Tag Archives | Untraceable

Winners from the Spies, Murder and Mystery – week 3!

Wow! Those three weeks flew by. I hope you’ve found new authors and new books to read!

And here are the winners from last week!

Signed copy of Uncommon Criminals goes to Kelly Polark!

An ebook of The Emotion Thesaurus goes to Sherrie Petersen!

A print copy of The Spy Who Left Me goes to Mart Ramirez!

An ebook of Untraceable goes to Laura Marcella!

An ebook of Suffocate goes to Laura Diamond!

Congrats to all the winners! Please use the contact form up on my menu bar to give your mailing address if you won a print copy. If you won an ebook, leave me your email and which version – Kindle or Nook – you prefer.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day if you live in the United States! I’ll be back on Thursday!

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The story behind Untraceable with S.R. Johannes.

Welcome to the last day! That’s right. The last day of the murder/mystery blog series! If you haven’t already, check out A Spy Like Me!

Today we have S.R. Johannes to tell us the story behind Untraceable!

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I have always loved animals. I was the girl who always forced my dad to stop the car so I could move a turtle off the highway. A girl who would run out in the rain to save a lizard from a puddle. A girl who always took in stray animals, cried at road kill, and who dreamed of preventing the world’s animals from abuse.

Seriously, I was intense about animals. Still am.

I also used to stay up and read my mom’s thrillers especially James Hall’s books Mean High Tide and Gone Wild. His books incorporated conservation awareness with thrilling elements. Not only was I on the edge of my seat the whole book, but I always walked away learning something new. Wanting to make a difference. I loved that feeling.

So it makes sense that is where I ended up.

Untraceable started with a small seed. My husband camps a lot – I‘m talking – by himself in the deep North Georgia wilderness for a day with nothing to eat (b/c he plans to catch it in the stream) and a one man tent. Just him and his dog. One day he came home from camping and in passing said, “Bloody hell, I was so deep in the woods, someone could do something totally illegal and no one would ever know.”

Okay so first let me say, I didn’t even really know there was a “wilderness” like that anymore. Sure there are mountains and trees but was there really a wilderness still that was so deep – no one could find you??? That concept intriqued me. I am a city girl but I just assumed most of the wild had been developed (unless it was in Africa!) (Needless to say I am NOT a camper unless it is a pop up tent with starbucks singles brewing on the stove).

A few months later, we went to Cherokee NC with the kids. There, is an  active Native American Reservation there and they have a festival every year. In the town, we came across an attraction for 5$ a person. At first, we started in. But then I peeked through the fence and what I saw broke my heart. A Bear Pit where bears were kept in cement pits (just on the edge of the national Park where they could smell freedom) and people were throwing apples and marshmallows at them, laughing. They had sores on their backsides from the hard ground and were obese. I made my family leave and cried all the way back to our cabin. (im a cry baby when I feel helpless)

This broke my already-fragile-toward-animals heart. It haunted me. I could not understand how native americans who always worshipped animals could be so cruel. How they could taunt the bears with freedom on the edge of a national park. Then I learned that The reservation was exempt from any state laws due to their reservation status. What? This pissed me off.

Once I did research I learned that there were 3 of these bear pits in that area on the Native American Reservation. I also learned that Bob Barker (yes Price is right guy who is VERY active in animal conservation BTW) had been trying to close them down for years by talking to the Chief there. But the Chief didn’t want to let go of the money they made from these bear Pits.

This horrible situation combined with stumbling on other research and my need for a thriller spawned Untraceable.

But I wanted to be sure to make my book a thrilling ride yet still sneak in in a conservation message for teens. No preachy stuff just a taste of something to think about. The things that happen in that book are real. They have happened and do happen. I got them from articles so they are not made up.

Maybe not all at the same time in the same place. But they do occur. Even in this day and age.

The Nature of Grace series gives teens a glance into the beauty of nature and animal while introducing them to the ugly side of when a lack of respect for nature threatens conservation – yet I did it in a non-stop action kind of way. This way, you stay up late reading. You may cry, you may laugh. But more importantly, I think you will walk away knowing something you didn’t know before which makes I hope makes each of us more conscious about the world around us.

In honor of those bears, I started a petition for the Bear Pits in NC. If you would like to help close down these inhumane places, please go here and sign it J


If you have read Untraceable, try out my new short story Unspeakable from Mo’s perspective.

If you liked Untraceable, try my new novelette, Suffocate. The first in a series of three novelettes that combines dystopia, science fiction and thriller sub genres.

Shelli is generously offering an ecopy of both Untraceable and Suffocate!

Don’t forget all the giveaways this week that end tonight! Tweet for these awesome authors!

Enter for a signed hardcover of Uncommon Criminals.
Enter for an ebook of The Emotion Thesaurus.
Enter for a print copy of The Spy Who Left Me.

Thanks everyone! Leave a comment and tweet to win Shelli’s books!
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Countdown of my favorite books – part 8.

We’re closing in on the last few days of the countdown. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve tried to include a traditional and a self published book every day. Onward!


This is one of my top top top books. It included everything I love. A unique story, pirates, curses, surprising twists, a flip flop between the past and the present. I will be rereading this one. Definitely for upper teen!

UNTRACEABLE by S.R. Johannes

This is a more recent one too. I love thrillers that also include a moving inner journey of the character. I couldn’t put the last half of this book down.

A different question for today. What kinds of books are your favorites? What is the common element in books you love?

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What’s in a thriller? S.R. Johannes gives us her best tips.

I’m so excited to welcome S.R. Johannes to the blog to talk about writing thrillers. I put her in the hot seat with the following questions.

1. Do you write mainly thrillers? Will you continue to?

Yes and yes. J

When I was growing up, I used to sneak my mom’s books and read them – anything from Steven King, to James Patterson, to Iris Johannsen to James Hall (just to name a few) and I loved how they would keep me up at night reading.

I’ve always wanted to create that for teens. And I’ve been shocked at how few thrillers there are that DO NOT have some type of paranormal or fantasy twist.

So I do contemporary thrillers. Tough girls in the real world.

I’d like to say I’d write other stuff. But I will never be able to write something that does not have some level of suspense. I don’t know why but I’ve tried and it doesn’t work – for me.

2. What are you top tips or must-follow instructions for writing thrillers?

Thrillers are all about creating some kind of tension. If it isn’t in action, it needs to be in a relationship or in emotions. Something that makes you hold your breath and then release when it’s settled.

I have studied James Patterson’s writing and his writing process for years. He once talked about how he writes to an inverted conflict curve. This means he starts a chapter with tension, resolves it in the middle, and then begins more rising action and ends a chapter on a tense moment. This is what makes his books page turners in my opinion.  Because we – as readers – look for those natural places to stop – usually when a chapter/scene resolves in some way or in a quiet moment before the storm.

After I write my books, I recut my book to that inverted model so the tension is at the end of a chapter.

3. What are the biggest pitfalls to avoid when writing a thriller?

I think the big pitfalls are losing tension and being predictable. If you are predictable – it is not thriller b/c you lose the tension in your story. You never want your reader to sit back and go “ah this is resolved.” You want them going. ”What!? How!” The best compliment I get on Untraceable is when someone says, “I did not see that coming.” Good because that is what I felt when I wrote it.

In a thriller – you have to be willing to go places you don’t really want to go. Don’t write the neatly tied up ending. Don’t go the way most people will go or want to go. Don’t go the way you want to go. Go the way that gets to you the most. The way that is the hardest to write. This book doesn’t end the way I wanted. It is not the original ending. And that was hard for me to swallow but necessary for the story to touch people. You would not believe how many emails I have already gotten about the ending. And I agree with them. But it was unexpected.

4. How do you feel is the best way to add heart to a thriller without taking away from the “thrill”?

Well I try to keep some humor in my books so my characters are all not gloom and doom and woe is me. That gets old. Even when I’ve been down and out – there are those times and places – those awkward moments where you crack a joke or laugh – when you probably shouldn’t. And for just a minute, things feel okay again. Grace is like that and I find that endearing that in the midst of everything – she can kid Wyn or jab at Mo.

Part of the tension with Grace is her emotions. She is completely unpredictable and sometimes even annoyingly reckless. This keeps tension b/c you never know what she is going to do. She also doesn’t cry at the things most of us would. I think she holds back her emotions for 2/3s of the book until everything comes crashing down around her.

That process of holding back causes some tension because once she breaks, the reader is left thinking, “Oh crap – now she is in trouble.” At least – I hope.

5. What are some of your favorite YA thrillers?

Gosh I hate to say this but I cannot think of one contemporary thriller in YA – one that does not have a paranormal or fantasy element. I have racked my brain on this for years. Maybe I have missed it somewhere. Ally Carter is the only person that pops into my mind.

But books that have great tension – to me – are Carrie Ryan’s Forest of Hands and Teeth series. Seriously, I think I held my breath for ½ that book.

Also Kimberly Derting’s Body Finder series – there is one scene in the first book where Violet is running through the woods and I was on the edge of my seat. I still get chills when I am in the woods, thinking about that.

My favorite thriller writer of all time is James Patterson’s Alex Cross series. I still love those.

Hope that’s not too much! Good luck with this journey!

Check out Shelli’s book UNTRACEABLE. And her website Market My Words where she has blogged about her self publishing experiences.

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UNTRACEABLE – an ending done right.

Danger. Lurking at every turn in the woods.

Mystery. Pulling at Grace’s heart strings, drawing her further into the lies and cover ups going on in her town.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Well, it is.

We all know the first few chapters need a hook. But more importantly, we need the last quarter to keep us on our toes, worrying about the main character, hoping she’ll be okay, wondering how she’ll reach her goals.

The second half of UNTRACEABLE is chapter after chapter, scene after scene of revelations, tension, and heartbreak. The first half draws you into the mystery. I cared for Grace, felt her pain. Put it together and it’s WOW!

Thrillers seem to be up and coming in the young adult arena and UNTRACEABLE leads the way. A unique, well-written story about Grace, who uses her tracking skills to find her missing father.

Everyone tells Grace her father is dead and she needs to move on, but Grace listens to her gut. She meets dead end after dead end. Is she in denial? Or could her father still be out there? And will she manage to stay alive to find out the truth.

A must-read, fast-paced, heart-racing thriller that will pull you in and not let go until the last page.

Way to go Shelli!

Contact information:

Author newsletter – http://blogspot.us1.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=114def4ad4e805b98ea071bff&id=68312804dc

website: Market My Words

Untraceable on Amazon

Come back Wednesday when Shelli will share tips on writing a thriller!

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