Saturday, April 7, 2012

Get Lost with Romantic Suspense Author Lena Diaz

Today, GLIAS Readers, I’m thrilled to present my friend, and 2010 Golden Heart sister who, how shall I say this gently, likes to scare the bejeezus out of people.  She is one terrific romantic suspense/mystery/thriller author wrapped up into one.  So it’s my turn.  Just wait to she has to answer MY questions.  Please welcome, Lena Diaz.


(Note: Lena's cover quotes aren't out for Simon Says Die.  But check out what authors said about HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT)
“Chilling from the first scene on. Diaz has crafted the kind of tense psychological thriller that’s impossible to put down.”
~National Bestselling Author Eileen Rendahl w/a Eileen Carr

“It’s all there. . .sizzling love scenes and a shivery good thrill ride.”
~Romantic Suspense Author Margaret Carroll

iT'S NOT A CHILD'S GAME WE'RE TALKING ABOUT.  ABOUT SIMONS SAYS....

Simon says: I'm watching. Simon says: I'm coming. Simon says: Die.

Madison McKinley knows someone is stalking her. The police tell her she's imagining things, and they're too busy trying to find the "Simon Says" killer to investigate. But day by day, hour by hour, Madison's terror grows stronger, and not even the return of FBI Special Agent Pierce Buchanan into her life can calm her fears. Besides, how can she ask Pierce for his help after the way she ended things between them?

Pierce still wants Madison's love, and his drive to protect her is more powerful than ever. He believes she's in danger, even if the cops don't. Finally, as more people start dying and the evidence mounts, the police turn their attention to Madison—as a suspect. Was Pierce a fool to trust her again, or are they both caught in a complex game that neither will survive?

Well, I'm scared, readers, How about you?  Let's have a little fun with RS Author Lena Diaz, AUTHOR OF SIMON SAYS DIE!

DONNELL:  Lena, are you a small town or big city girl?
LENA:  Thank you so much Donnell for having me on GLIAS. To answer your question, it depends on my mood. I was born in a small town, so small you could fit everyone from my hometown into a football stadium and still have room for about forty thousand more people. But my father was in the military, so we didn’t stay in one place very long. We moved. A lot. And we ended up in a very large city where I lived most of my adult life. Then, a few years ago, I moved to a small town again. Actually, it’s more like a subdivision-island surrounded by a sea of cows. And goats. And pigs. Most days, I’m a country girl, all about the small town life. Love it. Other days, when I need something at the store and have to drive thirty or forty minutes to get there . . . not so much. I’m all about convenience, so it’s a toss up.

DONNELL:  Favorite room in your house?

LENA:   Any room without a mirror.   
INTERVIEWER'S NOTE.  Are you kidding me? Lena is gorgeous, inside and out!
DONNELL:  What character would you run from if he showed up on your doorstep?

LENA: Only cowards run. I would use my seductive powers to distract the villain at my door while I reach behind my back for my car keys that are sitting on the decorative table in the foyer. While batting my lashes at the villain and darting my pink tongue out to moisten my lips and draw his attention, I quietly thread my keys through my fingers so they stick out from my closed fist (think Wolverine blades in Xmen). Then, just as I lean toward my villain and he reaches behind his back for his knife, I take the keys and (insert off-page gory carnage here).

DONNELL:  Have you ever used a rack in one of your stories?  Why or why not?  Have you got something against racks?

LENA: I’m insulted you even asked that question! OF COURSE I’ve used a rack in my stories. I’ve also used hot oil, stocks, and my personal favorite, a dunking chair. After all, who am I to second-guess time honored interrogation techniques? Unfortunately, (sigh), my editor doesn’t share my love of medieval implements. For some reason she doesn’t think they work in contemporary romantic suspense novels. Crazy, right? Some of my best torture . . . er . . . interrogation scenes have ended up on the cutting room floor.

DONNELL:  What’s the first thing people say to you when they learn you write suspense?

LENA: “What is romantic suspense?” Seriously - that’s what they say. I think most readers don’t know what our genre labels mean. So, if I’m explaining what I write, I tell them I write thrillers with romance in them. And then I list several well-known romantic suspense authors. That’s when the lightbulb goes on and they ‘get’ it.

DONNELL:  What’s in your refrigerator right now?

LENA:  Top shelf - insulin for my daughter. She has type 1 diabetes, which means she’s insulin dependent. Which means I really, really want a cure for this horrible disease. So all of you should go, run, right now, to your checkbook and write a check to the American Diabetes Association so we can find a cure. And go to www.BrendaNovak.com and support her annual diabetes auction. Okay, I’m thinking it doesn’t really matter now what’s in the rest of the refrigerator. Next question.

DONNELL:  You’re in a burning building, with terrorists plotting your demise on the outside.  Write your way out of this plot.

LENA:  Could you come up with something harder please? Geesh. Okay, well, if the building is on fire and the terrorists are on the outside, I’m actually assuming they ALREADY plotted my demise. That’s why the building is on fire. Duh. What they don’t know is that I had already figured out their plan before I went into the building. And since I’m dating a fireman who is also a chemist, I asked him last night to treat my hair, my skin, and my clothes with a special new invisible fire retardant. I also had my chemist-fireman-boyfriend add a special meat-flavored chemical to the fire hydrant in front of the building. And I timed my entry into the building so that the dog-walker, who passes in front of the building every day at noon, will be walking Mrs. Finkleman’s rottweilers right when the fire hoses begin spraying their meat-flavored water on the building. And because I was extra nice to my chemist-fireman-boyfriend last night, he turns the hose on the evil terrorists in the crowd. The rottweilers go crazy, pouncing on the terrorists, and I stroll out the front door of the burning building without so much as a singed eyebrow. My other boyfriend, the oh-so-handsome secret-agent who doesn’t mind sharing me with my chemist-fireman-boyfriend, arrests the evil terrorists and finds their dirty bomb hidden in the flux-capacitor of the Delorian sitting on the curb just down the block. I happily go home with both of my boyfriends as they take turns wooing me and trying to help me decide which one to choose as my life-long love. I plan on taking a very, very long time to make my decision.

DONNELL:  Ha!  Great answer, but brutal :) Have you ever played the game of Simon Says?  After your book, will you ever play again?

LENA: Well, I had this boyfriend once named Simon. And one day he told me to . . . um, never mind.  Nope, I can never play that game again, not after writing Simon Says Die. The game doesn’t turn out so well for the people who play. If you don’t do what Simon says, he kills you. But if you do what he says, you die. It’s a lose/lose kind of game. Me, I prefer win/win types of choices, like white chocolate or milk chocolate. Win/win.

DONNELL:  Coffee, tea, or something stronger?

LENA: The only way I can drink coffee is if I de-coffee it, meaning, add so much sugar and cream that it tastes like a hot milkshake. And the only thing tea is good for is throwing it into a harbor to protest high taxes. Something stronger? Like alcohol? I used to love drinking strawberry daiquiris once a week with friends while we watched episodes of Miami Vice (music by Huey Lewis and the News, Don Johnson - AWESOME show - but I digress.) Somewhere along the way, I developed a reaction to alcohol. If I drink, I get short of breath, have horrible abdominal pain, and end up in a fetal position for about thirty minutes. My doctor thought taking out my gall bladder would cure it. I trusted him and tried a post-gallbladder surgery margarita. Loved it! It was two-for-one night, so I started drinking a second margarita. Then . . . bam. Short of breath, pain, fetal position. So, I’ve discovered the joy of virgin daiquiris. And Diet Dr. Pepper. LOVE Diet Dr. Pepper.

DONNELL:  Are you organized?

LENA:  I say yes. My husband says no. I say he just doesn’t understand my organization strategy.

DONNELL:  What authors inspired your writing?

LENA: I admire other authors, want to be successful like them and create amazing stories like them. But they don’t inspire me. Readers inspire me. The idea of creating a story that a reader will love so much that it will become their favorite, that inspires me. The idea of creating a story someone would choose to take with them if they were stranded on a desert island, that inspires me. The idea of someone choosing my story above all others, that inspires me. Readers inspire me to write every day, to dig deeper and to create the best stories I can create.

DONNELL:  How many shoes do you have in your closet?

LENA: Too many to count, but I only have three pair (pairs?) that I wear. All the other shoes sit there looking pretty, tempting me to wear them, until I pick them up and remember how uncomfortable they were the last time I wore them. One day I’ll stop buying pretty, uncomfortable shoes that I’ll never wear.

DONNELL:  What does it mean to be happy?

LENA: Allow me to wax philosophic. (If it helps, pretend I’m one of those serious literary types for just a moment, instead of a genre fiction author.) Here’s my theory. Happiness is not a noun. It’s a verb. It’s not a state of being. It’s a journey. The pursuit of happiness is what makes us happy. Think about it. If you want something, and you work really hard to get it, once you get it you feel kind of let down, don’t you? You immediately want something else. Case in point, I want to be a New York Times bestseller. But if I become an NYT bestseller, it won’t make me happy, because I’ll immediately think of a new goal to pursue. But, hey, I could be wrong. I admit it. My entire theory could be based on unsound facts. So, to test my theory, I would appreciate it if everyone - EVERYONE - would please buy my books and put me on The List. Okay??? For scientific reasons only of course.

LENA, NOW IT’S YOUR TURN.  QUESTION FOR READERS.

I seriously had so much fun with these questions. You’re an awesome interviewer Donnell.

Ha!  If only I didn't screw up the date!   DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION FOR READERS?

LENA:  Here is my question for the readers. Do you prefer to know the identity of the villain up front, or do you prefer to figure it out along with the hero and heroine?

Dear Readers.  Your friendly GLIAS interviewer misread today's author's date. We will be re-running Lena Diaz's interview on April 7 & 8.  I will be giving away a $50 Barnes & Noble or Amazon gift certificate, so be sure to spread the word.   Comment (and yes, you may comment more than once) to be entered in the drawing on either April 3, 7 & 8.   Also, Lena will be giving away a digital book.  So answer Lena's question and let's talk about SIMON SAYS DIE. 

64 comments:

  1. IF the author reveals the villain up front but he's so marvelously bad (Dan Scott in One Tree Hill) he can be interesting (still disliked, but interesting). I don't like villains that are creepy just to be creepy. I like them to have a driving purpose behind being the twisted folks they are.

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    1. (furiously scribbling notes - no creepy just to be creepy villains, and pick up a copy of One Tree Hill.)

      Thanks Sonya!

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  2. Lena, I love the sound of Simon Says Die! I can tell it's right up my alley. I've just added it to the top of my to-be-read list for as soon as I finish Harlan Coben's latest. :)

    Donnell, great interview, as always!

    Hmm...I like books that are written both ways--those where you know the identity of the villain up front but are on the edge of your seat hoping someone catches him before he hurts the heroine, and also those where you figure out who the villain is with the heroine. I don't think I can pick a favorite. :) It's all in the way the author executes it.

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    1. Flexibility - I love that in a reader. Thanks for stopping by Susan. I hope you love Simon Says Die.

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  3. I laughed aloud. What a wicked sense of humor!

    Thanks for this, guys. It's been a tough week -- taxes, you know.

    And yes, DDP (Diet Dr. Pepper) is the best!!!!

    Piper

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    1. (humming the be a pepper song as I write this)

      Hi Piper - cool name. Might have to name a heroine that some day. Glad Donnell and I made you laugh. She's an awesome friend, a great interviewer, and an incredible author too. It was such a pleasure being interviewed by her.

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  4. Can I just say, I love your philosophy about happiness. So true. This sounds like a great read!

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    1. Why thank you, Gladys. (tries to curtsey, then remembers she writes contemporaries not historicals, settles for nodding her head instead)

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  5. Simon Says Die sounds terrific and I can't wait to download it to my Nook! Thank you, Lena, and thank you for a great interview!

    I prefer to both read and write stories both ways. Sometimes, the reader needs feel the emotions of the villian in order to understand his motives, revealing him. Other times, it moves the story more to keep him a secret, giving a great shock at the right moment.

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    1. Allie, I totally agree! So far, I've pretty much NOT revealed my villains' identities until the end, but I'd love to try a story the other way too someday. Thanks for stopping by. Nice to 'meet' you!

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  6. I prefer to guess at who the villian is and find out as the hero and heroine do. Sometimes I can guess but often I'm not sure and it adds to the suspense of the story.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

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    1. Hi Maureen! (waves madly) Nice to see you. Thanks for stopping by. I'm pretty much okay either way, not sure I have a favorite. Looks like so far it's kind of 50/50 on the answers.

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  7. Hi Donnell and Lena,

    Villians can be both as long as I can believe in the character I don't mind. Knowing who they are when the heroine doesn't is creepy and fun, but I also LOVE trying to figure out who the villain is myself. It's all in the story.

    Great interview Donnell. My sympathies on the insulin stocked fridge. A good friend of the family has the same condition and I go out and shop just for him when he comes to make sure he's got the emergency foods he needs.

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    1. Hi Dale. Thanks for visiting GLIAS with me. Donnell is great, isn't she? And, yeah, the diabetes thing is a total bummer. But my daughter and I do realize it could be much worse. Every time we go to the hospital and see the other kids suffering from cancer or other terrible diseases, we count our blessings. It can always be worse.

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  8. Great interview, Lena. You have a fabulous imagination!

    I don't mind whether the villain is revealed to me early on or later, as long as the story is well-written and suspenseful; however, I do enjoy the challenge of trying to figure out who the villain is just as the protagonists are.

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    1. (blushes at the compliment) Thank you! I'm sure you haven't noticed I'm a bit snarky sometimes. My husband was reading Simon Says Die - which has a heroine named Madison who is quite snarky - and my husband turns to me and says - "You're Madison aren't you?" Ha! No, I'm not. Really. I'm NOT. :)

      Thanks for the vote on the villain question. Very interesting to see all these different tastes.

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  9. We interrupt this blog to bring you an important message...

    I just noticed that one of my favorite category authors, Cat Schield, has a book out in April. YAY! The cover is on this page (top left!). Congratulations Cat on your latest Desire release!

    (turns away from computer, grabs ereader and pushes BUY button)

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    1. Sure hope when my next release is out !
      >>grin<<

      ~Angi

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  10. You know Lena...I prefer to know the villian up front when I'm writing, but it rarely happens that way! Darn it.

    When I'm reading, I prefer to figure it out on my own. A great book will fool me until the hero and heroine know.

    Welcome to GLIAS! LOVE YOUR BOOK!
    ~Angi

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    1. Which one? (grin) Thanks Angi. You know I'm a big fan of yours and this blog is awesome. An amazing group of writers. (takes off hat, tips it with respect.)

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  11. Great interview! I really enjoyed it. And wow... I'm going to have to get this book on my Kindle. It sounds fantastic! Off to buy...

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    1. Yay! Now I know I've sold at least one. (wipes forehead with relief). :) Thanks Melanie. I really hope you enjoy it. Thanks SO much!

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    2. LOL! You've sold at least five. It was the rack that did it... Just a little stretching and you're a best seller :)

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  12. Hi Lena, great interview. Medieval implements of torture? Hmmm, I'll remember to stay on your good side. Simon Says Die is a spooky title, and a wonderful way to give readers nightmares.

    Oh, yeah, that BUY button on my ereader...off to push it now.

    Good luck and may you see the Bestseller lists!

    Jean

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    1. Hi Jean. Donnell is a great interviewer - she inspired my snarky side - so I give her all the credit. I thought her question about the rack was awesome! Go Donnell!

      Thanks so much for the buy - I really hope you enjoy Simon Says Die.

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  13. Oh, forgot-- Diabetes is on the rampage as Type2 and everyone should be aware. Three members of my immediate family suffer from it...support a cure.

    Jean

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    1. Jean, so sorry your family deals with this awful disease. Sending cyber hugs your way.

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  14. Very nice interview. I don't mind either knowing the villain upfront or figuring it out along with the main characters.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by!

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  15. great interview!

    I have a tendency to read the ending first so I usually know who did it as I read the book. It doesn't diminish my reading enjoyment at all.

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    1. Ack! You read the end first Cynthia? So much for all that careful planning of twists and turns and red herrings (sigh).

      (glances away so Cynthia doesn't see the truth in her eyes, that Lena sometimes read the end first too)

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    2. I knew who did it all along in Texas Two Step. Just sayin' :)

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  16. Thanks for sharing with us, Lena!
    Can't wait to read it!

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    1. Hi Liese! Fancy meeting you here today! Ya'll, Liese is blogging over at www.kissandthrill.com today. She's giving away a free copy of her awesome debut novel - SAVING HOPE - to one lucky commenter. So be sure and go visit her over there too! :)

      Nice to see you Liese.

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  17. Lena!!! LOVE THE COVER! ;)

    Love the interview, too. LOVE YOU! You're awesome. Just sayin'.
    (Do I get my name in the drawing more than once for being SO HONEST???)

    forgive me... I've had a crazy day. :)

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    1. Yes, Abigail.... you get your name in the drawing, just for being darn cute! :)))))

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    2. Abigail, I'm SO glad you love my cover. I love it too! :)

      Thanks for stopping by. (scribbles name down on paper - twice - plunks it into jar for drawing)

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  18. We're awfully excited about Cat Shield. That woman keeps her nose to the grindstone, but when her book is out, it's well worth the wait!

    So lovely to see all of you here!

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    1. Cat is another Golden Heart finalist and hit it HUGE with a multi-book contract, didn't she? Seems like she's putting out books left and right, and they are AWESOME. LOVE her!

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  19. Lena:

    Loved the interview. I'm a mystery and Rom/Sus reader and writer. But when I'm a reader I want to try to figure out the clues and, perhaps, stay one step ahead of the author. I want to play detective. That's why I started writing thirty years ago. (Darn, now you'll know how old I am. Oh well, I think Mary Higgins Clark is even older.

    Phyllis Humphrey

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    1. Aw Phyllis, we only improve with age - as far as writing goes anyway - right? Honored to meet you. Thanks for stopping by.

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  20. I feel like I am late to this party, but this blog wasn't posted when I checked this morning.

    I prefer to have the villain be a surprise, but sometimes it is fun to know who the villain is from the beginning.

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    1. Tammy, my bad. We had a post mix-up on dates. Better late than never, right? So glad you stopped by. With your vote on top of the others, it sounds to me like the majority so far prefers to be surprised - or at least - to have clues all along the way and have the villain reveal at the end.

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  21. Oh that is an easy question for me Lena.
    I really like to know the villain up front. Then I like to look at motive and watch him/her get caught.

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    1. Hi Janet! (Tips hat and Diet Dr. Pepper in salute). So nice to meet you (and thanks for signing up for my newsletter - I just saw that!!!).

      So you like to know the villain up front? I do too sometimes, but mainly I do that only be peeking at the back like Cynthia mentioned in her comment. I really do like the idea of trying to present the villain up front someday in one of my stories. I think that could be a real challenge as a writer, because you don't have the element of the unknown on your side to help create the tension.

      Thanks for visiting!

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  22. Very enjoyable interview. The book sounds great, but I like to read in order and this sounds like it might be the second or third in a series. I will have to find the first story.

    As for your question, I like to puzzle it out with the hero and heroine. I like using my brain cells in the chase. ( :

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    1. Hello Gabriella (beautiful name).

      This book is the second, you're right. However, there are very few references to the first book in this one. They are completely stand-alone stories and you won't be confused if you read them out of order.

      With that being said, there are appearances in this book of characters from the first one, so it might be fun to read them in order too. I honestly don't think it matters.

      The first book is HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT. It's available to order online pretty much anywhere, just like SIMON SAYS DIE. Both are online books - meaning they aren't in traditional bookstores. HarperCollins offers them in the digital-first line (Avon Impulse). All that means is you can order an ebook OR print copy, but only online.

      Thanks - hope you enjoy them both!

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  23. A bit of sernedipity--I just got an email from Amazon telling me your book was available. I went to check it out and see what the first book in the series is. I realized that I have that one already. I got it recently but haven't read it yet. And, I purchased Simon Says Die. I look forward to reading them both. ( :

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    1. Thanks Gabriella! Hope you enjoy them both.

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  24. Lena, you are new to me but I trust Donnell's recommendation! I've definitely got you on my radar now. I have a background in criminal investigation so I usually have the villain figured out before the "big reveal." When I get it wrong, I'm utterly delighted and put that author on my keeper shelf, so long as the villain makes sense. If the villain comes completely out of left field, I have a tendency to wall-bang the book. On the other hand, if a writer has a deft hand and gives the reader insight into the villain from his/her POV, yeah. I'm all over that!

    I'm off to look for SIMON SAYS DIE now!

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    1. Nice to meet you! Hope you enjoy SSD!

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  25. It depends on the story for me but usually I prefer to discover it a little halfway towards the end. It keeps me in suspense along with the main characters. I've been eyeing Simon Says Die since I heard about it, congrats on the release.

    Cambonified(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Thanks so much. Release dates are so much fun. Hope you enjoy Pierce and Madison's story.

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  26. Hi Lena!! I don't mind knowing who the villain is up front, but I really *hate* when an author tries to hide the identity of the villain and I guess it too soon. I want a mystery to keep me mystified! But thrillers are another kettle of fish and getting insight into the baddy can work (for me as a reader) really well!!

    Here's to some NYT best-selling list action, my friend!

    Keely Thrall

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    1. Hi Keely! It's been way too long. So nice to see you. And, hey, from your lips to God's ears, right? NYT list....dreamy.....one day!!!

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  27. I love to be kept in the dark and try and figure out who the villian is. Makes me feel smart if I can figure it out before the end.
    Judi
    Boomer21(at)Rogers(dot)com

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  28. I think it depends on the book. I like them both.

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  29. Judi and Chey, thanks for visiting! I'm leaning toward keeping it a secret (which is what I've tried to do in the past), but I agree it depends on the story. Hope you are having a terrific Easter weekend.

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  30. You know, Lena, I forgot to answer your question because I was so blown over by your awesomeness.

    I think I prefer NOT to know the villain. Usually when I figure it out, it means a poorly written book (and I did NOT figure it out in He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not). Ooh, except for Fight Club (the movie), where halfway through I guessed the plot and then immediately disregarded it. heh.

    Happy Monday!

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    1. Hi Abigail! And thanks for the awesome compliment. :)

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  31. The randomly drawn winner of an ebook copy of SIMON SAYS DIE is
    'Tammy Yenalavitch Apr 3, 2012 08:05 PM". Please send an email to me (Lena Diaz) and give me your email address to send the ebook to for your Kindle or Nook (your choice - let me know which one). My email address is LenaWrites "at" bellsouth "dot" net. Or go to my website and contact me via the contact page - www.lenadiaz.com. Congratulations!

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  32. The randomly drawn winner of a $50 gift certificate, courtesy of Donnell Bell, is 'msullivanApr 3, 2012 03:42 PM". Please contact Donnell through the contact tab on this website. Congratulations!

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