Liz Jasper here, introducing today's guest blogger author Terry Odell, who writes romance with a twist of mystery. Her novels have been flying off the shelves and we are delighted to have her with us today as she counts down the launch to her latest, HIDDEN FIRE. Without further ado, here's Terry:

How same is same? How different is different? If I go to a bookstore and browse the Science Fiction shelves, I have totally different expectations of what I'm going to read than if I'm in the Mystery section, or the Romance section. Each has its own 'rules' because readers want some sort of a clue where the ride is going to take them when they sit down with a book.

Authors who write series with continuing characters probably have to deal with the 'same but different' approach even more than series set in a continuing setting. I'm primarily a mystery reader, and I love finding an author whose characters resonate with me, and following them as far as the author will take them. Half the fun of the read is the character arc, and usually there's some sort of relationship between characters that grows, although there's no real expectation that the relationship will continue. Personally, I prefer things to carry over through several books rather than deal with the 'woman of the month' setup. But a detective novel is a detective novel, and a romance is a romance. In the former, I expect the detective to solve the crime. In a romance, I expect the HEA ending, simply because those are the conventions of the genre. If I get a book off the 'women's fiction' or 'mainstream' shelf, then it's no holds barred, and I get what I get and have very few expectations going in.

When I wrote Finding Sarah, I hadn't envisioned it as a series of any sort. However, when I finished, one of the secondary characters, Colleen McDonald, wanted her own story, which ended up being Starting Over. I picked her up and moved her across the country, with only the vaguest references to what had happened before she left Pine Hills—and her trigger for moving was not part of Finding Sarah at all. Also, I wasn't sure I'd be able to sell Finding Sarah, and I didn't need a book 2 if there was no book 1.

Randy and Sarah insisted they weren't done yet. Another dilemma. Hidden Fire was going to be another romantic suspense, but my hero and heroine already knew each other and were already in the typical HEA required by the genre. How to begin? I put the two of them together and let them go. To maintain the conflict and tension of the relationship, I fast-forwarded a few months, and pulled Randy out of the scenario letting Sarah re-evaluate the relationship. After all, she'd spent most of Finding Sarah wanting to be independent.

Here's the blurb from Hidden Fire:

Returning from a stint as part of a task force on violent crime, Randy Detweiler is eager to reunite with Sarah Tucker in Pine Hills, but she’s having second thoughts about their relationship. Can she deal with a cop who gets called away at a moment’s notice, especially one who won’t talk about his job?

Their reunion is cut short when a body is discovered and rumors fly that it’s the work of a serial killer. To make matters worse, the Town Council might disband their police department, and Randy's under added pressure to solve the murder before they take action. Forced to work under the radar, Randy struggles to balance work with a shaky relationship.

Sarah can’t cope with apparently meaning less to Randy than his job. Should she force him to choose between his job and the us she envisions for the two of them? All bets are off when Sarah herself becomes a suspect in Randy’s case. Before long, it’s more than their relationship that’s in danger.

If you'd like to see more of Randy and Sarah, visit my website or blog. I've posted an interview with them – after all, I did have to get their approval before writing Hidden Fire. Or did I?

Terry has a Countdown Contest running on her blog this week. Anyone who leaves a comment at any countdown post will be entered in a drawing for a free download. Visit her blog at and learn more about Terry and her books at her website:


  1. Beth Trissel // May 2, 2008 at 2:45 PM  

    Hi Terry! Great to have you here! I'm honored. Hope you are creeped out by the ghost story I posted just below you.
    Characters really are something, aren't they? I'm very interested in what you have to say about them. They become so real to us writers. I suppose writing is an acceptable form of schizophrenia.

  2. Beth Trissel // May 2, 2008 at 2:46 PM  

    That should read hope you aren't creeped out by the ghost story.

  3. Katie Reus // May 2, 2008 at 2:58 PM  

    Hidden Fire is almost here! I'm definitely counting down Terry :) I love reading about characters lives later on!

  4. Dara Edmondson // May 2, 2008 at 3:27 PM  

    I've had the experience of writing characters that wouldn't stay put, too. They just seem to have more to say sometimes. Good luck with your upcoming release.

  5. Terry Odell // May 2, 2008 at 4:02 PM  

    Thanks, Beth, Katie & Dara -
    At the recent writer's conference I attended, the one "rule" given by a speaker was "Plot Is Character."

    I can't really write anything without knowing the basics for my characters, even though they continue to reveal secrets along the way.

    (And no, I wasn't creeped out!)

  6. Cait London // May 2, 2008 at 4:39 PM  

    I understand characters not wanting to be "put to bed" and I think readers of a series like to see them reappear. They become the fabric or texture the front story. But when the entire series ends, NONE of them want to leave you, and it's really difficult to hop into another project with the former characters all scrambling in your head. The author has to have some sort of ceremony/regimen to close them off. So sad... Then, when the books come out, they come alive again as readers catch their first glimpse and they jump back into our minds.

  7. Terry Odell // May 2, 2008 at 4:51 PM  

    Right, Cait. With Finding Sarah, it was like postpartum depression. I went back and wrote a prologue (not published with the book, but it's on my website as a free read), and also several short 'non-stories' following their relationship.

    I might be putting some bits of those up for my countdown week.

  8. Donnell // May 2, 2008 at 6:21 PM  

    Terry, Hidden Fire sounds like my kind of book! Can't wait to pick it up from the shelves. Well done!!!

  9. Terry Odell // May 2, 2008 at 6:47 PM  

    Thanks, Donnell --
    And since it's a sequel, you can read Finding Sarah first, while you wait.

  10. Beth Trissel // May 2, 2008 at 7:51 PM  

    Sounds great to me!

  11. Donnell // May 2, 2008 at 8:11 PM  

    Deal, Terry. BTW, your picture is too cute! Thanks for blogging with Pink Fuzzy Slippers ;)

  12. Terry Odell // May 2, 2008 at 8:41 PM  

    Thanks, Donnell -- my pleasure. And thanks to everyone here for having me.

    The picture was taken at Victoria Falls - turndown service each night meant lowering the mosquito netting around the bed.

  13. Lee Lofland // May 2, 2008 at 9:20 PM  

    Hey Terry. You are certainly a busy lady! You should have worn the fuzzy slippers last weekend in Colorado!

  14. Terry Odell // May 2, 2008 at 9:28 PM  

    Well, hello there, Lee. Nice to see you taking a break from your Graveyard Shift (and who's to say I didn't have pink slippers in Colorado--actually I do have pink slippers -- they're piggies)

  15. Beth Trissel // May 3, 2008 at 10:07 AM  

    We should give a pair of pink fuzzy slippers away to all of our guests.

  16. Maggie Toussaint // May 3, 2008 at 10:08 AM  

    Hi Terry,
    Your Hidden Fire sounds like another sure hit. Congratulations on all of your success.

  17. Toni V.S. // May 3, 2008 at 11:54 AM  

    I totally agree about what happens after "Happily Ever After." In each of my four series, I had intended to write just ONE novel, but after "The End," I found myself with a lot of questions that needed to be answered. With the next book, more questions....hence, each series has at least four books. In one, I finally killed off the hero because that was the only way to make the story end! (Still regret that!)

  18. Beth Trissel // May 3, 2008 at 1:21 PM  

    I envy writers who can keep their beloved characters going novel after novel. I fall in love with mine.

  19. Terry Odell // May 3, 2008 at 8:30 PM  

    Once again, thanks for having me. I hope you'll pop over to my blog and website. I'm giving away a free download to one person who comments on any of my countdown posts. I'm going to be posting those 'non-stories' that Randy and Sarah insisted I write over the next few days.

  20. Mary Marvella // May 3, 2008 at 9:51 PM  

    Welcome, Terry! We love guests and I'm glad someone knows you well enough to invite you. Don't be a stranger.


  21. Helen Scott Taylor // May 4, 2008 at 4:43 AM  

    Hi Terri, interesting to hear about your characters. I love mystery novels and it's the characters that draw me in more than the mystery. I always look for mysteries with an ongoing romance that runs through the series. Adds that extra dimension to the books.