Valerie Hansen Autographed Novel Giveaway

Valerie Hansen is giving away autographed copies each of two of her novels Nightwatch and Face of Danger.

Nightwatch  is the first book in a new series.

The Defenders: Protecting children in need.
“Fire captain Mitch Andrews can’t forget three young children he saved from a fire. A suspicious fire that left them orphans. In the care of foster mother Jill Kirkpatrick, he knows the little ones will be loved, even if the sweet, strong widow won’t let Mitch get emotionally close to her. But suddenly the kids – and Jill – are in terrible danger…and one of the children is missing. Mitch and Jill will risk everything to find the stolen little girl and keep a makeshift family of five together forever.”


You can read an excerpt here.
Face of Danger is the third book in the Texas Rangers series.
Forensic artist Paige Bryant is working for the Texas Rangers when Cade Jarvis brings her a new assignment that places them both in jeopardy. Paige refuses to give up in spite of serious personal threats, so it falls to the handsome ranger to keep her safe until she can complete the facial reconstruction that may solve multiple crimes. Cade feels certain he can win against the forces of evil, but will he be able to keep his heart from being broken at the same time?


You can read an excerpt here.
Valerie shared with us one of her favorite mystery TV shows, Castle (which I love with a shameless passion) here. To be entered to win leave a comment stating which favorite mystery show is your favorite and why. The contest will close September 29th at midnight. This contest is limited to US and Canadian residents only (sorry Internationals, I promise I will have a contest for you soon).

Valerie Hansen Guest Post: Castle Television Show

Novel Reaction is excited to welcome author Valerie Hansen to talk about one of my favorite television shows, Castle.

Valerie Hansen’s basic nature is to enjoy every day to the fullest – and try to not take herself too seriously. J.

She married her high school sweetheart and they raised two great kids before leaving California to pursue their dreams of a rural lifestyle on an old, eighty acre farm in the Arkansas Ozarks.

So far, Valerie has nearly 50 books to her credit.  Besides doing extensive research, she has plenty of interesting experiences to draw upon. Ready? Veterinary assistant, teacher’s aide, volunteer fire department dispatcher, Emergency Medical Technician, bank worker, professional artist, store clerk, bookkeeper, 4-H leader, Sunday school teacher, gospel singer/songwriter, winning quiz show contestant, dog trainer, college extension-class instructor, and antique restorer. She’s built dulcimers and a psaltery, laid bricks and tile, designed stained-glass windows, roofed a house, decorated store windows for the holidays, helped pour cement, raised fancy guinea pigs and finches, driven a long-haul moving van, and was once the proud owner of twenty-three Newfoundland dogs at one time. Don’t try that at home!

Although she writes for all three Love Inspired lines, her main focus is on mystery and suspense. NIGHTWATCH, Oct. 2011, is the first book in her very own series, “The Defenders”, with THREAT OF DARKNESS to follow in June 2012.

love Rick Castle. And the long-term relationship between him and Kate Beckett is amazing, not to mention frustrating. That’s the difference between writing romantic suspense novels, as I do, and having to keep two lost souls apart for episode after episode in the TV series. I’m sure glad I get to write happy endings after about 300 pages! Whew!


Having worked with other authors on continuity series books for Love Inspired Romance, Suspense and Historical, I also realize how hard it must be for the various screenwriters to coordinate their work. That, folks, is what authors’ nightmares are made of. Most people don’t wake up in the middle of the night wondering if they remembered to add a clue at just the right time or if they’ve accidentally portrayed someone as driving the wrong color car. Trust me. This happens.


Ah, but what a backstory we enjoy in Castle from week to week. Those poignant looks, those narrow misses that could have led to a confession of affection if only…. I don’t know about the rest of you but I often find myself wishing I could step onto the set, grab Castle’s arm in one hand and Kate’s in the other, and give them both a good shaking! If I were Rick’s mother, Martha, I wonder if I’d be as careful about my words as she usually is.


Perhaps it’s because Castle is a fiction writer that I identify with him so much. Our minds often work in ways that can seem foreign to those who don’t have make-believe characters running around in their heads all the time. You see, I do. After writing almost 50 novels I no longer pine for my previous heroes but I still face a mild separation anxiety when I finish each book. Yeah, you have to be a little nuts to do what I do, but nobody wants to read about folks who are too normal. No worries about that with me!


Another thing I’d like to do is be invited to that poker game Castle joins from time to time. After all, Mary Higgins Clark played once so it’s not all stag, although that’s how it usually comes across. The empty chair in honor of the recently deceased real writer was a nice touch, too. I had wondered how they were going to handle that and it was very tastefully done.


For those of you who don’t follow Lee Lofland’s “Castle” blog about police procedures, I recommend you take a peek there, too. Lee points out technical errors that are interesting to detail-phobes like me. As with all fiction, a certain amount of leeway is necessary to develop a plot but I’m always on the lookout for things that don’t fit with my own notions of how a crime would be solved. Yes, that’s secondary to the character relationships but I do love a good puzzle. Maybe that’s why my editors steered me into writing a lot of mystery/suspense. It’s a good fit.


I promise to be on the edge of my chair when we find out if Beckett will admit or even remember that Castle confessed his love for her right after she was shot. My guess? Nope. Not right away, at least. If you see a rather frantic-looking woman from the Ozarks race onto the sound stage some day and start screaming for Kate and Rick to wake up, that’ll be me! In the meantime, you can see what else I’m up to by visiting my website.
Thanks Valerie for sharing with us about Castle. I admit I am always glued to the television screen on Monday nights to catch some time with Castle and Beckett.

Sneak Peek, or Why I Read the Last Chapters First

Novel Reaction is pleased to have Jocee, one of our regular reviewers, here to talk about why she takes a sneak peek at the end of novels.


I like to read about the first 4 or 5 chapters, really trying to a feel for the story and for the characters. I then read the last 5 chapters. Then I know what happens and if it has an ending I don’t like, I put the book down. If the ending has caught my attention, then I go back to chapter 4 or 5 and start over. I love knowing what happens, but trying to figure out why it happens. I think I do this because, one, I am not observant, and two, I like knowing things. I struggle watching movies because I want to know how they end. I often don’t attend movies until I know someone who has seen it so they can tell me about the ending. I don’t do this with all books, just the thrillers and murder mysteries that I read. I have read this way since middle school when I really got into reading.


Thanks Jocee to telling us about your reading style. Do you read the end of novels first like Jocee or do you wait to read the end of the novel at the conclusion of your regular reading?

Betty Webb Guest Post: Living the Dream

Novel Reaction is excited to welcome author Betty Webb to talk about living the dream.

As a journalist, Betty Webb interviewed U.S. presidents, astronauts who walked on the moon, and Nobel Prize-winners, as well as the homeless, the dying, and polygamy runaways. The dark Lena Jones mysteries, based on stories she covered as a reporter, include “Desert Lost” (“One of the Top Five Mysteries of 2009, Library Journal), “Desert Noir” (“A mystery with a social conscience,” Publishers Weekly) and “Desert Wives,” (“Eye-popping,” New York Times). Her seventh Lena Jones novel, “Desert Wind,” will be released in February 2012. Betty’s humorous Gunn Zoo series debuted with the critically-acclaimed “The Anteater of Death,” followed by “The Koala of Death.” All her books are published by Poisoned Pen Press. A long-time book reviewer at Mystery Scene Magazine, Betty is a member of National Federation of Press Women, Mystery Writers of America, and the National Organization of Zoo Keepers.

Living the Dream
by Betty Webb

When I retired from the Tribune Newspapers here in Arizona, they gave me a big, homemade card that said, “No more deadlines – you’ll be living the dream!” After all, I would be writing mystery novels full time – not getting up at 4 a.m. every morning to slam through four hours of writing before I headed off to the paper to write for another eight to ten hours. What a relief!

But six years later, here’s what “living the dream” is really like.I still get up at 4 a.m., mainly because at some point during my Tribune years, my unconscious mind decided that 4 a.m. was the right time for writing. I still write in my PJ’s, though, but now I leave them on until noon, making my mail carrier and various delivery people suspect that I’m an unbelievably lazy, sloppy person (well, okay, I am, but that’s another discussion entirely). And as for the “no more deadlines” part? Oh, ha. Ever been told by your editor that she expects your half-written, 460-page manuscript to be completed within the month? Awk!

Yet I am “living the dream,” and despite its many hardships, I wouldn’t want to do anything else. I’m my own boss (until my editor starts blue-lining my manuscript), my laundry bills have gone way down, I still see my name in print (every writer is an egotist), and I can deduct some of my vacations on my taxes. If, that is, I take the right vacation in the right place at the right time.

For instance, next year I’m going to Iceland. When people shriek, “OMG, why?” I’m always tempted to answer, “Because it’s there,” but the real reason is because that’s where they have puffins, Icelandic foxes, and Icelandic horses. Not to mention volcanoes, glaciers, elves and those mysterious “hidden people.” I decided to use Iceland in one of my zoo mysteries because Lena Jones, protagonist of the “Desert Wives” series, wouldn’t be caught dead in Iceland; she’s too much of a desert rat. But Teddy, the fearless zookeeper of the Gunn Zoo mysteries would take off for Iceland in a New York minute if promised a ride on an Icelandic horse. So Teddy it’s going to be.

Which reminds me of another thing about “living the life.” Where did I get the idea for Iceland in the first place, a country I’ve never seen and, quite frankly, never thought about? Simple. Poisoned Pen Bookstore here in Scottsdale AZ held a 50% off sale during the 4th of July weekend, and one of the bags full of books I came away with just happened to be set in Iceland. The book made me curious about the country’s geography, so I Googled it. Up came these glorious pictures of the barren/beautiful landscape. It hooked me. Hard. Once I caught my breath, I knew where I’d set my next mystery.

But sometimes – in fact, most of the time – I get my ideas from the people I meet, their expressions, and all the things they say that are contradicted by their body language. You see, when you’re “living the dream,” every little piece of your life and every human you meet is grist for the mill. It’s about recognizing stories in the small scenes you see played out in front of you every day. “Living the dream” is all about paying attention to the nervous woman standing next to you at the drugstore, to the seemingly calm librarian whose haunted eyes hint at interior strife, to the snippy teen taking your fast food order who’s bitten his fingernails down to the quick.

“Living the dream” is all about keeping yourself in a perpetual state of awareness. But even more, “living the life” means always searching out the soul hidden underneath the skin.


Thanks Betty for sharing with us about living the dream. I have to admit I am like Lena and wouldn’t be caught dead in a cold place like Iceland, I will stay in my desert heat. 🙂