WONDER WOMEN—LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE GIRLS

Susannah Sandlin, a.k.a. Suzanne Johnson, is guest blogging today. Her latest release, ILLUMINATION, came out on July 11th. Welcome, Suzannne!


“The women end up taking center stage in ILLUMINATION”

For most of the Penton Legacy Series, it’s been all about the boys. Sexy alpha vampire males are fun to write, and it’s always a challenge finding the right mate for them.

Smart, brooding, responsible Aidan got smart, open, down-to-earth Krys. She tells him like it is and calls him on his crap.

Guilt-ridden badass Mirren, who likes his silence and solitude, fell for people-loving chatterbox Glory. She’ll tie the man down if she has to…and she sometimes does…to make him get out of his own way.

Reckless, handsome Will—voted vampire most in need of a shrink—was reined in by serious control-freak Randa. She finally cracked the thick Teflon coating he’d formed around his true heart and mind.

Adrenaline-junkie Cage (who was a shrink before being turned) found his soul mate in eagle-shifter Robin, who scares him more than a dirty bomb half the time. He also sees a side of her that those who call her “razor-blade Robin” don’t know about.

And in ILLUMINATION, hero Nikolas, who’s as alpha and capable as the other heroes but still very much trying to find his place in the world, finds Shay Underwood, who helps him understand his place and what he really wants.

But although I didn’t plan it that way, the women end up taking center stage in ILLUMINATION. Human, vampire, and psychic, they manage to do what the Big Bad Alphas have been working toward for the entire series: to bring down the Vampire Tribunal, who want to use human trafficking—or worse—to solve the problem of starvation in a world where a human vaccine has poisoned the blood supply for the vamps.

Each has her own role to play:

–Krys is a quiet, wise listener as well as a doctor, so her advice is worth taking, even if it has nothing to do with your health.

–Glory is a chatterbox, yes, but she’s also telekinetic. The girl gives her powers a workout in this book, and she becomes a key to saving Penton even if her alpha male doesn’t want her putting herself in danger. (I think she tells him to put a sock in it.)

–Randa is a warrior. The daughter of an Army colonel and turned when she herself was in the Army, she understands military strategy and is fearless in taking on missions like a takeover of Atlanta’s Museum of Natural History. Any woman who can hold her own with a two-ton reanimated dinosaur bearing down on her…well, don’t worry about Randa.

–Robin shows a softer side in ILLUMINATION because it’s what Cage needs from her. But she, too, takes on the bad guys on land and by air; it’s her tracking skills in eagle form that help the alpha males figure out what the Tribunal bad guys are up to.

–Finally, Shay is the key to everything, including Nik’s future. Her background as a medical researcher comes into play in unexpected ways as the book concludes, and the resolution of her and Nik’s relationship will shape the future of Penton as the small Alabama community rebuilds.

So in the summer of Wonder Woman (which I can’t give credit to because, alas, I haven’t yet seen it), it’s time for Girl Power in Penton!

Jill: See Wonder Woman! You’ll love it. It was great!

More about Illumination

He came to Penton seeking peace. Nik Dimitrou joined the Army to escape his family legacy, only to have his psychic abilities exploited as a weapon. Now, as a civilian, he turns to the bottle to veil the images that haunt his mind whenever he touches anyone—except vampires. With them, he has finally found a home. But as Penton, Alabama, moves into open warfare with the Vampire Tribunal, Nik finds himself a linchpin in the deepening conflict, not to mention facing a transformation in his own body more frightening than anything he’s encountered before.

She wanted to change the world. Shay Underwood watched her Peace Corps parents move from one third world country to another—until both died following an outbreak of fever. Driven to her own career in tropical medicine, Shay works in New Orleans to cure the disease that killed her parents—until a careless weekend outing draws her into a world far more dangerous than the diseases she studies: a vampire society engaged in human trafficking and on the verge of all-out war.

Two cities, two near-strangers, one world. With Penton rebellion leader Aidan Murphy making risky choices and chief vampire lieutenant Mirren Kincaid forced to take a leadership role in Penton, it will fall to two outsiders, Nik and Shay, to find a way for the town—and themselves—to survive in this much-anticipated conclusion to the multiple award-winning Penton Legacy series.

The entire Penton Legacy Series leading up to ILLUMINATION (Redemption, Absolution, Omega, and Allegiance, as well as the spinoff Storm Force—Penton 3.5—are on sale for 99 cents each for Kindle through July 31. You can find the series here and Storm Force here.)

Amazon

More about Susannah/Suzanne

Susannah Sandlin writes award-winning paranormal romance, including the popular Penton Legacy series, and romantic suspense and thrillers, including two series, The Collectors and Wilds of the Bayou. Writing as Suzanne Johnson, she writes the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series and a number of standalones. Suzanne grew up in Alabama halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’s birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of college football and fried gator on a stick. She currently lives in Auburn, Alabama, where she is a full-time author who does copy editing for other authors on the side through Reedsy.com.

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Twitter: @SusannahSandlin, @Suzanne_Johnson

Thanks for guest blogging today, Suzanne. Best wishes for Illumination and summer 2017!

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Susannah Sandlin on Instalove: How Soon is Too Soon? #Writing #Romance

Brief, final reminders about upcoming events this week: I’m hosting from 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET at Bewitching Book Tour’s Halloween Spooktacular Facebook Party. I probably have enough material for 2+ hours so we’ll see how much we have time for. There will be some super easy games/contests with giveaways from either Etsy or Book Depository and, hopefully, some fun discussions about books and movies, as well as lots of talk about All Hallows Eve. More details here. This Saturday, I’m at HallowRead in Have de Grace, Maryland. More details here

Today’s guest is Susannah Sandlin, author of the romantic suspense BLACK DIAMOND, which releases tomorrow. She’s also Suzanne Johnson’s alter ego and has guested here many times. Suzanne’s a terrific blogger and prolific writer with a wonderful voice. If you haven’t already checked out her work and/or her blog, do so now! 🙂 Er, rather, do so after you read her post. Details on where to find her are below, along with info on her tour-wide giveaway — Amazon gift cards. Welcome, Susannah!

How do you feel about instalove?

Do you love an immediate bond or enjoy the slow build?

Most readers, if asked, will say they dislike “instalove”—that moment when, a half-second after a couple’s first meeting in a novel, each knows that the other is “the one and only.”

Seriously? Not in this world.

Which leads those of us who like writing fast-paced stories into a quandary. How soon is too soon?

At what point does the heroine ignore the dude threatening her with a knife and think longingly about having a night of passion with the hero?

At what point during his daring escape from saliva-dripping zombies does the hero think, “I need a mate”?

Exactly.

This has always been an issue for me. In my Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, the “bond” is supernatural so even if the characters fight that lovin’ feeling, it can happen early without stretching the flexible bonds of paranormal plausibility. But my stories move fast. Penton’s four books (so far) span about seven months total…and four couples find their HEAs (or at least Happily For Nows). In my Sentinels of New Orleans series (written as Suzanne Johnson), books two through five cover only three months. Each book covers only about two or three weeks. They’re urban fantasy, however, so my main couple can have more realistic ups and downs (mostly downs…and I think there was a saliva-dripping zombie in book three).

Which brings us to my new Wilds of the Bayou series, which is about a team of wildlife enforcement agents working deep in the heart of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. These books are romantic suspense, heavy on the suspense, which means the gators aren’t the only things that move fast.

Book one, WILD MAN’S CURSE, covered about three weeks, but I was able to get the hero and heroine to at least a happily for now with a foxhole romance that I’m sure will last. Hero Gentry and heroine Celestine have a lot in common (well, once you get past her independent streak and his utter need to Control Everything), so the reader knows they’re going to make it.

Then there’s BLACK DIAMOND, book two in the series, which comes out tomorrow (Oct. 18—pauses to throw confetti). The heroine, Louisiana Wildlife Enforcement Agent Jena Sinclair, has some serious emotional baggage. She’s kickass on the outside; she has to be in order to make it in the man’s world of what used to be known as “game wardens”—they’re basically paramilitary-trained law-enforcement officers who can fine you for fishing without a license—or bust you for drugs or speeding…in the middle of a swamp. Inwardly, though, Jena is very, very fragile. She’s questioning herself, second-guessing her choices, feeling guilty over some of those choices.

And yet Jena makes our hero, Cole Ryan, look like the soul of emotional stability. Cole has been living off the grid in an isolated cabin on the edge of a desolate bayou for five years like some blond-haired, blue-eyed Unabomber. The first time Jena comes to his door about a nuisance alligator, he slams the door in her face.

Face it: instalove was NOT going to happen between these two.

Attraction? Sure. They find each other intriguing, even attractive (although Cole hasn’t cut his hair in five years, he does have a hippie braid thing going and is totally hot). But neither of them are in any emotional condition to act on that attraction, at least not for a good long time.

Plus, you know, there are rampaging hallucinogenic alligators to capture and crazed drug dealers to track down and skeevy suspects to interrogate—not to mention someone’s tossing Molotov cocktails like they’re going out of style and shooting at them. The moments for stolen kisses are stolen moments.

But I fell in love with Jena and Cole, separately and together. Sometimes it takes a really damaged soul to recognize another soul in danger, and together they can lift each other out of their respective dark places.

They just need to take their time.

So in BLACK DIAMOND, Cole and Jena are on a slow burn toward an HEA by the time the book ends, but it took some maneuvering.

How do you feel about instalove? There’s a lot of it in contemporaries these days—do you love an immediate bond or enjoy the slow build?

Jill: It’s hard for me to buy instalove in any romance subgenre besides paranormal because the only basis for it is physical attraction, which is a fantastic start but I always want couples in a romance to develop deep connections and have more grounded, complex reasons for loving each other. Initial, intense infatuation is fine — even fun — but I always hope the characters will evolve beyond it.

romantic suspense, Susannah SandlinMore about Black Diamond

For some people, the untamed beauty of the bayou is a place to hide. For Louisiana wildlife agent Jena Sinclair, it’s a place of refuge—one where she can almost forget the tragedy that scarred both her skin and her soul. But when the remains of yet another fisherman turn up, Jena realizes that Bayou Pointe-aux-Chenes is not safe for her…or anyone else.

The mysterious deaths aren’t her only problem. A dangerous drug known as Black Diamond is circulating through Terrebonne Parish, turning addicts into unpredictable sociopaths. Jena’s investigation leads her to Cole Ryan—a handsome, wary recluse struggling with his own troubled history—who knows more than he’s willing to admit. If they want to stop the killer, Jena and Cole must step out of the shadows of their pasts and learn to help each other…before the evils lurking in the bayou consume them both.

Amazon     BN    Book Depository    Books-a-Million    Indie Bound

Book 1, Wild Man’s Curse, is now on sale for 1.99 for the Kindle

More about Susannah

Suzanne Johnson writing as Susannah Sandlin is the author of the award-winning Penton Vampire Legacy paranormal romance series, including the 2013 Holt Medallion Award-winning Absolution and Omega and Allegiance, which were nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Award in 2014 and 2015, respectively. She also wrote The Collectors romantic suspense duology, including Lovely, Dark, and Deep, 2015 Holt Medallion winner and 2015 Booksellers Best Award winner. Her new suspense series Wilds of the Bayou started in 2016 with the release of Wild Man’s Curse and continues with Black Diamond. Johnson is the author of the award-winning Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series. A displaced New Orleanian, she currently lives in Auburn, Alabama. Susannah loves SEC football, fried gator on a stick, all things Cajun, and redneck reality TV.

More about the Giveaway

Susannah is giving away one $50 Amazon gift card and five $10 Amazon gift cards. Click here for the Rafflecopter form. Click here for my complete giveaway rules.

Thank you for guest blogging today, Susannah. Black Diamond sounds great. Love the cover. Best wishes with the tour!

black-diamond-banner

Five Photographs: Suzanne Johnson (Boeuf Gras, Pirate’s Alley, and a Terrific #Giveaway)

Today’s guest is Suzanne Johnson, author of the recently released PIRATE’S ALLEY, the fourth book in her Sentinels of New Orleans series. She’s been a guest blogger here at least a few times (more if you count her alter ego Susannah Sandlin) so when I heard she was doing a BBT tour to promote Pirate’s Alley, I signed up. We discussed several fun topics, all of which I would have been happy to hear her thoughts on, but in the end she said she wanted to do a “Five Photographs” post. (For anyone new here today, I’m doing a photo themed guest blog series this spring. It features a bunch of writers who write romantic, otherworldly/supernatural tales. They submit five photos and answer seven questions.) As part of Suzanne’s tour, she’s giving away one $50 Amazon eGC and two $15 Amazon eGCs. Details below. Welcome, Suzanne!

Something that represents something unique about you

Suzanne Johnson ADD Collector

I will call this “The ADD Collector.” I get on obsessive collecting kicks and then, just as obsessively, grow tired of it. Represented here are some previous collecting frenzies: a piece of Early American Pattern Glass with animal motifs, some early 1960s glassware with Greek characters that was given out at Texaco stations with a fillup, a mask and, from my current collecting binges, a wooden cigar box, an alligator, and some Mardi Gras throws. You could also add dolls and Fenton colonial blue thumbprint glass to this list. And music. And…

Something about where you live

Suzanne Johnson boef gras

Meet two version of “Boeuf Gras,” the plush version thrown from the Mardi Gras float and the “special” version acquired for me by a friend from a member of the Krewe of Rex, the original oldest Mardi Gras krewe. Boeuf Gras is my favorite Mardi Gras float—it’s a huge white bull the size of an eighteen-wheeler that’s a signature float in the Rex parade. But it also represents my current home city of Auburn, Alabama, where there are a lot of cattle and, at the university, a big meat sciences program. Alabama fans who hate Auburn call it “the cow college.” Them’s fightin’ words ’round here.

Something or someone you care about

Suzanne Johnson Shane and Tanker

I debated whether or not to use this photo. It feels a little like cheating, but these are the loves of my life, Shane (the Irish terrier mix) and Tanker (part black chow-chow, part golden retriever). Both of them were rescues I adopted in 2000. I lost Shane at age 16 about six months ago and Tanker, also at age 16, three weeks ago. I will have another dog eventually, but it’s still too raw and hurts too much.

[Jill: That’s rough losing them so close together. I’m so sorry. When you’re ready, I hope you find another dog. He or she will be different — I’m sure neither Shane nor Tanker can be replaced — but I’m equally sure the new dog will bring you just as much joy.]

Something that frustrates you

Suzanne Johnson Fiji House

The FIJI House. I thought about taking a shot of pollen on my car, or my office building where I spend my day job. But, in the end, I chose the Auburn University Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house, aka the FIJI house. I’m sure they’re lovely kids, but the house sits just outside my office window and they’re always yelling and playing annoying music at full blast and hammering on some secret project in their courtyard. I have to work with earbuds stuffed in my ears.

[Jill: Ah, this one made me laugh. 😀]

Something that brings you joy

Suzanne Johnson art stuff

Um…remember all those collections? This isn’t exactly a collection, but it’s one corner of my sprawling art space, where I dabble in paint and have copious amounts of art supplies. There’s also a 20-drawer cabinet, two multi-level rolling carts, and three bookcase shelves full. It’s a sickness…but it makes me happy. That’s my happy space.

Interview

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

“The hand that rocks the cradle rules the preternatural world.” An unexpected interspecies pregnancy has the preternatural world on the brink of war, with DJ, New Orleans’ wizard sentinel, caught squarely in the middle—and who she sides with won’t be an easy decision.

What are you working on next?

WILD MAN’S BLUFF, the first book in a new suspense series (written as Susannah Sandlin) about a Louisiana game warden caught up in the case of a murdered voodoo priestess, a long-buried secret, and a woman who’s about to learned that you can take the Cajun girl out of Louisiana but the swamps stay deep within the heart.

What are you currently reading?

Better sit down, or the excitement might do you in: Game Warden: On Patrol in Louisiana, by Jerald Horst. LOL. Gotta do my research!

 What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

Currently, I watch NCIS: New Orleans, The Amazing Race, Chicago Fire, and Cutthroat Kitchen, of which I’ve never missed an episode. I DVR the shows and watch them in 20-minute spurts. My attention span is the size of a gnat, which I blame on my iPhone and too many years of General Hospital.

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

I still wish I’d thought to animate a dinosaur. Jim Butcher did that in one of the Dresden books, and Harry Dresden rode the dinosaur skeleton from the Field Museum down the middle of Lakeshore Drive in Chicago. It was freaking brilliant.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Discoverability, without a doubt. The downside to authors having so many publishing options these days (which is great) is that it’s harder than ever for an author to find readers. The number of books released in the U.S. was about 300,000 in 2005; in 2009 it had grown to more than 1 million; in 2012, more than 2 million—including more than 500,000 self-published titles PER YEAR. That means a ton of authors and a lot of good books are getting lost in the noise while everyone (authors and publishers) are scrambling around, trying to figure out how to be “discovered” in that crowd. Meanwhile, the number of readers has not grown proportionately.

[Jill: that’s an insane number of books!]

 How can we meet that challenge?

I honestly don’t know. If I did, I’d be a very rich woman…or at least be able to give up my day job! 🙂 The same thing doesn’t work for every book or every author and technology is in constant flux. We’re all trying to figure it out.

[Jill: too true. The thing that keeps me from going batshit crazy is remembering that the majority of those 2 million+ books are not in my wheelhouse — either as a writer or as a reader.]

Suzanne Johnson Pirate's AlleyMore About Pirate’s Alley

From award-winning author Suzanne Johnson comes the fourth book in the smart and sexy Sentinels of New Orleans series.

Wizard sentinel DJ Jaco thought she had gotten used to the chaos of her life in post-Katrina New Orleans, but a new threat is looming, one that will test every relationship she holds dear.

Caught in the middle of a rising struggle between the major powers in the supernatural world—the Wizards, Elves, Vampires and the Fae—DJ finds her loyalties torn and her mettle tested in matters both professional and personal. Her relationship with enforcer Alex Warin is shaky, her non-husband Quince Randolph is growing more powerful, and her best friend Eugenie has a bombshell that could blow everything to Elfheim and back.

And that’s before the French pirate Jean Lafitte, newly revived from his latest “death,” returns to New Orleans with vengeance on his mind. DJ’s assignment? Keep the sexy leader of the historical undead out of trouble. Good luck with that.

Duty clashes with love, loyalty with deception, and friendship with responsibility as DJ navigates passion and politics in the murky waters of a New Orleans caught in the grips of a brutal winter that might have nothing to do with Mother Nature.

War could be brewing, and DJ will be forced to take a stand. But choosing sides won’t be that easy.

Available at   Amazon   BN   Book Depository

More About Suzanne

Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal fiction from Auburn, Alabama, on top of a career in educational publishing that has thus far spanned five states and six universities—including both Alabama and Auburn, which makes her bilingual. She grew up in Winfield, Alabama, but was also a longtime resident of New Orleans, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football, cheap Mardi Gras trinkets, and fried gator on a stick.

Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she also is the author of the best-selling Penton Legacy paranormal romance series and The Collectors romantic thriller series. Elysian Fields, book three in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, won the 2014 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence while her Sandlin-penned novel, Allegiance, is nominated for a 2015 Reviewer’s Choice Award from RT Book Reviews magazine.

More About the Giveaway

Suzanne is giving away one $50 Amazon eGift Certificate and two $15 Amazon eGift Certificates as part of her Bewitching Book Tour. To enter to win, click here for the Rafflecopter link. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Suzanne Johnson Pirate's Alley Banner

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Thank you, Suzanne, for sharing your pictures, thoughts, and great giveaway with us!

Suzanne Johnson: The Secret to Staying Young and Sane

My next guest is UF, PNR, and romantic thriller author, Suzanne Johnson. She’s here as part of a guest blog series I’m doing featuring Writers Who Create Other Things. Many of the authors I’ve hosted recently have been jewelry designers, which is really neat. But Suzanne’s other creative talents are in drawing, painting, and mixed-media artwork. Below, she tells us her secret to staying young and sane. She also shares a bit about a new workshop she’s going to be giving next year, “Art Therapy for Writers and Readers,” and she’s giving away a signed original 9×12 mixed-media piece. Leave a comment below to enter to win. (U.S. only due to mailing costs unless Suzanne tells us otherwise in the comments). Welcome, Suzanne!

Be Creative and Play!

“I believe this is a fundamental truth: in order to stay young, in order to stay sane, humans need what I call creative play—call it a hobby or a craft or whatever, but we all need something creative to do that isn’t involved in our livelihoods.”

I’ve worked in journalism since I got out of college, and as I look back over the years, I realize my need for creative play has taken different forms at different times in my life. For a while, I scoured flea markets and resale shops and garage sales for pattern glass. I dabbled in macramé. I quilted. I made jewelry. I tried knitting scarves (accent on “try”).

Five or six years ago, I decided to try my hand at writing a novel, just for fun, and then the world tilted on its axis. Life changed pretty quickly as I fell in love with fiction writing, got published, and wrote more novels. Now, even though I maintain a day job, I consider “novelist” my primary occupation, and the past five years have been an absolute whirlwind of change.

So I found it a little strange that last winter, I found myself becoming obsessed with art. I’d done a lot of graphite drawings in high school and my mom painted a bit, but my school was too small to have offered art classes and I didn’t have enough talent or patience to pursue it as an occupation. But last winter, there I was, drawing. I had five novels due within the next thirteen months, the deadlines were mounting, and the day job was in turmoil.  I sure didn’t have time to be drawing pictures.

But I did it anyway, and it helped me write those books (well, the fifth one is almost finished) and survive the day-job chaos and remain relatively sane.

A year and a bulging box of artwork later, I’ve gotten a little perspective on the role art can play in the writing process. It’s tactile, and uses a different part of the brain than the one that’s tied up in knots trying to unravel plot points and figure out why the hero and heroine don’t have any spark.

This has nothing to do with artistic talent. Believe me, I’m no artist, not on any kind of commercial scale (and sometimes, not even on an aesthetic scale—LOL). What’s important is not what kind of art you produce, but about the process of producing it. The creative play. While my art brain is awash in ink and paper and paint, my writing brain can relax and noodle around those plot points without my interference.

(It’s the same process, I think, as why writers often get their best ideas while they’re driving or shopping or in the shower. Our subconscious is able to work interrupted, without us.)

When I began writing for publication, novel-writing was (and is) still fun, but it also became a business. It’s the most enjoyable, creative business in the world and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but it’s no longer play.

What I was doing in going back to art, I realized, was seeking a new form of creative play. I can’t claim to have come to this conclusion on my own. I took an online workshop from artist Jane Davenport, who said that when she was a commercial fashion illustrator, art journaling was her play, her hobby. Now that she makes much of her income from art journaling, she’s turned to canvas painting as her hobby because she still needs that creative outlet that isn’t tied to her livelihood. That really zonked me over the head.

Thus, my love of mixed-media art, which after some experimentation, has become my artistic mode of choice. I started 2014 with the intention of spending at least one hour a day making art this year, an hour playing. I knew it was taking time from an already insane schedule, but hoped it would pay off in productivity.

I think it has. And it’s FUN to play!

What do I do with the pieces I create? Right now, I don’t think they’re good enough to sell, but I give them away as gifts. The rest, I bind into journals to remind myself of my own creative journey. I write notes on the back—not just when they were completed or what techniques I used, but also what was fueling my life the days I worked on the piece: a run-in with the boss, the loss of my 16-year-old, beloved dog, worry about a family issue. It’s therapy with a brush and a tube of paint.

Suzanne Johnson Mixed Media Artwork

New Workshop for Writers and Readers

The act of getting messy and stretching new creative muscles has allowed my writing brain to get reinvigorated, stay fresh, and avoid burnout. I’m planning a workshop for authors and readers alike in March, doing mixed-media pieces tied to our works-in-progress or our favorite books. If you’re interested in being on a waiting list for “Art Therapy for Writers and Readers” send me an email at: suzannej3523 at gmail dot com or keep an eye on the Workshops tab of my website.

Till then, keep on playing! Do you have a creative hobby of your own? Leave a comment for one of my signed original 9×12 mixed-media pieces.

The Giveaway

U.S. only due to mailing costs unless Suzanne says otherwise below. To enter to win, leave a comment. Giveaway will be open until midnight EST Monday December 15, 2014. For my complete official giveaway rules, click here.

More About Suzanne

Susannah Sandlin, who also writes as Suzanne Johnson, writes paranormal romance and romantic thrillers from Auburn, Alabama, on top of a career in educational publishing that has thus far spanned five states and six universities—including both Alabama and Auburn, which makes her bilingual. She grew up in Winfield, Alabama, but was also a longtime resident of New Orleans, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football, cheap Mardi Gras trinkets, and fried gator on a stick. She’s the author of the award-winning Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, a spinoff novel, Storm Force, a standalone novelette, Chenoire, and a new romantic thriller series, The Collectors, beginning with Lovely, Dark, and Deep. Writing as Suzanne Johnson, she also is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series.

Suzanne can be found online here:

More About Suzanne’s latest release: DEADLY, CALM, AND COLD

Deadly Calm and Cold, romantic thriller, crown jewelsFrom award-winning author Susannah Sandlin comes the second book in The Collectors series (each book reads as a standalone).

How far will ordinary people go to protect their secrets? The Collectors’ games are as much about manipulating lives as finding lost treasure. Everyone is expendable as the ruthless C7 pushes people into gambling with their lives in order to find priceless objects lost to history.

Samantha Crowe’s secrets could ruin her career, while Brody Parker’s could get him killed. They become pawns for two Collectors seeking Bad King John’s crown jewels, which disappeared in rural England back when Robin Hood roamed Nottingham.

This time, however, the Collectors–a ruthless dotcom billionaire and a desperate London detective–might not be playing for the same team, leaving Sam and Brody trapped in the middle.

One thing’s for sure: If either hope to survive, Sam and Brody will have to find a way to overcome their distrust–and their growing attraction–in order to succeed on this winner-take-all treasure hunt.

So how about you all? Any creative hobbies?

Me? Not really, unless you count painting rooms in my house every now and then (which I don’t, although it can be a fun project). I’ll admit though, I’m intrigued by the idea of mixed media artwork. I’ve mentioned previously (not sure if it was here or on Twitter) that I’d love to design/draw maps to go with my stories. And it would be really fun to do dioramas or models for certain settings (buildings, boats, bars…) but for now I’m going to stick with creating worlds out of written words. 🙂

Thank you, Suzanne, for guest blogging today and for sharing your artwork with us!

Are Authors Allowed To Play Favorites? Susannah Sandlin Picks her Top 5 Scenes from ALLEGIANCE

Today’s guest blogger is paranormal romantic thriller writer Susannah Sandlin, who is urban fantasy author Suzanne Johnson’s alter ego. She’s here to dispel the myth that’s it’s not ok to play favorites… at least when it comes to books, characters, or scenes. She plays favorites and she shares five of them below. She’s also sponsoring a great tour-wide giveaway, including eGift Certificates and books. Details are at the end of the post. Welcome, Susannah!

allegiance-cover

Scene It: Five Favorite Scenes from Allegiance

by Susannah Sandlin

Authors are supposed to be like parents. You know, loving all our children equally. Not playing favorites with characters or books or scenes.

Horse-puckey. I will swear to this day (and often have) that my mom likes my brother best while I was a daddy’s girl.

And so it is with authors, if we’re forced to admit it. I have favorite characters, favorite books, favorite scenes within books. Today, since Allegiance is out this week and fresh in my mind (never mind I’ve written three books since I actually wrote this one—such is the bizarre schedule of an author), are my five fave scenes from the newest book in the Penton Legacy series, in order…

#5… Mirren learns that feeding from a shapeshifter isn’t quite like a human. Every member of the Penton community is bonded to one of the Penton master vampires, right? So it’s no big deal for newcomers Nik and Robin to be bonded. Aidan bonds Nik and Mirren takes Robin…only Nik is human and Robin isn’t. If you’ve read the series and wondered if Mirren Kincaid, known in his mercenary days as The Slayer, ever gets scared, well the answer is yes. It’s a fun scene—well, for everyone except Mirren and Robin. The two most fearless characters in Penton get a little freaked. Okay, a lot.

#4… Cage is caged. The hero of Allegiance, Cage Reynolds, was last seen in Penton with a maybe-something-relationship developing with Melissa Calvert. Since Robin Ashton came to town, he’s become fascinated with the feisty little shifter. (Don’t worry, it’s really not a love triangle.) But Cage gets caught in a little cat-fighting, so to speak, when Melissa and Robin finally meet. It doesn’t help that Melissa is possessive and Robin is wearing a sweatshirt tied around her waist…and nothing else. Cage is totally out of his league as the women snark it out, and his discomfort is really funny.

#3… “The wreck.” There’s an automobile accident in the book—although it was no accident—that literally changes things for every single character. The aftermath of it was emotional and gut-wrenching to write. It might not make you tear up, but it did me.

#2…The prologue and the final scene in the book. They dovetail really well to start and finish the book and, of course, I can’t exactly say what they are because then you’d have no need to read the book, right? Let’s just say the ending scene as it plays out against the opening of the book is dramatic. It’s both incredibly satisfying and incredibly sad, and maybe unexpected.

#1… Robin Ashton’s first appearance in the book. It’s a solemn occasion, and the petite little eagle shape-shifter wanders out of the woods without Mirren or Cage having a clue as to who she is. Her first lines to the 6-foot-8 Mirren (and note that she’s 5-foot-2) is to get in his face…er, sternum…and announce, “I’m your worst f*ing nightmare.” The scene pretty much degenerates from that point onward. I had a blast writing it, and it still makes me laugh.

Which scene do you find most intriguing? Do you generally remember the dramatic scenes in your favorite books, or the funny moments?

More About Allegiance

From award-winning author Susannah Sandlin comes the fourth book in the smart and steamy Penton Legacy series.

British vampire psychiatrist and former mercenary Cage Reynolds returns to Penton, Alabama, looking for a permanent home. The town has been ravaged by the ongoing vampire war and the shortage of untainted human blood, and now the vampires and humans that make up the Omega Force are trying to rebuild. Cage hopes to help the cause, put down roots in Penton, and resolve his relationship with Melissa Calvert. The last thing he expects is an attraction to Robin Ashton, a trash-talking eagle shape-shifter and new Omega recruit.

Meanwhile, as a dangerous saboteur wreaks havoc in Penton, the ruthless Vampire Tribunal leader Matthias Ludlam has been freed on the eve of his scheduled execution. But by whom? And to what end? As war and chaos rage on, love is the last thing Cage is looking for, but will his attraction to Robin distract him from the danger living among them?

Susannah Sandlin/Suzanne Johnson
Susannah Sandlin/Suzanne Johnson

More About Susannah

Susannah Sandlin writes paranormal romance and romantic thrillers from Auburn, Alabama, on top of a career in educational publishing that has thus far spanned five states and six universities—including both Alabama and Auburn, which makes her bilingual. She grew up in Winfield, Alabama, but was also a longtime resident of New Orleans, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football, cheap Mardi Gras trinkets, and fried gator on a stick.

She’s the author of the award-winning Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, a spinoff novel, Storm Force, a standalone novelette, Chenoire, and a new romantic thriller series, The Collectors, beginning with Lovely, Dark, and Deep. Writing as Suzanne Johnson, she also is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series. Her Penton novel, Omega, was nominated for a 2013 Reviewer’s Choice Award in Paranormal Romance from RT Book Reviews magazine. Absolution was the winner of the 2013 Holt Medallion in Paranormal Romance.

More About the Tour-Wide Giveaway

Susannah is giving away these prizes at the end of her tour:

  • 1 $50 Amazon gift card
  • 2 $10 Amazon gift cards
  • 2 Author swag packs (books, swag)

To enter to win, click here for the Rafflecopter form. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. 18 or older. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Allegiance Banner

So, how about you? Do you play favorites? Which scene of Susannah’s above did you find most intriguing? Do you generally remember the dramatic scenes in your favorite books, or the funny moments?

Susannah, congratulations and best wishes for Allegiance. Thank you for guest blogging today!

UF/PNR Author Susannah Sandlin Segues to Romantic Thrillers

Susannah Sandlin (a.k.a. Suzanne Johnson) is here today to discuss her latest release Lovely, Dark, and Deep, which is a romantic thriller. Since she’s best known for her urban fantasy and paranormal romances, Susannah tells us how she shifted gears and used her skills to write action packed scenes minus the monsters. I think her new series sounds great! (But no worries if you’re a fan of her speculative novels… she’s still writing them too). To celebrate her release, she’s doing a tour wide giveaway: 1 $50 Amazon gift card, 2 $10 Amazon gift cards, and 2 Author swag packs (including books). To enter, click on the Rafflecopter link below. Welcome, Susannah!

Lovely, Dark, and Deep, Susannah Sandlin, romantic thriller

The thrill of it all, in human terms

by Susannah Sandlin

Paranormal fiction is the butter to my bread, the snap to my crackle and pop, the…well, you get the idea.

A funny thing happened, however, on the way through the writing of my Penton Legacy paranormal romance series (and my Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series written as Suzanne Johnson): much to my own surprise, I really enjoy writing high-tension, high-action scenes.

A scene calls for a thunderstorm? I’ll make it a tornado or hurricane. Need a bad guy to torment your characters? I will make them so utterly evil that a father will put his son in a dark room full of hungry rodents…naked. Or wield a branding iron on the heroine. Or…well, you get the idea.

(I’m a nice person. Really, I am. I help old ladies across the street. I rescue puppies and kittens. I…well, you get the idea.)

So when I came up with the idea of a ruthless bunch of billionaires who form a club to compete for the world’s great lost treasures—no matter who got hurt along the way—I committed the literary equivalent of walking out on a limb. Yes, I left the paranormal world behind, at least temporarily, to venture into thriller territory.

The result was Lovely, Dark, and Deep, the first book of The Collectors series. It has romance, evil bad guys with ties to the White House, sunken ships, a sexy ex-Marine who drinks too much, a geeky biologist whose ancestor stole a priceless cross from the Knights Templar, deepwater scuba diving, a crusty old lobster fisherman who believes in aliens, and a dog named Tank.

How did it differ from writing a paranormal thriller like last year’s Storm Force or the Penton vampire series?

Not as much as you might think. Here were the major differences:

–The hero and heroine have to depend on their smarts to get them through situations. In working underwater, for example, they need tanks, fins and masks—no sprouting gills for these characters!
–When the bad guy comes after them with a rifle, they actually have to worry about human emergency rooms and the pesky laws about reporting gunshot wounds to the authorities. No wizards or memory modifications to handle that detail. And they recover as slow as, well, humans.
–They can drink alcohol and actually get drunk. And have hangovers. Oh, wait, so can my shape-shifters.
–They can walk around in sunlight without bursting into flames or sparkling. Oh, wait, so can shifters and most other non-vampiric paranormals.
–No evil, politically motivated vampire rulers or alphas….Oh, wait. I have politicians.

In other words, a paranormal thriller and a regular thriller, I was surprised to discover, aren’t so very different. I miss the “what-if” factor of the paranormal worlds, and they’ll continue to be the bread to my butter. But, I’ve discovered, the alpha-male human and his geeky heroine who’s a bit of a klutz? They can hold their own.

Lovely, Dark, and Deep (The Collectors, Book 1) is currently available for download as a Kindle serial for $1.99 for the whole book. The price will increase to $3.99 after the full serial releases on February 18. The print and audio versions will be available from all online retailers on May 13.

More about Lovely, Dark, and Deep

From award-winning author Susannah Sandlin comes a heart-pounding romantic thriller that pits a quick-witted scientist and a scarred ex–combat diver against a ruthless billionaire treasure hunter with ties to the White House.

When biologist Gillian Campbell makes an offhand comment about a family curse during a TV interview, she has no idea what her words will set in motion. Within days, Gillian finds herself at the mercy of a member of the C7, a secretive international group of power brokers with a dangerous game: competing to find the world’s most elusive treasures, no matter the cost, in money or in lives.

To save her family, Gillian teams up with Shane Burke, a former elite diver who’s lost his way, navigating the brutal “death coast” of the North Atlantic to find what the collector seeks: the legendary Ruby Cross of the Knights Templars, stolen by Gillian’s ancestor and lost at sea four hundred years ago.

More about Susannah

Susannah Sandlin writes paranormal romance and romantic thrillers from Auburn, Alabama, on top of a career in educational publishing that has thus far spanned five states and six universities—including both Alabama and Auburn, which makes her bilingual. She grew up in Winfield, Alabama, but was also a longtime resident of New Orleans, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football, cheap Mardi Gras trinkets, and fried gator on a stick.

She’s the author of the award-winning Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, a spinoff novel, Storm Force, a standalone novelette, Chenoire, and a new romantic thriller series, The Collectors, beginning this month with Lovely, Dark, and Deep. Writing as Suzanne Johnson, she also is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series. Her Penton novel, Omega, is currently nominated for a 2013 Reviewer’s Choice Award in Paranormal Romance from RT Book Reviews magazine.

You can find Susannah online here:

To enter to win the tour wide giveaway, click here.

Lovely Dark and Deep Banner
Thanks, Susannah, for guest blogging today. Congrats on the release of Lovely, Dark, and Deep and best wishes for The Collectors series!

Susannah Sandlin on the Care and Feeding of Vampires (+ a Vamp Friendly Bread Pudding Recipe)

Paranormal Romance New Release
Absolution releases TODAY!

I’m excited to have Susannah Sandlin guest blogging today because it’s the RELEASE DAY for ABSOLUTION! To celebrate, Susannah prepared a very sweet post for us. 😉 Enjoy!!

The Care and Feeding of a Vampire

Pity the poor vampires, consigned to a permanent low-carb diet, rich in protein and iron, with a taste he enjoys but, really—it’s blood. Night after night after night.

This situation doesn’t sit well with Glory Cummings. She’s an unvaccinated human, but she wants to do something special for Mirren, the vampire who recently saved her from a really dire situation. Problem is, Glory doesn’t have much to offer because what she’s really good at is something Mirren can’t use: she’s a great cook with aspirations of owning her own restaurant.

But Glory’s stubborn, so she comes up with a solution: An hour before Mirren rises, she eats something rich that he can taste in her blood. And Mirren, she learns, has quite a sweet tooth, er, fang.

So in honor of Mirren and Glory’s story, which comes out today as Absolution is released upon the world, is Mirren’s favorite food. (Um, did I mention Glory’s on a diet after a month of this?)

GLORY’S VAMP-FRIENDLY BREAD PUDDING

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9×13-inch pan.

Cube three cups of day-old French bread and spread in the pan.

Mix: 2 cups sugar, 5 large eggs, 2 cups whole milk, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for ten minutes.

In another bowl, mix: ½ cup light brown sugar, ½ stick softened butter (1/4 cup), 1 cup chopped pecans, and 1 cup of golden raisins (optional). Sprinkle over the bread mixture.

Bake 45 minutes or until set.

Mix and stir over medium heat until sugar is melted: 1 cup sugar, 1 stick butter (melted), 1 egg (beaten).

Add 1/3 cup bourbon (Mirren likes Black Jack or Four Roses), stirring well.

Pour over bread pudding and serve warm one hour before vampire rises.

Bon appetite!

More about Absolution

With the vampire world on the brink of civil war over the scarcity of untainted human blood, battle lines are being drawn between the once peaceful vampire and human enclave of Penton, Alabama, and the powerful Vampire Tribunal. When the descendant of a powerful shaman is sent to bring Penton’s second-in-command back under Tribunal control, will Glory Cummings help Mirren Kincaid find absolution for his ruthless past, or will she turn him back into the Tribunal’s killing machine?

It’s a town under siege, a powerful warrior in a battle with his past, and the power of one woman who can make the earth move—literally—as the Penton Legacy continues.

Absolution is available here:

More about Susannah

Author of Absolution, Paranormal Romance
Susannah Sandlin

Susannah Sandlin is the author of paranormal romance set in the Deep South, where there are always things that go bump in the night. A journalist by day, Susannah grew up in Alabama reading the gothic novels of Susan Howatch and the horror fantasy of Stephen King. (Um…it is fantasy, right?) The combination of Howatch and King probably explains a lot. Currently a resident of Auburn, Alabama, Susannah has also lived in Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana.

You can connect with Susannah here:

So, readers, what do you think? Are you gonna try Glory’s vamp-friendly bread pudding recipe? Do you like bread pudding? (I do!) If you make it, you’ll have to stop back by and let us know how it went! Thank you for guest blogging today, Susannah! 😀