Monday, September 26, 2016

Enough Trope To Hang Yourself

Tropes have gotten a bad rap over time. They've been linked as a synonym to the dreaded "cliché".

But Merriam-Webster actually defines trope as "a word, phrase, or image used in a new and different way in order to create an artistic effect". (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionarytrope)

And that's the definition I prefer.

The romance genre definitely has its share of tropes, motifs, and clichés. To begin with, in order to be a romance novel, the story must have not only a love through-line within the text but also the proper ending--either a happy-for-now or even better, a happy-ever-after. A prerequisite is not uncommon in genre fiction. For example, who would read a mystery if there wasn't the expectation of it being solved by the end? Could you even call it part of the mystery genre if the killer is never caught or the wrong-doer never uncovered? A mystery reader expects a certain ending, just like a romance reader does.

Some other popular tropes in the romance genre include the secret baby, the marriage of convenience, friends (or enemies) to lovers, opposites attract, the fake fiancé, the brother's best friend, a fish out of water, and even the second chance at love.

But why do we return again and again, seeking out new and different stories to attach to these age old story motifs? Here are my theories:
  1. We can relate to them. Accidental pregnancies do occur. Friends sometimes become lovers (I married mine after knowing him 20 years). Occasionally our brother has a really good-looking friend. And almost everyone has been in a situation where they felt uncomfortably unprepared or like a fish out of water. We know these stories. We've often lived these stories. We read about them to feel a kinship with characters going through the same situation.
  2. They come with built-in conflict. Every writer knows conflict is a basic building block of story.  Trope conflicts usually have a bit of a gossipy, reality show feel to them, appealing to a reader's sense of voyeurism. Will the marriage of convenience end in divorce? How can a couple get past the obstacle that caused them to break up a decade earlier and take their second chance? What will the hero do when he suddenly finds out he's a father? How will the brother react when he finds out his best friend is dating his sibling? With built in angst and situations poised for disaster, readers want to see how the writer resolves them as well as get a dirty little secret thrill at peeking into an intimate, closed-door relationship that isn't normally exposed in real life.
  3. They allow for character growth. One thing tropes do well is give us characters that have to overcome something. Accidental pregnancy stories can be tragedies (not love stories) if parents don't rise to the responsibility of parenting. A fish out of water story becomes a harsh lesson unless the character is willing to step out of their comfort zone and learn what they need to know to succeed. Opposites attract stories become break-up stories unless both sides learn to compromise and make a relationship work. Readers want a character to change and grow in a story. Satisfying trope endings force that growth.
Because tropes are familiar to readers, when a writer uses a trope to construct fiction, it's almost like entering into a contract. Readers expect the writer to provide them with a story they already know but resolve it in a unique and different manner. Because each trope has been used countless times before, it's a task that's not easy for the writer to do.

But I'm going to try it. I've got an alien same-sex secret baby story that is dying to be written. I think the alien and the same-sex aspects will set my story apart enough from others written using the secret baby trope. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I can pull it off.

So tell me--what is your favorite trope and what new and different story would you like to see using it?




Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Interview With Rachel Jones and a Giveaway

Southern Magic is proud to introduce Rachel Jones!  


She will be at our luncheon in Hoover, Alabama November 5 with Jennifer Ashley, Hildie McQueen, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lynn Raye Harris, Dianna Love and 20 plus authors.


Who are your top five authors to read?

Marie Force, Kristan Higgins, Laura Landon, Sarah MacLean, RaeAnne Thayne

What is your go-to book to read over and over again?
Ashes In The Wind by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

Describe where you are the most productive when you write.

I’m most productive in my newly renovated office surrounded by everything I need (music, tea, diffused aromas, resources). It’s a pleasant place to spend many hours.

Tells us a little about your current book?

Concert pianist Ella Craig returns home under the guise of performing with the San Francisco Philharmonic Orchestra. All she wants is to seek medical treatment for the symptoms she’s been experiencing then get back to the business of touring around the world.

General surgeon Jackson Hart, hired twenty-one months ago to replace Ella’s father, is a colleague of her Uncle Bill. Even with a fresh start and encouragement from Ella’s uncle and aunt, it has taken the widower over a year to open his life to social interaction once again. His career is taking off, and the idea of remaining permanently in San Francisco has merit.

As her friendship with Jackson deepens and she reconnects with family, Ella’s desire to stay becomes powerful, but the unresolved grief over her parents’ deaths is an obstacle to remaining in the city where she grew up. Ella struggles with her growing feelings for Jackson because no matter how strong they become, she’s not convinced she can give the time and effort required to sustain a romantic relationship with him. When Patrick walked away from her three years ago for that very reason, she vowed never to act on feelings of love again, no matter how intense.

Spending time with Ella awakens sensations and emotions Jackson thought had died with his wife. He’ll do anything to convince Ella to stay, but sadly realizes he’s not up to the promise of support he offers as she faces her grief. Accompanying Ella to the cemetery opens a floodgate of repressed memories of the days following Beth’s death. They crash down upon him with such force he now realizes he has not adequately dealt with his grief, only buried it and now it returns to haunt him again.

Show us your one favorite scene of dialogue from that book.

Ella’s heart pounded. His clean scent surrounded her, the heat from his body undeniable. She turned her head in his direction, welcoming the closeness of their faces. Jackson stroked the side her face, coaxing her toward his lips.

As they connected her eyes slid shut as she became lost in his kiss, melting into his masculine form. This man could kiss. She pulled away, breathless and found his face in the star-lit night.

“How did things get so messed up between us?” she asked.

Jackson’s hand fell from her shoulders. “I screwed it up when I told you about Beth.”

“Let’s be honest here. I put you on the spot. If I’d never asked for your help…”

“I had a hard time when Beth died. For a while I couldn’t function. I don’t know if I would ever have recovered if it weren’t for my grandparents. They gave me time to grieve and then they began to pull me back from the dark place I had gone to. They were smart enough to know when to stop
sympathizing and start pushing so I could have a life again.”

“I’m glad they were able to help you.”

“I would like to have helped you when you asked me. But I was scared if I let myself remember and feel, I might retreat back to those days of darkness and I didn’t want to go there.”

“After you left I didn’t know how to approach you, so I waited. I’m sorry I asked you for something you couldn’t give.”

Jackson hung his head. She put her hand on his arm. “It’s okay. I’ve been to the cemetery.”
He looked at her. “How was it?”

“So different from what I expected. I felt peaceful when I left. I might even go back sometime, maybe.”

“I’m sorry you had to go alone.”

“I wasn’t alone. Alex went with me. He’s a good friend.”

Jackson picked up a small seashell and threw it. “I see.”

He’s jealous. “Alex is a great guy, but you shouldn’t be resentful of him.”

The jealousy factor gave her a boldness she never would have claimed as part of her personality. “I’d never do this with Alex.” She placed her hands on his face and pulled him close. She touched his lips with hers and knew the invisible barrier between them disintegrated when he shifted and grasped her shoulders.

The kiss turned from soft and sweet to fully charged making her feel heat at her core, something she’d never experienced with Patrick. The foreign feelings had her shuddering for more and pulling away at the same time.

What do you believe makes a man sexy?
Where to begin? Rolled up sleeves, five o’clock shadow, genuine smile, eye contact; happy to do the little things to make my day better (cook dinner, foot rub); owns a dog, is nice to the older generation.

Here's her short bio.

A registered nurse by night (for the past twenty-five years) and a writer by day sums up Rachel’s present life. She loves composing stories about strong women and sweet romance. Her books reflect her love of the performing arts, and her career in healthcare has influenced the threads of medical drama woven into her storylines. Taking A Chance On Love, Rachel’s second novel is a Rone Award finalist this year. Fingers crossed – winner announcement in October.


When she’s not working or writing, Rachel loves traveling, sewing and making music. After retirement (three years away) she plans to join a local orchestra and resume her clarinet playing on a semi-professional basis. Rachel lives in Kennesaw, Georgia with a spoiled Labrador retriever and her husband of thirty-eight years. They have three grown children.

Look for Rachel at the following places.


Today's giveaway is a $10 gift card to Amazon. 

Question: What musical instrument can you play? 
If you don't, but if you could, what would you play? 

Leave an answer to be entered to win.  The winner will be announced this Saturday in the comment section.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Interview With Dianna Love and Giveaway

Southern Magic is proud to introduce our special guest, Dianna Love!  

She will be at our luncheon in Hoover, Alabama November 5 with Jennifer Ashley, Hildie McQueen, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lynn Raye Harris and 20 plus authors.


What are the last few books you read?
Elizabeth Hunter’s IRIN CHRNONICLES (4 books/paranormal mystery), Hildie McQueen’s MONTANA BACHELOR (western romance), Eric Asher’s Steamborn (young adult), Russell Blake’s JET (black ops thrillers) series, Adrienne Giordano’s DEADLY ODDS (RS) and Tracey Devlyn’s LATYMER (historical romance).


What was your go-to book in childhood—the one you read over and over again?
The one book that stays in the back of my mind over the years and inspired me to write about places I've never been to like sci fi and fantasy worlds was RITE OF PASSAGE written by Alexei Panshin (original book was released in 1968, but it's been reprinted like a zillion times). I was a big Isaac Asimov fan as well.

Who influenced your writing the most? Why?
Suzanne Brockmann and Catherine Mann influenced my early romantic suspense writing the most.  As for urban fantasy - I read so much urban fantasy, young adult and sci fi that it’s hard to say which ones, but I’ve studied the style of pretty much all the major ones.

Describe where you are the most productive when you write
.In my cave. I’ve taught my body that when I sit down in my cave at home it is time to write. I can write anywhere and have produced pages in some really odd situations, but when I’m in my little writing space I tend to write for 10+ hours a day.  

Tells us a little about your current book?
I’m working on the next Belador urban fantasy titled DRAGON KING OF TREOIR, which will be out in January 2017.  It’s so hard to tell you anything about that book without giving spoilers, but the Beladors are in turmoil after a major change in leadership.  An ancient enemy rises up to push things past the boiling point and Quinn faces death if he fails to deliver the body of the woman he loved to his enemy who will use necromancy on it.  Let’s just say that Quinn is in for a few surprises and the Dragon King will be put to the test as their new leader.   Evalle, Storm and all the rest will be back as the Belador world continues to grow and expand. ROGUE BELADOR, which came out in April, had major surprises for readers too.

Show us your one favorite scene of dialogue from that book.
This is from ROGUE BELADOR, the April book.  Tzader and his rogue team are inserting into Taur Medb and planning to steal the queen’s throne-  a dragon cursed into that shape

TÅμr Medb, home of the Medb coven 

Tzader took in his team to make sure all five of them had survived the teleportation into Tŵr Medb. No welcoming committee had waited for them in this bedroom suite, thank the gods, but the distinctive smell of burned limes clung to the air in Medb Central.

Evalle asked, “How’re you doing, Tristan?”

Running his hands over his head, Tristan said, “That was hairy, but we’re here. Let’s get this done and get out.”

Tzader had hoped to hear cockiness instead of uncertainty in Tristan’s voice, but they were here now and there was nothing to do but move forward with the plan.

Adrianna stepped over to Tristan. “Can you jump to the throne room, or do you need a moment to recharge?”

“I’m good. Do your little cloaking trick.”

“Little cloaking trick?” Adrianna gave it a beat then said, “I’m not entirely sure how Witchlock will function here. Maybe I should test it on you and seal your mouth shut. It would be so much nicer if all you could do was nod yes or shake your head no.”

“Who peed in your crispy doodles this morning?”

Evalle stepped over. “Tristan, would you just do your part without acting like a jerk?”

He lifted his hands in surrender. “Fine. Wouldn’t want to upset your witch buddy.”

Evalle shook her head and gave him a wry smile. “I’m trying to preserve your family jewels. I have no doubt she can remove them with a flick of her hand, but reattaching them ... now that might actually be some trick.”

Color washed out of his face. “Not funny.”

Tzader said, “We’re not here for fun. Get moving if you want to stay alive. The sooner we’re out of here, the better chance of that happening.”

Tristan said nothing after that unless someone asked him a direct question. Once Adrianna had them cloaked, Tristan teleported them away. 

Storm had been checking out the room. “How did you keep Lanna hidden once you figured out she’d traveled here with you?”

Evalle said, “She could cloak herself, but she also kept practicing teleporting.”

“How far could she go?”

“From the bathroom on the other side of that door.” Evalle pointed. “To this room, and she kept hitting her head on the wall when she missed.”

“No wonder she gives Quinn fits,” Tzader commented.

Tristan appeared right in front of Storm. They both jumped back. Tristan said, “Stay out of my landing spots.” 

Storm countered, “Put an X on the floor next time.”

The next time Tzader needed a black-ops team, he was leaving at least one of these two behind. Right now, he needed both. He asked Tristan, “Is Adrianna working on the dragon, or do we need to take out some guards?”

“She’s on it, and the hall outside the queen’s quarters is empty. They must know when the queen is on-site or gone. Bunch up and I’ll take you there.”

The jump to the throne room was quick enough that Tzader didn’t feel his stomach do backflips. So this was the heart of Tŵr Medb, huh? Adrianna stood in front of a throne that was, by the gods, shaped from a dragon. She said, “I can’t break a curse unless you can tell me what it was.”
The dragon grumbled and the throne shuddered. Smoke curled from his nostrils.

Evalle walked over to stand next to the dragon, who stopped making noises. His big silver eyes looked Evalle up and down, then shifted over to take in the men before returning to Adrianna. He tried to make noises but his mouth was not opening for him to talk, growl, or whatever he could do. 
Storm joined Adrianna and Evalle, saying, “Can you free his jaws or tongue to somehow release his voice?” 

Adrianna thought on it several seconds. She addressed the dragon. “I can try something, but it might require breaking your jaw. I won’t do it unless you give me permission. Puff out one time for no and two for yes.”

Silver eyes thinned at that suggestion, but he puffed out twice. 

“I was afraid you’d say that,” Adrianna muttered.

What do you believe makes a man sexy?
I find confidence in a man sexy. There’s a big difference between confidence and arrogance. I have no doubt that if the world erupted in an apocalyptic war tomorrow, that my husband would know what to do and as a team we’d be able to protect ourselves and live off the land.  I was never attracted to those men who can’t screw in a light bulb much less fix something on their own.  The heroes in my stories aren’t perfect, not by a long shot, but they are confident in their abilities and will not hesitate to wade into a battle even if they’re outnumbered. A sexy man, IMO, is someone with his own code of honor who can back up whatever he says, or die trying.

Facebook:
Dianna Love Fan Page:  

Dianna Love STREET TEAM: 


Author website: 

Twitter: @DiannaLove

Amazon Author Central Page: 

New York Times bestseller Dianna Love once dangled over a hundred feet in the air to create unusual marketing projects for Fortune 500 companies. Now she focuses her energetic muse on storytelling.  The first book she wrote won a RITA® Award and sold out in six weeks.  She writes high-octane romantic thrillers and urban fantasy, with FATAL PROMISE, book 6 in the sexy, fast-paced Slye Temp romantic suspense series released June 28th, and DRAGON KING OF TREOIR, book 8 in the bestselling Belador urban fantasy series scheduled for January, 2017.  
When not in the writing cave, Dianna loves touring the country on her BMW motorcycle.  She lives in the Atlanta, GA area with her motorcycle-instructor husband and a tank full of unruly saltwater critters.  

Connect with Dianna on Facebook at Dianna Love Fan Page or sign up for the crazy fun on her Dianna Love Street Team.  Follow her Amazon Author Page for new release updates and other news about her books.  Excerpts of all her books are at AuthorDiannaLove.com

Today's giveaway is a print (if US or Canada) copy of Rogue Belador and a swag pack. If it's an international winner - ebook copy of Rogue Belador and swag pack. (For e-book gift, winner must have an Amazon, Barnes & Noble or iBooks account.)

Question: What book from your childhood do you still remember?

Leave an answer to be entered to win.  The winner will be announced this Saturday in the comment section.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Interview With Brina Cary and Giveaway

Southern Magic is proud to introduce Brina Cary!  

She will be at our luncheon in Hoover, Alabama November 5 with Jennifer Ashley, Hildie McQueen, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lynn Raye Harris, Dianna Love and 20 plus authors.


Who are your top five authors to read?
That's a hard decision... I guess Lee Childs, Agatha Christie, Nora Roberts, Lynn Kurland, and BJ Daniels are my top five.

What is your go-to book to read over and over again?

The Westing Game is my most favorite book because it's such a well-done mystery. Everything is tightly wound together throughout it and it ends with happiness. Mr. Westing's goal wasn't to terrorize anyone. In fact, he brought them all together and made them learn something. To me, the book is extremely teachable. To me, it's about finding your own happiness despite what else you've been through in life.

Who influenced your writing the most? Why?
Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, and my nephews. As a Veteran I've seen and experienced a lot of things. When I have a bad day I will actually sit down and go "ok, let's pull a terrifying escape." I'm not brave enough to show anyone my really dark stories, but they exist. A friend read one of my darkish stories once and demanded to know who upset me, so she could warn them. My nephews keep my stories light. They help me to remember that there's happy endings. So while there's a sad or angry part in my stories, there's always going to be a happy ending. After all, you can't tell a kid a story about pirates without making the pirates based off of the kid, and have them find the treasure. It just doesn't work that way. :)

Describe where you are the most productive when you write.

Honestly, I'm the most productive at a write-in, surrounded by other writers. Everywhere else and my ADD kicks in full gear. I get more non story things done in that time than I normally do.

Tells us a little about your current book?
My current book is an Alternative Universe (AU) Romance. Basically, if you take one thing and change it (in my case it would be that the Scottish vote for freedom in 2015 succeeded) then you've created an AU.

The vote had me on the edge of my seat because I love early English history (1776 and before), which means I adore both England and Scotland. One of the most wonderful concepts I learned in college was the principle of "He might be a bad king, but he's our king." That's how some Scottish rulers were seen. That concept is what sparked the idea as to what Scotland "could" have done if the vote had succeeded last year. In All Her Men Amelia MacRory becomes Queen because of this.

Amelia is the last direct descendant of Mary Queen of Scots, whom some consider the last true Scottish ruler. Unfortunately, Amelia is a wee bit unprepared to deal with everything that comes from the Referendum. There's an assassin or two, a jerk that is just plain evil, and a few other surprises. There's a bombing that will just tear your heart out too... Amelia is extremely lucky because her father set up a group of orphan mercenaries to be her guards, her men. One has loved Amelia, from afar, since they were both children.

Show us your one favorite scene of dialogue from that book.

“Through the tunnels?” Was he serious? “Tunnels, as in underground, with rats?” His lilting laughter greeted her in response. There was no recrimination for her. His face simply reflected mirth, as if he wasn’t sure what to make of her, but found humor in her words. “No, I’m not afraid of rats.”

“Of course.” He still grinned at her.

“Whatever.” She turned away from him. Her face hot from embarrassment and shame. “A flea on a rat caused the Black Death. I just don’t like being around them.”

“Ye think we would let ye succumb to the Plague?”

“The little slimy man might.” At his questioning look she clarified, “your nasty little SNP Leader.”

His body tensed and he began looking her over from head to toe. She began looking at herself too. Amelia had been extremely careful not to drop her breakfast on her, but maybe she had missed something. Upon not finding anything she looked back at him. His words sounded gravely and dangerous to her ears as he asked, “Did he hurt ye?”

What do you believe makes a man sexy?
For me, a guy is sexy if he has an intelligent mind and a dazzling personality. A man or woman can have all the looks, money, etc in the world and be duller than a box of rocks. It's when they can make me laugh and understand my crazy geeky or nerdy references, that I adore them forever.

Here's her short bio.
Brina Cary is a world weary traveler who has been to such faraway places as Guam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Jebel Ali, Bahrain, etc. through a tour in the US Navy. While growing up surrounded by poverty Brina began to dream of the different avenues her life could take. She joined the Navy out of high school to find out what she wanted in life and have a bit of an adventure. Since then that adventure has taken her down the road to martial arts, private investigations, forensic anthropology, financial analysis, arson investigation, Egyptian curses, myths and legends, etc. Brina uses all this experience in her writing to create adventures for her readers!

Brina Cary is a member of RWA and the following RWA Chapters: Southern Magic, Celtic Hearts, Kiss of Death, and FF&P. She is also a member of Sisters in Crime and their Guppies Chapter.



Look for Brina at the following places.


Today's giveaway is a Zombie Apocalypse Partners necklace from Wishing Willow Metal Arts.


Question: What is the creepiest creature you try to avoid?



Leave an answer to be entered to win.  The winner will be announced this Monday in the comment section.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Interview With Suzanne Johnson and Giveaway

Southern Magic is proud to introduce Suzanne Johnson (writing as Susannah Sandlin)!  

She will be at our luncheon in Hoover, Alabama November 5 with Jennifer Ashley, Hildie McQueen, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lynn Raye Harris, Dianna Love and 20 plus authors.


Who are your top five authors to read?
The authors on my auto-buy list are Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Alex Bledsoe, Rick Bragg, Kim Harrison. But I read all genres and also read a lot of nonfiction. A whole lot of nonfiction.

What is your go-to book to read over and over again?
Stephen King’s The Stand. I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve read that book, beginning way back when it was first released. The older I get, the more I appreciate the universal themes of good versus evil, and the nuances of the characters. It’s still probably my favorite book of all time, but Sai King (in-joke for anyone who’s read The Dark Tower series) still can’t write romance worth a crap.

Who influenced your writing the most? Why?

I cut my teeth on Stephen King, obviously, so I guess if I had to point to an early influence it would be him, as well as the poetry of Kenneth Patchen and WB Yeats. Romance readers tend to write King off as a horror writer, but he writes really intriguing characters and rich stories. (Well, and horror.) But the authors who actually got me started writing fiction were Simon R. Green and Jim Butcher, and their Nightside and Dresden series, respectively. I binge-read both series beginning-to-current back in 2008 and said, “I want to write that genre.” I found them intellectually exciting and they began churning up all kinds of ideas and possibilities that I wanted to explore. The Nightside series almost made my brain explode (that’s a good thing!).

Describe where you are the most productive when you write.
It’s not so much a place, although I do the majority of my writing in my home office, but a state of mind in which I’m most productive: under deadline. Maybe it’s because the bulk of my career has been in journalism but I thrive under deadlines; even a tight deadline doesn’t freak me out—it just makes me work harder. If I don’t have a firm deadline, I find it difficult to motivate myself and I’ll end up doing something like what I did the entire, deadline-free month of July: binge-watching “The Deadliest Catch.” All twelve seasons, twenty episodes a season. LOL. So I need a hard, tight deadline or I will dawdle around imagining life as a Bering Sea crab fisherman. Despite the fact that I get motion sickness and can’t swim.

Tells us a little about your current book?
I’m currently dawdling over the fifth book of my Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, written as Susannah Sandlin, which might or might not involve Bering Sea crab fishermen. My next release, on October 18 (which I’ll have at the Southern Magic Readers Luncheon!) is BLACK DIAMOND, also as Susannah Sandlin. It’s the second in my Wilds of the Bayou romantic suspense series set deep in the heart of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. The series follows a team of wildlife enforcement agents (the law-enforcement type of game warden) as they find danger and love in the wilds of the bayou. In BLACK DIAMOND, agent Jena Sinclair gets caught up investigating a series of aggressive alligator attacks that happen at the same time a dangerous designer drug called Black Diamond is flooding the parish. There’s also a sexy reclusive man living back in the bayou, way off the grid, who’s definitely involved…but how? Book five of my Sentinels of New Orleans series, BELLE CHASSE, written as Suzanne Johnson, comes out on November 8. Nice of my publishers to set release dates three weeks apart. Not!

Show us your one favorite scene of dialogue from that book.

From BLACK DIAMOND…Both the hero and heroine are very damaged people, especially the hero, and their conversations tend to be intense. I couldn’t find one that didn’t have spoilers, so I chose this conversation between Jena and her partner, Mac. She’s planning to meet with the hero, Cole Ryan, who is living way off-grid and no one knows anything about him. He claims he has information about a drug called Black Diamond but will only talk to her. Mac is not a happy camper. I like this scene because it shows the growing friendship/partnership between Jena and Mac, who’ll be the hero of a future book in the series.

Mac waited until they were back in the truck and on their way to Gateau’s in Houma to ask her the obvious. “Why are you meeting with that Ryan guy today, and who’s your backup?”

“He left a note for me last night while I was at dinner. It was lying on the mat outside my front door.” Jena watched the passing scenery and didn’t look at Mac, which told him she was measuring her words and didn’t want her face to give anything away. “He says he has information on the Black Diamond case but he won’t talk to anyone but me. He wants to talk to me alone.”

Mac let that process for a minute. Maybe half a minute. Maybe ten seconds. “He left a note at your freaking house? How would he know where you live, Sinclair? That’s just one of a dozen reasons not to meet with him, much less alone.”

Jena gave him a brief glance. “Yeah, it bothers me too. I have an unlisted landline number. He called my cell from a pay phone, but didn’t leave a message. Instead, he drove to my house and left a note.”

“So I repeat, who’s your backup?”

“Mac, if he sees another officer there, he won’t talk. I can guarantee you that from my one conversation with him.”

He took a deep breath. She was his senior officer, but this had to be said. “Jena, there’s an easy solution to this. We call the sheriff’s office and tell them this Ryan guy could be a person of interest. Then you’re out of it. He’d never even have to know you had anything to do with it.”

She twisted in her seat to look at him, her hazel eyes serious. “No. I mean it, Mac. No. There’s something about this guy that’s on the level; I can just feel it. He’s . . . I don’t know . . . fragile.”

“Fragile? Fragile? He’s built like a solid f***ing tank, pardon my Français. He’s as fragile as a bull gator in a small bayou.”

“I don’t mean physically fragile. Obviously.” She smiled. “I mean emotionally fragile. We connected in some way the day I talked to him, and I don’t want to scare him off.”

“You are not talking to this guy alone, even if I have to park a half mile away and hide in the bushes.”
At that, she grinned. “Only if I get photos.”

He pointed at the laptop computer lying atop a pile of paperwork on the center armrest of the truck. “In the meantime, have you run a search on him? Even a simple Internet search? See if he shows up?”

“No, things have been too crazy with Jackson and . . .”

Jena pulled the computer into her lap and began to type and scroll. “Oh my God.” Her eyes widened more with each click of the keypad.

Mac almost lost control of the truck trying to crane his neck to see the screen. “Did you find him?”

She closed down the page she’d been reading and twisted the laptop back to its usual resting place. “Oh yeah, I found him, all right.”

What do you believe makes a man sexy?
A good sense of humor. Without that, it doesn’t matter how sexy they are physically. Humor makes up for most things with me, as long as it’s not humor at someone else’s expense.



Here's her short bio.
Chapter One: I am born. Oh, wait, I’m not Dickens, am I? The “boring official bio” is below [on my website]. In the unofficial bio, I am ridiculously nearsighted, have a weakness for reality shows (anyone for a marathon of “Cutthroat Kitchen?”) and am somewhat obsessive-compulsive. Well, okay, my critique partner calls me “Rain Man.” Whether writing as Suzanne Johnson or Susannah Sandlin, you can count on quirky characters and a lot of action.

Look for Suzanne at the following places.
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Today's giveaway is a $15 gift card to Amazon. 

Question: What is the last TV series (or Movie series) that you binge watched? 

Leave an answer to be entered to win.  The winner will be announced this Saturday in the comment section.