Writer offers a gripping story

Writer offers a gripping story

Central Illinois author Rena Koontz is excited to announce her first title, "Love's Secret Fire," a Crimson Romance book.

A former award-winning journalist at newspapers in Pennsylvania and Ohio, Koontz is now writing books full time after she moved to a new home in the Midwest from Cleveland when her husband retired from a 20-year career with the FBI.

"I loved covering real-life news every day," she said. "But that first book was bouncing around in my head for so long, it was time to stop telling everyone else's story and write my own stories. I keep my journalism skills honed by writing for The Decatur magazine."

So, what's her first book, "Love's Secret Fire," about, and does her past work into the story line? Yes, it does. The story focuses on an arsonist terrorizing the fictitious town of Benton Falls, Pa. The heroine, Valerie, is a news reporter covering the fires, and her twin brother is accused of setting them.

Koontz knows firsthand what it's like to be a twin: Her twin brother, Ron, died of pancreatic cancer in August, and she hopes this book will be a successful way to honor him.

Then there's the hero in "Love's Secret Fire": Adam, an undercover investigator who believes that Valerie's brother is the arsonist. As Valerie works to clear her brother's name, the romance heats up between Adam and her.

This book is categorized as romantic suspense instead of simply romance.

"There is also the mystery of the arsonist's identity and the life-threatening danger my heroine, Valerie, and hero, Adam, must overcome," Koontz said.

She also said that while she was a reporter in the Pittsburgh area, she had to ride along with a fireman who was investigating the fires late at night.

"It was a nervous, scary ride that stuck with me," she said.

Koontz is not writing a series of books with the same characters, but she is working on another romantic suspense novel. This one is about a woman who witnesses a mob murder and is on the run for her life. The hero of the book is a police officer. She said that she has great respect for police, firefighters and law enforcement, especially since she is married to a retired FBI agent. She wants to honor their courage in her books.

Koontz calls herself a "pantser" — in the writing world, this means that she doesn't plan out her books, she just writes "by the seat of her pants." She has a general sense of what the book will be about, but once she starts writing, her characters take over and write their own story. She said it is almost a type of addiction for her.

To find out more about Koontz and her writing career, visit http://www.renakoontz.com.

"Love's Secret Fire" is available as an e-book on Amazon.com, iTunes and other e-book retailers. It will be in print in January.

She will participate in a blog hop with other romance authors on Nov. 17-21, and Crimson Romance authors will post on their blogs about romance writing and their books. Authors will award different prizes for readers who leave comments, plus there are three grand prizes for Amazon.com gift cards of $100 for first place and $50 for second and third place. To see the list of participating blogs, visit http://crimsonromanceauthors.com/crimson-wonderland-blog-hop/.

If you still aren't convinced you need to check out this debut author, then she leaves you with this thought:

"Any readers who enjoy a good love story, appreciate a hunk of a man, like a book that keeps them wondering what comes next and want a book that makes them stay up well past their bedtime turning the pages to see what happens will enjoy 'Love's Secret Fire.'"

Margo L. Dill is the author of "Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg," a middle-grade historical fiction novel. She often reviews books as a columnist for "WOW! Women On Writing" e-zine and her blog, "Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them" (http://margodill.com/blog/). She lives in St. Louis with her family.

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