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It's a very cold weekend in the Midwest, the perfect time to curl up in front of the fireplace with a good book (before or after cuddling with your favorite valentine).

If you're looking for a good read in the thriller category to get your blood racing, check out a Goodreads list. Not familiar with this handyresource? No problem. I've included the following three links to get you started.

1.  Spy Thriller list (includes two of my personal favorites: Vince Flynn and David Baldacci):

2.  Espionage Thriller list (A little broader category with many great authors):

3.  Popular Thriller books (embraces a variety of the sub-genres):

Stay warm...and happy reading!

Celebrate our national symbol with the Raptor Resource Project on Facebook:

It takes a special dedication to face war at home and abroad. Let us not forget those - living and dead - who have given more than we can imagine...
Wild Fire Release Blog Party
        and Settings Hunt
            by Ally Shields

Thank you so much for being part of the  release party and giveaway for the sixth book in my Guardian Witch series!

 (See contest details at the bottom.)

Book Blurb:

A vision. A lost talisman. A dangerous journey through time...

A month after their bonding, Ari and Andreas are still adjusting to married life when they learn the hard way that the O-Seven, the terrifying and brutal vampire elders, still have them in their sights. A three million dollar bounty hangs over each of their heads, and there’s no lack of assassins eager to collect.

When the local seer has a terrifying vision of the destruction of Riverdale, it’s up to Ari—as usual—to keep everyone safe. Only this time, an enemy from the past has bound her fire powers, and the city’s string of arsons seems connected.

Daron, the vampire prince in Toronto, has information that two of the vampire elders are on their way to Riverdale. Which can’t be good. Only a risky and unprecedented journey through time can provide the help they need. But that will leave Andreas to face the O-Seven alone...

Buy Links:


Barnes & Noble:
Also available now or soon at most online booksellers

Book Trailer on Youtube:


The tracks in the snow gradually moved up the slope toward the older parts of Riverdale, out of the tourist district, past residential homes, angling toward the cliff area that overlooked the Mississippi River. Then it took a sharp swing north.

Ari looked ahead, her gaze following the tracks through the gate and into the Riverdale Cemetery. "I don't like this." She came to a stop with one hand on the gate. "Don't you think the trail is a bit too obvious? As if he wanted us to follow him?" Her eyes scanned the cemetery grounds for anything unusual, a shadow, a hint of color out of place among the stones and crypts. The only sizable tracks went behind a tall mausoleum.

"A trap?" Ryan drew his pistol. "Do you sense something?"

"Maybe. But there is a lot of magical interference in graveyards." Ari frowned. She sensed a flicker of Otherworld power, but it didn't feel right. Shielded? Would a halfling demon be that good? She eased through the gate; Ryan followed close behind. Her magic stirred, raising the hairs on her arms, and she stopped, extending her witch senses to probe the area around them—tasting, smelling, touching the environment. Her magic roared to life.

"Back!" she shouted.

Two gigantic figures leaped from the top of the nearest crypt. A howling rent the quiet of the cemetery. By the time the creatures landed—one in front of Ari and Ryan, and the other cutting them off from the gate—both had morphed into fiery red, eight-foot demons, their eyes deep black holes. Each carried a metal shield and swung a five-foot mace.

"Hellsgate warriors!" Ari crouched, raising her fingers to call the witch fire to her command.

Author Bio:

Ally Shields was born and raised in the Midwest, along the Mississippi River, and considers herself a "river rat." The setting and folklore of that area are often incorporated into her Guardian Witch series. After  a career in law and juvenile justice, she turned to full-time writing in 2009. She loves writing, reading and traveling. Way too often she can be found on Twitter. @ShieldsAlly

Author Contacts:

Amazon Author Page:

Other books in the series:

Awakening the Fire (#1); Fire Within (#2; Burning Both Ends (#3); Blood and Fire (#4); Fire Storm (#5).

Coming Soon:

Eternal Fires (Guardian Witch #7) (TBA)

Also by Ally Shields:

Cross Keys, an Elvenrude novel (October 2014)

Blog Tour GIVEAWAY Nov. 7-10:  Readers and writers always talk about characters in books, but settings are almost as important, and they play a huge role in the Guardian Witch series. Wild Fire is no exception, and this blog tour is revealing several settings that are the backdrop for major events in the book. In fact, I think they're so important that I'm running a special contest.

If you collect the names and numbers of all ten settings, you could win your choice of three ebooks in the series (including this latest release) or a $15.00 Amazon gift certificate. It's easy to do. Here are the rules.

Visit the blogs on this list -- or enough to collect all ten settings -- then email me at by 9:00 a.m. EST, Monday, November 10, 2014 with your completed list. You will automatically be entered in the random drawing (two winners).

NOTE: A setting may appear on more than one blog, so be sure you have 10 different settings before turning in your entry.

Here is the list of participating blogs*:

AJ Locke
Angela Myers
Brinda Berry
Carmen Stefanescu
Danielle Devor
Dani-Lyn Alexander
DL Richardson
Erin Moore
JL Buck
Joyce Laverne
Kath Marsh
Kirstin Pulioff
Lindsey Loucks
Norma Huss
Sue Roebuck
Tina Gayle       (A second link on Tina's blog will go live on Nov. 9 with another excerpt: click here)

(*If you can't find a post, return to for updated links.)

Now for the book setting that is part of the hunt:

Setting #9:  Vampire Caverns - The caverns within the cliffs under Riverdale are natural caves that have been enhanced over time by various occupants, including

Native Americans and the vampires. They contain a variety of incredible formations and Spirit Cave, which was first mentioned by name in Book 4.

Good luck! Thanks for  joining Wild Fire's release celebration!

More Fun: Those of you who read this before 6:00 - 10:00 p.m. EST November 7 are invited to join us at the official Facebook release party ( for games and prizes, including books, swag and more gift certificates!!

             NEW RELEASE

Cross Keys (An Elvenrude Novel)
                by Ally Shields

Conspiracy, murder, and magic…and the death of all they hold dear. 

When the first wanderer—a common elf who isn’t authorized to use the portal—is spotted on the streets of New Orleans, the king assigns Kameo Ryndel to assist in the elf’s capture. But before she can intervene, humans with guns shoot the wanderer and steal his body. When Seth Lormarc, an Elite elf from a rival guild, appears at the scene, Kam suspects he is involved. 

Seth Lormarc is in New Orleans to find out who was behind the portal breach, and his best lead is the intriguing Kam Ryndel. When he stakes out her apartment and finds her sneaking out in the middle of the night, dressed in black and leaping to the top of the nearest building, he knows there’s something unique about the beautiful elf. That kind of feat requires magic. Ancient magic. 

As their paths cross during their investigations, they develop an irresistible attraction, although there’s little time for romance. The portal breach is tied to an illegal smuggling operation that has come to the attention of the human CIA. But the stakes are raised when Kam and Seth discover a band of conspirators and a rebellion deep in Elvenrude that promises nothing except destruction of their world.

Buy Links:


Also available at other online booksellers.

Book trailer on YouTube:


Are you writing thrillers or any novel that involves government spy agencies? You might want to check out this blog post:

Terror on the home front. A war on the horizon. A presidential candidate who knows too much...

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are over and the upcoming election offers America hope for peace and renewed prosperity. But during a presidential campaign rally, the nation is rocked by two random acts of terrorism in Philadelphia and Baltimore. As the death tolls rise, more threats appear on the horizon, and the nation is once again a prisoner of fear. Major Joshua Parks, a highly decorated former Army Ranger and veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, together with FBI Agents Patrick Gates and Sue Roberts, must find those responsible and bring them to justice.

In the midst of the chaos a new presidential candidate appears. Billionaire industrialist Alan Shapiro claims he’s America’s only hope against her enemies—namely Iran—and encourages America to protect herself by any means necessary. As civil unrest explodes, terrorist acts escalate, and the nation teeters on the brink of war, Parks must battle his own demons while he struggles to uncover the secrets that could tear apart the nation…

Buy Links (ebook and paperback):

Customer Review: "
I think the most frightening aspect of this book is that it could so easily happen."

November 11 is Veterans Day in the United States, and I found a video that seemed to say it all. If you haven't seen this school's tribute yet, I think you'll enjoy it. I've heard it several times.

In honor of those who fought for freedom and to the families of those who didn't come home...
                                    Thank You.

        Because of you, "This is Still the Land of the Free":

         Elements of a Modern Thriller

We all know what a thriller is--don't we? The pulse-pound race through Middleastern alleys with machine gun bullets flying. Or is it the search for a holy artifact impeded by hosts of other searchers. Maybe it's both—or neither. What about the man threatening to blow up the local bank unless his demands are met?
Confused yet? I asked several of my author and reader friends for their opinions. They  confirmed my observations of how broad the thriller category has become—with sub-categories of its own.
In spite of all the variety, four essential elements and a couple of optionals still define the basic genre.


1. Intense emotion, response to suspense and/or intrigue. How could you have a thriller without a thrill? The reader must be engaged in the main character's intense journey.

2. Big concept, big threat. The risk is to something fundamental, universally understood and it affects humanity or a broad community. i.e. a threat to kill a man unless he opens his home safe for the cash inside, is probably not a big concept story. But if the man is the vice-president of the United States or the safe contains the code to launch a nuclear missile, the answer quickly changes.
Stolen missiles.
An ancient artifact that could change history.
4. Fast pace. This has become the standard in thrillers. Multiple obstacles, increasing suspense, moving quickly from one threat to another. Sometimes the pace is revealed through car chases and flying bullets, but it can also be intense moments of menace, propelling the reader into the next electrifying scene.

4. Length. Oddly enough, there seems to be agreement that thrillers are about 90,000 words, slightly longer than today's average novel. Why? No one seemed to know for sure. Maybe a shorter novel doesn't have room for enough challenges. Whatever the reason, this general length is now established with many editors and publishers.

  • Superhero. It doesn't have to be Superman or Catwoman but the larger-than-life epic figure is a favorite in the genre: Mitch Rapp, created by Vince Flynn; Lee Child's Jack Reacher; Fleming's James Bond. But consider also the less obvious heroes and heroines in non-spy or non-military thrillers like Dan Brown's hero in the DaVinci Code.

  • Another common thread from readers was "it's gotta have spies," and I think that's a common misunderstanding. Espionage is only one of many thriller subcategories: legal, action, religious, technology, military, political, medical and many more. The boundaries are extended and blurred every day, especially with so many books now crossing genres. As long as a novel meets the first four elements, a thriller can be any type.

One last comment before I give you a chance to leave your own comments. A reader asked me why thrillers have less description, less imagery. I hope he meant less expository narrative or less landscaping, because the thriller authors I admire are meticulous about their detailing—from weaponry, to the hierarchy in terrorist organizations, to blueprints of airplanes, airports, hospitals, political buildings, ancient ruins or any other structures or objects at the center of their dramas. They are ardent researchers, always looking for the latest information on explosives, medicines, electronics or the recent Egyptian finds in the Valley of the Kings. They don't put less effort into the reader's experience, they just have a different emphasis.

So, now it's your turn. Did I miss anything or get it wrong? What elements take you on that roller coaster ride?

Almost every author gets asked who inspired him or her. For me one of those people died today. At the age of 47, best selling thriller writer Vince Flynn lost his battle with cancer.

I would not have started reading thrillers if a friend hadn't loaned me my first Mitch Rapp. I was hooked from the beginning, and that love of his novels was directly responsible for my writing my first thriller, which is currently under consideration for publication. I often try to instill that same pacing and suspense into my urban fantasy series (published as Ally Shields).

Flynn's novels are exciting, intriguing, a great legacy to a terrific writer. I elected to include in this tribute the cover of my favorite Flynn novel, ironically entitled Memorial Day.

If you haven't read these thrillers, you have a wonderful treat ahead, because the books will live on. I regret there will be no new adventures for Mitch Rapp and his creator. RIP.