I asked Melanie Atkins to tell us about her latest release.
Against All Odds is a full length romantic suspense set in New Orleans, Louisiana. The book is the third in a trilogy after Blood Bound and Above Suspicion that came out in 2013. To quote Melanie, nothing like darkness, romance, and grit to get your blood pumping. Against All Odds releases February 21, 2014, from Desert Breeze Publishing.
I also asked her to share a little about her writing life.
15 things you may not know about Melanie Atkins
1) Why did you become a Writer? How did you get started?
I’ve always loved to write, even in high school, but never did much about it until I took a community enrichment creative writing class about 15 years ago that re-ignited my interest. I met some local writers, joined a couple of writing groups, and got busy at the computer.
2) What is your writing routine? How do you discipline yourself to keep at it?
Lately I haven’t had much of a writing routine because life got in the way, but normally I write a couple of hours in the morning and then three or four more in the afternoon. Just depends on what else is going on. I sometimes listen to music while I write, but most often have the TV on for visual inspiration. Or when the weather is good, I sit outside.
3) How many drafts before you feel the book is finished?
I don’t write in drafts. Once I’m done, I’m done, except for maybe weaving in a thread here and there and doing some minor tweaking. I write fast and clean.
4) What was the best thing that happened with regard to your writing career? The worst?
The best thing was selling to Desert Breeze Publishing. I’ve been extremely happy with them. The worst would be when my first publisher went bankrupt.
5) What part of your job do you love the most? Hate or dislike the most?
I love the writing itself. I’m not thrilled with book promotion.
6) What do you like to read? Do you read while working on a novel? Favorite authors?
I read suspense and romantic suspense, and yes. I do read while working, but only at the gym or when I take my mom to the doctor. I don’t read much at home. I’d rather write. Some of my favorite authors are Lisa Gardner, Linda Castillo, John Sandford, Linda Howard, Karen Rose, Tess Gerritsen, Joe Hill, Harlan Coban, and Stephen King.
7) What was the best advice you received as a writer? The worst?
The best is “All life is material”, a quote from my first writing mentor. The worst is the advice from a person who swore I had to follow certain rules to be published. Ha.
8) Who has influenced you the most in terms of developing your personal writing style?
My biggest influence was all the books I’ve read. I used to check out stacks at a time as a child. I’ve always read a lot, and that led me to narrowing my taste to certain genres and styles. Helped me to form my voice.
9) Do you have a good luck charm or superstition?
No. I’m not superstitious.
10) If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
11) What quote or personal saying do you live by?
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In other words, treat people with kindness.
12) What’s next up for you, writing-wise?
Finishing the single title suspense I’m working on, then diving into my next contracted manuscript, the second in my new Bayou Bounty Hunter series coming out at Desert Breeze. The first book comes out in July.
13) If you could do anything over again, would you and what would it be?
I would start writing to sell earlier in my life. Who knows what might have happened?
14) What advice would you give beginning writers?
Write every day.
15) Something we don’t know about you?
I’m terrified of heights.
Okay, everyone out there in blogland, if you didn’t laugh at Melanie’s answer to #10, you don’t have a sense of humor. She made me laugh out loud.
Here is a blurb for Against All Odds:
Sienna Wright has it all: an exciting career, a handsome husband who is an ADA, and two beautiful step-children… until a vicious murderer takes all away and sends her tumbling into a terrifying black abyss.
Detective Nate Lincoln’s job is his life, and he jumps at the chance to reclaim his gun and badge once the department reinstates him after a long suspension. His first order of business is to solve the murders of Jeff Wright and his two children, a case that fell through the cracks.
Still shell-shocked after nearly a year, Sienna at first refuses to help Nate. Then someone tries to kill her, and in order to survive, she is forced to break free of her quagmire of depression and trust the man she once loved. Nate isn’t sure he can solve the case, and yet he has to try. He would do anything for Sienna, even if she refuses to admit she still loves him.
And an excerpt:
“What else did the major say? We caught a case?”
“Yeah, a cold one. The murdered ADA — Jeff Wright. Remember that one?” Nate settled back in his seat and filled Jack in on the blood-soaked crime scene at the Wright’s upscale home as he negotiated the light Sunday traffic. “Our unit apparently hit a brick wall while I was gone, so Solomon handed it off to Cold Case — a colossal mistake, if there ever was one, because those guys sat around with their thumb up their asses, apparently. LeBlanc said Wright’s wife’s been calling headquarters at least twice a week for the past month, raisin’ hell about it.”
“Wait a minute.” Jack scowled. “I know Sienna. Didn’t you two date before she married Jeff?”
“Yeah, I was still seeing her when she met the bastard.” Nate gritted his teeth at the painful memory. He didn’t like to think about that depressing time in his life. He used to drink and party way too much. “She dated both of us for a while and picked him. Said she wanted someone steadier. Swore I was a bad influence.”
“Whoa.” Jack lifted his eyebrows. “That was cruel, man.”
“What can I say? She was right. And it was for the best, ’cause she loved Jeff.” Nate shook his head. “He made her happy. Two kids — a ready-made family — and a big, fancy house. He gave her a comfortable life. More than I could’ve ever given her. I didn’t have a pot to piss in, much less any kids.”
“Still, her choosing him must’ve gutted you.”
“Yeah, but not as much as losing Jeff and those kids did her. LeBlanc said she had a breakdown after the funeral and moved to Birmingham to live with her aunt. She’s still in Alabama, but right now she’s on the warpath with the DA and has threatened to sue the city ’cause we didn’t close the damned case. So the Major Crimes Section Commander turned it back over to us. He wants us to solve it yesterday.”
“You’d better talk to Solomon, find out why he tossed it to Cold Case.”
“Believe me, I will. I want to know why he gave up on it and has since refused to return Sienna’s phone calls.”
“Not a smart move. Give him my regards,” Jack said with a wry smile as he swung the sedan into the parking garage adjacent to the station.
Nate growled in response, but didn’t voice his true feelings about the case or Sienna. She’d broken his heart when she’d blown him off in favor of Wright, but he didn’t want Jack to know. All he needed was the facts. Sienna, a beautiful, headstrong woman, had been a popular reporter for the Times Picayune, yet she’d crumbled the night Jeff and kids had died. So much so, her doctor had hospitalized her after the funeral and kept her there until he’d found a family member willing to take care of her. Two days later, Sienna left Louisiana for Birmingham, Alabama. Nate had no idea how she was doing now but figured he ought to pay her a visit, even though it was the last thing he wanted to do.
“Save me from old girlfriends,” he muttered as he banged out of the car. He hated confrontations with women, thanks to his dealings with his own mother and the crappy way he’d ended his relationship with Sienna. Showing up drunk at her wedding had been the icing on the cake.
The pain of that day still gnawed at his soul.
Jack rounded the hood and clapped him on the back. “Talk to LeBlanc. He’s new, but he can probably unearth a lead or two for you. Something to help break the ice with Sienna.”
“Doesn’t sound like it.” Nate entered the squad room, lowered himself wearily into his chair, and tried to call the Cold Case detective, Alfred Lutz.
No luck. Lutz was out sick and didn’t answer either of his personal phones, home or cell.
Thanks, Melanie, for stopping by. Happy release day.