Writer Wednesday – Romantic Suspense Author K.L. Docter

Can you believe we are at the end of the year? This is my last Writer Wednesday this year. Over Christmas, I’m working on revamping the whole website, so next time you visit I’ll have a facelift.

I’m welcoming K.L. Docter to my blog today, a romantic suspense writer extraordinaire. She put the suspense in romantic suspense. I told her if it weren’t for the sultry love scenes, she could crossbrand into the thriller category, easy.

Today we are talking about Killing Secrets, the first book in the Thorne’s Thorns series.

The Blurb:

Some secrets are better left dead.

Rachel James’ ex-husband is released from prison determined to reclaim her and her little girl — the child is his key to controlling the James fortune. Frightened, Rachel flees to Denver with the child who hasn’t uttered a word since her daddy went to prison.

Contractor Patrick Thorne wants nothing to do with another of his parents’ charity cases. He failed his own wife so abysmally she took her own life as well as his unborn son’s. After two years, it’s time to concentrate on the bid he’s won and the saboteur trying to destroy his construction firm.

There is no room for trust in either of their hearts. But trust is all that will untangle the secrets that dominate their lives, free a little girl of her silent prison, and save them all from a serial killer who stands too close.

(A Thorne’s Thorns Novel)

KLDocter Cover

It’s difficult to tell a writer’s style from a blurb, so here’s a brief excerpt:

Excerpt from Killing Secrets

© Copyright 2014 – K.L. Docter

 

Denver, Colorado.

At the first crack of gunfire, Rachel dove headfirst into the garden she was weeding. Listening for the second report she expected to follow, she prayed Amanda stayed at Patrick Thorne’s house where she’d gone an hour ago to play with her new friend, Suze.

Gasping for air, she inhaled the rich, spicy scent of freshly turned soil and crushed nasturtiums instead. Dirt and grit bit into her cheek and the bare flesh exposed by her cutoffs and T-shirt. The mid-afternoon sun beat hot against her shoulders and legs, and all she could do was lie there and watch a fat bumblebee dip into a russet blossom three inches from her nose.

Had she run almost nine hundred miles only to die like this, grubbing alone in the dirt like a spineless worm?

A surge of anger gave her impetus to lift her head. She peeked over the flimsy wall of twelve-inch annuals between her and the street. A second gunshot rang out, belched in a cloud of black smoke from an ancient Volkswagen bus that disappeared around the corner.

Backfire?

She groaned, more relieved than embarrassed by her overreaction. Her chin dropped. Taking several deep draughts of the thin Colorado air, she worked to calm the pound of her heart against her ribcage. Her efforts made her head swim. A minute later she was able to push herself out of the three-foot section of garden she’d mown down.

Her nerves had been on edge since she fled Dallas on Friday, five days ago. If she weren’t so overwrought it would have occurred to her Greg would never stand at a distance and take potshots at her. No. Greg liked to look into her eyes when he meted out his punishments.

An icy shiver skimmed her skin. Each day that passed without his appearance should have reassured her she’d made the right decision to accept Katy’s arrangements with the Thornes. As long as Greg didn’t track her and Amanda to Denver, they were safe.

Problem is she hadn’t felt safe since Amanda was born and she discovered what kind of man she’d married. Now she couldn’t pluck enough weeds from Evelyn Thorne’s gardens by day to tear the anxiety from her heart at night. Her growing sense of trepidation kept her awake long after the morning stars dimmed above the mile-high city’s cloudless skies.

How could the justice system simply hand Greg a “get out of jail free” card?  She’d always known the man had connections in high places, but how had he arranged for the evidence in his case—evidence she’d risked everything to provide—to disappear before he even went to trial?  If he’d accomplished that feat while behind bars, how in the world was she and Amanda going to stay out of his clutches?

She felt like there were giant bull’s-eyes painted on their backs, that it was only a matter of time before Greg tracked them down. During their marriage the man would spend weeks, even months, laying meticulous groundwork for one of his cons. He’d had six months to plan dozens of new punishments for his betrayer.

“‘Til death us do part, darlin’.”

His words echoed over the expanse of time and distance, ringing a fresh peal of dread in Rachel’s breast. With one hand, she brushed clumps of soil off her tangerine T-shirt and whispered a small prayer. Please don’t let him find us!

**

Karen has a style that’s easy to read, with realistic dialogue and fast-paced action. This isn’t a quick mystery, coming in at over 300 pages. She is a master at weaving multiple story lines together and keeping you guessing until the very end. If you need something to keep you company these long winter nights, this is the book. You can grab it on Amazon for the steal price of $3.99, or read it as one of your Prime or Kindle Unlimited selections.  Purchase it here: Killing Secrets (Thorne’s Thorns Book 1)

 

Bio

K.L. Docter writes two different kinds of romance novels….KLDocter Pic

Romantic Suspense w/a K.L. Docter: Women hunted by killers…men who’d die to protect them.

Contemporary Romance w/a Karen Docter: Romance…With a Kick!

K.L.’s romantic suspense novels are filled with romance, although the dangers the hero and heroine face are intense, usually because a serial killer is bent on ending one or both of their lives before they can fall in love.

Her contemporaries (written as Karen Docter) are cute & spicy romances. She loves writing about real men and women with dreams and goals that don’t allow for a relationship just so she can throw them in each other’s path…with a tickle and a smile.

K.L./Karen’s an award winning author, a four-time Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® finalist, and won the coveted Kiss of Death Romance Writers Daphne du Maurier Award Category (Series) Romantic Mystery Unpublished division.

When she’s not saving her characters from death and destruction or helping them fall in love, she loves camping and fishing with her family, reading, gardening & cooking. If she can do most of those things over a campfire, all the better!

To find out more about all of Karen’s books, check in with her online at http://www.Karendocter.com.

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Before you go, if you haven’t grabbed it yet, my second novel (Under His Protection) is on sale at all major retailers for $2.99.  Grab it quickly, because it won’t stay at this price long! All the links can be found here: Under His Protection.

Give Karen/K.L. a shout-out in the comments to make her feel welcome, and sign up for my newsletter before you go. I shoot for monthly, but it’s been less than that lately. Each month I reach ten new subscribers, I’m giving away a Starbucks giftcard.

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Writer Wednesday – Meet Ray Anselmo, Author of The Slave Auction

The Slave Auction

I haven’t been sharing many books lately on the blog. I’ve been busy, and many of the books that I’ve read recently have been just okay, and I haven’t felt like talking about them.

I discovered The Slave Auction on one of my Facebook groups. I had never heard of Ray Anselmo before, but I gave his book a chance. In fact, I enjoyed it enough to take the time to track down the author on his blog and beg to host him here.

If you haven’t bought a book for Christmas break yet, rush out and get this one. Get ready to step into the post apocalyptic future, where the land that was California is now the feudal state of Scotia. There is no electricity, and manual labor is in high demand. The strong conquer the weak and force them to become slave labor. Everything has changed, but human nature remains the same in many ways.

 

First, the Blurb:

Sixty years after the Final War smashed the countries of the world, the remnants of humanity are still working to rebuild civilization. In Scotia village, deep in the forests of what was once northwestern California, that’s taken the form of a return to feudalism, with the warrior descendants of pre-War survivalists forming the nobility. Below them are their tenant farmers, a few independent priests and artisans … and at the bottom of the pyramid, the slaves.

Eliza Cronin is the young head of the most powerful noble house in Scotia, with all the duties that accompany such a station. And as she’s yet to find a suitable consort, one who will treat her as an equal, she’s largely doing it alone. So she goes to the local slave sale, seeking someone who can help her manage her myriad responsibilities. But she quickly finds that Aaron, the slave she purchases, is more than she expected. Physically weak but with a strong mind, Aaron is soon turning her life upside down, and causing her to discover things about herself she never would have guessed, both good and bad.

Nor is all her stress coming from inside her house. There’s also a masked rapist targeting Scotia’s noblewomen (who may have picked Eliza’s cousin as his next victim). A fellow noble, her good friend and closest advisor, is nearing death. On top of that, there are whispers of a conspiracy against not only her, but the entire village. In the midst of all this, plans will have to be formulated, serious choices need to be made, lives will be at stake. And it seems only a lowly slave has what she needs to navigate the crises ahead … and maybe even find love …

A world torn by war. A noblewoman seeking help in a climate of fear. A hero in an unlikely disguise. And a romance for the ages. The Slave Auction is all that and more. Prepare for the future.

 

After I tracked Ray down, and he graciously agreed to visit my blog, I peppered him with questions.

 

This book seems to defy genre and predictability. What gave you the idea to write this book?

The initial idea was just a mental picture – a tall, austere redhead (think Julia Roberts or Keira Knightley) walking through a medieval marketplace in period dress. Other ideas sort of accrued to it, like layers on a pearl, and soon I found myself starting to write it because I couldn’t not write it. Eliza and Aaron, the protagonists, were coming to life, and I couldn’t stand in their way.

 

On your website, you indicate that the book took ten years to write. Was this a continuous ten years? Did it go through many iterations? Or were there long periods when you put it aside to work on something else?

When I finished the original draft in 2004, it was partly out of frustration with my job prospects – I was getting jerked around by temp agencies, bouncing from one clerical job to the next, and was looking for another field to pursue. I kept trying to find “normal” work, but every so often I’d come back to it, tinker with it a little, submit a portion to a publisher only for nothing to happen.

My friend, the novelist Geralyn Beauchamp (aka Kit Morgan) gave me a lot of good advice over the years on how to develop the characters and show their emotional growth. And when I got tired of getting deafening silence from publishers, Geri was the one who urged me to self-publish and showed me how. This year, after publishing a couple of small short-fiction collections as e-books – kind of testing the waters – I gave The Slave Auction one last polishing and sent it on out there. So it’s been quite a journey.

 

Tell us who you think would like your book.

I have an almost visceral reaction to the “muscular boy meets flighty girl, girl swoons” stories that are kind of the stereotype of romance novels – “bodice-rippers,” my grandmother used to call them. I can’t imagine Eliza Cronin swooning unless she’s been severely injured – she’s strong and tough and trained as a warrior, and she doesn’t let anyone push her around. Nor is Aaron the usual bulging-pecs leading man – he’s fairly humble, a gentleman, someone who gets by on brain power rather than muscle. So I think The Slave Auction would have an appeal for people who want something more than just the usual romantic story, who want more depth or a different twist on the concept.

I tend to write “clean,” so I also think The Slave Auction would be a good read for young-adult readers who are fans of post-apocalyptic books like The Hunger Games and The Mount. And science-fiction fans who appreciate a good love story and good characters would enjoy it as well, I believe.

 

Given genre conventions, how do you feel about classifying this book as a romance?

I don’t mind. As one of my heroes, Bill Veeck, put it, I have “the literary digestion of a garbage disposal unit,” so I pull from a lot of genres and styles when I write. I probably write more that could be classified as science fiction than anything else, but romance would be a close second, and a lot of my writing – including The Slave Auction – has elements of both. If you’re going to put a label on it, “romance” is a perfectly good one to use.

 

Are you planning additional stories in this futuristic society showcased in The Slave Auction?

Absolutely – The Slave Auction is book 1 of a saga that I’ve already planned out as at least six books, plus some shorter pieces. The first of the short works, “The View from the Cliff,” will be included in a short-story collection I’m releasing on January 19 entitled Adventures in Time and Place. It will give some background on Aaron and where he came from, and show how the leadership in Scotia is changing in their relations to the people in the surrounding area. If all works out, I hope to have a new Scotia novel out in 2015, and every year through 2019.

Also, I’ve written a novella, The Glory of a King, that takes place in the same universe as The Slave Auction – it’s available now through Amazon. I may do a couple of similar stories in the future, tales from elsewhere in the world Scotia is part of, though none are specifically planned.

 

So you can get a feel for Ray’s writing style, here is a short excerpt of the book. You can also download a sample from Amazon.

Tricia McCarron’s words bubbled through Eliza’s mind like a sulfur spring for the rest of the day. She found herself unable to concentrate at dinner, and kept dwelling on it as she dressed for bed.

When the right fellow comes along … She kept thinking she should be annoyed at yappy Tricia for bringing the subject up, but figured there was no point in that. The tenant’s wife meant well, just as so many other people meant well when they nudged her on the subject of marriage. Or, worse yet, started suggesting that they knew just the man for her, he’s really a prize, a good, strong fella and wouldja like to meet him sometime? They wanted her to be happy, and who could get angry with someone for that?

Eliza sat on the edge of her bed in her cotton pajamas and rubbed her temples. She certainly didn’t have anything against marriage, or any desire for spinsterhood – quite the opposite. And there was the succession issue to think of as well. As head of the house of Cronin, her firstborn would be the logical heir, complete with all the attendant privileges and responsibilities. No marriage meant no heir, which would eventually mean problems for the house. She wasn’t getting any younger, either – she would turn thirty in a few months, rather old for a woman to still be unattached in these times. If she was to produce an heir, time was beginning to run low.

But necessity alone was not going to drive her to the altar. And frankly, she really hadn’t met anyone she wanted to spend the rest of her life around, let alone allow access to her womb. Most of the noblemen in Scotia, at least those who were close to her own age, were too stuck on themselves or too willing to kowtow to her or (Franklin Duritz came to mind, and she made a face) both. When it came to eligible men in the village, the cupboard appeared to be bare.

Frankly, the best of the lot seemed to be Franklin’s brothers Jefferson and Hamilton. But as far as she could tell, Jeff’s devotion was to his father and his father’s house, to the exclusion of all else. He not only hadn’t expressed any interest in Eliza, he hadn’t expressed any interest in marrying anybody, as far as she knew. And Ham? Ham was good-looking and strong, but he was also so timid that Eliza was always afraid of overwhelming him whenever they interacted. Plus, with both Jeff and Ham would come the irritation of having Franklin as a brother-in-law …

She shook her head forcefully. No, that would definitely not do. She knew her father had held a very high opinion of Franklin, though she had no clue why. Thankfully, Robert Cronin had felt strongly about letting his children pick their own mates – probably reflecting his own experience, she mused – so he hadn’t tried to force her into a relationship, with Franklin or anyone else. But leaving her to her own devices, wise though it most likely was, had done nothing to fix her husbandless state.

As she rolled her eyes in exasperation, a children’s song her mother used to sing to her came to mind. Someday my prince will come “Yes, of course he will,” she muttered to herself sarcastically as she sat down on her bed. “And if he doesn’t come soon, he’ll find me a mildewed old husk.” She was about to take that cheery thought and cuddle up under the covers with it when she heard the knock on the door.

Aaron, of course, showed no sign of similar emotional burdens, instead being eager as ever to report on the day’s events and then move on to reading. As spring went on and daytime had begun to lengthen, “an hour after sunset” was moving inexorably later. In consequence Aaron was reading a little less each night before Eliza nodded off. The protagonist of the story had changed – from Samuel the noble priest to Saul, a popular warrior but impatient and presumptuous, and then to David, a nobody infantryman who had worked his way up through the ranks and became the chief noble himself after the self-inflicted collapse of Saul’s house.

As Eliza shifted under the covers, she thought to herself how this David could seemingly do no wrong. Why wasn’t there a man like that around for her to meet?

But as Aaron read, she found she was in for a disappointment …

 

Short Author Bio 

Ray Anselmo lives with his wife, two kids and various neuroses in Stockton, California. The Slave Auction is his first novel, but his fifth e-book – he’s also produced a novella and three small collections of short stories. His first full-sized short-fiction collection, Adventures in Time and Place, releases January 19, and The Irrational War, the second book of the Scotia Saga, is scheduled for later in 2015.

 

Find Ray and Find his books…

To purchase from Amazon (currently only $4.99 – a steal, I promise): The Slave Auction: Book One of the Scotia Saga

Ray’s Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Ray-Anselmo/e/B00KI85EDM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ray.anselmo (personal); https://www.facebook.com/Million.Dreams.Press (publishing)

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/rayanselmo