Stalked and Targeted
After losing everything, Della Jackson tries to begin again as an investigator. But she can't forget the past…and neither can someone else. Someone who won't let anyone—even Della's best friend, former special operative Paul Mason—stand in the way. As Della is stalked and those closest to her are targeted, both Della and Paul realize there's only one way to survive. They each have to face their greatest fears, overcome the scars of the past and dare to love again… before it's too late.
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’TIS THE SEASON… FOR MURDER
A simple trip home for the holidays is all former FBI profiler Maggie Mason wants. But a serial killer has other plans. Trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse, Maggie finds an ally in Lost, Inc. with private investigator Dr. Ian Crane. The handsome widower is relucant to love again, and the last thing Maggie wants is to put Ian in the line of fire, too. Love could cost them everything… unless they can find their way to each other, in time for Christmas.
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Behind the Book
The %irst book in my Lost, Inc., series is SURVIVE THE NIGHT. Having a book released is always exciting for an author, and no matter how many times an author experiences it, it’s still a new and different experience every time. Those readers who’ve been with me a while know that I like to experiment and push the boundaries. I like blazing trails. I like pushing the boundaries. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but I have to tell you, it’s gratifying to look back after it’s done and have other authors say, “Oh, I like that. I’m going to do it, too.” Authors have always de%ined genres and boundaries. Yes, publishers de%ined the lines, but those lines have shifted and moved and expanded because authors pushed them, crossed—or as one editor told me (when I’d created an odd-‐duck book)— obliterated them.
We are limited only by our imaginations, and by our willingness to take risks. I take risks. I don’t fear failure. I’ve done plenty of it. It’s not lethal and I usually end up with a new outer boundary. That’s success in my book. Anyway, I explained that so that you’d better understand what I’m up to in Lost, Inc. It’s a trilogy of books all centered around a small agency whose mission is to help the lost %ind their way home. The thing is, when you start out to help someone else, in some way, you also help yourself. So as the characters set out to %ind the lost, they %ind themselves. They heal. They fall in love. And they catch the bad guys. That’s more or less expected in series romantic %iction. What isn’t typically expected is that each book centers around someone working at Lost, Inc. Here’s the behind-‐the-‐book scoop, so you get the big picture: SURVIVE THE NIGHT: Della Jackson, lead investigator teams up with Paul Mason, a friend to Lost, Inc.’s owner Madison McKay, who runs Florida Vet-‐Net. Della’s got a stalker after her and he means serious business. He’s not just after her. He wants her dead. CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN: Ian Crain, a doctor now investigating for Lost, Inc. teams up with Paul Mason’s sister, FBI pro%iler and landscape artist, Maggie Mason. Maggie pro%iled a notorious serial killer who retaliated against her and Paul, who was with her at the time. He came very close to killing them both, and Maggie’s been on the run ever since. She’s been on the chase, too, after the guy, trying to keep him from killing again.
Sometimes she’s the mouse, sometimes she’s the cat. It’s been a hard way to live—and now things have come to critical mass point. Who’ll win? I’ll be honest, it was iffy. I had to write the story to know. TORN LOYALTIES: Madison McKay teams up with Captain Grant Deaver—sort of—to determine who at Lost, Inc. has breached security and disclosed classi%ied information regarding a facility few know exists. Everyone employed at Lost, Inc. had knowledge, most have motive and all have the means. But are any of them guilty? And what’s going on at this place that is so important someone is willing to kill to keep the truth hidden? So here’s the thing. In each of the books, there is a villain. That villain is pursued and the matter resolved. This the reader knows and the characters know. But there is also a second villain. One who has been extremely active—framing, in part, the villain to be the villain. Oh, the villain is guilty of crimes, but not of all of them. Yet when the primary villain is dealt with, the characters believe the issues are all resolved. The reader, however, knows that there was another, secondary villain, who has skated—and he will be coming after yet another Lost, Inc. individual. The reader knows that this has to do with the secret facility security breach. So book one, SURVIVE THE NIGHT, ends, in the character’s eyes, resolved. The reader knows this second villain will be back again. And so it happens in the second book, CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN. The serial killer issue is resolved and in the characters’ eyes,
resolved. But the reader knows that the second villain has escaped yet again. In the third book, TORN LOYALTIES, the characters, Madison McKay and Captain Grant Deaver, expose and reveal—at a high cost. And the secondary villain becomes the primary villain. This villain vexed me. I thought I knew his identity through the entire course of the books. I had chosen the villain, right? Well, I thought I had. Believed it all the way through SURVIVE THE NIGHT, CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN and still in TORN LOYALTIES right up and until I found out I’d been duped. I was in a near-‐panic. Would all the information disclosed in the previous books and in the third need to be changed? How could this happen? As soon as villain revealed himself to me, I had to stop and re-‐read the %irst two books and then read through the third. I was less than a chapter from the end. So I did that—and found out it all %it. Nothing needed to be changed. And I felt like an idiot because I’d pegged the wrong guy when the truth was right there in front of me the whole time. Which just goes to show that while an author might be writing the stories, she or he is not their master. No, they master you. They usually just aren’t so in your face about letting you know it. So this overarching, secondary villain that carries through three books where the reader knows more than the characters is new to series romance.
And I loved it. The reader, having access to everything, does know more than the characters know. And I got the tingles when I thought it was all wrapped up and discovered things weren’t as they appeared. That made me eager to write the next story to see if this villain got his, and I hope it will do the same thing for readers. I think this risk is worth taking to offer readers something different. Something that twists the typical and makes them look again at the villain. When I discovered what was going on, I was fascinated and I had to read again to look at the whole series from a different perspective. I loved that. I’m hoping readers will , too. As a writer, this wasn’t taxing until the end of the third book when I found out my villain wasn’t my villain. Then I freaked in full-‐out panic. But after I read and discovered the novel truths %it, and my imagination went into overdrive on little things I could do to make the twist stronger, I was energized and invigorated. What fun! So that’s the story behind the books on the Lost, Inc. novels. Each has its own message and story and the series has its message too. I loved writing all three. And I hope readers love reading them.
A Note from Vicki I wanted to invite you to drop by my website, which has just been revamped. If you’re a reader, you can read the first three chapters of six of my books free. Links are on the front page. If you’re a writer, there are a lot of video chats and articles on writing in the Writers’ Zone and in the On Writing blog. (The material used to create the Essential Writing Skills articles are free in the library.) If you’re a librarian, you might enjoy some of the quotes in the On Libraries and Librarians section. Bloggers and Reviewers, I haven’t forgotten you. And, as always, my gratitude and appreciation to my street team, The Bridge-Walker Team. Wishing you and yours many blessings!