All by the Seat of my Pants
Nina Pierce—January 9, 2014
I love romantic suspense stories in all subgenres. It’s what I’ve been reading for too many decades to count. So it was no surprise when I sat down and became serious about my writing that I leaned toward suspense plots. My newest release, IN HIS EYES is a romantic thriller involving a serial killer, a heartbroken husband working to save his marriage, an FBI agent and several dead bodies. The identities of the killer and the agent are withheld from the reader even as the threats to the heroine escalate. I like writing complicated plots with turns and red herrings that hopefully keep the reader guessing, leading to an unexpected twist at the end.
I’ve now published a dozen books, most of them with suspense plots and every single one of them written by the seat of my pants. I start with the “what if” question and let the story unfold organically from there. I’ve always been happy sitting at the computer, letting my hero and heroine stumble into life-threatening situations, naively typing away, letting them roam through the story falling in love and bringing killers to justice.
Until a few years ago, I didn’t know there was another way.
Enter a plotting class taught by some writing pros. I was a scientist in my former life and I’d written countless outlines for research papers. I figured I’d give it a try. The instructors presented the plotting process one step at a time. I’m a good student. I’ve always done all of my homework and dutifully kept up the class assignments. We had to describe our hero, heroine and villain, I hadn’t written a scene, but I managed to muddle through. Then we had to talk a little bit about their childhood, their fears, their dislikes and goals. Okay, I started shaking. I’d never really “met” my characters in any of my books until they were thrown into some nasty situation. It was still okay, I pushed through. But *gulp* I was trying to discover who they were and what they wanted before chapter oneand the “what if”.
Then, I had to write ALL of their conflicts, internal and external, along with the journey and character arc they were going to travel during the story. Whaaaat? Like I had to know before actually writing the scene at the warehouse what the heroine was going to do with the antique glass vase when she got to the lake? But she hasn’t told me! I was breathing into paper bags and bathing in calamine lotion to control my lack of oxygen and the hives breaking out on my skin.
When the instructors, all smiles and sweetness, nicely sent out spreadsheets so we could outline our chapters …that was my undoing! How the heck could I tell them what was going to happen in chapter 20, when I didn’t even know if the heroine’s best friend would still be alive past chapter 15? Heck, I didn’t even know if the story was going to get past chapter 10!
I. COULDN’T. DO. IT.
Sorry. *deep calming breaths …in through the nose, out through the mouth* It’s still a bit overwhelming when I think about it. I’ve filed all their pretty charts and spreadsheets deep in my writer box. I gave plotting a shot. More than one. My poor muse had an apoplectic fit every time I pulled out the prompt sheets. It’s not worth the pitchers of margaritas, boxes of chocolate and soothing music it takes to pull her off the ceiling when I attempt to plot a story.
So I’m going to admit it now. Hi, my name is Nina … and I’m a pantser. I’ve tried plotting my first draft because so many writers look so happy with all that information spread out in front of them. They smile as they gleefully take their characters on the journey they’ve taken weeks, sometimes months, to discover. I can’t do it! Please don’t make me! It’s just not in my wiring. I’ll happily sit down, blissfully unaware as to what terrible thing awaits my heroine in the next chapter. I don’t need to know why the hero hates ferrets or what motivates him to chase down the bad guy until he decides to tell me. My first draft is always an exciting undertaking as my characters lead me through a grand adventure all culminating with another villain in custody and of course two people hopelessly in love riding off into the proverbial sunset.
USA Today bestselling author, Nina Pierce, resides in New England with her high school sweetheart and soul mate of twenty-nine years and several spoiled cats who consider her staff. She spends her days at the keyboard writing romance stories, blissfully creating chaos for her characters by throwing in a villain or two, a little murder and a whole lot of mayhem as they struggle toward their happy-ever-afters. You can check out all her books on her website and follow her day-to-day happenings on facebook or twitter.
It’s always wonderful to be noticed … or is it?
To those around her, Maggie Callaghan appears to have the perfect life…a handsome husband, three beautiful children, and her own business. But beneath her thin veneer lies a dark past and self-doubts. When evidence of her husband’s infidelity surfaces, Maggie leases a cottage on the Maine coast and prepares for her inevitable divorce. But a serial killer is on the hunt—and he’s marked Maggie as his next victim. Now her beachside retreat is the focus of an undercover FBI investigation targeting the murderer who’s left a trail of bodies across two states. As lies and secrets are revealed, Maggie realizes her life depends on knowing who’s protecting her—and who’s got her in his sights.
Rainmaker sat in the corner booth of the diner, his back to the wall, the counter and front door visible from his vantage point. Seven local newspapers sat in a haphazard pile next to his bowl of congealing oatmeal. He hated the stuff. Despite hours of regimented workouts, high cholesterol and skyrocketing blood pressure had brought him to the point where choking it down seemed a better alternative to stroking out face-first into a plate of fried eggs and hash. He suspected the generous amounts of brown sugar, cream, and butter he stirred into it probably didn’t make it healthier, just a bit more palatable.
He gulped down some water, swallowed two heaping spoonfuls of oatmeal, and snapped open the paper at the top of the stack to the local news section. Nothing jumped out in the headlines. Nothing unusual showed up in the police beat. Rainmaker moved on to the next paper, repeating his routine.
This is how he’d spent every morning in Maine. Up at five. Go for a run at the beach. Shit, shower and shave. Breakfast at the diner. Search the papers for signs of a serial killer in pre-kidnapping mode. Head off to his temporary work gig.
Just the sort of glamor new recruits at Quantico dreamed about—not!
And then there it was. He laid the paper on the table, smoothing his hand over the small article in the police blotter section. Another hooker drugged and sexually assaulted with a knife. The woman had no idea how lucky she was to have survived.
He pounded his finger on the short news report, looking around for someone to congratulate him. No one seemed to notice. Who could he tell, anyway? No one here knew his secrets. No one would connect the dots and discover the pattern he’d found. And no one here, including the FBI, realized a serial killer walked the streets near their offices, near their schools—near their homes.
This made four attacks in as many months, two in the past week. He ripped the page out of the paper, folding it neatly, to add to his growing evidence that things were escalating. He had no doubt something had set off the Widower.
“You look like you just won the lottery.” A waitress with the weight of the world sitting on her hunched shoulders refilled his water glass.
He flashed her his killer smile. “You could say that. How about I celebrate with a full stack of pancakes and side of bacon?”
by Nina Pierce
Published: December 3, 2013, Aspendawn Books
My rating: 4 of 5 ⭐️
Her husband was her first and only love, but after over a decade of marriage and three children later, Maggie Callaghan is not happy. The last years she has been taken for granted and feels like she has been alone in this marriage, and when she gets wind of an extra-marital affair, she packs her bags and moves in to a small cottage on the coast. Not too far from the family home or her business, a wellness clinic.
Unaware she has moved right into the hunting grounds of a serial killer, Maggie does her best to keep her life as stable as possible for the sake of the children, while at the same time trying to move on with her life. But the killer is very aware of Maggie, who meets every one of his criteria of the 'perfect woman'.
Oblivious to the law enforcement investigations into a trail of slaughtered bodies, Maggie suddenly finds herself the subject of interest not to one, but to three different men all at once, while at the same time receiving unwanted attention from her estranged husband, who seems desperate to win her back.
When the one person who knew her darkest secrets betrayed her trust, how could Maggie safely rely on her own judgement? In the end only one man's intentions are pure.....but will she know which one?
Wow!! That was rather intense!! Also a bit of a clusterf**k!! Talk about being at the wrong place at the wrong time....... This story would make a fantastic thriller movie!
GREAT writing by Nina Pierce, which doesn't surprise me, since I have read quite a few of her books before, I just have never had an opportunity to review one until now. The difference between this book and some of the others is that I thing in "IN HIS EYES" the emphasis is more on the psychological suspense, than it is on the heated romance. So folks that are looking for hot sex, I believe there is one true scene in the book. That is not to say there isn't any sexual tension, it simply stays above the belt, for the most part.
What is interesting here is the fact that we get points of view from all directions. Just about every substantial character has a say. At first it may seem confusing, but you will find as the story goes along, that some of the characters entwine. The threads start braiding together until a pattern develops, not one where you necessarily can tell the outcome yet, but one where it gets easier to place the characters in the appropriate context.
It may sound complicated, but it really isn't........and you are going to have to trust me on that!!!
Without giving away too much of the outcome, I can't get into character development too much. Except to say, that there is a great moral behind this story, that people are always capable of more than they give themselves credit for, and that recognizing your mistakes is one thing.....making the changes to rectify them is everything.
The wrap up of the FBI investigation was a little too obscure for me. I was left with quite a few questions beyond "who did it", the focus at that point had shifted more to the personal side of the story. I missed a de-brief of sorts.
The thrill and suspense factor was high. Never knowing who was behind the point of view of the killer, creepy. I scarfed down the book, so I can tell you quite confidently that it has a great flow and high entertainment factor! No hesitation in recommending this one!! Especially if you love your suspense!!!
✨A hair-raising, bone-chilling, mind-twisting tale of obsession.✨
**ARC provided by NetGalley and Aspendawn Books in return for an honest review.**
Three sisters looking for love. Three men seeking redemption. Three reckless romances that will push each of them into the dangerous world of revenge.
Investigating the death of her best friend, uptight accountant, JULIE TILLING, discovers a world of adult nightclubs and Internet intrigue. When shock jock DAMON COREY rocks her world in a wild night of lust, she wonders if she's found love...or the key to solving a murder.
Landscaper, DEIRDRE TILLING had no way of knowing that attending her friend's party would throw her into a dangerous world of corrupt businessmen and police stings. Of course her sexual romp with undercover DEA agent, AYDEN SCOTT only pushes her deeper into the drug smuggling ring running up the Maine coast. As the heat rises between Deirdre and Ayden, one thing becomes painfully obvious...their relationship has jeopardized his mission and now someone wants them both dead.
Floral designer, MEGHAN TILLING, has been in love with her fiancé since college. With her business, his promotion and a family illness, she’s finding the demands on her time are keeping them apart. PETER MADDOCK loves his fiancée with a fierceness that claws at his soul, but finding answers to his past becomes an obsession he can’t ignore. When bizarre accidents threaten Meghan’s life, he wonders if his secrets have finally caught up with him. Can they both discover the truth without paying the ultimate price …their lives?