Thursday, August 25, 2011

Friday's Friend

August 26, 2011

I’m thrilled to have my good friend Rita Henuber with me today. Her debut release, ‘Under Fire’, is now out from Carina Press. Guaranteed lovers of romantic suspense and strong, smart heroines and really hot action heroes will love this fast pace read. I’ve asked Rita to share an blurb and excerpts. Check them out. And while I continue to fill the flutes with cyber-champagne and pass the chocolate strawberries, Rita will answer your questions.

Hi, Rita! Congrats on your debut release! Why don’t you start by sharing a blurb for Under Fire?

Rita: Sure. I’d love to.

Coast Guard helicopter pilot Olivia Carver is on a personal mission. Her twin brother, an undercover officer, was murdered by a drug cartel and she won’t stop until she finds the person responsible for his death.

In the course of her own investigation, Olivia meets informant Rico Cortes. He’s mysterious and sexy, and despite her reservations, the two share a night of passion. But Rico turns out to be more than a one-night stand. He’s a DEA agent, deep undercover in Miami’s drug world, and possibly the one person who can help Olivia find the justice she seeks. When Rico realizes his cover is compromised, he isn’t sure whether it was someone in the cartel or an inside agent. Olivia is the only one he can trust and together they venture on a dangerous, rogue mission to infiltrate a drug lord’s inner circle…with Olivia as bait.

Authors have favorite parts in a book and this week it’s been fun seeing that reviewers like some of my favorites. So I thought I’d share a few.

(Olivia) “I’m stopping at the next exit for gas. I’ll get rid of the scrubs. You get out and walk around or by the time we get to Miami you’ll be too stiff to move.”
“Don’t worry, when I get stiff I move very well,” he muttered as he turned away.
“I heard that.”

He (Rico) moved to look at the speedometer.
“Come on, Olivia. The speed limit is 70. You’re doing 95, and this car is ticket bait. I don’t want to risk getting stopped.”
“I’m traveling with the flow. This is I-95. If I go the speed limit I’ll stand out.”
He scowled.
“Okay.”She slowed the Corvette.
“Thanks,” he muttered. “You always drive like this?”
“Yep, I grew up in Texas. Speed limits there are only a suggestion.”

AJ: She is such a clip. I love Olivia!

Excerpt #2

(Olivia) “What is all of this, your James Bond room?”
“You could say that. It’s my backup.” He opened cabinets, took out a pill bottle and downed a Percocet. “In here I have weapons, computers, transportation, medical supplies, money and anything else I might need for my survival. Things we’ll need to complete this job.”
Olivia ran her fingers across several of the weapons on the counter and shelf. “Where’s your toothbrush radio and exploding briefcase?”

AJ: Readers, I absolutely loved this scene. Seriously. You need to read the whole thing.

They (Olivia and Rico)lay entwined and silent, watching the sky, listening to the faint sounds of the city.
“Olivia?” She loved the way her name sounded when he said it.
Rico lightly ran his fingers along her spine. “The night we met, why did you leave the bar with me?”
“Are you complaining?”
“I’m serious.”
She pressed away and angled her head to look into his face. “I wanted to be with you.”
“Just like that?”
“It wasn’t just like that. I needed to let go. My life is about control. You were…”
“What made you decide?”
“Why are you asking me this?”
“Humor me and answer the question.”
She sighed deeply and tucked her cheek against his chest. “It’s all very cliché.” Another sigh. “There was a chemistry. Your smile. You made me laugh, I felt comfortable with you.” She could go on and on - his scent, the taste of him, the feel of his hard body—but she didn’t.

Authors also know there will be some scenes edited from each book. We love those scenes but understand it’s better for pacing or the story. Some reviewers have commented how they enjoyed how close Olivia and her team are and it got me thinking of a scene that explained it in detail. The scene was condensed to five sentences. And, it worked very well, but I still like the big picture version . 

Senior Chief Bill Defoe sat in the small room watching Crenshaw pacing. He glanced at Turner who stood still, staring out the room’s only window.
“Lieutenant, if you aren’t sure about this, now is the time to leave. Once we get in the Captain’s office there won’t be any going back.” He looked over at Turner. “Same with you.”
“I owe her, Senior Chief. I’m in.” Turner said
“What do you mean Turner?” Crenshaw ignored Defoe’s question.
Turner walked to the door and pulled it closed. “She got me out of a jam. I owe her.”
Crenshaw and Defoe said nothing, waiting for Turner to tell his story.
“Cree-rist. She made me promise I would never tell anyone.”
Defoe stood and walked to Turner. “Talk.” He ordered.
“My brother was killed in Iraq. I went a little crazy. Drinking, fighting, wrapped my car around a pole. Was in the hospital and jail. She paid the hospital bill and all the damages so no one here would find out. Bailed me out of jail and talked a judge into letting her handle me.” Turner took a deep breath and rubbed his forehead. “She refused to let me pay her back. Said all I need to do is stay out of trouble and make my life count for me and my brother.” He looked at Defoe, then Crenshaw. “I owe her.”
“You, Senior Chief?” Crenshaw said.
“Nothing like that, but I owe her too. She was straight out of flight school the first time I flew with her. She never failed to write commendations for her crews. A lot of pilots won’t, saying we get paid to be good. Those commendations helped me get promoted faster.
“There’s gotta be more than that,” Crenshaw said.
“Yeah.” Defoe stood with his hands locked behind head, his elbows sticking out. “The second time we were stationed together, my wife and I were having--you know, problems.” He dropped his arms to his side. “The crew was out having a few beers and was coming on to this broad. We left together and Commander Carver, stopped me. We exchanged a few words in the parking lot. She cold-cocked me. Came to in her car. She ripped me a new one and said I would get my ass to counseling or she’d take it on as a personal mission to make the rest of my life miserable.” Defoe blew out a loud breath. “Saved my marriage.”
Turner and Defoe stared at Crenshaw. “Lieutenant, we have reasons to be doing this, you don’t. You’ve got your whole career ahead of you. You might want--”
“I owe her.” Crenshaw swallowed hard. “This is my third duty station out of school. My first two pilots requested I be transferred. Said I’m too nervous.” Crenshaw hung his head, seemingly examining the tile floor. “We were at one of those Homeland training things. She came up to me and asked if I wanted to second-seat the Dolphin with her. I thought she was joking. Everyone there talked about her, how great she is.” Crenshaw straightened. “We talked for awhile. She asked a few questions. Don’t know how or why, but two days later I had transfer papers. A month later I was sitting next to her in the Dolphin.”

Check out the video to see what kind of helicopter Olivia flies.

I hope you enjoy reading Under Fire as much as I enjoyed writing it.

I'm sure they will, Rita. I loved it.

Where can readers learn about you and your books?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

AC Here We Come

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Four-thirty a.m. As a child, once a year I’d rise to the sound of my parents alarm clock buzzing at the early hour and would shoot from between the sheets as if they were on fire . The alarm went off other mornings, but it’s ringing never meant there was an adventure in store for me. My sister and I would scramble to use the bathroom before our three brothers were shaken from their beds by dad and chased after by mom. Afterwards we’d rip into the outfits we meticulously chosen the night before, grab our suitcases and head to the car. The sky’s center was always as black as the well in the hollow. One star always dangled on the canvas and sky’s lower edge burned with the rising sun.

This event occurred the first weekend of August every year for fifteen years. It was always a Friday, Saturday and Sunday and we called it our summer vacation to ATLANTIC CITY, even though it was the only vacation we ever took.

Within the hour, my two uncles and aunts, and my twelve cousins filled the two cars who met us at the edge of the drive. We, the older cousins, were truly filled with excitement. We had worked doing odd jobs all summer and saved in anticipation of spending our earnings anyway we wanted. I always came home with a ceramic horse.
We never had reservations. While my dad and my two uncles would go inside the hotel and acquire rooms for all twenty-three of us, we’d sit in the car. Our necks grew damp as the morning sun rose and beat down on the car, glaring off its hood. French fries, candy cotton and fish wafted in the air. The buzz of the big city, the roar of the ocean beyond the boardwalk , the call of “Watch the Tramcar, please” made our legs twitch. After a three hour ride, we wanted out.

Three days is what we had to enjoy another world. A world where hundreds of Miss America’s had strolled the boardwalk. Where a white stallion dove into a swimming pool. Three days is all it took to etch into my memory the feel of the hot sand as we hopped toward the cool foam of the waves, the laughter shared as we romped in the ocean and Uncle Lee lost his teeth, and the way my blood rushed searching for my little lost cousin George among the crowd of thousands. To this day, the Coppertone Baby signifies a carefree summer for me and the scent from the lotion will take me back to the innocent time. And, to this day, I haven’t found ice cream sandwiches as good as the ones we devoured on the AC beach, the sandwiches laced with sea salt and sand.

I think I’ll go poolside today with a good book and crack the lotion bottle.

I’d love to hear one of your summer vacation memories.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Love Scene; Love Them Or Hate Them?

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Who loves a good love scene?

I do too, but lately while reading, I find myself flipping pages and skipping over them. Why?

And why are there books on my shelves that will fall open to the love scenes?
I pass over some love scenes and devour others because of the characters. It’s that simple. The author made me love the characters. While reading the stories I became invested in their lives and their dreams. I would refer to them by name instead of the heroine and hero when telling others about the story. I wanted the woman to find the man of her dreams because, damn, she deserved a good man. And I want the man to realize she was the piece of his heart he’d been searching for all his life. I wanted the perfect-for-each-other couple to come together as one. (excuse the pun)

The thing about love scenes, when the author has written remarkably real characters and has me totally invested, I don’t need the total physical description of mating for me to enjoy the story. A scene leading up to a hungry first kiss with the door closing shortly afterwards will leave me just as satisfied. In fact, leaving the details of the physical connection to my own imagination is sometimes much better. I hate slot A into slot B writing.

So what is your opinion— What makes a good love scene for you? And do you prefer the door to remain open?