Gwen Hernandez

Author of romantic suspense. Scrivener expert.

Cover reveal: Blind Ambition

I’m so excited! I finally have the cover for my March 17th release, Blind Ambition. What do you think?

Blind Ambition book cover

For those who’ve read Blind Fury, this is Dan Molina’s story…

IT’S ABOUT TO GET HOT IN THE JUNGLE

Rescuing a kidnapped aid worker from St. Isidore’s dangerous rebels is just another day at work for former pararescueman Dan Molina. But his mission falls apart when the woman—who once shattered his heart—refuses to leave the island.

Alexa Alyssandratos can’t return to her life as a nurse on the hurricane-ravaged Caribbean island, but she won’t leave until she’s certain the orphans she cared for—especially one sick little girl—are safe from the rebels. Denied their ransom, a would-be dictator and his soldiers are hunting Alexa, and Dan is the only person who can protect her. Old passions reignite as she and Dan race to save the children before they disappear forever.

Want to be the first to know when the book comes out, and be in the running for a free copy? Sign up for my romance newsletter. Read on for an excerpt from Chapter One.


Alexa lowered the trembling girl into the crawl space beneath the clinic and shut the trap door. She yanked the braided rag rug to cover it and stood. Soldiers would be here any—

The exam room door smashed open and a rangy man in a striped rugby shirt aimed a rifle at her chest. “Hands up!”

Heart hammering, she stepped onto the rug and raised her arms.

The last time the island’s rebel fighters had raided the Hygiea clinic in Terre Verte, they’d stolen everything—right down to the mattresses on the beds—and left one of the nurses dead. The mother of nine-year-old Flore, who should be safe at the orphanage next door by now.

As long as the stress—and the dust under the building—didn’t bring on another asthma attack.

“Just tell me what you need and I’ll get it for you,” Alexa said, her voice shaky.

Rugby kept his weapon trained on her. “Come with me.”

Her stomach jackknifed, but she followed him into the tiny waiting area where two other men stood guard.

He snagged her wrist and spun her into the front wall. “Do not fight me and you will live.” His lilting island tones didn’t match the menace in his voice.

A tremor ran through her body as he trapped her against the wall. Just last month a French aid worker in another village had been kidnapped and repeatedly raped until her family produced a ransom. Would they take Alexa because she was American?

The man drew her hands together behind her, sending her into panic mode. She knew how much rape could devastate a person. She’d witnessed it firsthand with her sister. No way would she go down easy. Not as long as she had any fight left. Alexa kicked back, connecting with her attacker’s shin and eliciting an enraged howl.

Bouzin!” he yelled, calling her a bitch. He knocked her feet out from under her and she slammed to the ground, hitting her cheekbone and hip on the solid wood before he landed on her.

She bit back a whimper and flailed like a madwoman. All of the self-defense moves she’d learned were useless now that she was down.

“No more moving.” Rugby ended her fight with a knee to her back and shackles around her wrists and ankles.

Shouts came from the storage room that doubled as her sleeping quarters. She turned her head to see Garfield in the doorway, a rifle trained on him from behind. His lip was split and bleeding and his dark eyes blazed with anger when he spotted her.

Hands out, palms up, he stepped forward. “Why do you fight us? We’ll let you take whatever you need. We’ll treat your men. No need for violence.”

Rugby stood. “You’ll let us take her.” He kicked Alexa in the ribs and she hissed in pain.

“Stop!” Garfield lunged toward her.

A soldier in a yellow shirt jumped forward and plunged his knife to the hilt in Garfield’s side, then pulled away. Blood ran through her friend’s fingers as he gripped the wound and sank to his knees, his eyes wide.

“Garfield!” Alexa jerked against her restraints. “Let me help him.” Her voice turned shrill as Rugby gripped her under the arms and tossed her over his shoulder, setting off a firestorm of pain in her ribs that left her gasping.

Her captor strode to the door, pausing to call directions to his crew, who appeared in the doorway of the back room with their arms full of medicine, blankets, and syringes.

Then he stepped outside into the moist Caribbean air, and Alexa watched through the doorway—absolutely powerless—as Garfield’s blood drained from his body, sliding into the cracks between planks in the scuffed wooden floor.

Blind Ambition, available March 17, 2015

Click here to add Blind Ambition to your Goodreads list. Thanks! :-)

Snow: From beautiful to stressful

House in snowSnow is beautiful. It can also create stress.

I’m listening to an interesting book called Brain Rules by John Medina. One of the chapters deals with the effects of stress on the brain. Short version: it’s generally not good!

And while I was tromping through the white, fluffy stuff with my dog—we’ve had about a foot of new snowfall every Sunday like clockwork for the last three weekends—I realized that the snow has gone from something neat and fun, to a stressor. Why? Because one key cause of stress is the feeling that you have no control over the situation.

Bingo. That’s me.

neighborhood in snow

Our neighborhood is buried

After the first storm, we were fine. We cleared the snow into the yard, building a nice mound. After the second storm, we had to get more creative with our piles, but it still worked.

The third storm last weekend broke us. Our yard is so full of snow that we have no more room to clear the driveway. The piles are so tall that when I try to add new snow to them, it just rolls back down. The cities are using “snow farms” to collect snow that’s being cleared from the streets and parking lots, but I don’t have that option.

snow farm

A nearby snow farm, like a trash dump for snow

If we still lived in a house with a nice big yard like we had in Virginia, we’d be fine. But in Massachusetts we’re living in a quadriplex (kind of like a townhome) with a very small front yard that we share with our neighbor. We have about two feet of space between our driveway and that of the neighbor on the other side of us, so if we shovel to that side we’ll block their driveway.

My husband’s car is now stuck in the garage behind a mound of snow because I moved it from my side of the driveway to his while he was out of town. In my defense, he told me to. ;-) Not ideal at all, but I had to be able to leave the house.

house in snow

My office window is behind all that snow on the second floor

When we had the space to deal with it, the snow was fun. It’s pretty, and it’s been exciting to see so much pile up. But now that we’re quite literally out of room, I hear that another big storm is coming this weekend and I want to cry.

Helplessness. Stress!

But, hey, it’ll make for a memorable first winter in Boston, right? I’m already trying to look back and laugh. I will as soon as the tears stop.


(For more images from our life under snow, see my My first Nor’easter.)

My first Nor’easter

This week’s blizzard (aka Storm Juno) was my first Nor’easter. And boy was it a good one! Sometimes pictures are better than words, so I’ll turn this post over to the visual media…

(click on any photo to enlarge)

Critique, round 1: Bruised but standing

women sparring

Ever taken a punch to the face? I have.*

Reading comments from my critique partners (CPs) on my latest manuscript can be like going a couple of rounds in the sparring ring. I’m a bit bruised. And I need a nap. And maybe some dark chocolate.

Well, I did ask them to be honest.

Taking criticism isn’t easy. Even when you ask for it. But that’s okay. I must deal with it if I want to create a good book. My trusted cadre of writing friends wants the same on my behalf.

The difference between a helpful critique and a TKO is intent. ;-)

I’m lucky my CPs are honest with me. Their insights are gold. I’ll take their punches and ask for more.

They can see the issues that I can’t, the things I’ve failed to address because they’re clear in my head if not on the page, the threads I dropped three chapters back because I was so focused on writing a kick-ass finale.

But my friends don’t leave me bleeding on the mat. They brainstorm solutions and tell me what they like, what’s working, and what made them laugh or cry (in a good way).

A CP/editor/beta reader is sort of like a trainer. They break you down to build you up. They reveal your weaknesses and force you to grow stronger. In the end, they help you become the best you can be.

The pain is worth the result. I’d rather get beat up by my friends now than in the ratings and sales after I publish the book.


*While sparring in Tae Kwon Do and Kung Fu, just so you won’t worry. ;-)

 

Scrivener winter/spring classes open for registration

Online course graphicAll winter/spring online Scrivener courses are open for registration right now, up through the first day of class.

For the full scoop on curriculum and format, see my online course page. Ready to sign up now? Click one of the links below to register. :-)

Scrivener I: The Basics and Beyond
Date: February 23-March 11, 2015
Length: 17 days
Price: $25
CLOSED

Scrivener II: Intermediate and Advanced Concepts
Date: March 30-April 15, 2015
Length: 17 days
Price: $25
Mac | Windows

Scrivener Master Course: Compile
Date: May 11-20, 2015
Length: 10 days
Price: $20
Mac | Windows

Seasons Greetings!

holiday greetings image

Thanks for being part of my online family!

The travel tree

pic of Bermuda airportI love to travel. I will forgo a new car, a fancy house, eating out, and an updated wardrobe for the chance to visit somewhere new. On many of our trips, we’ve bought a Christmas ornament to adorn what I call our Travel Tree.

Looking at the tree is a visual reminder of our travels over the years, and it always makes me smile.

Here are a few of my favorite ornaments from places we’ve gone specifically during the winter holiday for vacation. (We tend to alternate between visiting family and going somewhere new.) And while I was going through old travel photos, I noticed that we apparently like to put our boys in stocks for Christmas, so I added those pics too. ;-)

Do you have a favorite tradition from this time of year? Do you tend to stay home for the holidays or travel?

(click any photo to enlarge)

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