Monday, February 28, 2011

Fear Factor

Thanks to Katie for inviting me to participate in her 30 Days of Danger and Secrets.

When I was trying to think of what to blog about today, I kept coming back to the danger theme. When writing a romantic suspense, danger is always a big part of the plot. But how do authors convey that heart-stopping fear to make readers really afraid? For me, the most convincing way to summon up what that fear feels like, is to bring myself back to one of the most terrifying moments of my life.

Reliving frightening events isn’t pleasant, but during recent a workshop by literary agent Donald Maass, I forced my thoughts to a scary time in my youth and all the emotions were right there at my fingertips, ready for me to add them to my danger scenes.

Fear has physical and emotional components. In order to best create those reactions, I travel back to my thirteenth year. One of my sisters—three years older—was home with me. Our parents were out. They’d been running late and instructed us to close the family room drapes because it would be dark soon. (The entire downstairs was visible through the family room windows if left uncovered.)

Being teenagers who knew everything, we ignored their instructions and happily settled into an upstairs bedroom to watch a TV movie about Patty Hearst’s ordeal. (I will never forget that we were watching that very movie.)

Shortly after dark we heard noises downstairs. I turned down the volume on the television and my sister and I froze. There was definitely someone in the house. My heart raced and heat spread through me. We hid in a closet, huddled close. I just knew whoever was downstairs would find us because the sound of my heartbeat was deafening and would give us away. I made all sorts of promises to God if he’d let me live to see fourteen.

Thankfully the burglars left quickly after grabbing some jewelry and cash from my mother’s dresser, but the experience was forever emblazoned in my mind.

Years later, I was again watching a movie on TV—this time, Twister. My husband was in law enforcement, working the midnight shift, which left me home with two small children. But this time, I had a burglar alarm (because I’ve never lived without one after my first experience). I heard a door into my garage open and a split second later, the eardrum-popping siren of the security system blared. But I was still afraid. I had the same physical reactions as I had years earlier, but the emotional component was greater. My children were potentially in danger and that fear was way worse.

Since my husband was immediately informed of the situation, he arrived home to a dozen cops combing the area around our house. The burglar was long gone, but I’ll never forget what that panic felt like both physically and emotionally.

When I wrote Tropic of Trouble, I forced my mind back to that dark place and I drew upon my memories to create Kelsey’s terror. Using my own frightening experiences helped me lend realism to my character’s emotions.

In honor of Katie’s new release from Carina Press, Dangerous Secrets, I will give away a download of my erotic romantic suspense novel, Tropic of Trouble to one commenter.

Tropic of Trouble –

When Kelsey Ackerman’s assistant at her used bookstore is murdered, the police label it a botched robbery by a desperate drug addict. But Kelsey suspects the perpetrator was looking for a rare Shakespeare volume that someone unknowingly donated. Now a killer’s sights are set on Kelsey.

Jail guard Jason Jones only wants to protect her, but after suffering a controlling father and an abusive ex-husband, Kelsey wants nothing to do with the confident, hot sergeant. Until the danger becomes crystal clear, and the only man who can save her is the very man she can’t resist.

Wynter Daniels lives in Central Florida with her husband of more than twenty years and their two nearly grown children. They are all the slaves of two very demanding cats. After careers in marketing and the salon industry, Wynter’s wicked prose begged to be set free. She writes for several publishers including Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave, Loose Id and Red Sage Publishing.

Buy Link:

Find me on the web:

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Twitter - @wynterdaniels

Thank you so much for joining me today, Wynter. After this awesome blog on fear, I'd also like to mention that not only is Wynter a fabulous author, she's also incredibly sweet. Tropic of Trouble is a very sexy, suspenseful ride! So if you haven't read her yet, what are you waiting for!


KC Burn said...

It's good that you can utilize those two scary experiences! It's a neat little trick I'll have to remember for next time.

Also - Blogger - stop judging me!!! (my word verification is lardas)

Wynter Daniels said...

Hopefully most people don't have many terrifying experiences to draw from, but, yeah, it helps.
Haha! Blogger often gives me a word like that. Makes me wonder...

Katie Reus said...

Thanks for stopping by today, Wynter! That post still gives me the chills. I can only imagine what it was like hiding in a closet knowing someone was in your house!

Wynter Daniels said...

Thanks for having me, Katie!
Yes - it was pretty creepy knowing there was someone downstairs.

Anne said...

I can imagine how scary it was. It never fauils to surprise me how many homes have all their lights on and the drapes open. For me, it's not just the security issue, but the privacy issue too.

When my lights go on, the drapes shut.

Wynter Daniels said...

It is a privacy thing for me now as well as a security issue. But as a teenager, I was invincible and was positive nothing could ever happen to me - until that day!

Sarah said...

Yikes! Those are some scary experiences! Our house was burglarized when I was a child but thankfully none of us were home at the time. And thanks for the contest - this book sounds good :-)

smaccall @

Stephanie said...

This looks like a great book. It is good that you were able to take your own experiences into the book.

smccar1 at hotmail dot com

Wynter Daniels said...

Thanks, Sarah. I'd have much preferred to be absent for our burglary! Still a violation, though.

Stephanie - I find channeling my own emotions lends the most realism to my books. Thanks for stopping by!

Abigail-Madison Chase said...

Oh, my that has to be too scary...

Kaylea Cross said...

Wow, Wynter, so scary! Glad everything turned out okay for you. I bet it helped inject all kinds of vivid imagery into your book, and I can't wait to read it.

Jane said...

Glad to hear you and your family are okay, Wynter. BTW, I love your name.

Wynter Daniels said...

Pretty scary, Abigail, but it certainly could have been worse!

Hi Kaylea, yes - the experience really helped me focus on what fear feels like.

Thanks, Jane;-)

Cathy M said...

How frightening, Wynter, and after reading the excerpt up at EC, you did an excellent job of conveying Kelsey's fear.

Wynter Daniels said...

Thanks, Cathy - at least the experience wasn't for naught!

Diane said...

Quite a blog today; I'm so glad I never went through what Wynter did.

Wynter Daniels said...

Thanks for everyone's comments. I've drawn Anne as the winner. Anne - would you please email me at wynterdaniels @