Friday, April 01, 2011

Special Guest: Cynthia Justlin!

Today we welcome talented debut romantic suspense author, Cynthia Justlin to the Killer Fiction blog. Cynthia started out writing contemporary romance, but when all her plots began to turn dastardly, she decided to stop fighting the urge to throw explosions, dead bodies, and evil villains into her books. With her B.S. in the chemical sciences and her love of the periodic table (yes, she's a geek and proud of it!), she finally found the perfect potent mix of love and danger to put into her stories.

I've known Cynthia for several years on the Romance Divas forum, and when we (as well as our friend, Jeannie Lin) decided to enter the Golden Heart in 2009, we traded entries for one last coat of polish.

The entry I got to read during our critique swap was Her Own Best Enemy, Cynthia's debut release! And it was very, very good. I've been waiting for it to be released, so now I'm a very happy girl.

Here's the blurb:

Desperate to track down her ex-husband who disappeared along with their son, Grace Stevens delves into his past and uncovers evidence of a shocking dual life. The man she thought was an ordinary computer consultant is in fact a former high-ranking Special Forces officer with unique skills in military intelligence. With nowhere to turn she is forced to plead for help from Keith King, the one man she hoped to never see again. Against her better judgment she’ll have to put her child’s fate into his hands.

Keith has officially hit rock bottom. Framed for the theft of deadly missile components, the cynical Special Forces officer is in danger of losing the only thing he can count on: his career. His one shot at clearing his name lies in locating Grace’s ex, who was working with Keith on a secret mission to take down a cutthroat military traitor. But to team up with Grace he’ll need to spend 24/7 with a woman who has every reason to hate him. Out to use each other for their own agenda, desperate mother and disillusioned soldier find they must work together to stay alive, and in the process discover that sometimes even the best of enemies fall in love.

So without any further ado, heeeeeeere's Cynthia!


This is my first guest blog, so be gentle with me!

Remember those shy, awkward girls in high school who did their best to make sure nobody noticed them? Yep, that was me. I’ve always hated drawing attention to myself. I rarely raised my hand to participate in class, even when I knew the answer, because when the whole class turned my way, my whole face would heat up uncomfortably and I couldn’t wait to get--their--attention--off--me.

But then I had children. And I quickly realized that if I didn’t put myself out there for them, nobody else would. You mess with my boys and I’m going to be in your face. I would walk through hell for them any day of the week, stand up in front of millions of people and give a speech (trust me when I say that hell would be a piece of cake for me compared to this), take on any opposition, fight, kick, scream, kill to keep them out of harm’s way. Nothing would stop me.

And that’s exactly what Grace in my debut romantic suspense, Her Own Best Enemy, does when her son goes missing. You see she, too, was the shy, awkward, gangly girl in high school (yes, I’m writing what I know!). She was teased and taunted and generally humiliated, but all of that has left her stronger. Strong enough to know that the only way she can find her son is to beg for help from the very person who made her teen years a living hell.

The good part is, Keith doesn’t remember her. The bad part is, he is nothing like the cruel teenager she used to know and she finds herself falling for this new, stronger, gentler, honorable, man who is risking everything to get her son back. Every twist and turn, every new clue brings them closer together, but Grace isn’t ready to let go of the past, and Keith isn’t ready to trust her with his future.

I’ll readily admit to living a fairly mundane life, but this book allowed me to explore my ‘momma bear’ instinct--to face down men with guns, dodge bullets, and narrowly escape explosions and flash floods, all in the name of saving that which is most precious to me.

So what gets your ‘momma bear’ instinct going? Whether you have children or not, what’s that one thing that pushes your hot button and transforms you into a woman (or man) of steel? Let me know, and one of the lucky commenters will win an e-copy of Her Own Best Enemy in their format of choice. Winner will be posted on the blog on Sunday night!


krisgils33 said...

so, i couldn't wait to see if i'd be a winner, i went ahead and bought it. looks good and looking forward to reading it!

Bev Pettersen said...

Wow, it sounds fabulous, Cynthia. I have it on my kindle. Looking forward to reading it and glad you switched to RS. You're going to make a lot of happy readers:)

Darynda said...

This is a wonderful post, Cynthia! Why on Earth were you that shy girl who wanted no one to notice her??? You're simply stunning.

Big hugs and congrats!

debbie said...

sounds like a great read. My hubby is in the military and 2 of my sons too.

I am like you and if anyone messes with my kids I will be right in their face! It gets a little harder when the hit the teenage and young adult age. All those dating dramas they go through today! I dont remember it being so harsh when I was in school. Course it is hard to remember that far back... lol

Susan Lohrer said...

Cynthia, you don't need to be shy, you're amazing. :) Congratulations on Her Own Best Enemy. The blurb is intriguing.

What gets my mama bear instinct going? Don't mess with my kids—period. Once my daughter who has special needs wasn't getting full-time supervision at school and she had . . . let's call it a close call with some older boys. The fellow in charge of funding for supervision got an e-mail CC'd to every member of my government whose e-mail address I could find, including the prime minister. My daughter had full-time supervision within days. (I became known as "something of an activist," but you do what works when your kids' safety is at risk.) Yay to all mama bears!

Anonymous said...

No need to enter me in the drawing - I've already read it and love it! I'm just here to say BUY THIS BOOK! It's so great.

My Mama-bear comes out with my older son's grades. His teacher makes mistakes in grading constantly. Then there's the multiple choice questions with more than one right answer and he picks the one I would have picked, so of course we're both right and she's wrong. So she gets notes from me a couple times a week. You'd think she'd learn by now to just give him a 100 and let it go...

Amanda Brice said...

Thanks for stopping by, everyone! And I'm with this book! It's so good.

Anne Marie Becker said...

I can soooo relate - to the shy part (especially since I have been 6'2" since age 14 - makes it really hard to fade into the background!) and to the mama bear part. I put myself out there now so that other mama bears know me and I can help my shy kids make friends. And I keep my cubs away from the kids that would hurt them (when possible). While I believe that some of the negative experiences make them stronger and help them learn to relate to others, it's always good to have a mama bear in your corner!

Gwynlyn MacKenzie said...

Love the excerpt, Cynthia! Looking forward to reading the whole story.

I'm with you; try and hurt my kids, and you'll think you died and went to hell. And I was worse when they were little! ;-)

I think I'll be just as bad with the grands. The rule in our house was always, don't piss Mom off. Yeah, I got me an inner grizzly!

Autumn Jordon said...

I started reading Her Own Best Enemy last and was drawn into right away. I can't to grnadsons are in bed tonight to I can grab a hot cup of tea, put my feet up, and get back to the story.

Congrats on your release, Cynthia.

Cynthia Justlin said...

Ugh! I've been off wading through DMV red tape all day and am FINALLY getting a chance to play on the internet.

@Kris -- Thanks so much! I hope you enjoy the book!

@Bev -- Thanks, Bev! I hope I can make lots of readers happy so they'll keep coming back for more. :)

@Darynda -- I don't know why I was cursed with the shyness gene. It sucks, because I don't WANT to be shy, but I can't help it. I get flustered very easily. It's the one trait I have to consistently work on!

Cynthia Justlin said...

@Debbie -- No!!! Don't remind me of the teenage years and the dating dramas! I'm trying to forget they exist. My sons are 10 and 11 1/2. I'm not letting them date til they're 30. :)

@Susan -- I love that you stood up for your daughter! Sometimes we have to, otherwise no one else will. *high five*

@Kat -- My husband does the same thing about my youngest's grades. He's always telling me how DS really answered the question right and here's why. LOL.

Cynthia Justlin said...

@Anne-Marie: Oh, you're just like me, cursed with the shy gene AND the tall gene. LOL. High school is not much fun when you tower above the boys! *G*

@Gwnyln -- I imagine you have quite the inner grizzly, which is awesome! :) I don't imagine I'll ever stop fighting for my sons either.

@Autumn -- Thank you!!

Jeannie Lin said...

Congrats on the release Cynthia!

I didn't get to read Her Own Best Enemy when Cynthia finaled in the Golden Heart, but I was happy to grab a copy as soon as it was out.

I was the shy, awkward girl in high school too. It's making me wonder which of the guys in my class would make the perfect Special Forces operative nowadays. Hmm...I must figure that out at the next high school reunion.

Congrats again and can't wait to read. I know it'll be awesome!

Cynthia Justlin said...

@Jeannie -- Power to the shy girls! We're awesome! *G* I don't think I could picture any of the guys in my high school as spec ops, but then again, I hung out with the band/orchestra 'geeks' and the drama 'freaks'. Not quite spec ops material. LOL.

Jenna Bayley-Burke said...

Congrats! I hadn't heard the news on teh release and popped over from Facebook :D

Anonymous said...

Injustice of any kind gets me going.

Great guest blog, Cynthia!

Miriam Minger, Author

Cynthia Justlin said...

@Jenna -- Thanks for dropping by, Jenna! Haven't seen you in awhile! :)

@Miriam -- Hi Miriam, thanks for commenting. Injustice is a great thing to get your inner grizzly going. I appreciate you stopping by!

Tina Joyce said...

I'm a band geek too, Cynthia (clarinet)! I think that's where all the shy ones headed in high school, lol. It's the one class where no one has to talk (since everyone's mouths are busy playing their instruments).

Love the blurb! You've definitely got me intrigued!

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Hi, my Ruby sisters Cynthia and Amanda!

Cynthia, congrats on the release of Her Own Best Enemy! I know I'll relate to Grace because I grew up painfully shy.

What gets me growling is animal cruelty. I can't watch Animal Cops without crying and/or wanting to confront the neglectful and barbaric owners. Oh, dear, I'm getting all worked up about it now! I think I'd better just go and start reading your book to calm down.

~ Vanessa

Joanie said...


I don't normally go for the romance genre, so could you give me an idea how much of your novel is the romance part and how much is the search for the son?



Amanda Brice said...


I'm not Cynthia, so she could probably answer it better than me, but the suspense element was definitely heavier than the romance element.

Cynthia Justlin said...

@Tina -- Yay! Another fellow geek. LOL. And I never really thought about how band/orchestra is the one class where you don't have to talk. Now I know why it was my favorite! :)

@Vanessa -- Hope my book was able to calm you down. ;) Animal cruelty is one of my hot buttons too.

Cynthia Justlin said...


If I had to guestimate...I'd probably go with 60% suspense, 40% romance? I like my romantic suspense to be more about the plot twists and turns than the romance. Although the romance is integral to the story, I wouldn't consider myself a very explicit writer, so it's fairly tame. :)

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Sasha Devlin said...

Congrats on your release Cynthia, it sounds awesome!

I don't have kids of my own, but my sis' two are like my own. I'm more mama bear about them than she is and I get ready to rumble if someone even looks at either of them cross eyed. I very rarely have to say/do anything, but I'm always prepared.

Joanie said...

Thanks Amanda and Cynthia.

I'll give it a try.


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