Tag Archives: Brenda Novak

Eleven romance authors I “discovered” in 2011 – & giveaway!

Mistletoe Madness 2011This post is part of the Mistletoe Madness blog hop. If you’re here for the first time, welcome! I blog about contemporary and historical romance, and I have weekly giveaways. (This one is an added bonus.) I hope you’ll consider subscribing and visiting again sometime.

I’ve heard some lovely stories about parents who mark their children’s growth by writing them a letter every birthday and recounting all the things they’ve learned to do.

I’m a bit too old for my mom to do that, so I measure my own growth in my own ways. One of my favorites is by reflecting on much-loved authors whose books I hadn’t read a year ago. These are authors who gave me the thrill of discovery and inspiration – what more could you ask for?

Here are 11 romance authors I “discovered” this year. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing some of them, and I’m making it my resolution to interview the others in 2012.

1. Shannon Stacey: Heartfelt, funny contemporary romance

2. Jane Graves: Contemporary romance that tugs the heartstrings

3. Catherine Mann: High-octane military romance (Catherine will be here the week of December 26 giving away Hot Zone!)

4. Brenda Novak: Romantic suspense that’ll keep you up all night!

5. Katie Lane: Quirky, hot small-town Texas romance

6. Laura Lee Guhrke: Stunningly beautiful historical romance

7. Shana Galen: Absolutely fantastic historical adventures

8. Suzanne Brockman: Her contemporary romance Infamous made me cry.

9. Vicky Dreiling: Wickedly witty historical romance

10. Sarah MacLean: Laugh-out-loud-funny Regency romance

11. Joanne Kennedy: Fun and poignant contemporary cowboy romance

Giveaway!

Since this is part of the Mistletoe Madness blog hop, there are a few ways you can win cool stuff.

1

Win a $10 book gift certificate and some chocolate on my blog. (Open internationally)

Chocolate stars ornamentLeave a comment below telling me an author you became a fan of this year. On December 23, I’ll randomly choose one commenter to win a $10 (or equivalent in your currency) gift certificate to an online book retailer. I’ll also send you this ornament filled with chocolate stars (fake tree not included), which will hopefully arrive in time for you to share them at a New Year’s party!

2

Enter to win a Nook! (U.S. only)

If you live in the U.S., you can also sign up for the Nook giveaway on PJ Schnyder’s blog, as part of the Mistletoe Madness blog hop. The Nook is loaded with books, so you can discover lots of new authors in 2012.

3

Visit other bloggers giving stuff away.

On PJ Schnyder’s blog, you can find links to all the other bloggers giving away cool stuff during the Mistletoe Madness blog hop. Go give ’em some love, and you could win cool stuff from them!

Who are your favorite new authors that you’ve discovered in 2011?

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Filed under Contemporary romance spotlight, Thoughtfulness

Winner of the Brenda Novak giveaway!

In Close coverThanks so much to Brenda Novak for being a brilliant interviewee and guest, and to everyone who commented on my interview with her.

The winner of In Close is…tori lindsey!

Tori, I’ve emailed you asking for your address.

Everyone, comment on my interview with Sarah Mayberry for a chance to win her Harlequin Superromance novel All They Need. I’ll randomly choose the winner next week.

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Winner of the Kristan Higgins giveaway!

Until There Was YouThanks so much to everyone who commented on my interview with Kristan Higgins, and a huge thank you to Kristan for giving away a copy of Until There Was You.

The very lucky winner is…Daco!

Daco, I’ve sent you an email.

Everyone, this week romantic suspense author Brenda Novak is giving away a copy of a book I absolutely loved, In Close. Leave a comment for a chance to win it!

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Interview with Brenda Novak – and giveaway!

Brenda NovakThis summer I picked up INSIDE, the first novel I’d read by romantic suspense author Brenda Novak, and couldn’t put it down until I’d finished. I read through the night and lost my heart to its hero, a man who spent his entire adulthood in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and is still paying for crimes he did commit while locked away.

I leapt on the opportunity to review her entire Bulletproof series, and I’m thrilled to say that Brenda’s here today answering my questions and giving away IN CLOSE, the last in the series (which you can easily read on its own if you haven’t read the other two).

Thanks for being here, Brenda!

1. You say on your website, “I learned how to write by reading what others have written. The best advice for any would-be author: read, read, read….” Being a bestselling author, mother of five, and organizer of a major annual fundraiser for a cure to diabetes, do you still get time to read? If so, what recently published novels have you learned from?

Inside by Brenda NovakI do still read. I think I’d go crazy if I didn’t. I’m writing so much that I have to be putting something back in the well to draw from.

I just finished CHILL FACTOR by Sandra Brown. Fabulous example of plotting and character development. Really enjoyed it. I’ve also recently read ROOM by Emma Donaghue, whose clever use of POV (it’s told completely from the point-of-view of a little boy) really makes that story shine. I’m currently reading Ted Dekkar’s latest futuristic. I’m not very far into it, but I’m enjoying it.

2. My freshman year of college, I regularly volunteered in Cook County Jail in Chicago, and ever since then I’ve been interested in artistic portrayals of prison life. I devoured the first novel in your Bulletproof series, INSIDE, which features a hero who has been released from prison and a heroine who’s an assistant deputy warden. Can you tell us what inspired you to write it? Continue reading

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Review: In Close by Brenda Novak

Hot, intense passion and suspense combine to create one of the best romantic suspense novels of the year

In Close coverFifteen years ago, Claire O’Toole’s mother disappeared. Last year, Claire’s husband David was shot dead in a freak hunting accident. And today, as Claire begins to investigate the disappearance that’s haunted her since she was a teenager, she starts to suspect there may be a connection between the two.

Isaac Morgan has loved Claire forever. They had a brief affair in their early 20s, but Isaac let his own insecurities sabotage their relationship. He spurned Claire’s love, then had to watch her marry someone else. Now that she’s on her own, and in danger, he won’t let her face the danger alone.

Brenda Novak’s Bulletproof trilogy has rocked my world. The first, Inside, features one of the most unusual heroes I’ve ever read about: a former prison gang member. The second, In Seconds, continues with the gang trying to get to their former member by attempting to murder his sister.

In Close, the last in the trilogy, shifts gears and kept me guessing to the very end. Instead of focusing on gang members seeking revenge on one of their own, In Close features a small-town murderer, a trail gone cold, and a daughter who’s never forgotten. It barely mentions the storyline that runs through the first two novels, so can easily be read on its own (when, as I said in my review of In Seconds, the second book can’t be).

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What makes a bad boy too bad?

In real life, I’m not attracted to bad boys. I’m a habitual rule-follower; I’m allergic to getting in trouble. If I were a romance novel heroine, I’d be destined to end up with a bad boy.

Bad boys make me nervous. They’re unreliable—if you can’t trust them to follow society’s rules, how can you trust them to follow the unspoken rules of a committed relationship?

But in romance, I can suspend my own standards and believe that bad boys can be good boys when it comes to the woman they love. That said, I have very strict standards they have to stick to.

1. No talking down to the heroine. Ever.

Ever.

This chaps my ass like a slap. My sympathy will never lie with a man who demeans a woman—whether it’s with words or a fist. He can misspeak, and get upset, and be occasionally rude, and say things he regrets. But no talking to the heroine like she’s beneath him or an idiot.

2. No cheating on the heroine. Or anyone else.

Zero tolerance. This is a crime against trust, and if a hero breaks a heroine’s trust this way, then he’s broken mine, too.

Inside by Brenda Novak3. No committing a felony—unless there are mitigating circumstances.

The exception probably wouldn’t have been there until a few weeks ago, when I read Brenda Novak’s gut-twisting romantic suspense Inside. The hero, Virgil Skinner, spent years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. But while inside, he did commit crimes—horrible crimes—though I could understand why. And I wouldn’t have believed his character if he’d been able to survive prison without committing them.

But I can’t think of many other heroes who’ve done something heinous and still gained my sympathy.

Looking at my rules, I wonder if my definition of a bad boy is wrong. Maybe I’m getting bad boys mixed up with jerks. What do you think?

What’s your definition of a “bad boy”? Do you like bad-boy heroes? What are your standards for bad boys in romance?

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Review and giveaway: INSIDE by Brenda Novak

This twisting, turning tale had me rooting for the unlikeliest of heroes.

Inside by Brenda NovakAfter spending over a decade in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Virgil Skinner is exonerated. While incarcerated, he did what he had to in order to survive—including joining a tough and well-connected gang. Now that he’s out of prison and trying to escape the gang, he’ll do whatever he has to in order to help his sister survive their threats, even if that means going back inside to help the authorities figure out who ordered a hit on a judge.

Peyton Adams is second in command at the maximum security prison Virgil is being coerced into infiltrating. She’s the only one of the authorities who cares about the dangers such a plan poses for a recently released man, but as she and Virgil spend more time together preparing for his time inside, she develops stronger reasons for wanting to keep him out of prison.

I loved the tug-of-war between Virgil and Peyton’s attraction and need for distance. They’re both so conflicted, wanting to be together for reasons that go much deeper than sexual attraction, but both facing very real consequences if they give in. Peyton could lose her job, but more importantly she’s conducted herself with strict professionalism over the years to carve her career in a traditionally male sector. Virgil risks having to survive a harsh prison after experiencing love, intimacy and freedom for the first time in his life.

But they can’t resist each other.

Take this scene, for example, after Peyton rushes to the motel Virgil’s staying in because she thinks his gang may have found him, and she decides she can’t leave him there.
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Brenda Novak’s auction rakes in the bucks

File this one under ‘Holy crap, people have lots of money to spend on getting published’.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about Brenda Novak’s auction for diabetes research, and how I had no problem setting aside what I could afford to bid on a critique.

Erm, apparently people have a hell of a lot more money than I do. Either that, or they really want to get published, or they REALLY hate diabetes.

The cheapest item on my watch list has a bid of over $100. The critique by Jessica Faust is at $1,060 right now. And there are 18 days left.

So yes, I’ll be doing things the old-fashioned way: with a donation and a query letter.

Not addressed to the same person.

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Brenda Novak’s auction o’goodness for diabetes research

I stumbled upon a link on Joanna Bourne’s blog where she mentions that she’s auctioning off a critique. It’s part of Brenda Novak’s 6th annual auction to raise money for diabetes research.

And holy crap if there isn’t a boat-load of goodies on offer – from critiques by agents and editors, to a six-month mentorship with Brenda Novak. Here’s the list of stuff you can bid for. Most of the auctions run throughout May, but some end earlier or only run for one day.

Part of me would feel strange about getting a critique and knowing I only earned it by paying for it. But, as someone who works for a charity and has several diabetic family members (including an uncle who lost a leg because of it), I have no qualms about setting a limit I’m able to donate and hoping I get something out of it. After all, I donate to the charity I work for and others just because it’s the right thing to do, so why not take part in a fun fundraiser as well?

If you bid on something and win, I’d love to know about it. Here’s hoping Brenda raises a million!

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