Begin Reading Another Day Another Dali…

It’s official…Another Day Another Dali, the second book in my Serena Jones Mysteries is now available. 

Here is an excerpt from the opening chapter to whet your appetite: 

 

I tore my gaze from the porch that wrapped around the drug dealer’s house and cringed at the number on my phone’s call display.

Mom said there’d be days like this.

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Tanner, still decked out in his SWAT gear, peered over my shoulder as the phone vibrated insistently in my hand. “Good thing you’re a field-hardened FBI agent, so you don’t let little old ladies scare the pants off you.”

I sent him a silencing glare. Ignoring his grin, I turned away from the rest of the team traipsing in and out of the building, and clicked Connect. “Hi, Nana,” I said, injecting fake cheerfulness into my voice. “What’s up?”

“I need you to come see me.”

“You nee—are you okay?” My heart stuttered. If anything happened to Nana . . .

“Of course I’m okay. Stop stammering, girl.”

Tanner, still hovering close enough to hear her strident tones, snickered.

I placed a muffling hand over the phone.

“Excuse me, sir,” I said sweetly. “Don’t you have a forgery to bubble-wrap?” 292908_anotherdayanotherdaliorchard_romtimes_160x600wb

“Forgery?” His stunned look was so comical I forgave myself for rushing to a verdict before my usual careful perusal. Not that I was in any serious doubt about this particular painting.

“Really?” he said, broad shoulders slumping. When I arrived on scene, he boasted they’d turned up art so hot it was still smoking.

“Yup. Fake.” I, too, felt a pang of genuine regret that the “Renoir” hanging in the drug dealer’s den wasn’t the one on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list.

But I’d left Nana hanging.

Straightening my shoulders, I put the phone back to my ear. “Sorry, Nana. Um, I have to be at the youth drop-in center by seven to teach the art class, so . . .” I glanced at my watch and cast about for a workable solution, but there just wasn’t enough time. “I’m afraid—”

“Never mind,” she interrupted. “Obviously, you’re at work.” Where you shouldn’t be taking personal calls, her tone implied. “Call me when you get home.”

“Okay,” I said to dead air.

Annoyed at myself for the guilty feeling I couldn’t stop from churning my stomach, I turned to study the front of the house once more. Something was niggling at my brain.

“Um . . . Tanner,” I said, hesitating.

“Yeah?”

“There’s something . . .” I squinted against the dropping September sun, mentally reviewing the interior.

He grinned. “Stop stammering, girl. Spit it out.”

“Ha, ha.” Wait . . . “Oh, that’s got to be it!” I stuffed my phone in my pocket and headed back inside.

Tanner followed me. “What’s it?”

I stopped at the door to the den and glanced at the window three feet from the side wall.

“Serena? What’s going on?” Tanner pressed, trailing me to the next doorway, this one into a bedroom.

“The window is three feet from the wall, just like in the other room.”

“So?”

“Where’s the attic hatch?”

“Mason checked the attic.”

“Humor me.”

“Don’t I always?” Tanner said. “I’m a funny guy.”

“Uh-huh.” He actually had the quickest wit of any guy I knew, even if he did run to cheesy puns sometimes.

Not that I’d admit that to him.

“Over here.” He steered me toward a stepladder set up near the back door. “But there’s nothing up there but insulation and mice.”

“Mice, huh? Are you trying to scare me out of looking?” I started climbing, and Tanner moved in to hold the ladder steady.

I pushed open the hatch and stuck my head into the attic.

“See?” Tanner said.

“Yes, I do.” I stepped down a couple of ladder rungs and flashed him a grin. “A false wall six to eight feet in from the back of the house.”

Tanner squeezed past me and beamed his flashlight around the vacant space. “Unbelievable. Mason should’ve caught that.”

“The wall’s covered in cobwebs and dust. It wouldn’t have registered unless you were looking for it.”

Tanner muttered something I couldn’t make out, but having been on the receiving end of his displeasure during my FBI training—granted, always earned—I didn’t envy poor Mason.

Tanner hoisted himself into the attic, then balance-beamed his way across a joist to the wall and examined every inch of it. “I don’t see any way to access what’s behind it.” He shone the light over the attic’s insulation-covered floor and then the shoe impressions he’d left in the dust on the joist. “It doesn’t look like anyone else has been up here recently. There must be another ceiling access panel.” He climbed back down, eyeing me with interest. “How’d you know to look for a secret room?”

I shrugged evasively.

Tanner followed me back to the room where the fake Renoir had been found and swept his flashlight beam over every inch of the ceiling. “There’s no other way up there that I can see.”

I maneuvered around the agent photographing evidence. The wall between this room and the next was decorated in wood panels and elaborate moldings that looked uncomfortably familiar. I ran my fingers along the moldings.

Tanner studied me. “What are you doing?”

“Looking for a secret panel.”

“Uh-huh. And you seem to know exactly what you’re doing here, Nancy Drew, because . . . ?”

I expelled a breath. “There was one at my grandfather’s house, okay?”

“Your grandfather? The one who was murdered?”

“Yes.” I blew away a strand of long, blond hair that had escaped my ponytail. “Maybe you could be helpful instead of giving me the third degree?”

“Sorry.” Tanner beamed his flashlight over the section of paneling I was running my hands over.

My fingertips made contact with the pressure sensor I’d been seeking and my breath caught. “Tanner, I’ve found—”

“Wait!”

Primed to open it, I tossed a frown over my shoulder. “Are you really going to pull the SWAT-clears-every-room-first rule on this one?”

“No, I thought I’d rock-paper-scissors you for the privilege.” He motioned me to get out of his way.

My finger still on the sensor, I sidestepped two feet so he’d have a clear view as I pulled back the panel. “You ready? I’ll slide it open and you can call the all-clear.” I slid it three-quarters of an inch and froze. “Uh-oh.”

Tanner cursed. “Please tell me you’re messing with me.”

I gulped. “You don’t hear that ticking?”

He crouched down and shone his flashlight through the gap I’d opened. “Blast, Serena, don’t move a muscle.”

Yeah, got that.

“Blast!”

“Tanner, could you stop using that word?”

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Hooked?  🙂

Ask for it at your local bookstore or click here for more buying options: http://sandraorchard.com/books/another-day-another-dali/afoolandhismonet

If you missed the first book, A Fool and His Monet, I recommend reading it first, but each novel is truly a standalone, so not reading it won’t inhibit you from following book 2 in any way.

Tomorrow, October 19th, I am being interviewed at Emilie Hendryx’s blog and will be offering a paperback copy of Another Day Another Dali to one lucky commenter. Hope you’ll stop by and tell a friend.

 

In other News:

All my Love Inspired Suspense titles are on sale for only $1.99 for kindle at Amazon until October 25th

Find them here: http://amzn.to/2dj8gpA

loveinspiredsuspensebooks

Where is Your Dream Escape?

I’m delighted to have Elizabeth Goddard, author of the Mountain Cove series with Love Inspired Suspense, here to share a bit about her latest novel, Deception. Take it away, Beth…

Thank you, Sandra. I recently read an article titled, “Where’s Your Dream House?” in Woman’s World magazine’s June 13 issue. Perhaps you read the same article. One gorgeous scenic image jumped out at me—a beautiful, clear river running toward a snow-capped mountain in the distance. Yes! That’s where my dream home would be.

Among the other choices were a beach, the country, the city and the suburbs.

Deception

The article explained that by choosing the mountains, choosing to live in a serene setting, I’m an introvert and that I “have an inherent ability to see situations with a wide perspective.”

I don’t know about the perspective part but I’m certainly an introvert! But the article made me think about the books I write—the part I love most about my stories is the setting. Writing novels set in places like southeast Alaska (my Mountain Cove series) let’s me spend all that time enjoying the setting, at least in my head.

I’ve always been a daydreamer, and if I’m not living somewhere then escaping to an exotic location in a novel set in such a place is the next best thing. When I’m searching for a new novel idea, I almost always look for the setting first.

As readers, I’m guessing that’s not necessarily what you look for first when deciding whether you want to spend the next few hours or days with a novel. If it’s set in a place you’d love to see, then that might catch your interest, but you also want action, adventure and intrigue. Throw in some romance and you’re all set.

That’s exactly what you’ll get in Deception, the 6th novel in the Mountain Cove series.

Here is what reviewers are saying:

I thought that the description of the wild Alaskan scenery was breathtaking and that it made me feel as if I was there. –Britt Reads Fiction

. . .the vivid imagery of the Alaskan wilderness . . . Deception is an exciting tale and a recommended read for fans of romantic suspense!—Buzzing About Books

Vivid descriptions and action bring the story to life—RT Book Reviews (4 STARS)

Thanks for having me, Sandra! And thanks for joining me, Readers!

 

Me again. My pleasure, Beth. Readers here is the back cover blurb for Deception and some more info about Beth.

TRAIL OF SECRETS

Jewel Caraway thought she’d left her mistakes in the past—but then her past arrives at her door. Though she’s thrilled to reunite with her estranged sister, something about her sister’s new husband makes Jewel uneasy. Does he know her secret? Is he the one behind the growing list of attacks against her? And if he is involved…does that mean her sister is, too? With nowhere else to turn, Jewel must rely on police chief Colin Winters—the first man to make the widow question her resolve to never love again. But will he stay by her side when her guarded secrets are revealed?

Mountain Cove: In the Alaskan wilderness, love and danger collide

To see purchasing options for DECEPTION, visit Beth’s website at Elizabeth Goddard.com or her Amazon Author Page

Elizabeth GoddardElizabeth Goddard is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than twenty-five romance novels and counting, including the romantic mystery, THE CAMERA NEVER LIES–a 2011 Carol Award winner. She’s a double finalist in the 2016 Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense for her books BURIED and BACKFIRE in the Mountain Cove series.

A 7th generation Texan, Elizabeth graduated from North Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and worked in high-level software sales for several years before retiring to home school her children and fulfill her dreams of writing full-time. She currently makes her home in Minnesota with her husband and children.

To get book news sign up for her newsletter at her website: http://elizabethgoddard.com

You can also connect with Elizabeth on Facebook: http://facebook.com/elizabethgoddardauthor

or Twitter.com/bethgoddard

 

 

 

 

A Sure Thing and A Christmas Cookie Recipe

I’m delighted to welcome back one of my favourite romantic suspense authors, Katy Lee, who has an intriguing new book coming out. Promise Preorder

Isn’t that dog adorable?!

Okay, take it away, Katy!

Hi Everyone,

I hope you brought your sweet tooth. Tis the season to be covered in flour and chocolate as I stand among the tastiest holiday treats from my generation’s past. My kitchen has been turned into a cookie factory made from my too-numerous-to-count recipe cards that I really should rewrite sometime. However, there is just something about an old, yellowed index card with batter stains dripped on it from previous years that tells me the holidays are here.

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My gift to you today is my tasty and colorful Church Window recipe, so stay tuned for that. They not only taste yummy, but they brighten up your plate and stand out from all those tan and brown cookies. But before I pass it along, and as yummy and colorful as they are, I have to admit there is something to be said for those tan and brown cookies.

They are a sure thing.

My favorite cookie of all time is the basic homemade chocolate chip. You can’t go wrong, and when you are trying to be “good” by only taking two cookies from the table of assorted treats, you know you’ll be happy with your choice.

I like to equate a chocolate chip cookie to a favorite author. Time is limited. Money is limited. You have to be selective in your purchase, and at the bookstore with so many books to choose from, I still will grab a book by an author I know and trust. They’re the sure thing…just like that light and crispy, warm and gooey chocolate chip cookie.

The chocolate chip cookie has been branded in our minds, homes and culture since 1930 when the owner of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts ran out of baker’s chocolate and substituted broken up pieces of a Nestle bar. She created a mixture all her own, and voilà, the cookie was found.

But only because the baker tried something new and proved there are lots more new favorites out there to be found.

So, this season I encourage you to try a new cookie recipe, and maybe even try a new author. You never know, you might find a new sure thing.

Now here’s that recipe I promised you:

Church Window Cookies

Melt 1 stick of butter/margarine and a 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler

Once melted, remove from heat and add colored marshmallows and chopped walnuts. Mix up until chocolate covers everything.

On your counter have ready aluminum foil with coconut sprinkled in the middle. Pour marshmallows onto the coconut and form into a log. Roll to spread coconut evenly around whole log.

Wrap log up in foil and freeze. When it hardens, unroll foil and slice into ½ inch cookies.

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Bonus: Make a bunch to keep in the freezer for when you need to make a dessert for a bake sale or an impromptu visitor. People will wonder where you find the time!

Sandra here again, first with a tip: keep that foil log away from the dog. That’ll be too tempting to resist!  😉 

Permanent VacancyKaty, thanks so much for sharing this recipe. Now… Christmas will come early for one lucky participant. Katy’s giving away a copy of her June release Permanent Vacancy (US residents only). 

Here’s the question we’d like you to answer to enter:

Your Turn: What authors and cookies are your sure things?

 

And be sure to check out Katy’s newest novel: 

Silent Night Pursuit

RACE AGAINST TIME

Lacey Phillips believes Captain Wade Spencer knows something about her brother’s mysterious death. So she throws caution to the wind and tracks him down on Christmas Eve looking for answers. Wade tries to turn her away—until bullets start to fly. He doesn’t want to take the stubborn beauty on his life-or-death mission to find out the truth about how Wade’s past may have cost her brother his life. But with killers lurking everywhere, he has to protect her—especially when she breaches the walls around his heart. Can Wade and his faithful service dog keep Lacey alive long enough to figure out who’s targeting them?

 

katy_lee_rita_photoKaty Lee is the author of six published novels. She writes suspenseful romances that thrill and inspire. She believes all of her stories should stir and satisfy readers—from the edge of their seats. A native New Englander, Katy loves to knit warm wooly things. She enjoys traveling the side-roads and exploring the locals’ hideaways. A homeschooling mom of three competitive swimmers, Katy often writes from the stands while cheering them on. Her 2014 book, Grave Danger, received the highest honor in romance: a RITA® nomination in the Romantic Suspense category, as well as a nod for the Daphne du Maurier award for excellence in mystery and suspense.

Visit Katy at: www.KatyLeeBooks.com

 

Breaking News…

book-deadly-devotion

Deadly Devotion, book 1 in my Port Aster Secrets mystery series, is currently free as an Ebook at online retailers:

Kindle: http://amzn.to/1bxYfCN

Nook: http://bit.ly/16nmsaJ

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1SxxxeI

iBooks: http://apple.co/1MX0KxW

 

Join me on the More to Life Magazine’s blog for “Five Tips on Staying Healthy This Holiday Season”.

 

Love Inspired Suspense Backlist is On Sale

Great news for those with Ereaders or who enjoy reading on their phone, tablet or iPad, in celebration of 10 years of digital publishing, Harlequin had put 10,000 backlist titles on sale for $1.99–several of mine included!

I found Fatal Inheritance, Perilous Waters and Identity Withheld

LIS Books Collage

marked down to $1.50 on Amazon and $1.99 on Barnes and Noble (Nook). They weren’t marked down on Kobo (they are supposed to be). Although the Epub versions are available directly from Harlequin. iBooks is also participating.

Amazon, bless their heart, is also offering great deals on the rest of my backlist ~$3 each for Deep Cover, Shades of Truth, Critical Condition and Emergency Reunion.

So…if you’ve missed any, it’s a great time to stock up.

Even my longer mystery titles–Deadly Devotion, Blind Trust, Desperate Measures and A Fool and His Monet (preorder)–are on for under $4!

Port Aster Secrets by Sandra Orchard

Clicking the vendor names above will take you to my books at the vendor. Clicking the book title names will take you to the book description on my website, which also has buy links. So be sure to take advantage of this great deal!

It ends November 17th.

Bonusclick here to see which titles of your other favorite Love Inspired authors have been included in this deal.

Please share this limited time sale with your friends!

 

Reading & Writing Romantic Suspense

HQN Quiz RS

For the next two weeks, Harlequin is hosting a Romantic Suspense Event.

And starting at 12:01 PM EST today, if you hop over to their Facebook page, you can take their quiz to find out which series is your perfect read for a chance to win a full year’s subscription!
Of course, I hope you’ll choose the series I write for:
Love Inspired Suspense.
LIS Books Collage

Then join us next week at the Love Inspired Suspense forum at Harlequin.com for a variety of discussions:

      Mon will be the continuity and favorite dogs/hero dogs.
Wed will be characters you’d like to see/character name suggestions.
      Fri will be suspenseful settings/settings you’d like to see.
[I’ll add links here once their live]
OR…

IF YOU HAVE A HANKERING TO WRITE ROMANTIC SUSPENSE

Read on…
First of all, if you aspire to write a romantic suspense, it’s important to understand that it is not simply a romance with a suspense thread. Romantic suspense readers want both a satisfying romance, and a suspense plot that is complicated enough that she won’t easily figure it out or, worse, become annoyed with your characters when they don’t.

So make it your goal to write a novel that is 100% suspense AND 100% romance–two strands of a rope inseparably intertwined throughout the story.

My editors want the danger to be evident from the start, ideally from the first line, or paragraph, definitely before the end of the first page.

For Love Inspired Suspense, both the hero and heroine need to be introduced and connected to the suspense within the first chapter. In single title romantic suspense, depending on chapter lengths, you might introduce the heroine and suspense plot in the first chapter, the hero and his connection in the second, each with clear goals, and bring them together in the third, perhaps clashing over opposing goals or opposing means of reaching the same goal.

I personally prefer to see both the hero and heroine introduced, and if possible to meet, in the first chapter. But either way, jumping right into the suspense is key. If you spend the beginning writing set-up or only writing about the romance, you will lose your reader before the suspense starts.

Although not essential, I also personally like to keep the bad guy a mystery to both my reader and my hero and heroine. That means, I tend not to include scenes in the villain’s pov (point of view)  unless they are anonymous or ambiguous and invite more questions than they answer. To me, keeping the villain a mystery adds more interest and tension to the plot, since the reader will only see things unfold from the hero and heroine’s viewpoint, and therefore share their emotional reactions to what’s happening on the page. Moreover, it keeps the romantic tension center stage, instead of detouring to a few pages where the hero and heroine might not even be on the page.

What is essential, however, is that the heroine be in jeopardy throughout the novel, and that both the hero and heroine have a stake in the outcome.

Let me repeat that another way.

The suspense plot shouldn’t simply be something the hero and heroine stumble into, which thereby puts them in danger, until they find a way out. It shouldn’t be a situation with which they have no personal connection other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Not that that can’t make a compelling story. My Daphne DuMaurier Award winning manuscript was a compelling read to the readers, agents and editors who gave it high scores. However, publishers turned it down precisely because the hero and heroine had no personal stake in the outcome of the jeopardy they’d happened into…well, besides getting out alive.  😀

There was tons of romance. There was lots of suspense of the “oh, no, what’s going to happen next?” variety, and the two were tightly intertwined. But aside from survival, the outcome of the suspense plot had no personal consequences to either of them.

Do you understand the difference?

Another important thing to keep in mind as you devise your suspense plot is to play fair with your reader. You can’t pull a convenient explanation or twist out of the blue; you have to set it up first.

Details are the key to setting up suspense and having fun with the reader. As a writer you leave all kinds of toys on the floor in a scene, use them.

But keep in mind that you can’t slow down for many home and apple pie romance scenes or deep spiritual introspection or discussions in the middle of a fast-paced suspense. They’re fine in a straight romance. But need to be utilized sparingly in romantic suspense.

Lastly, don’t wrap up your suspense too early and leave the reader with only the romance to support the end of the book. Or vice versa.

Remember the image of the rope. Romantic suspense readers want both romance and suspense all the way through the novel. And… inspy readers want to also see a satisfying spiritual growth or realization in the characters.

Being forced together via the suspense plot, forges a positive change in the hero’s and heroine’s characters; growth that must take place before the romance can culminate in a happy ending.

Read that last paragraph again.

It is the bare bones blueprint of how the essential elements of a romantic suspense are inextricably connected.

Your Turn: I hope this brief overview has provided a better grasp of areas of your story that might need some attention. Feel free to ask questions. I’ll be happy to try to answer them.

Finding Inspiration

For the past week, I’ve been in dream-up-a-new-story mode. This one is for the Love Inspired Suspense line. Since people often ask me how I come up with ideas, I thought I’d share some recent examples with you.

Ideas for snippets of scenes come from anywhere and everywhere; from a conversation at the dinner table; an interesting character I see while out and about; an intriguing news article or this gorgeous sight outside my office window this morning:

Sunrise on SnowThis particular image got me thinking that my heroine should see this the morning after a particularly traumatic evening to renew her hope. Then again…

You know what they say about red sky in the morning?

Shepherds heed warning.

That goes double for characters in my books. 😉

The original idea for the story I’m fleshing out right now actually started in 2011, while visiting a critically ill friend when her male nurse paid a visit. He was pretty handsome and so we had fun dreaming up a story featuring him.

His role has changed over the years, as the story ruminated in the recesses of my computer (ur mind). But that was the seed.

Story ideas often spring from what-if questions, too.

In this case, we asked: What if the bad guys go after the wrong woman?

It makes for lots of potential dicey situations, which my editor always loves to see. 😀

And…from the beginning, we planned to include a dog in a key role in the story.

That idea came about during a creative exercise I did for writer’s block, in which you choose three random words then write a few sentence vignette that incorporates them.

I liked the vignette so much, that at this point, it is still part of my opening scene.

Since I had so much fun with Rusty, Zach’s son’s dog in Identity Withheld, I’m looking forward to discovering this new dog’s personality. The inspiration for Rusty came from a newsletter subscriber who told me about the crazy things her childhood dog used to do and from an adorable Golden Doodle I met while out walking.

I haven’t settled on the particulars for my newest dog character. I’m thinking Ranger sounds like a fun name and I’m thinking a Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle dog) might fit the bill.

They’re courageous, watchful, protective of family, distrustful of strangers, high energy. Sounds perfect for a suspense don’t you think.

Of course, my Bella thinks she should be the model for the character:

BellaAwardShe is after all an award-winning actor. Even it was only in my daughter’s film for schdue southool.  😉

I personally think she’s been watching too much Due South and has illusions of grandeur. 😎

Your Turn: Any suggestions?

A Fabulous Love Inspired Giveaway!

Check out

Soul Inspirationz New Releases page for

November in category fiction, and…

Enter to win a copy of one of 12 different books, including

Identity Withheld by Sandra Orchard 😉

 

Nov New Releases Giveaway

Contest entries close 
Wednesday October 29 NZDT.

Evolution of a Novel – Part 5 – Connecting Books

Later this week, Perilous Waters will appear on bookstore shelves as I dig into writing the story of the hero’s cousin–paramedic Sherri Steele.

stretcher

I enjoy reading novels that revisit families or townsfolk or characters I’ve “met” in previous books so  I like to plot such connected books for my readers.

In the case of Perilous Waters, and my next two books, the connection is a family one (with apologies to those who were hoping for another Alaska setting 😉  ).

Pic of Brothers & Sisters

The fun of being a writer is that I can create whatever connections I want. The trick is to figure out what they are before the first book goes to print! Or at least not contradict anything that was introduced in the first book without an intriguing explanation.

lifering
used by permission, photographer Laurie Benner

I decided that due to a tragedy in the Steeles’ extended family, my future hero and heroine grew up wanting to work in jobs that would enable them to save lives. So…

Perilous Waters’ Sam Steele is an FBI agent. His brother, Jake Steele, the hero of Identity Withheld, is a firefighter and widower of a young son. The reader gets to know him well in PW and will hopefully look forward to reading his story when it releases in November. But when I started writing my cruise ship story, I had no idea how I might connect a third book, until…

baby

My hero was checking the online news of home, while aboard ship, and caught an article about his paramedic cousin delivering a baby. That’s when I knew I’d found the heroine of the third book. I even managed to bring her onto the page in person at the end of the book and give her a larger secondary character role in Identity Withheld.

I hope you’ll enjoy meeting the heroic members of the Steele family as much as I’ve enjoyed creating them.

Your Turn: Do you enjoy revisiting the lives of characters from previous books?

middle image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Evolution of a Novel – Part 3 – The Crime & A Giveaway

I have a both a shoebox and computer folder full of potential crime ideas for future novels. The idea of investigating Art Crime was sparked by a newspaper article about Alain Lacoursière, a Montreal police detective who sought to combine his passion for art with fighting crime. He enrolled in an art history course and began collecting catalogs from art auctions, as well as reports of stolen art.

His first “buy” was an antique tapestry stolen from NY, which he “bought” at auction for $195,000. Of course, the money never exchanged hands. He reported the find to the FBI who recovered the tapestry and in return wrote a letter to the detective’s boss telling him how valuable his work is.

Art 7

And so began one of the top art-theft units in the world. The FBI estimates that the international black market in art is worth about $6-billion a year, while Interpol ranks art theft as the fourth largest criminal enterprise after drugs, money laundering and weapons.

It sounded to me like a great springboard for a story. And when I boarded our Alaskan Cruise and saw the art gallery and information about the on-board auctions, I knew my cruise story was the one I wanted to work it into.

Art 5

Recovery rates of stolen art are pathetically low, which makes it a wonderful niche in which my hero detective can shine.

Through my research, I also discovered the biography of the founder of the FBI’s Art Crime Team, Robert K. Wittman. I devoured the descriptions of his exploits going undercover to rescue stolen treasures around the world and gleaned more ideas than I could possibly use in a short romantic suspense.

The book also gave a fabulous glimpse into the potential psyche of my hero.

So…while aboard the cruise, I visited my first ever art auction.

On Board Auction

Only a couple of pieces of the many displayed actually sold, and so began my musing of how my unscrupulous gallery owners might use such a venue to smuggle something more valuable or “pay” for something else. I literally had dozens of ideas of how I might integrate it into the story.

Of course, you’ll have to read Perilous Waters if you want to find out which idea I incorporated.

While many art thefts are crimes of opportunity, after which the thief waits for the crime to be reported and then either attempts to claim the reward or sells it on the black market, others are well-planned and the art may be used as collateral to fund other criminal enterprises such as drug and arms deals of organized crime.

And the art might be stolen from anywhere from a museum to a private collector to an archeological dig.

Or from a cruise ship. Maybe. 😉

All of the photos in this blog were taken during my cruise. Art was displayed throughout the ship.  

Art 3 Art 2

 The pieces pictured below are of the variety I envisioned my heroine most appreciating of her mother’s former work, heart-warming depictions of carefree childhood…what she once enjoyed, before her mother became famous and Jennifer’s idyllic world turned upside down.

Art 6

 Your Turn:  What is your favorite style of art or artist and why?  Think about what you might put on a wall or shelf in your home or office if money were no object.  😎 (Scroll down past giveaway & tags to find the comment box)

 

To celebrate the release of Perilous Waters (available now from Harlequin.com and coming in April to stores everywhere), I’m hosting a

Giveaway For All,

even if you’ve already received Perilous Waters through the Love Inspired Suspense subscription service:

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interested in writing romantic suspense? Join me Tuesday at Seekerville for my how-to post.

I’m also delighted to be interviewed at an Australian blog this week–booklovers1

Evolution of a Novel – Part 2 – Perilous Waters – What didn’t make the book

Perilous Waters is set aboard an Alaskan Cruise inspired by the cruise my husband and I took in 2012. It was our first ever and there was SO much to see, experience and discover.

So much that could be wickedly twisted into spine-tingling suspense situations

or passed off as red herrings

or that would provide rich backdrops and tapestries to the story.

Far too much to use in one short novel!

Is that man REALLY just taking a photo of his companion?!
Is that man REALLY just taking a photo of his companion?!

I wove in as many tidbits as I could–tidbits you’ll discover when you have the opportunity to read the book–but in the meantime, here are a few of the details that didn’t make it into the book.

-There are almost as many staff members as passengers on the cruise ship, from dozens of different countries. We enjoyed fascinating discussions with several of them, providing a window onto much different worlds than our own. Many dream of one day being able to immigrate to North America. You can imagine, I’m sure, how my mind played with the idea of using that in a suspense story.

villain

-We took part in a behind-the-scenes tour of the ship that included everything from massive kitchens and walk-in freezers to the engine room to the helm to a visit behind and beneath the stage in the theater. I saw tons and tons of places for fictional people to slip into and cause mischief or be kidnapped and hidden away or to sabotage and cause havoc. Hee, hee, hee.

-Then there was the spa. Ah, massages, massive showers twenty times bigger than the telephone- booth-sized one in the cabin, and every kind of salon or spa treatment you can imagine, including one or two, if you’re anything like me, that you don’t have a clue what they are. It seemed like the perfect spot for a nasty villain to catch an unsuspecting heroine unaware.

-On our ship, we were introduced to the “most traveled passengers” aboard. From Phoenix, Arizona and well into their retirement years, the couple had sailed with the cruise line for a whopping 946 days. A couple like that could help a detective out quite a bit, don’t you think? Although somehow, they seemed more like the perfect characters for a cozier mystery. 

-At various points during the cruise, forest rangers or special speakers/comedians etc came aboard to do a presentation or show. Many embark and disembark at ports, but the forest rangers of Glacier Bay came along side our ship in their own boat to climb aboard from the water. I snapped a few photos, my mind whirring with ideas of how I could use that little opportunity in the novel. Sadly, I never got the chance. 

forest_rangers-boat

Or should I say, happily for the heroine, I never got the chance? 😉

I hope this small window into “possibilities” has given you an enjoyable glimpse into the myriad of choices I faced as I plotted this novel. If you’d like to see a few more photos of our Alaskan cruise, you can find them under the book’s bonus features.

Your Turn: What is the scariest thing you could imagine facing on a cruise ship? (Aside from an iceberg  😉 )

P.S. I mentioned this last week, but for any who might not have seen that post…

Perilous Waters is available now directly from Harlequin in print or Epub, with free shipping to first time customers or on minimum orders, and… receive an additional 10% off their already discounted price with coupon code: SB14SL3 There’s also two Love Inspired Suspense giveaways happening this month at the Suspense Zone, including Perilous Waters, you can check them out here: http://www.thesuspensezone.com/contests/current-contests/