It has been a great book week on the blog! I have read some fantastic titles this week, and I am pleased to present you all with another guest post and giveaway today! I have become a big fan of Suzanne Johnson a.k.a. Susannah Sandlin. For those of you who are new, Suzanne writes The fantastic UF series: The Sentinels of New Orleans, and as Susannah Penton Legacy Series. I love Suzanne's world building and characters from vampires, wizards, shapeshifters and more. Today, I have for you a fun little read. Susannah recently released a serial novel called Lovely, Dark and Deep If you have not read a serial, it is a fun and addictive. After your initial purchase, each week additional episodes are delivered at no charge, so you have something to look forward to. I have had fun reading this little serial, and I highly recommend you do a serial when you get the chance. This particular serial is a thriller. It features a young woman who is coerced by a mysterious bad guy into searching for a cross of the Knights of the Templar. She must find this cross that sank off the coast in Novia Scotia or risk losing loved ones. It is a nail biter!
I have the lovely talented Suzanne here to guest post with me today on serial killers!
Before we get to the that let me reintroduce Suzanne/Susannah:
Suzanne Johnson is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series from Tor Books. Royal Street, book one, came out in April 2012; River Road in November 2012. Book three, Elysian Fields, released on August 13, 2013.
A longtime New Orleans resident, Suzanne is a veteran journalist with more than fifty national awards in writing and editing nonfiction for higher education, including the Robert S. Sibley Award for the best university magazine in the U.S. and Canada, for the Rice University Sallyport.
Suzanne is an active member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and is a member of the Georgia, Southern Magic, and Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapters of RWA. You can find Suzanne on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. Suzanne also writes the Penton Legacy under pen name Susannah Sandlin.
Here is Suzanne:
Serial Killers by Susannah Sandlin
Every Wednesday morning for the past five weeks, I’ve arrived at my day job to be greeted by my co-worker Audrey with some variation on: “I hate you.” This past week, it was “I hate you and don’t ever do this to me again.”
What grievous thing am I doing on Tuesdays to earn her wrath? That’s when the new episode of my serial novel Lovely, Dark, and Deep automatically downloads to her Kindle. The more irate she is the next morning, the more I know I’ve done my job well.
Serial novels are making a comeback these days. They’re basically full-length novels released in weekly episodes that automatically download to your e-reader. In the case of Lovely, Dark, and Deep, it’s eight episodes of approximately four chapters each, totaling a full-length 95,000-word novel.
The serial novel is nothing new. It’s how Charles Dickens published, dribbling out bits of his stories in weekly installments, even changing plot points or characters depending on how his readers reacted as he wrote and published them.
I’m no Dickens, of course, but Lovely, Dark, and Deep is my second serial (the first was Storm Force, a paranormal thriller) and is the first in a new series of romantic thrillers called The Collectors. From both a reader and author standpoint, it’s a whole new ballgame, a different way of reading and writing.
Here’s how it works for the reader, at least for my books (different publishers are using different models): the reader purchases the book for $1.99 and gets all the episodes released to date (six). After the eighth and final episode downloads on February 18 (at no extra cost beyond the initial $1.99), the reader has a complete novel. If I’m a reader, I can read each episode as it downloads each week, or I can let it sit on my reader until all eight episodes are there and read it as a complete novel. At the end of its serial run, the price goes up to $3.99 for Kindle, and in May it comes out as a regular novel in print and audio.
What’s so different about a serial? In a word: CLIFFHANGER. Each four-chapter “episode” advances the overall story, but also ends at a point of high tension. It’s like a TV show you watch every week, where the producers leave it on a twist in the hopes that you’ll tune in next time to see what happens. Or a soap opera, where the Friday episode leaves you hanging until Monday.
To be honest, it drives some readers nuts (hey, hear that, Audrey?), and I always tell them to let the book download while it’s cheap and then wait to read it all at once. If you’re a reader (like me) who enjoys really getting lost in a book for hours, that’s the way to do it. Other readers like being able to spend thirty minutes a week to read the latest episode and then go to the online discussion group at Amazon to talk about it (the discussions are at the bottom of the book page).
As an author, it’s a fun and challenging way to write. When the first episode was released, I was still writing on later episodes, so I could gauge how readers were reacting to the characters and storyline. Also, as I’m plotting out my novel I have to look at it in terms of not only the overall story arc, start to finish, but in episode arcs. (By the way, if you are an author who develops the book as you write and rely on revisions to get everything sorted out, serial novels are not going to be your cup of tea—no revisions!)
It can also influence the way I write in future books. With my first serial, Storm Force (a paranormal romance standalone loosely tied to my Penton Legacy series), I learned that one character in particular—and not the hero or heroine—really resonated with readers. So my foul-mouthed, fierce little eagle shifter, Robin, is coming to my Penton series when its fourth book releases in June. Had I not gotten that kind of feedback on the serial, I doubt it would have occurred to me to merge the casts of those worlds.
So, in a nutshell, that’s the world of the serial novel. I think it’s a fun way to write. I think it’s a fun way to read—or at least a way for a Kindle reader to get an inexpensive book, even if it sits there unread until the whole thing is downloaded. And as for Lovely, Dark, and Deep? It’s a fun and—I hope—exciting story about shipwrecks, power-mad billionaires, a sexy ex-Marine, and a geeky biologist whose ancestor stole a treasure from the Knights Templars. What’s not to like?
Do you think you’d like the serial format? Leave a comment with your opinion, and I’ll give one commenter a copy of the complete novel of Storm Force, choice of ebook or audio. (Open Internationally).
I can say I had fun with this serial and even though I didn't read it each week like I should have, I will next time, I can see how it would drive some readers crazy because some of those episodes do end on a cliffhanger note. So much fun! Definitely get in on this one while you can snatch it up at the $1.99 price. There are still two more episodes to go after this week.
Please be sure to leave your comment for Suzanne and she will choose a winner.
I am sure Suzanne will be back soon with Sentinels of New Orleans. I can't wait for book four!
Here is my review:
Lovely Dark and Deep by Susannah Sandlin:
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 Templar, stolen by Gillian’s ancestor and lost at sea four hundred years ago.
Four stars: A sharp, speedy thrill ride with plenty of heart pounding moments!
Gillian doesn't think twice when she mentions her family curse to a reporter during an interview on gators. Her ancestor stole a cross centuries ago and since the family has been cursed to die young. A few days later, she receives a chilling phone call. An unknown stranger demands that she drop everything and go find the templar cross that her ancestor stole. The stolen Templar Cross was lost on its voyage across the Atlantic when the ship sank in a storm off the coast of Nova Scotia. If Gillian doesn't find this cross in thirty days, her family and friends will be harmed. At first, Gillian doesn't believe the stranger, but when photos of her young niece emerge with threats, she knows she must act. Gillian is sent to hire Shane Burke, a down on his luck fisherman and diver, who is about to lose his boat. Soon Gillian and Shane are in a race against the clock to save their skins. They find danger and treachery at every turn, and they are against impossible odds. Will they find the cross and save themselves?
What I Liked:
- This book was simplify fun! It was an exciting, fast paced thrill ride from beginning to end. I loved the serial format because it kept me on my toes. There are plenty of dramatic developments throughout and each episode ends on a nail biting cliffhanger that leaves you gasping for more. There is never a dull moment in this one!
- I loved the suspense in this one. It is thriller that features a maniacal, powerful, rich invisible man who plays a deadly game of cat and mouse with little regard to human life. It is all about the riches and the prize at the finish line. The puppeteer picks his puppets, puts down the demands and makes them dance. If they don't move at his will, he threatens and harms those they love. Nothing is out of his reach. This man is all about power. He is a horrific, villainous creep who made my sink crawl. Add in his two evil enforcers and you have a trio of baddies that you want to punch!
- I liked that this story moves incredibly quick. There is little time to stop and catch your breath because there is danger at every turn. This is easily a read you could pick up and read in a single sitting because once it gets going you can't put it down, that is unless you are reading it weekly in the serial format, then it is a nail biting wait until the next episode arrives.
- I enjoyed the cast of characters from the two haunted protagonists, Shane and Gillian to the interesting and eclectic secondary characters. Gillian and Shane are both hurting and trying to get over heartbreak, when they come together with death on their heels and the sparks fly. I liked that they often butted heads and that Gillian never backed down to Shane. They were a great pair. The additional cast was very entertaining from Shane's first mate Jagger who is The Rolling Stone's biggest fan to the ornery one legged Charlie and the extremely eccentric and curmudgeonly Chevy who lives in a fortified lighthouse with his resourceful wife Cleo. I thought the entire cast was dynamite, including the three horrible villains!
- I appreciated that this book had plenty of detail on the dangers of diving. I know very little about the topic, and I liked that it was explained thoroughly.
- I loved that after an exciting and thrilling adventure, everything culminates and wraps up neatly. No loose ends or jarring cliffhanger at the end, which was a relief after all the cliffhangers along the way. The ending did indicate the possibility for another book down the road, and I personally would very much love to see this cast of characters return.
And The Not So Much:
- Even though I loved that this moved at lightning speed, the dramatic pace didn't allow for time to stop and explore the minor details. Often times, the story jumps ahead and skips over things that I thought were important. Such as, Gillian is doing research trying to find out who could be pulling the strings, she suddenly comes up with a list of possible suspects and I was curious as to how she managed to quickly narrow it down. I also wanted more on the research behind finding the shipwreck and a bit more about Charlie and Shane's broken relationship. What about Gillian's family curse, will it be erased if the cross is found?
- The romance moves incredibly fast, but it is still believable because feelings are born between two individuals who are in a race for their lives. I didn't have a problem with it, but those of you who don't like romances that develop quickly, you may not enjoy the romance in this one.
- The villain is so creepy and manipulative. I would love to get inside his head and learn a bit more about the clandestine C7 and how they functioned. How many individuals were in this creepy group? How did the come to be?
- Finally, you have to suspend a bit of belief when reading this. A bit of imagination is needed because it is hard to believe some of the events. Still it is fun, and I can handle straining realism in exchange for entertainment.
Lovely, Dark and Deep is a mind numbing thrill ride that will keep you flipping the pages. Read it all at once, or read it by episode, either way you are in for a suspenseful, exciting tale of manipulation, treachery, danger and greed. If you are wanting something fast and fun, pick this one up! I was entertained from beginning to end.
“I always wondered what it would feel like to get shot.” He sounded genuinely pleased.
Obviously, he was suffering from shock. “Well, how does it feel to be shot?”
“It hurts like hell."
"He deliberately didn't look at her ass as he followed her up the steps to the pilothouse, which he thought showed a great deal of professional restraint just in case he did go to work for her."
"There's no shame in being afraid," Charlie said. "Shame is in running from it."
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
Be sure to check out Suzanne's other titles!