THE MAKING OF A NOVEL
“I couldn’t put it down! Those words are some of the most satisfying comments an author can receive. Nothing pleases me more than a note from someone grumbling about staying up late to finish one of my books.
It’s music to my ears.
There are lots of ways to earn those precious words. Writing a fast-paced novel is one of them. It is certainly my goal every time I start a new book.
My latest, BEYOND CONTROL, was no different. I knew I would be writing Joshua Cain’s story, Lincoln Cain’s brother from BEYOND REASON. I had introduced Josh in that story so I knew what he was like--smart, strong, determined, former military. Totally hot. I always try to find the hero’s perfect match and though at first Victoria Bradford, raisng a four-year-old daughter, seemed unlikely, as the tale moved forward I could tell they would perfectly suit.
If they survived the terrible ordeal they were facing.
I like to read books that draw me in and won’t let go, books I can’t wait to pick up again to find out what’s going to happen next.
There are a lot of ways writers can create those kinds of stories. Pairing down description makes the story move faster--or as Elmore Leonard said, “I try to leave out the parts people skip.” Often the scenes are set in familiar places that don’t require much description.
A Hollywood movie trick is enter late and leave early. It means jumping right into the scene--leaving out the, “Hello, how are you?” “I’m fine, how are you?”
Hooks at the beginning and end of chapters are helpful. It’s a technique I try to use, though some authors end a chapter in the middle of the action to keep you turning the pages.
I’ve found I do a lot of characterization by showing how the hero, heroine, and sub characters react to a situation. For instance, I don’t don’t care what the heroine did in high school unless it’s important to how she’ll solve the problem in which she is currently involved.
But every author has his own method of developing a novel.
In BEYOND CONTROL, Victoria Bradford and her four-year old daughter are on the run from Tory’s abusive ex-fiancé. Seventy miles north of Dallas, the Iron River Ranch is pretty much nowhere, exactly what Josh Cain wanted when he came back from Afghanistan. Big skies, quiet nights, no trouble.
One look tells Josh the pretty redhead who showed up on his door with her adorable little girl will give him trouble of the most personal kind. But Josh has seen trouble before, and he doesn't scare easy. Not when “accidents” start happening around the ranch. Not when Tory’s best friend is abducted.
Not even when it looks like their current problems are only just the beginning.
I hope you’ll watch for BEYOND CONTROL and that you enjoy it. All best wishes and happy reading, Kat
Kat Martin is going to give away a copy of AGAINST THE STORM to one lucky winner. Choice of Print, Nook or Kindle
Kat Martin Bio
New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing in Missoula, Montana with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, Kat has written sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Her last novel, Beyond Danger, hit #4 in Mass Market fiction on the Bookscan National Bestseller list.
Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.
BEYOND CONTROL BLURB
Victoria Bradford and her four-year old daughter are on the run from Tory’s abusive ex-fiancé. Seventy miles north of Dallas, the Iron River Ranch is pretty much nowhere, exactly what Josh Cain wanted when he came back from Afghanistan. Big skies, quiet nights, no trouble.
When Tory shows up with her adorable little girl, Josh realizes he is in for trouble of the most personal kind. But Josh has seen trouble before, and he doesn't scare easy. Not when “accidents” start happening around the ranch. Not when Tory’s best friend is abducted. Not even when he realizes their troubles are only the tip of the iceberg.
To CELEBRATE the release of BEYOND CONTROL, enter my new contest for a chance to win a KINDLE FIRE 7" Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB and a Kindle copy of AGAINST THE WIND, AGAINST THE FIRE and AGAINST THE LAW. Contest runs from May 1, 2018 through June 30, 2018.
For JUNE, Kat Martin is giving away to THREE winners a copy of both INTO THE FIRESTORM and SEASON OF STRANGERS.
Tory sat on the damp grass a safe distance from the burning barn. Two red fire trucks sat next to each other out front, one of them a tanker. Half a dozen firemen in full turnout gear handled the heavy hoses, shooting massive streams of water out of the tanker onto the flames, sending up thick white columns of smoke.
She managed to tear her gaze away from the fire as Josh walked up, his face and torso black with smoke. He was barefoot, wearing only a worn pair of jeans, his chest bare. Even covered in greasy black soot, all those muscles were ridiculously distracting.
When she'd run out of the trailer, she hadn't had time to put a bra on under her T-shirt. She could still feel the imprint of those hard muscles as he'd carried her at breakneck speed out of the burning building.
Tory shivered. She'd come within seconds of dying. Adrenaline still pumped like a drug through her veins.
"You all right?" Josh asked.
"I'm okay." Considering she had almost died. "What about the horses?"
"I opened the gate to one of the pastures and they ran right in. They're fine."
"What took the fire department so long to get here?"
"Department's all volunteer." Too restless to sit down, he paced back and forth as he watched the fire crew at work. With his property going up in flames, she didn't blame him.
"Plus we're ten miles from town." He looked back at the burning structure, most of it collapsed in on itself, occasional red-and-orange tendrils still licking through holes in the blackened wood. Volunteer firemen worked skillfully to knock down the last of the blaze. "Barn's a total loss, anyway."
"What do you think happened?"
"I'm glad none of the horses were hurt."
He stopped pacing and turned to face her, clamped his hands on his hips. "What the hell were you thinking? I told you to get out of the barn. Dammit, you could have been killed!"
She shrugged. At the time she didn't feel as if she had any choice. "Sunshine was in there. I couldn't just leave her."
"Sunshine is a horse! You're the mother of a little girl!" He glanced around. "Where is she, anyway? Where's Ivy?" A thread of worry colored his words.
"I just checked on her again. She was asleep when I spotted the fire and the last time I checked. She still is. Once she crashes, she doesn't wake up till morning."
Josh ran a hand over his short brown hair. "Next time I tell you to do something, you do it. You understand?"
A memory of Damon slipped into her head and she drew back from him a little. "Or you'll what?"
Josh gave her a long, assessing look. "Christ, I'd never hit you, if that's what you're thinking. I've never hit a woman in my life. I don't plan to start with you."
He sighed and crouched down next to her on the grass. "What you did in there. It was incredibly brave. You helped me save the horses. Saving Sunshine was stupid, but it was brave."
Tory's gaze swung to his. "I'm not stupid, Josh. Don't ever underestimate me. I saw a chance to save the mare and I took it. You would have done the same thing."
Some of the tension seeped out of his shoulders. He sighed as he sprawled on the grass beside her. "You're right, I would have. I'm sorry." He glanced off, staring at the fire for the longest time, as if watching the flames had sent him someplace into the past.
Those blue eyes finally returned to her, deep and intense. For a second it was hard to breathe.
"I know what it's like to lose someone," he said a little gruffly. "I've had friends die in battle, soldiers who had wives and kids. Death comes swift and hard, sometimes out of nowhere. You scared me. I'm sorry I yelled at you."
She was surprised at his apology. Damon wouldn't have done it. A hundred times, she wondered how she could have been duped so badly by a man like him.
Tory sighed. "I probably should have listened to you. I took a dangerous chance. It probably was stupid."
He stared at her as if he were trying to figure her out. "It was brave," he said.
The fire chief walked toward them. She couldn't see him clearly but beneath his helmet, he appeared to be a man in his fifties with a bushy, salt and pepper mustache.
"Sorry, Josh," he said. "Not much to save."
"Barn went up like tinder. All that straw..." Josh shook his head. "It's a miracle we were able to get the horses out."
The chief's gaze swung to Tory. "I'm Chief Leland."
"Tory Ford." In the cool night air, without a bra her nipples were standing out against her T-shirt. She'd always had full breasts, which the chief didn't miss. She crossed her arms over her chest.
"Why don't you go on home?" Josh suggested softly. "Get a little sleep? Nothing more you can do here."
"There'll be an investigation," the chief said. "As soon as the fire cools down enough, the arson boys will be out to take a look. Depending on what they find, they may need a statement."
"She'll be here tomorrow if they need to talk to her," Josh said.
Tory's gaze returned to the fire chief, who was clearly speculating on their relationship. Josh was giving her a chance to escape.
"I think I'll go in." She needed to keep an eye on her daughter, but she didn't want to mention Ivy unless she had to. "I'll see you in the morning." She was a few feet away when she heard the fire chief's voice.
"I don't think I've seen her around," he said to Josh as she continued toward the trailer.
"She's my housekeeper," she heard Josh say. She was fairly sure what the chief was thinking when Josh added, "Not that kind of housekeeper."
As she neared the porch, Tory glanced back at the dying fire. She wondered what had caused the blaze and felt sorry for Josh. He would have to rebuild, but at least the horses were safe.
She started up the front porch steps. The adrenaline had bled from her system. Her legs were shaking, her stomach unsteady. Climbing the stairs was suddenly a Herculean task.
She thought again of the fire. It was a terrible accident. A terrible loss for Josh.
But what if it wasn't an accident? a little voice asked. What if the fire had been set on purpose?
Was it possible Damon had found her? In the last weeks they were together, he had changed so much. At the end, he'd become insanely jealous. The man who had beaten her nearly to death wouldn't think twice about burning down another man's barn, even if it killed a stable full of the man's valuable horses.
Tory's skin prickled as she stepped inside the house. Heading down the hall, she stopped to check on Ivy, but as before, the little girl was deeply asleep. Quietly entering her daughter's bedroom, she paused to press a kiss on the top of Ivy's head.
Coming close to death made her appreciate the amazing gift she had been given even more than she had before. It made her even more determined to keep her little girl safe.
It was an accident, she told herself as she walked into her bedroom. There was cleaning solvent in the barn, other flammable liquids, several tons of straw to fuel the flames.
But as she lay in bed trying to fall asleep, Damon's image appeared, the look of fury on his face when she had left him tied up on the floor.
She was still awake at dawn, more exhausted than when she had gone to bed. Until she knew what had caused the fire, she didn't expect to get much sleep.