Thursday, June 30, 2011

Winner of the $75 eGiftcard is....

Jackie W!

Jackie, email me at paulagraves (at) charter (dot) net (no spaces) and tell me what ebookstore you'd prefer the giftcard from.

Congratulations! And thanks, everyone, for the comments!

Chickasaw County Captive wins the 2011 Daphne Award

Chickasaw County Captive, my February 2010 Intrigue, won its category in the 2011 Daphne du Maurier awards last night at the Romance Writers of America convention. This is the annual contest held by the Kiss of Death Romantic Mystery/Suspense chapter of the RWA, which is dedicated to romance authors writing in the romantic suspense/mystery subgenre.

My January 2010 Intrigue, Case File: Canyon Creek, Wyoming, was also a finalist. Other finalists in the category included Intrigue authors Julie Miller (Takedown) and B.J. Daniels (High Caliber Christmas). My fellow RITA finalist Gail Barrett was also up for the Daphne with her RITA finalist, Meltdown.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Revisiting the "Forbidden" series

Back in March of this year, Harlequin finally released my first book, Forbidden Territory, as an ebook, which means all of my books are now available for purchase again if you have an ereader or ebook software on your computer or smart phone.

I know I've picked up some new readers with the Cooper Justice series who may not be familiar with my first three books, so consider this your introduction...

About seventeen years ago, I had this idea about a young school teacher named Lily Browning who had psychic visions of very bad things. Unfortunately for her, no matter how she tried to stop these things from happening, they always ended in tragedy. So after a time, she decided that the visions were a curse, not a gift, and she fought against them. The struggle gave her terrible migraines, but the headaches were less painful than seeing horrible things she knew she couldn't stop.

But one day, she sees a vision of a terrified little girl. The vision comes on her so fast that she can't stop it--and it happens right as a jaded police detective with a tragic past comes into her classroom, asking questions about a child who's gone missing.

The book ended up being rejected a couple of times and I put it away. I switched from novel writing to screenwriting for a few years and had some nibbles but no breakthrough. Finally, in 2003, over eight years since I'd put aside that rejected manuscript, I brought it out again. Revisited it and realized it needed a massive rewrite. When that was done, I entered it in some contests and had very good luck, including a 2004 Golden Heart final. In 2005, I finalied in a contest and won, and the editor judge asked to see the full manuscript. In August, 2005, she bought the book, titled What the Heart Sees, and we changed the title to Forbidden Territory. It came out in June 2006.

I had already planned two more books, once for each of the heroine's sisters. It took months to write the second one. It came out in June 2007. Forbidden Temptation told the story of Lily Browning's sister Rose, who we met in the first book as a happy girl whose paranormal gift was the delightful ability to see what she called "true love veils." But when we meet her in her own book, we discover that a tragedy has twisted her gift into something much darker: now she sees "death veils"—visions that tell her how a person is going to die. Worse for her, a serial killer is at work in the neighborhood where she lives, and she sees his handiwork before he strikes. But can she convince the skeptical profiler investigating the case that her ability can help him stop the killer before another woman dies?

The final book, Forbidden Touch, catches up with Iris Browning, whose empathic gift allows her to draw pain and tension from people she touches, but at great physical cost to herself. Her desire to help others has left her nearly crippled, but when her vacation trip to the Caribbean goes horribly wrong when her friend goes missing, Iris has to draw on her dwindling strength to unravel the clues before it's too late for her friend. She draws the attention of a ne'er-do-well beach bum who's not what he seems. Can she trust his offer of help?

All three books are now available in ebook from most online ebook sellers. If you liked Cooper Justice, but you haven't read my first three books, why not give them a try?

Monday, June 06, 2011

Cooper Vengeance preview

When I started the Cooper Justice series almost two years ago, my main goal was to write about a big, boisterous family from north Alabama. A family of fishermen, outdoorsmen, soldiers and cops. I wanted to make John Deere caps as sexy as Stetsons.

I'm not sure I've accomplished that, but Cooper Justice did introduce a hard-working, hard-fighting, hard-loving group of men and women who call the south their home and have a natural affinity for the land they love so fiercely.

The final story of the Cooper Justice series features the eldest Cooper brother, J.D., whose life has been marked by tragedy—the unsolved murder of his wife Brenda. In Cooper Vengeance, available this month from Harlequin Intrigue, we finally get to the bottom of who killed his wife—but not before J.D. meets Natalie Becker, a woman whose own grief fuels the fire in her belly as she seeks to prove who killed her sister. J.D. believes the same killer is behind both murders, but Natalie thinks she knows exactly who killed her sister.

Can they pool their resources and work together, even if their theories don't mesh? And just how much will their simmering attraction to each other complicate the situation? Read Cooper Vengeance for the answer.

How about a sneak peek? Here's a short excerpt from the beginning of Cooper Vengeance:


Natalie Becker crouched beside the new headstone, her eyes dry but burning. Seeing the name etched into the marble marker—Carrie Becker Gray—only amplified the anger burning a hole in Natalie's chest.

You shouldn't bear his name for eternity, she thought.

She stood up, finally, glad for the shade of the ancient oak, with its outstretched limbs creating a Spanish-moss-draped-canopy for her sister's grave. July and August would be hotter, but June was nothing to laugh at here in Terrebonne, Alabama. Unless you were right on the river or the bay, there weren't enough cool breezes blowing up from the Gulf to temper the sweltering heat and humidity. Even the shade offered only moderate relief from the heat and no relief at all from the mosquitoes and flies.

She batted at a large green bottle fly buzzing around her, ducking her head to one side to avoid the insect's dive at her face. As she did, she caught movement in her peripheral vision.

She whipped her gaze in that direction, the fly forgotten. In the pit of her gut, she was certain she'd see Hamilton Gray standing there, watching her.

She was wrong. It wasn't Hamilton. Not even close.

The dark-haired stranger standing a few yards away was a giant of a man, six foot four or taller, towering over even the larger of the granite markers surrounding him. He had broad shoulders, a massive chest, narrow hips and muscular legs. And his short, military-style haircut only amplified the aura of strength and authority.

Soldier? Maybe a cop, although being a sheriff's deputy herself, she knew most of the lawmen in this area and he definitely wasn't one of them.

Out on the access road, a horn honked, making her jump. She turned her head toward the sound, laughing a little at herself for being so tightly strung.

When she looked back at the stranger, he was gone.

She scanned the graveyard until she spotted him walking briskly toward the other side of the cemetery. His long legs had covered a surprising amount of ground in the few seconds her attention had drifted toward the sound of the horn.

Who was he?

Stop it, she admonished herself silently. Stop seeing suspects everywhere you look. You know who killed your sister.

The stranger was probably just an out-of-towner, here to visit the grave of a friend or relative. Out of curiosity, she crossed to the spot where he'd stood just a few moments earlier, growing more sure with each step that she'd find the explanation for his presence etched into the nearest marker.

But when she reached the marker, it was an unlikely source of enlightenment. The gravestone marked the final resting place of Mary Beth Geddie, who'd died a week after birth nearly a hundred years earlier. Not exactly what she'd expected to find.

She gazed toward the edge of the cemetery, where she spotted the large man walking through the front gates and straight toward a large black truck parked at the curb.

Illegally parked, she thought. She could ticket him and see who he was and what he was up to.
Her feet were moving before she finished the thought, pounding over the sun-baked ground of the graveyard. But by the time she neared the gates, the black truck was out of sight.

She skidded to a stop and bent at the waist, breathing harder than she liked. She'd let her workouts go over the past two weeks while dealing with Carrie's death and the aftermath. Between the piles of food the good folks of Terrebonne had brought by before the funeral and the stress-eating opportunities that were part and parcel of dealing with her parents, Natalie had probably gained five pounds in the two weeks.

She had to get control of her life. Now.

She trudged back to her sister's grave, trying to feel something besides bitter anger and guilt. "I told you not to marry him," she said softly to the stone.

"I'm grateful she didn't listen," Hamilton Gray murmured, his voice equally soft.

Natalie whirled around to face her brother-in-law, who had stepped from behind the sheltering tree. Had he lain in wait for her? "What are you doing here?"

Hamilton's voice hardened in an instant. "Visiting my wife's grave." His eyes narrowed, giving his lean face a feral aspect. "The one I paid for, if you insist on becoming territorial."

You haven't paid yet, Natalie thought, seething at his tone. As if Carrie had been an object to cherish or discard at his whim.

"I know you think I had something to do with her murder, but I can assure you I did not. As can the authorities, as you well know." Hamilton's voice grew more conciliatory. "Natalie, I loved your sister. She loved me. I may not like to share my feelings with the world, but they exist nonetheless."

There it was. That convincing air of sincerity he threw on and off like an overcoat. It seemed to fool everyone she knew, including her father, who prided himself on judgment and his knack for reading people. But Darden Becker had one enormous blind spot—money. And if there was any family in South Alabama richer than the Beckers, it was the Grays.


Have you read all the Cooper Justice books yet? Have you read any of them? Do you have a favorite book from the series? A favorite character? A favorite scene?

Let's talk about the series in the comments. At the end of the month, I'll draw a winner to receive a $75 eGiftcard.