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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Today's Special -- Joan Swan


We are thrilled to welcome back Kensington debut author Joan Swan! Joan's debut novel, FEVER, was released on February 28, 2012. Check out Buffie's review, which is below this post. A triple RWA Golden Heart finalist as well as a double Daphne Du Maurier finalist, Joan is a lover of craft and closet-hoarder of writing craft how-to books (taken from Joan's website). Please give a warm welcome to Joan Swan as she discusses writing stories filled with suspense.



Thanks to the fabulous ladies here at The Romance Dish for having me back!

Every story—no matter the length, the genre, the style, the voice, the author, the editor, the language—has to have suspense. Without suspense, there is nothing urging the reader to turn the page. No drama for the reader to watch unfold. Nothing to take hold of the reader and not let go. In other words… boring.

Fever, my recent debut, has received fabulous reviews, which absolutely thrills me.

“An exciting, on-the-run romantic suspense tale!”~ Christie Ridgeway, BookPage, Top Pick Romance

“…a great, action-packed, sexy read.”~ Novel Reflections Review

“…all-consuming, thrilling, and passionate.”~ The Good, The Bad, The Unread

The whole point to suspense is development of drama within the story. And to create suspenseful drama a storyteller must have:

· Stakes—what will the character win or lose? Is it big enough to make the situation compelling?

· Character—do I connect enough with this person to care whether they win or lose?

· Conflict—one main character must want one thing while another wants something different – usually the opposite.

The best authors use these elements in a delicate balance. Suspense is all about the anticipation. The unknown. In fiction, suspense is built when the author proposes a story or character question, then makes the reader wait for the answer.

How long? It depends…usually on the question itself. Some questions are big and meaningful to the overall story concept. Some are small, maybe a hint about the character’s background that will foreshadow conflict. But regardless of the size (or relative importance) in the most suspenseful fiction, every time an answer is revealed to the reader, another question continues to linger or is introduced. Like that childhood game leapfrog, some question the reader needs answered to understand the story, to satisfy his curiosity, to make him want to read forward, is always in place. This is what creates that need-to-know atmosphere in the best suspense. And when it’s done well, the story skips along, with answers coming at intervals and new questions popping up, keeping the reader flying through the pages.

Timing is everything—when an author drops a new question into the story, when he answers another. It’s a skill that can be developed on a gut level. A sixth sense of sorts. Some authors have developed this sense after years of writing in the genre. Some authors come by it naturally. Many readers have an even better sense of developing tension than authors because reading is a fabulous way of gaining that sensitivity.

Generally speaking, if you, as the author, are bored...the reader will be bored. If your attention is scattered between three different story lines...the reader will also be distracted. And if you allow the suspense to linger too long, the reader will get exasperated and put the book down, but if you push it too fast, the reader has nothing to read on or wait for. Here, the gut feeling is valuable.

Some authors find it easier to write through method. In that case, this graphic might help.














Add in character questions and you get even more complexity and more levels of suspense.









There are different types of suspense a writer can employ to keep the pace moving in creative, thought-provoking ways: the dark, slowly-twining-around-your-throat suspense, the emotional, life-altering-squeezing-your-stomach suspense, and the well-known and loved physical-threat-to life-and-limb suspense. And because I write romantic suspense, I'm also twining in the romantic conflict along the way.

It's fun and challenging and when it all comes together, the result is literally breathtaking.

What was the last book you read with killer suspense?

One random commenter (US and Canadian residents only) will win a print copy of FEVER.

Also, all comments are eligible for Joan's tour grand prize of either a COLOR NOOK or KINDLE FIRE. Stop by Joan's website and enter here.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joan Swan is a triple RWA® Golden Heart finalist and writes sexy romantic suspense with a paranormal twist. Her debut novel with Kensington Brava, FEVER, releases February 28, 2012. Her second novel, BLAZE, follows in October, 2012.

In her day job, she works as a sonographer for one of the top ten medical facilities in the nation and lives on the California central coast in beautiful wine country with her husband and two daughters.


My links:
Website Blog Twitter Facebook Goodreads


Book Blurb: Release Date: 2/28/12


Dr. Alyssa Foster will admit to a bad boy fetish…
But when she finds herself face to face with a convicted murderer with determination for freedom and an eye on her as his get out of jail free card, Alyssa knows she’s in deep trouble…. Not just because Teague Creek is a prisoner desperate for freedom, but because his every touch makes her desperate for more.


A man with a life sentence has nothing to lose…
Teague Creek has one shot at freedom, but his plan to escape with a hostage develops a fatal flaw: Alyssa. On the run from both the law and deadly undercover operatives who know of his strange abilities, he needs to avoid trouble, but every heated kiss tells him the fire between them could be just as devastating as the flames that changed him forever.


Buy links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Booksamillion

78 comments:

  1. Congrats on your debut release, Joan. The last book I read with killer suspense was Leslie Tentler's "Edge of Midnight." No need to enter me for this giveaway.

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    1. I have Tentler's book on my tbr. Looking forward to reading it!

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    2. Oh, that is exciting to hear Jane, because I've got that book in my TBR pile!! YAY!! I had Leslie on my blog a bit ago and was fascinated to hear of this emerging genre Romantic Thrillers -- right up my ally :) Thanks for coming by!

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    3. Another new to me author!!! Does she have a series of books? Which one should I start with?

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  2. Hi Joan best wishes for continued success with FEVER!

    Lisa Jackson's Wicked Lies is the last book with killer suspense. Brenda Novak's WATCH ME series was good too.

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    1. Hi Laurie, Thanks! I've read both Lisa and Brenda, but not those particular books/series. Will look them up!

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  3. Love Me To Death by Allison Brennan was the last one that I read. The reviews for FEVER sound awesome!

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    1. Love Allison Brennan's books!

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    2. Allison does great suspense!!

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    3. Haven't read any of her books ... Yet

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  4. Cynthia Eden deadly fear!! Her hole deadly series is amazing! Fever sounds like a must read!

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    1. I've heard wonderful things about Cynthia Eden's books but I've never read one. Must remedy that!

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    2. YES, Savannah. Her entire Deadly series is awesome!! Good call!

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    3. LOVE the Deadly series. I reviewed a couple if tgem here Such a great group of books. And boy are they suspenseful.

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  5. congrats on your debut. Right now I'm reading Devious by Lisa Jackson.

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    1. Lisa Jackson is amazing! Love her books but she always leaves me looking over my shoulder. ;-)

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    2. Lisa is definitely an amazing suspense author!

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    3. Wow so many new authors for me. Looks like my future holds a lot of romantic suspense books :-)

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  6. Hi Joan! Congrats on the release of FEVER! I'm looking forward to reading it!

    The last R/S I read was an ARC of BETRAYAL by Christina Dodd. Terrific book and series!

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    1. Thanks PJ!!

      Wow, I thought I knew all of Christina's series! Will have to look that one up!

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  7. The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner

    Krista
    theangrypollo{ AT }yahoo{DOT }com

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    1. I haven't read Lisa Gardner yet. Where do you recommend I begin, Krista?

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    2. I haven't read any by that author either. Adding her to my list of authors to check out. Thanks!

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  8. Congrats on your book.

    Last supsense novel that I read was Celebrity in Death... I think I read it for the romance as much as the suspense... :)

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    1. It must have been the perfect balance between romance and suspense. I guess you enjoyed it?

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  9. Congrat 4 your 'FEVER', Joan. My fav suspense author r Beverly Barton, JD Robb, n Lisa Jackson. The latest suspense i read : Dead by Series, Beverly Barton. I've read the numb #1 n #2, still haven't read the third, mybe tomorrow. Im from Indonesia, so i know u can enter me. Its ok, i just love to share

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    1. Thanks for sharing some of your favorite authors with us.

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    2. Hey Inacreus! Thanks for sharing! I have Beverly Barton's recent release in my TBR pile...just need to find time to read now!!

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  10. Congratulations on new book "Fever" Joan. I looks very popular. Please enter me in the draw I would be interested in reading it.

    janet(underscore)kerr(at)msn.com

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Janet.

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    2. Thanks Janet! Good luck in the drawing!

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  11. The last book I read with killer suspense was The Witness by Sandra Brown. I recently discovered her books and they really keep me on my toes. I like this post.I do agree that if the suspense goes too fast or too long the reader will get bored. A nice balance helps.

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    1. I have to admit I have never read a Brown book. Maybe one day I will have the time to give her a try.

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    2. LOVE Sandra Brown. She is one of my favorite authors! I haven't read The Witness yet, but will definitely add it to my list!

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  12. Congrats on your new release! I can't remember the last suspense book I read. I have been really hooked on historicals and contempary's lately and haven't read a good suspense. I do enjoy them though.

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    1. You know, historicals are my first love but I am slowly discovering how much I enjoy romantic suspense.

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    2. Hi Quilt Lady. I love historicals, but pepper them into my suspense reads. Contemporary's are fun, but harder for me to find the ones I love. I need deep and real conflict to feel invested in a story and I've found this difficult to find in many contemporary romances. But the ones I do find...ROCK! :)

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  13. Congratulations on all the good buzz Fever is getting, Joan.

    Brenda Novak's third Bulletproof book, In Close is the last romantic suspense title I read, unless Jayne Ann Krentz's Cooper Creek counts. I'm never sure how to categorize her books. I'm jealous of PJ'd Dodd ARC. That's one I'll definitely be reading.

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    1. You mention some really great authors, Janga

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    2. Thanks Janga!

      Oh, Cooper Creek was one of the new releases I wanted to pick up -- thanks for the reminder! I haven't read Brenda's Bulletproof trilogy yet, but her books are definitely on my favorites list.

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  14. The last one I read was Blaze by Joann Ross. I loved it. Congrats on your new book.

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    1. Hmmm another new to me author. Thanks! I will check her out.

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    2. Hi Mollie,

      Joann is another author I read voraciously prior to writing myself. Fabulous RS author!

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  15. It was one of Stephanie Tyler's Shadow Force novels, NIGHT MOVES.
    I mostly read paranormal but a good suspense book is great to throw in my mix. I've been dying for FEVER - congratulations!

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    1. I have not read any books by TYLER. Hope you enjoy FEVER.

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    2. Oh, yeah! Hel-lo, Steph is AWESOME!!! She blurbed BLAZE, by the way :) Love having her quote on the front of my book. *fan girl moment*

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  16. Welcome back Joan!! Congrats on the release of FEVER!! I loved it!!

    I'm fairly new to the romantic suspense genre, but Cynthia Eden's Deadly series kept up late at night :-)

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    1. Oops. That was me. I was logged in under the wrong name.

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    2. ROTFLMAO!!! Too funny!! I'm thrilled you loved FEVER. Thrilled!! Makes my day...week...month...

      Cynthia writes fantastic RS. Her deadly series is really fast and tense with deep characters you love immediately.

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  17. Catch Me, by Lisa Gardner, was wonderful. The book she published last year, Love You More, was even better.

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    1. Shoot, I haven't read those!! YAY! More Lisa Gardner to read. Curious, what is the romance level of those books?

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  18. I would say Lethal by Sandra Brown was a very suspenseful story.

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    1. Lethal...have to go look...*crickets*...nope, haven't read that one yet either! So many great books, so little time!!!

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  19. I recently read Lethal Refuge by Australian author Vonnie Hughes. It's a romantic suspense and it's dark and scary and sexy and romantic all at once. Lots of questions in this one!

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    1. Ooo, that sounds gooooood!! Thanks for sharing -- new author for me!

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  20. If You Know Her by Shiloh Walker; the whole series was suspenseful!

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    1. Have read it yet -- new release right?

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  21. OH...I've enjoyed Stephen King and Dean Koontz for years. Stephen King's current book, 11/22/63, is full of anticipation, although it's not killer suspenseful like some of his earlier ones...or maybe I'm just a more mature reader now (LOL).

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    1. I was an early fan of King. He ended up scaring the bejesus out of me and I had to stop reading his work :(

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  22. Lisa Gardner has some great ones. I still remember the first one of hers I read. I was only a chapter or two in and was already in shock.

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    1. That's an awesome sign of a great book!

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  23. I just finished The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson, about an American who joins al Qaeda and fights with them in Chechnya and Afghanistan, and who comes back to the US after 10 years as part of a new terrorist plot. The twist is, he's a CIA agent and no one, except his old handler, completely trusts him.

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    1. Oh, wow -- that's...intense!! Sounds awesome!

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  24. I just finished a book by Lisa Renee Jones called Secrets Exposed and loved it. Love her books. Found on Amazon for a good price and loved it. Very sexy and suspenseful book. When they revealed the bad guy, I dropped the phone. Could not believe it. I was way off.
    Would love to win and read this book. I love the cover and love the tattoo.
    Thanks for the giveaway.
    christinebails@yahoo.com

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  25. Very informative post. The last book I read with killer suspense was The Da Vinci Code.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Hi BN,

      I saw the movie, which was good, and I know books are always better. :)

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  26. The last book I read with killer suspense was actually a trilogy! The Ash trilogy by Shiloh Walker was fabulous!!! It was nailbitingly good, I had no idea who the killer was til the last book!! Congrats on your new release Joan, looking forward to reading Fever!! :)

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  27. The last book with awesome suspense was actually a trilogy, but a great one. The Stillwater Trilogy by Brenda Novak. Fantastic series.

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  28. Interesting post. Attention spans certainly are tricky - especially mine LOL Celebrity in Death is the last suspense I read that really kept me in throughout.

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  29. Thanks for an interesting post. The author does face a challenge when the audience is well read in the genre. Savvy readers expect good suspense, a logically developing plot and conflict, and a satisfying conclusion. Best wishes for the success of FEVER and your writing career.

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    1. Just realized I didn't answer your question. SILENT MERCY by Linda Fairstein was the last suspense novel I can remember reading. I really like her Ales Cooper books.

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  30. I just stopped by to show Joan some love. ;) The last book that I read with great suspense was Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker. It was very gory too.
    Please do not enter me into the contest as I am awaiting my copy already. Thank you!

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  31. Actually, the last book I read with phenomenal suspense was, of course, FEVER. But the last before that was probably Sierra Dean's Secret McQueen series. I love her style. You never know what is going to happen next. Sometimes it is like - What the Heck? And she always ends with - hmmm ... not really a cliffhanger, but definitely a new question left unanswered. Darn frustrating sometimes, but I still enjoy the series very much. Congratulations to the winner! You are going to love this book!
    Kendra

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