Revenge for Hire
by Natalie S. Ellis
Natalie will be awarding an eCopy of Revenge for Hire to 3 randomly drawn winners via during the tour. Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. Those locations may be found here.
Natalie: I’m a wife and a mother of two daughters—25 and 27. I’m also a stepmom to three grown children with kids, so I’m a grandma too! I’ve loved writing since the 4th Grade and always used to say I was going to be a published author one day. I got a little sidetracked in college and studied video production instead, another form of storytelling. I found my way back to writing in my twenties and in my thirties and I decided to try to get a book published after I wrote my second romance. I came very close to signing a contract with a publishing company that was going to make me pay to get published—I was naïve. Luckily, I didn’t sign, but it took twenty years after that to get published with HarperCollins. That was after writing 7 books.
Crystal: Do you have a favorite scene you would like to share with us?
Natalie: I love this scene when Billie and Nolan meet for the first time:
The two huge studio cameras were ancient. About seven feet tall, they were mounted on triangular dollies. He glanced at the camera in front of the weather set and for the first time noticed the camera operator—a redheaded woman—sitting on the base of the camera. Wait, not sitting, sleeping, with elbows propped on her knees and her face resting in her hands. She’d looped her headset around her neck like a stethoscope. He glanced at his watch—fifteen minutes until the news started. Jesus, how did this station stay on the air?
He banged open the door. The woman’s head jerked up and she gazed at him bleary-eyed. He made a quick mental inventory of her huge brown eyes, full lips and the gold ring looped through the side of her slim nose as he strode across the concrete floor.
“Excuse me for disturbing your nap time,” he said, pouring on the sarcasm in case she was as clueless as the rest of the crew.
Her back stiffened noticeably. Message received.
“Do you always sleep at work?” he demanded, stopping in front of her.
She lifted her chin and rose to her feet in an arrogant stretch, like a feline claiming her territory. A tall feline, almost on eye level with him. And obviously not concerned with keeping her job, or she’d at least try to look remorseful.
She crossed her arms tightly, her hands fisted, like she wanted to punch him. “Oh, yeah, that’s me. A real slacker. I only work this shift so I can stay out all night, then sleep on the clock.”
She took a few quick breaths, as if to steady herself. Her pulse fluttered wildly above the black velvet choker at her throat. Maybe not so fearless after all.
Nolan rubbed the back of his neck, recognizing that he hadn’t felt like himself since he’d parked in front of the building. The station couldn’t be the way it was back when his granddad ran it. Different era. Different staff. And he was different now too. He needed to remember that.
He cleared his throat and tried again. “Do you have a name?”
“Uh, yes, but who the hell are you?”
She had no clue. That made him want to laugh. Who the hell am I? He wasn’t anyone special to her. A novel experience for him.
Crystal: Where did you come up with the idea for REVENGE FOR HIRE?
Natalie: One of my inspirations for this book was an article I read about a car crashing into the second story of a house. That fascinated me and I was determined to figure out a way to have that happen in REVENGE FOR HIRE. Also, I took a six-week course with our sheriff’s department and came up with some really cool ideas about bombs that I ended up incorporating. I loved that course so much that I’m going back the next time they offer it! The relationship between Billie and Nolan came from a real life experience when the owner of my TV station came to town. My friend, a field photographer, took him out on assignments and showed him the ropes. She was painfully honest, like Billie, and even told him how he should improve the station. They weren’t romantically involved, but I’ve often wondered what it would have been like if they had fallen for each other.
Crystal:What are you currently working on?
Natalie: I’m plotting my third book in the “For Hire” series. Molly, the heroine in Fear for Hire, will be back and she’s being held hostage. Obviously, Jack, the hero and kidnapper in the first book, goes berserk. He’s the only one allowed to kidnap Molly. LOL! I’m also working on a book called Voices about a woman accused of murdering her family. She hides from the police on the streets of Philadelphia disguised as a bag lady. The book has some light paranormal elements because she constantly hears the voices of her dead family in her head, except when the hero touches her. So, picture this filthy bag lady trailing after this handsome, well-dressed businessman and continuously putting her hand on him to make the voices go away. It’s the only way she can think clearly and she believes if she can just figure out who killed her family, the voices will go away forever.
Crystal: Do you have any special routine that you follow when you are writing?
Natalie: My actual writing process is a routine. First I come up with an unusual story idea like a woman hiring a man to kidnap her to scare away her fear of abduction. Then I like to pick out photos of my characters. That’s the most fun! I can use Pinterest these days, which gives me many more choices than I had with just magazines. I name my characters. After that, I figure out their Goal, Motivation and Conflict. I’ve discovered the hard way that if I don’t know what drives my characters, I’ll have to revise later. At this point, I’m ready to brainstorm about 20 possible scenes that will give me things like the first time the hero and heroine meet, turning points, black moments, etc. Now, I’m ready to start writing, knowing that the scenes will change, some will be deleted, some will be added.
Crystal: Did you have to do a lot of research for this book or any other? If so do you have a fascinating fact that you have learned you would like to share with us?
Natalie: I took a class called “Citizens Academy” with the sheriff’s department while I was writing this book. One night we all went outside and watched the bomb squad blow up actual cars! It was so cool! I knew I had to add a bomb element to the book after that. I don’t want to spoil the story for you, but I will say that after talking to one of the officers for quite a while, we decided that my bomb would be a homemade bomb made out of a lightbulb.
Crystal: Who are some of your favorite authors that you like to read?
Natalie: My favorite authors are Lisa Gardner, Harlan Coben, Jo Jo Moyes, Jodi Picoult and Stephen King. They are all extremely talented. When it comes to Gardner and Coben, I don’t bother reading the blurb about their book before I buy it because I always know I’ll love it and read it to the end. Chelsea Cain is another new favorite of mine, but her books are very violent, so be warned.
Crystal: Is there a genre you haven't written that you would like to try?
Natalie: I would like to try Women’s Fiction and maybe Young Adult someday. I read a lot of Women’s Fiction, so I think I could do it well. I just need to settle on the right story. As for Y/A, I would want to write something extremely different before I take that on. I have no idea what at this point.
North West Side Chicago. A man's phone rings at 3am, and it's every father's worst nightmare - his little girl is in danger.
Fort Wayne, Indiana. Belinda 'Billie' Chapman is working the overnight shift at WVOX-TV when she's called away to photograph a car that's crashed into the second story of a house. But when a little girl is spotted in the house across the street, the aggressive behaviour of her guardian piques Billie's curiosity.
Nolan Voss has come to Fort Wayne to check on WVOX-TV, the station he owns. Rich, uptight and deliciously hot, he can't keep away from the fiery Billie, and that means being dragged into her plan to help the young girl.
Each step closer to finding the truth leads them to a dangerous plot that has come all the way from Chicago. Will the danger only fuel their irresistible attraction to one another? Or will one of them get burned?
GENRE: Contemporary Fiction
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Billie sent an email to Elliott, letting him know she’d upload a creative piece about the Porsche later on. He’d assume she was going to do the work, although he wouldn’t care if Ryan edited, as long as he had material for his news block. But she couldn’t take the chance that he’d slip and tell Rob. Once management wasn’t so pissed at Ryan, and they were genuinely impressed with all the imaginative stories Billie brought them, she’d tell them the truth and make her case for rehiring Ryan. Hopefully, she wouldn’t manage to get herself fired for her dishonesty.
Once Ryan was bringing in a steady income again, Billie could work on her own life.
She’d naively thought she could do whatever she wanted once she was out of the house her father ruled. But, so unused to making her own decisions, she’d automatically followed Ryan and took a job at WVOX. She hadn’t needed a college degree and the money was decent.
Then, when Billie finally decided to enroll in the community university to pursue a degree in social work, Ryan got Trish pregnant. And when Trish couldn’t handle being a mother,
Ryan needed Billie to take care of Savannah when he wasn’t home. If Ryan could get his job back and afford a sitter, Billie could get her life back. And do something with it.
Her brother knew she was trying to help him, but he didn’t want her kind of help. He wanted to be a freelance videographer. If he didn’t have a daughter to support, Billie would back him one hundred percent. But kids needed food, a warm house and medical insurance. Ryan just didn’t get that.
Worrying about Ryan and Savannah gave her a different kind of headache, so she pulled up her Photog Billie account on Facebook and posted a teaser about the car-in-the-house story, then moved onto Twitter to do the same.
Ryan was taking forever to get back from dropping Savannah off at school. He’d probably stopped at the Friendly Fox, his favorite coffee house, for some caffeine and a muffin.
Billie didn’t think she could stay awake much longer, so she wrote him a note explaining her ideas for a tongue-in-cheek story about a spaceship disguised as a car crashing into the house.
The missing driver was obviously an alien trying to find his way home. Satisfied that Ryan could work his magic, she emailed Elliott to let him know she’d have an eighty-second package for his show, and stumbled into bed.
As she drifted into the warm fuzziness of sleep, a round, pale face with big glasses and pigtails floated behind her eyelids. Is she his daughter? Why deny being that cute little girl’s dad? And why so defensive about putting her on the news?
Billie yawned and rolled over. There was a story there. There had to be.
She lifted her head to see the clock on her nightstand. Nine thirty. She’d sleep six hours, then go back to the scene of the crash before dark and nose around a little. Maybe she could find a neighbor outside who knew the little girl. More importantly, maybe she could uncover why the big guy kept changing his story, and why he didn’t want that girl’s face on television. If he wasn’t her dad, who was he?
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Natalie S. Ellis worked behind the scenes in TV news for sixteen years and will always miss the rush of a breaking story. But the seduction of writing a fiery romance with twisty suspense is even harder to resist, especially when she has a new curveball for the plot. Natalie enjoys living in her hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and attributes her cheerful attitude to empty nesting, a supportive family, and way too many lattés.
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