I Torture My Characters with Sarah Ballance

I’m so excited. I have Sarah Ballance on the blog today!! Fan girl goes squee. I fell in love with Sarah’s voice six sentences at a time and after reading just one of her books I added her to my auto buy list. Sarah puts her lovable characters in heart LastCall 500x750pounding, page turning situations. Her latest release is Last Call, I’ve already bought it of course. Read on to find out about why Sarah tortures her characters and then stick around for the details on Last Call, including the blurb, an excerpt, and buy links) and where you can find Sarah on the web. Take it away, Sarah.

I Torture My Characters. Here’s Why.

One of my greatest writing loves is romantic suspense. I love the added tension of putting my characters’ lives on the line, and forcing them together when they’d most likely rather be anywhere else can make for some awesome fireworks. Granted, sometimes they just glare at me, but I’m used to that. I have children. And as it turns out, I think that’s why I torture my characters. If you’re not following the logic, let me introduce you to my life.

My husband and I have six kids (14, 12, 9, 6, 5, and 2) and I homeschool five different grades—9th, 7th, 4th, 1st, and K—with a monster underfoot. Add to this bit of news the wee fact between the eight of us (because my husband usually comes home for lunch) I’m serving 24 meals a day plus snacks. We actually had to buy restaurant service packs of spoons and forks because as you can imagine our set of sixteen forks and eight spoons didn’t make it through lunchtime, and I’m ashamed to admit there are still times we still can’t find a clean fork.

There are also times we can’t find the floor. The laundry/mud room floor is covered with shoes. (We don’t wear them in the house, so that’s where they come off). The bathroom floor is covered with the laundry we don’t have room for in the laundry room. (Yes, dirty clothes are supposed to be in the basket, but tell my kids that. Please.) My bedroom floor is usually covered in stacks of clean laundry, mid-sort. The kitchen table is always covered in something that hides and eats school work, because the kids are forever saying they can’t find whatever it is I tell them to do but they KNOW they left it on the kitchen table. The floor is always covered with . . . what the heck is that crap all over the floor? And why is it there? WHY?

Further muddying the waters, I’ve given up coffee and every other drink that’s not water. No zero calorie flavorings. No caffeine-free anything. Water, and only water. Water does not cuddle like a steaming hot cup of creamy deliciousness. It just doesn’t. *stomp*

So let’s consider this. After a long day of trying to teach physics in one corner of the room and fractions in another, all with the Dora theme song rattling my head, I throw together a made-from-scratch dinner and . . . I’ve done it.  All the kids have survived, school has been more or less accomplished, and I haven’t even yelled at anyone. (Erm, for the last hour. I think.) I feel good. Heck, I feel GREAT. You know why? After dinner I get to escape to my room and NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO BOTHER ME. (Tell that to my children while you’re reminding them about the laundry.)  Feeling a certain renewed energy that comes along with sudden freedom, I FLEE.

And I step on a freaking lego. THE PAIN! ERMAGAWD, THE AGONY!

And I have no coffee. NO COFFEE.

And I want to rip off someone’s head, but if I do that the nice people in uniform will take me away from my computer.

So, in an epic attempt to cope, I torture characters. It’s all perfectly logical now, isn’t it?

Still with me? I’m flattered. Really. And hoping you’ll keep reading for the scoop on my latest release. (No children were harmed in the making of this book.)

LAST CALL by Sarah Ballance – 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.

LastCall 500x750Title: LAST CALL

Author: Sarah Ballance

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Publisher: For the Muse Publishing, 2013

ISBN 13: 978-0-9889995-0-3

LAST CALL is available from: For the Muse PublishingAmazonBarnes & 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

Last Call | Excerpt

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 walked 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.

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

About Sarah BallanceSarah Ballance

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 at http://sarahballance.com

Website ~ Blog ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads 


9 thoughts on “I Torture My Characters with Sarah Ballance

  1. Pingback: #Blogger #Giveaway: Post a Promo or Host LAST CALL for a Chance to #Win a #Giftcard! | Sarah Ballance

  2. I love S.J.’s intro, too – exactly how I feel about Sarah’s writing. I love each of her books. Great interview and can certainly understand the character torture! Sarah, can you share why you’ve given up all beverages other than water? Just trying to be healthier?

    • *sniffles* Thank you, Karen! And yes, I gave it all up to cut calories. Made a HUGE difference, and I feel so much better in general. I’m sleeping better (though I would have never said coffee kept me up) and have tons more energy. I did meet with my editor Tuesday at Starbucks and OMG I’m surprised I wasn’t literally bouncing off the walls. Talk about a shock to the system, LOL!

  3. Pingback: ROW80 check-in #52 Editing and Birthday Treats | S. J. Maylee

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