Playing with Fire
Genres: Thriller, Young Adult
Published by: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date: January 19th 2021
When a fire cuts off a popular trail in the Oregon forest, a small group trapped by the flames must find another way out―or die―in Playing with Fire, an unrelenting teen-vs-nature YA thriller by New York Times bestselling author April Henry. Natalia is not the kind of girl who takes risks. Six years ago, she barely survived the house fire that killed her baby brother. Now she is cautious and always plays it safe. For months, her co-worker Wyatt has begged her to come hiking with him, and Natalia finally agrees. But when a wildfire breaks out, blocking the trail back, a perfect sunny day quickly morphs into a nightmare. With no cell service, few supplies, and no clear way out of the burning forest, a group of strangers will have to become allies if they’re going to survive. Hiking in the dark, they must reach the only way out―a foot bridge over a deep canyon―before the fire catches them.
After I read news stories about a group of hikers was trapped by the Eagle Creek Fire in 2017, I knew immediately that I wanted to put fictional hikers in a similar situation. The real group of hikers trapped at Punchbowl Falls numbered over a hundred, but that’s far too many to follow for a book. I cut it down to about a dozen.
In real life, as in the book, people who had planned on doing an easy three mile round-trip trek to a swimming hole suddenly found themselves forced to hike over twenty miles on much more treacherous trails, much of it at night.
I was fascinated by the idea of this disparate group of people having to pull together if they are to survive. And after writing books featuring serial killers, it was kind of fun to write one where the serial killer is nature. I wanted the characters to survive everything the environment might throw at them, so I brainstormed scenarios with a search and rescue leader. He told me some crazy true stories about the Eagle Creek Fire. One was about a large tree that toppled and torpedoed down a couple thousand feet of scree slope, which sheared off all its limbs and turned into a giant log missile. I used that in the book.
I decided that my main character had survived a house fire as a child, so I researched house fires, burn units, and trauma therapy.
For additional research, my husband and I hiked in the unburned side of the Gorge in Washington State so that I could take pictures and make mental notes.
I also became certified in wilderness first aid.
The fire struck close to home. In fact, if the winds had shifted, it could have reached Portland. Even so, it burned for weeks. On many days, my car was coated in ash. The Columbia Gorge is considered one of the jewels of Oregon, but now the trees that used to stand sentinel on the hills are nothing but blackened stubs. Surviving a wild fire unfortunately continues to be a timely topic, as the summer of 2020 saw even fiercer wildfires burning in California, Oregon and Washington.
April Henry is the New York Times–bestselling author of many acclaimed mysteries for adults and young adults, including the YA novels The Girl in the White Van; Girl, Stolen; The Night She Disappeared; The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die; The Girl I Used to Be, which was nominated for an Edgar Award and won the Anthony Award for Best YA Mystery; Count All Her Bones; The Lonely Dead; Run, Hide, Fight Back; and The Body in the Woods and Blood Will Tell, the first two books in the Point Last Seen series. She lives in Oregon.
The Earl With The Secret Past
Fiction, Historical, Regency
HarperCollins UK, Mills and Boon, Harlequin
June 25, 2020
An unexpected inheritance An explosive reunion. Hardworking architect Adam Monroe’s world is shaken when he inherits an Earldom! Thrust into the ton, he bumps into widow, Kitty Fenton – his lost love. Years before, he’d refused to elope with Kitty to save her from ruin, and was heartbroken she’d married so soon after he left. Perhaps fate has given him a chance to discover the truth – after all beneath the hurt the sparks of attraction are as strong as ever…
This is another version of the historical trope with an unexpected inheritance of a title. The Earl as he becomes, was not expecting to inherit but instead to work for a living, but a death up the line – his father in fact, thrust him into the role. It turns out his mother had been lying to him all his life about who is was… And the horror of this lack of knowledge had meant that he had paid the price in his youth for not marrying the girl he loved, as he thought himself too lowly in society for her. And of course, she then went on to marry someone else. But now she was a widow and he had the chance to gain her back. So the trope begins. But Kitty was not the girl he remembered. In her marriage she had grown up to be a woman of strength and ideas, and marrying again was not one of these ideas. So a courtship begins. And ends as we all expect with a marriage. Nicely written with the nice initial plot twist layering onto the trope.
(Sewing in SoCal book 3)
Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Humour
BooksGoSocial, Radiant Publications (29 Nov. 2020)
January 7, 2021
Who has time to date when she’s trying to raise a miniature human by herself AND save the planet from its irresponsible inhabitants? Not to mention my winning personality (snort) and my curves-have-curves figure (eyeroll) don’t exactly attract the opposite sex. Unfortunately, none of these reasons have stopped my best friends and SoCal sewing sisters from taking on the archaic role of matchmakers, and they’re not beneath a little bribery if that’s what it takes to get my cooperation. Let’s just say everyone has their weak spot, and donations to my favourite charities is mine. If I were to consider a romantic relationship, my dream guy certainly wouldn’t be immature, everything-is-a-game Dr. Drew Bauer. The man raises my body temperature faster than global warming does the Earth’s! But life seems determined to keep throwing us together, especially now that one of my SoCal sewing sisters is engaged to his best friend, in which case there can only be one of two outcomes: 1. I kill him in a fit of annoyance. 2. My common sense escapes me, and I fall in love with him. Honestly, I'm not sure which would be worse.
The story starts with the Blind Date. You know the one. Set up by your friends who are worried about you and you agree to go under protest – and here because they promise to make a donation to your favourite charity. And you are curvy and your date doesn’t believe you don’t eat a lot – especially fatty fried food – and orders for you. Food you don’t want. And he flirts with the waitress, makes derogatory remarks and implications about your shape and size and then leaves. The story is told by both characters, Nicole and Drew, so we learn early on that he really likes her in an sort of she irritates him and he keeps thinking about her sort of way – and so the trope begins. I liked the storyline. I liked Nicole and her values and her daughter and her mother too. I approve of environmental concerns and definitely saving the whale and reducing plastic use. Nicely written and fun to read.
Lindsey Love Loves
LLL Book 1
Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Humour
October 8, 2020
Lindsey Love's career as a food critic is suddenly taking off when she's approached by Food and Travel to take her show to Europe. What could be more fun than to travel with her best friend Patrick, eat amazing food, and see the sights? What she doesn't bargain for is the surly, egotistical producer with the icy glare, dimples, and a penchant for questioning her every move. Nick Elliot, ex-Navy SEAL turned producer, finds himself suddenly thrown into a project he doesn't want to take on. Producing a snotty food critic's show over in Europe is not at the top of his agenda. She's stubborn, sassy, and he finds himself inextricably drawn to her. When things go awry abroad, Nick has to make the decision to save his own future or give up everything to protect Lindsey.Lindsey Love Love is a stand alone Romantic Comedy with a little bit of suspense.
Lindsey starts this story 8 weeks before the main events when she is living in a small apartment above a battle-axe.
Lindsey is a Food Blogger and plays on her name Lindsey Love for the name of her blog. And she is getting known in the media and TV shows are…
And the show that they want her to do next involves a Producer who doesn’t want to produce for his ‘friend’ as the last show he did for him was – well let’s just say he got naked a lot in that one!
So we have anguish, dislike, anger and lots of steam in various forms.
And a nicely written book about food. Little cafes, interesting places to go to visit in Europe, and a love story in the end.
The Blue Trilogy, #2
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
Publication date: October 29th 2020
She was a distraction. He was a mistake. Now they’re in each others’ way.
Rookie investigator Devyn Foster knows the pain of losing family. It’s what drives her to do what she does – finding the missing and the lost and returning them to their families.
Her latest assignment is no different, finding the computer a whiz who disappeared while working on a mysterious project. Even though his case has gone cold, she won’t let his elderly parents suffer. She will find him and return him back to them.
But that was before the one-night stand that changed everything…
Private Investigator Max Carson has never let anything—or anyone—stop him from getting the job done. So when he’s hired to track down a software program that could change the world, that’s exactly what he’s going to do… until he finds himself in a dead heat with a woman who’s just as determined as he is to get the job done on her own terms.
Now Max has to deal with two problems: how to get Devyn out of the way… and out of his heart.
I grew up in a family who recounted family lore all the time. It was a way family history was passed on from generation to generation. Additionally, books I read in my youth, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and comics hooked me on suspense stories. Italian novellas hooked me on romance.
Favorite Genres for reading and writing
Reading: Thrillers, mysteries, historical fiction, including regency romance, young adult, contemporary and women’s fiction
Writing preference: a combination of romance and suspense.
Inspirations: Movies, history, and personal stories, and art history.
Favorite activity: travelling. I’m an avid foodie who cooks and posts too much food porn, but I include my own recipes in the newsletters.
Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
The latest books are part of a series––The Blue Trilogy. Though the genre is enemies to lovers and romantic suspense. The two characters had a one-night stand where the man ghosted the woman as soon as the tryst ended. He was a real cad. Imagine the emotions when they are sitting across from each other in a conference room. They cross paths seeking a missing person and technology theft.
What character(s) in your books are your favorite?
The female character, Grace, from The Confessional, got into my head and made me feel all the emotions, pain, shame, fear, and hope. I wish all my characters would turn out that way. The male character, Saint, was the worst kind of scum in the beginning of the book. I had to dial back the depth of vile in his personality.
Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
Both. I started my first books writing my stories by the seat of my pants––hence the term panster. However, this method caused me to backtrack and spent more time doing that than fine tuning the story. I appreciate the need for an outline, now. But eventually, I go off-road and capture the story as it develops in my mind.
Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Yes, I have editors. I’ve used a content editor for the trilogy. The other type of editors reviews the manuscript line by line, pointing out inconsistencies such as timeline issues, relationships among the characters, locations or physical proximities––things like that. It’s hard to get a manuscript perfect, but the obvious errors should be caught. My proofreader is a magical combination of the three AND she makes sure the grammar and punctuation are correct.
What kinds of marketing [Twitter, Facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I promote my books mostly on Facebook, Instagram, and sometimes on Twitter. I don’t advertise on Facebook much because I find the dashboard challenging to use. When I think everything is set up and hit post, they’ve kicked back the ads due to issues with wording and photos showing too much skin. Instagram has been easier for me to use for advertising.
Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Yes. I can’t do both at the same time without the other suffering. While the books are going through the first phase of editing, I devote that time to designing teasers, videos, and formulating the template for takeovers, newsletter, and giveaways. I love using RIPL to make my own videos. When I get the editor’s feedback, review the suggestions and get back to work.
What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Make notes on what you want to write immediately. Don’t let the brief thoughts or ideas slip away. Write the synopsis or blurb. It could serve as your roadmap for the book. Read a lot of the genre in which you want to write. Get some readers to look over your synopsis and first chapter. Get help planning your release.
Some fun facts about you, which do you prefer –
Dogs or cats? I like both. You better include birds.
Chocolate or vanilla? Strawberry, mint chocolate chip, Sicilian pistachio
Coffee or Tea? Coffee at home, expresso while traveling, chamomile when it’s cold
Talk or Text? I hate texting, but it’s convenient when I don’t have time to talk.
GALLERY OF CHARACTERS FOR SMOKE SCREEN, BLUE TRILOGY
To help you visualise:
DEVYN FOSTER, ROOKIE PRIVATE INVESITAGOR WITH A SOFT SPOT FOR MISSING PERSONS AND THEIR FAMILIES
MAX CARSON, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR WITH A JADED PAST WHO DISCARDED DEVYN AFTER A ONE NIGHT STAND
BEN ROSENBERG, FORMER MOSSAD, DEVYN’S BOSS, AND APPARENT AUTHORITY FIGURE
KAI LIN, MISSING CHINESE NATIONAL
K. Nilsson’s love of reading began with the Bobbsey twins. When she ran across some Italian True Romance novellas stashed in the attic, the musty serials hooked her on adult fiction. Though black and white photos were dramatic enough to know what the stories were about, she taught herself to read in Italian and translated them to her friends. She’s an unapologetic reviewer of books, restaurants, and vacation destinations. An amateur photographer, K. loves taking editorial photos and documenting her travels. Her personal philosophy, sleeping is a waste of time.