Thursday, September 5, 2013

Stranded - Interview and Sweepstakes!

(Alaskan Courage, Book 3)
Dani Pettrey
(Bethany House)
ISBN: 978-0764209840
September 2013/352 pages/$14.99

When her friend vanishes from a cruise ship, reporter Darcy St. James isn’t satisfied with their explanation that she simply left her job of her own accord. Something isn’t lining up, and Darcy believes the only way to find the truth is to put herself in Abby’s position.

Within days, Darcy learns her friend wasn’t the only person to disappear mysteriously. Last summer, a woman vanished under almost identical circumstances.

Gage McKenna has taken a summer-long stint leading adventure excursions for the passengers of various cruise lines that dock for a few days of sightseeing. He’s surprised to find Darcy working aboard one of the ships, investigating a troubling report.

Something sinister is going on, and the deeper they dig, the more Gage fears they’ve only discovered the tip of the iceberg.

Find out more about the characters, listen to Gage and Darcy's story soundtrack, read an excerpt and much more by clicking here.

Available at Amazon, Deeper Shopping, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.


Dani Pettrey is a wife, home-schooling mom, and the acclaimed author of the romantic suspense series Alaskan Courage, which includes her bestselling debut novel Submerged, Shattered, and her latest release, Stranded . She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of her characters’ faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters.


It didn't take me long to fall in love with Dani Pettrey's writing when I read Shattered (reviewed here), and Stranded has solidified her spot on my favorites shelf. Stranded is another adrenaline-laced, heart-pounding adventure set within rugged beauty of Alaska. The extreme expeditions led by the McKenna family's Last Frontier Excursions provide plenty of treacherous moments on their own but when coupled with the danger of the ongoing mystery, the stakes suddenly rise even higher. The result is a heart-pounding, white-knuckle read. As tight as the suspense is, Pettrey builds and stretches the conflict and romantic tension between Gage and Darcy just as tautly. I devoured this novel. My only suggestion is that you might want to don a wetsuit to read it!


I was thrilled to meet Dani Pettrey at ICRS in June. It was an unexpected bonus to discover that our schedules had a common opening when we could sit down for an interview. She is such a delight--so warm and genuine, and just a lot of fun to be around! Here is our chat.

I'm so glad our schedules meshed for us to squeeze in this interview! It is so great to meet you and talk about your series. Your first two books were Submerged and Shattered, and now Stranded is about to be released. These are set in Alaska. Do you live up there?

I do not. I live in Maryland, the complete opposite part of the country.

What inspired you to write a series set in Alaska? Did you go there to research?

I have not been to Alaska. I would love to go! It's one of my dream trips, and I have a list of what I want to do and where I want to visit when I get there. That list keeps growing every time I research a new aspect for a book. The reason I chose Alaska, though, is I knew I was going to write a series about a family that owns an adventure outfitting company and works Search & Rescue. I wanted a location that would work well for a wide range of adventures. There's water and mountains. They can be diving, they can be heli-skiing, they can be kayaking. I also wanted a location that you would need a lot of Search & Rescues performed-a rugged area, a wilderness-and something that would have an innate element of suspense kind of built in. I felt the extremes in Alaska would work really well. I started researching Alaska and fell in love with the state!

These are not only great stories but have a lot of detail in the suspense, law enforcement, Search & Rescue. Do you have a background in any of these areas or was it all just research?

It's all research. I'm a huge fan of the genre and have read romantic suspense for a number of years. I've always been fascinated by mysteries, by true crime stories, and have spent a lot of time reading in that genre as well as researching, using non-fiction books, listening to interviews with detectives, and that type of thing. I did speak with someone who had worked with a volunteer Search & Rescue with the Baltimore Police. He actually did dive rescue and dive retrieval with Baltimore City Police since the harbor is there and Chesapeake Bay, so speaking with him was really helpful, especially for the first book.

Submerged, the first novel in the series, is also your first novel, and it was a Christy finalist in the Suspense category. That's quite an accomplishment! How did you react?

Dani with her Christy
Finalist Medal
It was surreal and honestly, it still doesn't seem real! I was completely shocked when I found out and ecstatic. And I was very excited to see several debut authors nominated for debut novels. Katie Ganshert in Contemporary Romance - that's her debut novel. Joanne Bischof in Historical Romance, it's her debut novel. It was really exciting to see debut novels as finalists for awards. And then there is the First Novel category, of course. And Jocelyn Green was nominated twice, in the First Novel category and the genre (Historical). It's wonderful to see all everyone who is a finalist, but it's especially exciting to see debut authors in a variety of genres.

Some authors say that after the first novel, especially a successful one, the second one is harder and lags as they write it. Was that true for you or was it easier to keep the momentum since it was a series?

That's a really good question. No one's ever asked me that. I had the concerns for the second book because you hear that. You hear "second book slump;" you hear that there's a lot more pressure if your first book happens to do well because you want that second book to do as well. So it's a little nerve-wracking. Because it is a series, each book focuses on a different sibling and can be read as a stand-alone, although there are recurring characters. So I'd already worked with these characters and I felt like I knew them. I was ready to tell their story. In that sense, it came quite well. I had a very difficult year personally-I lost my mother and my grandmother-while writing that second book. It was actually due a week after my mom passed, and my publisher was lovely and gave me an extension, which I greatly appreciate. So there were unusual circumstances surrounding it. But I really love the second book. I think it has a similar feel but a different feel to it than the first one. It's been fun hearing from people. Some people like the second better; some like the first one better. I'm anxious to see how people like the third book!

Tell me a little bit about this new one, Stranded. When does it come out?

It officially releases September 1, so it will probably start showing up a few weeks before that. It is Gage McKenna's story-Gage and Darcy-and it takes place on a cruise ship that goes out along the Aleutian Islands. So that's a very remote area of Alaska. For those who have read Shattered, Darcy St. James was introduced in that book. She is a reporter and is called in for a case; a friend of hers has gone missing and Gage is working the adventure excursion component with this cruise line. They meet back up and there is a mystery to be solved. It was a lot of fun to write. Darcy and Gage had a lot of sparks!

Do you hear the voices in your head like so many authors do?

I'm a very visual person so I kind of see it as a movie playing in my mind and I write it down as I see it play out.

If it's about to come out, what are you working on that will be coming out next?

Well, they've actually extended it and it's going to be a five book series.

Oh, so this isn't the last book in the series!

No, it's not. They decided to do one book for each sibling. The fourth one, which has been titled Silenced, will be out in May 2014, and the fifth one, which has not been titled yet, will be out sometime around February 2015, I think. I'm very excited about that. I was hoping to do a book for each one of the siblings.

Are you still working on Silenced or is it already turned in?

I am. It's due the end of August, so I'm in the stage of doing my own revisions before I turn it in. I really like that stage. I used to say first draft was my favorite part of writing but now I think it's the process of revisions, which surprised me. I think it's because once I have the big picture of it-I don't really plot or outline, so the first draft for me is just getting everything down-I can take it and see the story take shape and layer it. It's exciting and I enjoy it! That's what I'm working on right now.

These books are published by Bethany House, right?

Yes. I love Bethany House! I know authors probably all say that about their publishers, but I really do. I feel extremely blessed to be working with them. It's been fabulous. I have really good editors. Everybody there is really great.

Can you give us a glimpse of your personal life? Married? Kids?

I'm married and I have two daughters, ages 17 and 19, soon to be 18 and 20! My youngest is about to be a high school senior.

Oh, this is a busy time! How do you juggle all that?

It is a very busy time! It's interesting! I homeschool -

That's even harder! They aren't leaving the house for five to eight hours a day! (We laugh.)

I know! I've homeschooled both my girls. My oldest just finished her sophomore year of college, so she's on her own, basically. She's home during the summer but she has a full-time internship. My 17-year-old will be a senior and does a lot of independent work. We participate with a co-op and she does drama and choir with them. She's actually started taking classes at the community college as well. We probably work together about an hour and a half a day. I love History and English so we enjoy doing that together. We do Bible together in the morning. Typically, we get up in the morning and do our stuff together, and then when she does her independent work, I go up and write. It's worked out well. She's my drama and choir girl, which is once a week, except in May when the play is. Then it's more. But my older daughter played lacrosse and soccer and it was three or four or five times a week. That would have been really difficult! She actually graduated right when I sold my first book. God has great timing! For me, it's a good time to be doing it. Everyone is different and God's timing for everyone is different, but I'm glad my kids weren't young [when I started writing]. I think that would have been very difficult for me, trying to juggle that. I know a lot of authors who do that, and I'm just in awe! God knew I wasn't able to do it.

What is something that God has taught you through your writing journey?

Patience, for one. I wrote for a number of years before I was published. Dependence on Him. The blessing of His timing. Really, a lot of things. It's all about Him and it's all for Him and because of Him. I've been amazingly humbled by what He's chosen to do, and I feel so blessed that I'm able to tell stories. I love telling stories! I'm very grateful that I'm able to do that, and to do it professionally is a gift that I feel extremely blessed to be able to do.

Receiving a Christy nomination for your debut novel-is that a hard thing to peak with something like that so early? Do you feel like that puts pressure on you and makes it harder since you've already accomplished that? Is it harder to have a sense of a goal to stretch for?

Right, I understand what you're saying. Honestly, I try not to even think about stuff like that. I always thought it would be amazing to make the bestseller list or get a Christy nomination, so it seems surreal to me that it actually happened. But I trust God in it. I believe that He brings things when He does, and when He doesn't, there will be a lesson and a timing in that. As my husband says, that's the icing on the cake. That's not the purpose in any of it. That's a good way to put it. The joy of being able to tell stories is where I try to focus. But yes, there's a natural response where you think "Ooh, the first one made the bestseller list. What if the second one doesn't?" You can't help it. I just stop and tell myself that God's going to do with it what He's going to do with it.

Do you get reader mail? What do people tell you about the books and how they impact them?

I do. The majority is "it's a great book" and "I love it" and "I'm glad I found a new author." There have been several that have been more personal.

Can you share about a meaningful one?

There was one from a sixteen-year-old girl who read Submerged that touched me. She said she was at a point in her life where she was struggling with decisions as the heroine, Bailey, did when she was that age. She said reading the book gave her hope again and that it really helped her see that God does love her and that she didn't need to look for that love and affirmation in other places. That was amazing to me. I write because I feel like God's called me to it. But if I could say, "I would write. . .," I would write just for that one girl. It truly, truly touched me and humbled me. It was really special.

Any last words?

I hope they enjoy the series! I love to hear from readers. I love connecting with them on Facebook and Twitter and by email. I answer all my own email and I always respond. Sometimes it takes me a little while if I'm on deadline but I really do enjoy chatting about the stories and books in general.

Thank you so much, Dani! It's been such fun to get to know you a bit!

Enter the ALASKAN ADVENTURES Sweepstakes from Author Dani Pettrey

To celebrate the story, author Dani Pettrey and Bethany House Publishers are pleased to present the ALASKAN ADVENTURES Sweepstakes, and your chance to win one of three fabulous prizes connected with the book!


The grand prize winner will have the chance to build their own adventure, with a $300 adventure gear gift card of their choice from either Eddie Bauer or L.L. Bean.


The second prize winner will have the chance to fulfill Gage’s dream with a $200 value, 1-year membership to Top Chef University. Membership includes over 200 video lessons taught by Top Chef contestants, covering everything from soups to desserts.


The third prize winner will receive their very own, one-of-a-kind “Earth & Sea” necklace valued at $100.

Handmade of New Zealand Paua shells, hammered copper, and Tahitian pearls, this necklace is the perfect compliment for a soft sweater and jeans, or a unique finishing touch for a little black dress on a special date night.

HOW TO ENTER: Go to htttp:// and complete the entry box, anytime between September 2 and September 19.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Dani Pettrey & Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


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Amanda Dykes said...

Linda and Dani, what a fantastic interview! I loved getting the behind-the-scenes look at the series, and I'm thrilled that each McKenna sibling gets their own book. Thanks for your post today, Linda! You're a blessing!

Kelli Standish said...

I absolutely ADORED this interview, you did an amazing job showcasing so many things that make Dani the wonderful person she is. Thank you for all the work you put in to this, and thank you for helping us share the giveaway. You're awesome!
Cheering you on,