Wednesday, June 1, 2016

"Winter Road" by Kristina Rienzi

Winter Road
by Kristina Rienzi

Winter Road by Kristina Rienzi is currently on tour with Kate Tilton's Book Bloggers. The tour stops here today for my review, an interview with the author, and a giveaway.

On the heels of a bad breakup, Amelia Montgomery heads home for the holidays. Her hometown is a far cry from the metropolis where she lives now, but not nearly far enough away from Jake Grayson.
Amelia's family festivities turn terrifying when a distraught Jake shows up uninvited on the Montgomery's doorstep. Jake will not stop until he possesses Amelia; one way or another, she will be his.
In a chilling nightmare, one man's obsession is so evil, it's deadly. Amelia must fight for her life, and the lives of those she loves most, in the only place she's ever called home ... WINTER ROAD.

Click below to read an excerpt.

Praise for the Book
"Well this was quite an action packed little gem! You know a book is good when immediately upon finishing it - you head over to Amazon and add every other book the author has written to your wish list! This story puts you on the edge of your seat every page of the way with its excellent character development and very suspenseful, exciting plot. A quick, easy read, but well worth it. Trust me, if you are a mystery or suspense fan, you don't want to miss this one!" ~ Wall-to-Wall Books - Wendy
"WOW! What a great quick read! Kristina Rienzi will keep you on suspense, the pages kept turning to see what was going to happen next!" ~ Jennifer
"Wow! What an exciting book! Following Amelia to her family home for the holidays, the reader is pulled into the story and the frightening plans her ex, Jake has in store for her and her family. Very quick and thrilling read!" ~ Andrea

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
On Christmas Eve, Amelia Montgomery returns to her childhood home on Winter Road, Shady Knolls, New Jersey. Everyone in the Montgomery family has their own troubles, but Amelia seems to have the perfect life, with her handsome and wealthy fiancé and her career as a successful real estate broker. But Amelia is hiding her own troubles, and it has something to do with her oh-so-perfect fiancé, Jake. This Christmas Eve, an unexpected visitor or two will make this a family reunion they will never forget.
The author has some lovely turns of phrase, especially at the beginning of the book, but the version I read contains numerous editing errors. Alternating chapters are told from Amelia's and Jake's points-of-view, allowing us to see how Jake's plans for this Christmas get-together are wildly different from those of the Montgomerys. Some later chapters are told from Billy's point-of-view, which disrupts the structure of the story; this might have worked better if Billy's contributions were there from the beginning. Amelia goes by three different names (Amelia, Mel, and Amy) and - even though this illustrates how she is seen differently by Jake, her family, and Billy - it feels like an unnecessary gimmick in such a short book. These issues aside, the author skillfully creates a tense atmosphere, making us feel shut in and isolated, much like the Montgomerys. Again, like the family, you never know what's going to happen next.
This is a suspenseful story that you are sure to want to read in one sitting.

Interview With the Author
Kristina Rienzi joins me today to discuss her new novella, Winter Road.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
An adult audience is most suitable for Winter Road, as it deals with a complex and destructive romantic relationship.
What sparked the idea for this book?
Winter Road came out of nowhere, literally. I was driving one day and its title popped into my head. I visualized a conflicted woman driving down a snowy, rural road. I knew her name was Amelia and that she was running away from her life and toward to the only place she’s ever called home. The image of her was imprinted in my mind and I knew she had a story to tell us.
So, which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
The main character usually emerges to the forefront of my mind first. Then through a series of questions about who this person is and what’s going on in his or her life, I flesh out the story idea.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
Winter Road flew onto the page, which almost never happens to me, so I can’t think of a particular scene or chapter that was difficult for me to write. But in general, I’d say the middle of the story is usually the most stressful. It’s a delicate balance between doing what’s right for the story and keeping my readers interested so the climax is as powerful as I intend it to be.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
As with all of my suspense thrillers, I want my reader on the edge of their seat, feeling the thrill of the story and turning the pages furiously to see what happens next. I want them to experience the intense emotions I felt while writing Winter Road
How long did it take you to write this book?
Winter Road took all of three weeks for me to write. Even though it’s a novella, comparable to my novel-length work, Winter Road was still one of the fastest books I’ve ever written.
What is your writing routine?
When I’m working on a project, I write daily, usually in the early morning before my internal editor is awake. I also write on the weekends, all day on both days if I’m up against a deadline.
How did you get your book published?
Although I have a publisher contracted for my paranormal suspense series, I chose to self-publish Winter Road under my company, Indigo Hawk Group. I used a few trusted freelance professionals to do Winter Road’s editing, cover art and the additional administrative tasks required to publish the digital and paperback copies. No matter what road one takes to publication, it’s a lot of work.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Whether you choose to self-publish your work or to pitch it to an agent or publishing house, make sure you’ve written your best story. The road to publishing a successful book isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort. 
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I’m a workaholic so I’m always working on something, but in my downtime, I most enjoy sharing a glass of wine with good company.
What does your family think of your writing?
My family has shown tremendous support for my work. They often mention how they feel like they’re reading someone else’s book because I create believable fiction outside of my real life experience. I take that as a huge compliment! I’ve also heard, quite often, how they’re surprised such dark stories emerge from me, a person who’s known for focusing on the optimistic side of life. My response is a mischievous grin, followed by telling them I’m much darker than they think! 
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
As an only child, my younger years were full of more love, support and encouragement than most. I spent a lot of time alone or in the company of adults, which opened my mind to real-life struggles and triumphs at a young age. I’m truly grateful for the tremendous love I was given, and credit my parents for all of my success.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
My mom read to me every day as a child, so I fell in love with storytelling at a very young age. In turn, I began reading early and developed an appreciation for language. Books were my go-to hobby, one I’ve carried with me all of my life. 
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
It’s funny, because I remember the day like it happened yesterday, but it was so long ago. I was in the fifth grade and I entered a short story contest. Even back then my mind was in a dark place! My entry, "The Medallion", told the tale of a cursed necklace that brought bad luck to anyone who possessed it. It sounds like a horror story to me even when I recall it all these years later. Needless to say, it won the contest! I honestly don’t even know if any of the kids would’ve been allowed to read it, but I was so proud of my work. That evening, I pledged to my parents that I was going to be an author when I grew up. And, here we are!  
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Interesting question, one I hadn’t considered before, but yes, I believe so. I’ve been obsessed with scary stories for as long as I can remember, from the silliness of Casper to the horror of Freddy Krueger. I love the rush of adrenaline suspense and fear (whether in print or on the screen) evoke, and it’s the same thrill I hope to pass on to my readers.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
Oh, my goodness, there are too many to list! But, if I had to pick, I’d say Stephen King and Jodi Picoult. Stephen King, because he’s a masterful storyteller who has done it all, and done it all well. Whether he’s opening my mind to a new idea, or terrifying me, I can’t put down his work. Jodi Picoult is another brilliant writer. From her voice to the issues her stories tackle, her books force me to contemplate life in a way that’s decisive and true to my beliefs. I learn more about myself each time I read one of Picoult’s novels and I can’t get enough. 
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I don’t get a ton of reader mail, but when I do, it stops me in my tracks. Usually, it’s a private message or email about how they couldn’t put my book down and are shocked by how different my writing is from my gentle persona. Then I tell them the same thing I tell my family!
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
More novellas are coming from me, for sure! I love writing a short, fast-paced story. In this world of everyone being pulled in twenty different directions, it seems to work well for my busy readers. I’m also plotting a series of mainstream thriller novels, which I hope will appeal to a wider audience. Then there’s always my need to feed my love for paranormal and horror. I expect I’ll be releasing stories in those genres as well. Like the proverbial they say, anything is possible!
Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, Kristina. Best of luck with your future projects.

About the Author
Born and raised in New Jersey, Kristina Rienzi writes suspense thriller fiction set on the East Coast. She is currently working on her fourth novel.
Kristina received her bachelor's degree in psychology and sociology/anthropology from West Virginia University, as well as her master's degree in psychological counseling from Monmouth University. When she's not writing, Kristina loves reading, painting, relaxing at the beach, watching terrifying television, rooting for her West Virginia Mountaineers or spending time with her loved ones, wine in hand.
Kristina lives at the Jersey Shore with her husband, two dogs and a cat.

Enter our exclusive giveaway for a chance to win an ebook copy of Winter Road by Kristina Rienzi.