NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!

**Visit our 2017 Grand Prize Draw to win Eleven Exciting Ebooks in one go! closes Dec 25**


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Friday, December 15, 2017

Meet the New Geek Girl in Town!


I'm so excited to present the first book in my brand new young YA spy/mystery adventure series. WHITE KNIGHTS features the new geek girl in town, Angel Sinclair. For those of you familiar with my Lexi Carmichael series, this book is a spin-off. WHITE KNIGHTS released yesterday! Lexi and Slash make an appearance if you need a fix before NO REGRETS releases on January 8! I hope you'll check it out! This book is appropriate for teens, young adults and the young at heart.

Here's the cover blurb:
Geek Girls Rule

My name is Angel Sinclair. I’m the youngest senior at Excalibur Academy for the Technologically Gifted and Talented in Washington, DC. I was pushed ahead a year because of my high IQ and considerable prowess behind the keyboard, making me an outcast even among my own peers.

I’ve been looking for my dad all my life. A brilliant mathematician and cryptographer, he disappeared under mysterious circumstances when I was eighteen months old. Although my mom tells me I must put him in my past, it only makes me more determined to find out what happened to him. When weird accidents start happening at my school and the vice principal is involved in a deadly incident, I don’t see it as a coincidence. After launching my own investigation, with the aid of an unexpected set of allies calling themselves the White Knights, I discover a threat far greater than I ever could have imagined.

I could take my discoveries to the authorities, but my own investigative methods would be at risk. Can anyone say hacking? No, it’s up to me to set things right. My objectives are straightforward: clear the name of the vice principal, learn the truth about my father, and stay alive. In other words, save the day and try not to look too much like a dork while doing it.

WHITE KNIGHTS is available across all platforms AND is available in print, too!! Just in time for Christmas! Yay!! Click HERE for links to the book!

Julie Moffett is a bestselling author and writes in the genres of mystery, young adult, historical romance and paranormal romance. She has won numerous awards, including the 2014 Mystery & Mayhem Award for Best YA/New Adult Mystery, the prestigious 2014 HOLT Award for Best Novel with Romantic Elements, a HOLT Merit Award for Best Novel by a Virginia Author (twice!), the 2016 Award of Excellence, a PRISM Award for Best Romantic Time-Travel AND Best of the Best Paranormal Books of 2002, and the 2011 EPIC Award for Best Action/Adventure Novel. She has also garnered additional nominations for the Bookseller's Best Award, Daphne du Maurier Award and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. 



Wednesday, December 13, 2017

IRMA WHO?


Jean says, “Well, I thought John and I had it rough the last few weeks, what with Hurricane Irma and all, and we kind of did. We even, at the request of our family, evacuated to Ohio—for keeps. But the terror while the storm lasted, and afterward the lack of power, the closed grocery stores, the downed trees, the long, long lines for gasoline were nothing in comparison to what Honey Ingersoll has been through most of her life. She’s a girl who’s had a rocky beginning, but you know what? She’s determined to remake herself. I’d love to tell you all about it, but Honey’s here and dying to tell her own story, so I’ll turn the mic over to her.”

“As Jean mentioned, my name is Honey Ingersoll, and my story's right here in these pages:

 
Anyway, I was born and bred in Savannah which accounts for my southern drawl. As for my blond hair, that’s from Daddy. My smile, so I’ve been told, is from Momma. I surely didn’t get that from Daddy. He never smiled. Not once while I was growing up. Which is one reason why when Momma died I left the family trailer—a double wide—right after high school.

I never regretted escaping from Daddy, but I sure did regret hooking up with Billy Tubbs. We weren’t together long, though. I moved out the day he gave me a black eye for no reason except he felt like it. A week later, while waitressing at Josie’s Diner, I met Saxby Winthrop. I was pouring him a cup of Josie’s left-over coffee when he asked if I’d like to work in his real estate office.

“That would be wonderful, Mr. Winthrop, I said, as he stared into my eyes, “but I don’t know a blessed thing about real estate.”

“Not a problem, Honey.” He smiled and took my free hand, the one not holding the carafe. “I’ll teach you everything I know.”

And so he did. At the time I didn’t expect his lessons would include an insider’s knowledge of the realty business, but I learned about that too. Actually I learned a lot under Saxby—mortgage rates, contract terms, liens, blind trusts, short sales, foreclosures and, most import of all, how to close a sale, Saxby style.

No surprise there. Saxby was one of the two most successful real estate brokers in Eureka Falls, Arkansas. He owned a block of office buildings, half of Main Street, and an antebellum mansion on the edge of town he never once invited me to step foot in. When I found out he didn’t want his momma, Miss Eloise, to know about me, I realized I had to change into the kind of girl a man didn’t hide behind the barn like a pile of manure

Out went my big hair, platform stilettos and cherry-flavored chewing gum.  I used fewer “y’alls” and more “how are yous?”  I even stopped having Cindy Mae color-streak my hair and tossed all my tube tops. Didn’t buy another one, not even when Belinda’s Boutique put them on sale. Instead I bought a navy blue suit, the kind where the skirt matches the jacket, and a white cotton shirt I kept buttoned at all times.

None of this was exactly a college education, like going to Emory or anything, but it helped. And when I left Saxby to run the real estate office of his arch rival, Sam Ridley, I was twenty-two and ready to take on the world. Or so I thought.  But I hadn’t planned on finding a dead body in the first house I had up for sale. That’s another story, though, so if y’all don’t mind, I’ll give the mic back to Jean.”

“Thank you, Honey. You know folks, Honey’s complete story—the tale of what happens when a hot property meets a cold corpse—which she’s too modest to relate here, is available in e-book and trade paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever books are sold.

Thanks for listening. Enjoy!”

 

Grand Seasonal Prize Draw for our readers!


We're so grateful for our readers and love connecting with them. So we're excited to bring you this marvellous giveaway of Romance, Suspense, and Mystery E-books for the holiday season. Hopefully you'll have plenty of time to read them if you win :).

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO is comment on this blog post about which romantic / suspense / mystery book you're looking forward to reading - or re-reading! - over Dec/Jan. It can be from one of the Not Your Usual Suspects authors, or any other author. We love to hear about YOUR favourite reads.

Then we will draw the THREE prizes on Dec 26, with a random generator from all the comments.
Check back then to see if you've won. And the prizes are????

**A fabulous set of the ELEVEN E-books as shown below in the e-format of your choice
**An Amazon voucher for $10 (or your currency equivalent)
**An Amazon voucher for $5



All these E-books are included in the Grand Prize - click the links to find out more details about each title and author:

Special Forces soldier and medic Walter River would give anything to snatch more than a few seconds of down time to see if he can rattle the no-nonsense and incredibly hot Dr. Lloyd he's protecting, but dodging explosions, snipers, and student radicals who've unleashed a lethal bio-engineered microorganism have made that almost impossible. Maybe he'll get a chance—if he can figure out how to keep them both alive.

Terri Pinehurst has achieved the financial, social, and personal goals in her life, except for a lifetime kind of love. When she meets FBI Agent Blake Clayton, he exceeds her hopes and wakes up dormant passions in her. The day they marry at Blake’s family’s ranch in North Carolina, fishermen find bones in the nearby river that lead to an investigation into the death of a missing neighbor.

Tanner Mackay and Niall Sutherland were once far more than just fellow intelligence agents. But then a mission went horribly wrong and everything fell apart, sending Tanner into hiding and splitting the team and their affair wide apart. Now an unknown traitor is threatening the team, and their ex-boss is determined to reunite them before it’s too late. 

Jade has come from England to New York to find work and to live incognito, after a message from her brother, Miles, who works for a shadowy organization called the Increments. Gary is part owner of the store where she works, but despite their different social status, Jade and Gary have an instant connection. When Jade is put in danger, Gary is forced to act to save her, even if it means he risks his life protecting the woman he loves.

Helicopter pilot Joni Bell believes her life is once again under control after a failed covert rescue mission two years ago cost the life of a dignitary’s child. Out of the US military and relocated to South Africa, she test-flies a prototype Special Forces craft unaware her past has already caught up. Do you enjoy thrillers with unique settings and adventure? Like a strong female protagonist who is vulnerable yet smart enough to see team work gives her the best chance to succeed? Then you will enjoy Sandy’s Taking Risks series, which starts with Joni and wildlife manager Ian Taljaard in UNDER THE RADAR.
When a classy fashion-show luncheon turns deadly, the Ladies Smythe & Westin are back on the case. It's murder she wore… Sporting a chic Florida outfit and designer baubles, seasoned model Angelica Downs belonged on the runway…not in the morgue. Summer Smythe and Dorothy Westin are determined to retrace her final moments—right up to her desperate plea for help. The Ladies pin their suspects down to just a few questionable characters. But why would anyone target such a seemingly sweet, lovely woman? 

In this first book in a wildly addictive new series, a battle begins and one kick-ass female bartender turned demon fighter is ready for war. I'm Dana Markovitz. And my world is shifting. My experience with the paranormal community was a good one, pouring shots in the creature-friendly pit stop where I tend bar. Until last night. Worst. Date. Ever. A hookup with a vampire ended in a scratch from a jealous were-cat. Surprise! I caught a cat-shifting virus. Tell you one thing. There's no way I'm being put down like a feral stray. I may not know who to trust, but I'll be damned if I'm not fighting back. Hell, my claws are already starting to show. 

He’s been trained for war. No one prepared him for love. Black ops agent Max Lansing believes a powerful official within the United States military is protecting international arms dealer Heinrich Dietrich. Max vows to hunt Dietrich down, even if it means going rogue. Adrift after an attack destroyed her career and her self-confidence, former principal ballerina Emily Iwasaki has come to West Africa as part of a dance tour to raise money for war orphans. When rebels attack Emily’s tour group, Max steps in and saves her. As the days tick down to the arms deal, and all of Max’s attempts to get Emily to safety fail, they end up racing through the jungle steps ahead of the rebels. But when it comes down to saving the day or saving his girl, there’s really only one choice.

North of the Killing Hand is the second book in the Compass Crimes Series and a prequel to South of Justice. A finalist in the 2016 Royal Palm Literary Awards Competition, and a finalist in the 2017 National Indie Excellence Awards in the suspense category, this story has overlapping characters from South of Justice. After Nefi Jenkins witnesses her parents' murder in Brazil, she bonds with her American rescuers. They bring her to the U.S. to live with her relatives where she must adapt to a radically different lifestyle. She dedicates her life to law enforcement, in large part to impress Vincent Gunnerson, one of her rescuers. As an adult, Nefi will be forced to choose between the rule of law and the temptation of revenge.
Scene of the Grind is the first in USA TODAY bestselling author Tonya Kappes' new A Killer Coffee Mystery Series. The series takes place in the cozy southern fictional tourist town of Honey Springs, Kentucky. Roxy's life couldn't be better. Business at her coffee shop, The Bean Hive, was booming, she's reconnected with special people from her past, including her first teenage love, and visits The Crooked Cat book store, which is still her favorite shop in Honey Springs. When she discovers the beloved book store owner murdered and her Aunt Maxi is the number one suspect, Roxy has to uncover who is behind the murder not only to save her shop, her aunt, but her life.

So About the Money by Cathy Perkins
When Holly Price trips over a friend’s dead body while hiking, her life takes a nosedive into a world of intrigue and danger. The verdict is murder—and Holly is the prime suspect. Of course, the fact that the infinitely sexy—and very pissed off—cop threatening to arrest her is JC Dimitrak, Holly’s jilted ex-fiancé, doesn’t help matters. To protect her future, her business...and her heart...the intrepid forensic accountant must use all her considerable investigative skills to follow the money through an intricate web of shadow companies, while staying one step ahead of her ex-fiancé. She better solve the case before the real killer decides CPA stands for Certified Pain in the Ass...and the next dead body found beside the river is Holly’s.



Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Dreaded Outline

I hate detailed outlines.

There, I said it.

Yes, I understand the need to know exactly what’s going to happen in my book. Yes, I get that I should have these plot twists and aha! moments in firm mental view before I start writing. Yes, I get that it takes some of the oh crap what is this author going to deliver this time stress off my incredibly talented and long-suffering editor.

And yet.

Here’s a dirty secret I don’t tell everyone: I am, by writing nature, a pantser.


I love the thrill of the write. The feeling that I’m reading a book, not knowing exactly what’s going to happen next, except it’s me coming up with the words. The rush of those words spilling out from my unconscious onto the notepad or computer screen.


Ok. I will admit that there are (many) times when that approach involves adrenaline and white knuckles and why do I do this to myself moments. Swearing up and down that next time – NEXT TIME – I will do a proper outline and save myself from this stress.


Probably explains why, for Shifting Loyalties (book 3 in my Mark of the Moon series), I agreed to do it. The dreaded outline. In detail.

And I’ve tried to follow it. I have.

So…yes, I will admit that it has helped. In many places. Rather than staring at the wall or into space trying to figure out the what next of it all, I have an idea of the next what. Those days when I’m feeling uninspired, it’s ok because I KNOW WHAT COMES NEXT.


Concept right?


I’ve relied on it so much this time, though, that when I hit a point where I didn’t have the story outlined in detail – more of a broad brush with smudges at the edges   I went blank. And then I remembered why I did the outline. Because suddenly all I had to work with was a pristine page and a series of bullet points that said, essentially, something big happens and wrap up the story.

!!!

Moving forward? Pretty sure I’ll do this kind of outline again. Will I follow it though?




I’ll let you know when I get there. J

----

Beth Dranoff is the author of the Mark of the Moon series, published by Carina Press and Harlequin and available through most online retailers. She lives in the Greater Toronto Area, Canada, with her family, her dog and more books than she can count. Is it before noon? Then there’s probably a mug of coffee nearby as well.

Follow her on Twitter @randomlybibi, on Facebook or drop by BethDranoff.com to find out what's new.


Monday, December 4, 2017

Simple is Best When Baking Cookies and Writing Books

The best cookie recipe in my personal arsenal of sweet bribes is my great aunt Maggie’s whipped short bread cookies (recipe below). These one-bite treats melt in your mouth, leaving you reaching for more. I’ve been accused of evil misdeeds when gifting them, because the recipient immediately demands the recipe in order to make more.

With only four key ingredients, they’re easy to prepare, but require a cookie press, exact timing, and practice to create the perfect cookie. My name is occasionally cursed by those who try to replicate my cookies, and fail because they’ve never made them before, and lack the skills, tools (cookie press), and/or experience to create a good cookie.

Writing a good book also requires the right number of key ingredients. Characters, conflict, plot, theme, and the writer’s voice must all be present and in the correct amounts. Too much of one or two and not enough of the others with result in a book that doesn’t satisfy the reader. Skills like pacing and writing experience/practice are also essential to creating a novel that goes further than just satisfying the reader—it hooks them and has them eager to read more.

My favorite novels are those with interesting and flawed characters, whose goals are clear, but face difficult challenges in order to achieve those goals. Nalini Singh, Patricia Briggs, and Anne Bishop are all authors who excel at creating stories that are simply and perfectly satisfying for me as a reader and writer.

Which authors satisfy your need for a great story?


Aunt Maggie’s Whipped Short Bread

Ingredients:

2 cups of butter
1 cup of icing (powdered) sugar
½ cup cornstarch
3 cups flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Beat ingredients with electric mixer until the consistency of whipped cream.

Use a cookie press, icing bag or roll in a ball and place on an ungreased cookie sheet (the last option should only be used…last).

Bake for between 10 and 15 mins or until golden brown on the edges.




Julie’s most recent release is Viable Threat (May 22, 2017), book 1 in her Outbreak Task Force series. Smoke & Mirrors, the 2nd book in the series, will be released on Feb 26, 2018. Check out her website and/or social media channels for more info on her books.

@julieroweauthor



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Finding Inspiration



Where do you find your inspiration? What motivates you to succeed and exceed? 

Inspiration is described as a feeling of animation, arousal, or feeling infused with spirit and enthusiasm to do something. So, where do you find your inspiration? Here's where I find mine.

(1)  Exercise. It sounds corny, but a walk outside can clear the mind and refresh it. Yoga, Zumba, swimming, walking, lifting weights, and even meditation can inspire, too.

(2)  Take Photographs. I don’t have a fancy camera, every picture I take is with my phone. But I love taking all kinds of pictures. It helps me look at things through a different lens. Sometimes a new perspective is all you need to be inspired.

(3)  Be Creative. Draw, paint, play music, sing, dance or write. Artistic expression can be very freeing and often opens your mind to a variety of life’s possibilities.

(4)  Give It a Shot. Try something you always thought you couldn’t do, but always wished you could.

(5)  See the World Through the Eyes of a Child. Hang out with a kid for a day. Most children have a straightforward and honest view of the world. Without responsibilities weighing them down, their carefree attitude inspires fun. So, ride that rollercoaster, splash in the puddles, and smell every single flower on your walk.

(6)  Travel. See how other people live, eat and work. Experience the wonder of another world and culture. There is a lot of inspiration to be had there.

(7)  Let Go. Decide to leave behind those people, behaviors or things that don’t work for you anymore. Sometimes things are out of your hands and you have to make peace with that. Spend your energy on reflecting and enjoying your accomplishments and the relationships that are working.

(8)  Stop Being a Perfectionist. Celebrate your messiness, mistakes and flaws. Hooray! You are human. We love you just the way you are.

So, tell me, where do you find your inspiration?




NO REGRET, the 10th book in Julie's fun, geeky Lexi Carmichael series, releases on January 8, 2018 and is available for pre-order across all online platforms! Her new young adult spy/adventure WHITE KNIGHTS drops on December 14, 2017. Wohooo!

Check out the details on all of Julie's books at her website here.

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