awards, a reader-driven award for faith-based fiction. Each year I’m a lead category judge (which category varies from year to year). I am part of the Christian Indie Authors Facebook group, also, which has given me many opportunities to interact with authors I would probably never have met otherwise.

We're members of many of the same groups. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Hmm, that’s tricky. I’ve always wanted to be a writer but didn’t work hard at it or take the desire seriously until I was an adult. In 2001, we purchased our first home computer and that’s when I got serious about writing. When that first book was so well-received, I was encouraged to continue writing.

That must've been an incredible feeling! What obstacles have you found in pursuing a writing career?

It’s very difficult to get published with a traditional publisher. My first three novels were self-published print books…which was costly. The advent of eBooks has made Indie publishing easier and less expensive for the writer. Still, indie means all promotional and marketing efforts come solely from the author. This has been very challenging for me but with the release of SHE’S MINE, I have been blessed with doors opening in  places I would never have expected. The biggest challenge for me remains time – finding and/or making the time to sit and write, write, write.

About Tammy:

Tammy Doherty writes Inspirational/Christian fiction. Her first three novels are Western romances set in late 1800s Colorado. After completing this series, she turned to contemporary romantic suspense. The Mystique of Naultag series is set in a small town in central Massachusetts very similar to the town where she grew up. Married almost 30 years, Tammy and her husband have 2 children. When not writing, she works on the family farm, growing and selling perennials.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Interview With Dana Mentink

Image result for dana mentink author 

Deb: Tell us a little about yourself.
Dana:  Hello, all. I'm Dana Mentink and I'm a writer, teacher, wife and mother. I write Christian fiction for Harlequin's Love Inspired and Harvest House. I also write sweet romance for Harlequin Heartwarming. The Mentink den houses Papa Bear Mike (retired Fire Marshal), and Boo Boo and Yogi, my high school aged cubs. I teach third grade part time as well.
Deb:  Wow, you surely have your plate full. Tell us about your most recent book/or the book we are focusing on.
Image result for dana mentink author

Dana:  My newest release is Secret Refuge, it's the companion book to Hazardous Homecoming. It's the story of Mick Hudson, former parole officer whose actions resulted in the death of the heroine's sister. Old secrets, new dangers, it's a story about revenge and redemption. It releases in April, but you can preorder it on Amazon now.
Deb:  I know you've been writing for a while now. You started with cozy mysteries and have branced out into other genres. What was your journey to publication like?
Dana:  Well, I started writing in earnest after I took leave from my teaching job to have my babies. Infants, as it turns out, are not great conversationalists. My husband urged me to take a writing for publication class. I joined American Christian Fiction Writers group, and I was contacted by Susan Downs at Barbour Books because they were looking to start up a line of cozy Christian mysteries. I wrote three books for them (The Finny series which is now in ebook form on Amazon and
I pitched a romantic suspense to Harlequin's Love Inspired, and was sent a revision letter (demoralizing, but instructive!) I rewrote, repitched, and Love Inspired signed me up. I've written some 20 books for them. Because I have a wacky sense of humor (as my bear cubs will tell you) I wrote a took book series for Harlequin's Heartwarming line. The first is Return to Pelican Inn and the second is Sailing in Style which comes out in August. That was fun to write because it takes place on an historic paddlewheel steamboat. Those are not Christian books, but they are squeaky clean. That led to my latest project, writing a three book, dog related series of lighthearted romances for Harvest House. The first will release in March 2016 featuring Tippy, the geriatric dog of dubious origins. The working title is Sit, Stay, Love.
Deb: Dana, no grass is going to grow under you feet. I'm sure that will be very encouraging to other writers out there. Even though you got a letter for revision, you took that recommendation and turned it into 20 books for Love Inspired! Let that be a lesson for others. Now, tell us a couple of your favorite books and what are you reading?
Dana: Actually, right now I'm judging books for the Romance Writer's of America Rita awards, so that's keeping me away from my personal TBR pile which usually includes mysteries and romantic suspense.
Deb: What are you working on now and can you give us a little peek inside it?
Dana: Golly. Too many irons in the fire at the moment! I guess I would say I'm working on finishing up Coronado Christmas Capture (working title) which is my next book due to Love Inspired Suspense. It features four sisters who must take over their deceased father's private investigation firm to solve his murder. I visited Coronado, California to do some research. Best perk of being a writer.
Deb:  Yes, I love doing the research part, too. Dana, what advice would you give authors who are on their own journey to publication?
Dana:  Read, read, read, read, read in your genre and any other genre that interests you. Join a professional writer's group (like American Christian Fiction Writers) and start getting educated on your craft. If you want to write professionally, you have to start thinking about yourself as a professional. Your work must be critiqued by folks who are not related to you in order to get honest feedback.

Deb: That is some great advice, Dana. Do you have any books or websites that have helped you with your writing that you could share with us?

Dana:  As mentioned, is the best one. I host a blog called Fiction For Readers and Writers and Suspense Sisters has great interviews. Seekerville has a FB page and a blog, I believe, and they are very helpful, as well as Romance Writer's of America.

Deb:  Is there anything you'd like to tell us we haven't covered?

Dana:  I appreciate the chance to share my two cents with you today. Folks are always welcome to email me via my blog, website or Facebook. God bless!

Deb: Thank you so much for being with us today, Dana. I've learned so much about you and your writing. One last thing. Please let us know where we can find you on the web. My website, dmentink.wordpress,com, Twitter is @ and you can find me on Facebook as well.