Friday, March 22, 2013

Author Interview + Excerpt: Sarah Ballance (Last Call)

Today I welcome Sarah Ballance, author of Last Call, a romantic suspense which you can get for the great price of $0.99! You can run do that, but right now grab your favorite cuppa and sit and learn a little more about Sarah and Last Call .  

What three things do you need in order to write?

I really only need my laptop and, since I’m writing a historical at the moment, an internet connection. (The things I have to research make me laugh out loud at times). But throw in some music and I’m in heaven. I have this strange habit of listening to the same CD over and over and OVER again while I’m writing. Five, six times a night and five days a week. (The other two days I write with Ghost Adventures. There’s a marathon every Friday and Saturday night on the Travel Channel, LOL.)

What's your favorite season?

My overall lurve-it-most season is fall. Once the humid summer air turns crisp and cool and there’s a hint of chimney smoke in the air, I am in the BEST mood. But right now I’d TOTALLY love a shot of spring. Airing out the house to the scent of freshly cut grass is nothing short of amazeballs after a long, cold winter. (Also, I dig summer because it’s boating season. Clearly, I’m easy to please! LOL.)

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

We’re actually taking that dream trip this year! LOL. When I was a kid my parents drove cross country and it was something I’ve never forgotten. I want my children to experience that, and my
husband hasn’t been out west yet, so we’re driving to Mt. Rushmore, the Black Hills, Deadwood,
Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons. I am SO excited! (Ask me again after nine days in the car with six kids, mkay?)

How much research did you do into law enforcement or do you have someone in law
enforcement close to you?

I’ve always been interested in the topic, and as such have read TONS. I also double majored in
biology and biochemistry in college, so there’s sort of a basic knowledge base already there. I
don’t write massive details (and prefer the rogue types who don’t necessarily follow the rules) so
usually a quick google to confirm what I think I know works for me.

What's the first sentence of Last Call?

Rhys Clark swore and jerked her foot from the murky puddle that had just claimed one of her new running shoes.

Tell us what is Last Call about.

When ex-cop Rhys is kidnapped, her captor does something unexpected: he dumps her at the feet of her ex-partner, Nick. Nick is ordered to keep her safe or they both end up dead, but in his struggle to come to terms with the way he left Rhys, he discovers things aren’t quite what they seem. With an unseen enemy and the walls closing in, they find the darkest betrayals can come not just from the bad guys, but from within.

Dish, who’s your favorite character in Last Call?

Oh, tough one. I think Nick. He wants nothing more than to make things right with Rhys, but he can’t forgive himself for the mistakes of his past. His emotional journey throughout this book is sometimes painful to watch, but he loves her so much, and it’s hard not to love him for it.

What was your inspiration for Last Call?

It was actually inspired by another of my releases, Unforgiven. I originally intended Last Call to follow Unforgiven, so my characters more or less plotted this one for me as an extension of the first book. When my plans changed, I had to change out the characters I had planned for the story—which was a struggle—but I kept the plot points that didn’t tie directly with the other book.

If you could cast anyone as Rhys and Nick who would you choose to play them?

This is so hard because I don’t know who anyone is! I don’t watch much TV and rarely go to the movies, so I’m pretty clueless on this kind of thing. I can say, however, Nick is totally the guy on the cover. ;c)

What can we expect next from you?

If all goes well, I’ll have two releases this fall from Entangled Publishing—one a category-length historical romance and the other a spooky novella set in an abandoned asylum. Between that and my road trip, I can’t tell you how excited I am about the fall! (No wonder it’s my favorite season, lol!)

Thanks Sarah!

Thank you so very much. It’s a pleasure and an honor to share space with you and your readers
today. ;c)

About the book:
Romantic suspense for just 99 cents!

In a perilous game of trust, a shocking betrayal deals a dangerous hand.

An accidental witness to a murder-for-hire, ex-cop Rhys Clark becomes the target of ruthless killer—one determined to silence her at any cost. Playing dead seems to be the most likely way to stay alive, but when her protection comes in the form of mega-sexy former adversary Nick Massey, Rhys can think of a few fates worse than death.

Nick Massey may have walked away from his troubles, but he never got past wanting Rhys. Once paired undercover, they’d been nothing but fireworks until a botched assignment ended her career, sending his into a tailspin. Now a mysterious client threatens Nick’s life if he doesn’t keep Rhys safe, but it isn’t until fate takes a critical turn that he realizes the devastating truth: he’s been her greatest threat all along.

LAST CALL is available from: For the Muse Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and
Smashwords (formats: .mobi, .epub, HTML, PDF, RTF, LRF, PalmDoc, and Plain Text). Click here to add to Goodreads or here for reviews.

Cover art by For the Muse Design.

About the Author:
Sarah and her husband of what he calls “many long, long years” live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep. She never dreamed of becoming an author, but as a homeschooling mom, she often jokes she writes fiction because if she wants anyone to listen to her, she has to make them up. (As it turns out, her characters aren’t much better than the kids). When not buried under piles of laundry, she may be found adrift in the Atlantic (preferably on a boat) or seeking that ever-elusive perfect writing spot where not even the kids can find her.

She loves creating unforgettable stories while putting her characters through an unkind amount of torture—a hobby that has nothing to do with living with six children. (Really.) Though she adores nail-biting mystery and edge-of-your-seat thrillers, Sarah writes in many genres including contemporary and ghostly paranormal romance.

Her ever-growing roster of releases may be found on her website.



Rhys Clark swore and jerked her foot from the murky puddle that had just claimed one of her new running shoes. Perfect. The day was now officially perfect.

She blamed Nick Massey.

Blaming him was easy enough. She didn’t know which required more nerve on his part—leaving town or crawling back—but both events left her bitter and raw. And wet, she grumbled inwardly. With the sky spitting rain and the occasional pellet of sleet smacking her face, she should have skipped her evening jog. The street was little more than a concrete alley of shuttered businesses, and the bleak weather amplified the emptiness. But tonight, with Nick hot on her mind, running through the cold was her last ditch effort to return to her senses.

It hadn’t worked.

Another blast of icy air howled through the narrow street. If she hadn’t been standing still, she probably wouldn’t have heard the shouting that followed.

A few months ago, an altercation wouldn’t have been unusual in this part of town. But the whole area was under reconstruction. Local crime dissipated to nothing with the razing of several apartment buildings, and until now Rhys had long found her route to be a place of solace. She glanced around as the voices drew closer and more intense. Rapid footsteps smacked the wet pavement. Then the echo of a gunshot cracked the night.

Where fear left her paralyzed, instinct insisted she get out of sight. She looked around and found an unbroken expanse of concrete wall offering few options. Heart pounding, Rhys ducked into the recessed doorway of a vacant storefront and hoped the deep shadows would keep her concealed.

Terrifying seconds passed. The sound of her own suppressed breath roared in her ears.

Voices came, clearer this time. Close.

“If we screw this up…” The words, terse and hushed, were encapsulated in panic.

“Shut up,” demanded a second voice. “No one messed up. He’s as good as dead.”

“You think you’re going to sell that without a body? We didn’t get paid to lose him.”

“He took one to the gut. He won’t get far. We’ll find him.”

“He’s leaving a trail. Blood. We got the big bucks for a clean—”

“Shut up.”

A hit? Rhys shuddered, fear scaling her spine. A professional hit would have been silent—something not accomplished by the gunshot or the ensuing conversation—but in this game, experience wasn’t always a prerequisite for willingness to pull the trigger. Two years of undercover work had taught her as much.

So had a bullet.

Rhys froze, waiting for the voices to pass. But luck was not on her side. Rather than drawing away, the footsteps ceased.

“Well, well, well,” said the confident one. “Looks like our little game of hide and seek is over.”

Hope crumbled. The voice was far too close. Had they seen her?

She dared not move. Through her lashes, she saw nothing in her narrow view of the dimly lit street but dirty puddles and the occasional bit of trash plastered to wet pavement. She prayed they didn’t look her way should they walk past.

Grunts erupted nearby, followed by the sound of sneakers scuffling on concrete. Then two shots fired, and all sounds of struggle gave way to profane celebration.

In the same instant, a man fell to the sidewalk in front of Rhys. His eyes, sightless and familiar, bore into her.

She choked a gasp.

A man stepped into her line of sight, his weapon at the ready. Before she could stop herself, she locked eyes with him. Big mistake. The decision threw her into a cloud of emotional shrapnel, the past flying at her in shards. She’d been shot once before.

It hadn’t ended well.

The gunman opened his mouth and formed an ugly grin, his breath coming in visible puffs through yellowed teeth.

“Looks like a double header tonight, T,” he said, never taking his gaze off Rhys.

“Whaddya mean?” came the reply. The voice . . . she blinked until the second man shifted into focus.

She knew him. From where? She couldn’t think.

She glanced to the dead man, and her vision wavered. Panic shifted her world into a screen of jarred pixels, the flashback jagged and severe.

“Rhys! Stay with me, Rhys. Do you hear me? Rhys!”

Blood. So much blood.

“Nick.” She touched his face, feeling stubble beneath her fingertips. Then the weight of her arm was too much; as gravity won he slipped away. The world twisted into a sickening spiral until all that was left was his voice, the desperation in his tone bringing warmth to the darkness.


Motion jarred her to the present.

The gunman gestured. “Our witness here is about to have an unfortunate accident.” He raised the weapon, aiming for the kill.

It was a short view down the barrel at point blank range. She expected that.

What she didn’t anticipate was the speed with which he pulled the trigger.

Or how quickly the pain hit.


Sarah Ballance said...

Thanks so much for hosting today. The blog looks great!

Karen C said...

I enjoy following your blog tour because I find out neat little tidbits about you! Do I have to wait until the historical is released before I can find out what research items have you laughing out loud? I got to travel with hubby last year through South Dakota and want to go back to visit the same places you're going. Just a note: there's some pretty desolate stretchs out there and it's sometimes difficult to get cell/internet service. I'm excited about your fall releases, too! Those word counts are looking good.~

Sarah Ballance said...

Hi, Karen! I can't believe how quickly fall is coming. Two book releases and an awesome trip! Thanks for the warning about the cell/wifi service. I hope we won't lose it when we *need* it, LOL! Our overnight spots all promise wifi but sometimes we can't even get it at our marina--which is nowhere near the middle of nowhere--so I suppose I won't do any breath-holding, lol. As for the funny stuff, let's just say the euphemisms are absolutely hysterical and the people weren't nearly as, um, puritanical as most folks believe. They make *me* blush! LOL. Thanks for visiting me here!

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