Monthly Archives: January 2012

Tara Janzen’s Crazy Fun World: Bad Boys, Hot Cars & Big Guns

Tara Janzen, New York Times bestselling author, is the creator of the acclaimed Steele Street series of romantic suspense novels about a hotshot crew of former juvenile delinquents and car thieves in Denver, Colorado who grow up to become one of the U.S.A.’s most elite black ops forces. The eleven book series begins with CRAZY HOT and CRAZY COOL and finishes up with LOOSE ENDS. Tara has won numerous awards for her writing, including a RITA from RWA, and nine 4 ½ TOP PICKS from Romantic Times magazine, with seven of the TOP PICKS awarded to the Steele Street series. Two of her books are on the Romantic Times ALL-TIME FAVORITES list:  RIVER OF EDEN and SHAMELESS. Tara is giving away an e-copy or print copy of the Steele Street thriller of your choice to one lucky commenter. Be sure to check back on Thursday for the winner.

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A few years ago while browsing in Barnes & Noble, I discovered CRAZY HOT and proceeded to race through the Steele Street series as fast as a 1967 Pontiac GTO on a Saturday night at Midnight Doubles. So I’m sure you can imagine how excited I was when Tara accepted an invitation to join us on Kiss and Thrill to talk about her wild world of bad boys, hot cars, big guns, and crazy fun thrillers.

Welcome Tara! I love the role the cars—Jeanette the Jet, Roxanne, Corinna, Charlotte the Harlot, to mention a few—play in each of the Steele Street stories. Which came first, your passion for American muscle cars or the Steele Street series?

Tara:  Steele Street came first, but because of what I wanted the stories to be, the chop shop boys came already muscled up with their cars. There was no way to write the books without Jeanette and Corinna, and the mighty Roxanne. We all love American muscle, the roar and rumble of those iron beasts from the late 60’s and early 70’s, but I didn’t know much about them until I started writing the books. Then I fell in love. When I started writing CRAZY HOT, I was positive that a 1969 Camaro, Jeanette the Jet, was the ultimate dream car—until I met Angelina, Creed’s 1970 Chevelle SS 454 LS6, the toughest muscle car to ever come out of Detroit. I’m still in love with her.

Krista (pauses to read from her copy of CRAZY WILD):

Angelina? Cody thought. Now the car had a name? Well, name or not, he was wrong. This car was not going to—Oh, sweet Jesus. The car started. No, that wasn’t right. The car came alive, the whole thing, all at once, from the floorboards to the roof. It turned over, lifted its head, and roared. She could feel the rumble of the engine shimmying through the passenger seat and up her spine, and when Creed pumped the gas, the chassis rocked.

Then asks: What inspired you to give the cars names?

Tara: I had seen a movie that I loved – Gone in Sixty Seconds and it featured a Shelby Mustang named Eleanor.

Krista: Is that Charlotte the Harlot with you in the photo above?

Tara: Nope. Charlotte is a 1968 Shelby Mustang Cobra GT-500KR (stands for “King of the Road” :-) ) and I had my picture taken with a 1969 Mustang GT CJ 428—be still my beating heart if I ever get “cheek to cheek” with a Shelby Cobra!

Krista: Do you own your dream car? Does it have a name?

Tara: My dream car is Angelina, the Chevelle SS 454, and no, I don’t own anything like her—darn! For practical purposes, I like something easy to drive with either All Wheel Drive or 4WD and room in the back, and I’ve never named a single car I’ve owned.

Krista: What is it about the street racing culture that appeals to you? Have you ever raced?

Tara: This may not be what you expect, but what really turns me on about the street racing culture is the mechanical ability of the people who build and tweak the cars. I am so mechanically inept, I tend to be super-dazzled by mechanical skills. And about my own “racing.” Well, I do drive a Subaru Impreza WRX that drives like a dream at 120 mph, handles beautifully. In my own defense (which I’ve only sold a cop on once!) from where I live in the middle of nowhere, it’s not unknown to drive for forty minutes without seeing another car. That stretch of road is my own “Midnight Doubles” drag strip.

Krista: DC has the worst traffic in the nation so even ten minutes of driving without seeing another car sounds like nirvana to me, especially if I could do it in my dream car: a 1968 BMW 2002 aka Whispering Bomb…The Steele Street chop shop boys and their kick-ass women pack some pretty impressive weaponry. Have you ever fired any of the weapons they use? How’s your aim?

Tara: Oh, yeah, and dead-on :-)  I’d never even seen a handgun, except in the movies and on TV, until I started researching the CRAZY books. Now I own Kid’s rifle, a Remington 700 .308 with an amazing Schmidt und Bender 4-16×50 PMII Klein scope that helps me hit a 10 inch circle at 1000 yards (that’s ten football fields – me at one end with my amazing rifle and my dope book, and a 10 inch circle at the other). I also have Skeeter and Red Dog’s shotgun, plus a 20 gauge, three semi-auto pistols, one each in .45 (Dylan’s pistol), .40, and my new baby, the Springfield XDM 9 mm, and three revolvers, a pair of dead-on Colt “six-shooters,” and a Ruger .38 Special. I’ve also had the opportunity to shoot a .50 caliber sniper rifle—totally awesome, and a few AR-15s—which the guys and girls at Steele Street own in abundance.

Krista: Yowzer! Even clay pigeons are safe from me. You’ve created an amazing home for the Special Defense Force operatives at 738 Steele Street: gothic freight elevator on the side of the building, multi-story indoor rainforest, granite lap pool in the basement, firing range on the armory floor. What real-life structures influenced your vision of their urban fortress?

Tara: There’s an alley in Denver between Wynkoop and Wazee, on 17th Street, across from the Oxford Hotel (featured in LOOSE AND EASY), where I always imagine the Steele Street garage. I love that corner and the whole area called LoDo, the historical district. So the whole district influenced my vision of Steele Street.  The rail yards are down there and the baseball stadium, and it’s not too far to a lot of industrial neighborhoods. Every time I wrote another Steele Street book, I learned something new about the building.  Every character opened different doors, and the readers and I got to peek inside.

Krista: Do you have a favorite chop shop boy?

Tara: You know I love them all :-)  But there were three that really became the heart and soul of the stories for me – Christian Hawkins, Superman, he’s the heart of SDF.  J.T. Chronopolous, hands down he is the soul resonating through all the stories, and Creed Rivera – so flesh and blood, the purest heart (for all his bad boy deeds), the moral compass of the team.

Krista: In addition to bad boys, wild women and hot cars, you’ve written some memorable secondary characters. (CRAZY COOL’s Alex Zheng, the double espresso-drinking, Prada-wearing, former cop with a black belt in tae kwon do, is one of my favorites.) Which quirky secondary character was the most fun to write?

Tara: Alex was great fun to write, and so was Cherie Hacker, the geekazoid. And I loved Scout.  All the bad guys were fun to write, even though I felt like Franklin Bleak from LOOSE AND EASY really took me for a ride, and I have to admit that Dovey Smollet, the dumb bad guy in that book, was another one who was great fun to write.

Krista: LOOSE ENDS is on Amazon’s list of Top Ten Romances of 2011. Congratulations! How did it feel writing “The End” for the final book in the Steele Street series?

Tara: Thanks! The vitally important thing for me while writing LOOSE ENDS was that the book be great. I didn’t want the series to end poorly, with just a “let’s wrap it up” mentality.  I felt I owed it to J.T. to give him a great story, to not slack off, but to really look for what happened and tell it to the very best of my ability. It has been immensely gratifying to have gotten the response to the book that I have—that the ending left readers feeling satisfied, that all was well, that they’d gotten the whole story.

Krista: Count me as another satisfied reader. I loved the emotional resolution you wove for this “band of brothers.” Looking back from LOOSE ENDS to CRAZY HOT, which characters surprised you by taking the series storyline in unexpected directions?

Tara: Well, again, that’s J.T. and how he shaped everything from CRAZY HOT to LOOSE ENDS without even being on the page until BREAKING LOOSE, except for the flash back in CUTTING LOOSE—that was very very poignant for me to actually “see” him. And then there’s Zach Prade. Alejandro Campos surprised even me when I realized he was the long lost chop shop boy Zachary Prade.

Krista: What was on your playlist when writing LOOSE ENDS?

Tara: I’m in the process of having my website revamped and updated, and I’ll get all the playlists up to date, but for LOOSE ENDS, it all started with Dylan in Chapter One, and the song was Knocking on Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan. That really set the mood for what was about to unfold.  For Jane, her song was Second Chance by .38 Special, and for J.T., his song was Extreme Ways by Moby.

Krista: What’s on your playlist now?

Tara: Yikes! What a confession you’re pulling out of me! It’s a heavy song, Bartholomew by The Silent Comedy and a little Patsy Cline, Chris LeDoux, and Concrete Blonde.

Krista: What’s sitting in your TBR pile taunting you to make time to read it?

Tara: A book about the western hemisphere before Columbus came calling, titled 1491, and the rest of SEAL of My Dreams. I haven’t finished all the stories in there yet.

Krista: I recently read that SEAL of My Dreams raised $46,000 in the first month of publication for the Veterans Medical Research Foundation—Wow! Tell us a bit about how you how you got involved in the project. Does the short story you wrote—PANAMA JACK—tie in to the Steele Street series?

Tara: PANAMA JACK was so much fun to write, and the cause is one so dear to my heart, so when we found out how much SEAL earned in just one month, the authors were elated!!  I got into the SEAL book via my good friend Cindy Gerard who was involved pretty early on. When she found out they still had room for one more writer, she contacted me. Thank you, Cindy!!

PANAMA JACK does have a tie-in to Steele Street. The hero of the story, Jack Corday, is a SEAL friend of J.T.’s.

Krista: Will we be seeing more short stories/novellas from you in the future?

Tara: I’m definitely planning on writing more short stories, especially a collection for the Steele Street crew titled CRAZY HEARTS.  I hope to have the book out in e-format by the end of the year.

Krista makes a note to pre-order: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Tara: I go out to the gun range at least once a week to kick around in the dirt and throw lead downrange with my buddies.  I love going to the movies, and I cook a lot. I also spend a lot of time running around with my kids, even though they’re in their early twenties, and my husband and I both love to travel, especially to Europe.

Krista: Tell us about one of your guilty pleasures.

Tara: Ammo. I reload for my XD .40, but I’m shelling out $$$ cash for all the other “toys.” And going out to breakfast. I am the “Going Out To Breakfast” Queen, even though it’s usually lunch when I get there. I have a list of favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants a mile long.

Krista: Ammo! LOL! I was expecting mango mousse filled cupcakes with pineapple cream cheese frosting ;-) Any New Year’s resolutions you’d like to share with us?

Tara: Resolution #1:  Get all my Loveswept romances online as e-books by the end of February.  So far I’ve got AVENGING ANGEL and DATELINE: KYDD AND RIOS up on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. I should have the first six up by the end of January, and then seven more by the end of February. I’m hoping to have the web site revamped by then to showcase the hot new covers on the books.

   

Resolution #2:  Get organized!!! It’s the same every year, and I have never managed it. My daughter cleans my office and gets everything ship-shape after every book, and I have the place in shambles again inside of a month. She knows more about where stuff goes than I do.

Krista: Excellent resolutions! Be sure to check out Tara’s website at TaraJanzen.com. Any other good news to share with your readers?

Tara: I received some great news this week. I’ve just gotten the rights back to RIVER OF EDEN, an adventure/romance on the Amazon River called by Romantic Times “One of THE most breathtaking and phenomenal adventure tales to come along in years!”  I’m very excited to be getting that book ready for its new e-book release. I’ve got new material for the book that wasn’t in the original publication, and I think readers are going to love getting to know Will Travers and Annie Parrish a little bit better. For any readers who fell in love with the Steele Street crew in the CRAZY/LOOSE books, RIVER OF EDEN will be fabulous fun.

Krista: High praise indeed for RIVER OF EDEN. I’ll be looking forward to adding that title and your other re-releases to my Kindle library! Thanks for joining us today, Tara!

Tara is giving away an e-copy or print copy of the Steele Street thriller of your choice to one lucky commenter so tell us about your favorite CRAZY/LOOSE characters, dream cars, weapons, songs for chop shop boys, or any burning gotta-know questions for Tara. What’s on your mind?

Be sure to visit us on Thursday to find out if you’re the winner!

How to Dance with a Duke Winner!

Thank you so much to our very own MANDA COLLINS! We are so proud and excited for your new release:

HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE

If you haven’t ordered it yet, what are you waiting for? Here’s the link!


Next Tuesday we are thrilled to host Tara Janzen, New York Times bestselling author and creator of the acclaimed Steele Street series of romantic suspense novels about a hotshot crew of former juvenile delinquents and car thieves in Denver, Colorado who grow up to become one of the U.S.A.’s most elite black ops forces. Tara is giving away an e-copy or print copy of the Steele Street thriller of your choice to one lucky commenter

Now it’s time to announce the WINNER! Remember you must contact us within 10 days at Contact@KissandThrill.com to claim your prize. Please send your email address where you wish to have your e-book gift notice delivered, and let me know if you prefer your e-book for Kindle or Nook.

The winner of an e-book HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE (to be delivered as soon as it is released)…and…a $10 Amazon Gift card is: Tina B

Manda Collins: Carey Spotlights Manda and HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE

Today I am honored to spotlight  our very own Manda Collins!

I have a fun interview with Manda in store for you, plus a chance to win her book and an amazon gift card.

But first, I want to tell you about her debut novel, HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE (St. Martin’s press) which releases Jan. 31, 2012 and has already garnered critical acclaim.

I adored HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE. And if you are a fan of witty, sophisticated, historical romance I suspect you will too. The writing is so smooth and light it practically floats off the page.

From the first line, the banter and wit and just plain good writing entertained me. Manda jumps right into the story and introduces her delectable ugly duckling, Cecily Hurston and her dashing duke, Lucas Dalton with a darling first meet. Seriously, who can resist a darling first meet? Okay, perhaps you’ve had your fill of D words by now, but bear with me for just one more:

Dialogue.

HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE showcase’s Manda Collins’ particular talent for creating engaging dialogue, and I don’t just mean the flirty banter between the hero and heroine. The girl talk is fabulous! The fun conversations among the ugly duckling cousins call to mind the work of Eloisa James and Tessa Dare.

Now add in spicy chemistry between Lucas and Cecily and that should be enough to satisfy any reader. But Collins elevates her story beyond the standard fare when she sweetens the plot with a mystery involving the disappearance of Lucas’ brother and an ancient curse.

HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE is a fantastic, fresh, and sexy read you won’t want to miss. Yay for romance spiced with mystery!…And ladies, remember to smile, bat and tilt the next time you find yourself at a ball with a stolen dance card.

Now without further ado…wait…what’s that ado I hear?

Carey: “Is that you, Tux Guy?”

Tux Guy: “Mais oui. I wish to speak.”

Carey: “Well, get on with it then. Say your peace so we can move on to my glorious interview with Manda Collins.”

Tux Guy: “You know you want it.”

Carey smiles, bats her lashes, and tilts her head. “Kind of full of yourself.”

Tux Guy: “I’m talking to our readers, not you.”

“Oh.” Carey blushes prettily.

Tux Guy: “And I was referring to Manda’s book. You know you want it.  Preorder it here.” 

Carey:  If you were stranded on a desert island with one other author, yes the real author, not his or her book, who would it be and why?

Manda: Wow, that’s a tough one. I mean it would have to be someone who doesn’t get on my nerves. And someone who shares my sense of humor—because I figure surviving being stranded on a desert island takes some serious humor skillz. And it couldn’t be one of my friends because then that might hurt another friends’ feelings. And it would need to be someone with great survival skillz because I have, like, none. Is MacGuyver an author? No? I guess going just on skill set alone, I’d choose Bob Mayer since he was a special forces guy and would exponentially increase the chances of me getting off that desert island alive. (I know that’s pretty selfish, but hey, you did ask!)

Carey: Ha. You are a genius! If I’m stranded on a desert island, I’m bringing Bob Mayer too! What is your favorite book?

Manda: Wow, just one? It kind of varies from year to year, month to month, day to day. Right now it’s Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas. But if you’d asked me last month it would have been Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner. Hmmm, I am liking Lisa books lately, I suppose.

Carey: What is your favorite song?

Manda: Shipbuilding” by Elvis Costello

Carey drops another $1.29 at iTunes before asking: Do you have a special way you order your food? For example, do you always hold the sprouts on your salad or ask for a side of cherries with your diet coke?

Manda: I always order things—especially salads and burgers—without onions or green peppers. I hate, hate, hate the texture of raw onions.  (shudders)

Carey grins. For some reason, Manda’s hatred of raw vegetables seems slightly kinky: How did you come to write your first manuscript?

Manda: I wrote my first manuscript as a direct result of the Avon Fanlit competition (where, incidentally, I met you, dear interviewer!) A group of us formed an email loop where we posted our daily, weekly, monthly goals and it was during that period that I finished my first book. Which, sadly, did not sell.

Carey: I remember thinking back then (in the Fanlit competition) that you were loaded with talent. And see, I was right!

Manda, Do you have a personal hero?

Manda: For me this would be my grandmother, who has gone through a number of losses over her lifetime, but who still manages to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. I know if she hadn’t been there for me I wouldn’t be here today.

Carey: I have a feeling she is amazingly proud of you.

Manda, like you, I live in a house with three cats and more books than strictly necessary. Have you got a fun cat story to share? Can we see the cats?

Manda: Of course you can see them! (Flips open wallet filled with cat pix.) As you said I have three.

Spike is the oldest. He’s a Lavender Point Siamese mix, and is the most finicky. He is addicted to Pounce treats. If there were a kitty 12-step program for treat addiction he’d be a prime candidate.

Next is Tiny, a gray tabby, who is the oddball, and who outgrew his name many pounds ago. He doesn’t like to be held. He doesn’t cuddle (except with Spike who is his adopted dad). And he is afraid of everyone who is not already a member of the household.

Finally, there’s Stephen, a tuxedo cat, who is named after Stephen Colbert, who also looks good in a tux. He is the youngest, and the most laid back—I think because he was a street cat before I adopted him and as such he knows a good gig when he sees it. The main story among all of them of late is their deep and abiding hatred of my sister’s little Shi-Tzu mix, Charlie.

It’s cats and dogs. Living together. Mass-hysteria. If the cats ever figure out how to join forces Charlie’s in real trouble. But lucky for him, so far they are all too concerned with their own interests to cooperate with one another.

Carey stops searching for her DVD of ARISTOCATS, and regroups: I adore a bluestocking heroine. Can you explain for our contemporary readers, what the implications of being a bluestocking were for young ladies in the regency period?

Manda: A bluestocking was a pejorative term for a female intellectual. Basically during the regency period it was considered unfeminine for a young lady to get too much of an education. And bluestockings were often stereotyped as being dowdy, humorless and just plain unappealing.

Carey says: Please tell us about your upcoming release, HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE.

Manda: Well, it’s the story of Miss Cecily Hurston, a noted scholar and a notorious bluestocking, and Lucas Dalton, Duke of Winterson, a celebrated war hero, and their quest to discover just what happened between her father and his brother on an expedition to Egypt. They’ll work together to solve the mystery and in the process they’ll fall in love.

Carey: What inspired you to write an “Ugly Duckling” series? And what other books do you have planned for the series?

Manda: Well, when I was coming up with the concept of this trilogy, I kept remembering the story of the Gunning sisters, who were quite real, and were among the most celebrated beauties of the ton. They were the daughters of poor Irish farmers, but based on their beauty alone they took the beau monde by storm and ended up marrying into the aristocracy. But I kept wondering what it would be like to be the daughter of someone famous only for her beauty and her social cachet. So I came up with the Fabulous Featherstones, who are the mothers of my heroines, Cecily, Juliet and Madeline, who are dubbed the Ugly Ducklings by a cruel gossip sheet and it sticks. After Cecily’s book, will come Juliet’s story, which is followed by Madeline’s.

Carey: When you are not busy herding cats, dogs, sisters, and books, what causes do you champion?

Manda: Well, I’ve got a few. Libraries, and information literacy. The American Cancer Society. The Amputee Coalition of America. And The National Marfan Foundation (http://www.marfan.org/marfan/) For those of you who don’t know, Marfan Syndrome is a connective tissue disorder, and it’s thought that Abraham Lincoln suffered from it. Some of the key characteristics are elongated limbs, long skinny fingers and excessive height. If you know someone with these traits who hasn’t been checked out by a physician, I would urge you to urge them to do so.  Not because I love doctor visits;) But because a symptom of Marfan’s you can’t see is a propensity to suffer from an aortic dissection. (Though he didn’t have Marfan’s this is what killed John Ritter). It can happen out of nowhere in seemingly healthy people. There are lots of ways that it can be prevented—one of which is valve replacement, which I’ve gone through twice now. Life expectancy used to be in the 40s for Marfan’s patients, but just in the last fifteen to twenty years that has risen to the 70s where everyone else is! /PSA

Carey: Thank you Manda for describing Marfan’s Syndrome, a disease that has a set of physical characteristics that can be easily spotted if only one is aware of them. And thanks for sharing some of your own inspirational story and courage with us. 

Then, as she is wont to do, Carey goes bonkers and suggests a free association test. Please say the first word that comes to your mind- no cheating! Turn off that editor!

Fire- Ice

Wallflower- Jakob Dylan

Mustache- Selleck

Strong- Hard

Turquoise- Blue

Water- White

Game-Cock (!?!)

Write- Now

ER…Should I touch this free association test with a ten foot…pole? Yes, I am up to the challenge: Manda secretly wishes to go white water rafting with Jakob Dylan of the Wallflowers. However (she fantasizes) as she and Jakob are admiring the turquoise blue of the sky, a cock crows, drawing their attention to the shoreline where Tom Sellek is grooming his mustache. Tom and Dylan exchange an icy glare. Who will win fiery Manda’s heart? The choice, a hard ones, is all hers.

Yep. I think we’re done with free association tests…for now at least. And people, I can hardly wait for book number two in the Ugly Duckling series: HOW TO ROMANCE A RAKE

COMMENTERS -as a special treat for stopping by today, we will be giving away one e-copy of: HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE to be delivered as soon as it is released, as well as one $10 Amazon gift card. There will be one winner. That winner will receive both the gift card and HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE. Don’t forget to check Thursday’s blog to find out if you are our lucky winner!

The floor is open for questions or comments for Manda, so fire away!

And the WINNER is…

Thank you so much to Elisabeth Naughton for joining us on Tuesday and demonstrating how her devious mind works!

We have exciting news to announce today.  Elisabeth’s STOLEN trilogy is being re-released in ebook.  Look for her books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers.

Filled with globe-trotting adventure, steamy romance and riveting suspense, the Stolen books from RITA nominated romantic adventure author Elisabeth Naughton will appeal to fans of Romancing the Stone and Indiana Jones.

Now, it’s time to announce the winner of Elisabeth’s latest romantic suspense release, WAIT FOR ME.

(Note: Only commenters with a U.S. mailing address are eligible, so if anyone announced below does not provide a U.S. mailing address, we will choose another winner.)

The winner of one e-copy or hard copy (winner’s choice) is:  Susan W.

CONGRATULATIONS! To redeem your free book – please email your snail mail address and preferred email address to contact@kissandthrill.com (or go to contact page for details). Remember, we must hear from you within 10 days.

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Next Tuesday at Kiss and Thrill Carey Baldwin will interview our very own Manda Collins!  Comment for a chance to win Manda’s debut release, HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE and a ten-dollar Amazon gift card.

How to Electrocute Your Husband Without Getting Caught

If you follow Elisabeth Naughton or me on Twitter, you might have noticed we are friends (although it’s entirely possible you’ve assumed we are enemies, because there might be just a tiny amount of snark in someone’s Twitter stream…) and after reading her post, I want to make it clear, I adore Elisabeth.  Really.  I think she’s great.  And brilliant.  And I’m not saying that because I want to stay on her good side (but I really want to stay on her good side…).

Seriously, I’m delighted to be hosting Elisabeth today, a fabulous writer who keeps me on the edge of my seat with her Eternal Guardians series, and I’m anxiously awaiting the coming ebook release of her romantic suspense Stolen series.

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A former junior high science teacher, Elisabeth Naughton traded in her red pen and test tube set for a laptop and research books. She now writes sexy romantic adventure and paranormal novels full time from her home in western Oregon where she lives with her husband and three children. Her work has been nominated for numerous awards including the prestigious RITA® awards by Romance Writers of America, the Australian Romance Reader Awards, The Golden Leaf and the Golden Heart. When not writing, Elisabeth can be found running, hanging out at the ballpark or dreaming up new and exciting adventures. Visit her at www.elisabethnaughton.com to learn more about her and her books.

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If you post a comment today, check back on Thursday to see if you’ve won a copy of Elisabeth’s latest release, WAIT FOR ME.

And now, I’m handing over the blog to Elisabeth, for a tutorial on how to electrocute your husband without getting caught…

Thanks so much to Rachel and the crew at Kiss and Thrill for inviting me to stop by today!

When talking with a friend about what I should discuss today, she gave me five words of advice: Stick to What You Know. (Ya think she knows I can go off on tangents or what?) We’ve all heard this. Heck, writers are told this when they start writing. If you write what you know you’re more inclined to get it right. But does that mean if a writer writes about murder they’re really a serial killer? (If so, Thomas Harris is in big trouble.) Or what about me? I have a series about Greek mythology. Does that mean I’m really a secret goddess? (I lean toward saying yes. Rachel…don’t answer that one…)

These days, my mantra is: Stick To What You WANT to know. I’m more inclined to read—and write—books about things I want to know versus what I already know. My masters degree is in education. Do I read or write books about teachers? No. Why? Because I’ve lived that life. It’s boring to me. What does interest me? Murder, mayhem, mythology, history, sometimes paranormal abilities, and lots and lots of romance.

Of course, the wanting to know thing can get a person into trouble. Especially one who is a writer. When I was researching STOLEN SEDUCTION, the third book in my Stolen Series, I needed to know how to kill someone without making it look like murder. I contacted an ME via email (one I’d met before and who had spoken at my local writer’s meeting) who never responded to my questions. After brainstorming with my husband—who works for a pharmaceutical company—he decided to ask a doctor he had a good relationship with. Because he wasn’t scheduled to see this doctor for a few more weeks and I needed the info ASAP for my book deadline, he sent the doctor an email. In it he explained that his wife was a writer and was working on a new book and needed to know how to kill someone medically without it looking like murder. The doctor emailed back. Three words: GET A LAWYER.

Yes, I hear you chuckling, but that response reminded me what sorts of trouble I could get myself into. I’m sure I’m on some national watch lists for the things I research on the Internet. After that, I decided not to email research questions anymore. Paper trail! (I’m pretty sure my hubby upped his life insurance too but we won’t go there.) But a writer still has to get their questions answered, right? So I decided face to face is better.

Enter the husband again. (He’s fodder for my research.) My hubby has chronic back pain and in one attempt to fix it he had a neuro-stimulator implanted into his back. The device sends electrical impulses to the area of pain and in theory is supposed to take your mind off the pain you’re experiencing. Pretty cool idea. He was given a trial device to see if it would work for him. Electrical leads were placed into his spinal column for a week. The leads came out of his back and attached to a device—about the size of a pager—that was battery charged and clipped to his waistband. The writer in me pondered this for quite some time. (You see where this is going, don’t you?) There were electrical WIRES sticking out of his spinal column. Long wires. All one would have to do to commit murder would be detach the device when he’s asleep, plug them into an electrical outlet, then reattach the device when the deed was done. It would look like he was killed by an electrical malfunction of the neuro-stimulator. A brilliant solution to a character one must off in a story. But would it work? I needed to have the hubby ask his doctor for verification. So I convinced him to do so at his next appointment. And the doctor (after laughing his ass off) said yes. In theory that would work. Then he sobered and told my husband to keep one eye open when he was sleeping during the rest of the week-long trial.

Hm…on second thought…maybe I do write about what I know. But I digress…

The same is true for what you read. Do you read what you already know? Probably not. I’m guessing you read what you want to know more of. SEALs and detectives and knights and ladies and wizards and…gasp…sometimes even prostitutes. Does that mean you are a SEAL or a detective or a knight or a lady or a wizard or a prostitute? Well, maybe, but my bet is no.  If we all read (and wrote) about only what we already know, how boring would the fiction world be?

So where does that leave me? Continuing to read and research things that interest me. I’m not saying I’ll never write a book about a teacher—I did once, and you guessed it, there was murder involved (when I started asking the DH questions about erotic asphyxiation during the research of that book he told me point blank he wasn’t getting involved in THAT research question). But if I only stuck with what I already know, I—and my readers—would be missing out on a whole lot of good stuff.

I’ve got a copy of my latest book—WAIT FOR ME—a contemporary romantic suspense that includes all kinds of murder and mayhem (and yes, lots and lotsa romance!) to give away to one lucky commenter today. To be entered in the drawing, just for fun, tell me what your training/background/profession is and what your favorite genre to read is. Really curious if the rest of you are like me and read more what you want to know versus what you already do know.

***

WFM

A woman without a past…

After a tragic accident left her with no memory, Kate Alexander struggled to fit in with a husband and world that didn’t feel right. She’s had no reason to question what friends and family have told her, not until her husband is suddenly killed and she finds a photo of a young girl in his office. A girl who can’t be anyone but a daughter Kate didn’t know she had.

A man desperate for a reason to live…

Ryan Harrison lost his wife in a plane crash five years ago. To cope with the pain of her loss, he dedicated himself to his job and to raising their daughter. Now a successful pharmaceutical executive, Ryan has everything a man could want—money, fame and power—but he’d give it all up in a heartbeat for just one more day with the woman he still loves.

Two lives about to converge.

As Kate begins to dig into a past she doesn’t remember, evidence leads her to San Francisco and puts her on the path toward Ryan, a man who sees in her the woman he loved and lost. Kate feels a draw to Ryan, one she can’t explain, but is that feeling enough to convince her this is where she’s supposed to be? As Ryan and Kate search for answers, they uncover lies long buried, a passion hotter than either expected and a danger that threatens…even now…when the second chance they’ve both been searching for is finally within reach.

“Full of twists and turns, lies and deception, and the ultimate revenge, WAIT FOR ME is a great romantic suspense read.”

Night Owl Reviews, Top Pick

And the WINNER is . . .

The Kiss and Thrill ladies would like to thank Roxanne St. Claire again for visiting our site this week. We enjoyed hosting her and we hope she comes back soon, especially once her next book is released!

Now, it’s time to announce the winner.

(Note: Only commenters with a U.S. mailing address are eligible, so if anyone announced below does not provide a U.S. mailing address, we will choose another winner.)

The winner of one e-copy or hard copy (winner’s choice) of SPACE IN HIS HEART is: Trish J!

CONGRATULATIONS! To redeem your free book – please email your snail mail address and preferred email address to contact@kissandthrill.com (or go to contact page for details). Remember, we must hear from you within 10 days.

Thank you all so much for commenting! We hope you will bookmark KissAndThrill and visit often or better yet, subscribe!

What’s next you ask?

Join us Tuesday, January 17th when our very own Rachel Grant interviews Elisabeth Naughton.

A former junior high science teacher, Elisabeth Naughton traded in her red pen and test tube set for a laptop and research books. She now writes sexy romantic adventure and paranormal novels full time from her home in western Oregon where she lives with her husband and three children. Her work has been nominated for numerous awards including the prestigious RITA® awards by Romance Writers of America, the Australian Romance Reader Awards, The Golden Leaf and the Golden Heart. When not writing, Elisabeth can be found running, hanging out at the ballpark or dreaming up new and exciting adventures. Visit her at www.elisabethnaughton.com to learn more about her and her books.

And for one lucky commenter, Elisabeth will be giving away a copy of her latest release WAIT FOR ME.

We also have an exciting line-up of author interviews in January and February including our very own Manda Collins, Tara Janzen, Shiloh Walker, Dawn Brown, Nina Bruhns, Carla Neggers, Debra Webb, and Robin Perini. We all look forward to seeing you there!

A Day with Roxanne St. Claire

Today we’re excited to welcome Roxanne St. Claire to Kiss and Thrill.

Roxanne St. Claire is a New York Times bestselling author of twenty-seven novels of suspense and romance, including her most recent release, Space In His Heart.  The author of two popular romantic suspense series (The Bullet Catchers and The Guardian Angelinos), Roxanne is launching a brand new contemporary romance series in 2012, called “Barefoot Bay” and set on a fictional island off the Gulf coast of Florida.  In addition, her first young adult novel, Don’t You Wish, will release in July, 2012.

In addition to being a five-time RITA nominee and one-time RITA winner, Roxanne’s novels have won the National Reader’s Choice Award for best romantic suspense for two consecutive years, as well as the Daphne du Maurier Award, the HOLT Medallion, the Maggie, Booksellers Best, Book Buyers Best, and many others.  Her books have been translated into dozens of languages and are routinely included as a Doubleday/Rhapsody Book Club Selection of the Month.

Roxanne lives in Florida with her husband and two teenagers (and one adorable Australian Terrier) and can be reached via her website, www.roxannestclaire.com, Twitter @roxannestclaire, or on her Facebook Reader page, www.facebook.com/roxannestclaire.

Thank you so much for having me today!  I love to stop by blogs like this, chat with the readers, and talk about books.  Fire the questions away and feel free to ask more in the comments!  I’ll answer anything!

SHARON: Great! So I’ll ask my favorite question first. What’s on your TBR pile?

ROCKI: LOTHAIRE by Kresley Cole, which is releasing this week.  While I’m waiting with the rest of the world for that fabulous book, I’m deep into a classic Francine Rivers (I know, talk about yin and yang – Francine is Inspirational; Kresley is inspirational in a whole different way.)

SHARON: I can’t wait to read Lothaire either! What other genres of fiction do you read?

ROCKI: I read everything, especially “outside” of contemporary and romantic suspense.  I went on a YA reading binge a few years ago — just couldn’t get enough.  So, it’s probably no surprise that I wrote one (DON’T YOU WISH, coming out this summer from Delacorte Press!).  I also read a lot of non-fiction and biographies.  I love to read about people who overcome obstacles.

SHARON: What made you decide to publish SPACE IN HIS HEART independently?

ROCKI: SPACE IN HIS HEART is my first manuscript, originally drafted ten years ago.  It never sold, but Pocket Books asked to read it after I sold them my second manuscript/first book, TROPICAL GETAWAY.  While my editor was reading what I lovingly called “my astronaut book,” tragedy struck the space shuttle program and Columbia was lost.  Since that accident eerily mirrored the suspense in the book, I pulled the manuscript from consideration and, quite honestly, didn’t think about it for years.  During that time, NASA and the space shuttle program changed so much, I felt the book couldn’t possibly be relevant anymore and I’d gone on to write two different series and other types of books.  Then, a few months ago, the shuttle program officially ended and I decided that the book could be revised as a flashback to the glory days of NASA.  When I re-read it (and, honestly, I tried to sell it for a few years, so it had been heavily revised and critiqued), I fell in love all over again.  The characters are two of my absolute favorites, the romance never fails to bring me to tears,  and the added dimension of “nostalgia” for space really makes the book special.  I couldn’t be happier with the story, and am overwhelmed that so many readers feel the same.

SPACE IN HIS HEART is an emotional “feel good” story about a PR superstar who has a plan to make NASA “popular” again and the astronaut who sends her heart to the moon.  I’ve been getting such amazing emails from readers, I know that something about this story has hit a chord.  It’s only $3.99 as an ebook, so treat yourself and let me know what you think!

SHARON: Will there be any more books about the Guardian Angelinos or the Bullet Catchers? Do you miss writing about them?

ROCKI: I do miss writing romantic suspense, as I’ve spent most of the last year writing a new contemporary series (Barefoot Bay, launching in April, 2012) and young adult.  But the change of voice and genre was really good for me creatively.  However, today I started a Bullet Catcher novella and that will be in a future anthology and, wow, was it ever fun to get back into that world.  I very much want to write a book that combines the two series (Gabe as a Bullet Catcher??).  I’m not sure when I’ll write that book — I have to meet contractual obligations this coming year.  But I will write more of those series, I promise.

SHARON: I’m very relieved! Any more Silhouette Desires in the future?

ROCKI: Not for the foreseeable future, but one of my favorite Desires, THE SINS OF HIS PAST, is being re-issued as part of anthology called “KISS ME, I’M IRISH” that hits stores this March.  My co-authors, Jill Shalvis and Maureen Child, are awesome writers and I’m sure readers will love all three stories.  My first single title contemporary novel, BAREFOOT IN THE SAND, comes out in April, and, in many ways, it has the tone and heart of some of my old Desires, only longer with lots more characters and subplots.  But no dead bodies or surprise villains, a change that was both fun and challenging.

SHARON: Have you ever wanted to write a historical romance?

ROCKI: Um…no.  Love to read them, would die if I had to do that kind of research.

SHARON: I loved your editing course you offered at the WRW retreat. (I swear that’s why I finaled in the GH last year!) Are you going to teach it again anytime soon?

ROCKI: Yay! Congrats on the final and what a great compliment!  I’ve got a half-day version of that workshop (called How Do You Mend A Broken Scene) that I give at RWA chapters around the country.  Writers like that class because I expose the soft underbelly of my rough and ugly first drafts and then walk through how and why I revised every line.  I think people are encouraged to learn that all writers have to revise!   Some of us even LOVE to revise!  Email me if you’d like me to come and talk to your group!

SHARON: Can you name one (or more) book(s) that changed your life?

ROCKI: Wow, what a great question.  Like so many of my peers, my earliest romance novels were penned by Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Danielle Steele, and they taught me a true appreciation for what some might call “the trashy novel.”  As I got older, I discovered Sandra Brown, LaVyrle Spencer, and Nora Roberts, and then, about twelve years ago, I read a book by Susan Elizabeth Phillips called NOBODY’S BABY BUT MINE.  I closed that novel, wiped my tears, and decided right that moment I wanted to write a book that would make someone else feel the way I felt that moment: transported, satisfied, weak-limbed with love.  I started writing what is now SPACE IN HIS HEART a few days later!

SHARON: Victoria Holt is still one of my all-time favorite authors! What is your favorite movie?

ROCKI: There are too many to name but my “comfort” movie of choice is Overboard — adorable!  I love a movie that just makes me feel so joyous at the end  — and that’s probably why I write a “feel good” book.

SHARON: Have you ever spent the entire day writing in your pajamas?

ROCKIE: Have I ever NOT spent the entire day writing in my pajamas is a better question.

SHARON: LOL! Okay, now for the three-part question because I can’t wait to read your debut YA novel DON’T YOU WISH.

Was that a huge change for you or something you’d been thinking about for a while?

Did having teenagers make you decide to write a YA?

When is the movie DON’T YOU WISH coming out!?

ROCKI: Talk about a feel good book — that is my feelgoodiest of all!  Yes, WISH was a huge change, definitely brought on by the YA reading binge I mentioned earlier and helped along by having teenagers of my own.  The story was inspired by a question my daughter asked me, one that, while contemplating the right answer, hit me with a bolt of creative lightning.  I started writing like a crazy person that very day, and had a 20 page synopsis done in record time.  (In first person!)  I sent it to my agent, she loved it, and we sold it with just three chapters.  Before I’d written another word, I had an offer to option the book for film, which was one of the most exciting things ever.  I finished the manuscript and then got to help consult on the movie script.  Right now, it’s being “shopped” and I say a lot of prayers that it lands on the right desk in Hollywood!

SHARON: How important has blogging become to your career?

ROCKI: I didn’t think I’d like blogging as much as I do!  I held off for a while, thinking I didn’t have much to say that wasn’t going in my books, but then the wonderful ladies at http://www.murdershewrites.com asked me to join their blog.  The beauty of a group blog is that we have new content every day, but with ten of us, we only have to create that new content twice a month.  I’ve discovered I love the platform to use my “real” voice to talk about so many aspects of the writing life.  I’m sure I’ve picked up a few new readers along the way, but I love to blog because it’s a creative outlet and a chance for me to really discuss this rollercoaster ride of publication.  And motherhood…I write about raising teenagers a lot, too.  One job is crazier than the other!

SHARON: What is your preferred source of caffeine? Coffee, tea, soda?

ROCKI: Coffee, light and sweet and plentiful!

A collection of 18 short stories, including one by Roxanne St. Claire, and every one with a Navy SEAL hero! All proceeds are pledged to the Veterans Research Corporation, a non-profit foundation supporting veterans’ medical research.

SHARON: Do you have any time management secrets you can share?

ROCKI: To do lists are a busy girl’s best friend.  I also like to get the “hard stuff” done first thing in the morning and have been known to physically deactivate my internet in order to stay focused on writing.  I write about three books a year — that takes a lot of discipline and the ability to resist the siren call of Twitter.  (Which I love!  Follow me at @roxannestclaire!)

SHARON: Thanks again, Rocki. I can only imagine how busy you are and I appreciate your time and participation.

ROCKI: Thank you! It’s an honor to be here and a pleasure to meet new readers! And I’m giving away a copy of SPACE IN HIS HEART - either an ebook or print – to one commenter.

SHARON: So, what questions do you have for Rocki? We’d both love to know. And don’t forget to come back tomorrow to find out who the winner is of Rocki’s latest release SPACE IN HIS HEART!

AN INTERVIEW WITH REBECCA YORK

Sometimes things just don’t go well.

Rebecca is a fellow member of two of my writing groups.  Knowing the interview/blog was coming up, I had my husband snap a photo of the two of us at a party we attended together.  Rebecca wore this drop dead elegant faux leopard coat, I was in my holiday best.  The photo he got had my hair standing on end and both of us in the midst of smiling.  We ended up looking as if we were gnashing our teeth!  I called Rebecca and told her we couldn’t use the photo and she laughed.  Her husband, who is an excellent photographer, apparently hadn’t gotten a good shot of her that day either.  Oh well.  That’s life, and I’m sure rotten photos plague bestselling authors even more than they do me.  After all, how often have I been in the paper compared to the incomparable Rebecca York?  Glad she could send this lovely photo of herself instead.

Rebecca York

Doesn’t she look mysterious against that black background?  I couldn’t let Rebecca get away without asking her a few questions today!  She graciously set aside some time to let me ask away.  At the end of the interview, please scroll down and see the lucky person who will receive one of Rebecca’s Harlequin Intrigues.   Oh!  Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for Daphne du Maurier winning author, Roxanne St. Clair, and our own Sharon Wray!  So…. Here we go….

AN INTERVIEW WITH REBECCA YORK

1.  You’re known as one of the premier authors in romantic suspense, how did you start writing in this genre?  What drew you to it?

My first published book was a kids’ science fiction novel called INVASION OF THE BLUE LIGHTS. Then a friend asked me if I wanted to write romances.  I love relationship stories, but I wanted that danger element too, so I proposed a romantic suspense series that everyone turned down. (Some said, “We like this.  Put in more suspense.”  Others said, “We like this.  Put in more romance.”) It turned out to be just what Dell was looking for in the mid-80’s, which got me in on the beginning of modern romantic suspense.

2.  What other genres did you start out in?  Do you ever long to go back to them?

As I said, I started with science fiction.  In a way I’ve gone back to it with all the paranormal I write.  I’ve also written 15 cookbooks, but I’m too old for all the physical labor of  recipe testing.

3.  Your characters are unforgettable.  You write your male characters, many of whom are paranormal creatures, in an exceptionally believable way.  What is your secret to making them seem so real?

I think it’s making them as human as possible. Giving them the emotions, fears and conflicts that we all have.  They may have superhuman traits, but we can always identify with their feelings.

Rebecca’s newest book is Dark Moon

4.  What is your favorite flavor of ice-cream?  Sprinkles?  Nuts?  Whipped Cream?

This is hard.  I love chocolate but also coffee and strawberry. Also peach if I can get it. I don’t like a lot of goop in my ice cream.  Just plain, please.  I will admit that when we were in Italy last May, we often had gelatto instead of lunch.

5.  Your husband is so visibly supportive of your career — he’s awfully cute, too!  So many female writers — and women in general — don’t have that kind of support.  Any words of advice?

Naive me at the age of 18 picked the right guy.  Apparently I could recognize quality when I saw it.

6.  Congratulations on the Romance Writer’s of America Centennial Award, for having written over 100 novels!  A little birdie told me you’ve written way more than that.  How many novels have you written and what does the award mean to you?

Hum, I guess I’ve written about 115 or 120 novels.  And those cookbooks. I think of the award as recognition for a lot of hard work.

7.  You’ve been on the USA Today bestseller’s list forever — and I mean that in a really good way <G>.  How did it feel the first time it happened?  How does it feel when it happens now?  How many books must sell to get on that list?

I have no idea how many books it takes to get on the lists.  How did I/ do I feel?  Excited.  It’s always wonderful to know people like my work.  And I’m hoping they want to read my Decorah Security series that I’m publishing as e-books.  They’re already up on Amazon and B&N.

Now for the lucky winner!  Remember you have ten days to send us your email address.  ………..DRUM ROLL PLEASE ……….

The winner is:  Gabby Diangelo.  Please send us your email address within ten days to qualify.

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