Wednesday, November 21, 2018

"Ginger Snapped" by Chloe Sunstone


GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY
Ginger Snapped
(Ginger Gibson Book 1)
by Chloe Sunstone

Ginger Snapped (Ginger Gibson Book 1) by Chloe Sunstone

Author Chloe Sunstone stops by today for an interview and to share a guest post and an excerpt from her latest thriller, Ginger Snapped. You can also enter our exclusive giveaway for a chance to win a signed paperback copy of the book.

Description
How does an amazing professional opportunity descend into a living nightmare?
Carefree Ginger's motto of “Work Hard, Play Harder” shapes her life. So, when her husband, Jake, gets a job offer on the other side of the country, she is up for the adventure.
But after Jake accepts the promotion, nothing is as expected. While Ginger remains in Cleveland to sell their house, she is plagued by strange prank calls, premonition-like nightmares, and the feeling that she is being watched. Is Jake's new job putting her in danger?
Unfortunately, she ignores her intuition and soon finds herself face to face with a ruthless killer. Trapped in a deadly world of corporate corruption and murderous greed, she must overcome her own fears and rely on her wits if she plans to survive.
Although the first in the Ginger Gibson series, this is a standalone book.

Excerpt
Oh No! I’m back. I am surrounded by inky black nothingness. The air is musty…damp, my nostrils fill with the smell of dank basement. Like in a haunted house, filled with saws and chains and bloody hooks, this is the perfect place for any psycho to hide his tools of the crazy trade. I’m trembling, from the all-encompassing fear, eating at every cell in my body.
Where am I? My fingers search out for clues. Beneath me is a thin mattress on a hard surface. My head rests on a concrete-like pillow. My breathing escalates as the panic rises in my chest. I open my mouth to scream, but only a muted croak escapes. Over the thunder of my pounding heart, I hear a booming crack, a gunshot. I recognize the sound from a trip to the range with Jake years earlier.
I swing my legs over the side of my perch, thinking in my blind panic to run even though I cannot see. I can’t ignore this intense urge to flee. But my impulse is thwarted by an unknown restraint trapping my left arm, a rope? Panic has me in its grip. I gasp for air to fill my lungs but produce only whimpers and muted pleas.
A loud screech reverberates through the darkness. Rats? Oh, please, no rats! Could this get any worse? Hysterical, I yank relentlessly on the rope tethering me. With each tug, the line cuts deeper into my skin. My arm warms as blood seeps from the gouges, coating my hand and fingers.
Behind me, the sound of footsteps startles me. Before I can turn to confront my visitor, I feel the rush of air preceding the impact to the back of my head. A blaze of bright stars then, a different blackness envelopes me.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]


Interview With the Author
Chloe Sunstone joins me today to discuss her new book, Ginger Snapped.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
My books are murder mysteries, so all readers must be over eighteen years of age.
What sparked the idea for this book?
My latest thriller, Ginger Snapped, was inspired by a family trip to Northern California. While my husband and I walked hand in hand along the Golden Gate Bridge and visited Sonoma Valley like typical camera-carrying, Chardonnay-slugging tourists, we fell in love with the area and had a brief discussion about relocating from Cleveland to San Francisco to start a new adventure. But instead, we returned home to our normal life.
Remembering that seemingly, mundane discussion, I imagined a fictional world, where that relocation would threaten everything … our beliefs, our relationship and ultimately, our lives. A simple conversation inspired a potentially best-selling novel. Fun, huh?
Sure thing. So, which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
The character’s story, for sure! Years ago, while considering leaving my corporate career to become a full-time writer, I read a book where a best-selling author claimed that “Plot Kills a Story”.
Although I don’t agree 100% with that thought process, I understand the intent, which is to encourage the author to focus on the most important part of the book, character development.
So, combining character development with plot, I develop my characters by writing down the answers to these five questions:
·         Who are my main characters (i.e., hero, antagonist, etc.)?
·         What motivates those individuals (what is this person’s backstory, how does the character’s history drive their behavior)?
·         What will be the key problems to overcome (i.e., what are the stakes, why should the reader care/the hook to keep reading)?
·         How will the book end (i.e., who will die/survive, how do these deaths/survivals change the story, how will the main characters end up)?
·         What will be the unexpected twist(s)/red herring(s)?
Answering these questions allows me to understand my characters … to get into their heads … that is my favorite part of developing the character’s story.
Once I have answered the five questions, I create a chapter by chapter outline of the following:
·         Which character will be highlighted in this chapter and in what setting?
·         What are their key emotions/feelings?
·         How are those feelings tied to the underlying conflict/the climax and the ending?
Then I write as though I am the character within that chapter. At times, the experience is downright visceral, e.g., I cry when my characters cry, I laugh when they laugh ... you get the idea.
Wow, that’s the best answer I’ve ever had to that question. Moving on, what was the hardest part to write in this book?
I struggle writing the villain because it’s difficult for me to get in the head of a murderer. I want to see the good in everyone. Additionally, one of my pet peeves in books and movies are these omnipotent villains who somehow know all and act on it. It’s unrealistic to me.
Combining my desire for realism and need to find the good in everyone, I write multi-faceted antagonists with complex backgrounds to “explain/somewhat absolve” their devious behavior.
In my novels, it’s not always clear who is “good” and who is “evil” … or is it?
Hmm. How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I write to entertain, pure and simple. I want my readers to escape to a new world, a different world without their problems or stresses. Hopefully, my books allow the reader to propel themselves into a world of corporate intrigue. Additionally, I’m hopeful that the reader takes on the invigorating challenge of figuring out “Whodunit”.
How long did it take you to write this book?
This book took about ten months in total, including the post-editing process.
What is your writing routine?
Routine is probably the wrong word because I write at odd times. Sometimes plot ideas, phrasing, actions, etc., pop into my head in the middle of the night. When this occurs, I get up, go into my office, and start writing.
The other night, at about 4:00am, I heard my husband calling my name because he woke up and I wasn’t in bed. I had gotten up to put some ideas on paper, kept writing, and lost track of time. My motto: Follow the inspiration!
My preferred writing environment is at my home. During the warmer months, I love to sit out on my back deck, overlooking our pond, and write. The tranquil wooded setting and the company of local wildlife (e.g., ducks, swans, hawks) offer the perfect inspiration. Once the weather gets cold, I move into my great room, sit on my sectional, and gather inspiration from the same setting by looking out the floor to ceiling windows overlapping our property.
When I write in the evenings, I will usually put some sort of true crime or Investigation Discovery on the television at a low volume to help drag me into the dark place needed to write a thriller.
Your home sounds amazing. How did you get your book published?
I self-published. Originally, I considered the traditional publishing route. In order to learn more, I interviewed several traditional and self-published authors.
Additionally, I networked with a couple of small press publishers to better understand my options.
Based on my research, in most cases, the author is responsible for doing the bulk of their own marketing. As a result, the publisher’s main role (in my opinion) focuses on the other pieces of the process (cover design, blurb, editing, etc.).
So, I hired my own editor and cover designer, offering me more creative license in the process.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
My main advice is DO YOUR RESEARCH! Join author groups, get references, check those author’s rankings online, and expand your network so you can tell the real deal from the scam artist.
Additionally, find an experienced editor, invest in a cover designer and learn, learn, and when you’re done, learn more. Did I mention learning?
I believe you did. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
A self-proclaimed foodie, my husband and I enjoy wine, fine dining, and travel, particularly to the Caribbean. Additionally, we are avid boaters, certified scuba divers, and general “water” people.
When we’re not on the water, we love watching football and spoiling our nieces and nephews.
What does your family think of your writing?
My husband, Mike, is extremely supportive. As a matter of fact, he was the catalyst for my job change. One typical Monday morning I dragged myself to my tedious Human Resources (HR) job. Tired legs, a bored mind and my drooping eyes watched the seconds tick by on the clock. I wondered when this hell would end. When will I be able to escape the suffocating structure of corporate America?
That evening, I trudged into my home, laptop in tow, prepared to make a quick, unhealthy dinner and hop on my Dell for another three to four hours of work. I made eye contact with my loving husband, Mike, and he knew.
“Babe, it’s time for you to quit for good. Do something else. How about writing? You’re so talented, you’ll figure it out. Check authoring a bestseller off your bucket list.”
So, the journey began. After over 25 years in HR, I took the leap and returned to my first love, writing. One hundred percent energized by creativity, I’ve written and released two cybercrime thrillers in the last year.
Fantastic! Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I’m the oldest of five daughters and grew up in a typical middle-class household with my parents and my little sisters. I spent most of my childhood taking care of my younger sisters, being a good student, and reading a ton of mysteries in my spare time.
So, you like reading when you were a child?
Yes, I loved reading. At five years old, I was introduced to my first mystery, Encyclopedia Brown Takes the Case, and I was hooked. That first book turned me into a voracious reader, enjoying all of the Encyclopedia Brown novels, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and The Chronicles of Narnia, to name a few series.
I loved all of those, too! When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I love sharing my unique writing journey, because it proves anyone can fulfill their dreams. Growing up, I was an avid reader and exceptional writer who won some local writing contests, worked as the “Editor-in-Chief” of my high school newspaper, and pursued Journalism in college. But things changed. While in college, I became disillusioned with the media field and the constant demands to provide spin and slant to every story versus communicating actual events. So, I switched to business, a more finite profession, but I missed writing. Due to my long corporate hours, carving out time for writing was virtually impossible.
So, as I mentioned before, after over twenty-five years in Human Resources, I took the leap and returned to my first love, writing. Within the last year, I have released two cybercrime thrillers.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Yes, as far as genre, I stayed within the mystery/thriller world. From a book theme perspective, absolutely not. My books are corporate cyber-thrillers which are heavily influenced by my professional corporate Human Resources experience.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
Patricia Cornwell, hands down. I find the forensic aspect of her books fascinating. I have tried to emulate her style with the cybercrime piece of my books, offering authenticity, intrigue and expertise
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
After over twenty-five years in Human Resources, I believe all feedback is a gift. I think most people struggle to give feedback on books, which is why it is such a challenge for authors to get reviews. With that said, I have received some reviews on my books. Here are some highlights:
“A modern take on a love story sprinkled with technological insight that ends not just with a bang but with an explosion!”
“The ending is reminiscent of a Stephen King storyline where, just when you thought you had it figured out, changes completely.”
“The book is entertaining and kept me on the edge of my seat page after page. The characters are very relatable, especially for anyone that has spent time at the mercy of a corporate environment trapped in an office.”
“Great book - the story flows and is quite a cybercrime thriller. The characters are believable and the ending is amazing!”
“The interesting mix of office politics, combined with cyber technology, and interpersonal relationships, make for an engaging read.”
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’ve written about 10,000 words of my next book, tentatively titled Spicy Ginger. The second in a series featuring Ginger Gibson, the main character from Ginger Snapped. Although a series, each book will be a standalone novel.
Here is an unedited excerpt from my next book:
When I departed into the warm night, I looked up and saw nothing, black nothingness, not a star in the ominous sky. Exhausted, I trudged across the empty parking lot to my car twirling my key chain in my hands. A light smell of the stale rain which had fallen hours earlier hung in the air. In the distance, birds chirped and frogs croaked from a nearby pond on the business park property. 
A crackling sound trumpeted behind me breaking me out of my reverie. I turned and an object moved toward my eye rapidly. It happened so fast. Instinct kicked in. I raised my arm to defend myself but I was carrying my laptop bag. The satchel swung violently slamming into the head of my assailant.
Before I could celebrate my dumb luck and sprint for my car, the loudest popping sound rang out. What was that? A gun shot? My gaze darted about trying to focus in the blackness. Fortunately, I saw it, a semi-automatic gun sliding across the asphalt. I dashed toward the firearm. My attacker grabbed my leg and I fell on my elbows.  Holy crap that hurt! Ignore the pain. I need that pistol now.
I kicked frantically like a wild horse as my attacker tried to corral me. No! I’m getting to that gun first. I belly skulked toward the pistol using my hands for leverage. The weight of my body caused my keys to penetrate deep into my palm, drawing drips of warm blood. As he bounded on top of me, I hit the panic button on my key fob. The blaring distress signal boomed through the air. The goon rose up and turned toward the deafening noise giving me space to maneuver. I used my feet as propellers and dove for the gun. Outstretching my fingers to maximum length, I felt the cold metal under my skin. Yes! I’ve got it.
I grasped the icy Glock in my trembling hand and turned towards the savage werewolf of a man. Brian’s face flashed into my mind. But it’s not Brian, focus Ginger!
Time stood still while I placed my index finger on the trigger, ready but petrified. Then my aggressor lunged at me. He’s too close. I aimed at the man’s thigh and pulled the trigger. The earsplitting boom rocked my body knocking me flat onto the asphalt below. I heard him hit the ground, wounded.
Lucky shot! I did it. I don’t know how but I hit him. I watched in horror as this hoodlum’s eyes widened.
He grabbed for his bleeding leg and screamed, “Why lady? You paid me good money to do this … I don’t understand.”
Sounds great! Thanks so much for stopping by today, Chloe. Best of luck with your future projects.

Guest Post by the Author
Finding Happiness through the Written Word
One typical Monday morning I dragged myself to my tedious Human Resources (HR) job. Tired legs, a bored mind and my drooping eyes watched the seconds tick by on the clock. I wondered when this hell would end. When will I be able to escape the suffocating structure of corporate America? That evening, I trudged into my home, laptop in tow, prepared to make a quick, unhealthy dinner and hop on my Dell for another three to four hours of work. I made eye contact with my loving husband, Mike, and he knew.
“Babe, it’s time for you to quit for good. Do something else. How about writing? You are so talented, you’ll figure it out. Check authoring a bestseller off your bucket list.”
So, the journey began. After over 25 years in HR, I took the leap and returned to my first love, writing. One hundred percent energized by the creativity encouraged when writing a masterpiece, I’ve written and released two cybercrime thrillers in the last year.
Why cybercrime? Well, most of my HR experience was in project management, implementing new systems and processes. Plus, I’m married to a Software Engineer and fascinated by today’s technology. Therefore, my books focus on a fictional world where cybercrime bleeds into the real world leading to mayhem and murder.
My latest thriller, Ginger Snapped, was inspired by a family trip to Northern California. While Mike and I walked hand in hand along the Golden Gate Bridge and visited Sonoma Valley like typical camera-carrying, Chardonnay-slugging tourists, we fell in love with the area and had a brief discussion about relocating from Cleveland to San Francisco to start a new adventure. But instead, we returned home to our normal life.
Years later, I recalled that seemingly mundane conversation and my overactive imagination created a situation, where that cross-country move would threaten everything … our beliefs, our relationship and, ultimately, our lives. A simple conversation inspired a potentially best-selling novel. Awesome, huh?

About the Author
Chloe Sunstone
After over twenty years in a wide variety of Human Resources roles, Chloe was compelled to return to her first love of writing. Combining her HR expertise, a fascination with cybercrime, her MBA education and a love for the written word, Chloe’s novels are entertaining, clever and engaging. Her first book, The Mentor, is a thrill ride with a twist that you will never see coming. Her latest novel, Ginger Snapped, was released October 2018.

Giveaway
Enter our exclusive giveaway for a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Ginger Snapped by Chloe Sunstone (US only).


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