Author Archives: Sarah Andre

Meet the 2015 Golden Heart RS Finalists!

Many romance writers are busily packing bulging suitcases for next week’s Romance Writers of America national conference in New York City. So what better time to get you psyched for the RWA Awards Night, next Saturday, July 25th. WHY? Because this year RWA is streaming the event LIVE (click the word that night to be linked immediately, or go to http://www.RWA.org!) Now you too can be a part of that magical night of glitz, glam and stunning ball gowns! And one of these remarkable writers will walk up to the podium (in front of 2,500 fellow writers) and accept the coveted 2015 Golden Heart for Romantic Suspense! Let’s meet these lucky women:

Brynn%20Kelly2s

BRYNN KELLY

DECEPTION ISLAND (to be published in mid-2016 by HQN Books!)

In DECEPTION ISLAND, a rogue French Foreign Legion officer and
a Californian conwoman become unlikely allies in a deadly battle
against 21st century pirates and slave traders, in the steamy jungles and azure waters of an Indian Ocean paradise.

As their lives are plunged into danger, their damaged hearts and minds reluctantly begin to open to the possibility of finding love in the most unexpected of places. When loyalties are tested and damning secrets revealed, will their fragile trust in each other be enough to pull them through?

FIRST LINE: Time to get this over with.

Extra detail: I didn’t realize the French Foreign Legion still existed
until a couple of years ago, when I came across a Vanity Fair article about modern-day Legionnaires. What a fascinating concept for a novel—what would prompt a man to walk away from his life, and even his identity and native language, to risk his neck for another country? Thus my hero in Deception Island, Capitaine Rafe Angelito, was born.  

 

                                                                                                                      JESSICA DARAGOJessica Darago - Author Photo

SCANDAL

Renée Norton isn’t sure how she wound up here, in the empty attic of a Bloomsbury town home with a disassembled cell phone in one coat pocket, an SD card full of homemade porn in the other, and her dead best friend’s blood all over her hands, but she knows she has to act fast, before she winds up dead herself.

Cut off from the police and the American embassy by her suddenly violent diplomat ex-boyfriend’s quick maneuvering, she’s left with only one ally, an ex-MI6 agent who calls himself William Gillette. Clever, charming, and—Renée suspects—more than a bit off his rocker, Gillette was not only smart enough to track her down, he’s also discovered her most closely guarded secret: that “Renée Norton” is just another role she’s been playing. And though the last thing Renée wants is to place her trust in another man, she may not have a choice: If her enemies catch up with her, it’s not just her secrets on the line, but the lives of millions.

FIRST LINE:

The mirror showed Renée everything: It covered half of Vilém’s bedroom wall and caught the whole rest of the room in its gaze, from the gaping maw of the walk-in closet to the drapes that shut out the wet, dark London morning and even—especially—Renée herself, sprawled naked and sated on the rumpled bed.

Extra Detail: Every writer should have a Jimbo—though at times, his intervention feels as much like a curse as a blessing. One day—May 2, 2010, to be precise—he simply asked me if anyone had ever written a story about the murder of Sherlock Holmes. I said I didn’t know.

A half hour later, I had a plot; a new setting and context; I had new identities and arcs for the characters representing Watson, Mycroft, Morstan, Lestrade, and Moriarity. I had a way to resurrect my Holmes from the dead—because Sherlock Holmes always comes back from the dead. Because I am, down to my core, a romance novelist, I knew this book would really be about Holmes and the woman. And it would be the most important story I know how to tell: How to go on loving each other when the whole world tries to stop us.

So this is not a book about the murder of Sherlock Holmes…but it almost was. And if those kinds of ideas excite you, I recommend talking to Jimbo.

 

Arlene%20McFarlane%20picARLENE MCFARLANE

MURDER, CURLERS AND CREAM

Valentine Beaumont is in for a hair-raising shock when her spoiled client, socialite Portia Reynolds, is strangled right under her nose. Unfortunately, a dead customer in the beauty industry is not exactly a drawing card, and Valentine feels obligated to find the killer. She learns Portia had more kinks than curls in her personal life and, as she untangles the mystery, she finds out just how nasty Portia was. With Guccis on her feet, a bag of tools-of-the-trade over her shoulder, a hard-nosed cop on her back, and a kooky cast of characters in her midst, will Valentine survive her own investigation?

FIRST LINE“You wound a perm rod around a man’s what?” Detective Michael Romero stood in the middle of the Mediterranean-styled salon, hand on his gun hip, stunning blue eyes piercing me with a look that said now he’d heard everything.
Extra Detail: I combined my experience in the beauty industry with my love of rom/com mysteries, and the Murder, Curlers series was born.

 

                                                                                                                TRACY POOLEIMAG0130%20-%20Copy%20(2)

 A SHOT WORTH TAKING

After stopping terrorists from detonating a dirty bomb, Special Ops soldier Tony Vincenti and FBI linguist Angela Hoffman intend for their next joint mission to involve under-the-covers work, only someone wants to cash in on a contract on Angela’s life. With little evidence to support their suspicions of who is trying to kill her, Tony must convince Angela to violate her own ethics to expose the would-be assassin before they can get a shot at a future together.

FIRST LINEThe fun factor of camping out with eight of even his closest friends only lasted the first month or two, max, of a deployment.

Extra Detail: This is the second MS in my Bad Karma Spec Ops series. When I wrote the first book, I didn’t originally plan a series until a friend asked if I was going to do a series around the team like Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series. At first I said no due to other book ideas brewing in my head, but I changed my mind and fell in love with the rest of the team. This story was adapted from a spec movie script I’d written previously. The (current) first line was actually inspired by an Army helicopter pilot I supported.

 

sharon wray

SHARON WRAY

HOPE CRAVES AN EXECUTION

When Sarah Monroe, a strong-willed historian, travels to a rural Savannah sea island to solve the last unbreakable Revolutionary War cipher, she draws the attention of a ruthless arms dealer. Now her life, and the secret hidden within the cipher, is at the mercy of ex-Green Beret Major Nate Walker. Nate, a man who suffers from seizures, memory loss, and regret, will do anything to save his men and take down the arms dealer even if it means betraying the woman he loves.

FIRST LINE:  Sara Munro adjusted the hood of her field jacket and frowned at the hand-written sign nailed to the ancient oak: Trespassers will be shot. Then prosecuted. No kidding.

Extra Detail: Once I was a Latin student studying ciphers used during the reign of Elizabeth I. (I’d been reading too many Jean Plaidy novels!) Years later, I found an assignment I’d done – a Latin-based substitution cipher based on a Puritan poem by Anne Bradstreet that had been popular during the 18th Century. And suddenly a tortured ex-Greeen Beret, Nate Walker, popped into my head and told me the woman he loved was a historian who studied General Washington’s ciphers and there was one she couldn’t solve. They needed to figure out what the cipher protected before an arms dealer unleashed a weapon last used during the Revolutionary War. Nate’s desperate appeal led me down a writing rabbit hole that ended with this story and led me to my series.

 

SHARON WRAY sharon wray

EVERY UNWORTHY THING

When Madeleine Ashton, a Charleston, SC couturier and socialite, is targeted by an arms dealer in search of a 17th Century secret hidden in tunnels under her city, her last hope to save her family is Alex Mitchell: ex-con, ex-Army Ranger, and the baddest boy she’s ever met. Alex, besides being forsaken by his family and damned by the price on his head, has a secret — he used to work for the arms dealer. And when he’s given the opportunity to do so again, he must choose between a life of unlimited money and power or the prim, proper woman who has stolen his heart.

FIRST LINE:  Alex Mitchell hated waiting.

Extra Detail: When I was sixteen, my future mother-in-law took me on a tour of Charleston, SC. The tour guide told stories of the pirates who plagued Charleston during the 17th and 18th centuries. These ruthless men blackmailed the populace, used secret tunnels to hide their treasure, then ran underground smuggling operations during the Revolutionary War. Years later, I met Alex Mitchell, an ex-Army Ranger just released from prison, who told me the “pirates” were back in Charleston. The woman he loved needed my help to stop a weapons smuggling race between a brutal arms dealer and Alex’s own brother. Hence the next rabbit hole that led to the third book in my Black Ops Brotherhood series. 

BRENDA NOVAK returns to Romantic Suspense!

HanoverHouse_800x1200He’d found what he needed. At last. After twenty years of waiting, of planning, of purposely blending in to escape notice, he had the thread that would lead him back to the only woman who’d ever really mattered in his life.

The only woman who’d ever been a challenge.

The only woman who’d ever gotten away.

Once his parents had finally gone to bed, and long after anyone would expect for them to have a visitor, Jasper Moore stared down at the envelope he’d recovered from his father’s desk. Inside was a letter from Evelyn Talbot’s father, pleading with Stanley and Maureen to come forward if they possessed any information on Jasper’s whereabouts. It said that Evelyn had been through enough. That the Moores should finally do the right thing and divulge any information they possessed.

But they never would. They were the ones who’d helped him escape in the first place, all those years ago—and they told everyone they hadn’t seen him since before the murders, even though, in recent years, he risked a furtive visit now and then, if he could do it safely.

Anyway, it wasn’t the letter that concerned Jasper. He didn’t give a shit about the Talbots’ emotional plea for justice and closure.

He was far more interested in the return address on the outside.

Excerpt from HANOVER HOUSE by Brenda Novak

She’s baaaack! That vintage, creepy Brenda-Novak-writing, folks. She’s the kind of suspense writer who grabs you from the first page and sends you on the kind of ride even amusement parks would ban! HANOVER HOUSE, her return to the romantic suspense genre, isn’t the only change we’ve seen from Brenda this year. May, 2015 came and went without the usual author enthusiasm (let’s be honest–hysteria) over Brenda Novak’s Auction Anything for Diabetes Research. That’s right, after 10 successful years and accumulating a total of $2.4 million toward her Diabetes Research charity, Brenda took the year off. Well…not exactly.

For 2015, I came up with another plan to raise money, one I thought readers might like even better. Because…what’s better than getting a great deal on a great book? Getting a steal of a deal on a whole bundle! And what’s better than having all the proceeds go to diabetes research? Well…nothing. Nothing I can think of, anyway. That’s why I’ve curated THREE fabulous box sets filled with BRAND NEW stories from some of today’s most popular authors—so I could launch my fundraising initiative for 2015 and  contribute to the effort of finding a cure for my son (who was diagnosed at five) and all the other people who have to cope with this terrible disease.”

That bears repeating: Brenda ingeniously collected stories from some of today’s top-notch romance authors and developed 3 box-sets that are only available until the end of June. (A week from today, people!) ALL proceeds go toward her Research for Diabetes, and each is priced at $2.99, a staggering special! The kick-off to her romantic suspense series, HANOVER HOUSE is featured in the SWEET DREAMS set. So let’s start with that one. Brenda, who else has contributed to SWEET DREAMS?

CLICK TO ORDER

CLICK TO ORDER

SWEET DREAMS. This limited edition set contains thirteen new thrillers. Allison Brennan, Cynthia Eden, JT Ellison, Liliana Hart, Heather Graham, Alex Kava, CJ Lyons, Carla Neggers, Theresa Ragan, Erica Spindler, Tiffany Snow and Jo Robertson have all contributed. I’m in this box, too. I’m including a brand new story that’s nearly 200 pages long—HANOVER HOUSE, the start to the new suspense series I just sold to St. Martin’s Press. And none other than the amazing Lee Child has written the foreword.

Wow, that’s some superstar lineup! I’ve bought it already, but was intrigued with your other sets.

SWEET TALK. This is a limited edition contemporary romance collection featuring

CLICK TO ORDER

CLICK TO ORDER

ten brand new stories by such amazing authors as #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Sherryl Woods of Chesapeake Shores series fame. We also have the magnificent Linda Lael Miller, as well as Melody Anne, Violet Duke, Steena Holmes, Gina Maxwell, Molly O’Keefe, Melissa Foster, Rosalind James and Nancy Naigle. Great lineup, right? As a bonus, I’ve thrown in the prequel to my Whiskey Creek series, WHEN WE TOUCH—and megastar Robyn Carr has written the foreword.

So we’ve covered suspense readers, and contemporary romance readers…what would the last box set encompass?

CLICK TO ORDER

CLICK TO ORDER

SWEET SEDUCTION. This box is for those who like their romances with some HEAT (a la FIFTY SHADE OF GREY). It features new work from erotica greats Lexi Blake, Nicole Edwards, J. Kenner, Megan Hart, JS Cooper, Karen Erickson, Nina Lane, Roni Loren, Elisabeth Grace, Julia Kent, Mari Carr, Lauren Hawkeye and Avery Aster. Lisa Renee Jones, another popular author in this subgenre, has not only written the foreward, she’s provided one of her full novels as a bonus!

Brenda, I am truly amazed at the generosity of these authors giving their works to such a great cause. And my compliments to you for thinking up such an incredible giveaway to continue your ongoing charitable contributions to Diabetes research. Any last words?

“According to the CDC, nearly 10% of the American public has diabetes. That’s an outrageous figure! So let’s do something about it—read and raise money at the same time.” For more information, visit http://brendanovakforthecure.org.IMG_4444

Here are links to the different online stores that offer the sets:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1CZiYtP (or click on the covers.)
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1INYQMz
Apple: http://apple.co/1CVYPlu
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1By6eMw
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1vT84jP

And for more information on Brenda-the-author, please visit her at:

www.BrendaNovak.com

Author Facebook

Goodreads

DON’T FORGET TO ORDER YOUR BOX SETS BEFORE NEXT TUESDAY, JUNE 30th!

AND PLEASE HELP BRENDA SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THIS ON ALL YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SITES.

Thank you for being here today, Brenda and we look forward to your new suspense series AND hearing how much you and these generous authors raised this year!

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 ANNOUNCING LAST WEEK’S COMMENT-WINNER!

CONGRATULATIONS TO ELIZABETH HEITER

FOR WINNING A $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD

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Join us next Tuesday when Lena Diaz and Kay Thomas dish 5 things about

the heroes of their latest books– EXIT Strategy and Easy Target.

The Nine-Year-Long Rollercoaster Ride

Over here at Kiss and Thrill, it’s no secret that we loooove romantic suspense. We began this blog in 2011 specifically to share other authors, books and plots with you. Back then, only three of our members were under contract. Now, due to the myriad of publishing options, we’re all carving out a path that’s right for us. And after nine years of writing, I too will achieve that coveted title: published author. My debut, LOCKED, LOADED and LYING will be available on JUNE 16th!

Most authors will tell you: the whole writing-publishing experience is like a rollercoaster ride. The highs are true adrenalin rushes, the kind where you throw your arms in the air and shriek until you’re hoarse. Could be over winning writing awards or having a literary agent call and gush for twenty minutes about your novel before offering to represent you. There’s no other job or achievement (for me) that surpasses the thrill of creating characters and conflict, and sharing ‘my baby’ with the world. 

Along with the rush of those highs come the lows, which are just as powerful. Harsh judge comments on a contest entry, reading all those agent/editor rejections sure do emulate the G-forces of a rollercoaster. As in: it sucks the breath right out of you, leaves you stunned and glued in place (usually a fetal position on the floor.)

Nine-whole-years of crazy ups and downs, folks. :)snowy river

But the rollercoaster has click-clacked back to the loading platform, I’ve gotten off, and am shakily standing in line for a whole new ride. When I had absolutely NO topic for today’s blog, Sharon Wray suggested I write about the ‘standing in line’ part. The transition between signing a contract and actually selling a book on Amazon, B&N, etc.

It began with a phone call from my agent. “Entangled Publishing just sent over a contract for your book.” (See rollercoaster high symptoms above.) Then came months of pins and needles waiting while she negotiated my terms, and I suffered the torture of keeping this secret to myself. Which, of course, I didn’t. ;)

When I finally did sign the contract, oh boy, did I blurt the news! Unfortunately, the editor who’d loved my story, and initially sent over the contract to work with me was no longer there, so I was assigned to another editor. Yikes! I’d heard horror stories of writers changing editors and the new one did not like the plot, the voice or the writing.

Youth Olympic Games 2012Wasted energy! My new editor, Anya Kagan, was insightful, patient and saw the big picture–whereas I obsessed on a word or scene level. It became a team effort to spit-shine that manuscript. There were 1st edits (major revisions that instantly drew the reader’s sympathy to my hero’s plight, and upped the stakes he faced.) I returned those in a month and within 10 days 2nd edits were in my Inbox. Less changes, but a suggestion to delete an entire chapter that ‘explained’ my heroine, and wasn’t very interesting. Why not feed snippets of her secrets within the first 100 pages? Brilliant!cabin

3rd edits consisted of changing one sentence. (Yay me!) Then on to Copy Edits, where another editor, who specializes in fact-checking, read through the story and made suggestions. Could my hero (a US Olympic Alpine Skier) have competed in the 2006 Torino games? (Sure that was a long time ago, but Torino is also a major subplot. And don’t forget, I’d written the story back then!) Turns out, Bode Miller competed there, and he’s already competed this year, with a DNF (did not finish.) Case closed, I got to keep the Torino Olympics in the book. Whew!

Hooded man hiding gun behind his backOff the story went to be formatted into a book, and then we were Proofreading the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC.) Any changes here meant catching spelling errors, a word that was supposed to be italicized, etc., not to revise. I seriously had to reign in my inner editor (who’s still criticizing each paragraph, even after all these years!) By this time, if you’ve kept count, I’d reread this entire novel 5 times in 3 months. So to proofread it that slowly and with such care, made me honest-to-God hate the plot, the characters, every $@&# word on every page, and OMG-why did I ever think I could write?!  :) I hear that’s normal…

Next was creating my dedication and acknowledgements pages. After nine years I had a lot of people to acknowledge, because in the publishing industry it DOES take a village! Thanking all these people who’d done so much for me, in a page the whole world could read, warmed my heart. AND it was one more step toward authenticity…what a rush! Interestingly, I put much more time into it than I expected. I wanted to get the words absolutely right, the tone perfect. ASPEN road sign

I have one more step to look forward to: seeing what the Entangled graphic artist creates for a cover, which will happen in early May. Once I have the cover I can decorate my Facebook and Twitter pages, set up an Amazon Author page , update my website and invest in ‘swag.’ (Fun giveaways.)

You’ll notice I didn’t tell you much about LOCKED, LOADED and LYING. Why? Because there’s plenty of time and many blogs where my cover, official back-cover blurb, and plot points will be broadcast.

Love coupleFor now I leave you with 2 clues 1) these pictures are all broad hints: An heiress is murdered in Aspen and all evidence points to her boyfriend, my insanely hot hero, Lock Roane. He was too drunk to remember anything that night, but given his past history of blackout violence, it’s not a big leap for him to believe he did kill her.

On the eve of his felony murder trial he saves the life of a young woman in a blizzard, not knowing she’s his biggest media nemesis. And when Jordan Sinclair regains consciousness she will lie through her teeth to keep it that way (you’ll find out why.) As she recuperates she gets to know the personality he doesn’t show the camera and begins falling for him, but her tangled lies hamper their growing attraction. And sizzling sexual tension wreaks havoc in their frantic attempts to uncover the grisly events of what exactly happened on that fateful night.

And 2) “An impressive debut! This book has everything readers crave: believable, endearing characters, an intriguing conflict and plenty of heart. Don’t miss LOCKED, LOADED & LYING.” Brenda Novak

So that’s my standing-in-line story. Off to buckle up for the next ride!

WHAT WERE YOU DOING NINE YEARS AGO? COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD! WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED NEXT TUESDAY.

 The winner of a $10 gift card and e-copy of BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO WEEP  goes to Julie Oest!

THE DEEP END

Julie Mulhern- photo by Larry Levenson

Julie Mulhern- photo by Larry Levenson

I took another sip of coffee and glanced around the pool. The morning light still looked delicate enough to break. The weeping cherry tree had lost a few leaves and they skittered across the pool deck in the soft breeze. The police conferred around the body. Then they stepped away and I saw it. Saw her. In that second, my morning went from plain dreadful to the worst ever. (Excerpt from THE DEEP END.)

Funny how you stumble across strangers who instantly become close friends. I’d judged a writing contest a couple years back, and the anonymous entry, THE DEEP END, was a total standout! Who WAS this author?! The snarky tone of the heroine (the only sane character in a zany cast of 1970’s preppy, country club wives and a mother from hell) had me howling. Enter the requisite dead body (and not just any corpse- it’s a fantastic twist- ALL in Chapter 1) and I was hooked!

Naturally I gave this entry a perfect score, left my name/contact info and an entire page of gushing remarks…mostly over my shock that this hilarious cozy mystery hadn’t been snapped up for publication. And then I did something I’d never done: asked a complete stranger if I could beta read the rest of it. (Yeah, like I have that kind of time on my hands!) But that is HOW GREAT the novel is.

To my delight, the writer- Julie Mulhern, wrote back and (yes!) sent the rest of the hilarious cozy mystery. Now we’ve not only become close friends, but we were nominated for 2014 Golden Heart awards together and we will be published by the same publishing company in the near future.

And, dear readers, I’m honored to announce that Julie’s debut, THE DEEP END, releases TODAY!toast Naturally, on the busiest and most exciting day of her life I insisted she stop everything and answer my nosy questions. (Because that’s what friends do.) Introducing Julie Mulhern-take note of her name, folks!

Q-Your heroine’s glib ability to balance the fine line between hysterical snark and nasty sarcasm is honed to perfection. AND it’s written in 1st person. Do these type of thoughts come to you in real life or do you channel someone inside when you sit down to write?

The snark and internal sarcasm are all me. Ellison lets me give voice to things I would never say. 

Q-How on earth did you come up with this premise?

I wanted to create a straight-laced world, perfect on its surface, then flip the rock. Everyone thinks the 60’s changed everything but really it was the 70’s. The ideas that existed on the fringes of society in the 60’s went mainstream. The roles of women changed – even Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis got a job. Divorce rates skyrocketed. I am woman, hear me roar.

Q-I’m assuming you’re a child of the 70’s since you nailed the culture so well. Why did you choose that era rather than contemporary?

You guessed right. I grew up in the 70s and felt a certain nostalgia about the decade. I was too young to go to discos so I remember the sweet parts – rainbow socks with individual toes, deodorant called Tickle, how no self-respecting kid showed up on the playground if they’d missed Happy Days.

THE DEEP END coverQ-WHERE did you come up with all the foods, commercials, songs, teen accessories, etc that are in your story? Research? YouTube? There’s no way you remembered Cherry Lip Smackers for example (in your 2nd novel of the series.)

Research. Fun, fun research. I got on ebay and bought magazines from 1974. I am the proud owner of a full year of Gourmet plus many, many Vogues, Glamours, Cosmos (oh, my) and Architectural Digests. Looking at those ads and reading those articles was amazing.

And Pinterest – I LOVE Pinterest. My board for The Deep End (http://www.pinterest.com/juliemulhern/the-deep-end/) captures the clothes, the vibe and the original Mr. Coffee.

Q-How long do you expect this series to run, because I totally see a new “Cabot Cove” mystery series here! 

I’m hoping The Country Club Murders finds an audience and that Ellison has the opportunity to solve lots of murders.

Q-When is the next story due/what’s the title/can you give us a couple of sentences on the plot?

Guaranteed to Bleed (remember the madras labels?) will release in November. When Ellison finds a dying boy beneath the stands at a high school football game, her life is again upended. Now she’s dealing with a teenage daughter with an attitude, an unexpected house guest and another body on her lawn.

Q-Why stretch out the love triangle between your heroine and two yummy men?

Could you decide between Hunter and Anarchy? Ellison is recently widowed, she’s not ready to make up her mind.

Q-You also have other novels in the works—are they cozy mysteries in 1st person too?

My novel, A Haunting Desire, which was a finalist in the 2014 Golden Heart contest is a romance. It releases in August from Entangled Select. It’s not written in the first person, but there is a murder mystery which my heroine solves. The story is set in New Orleans in 1902 – think voodoo, ghosts, plenty of eerie ambiance and a yummy hero.

Q-On a personal note, what’s a food you cannot say no to?

Bread pudding with crème anglaise

Q-Favorite movie and why?

One? Yikes! Casablanca because I never get tired of watching Rick change from a cynical ass into a hero. Romancing the Stone because I love watching Joan Wilder transform into a strong woman.

Q-What’s your favorite ’70’s song?

Again, one? You’re So Vain by Carly Simon. I’d like to title a book Clouds in my Coffee. Who can hear that song and not sing along? I also love You’re in my Heart by Rod Stewart for the chorus: You’re in my heart, you’re in my soul. You’ll be my breath should I grow old. You are my lover, you’re my best friend. You’re in my soul. Isn’t that how we all want to be loved?

Which ’70s songs do you love and why? Julie is giving one lucky commenter a $10 Amazon gift card! Stop by next Tuesday to see if it’s YOU!

Back cover blurb.

Swimming into the lifeless body of her husband’s mistress tends to ruin a woman’s day, but becoming a murder suspect can ruin her whole life.

It’s 1974 and Ellison Russell’s life revolves around her daughter and her art. She’s long since stopped caring about her cheating husband, Henry, and the women with whom he entertains himself. That is, until she becomes a suspect in Madeline Harper’s death. The murder forces Ellison to confront her husband’s proclivities and his crimes—kinky sex, petty cruelties and blackmail.

As the body count approaches par on the seventh hole, Ellison knows she has to catch a killer. But with an interfering mother, an adoring father, a teenage daughter, and a cadre of well-meaning friends demanding her attention, can Ellison find the killer before he finds her.

Find out more about Julie HERE: http://www.JulieMulhern.com

BUY THE DEEP END HERE: http://amzn.to/1vCHnCS

Need a Plot? Confessions of an Identity Theft Victim

ccsOh yeah. It happened to me a few months ago. It’s horrific, it’s ongoing and the system is set up to keep the thief’s identity a secret from you. No joke. If you’re looking for a plot, feel free to take these personal details of my life.

Confession #1: I never saw the Melissa McCarthy/Jason Bateman movie about identity theft. I can’t imagine how they made this life-altering, helpless violation humorous.

Confession #2: I’m one of those people who thought it’d never happen to me, so I’ve carelessly and freely given out personal information. I am Mrs. Casual about leaving my purse unzipped on my shoulder or plopping it in a shopping cart as I turn my back and bag tomatoes. In the game of chance, this was bound to finally happen. 

In this instance I’d stuck the open purse on the hook of a Tallahassee hotel trolley as my husband and I loaded suitcases from the room onto the cart. I never saw one hotel occupant or employee pass our room as we loaded that cart. No one shared an elevator down to the lobby. When I hoisted my purse again at the car I instantly knew, by the much lighter weight, that my wallet was gone. To this day I do not know how it was accomplished. But my debit card was used for gas half an hour later (while I was still tearing through suitcases and taking the room apart looking for the wallet.) Why did I not instantly assume it was stolen? Because again: that would never happen to me!

Confession #3: I didn’t know the meaning of real identity theft. Like most of us, I’ve had a credit card ‘used’ at a store in another state/country and the bank called asking if I was presently at that store. “No, I’m not,” I answered, outraged, “and the card is still in my possession.” That’s what I thought of as “identity theft.” And in my defense, you hear the term so often it loses it’s terrifying impact. Huge companies are inundated with breaches in their cyber security and the nightly news helpfully keeps us in a constant state of fear that our “personal information” has probably just been stolen.

Confession #3: After immediately canceling credit cards (right there in the hotel parking lot at 6am) I figured that’s all I needed to do. It never occurred to me any other harm could come from the theft. Oh, I was annoyed they’d gotten some Christmas gift cards I hadn’t gotten around to using. And now I was without my Sam’s card, AAA, driver’s license, car and health insurance cards…all inconveniences. But if they’d planned on shopping with my AX and 2 Visas they were in for quite a surprise! They had my debit card but not my PIN. Shrug. We got in the car and drove off. In hindsight, that was the biggest mistake we made. Driving away from the scene of a crime and not calling the Tallahassee police and filing a report. Never occurred to us because we thought we’d handled it.

Confession #4: I had no idea that once a thief has access to the information on your driver’s license, getting your social security number is a snap. Did they con a government official or hack into the social security system? I’m not stupid enough to carry that precious number out in public, and providing your social security is the only way you can apply for credit cards.

Confession #5: Because of the combined idiotic naiveté listed above, I was utterly shocked when Capitol One called me a few weeks later asking if I’d applied for their credit card.

And that’s when the real horror started.computer

The second I was off the phone my husband enrolled me in one of the 3 Credit Reporting Agencies (Equifax, TransUnion and Experain.) They have a service very similar to LifeLock. The customer rep immediately walked me through how to ‘lock down’ my social security number. If anyone were to use it from that moment forward it sends a red flag to the company to call me and ask if I just applied for a credit card.

Confession #6: I had no idea I could sign up for this service any day of the week, without an emergency like a stolen wallet. Small fee ($99) for 6  months of a watchdog service. You can even order them to alert you if your credit card balance increases by–you give them the $ range. Example: $200 increase triggers an email/text alert. (Happy Christmas shopping.)

Conveniently the 3 companies ‘talk’ to each other, so you pay one, but get information from all 3 immediately. There’s a link that lets you see all 3 Reporting Agencies lists of credit cards you have taken out in the last 3 years. (None, btw. Mine should have been a blank page.)

And this is what I saw: all within one day my social security and name had applied for cc’s to Target, Best Buy, Loews, Home Depot, Capitol One, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Northern Tool, T-Mobile and H.H. Gregg.

Conveniently, this link also provides toll-free numbers for each of these companies. Inconveniently, these numbers are not the Fraud Department. Fraud Dept numbers are also not listed on any of the websites.

Confession #7: I thought a 2-3 minute call per company would clear up each case. Uh…no. I think my fastest call to shut a card down was 20 minutes. Average was more like 40 minutes. Why? Because I’d get in the mechanical loop of ‘if I want ___ dept, please press one now.’ None featured a magical number to get the Fraud Dept. Inevitably I chose Customer Service. Spilled my sorry tale. Most put me on hold because they did not know what to do or say! Eventually they provided a different toll-free number. Sometimes it was right, sometimes I would be transferred several times before reaching the Fraud Dept. Sometimes, I would get disconnected and have to start over. On average I’d tell my sorry tale to 3 company representatives before I heard, “I can help you with that.”

Confession #8: When a Fraud Dept tells you they have nothing listed under your ss#, but the Credit Reporting Agencies have that company listed, do NOT assume the Credit Agencies are wrong. T-Mobile told me nothing showed up and reiterated this quite sharply when I argued that they were listed as a company being defrauded by someone using my name, address and ss#. What could I do but thank her and hang up?

It was the last of the companies I had to call that very long afternoon, and in exhaustion and frustration I gave up. But it preyed on me that someone was wrong…the company or credit agency. I called T-Mobile a week later and explained to another Fraud rep that I’d spoken to his colleague and she’d checked my ss# and seen nothing. Could he please check again? After looking up the ss# he said with resignation and dread: “Oh they got you all right. They got you good.” 4 T-Mobile phones and 4 T-Mobile phone numbers.

In the end the thief or thieves got away with $2,000 of goods by forging a check at Sam’s (who does not return canceled checks to your bank. I have to think the thieves knew that.) Over $2,000 at Home Depot because they applied for instant credit AT the checkout register. $47 worth of gas on my debit card (while I was still searching the hotel for the wallet.) No PIN needed if you’re using it as a cc. God knows how much T-Mobile ate. $2600 at H.H. Gregg, a store I’d never even heard of and they, like T-Mobile, do not show my ss# in their system still. But it’s listed on all 3 Agencies sites.

K&T meConfession #9: I figured the companies being defrauded and eating these charges would pony up information on the thief. Nope. Once in awhile the rep would slip up and give me an area code on the application. One actually felt sorry for me and told me the purchases occurred at 2 stores in Miami. 4 T-Mobile Welcome letters finally showed up in the mail with 4 phone numbers and they were Miami area codes. ALL companies ask if I’d called the Tallahassee police and opened a case file so they could add their information about the thieves. Oops. (We tried to report it weeks later and it fell on deaf ears.)

Confession #10: The easiest, most logical step to stop this was impossible. I called the Texas DPS to ask them to flag or cancel my license. She apologized and said there was no way to do that. There was actually nothing they could do to alert any companies or other states’ police departments that my license was being used for nefarious purposes. Her exact words were: “I’m sorry, you’ll just have to wait until the license expires.”

So if you are looking for a plot I give full permission to use my experience. You’ll need a character who has a specific world view in the beginning, (i.e., naïve-‘nothing like this will ever happen to ME’) then goes through the wringer and comes out at the end of the story an altered person. The theft occurred moving from Houston to southwest FL. I defy you to find my new hometown on any media site. Because any new personal information is now locked up, like my ss#. And my trust in my fellow man.

COULD YOU BE A KILLER?

Today we welcome back multi-published author, Stacy Green. And since I’m in the chaotic stage of unpacking hundreds of boxes after moving from Houston to FL last week, I asked Stacy to come up with something intriguing that captures the tone of her newest release: ALL GOOD DEEDS. Take it away, Stacy!

StacyFall1pressCOULD YOU BE A KILLER?

This question planted the seed for my newest character Lucy Kendall, a former CPS worker turned private investigator and vigilante killer of sex offenders.

The criminal mind is a fascinating place and oftentimes a mystery for investigators. Bundy, Gacy, Lucas–the worst of the worst–are almost easy to understand. They just aren’t wired right. Add a dose of lousy nurturing, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

But what about the outliers? The people who are good by society’s standards and then one day just snap? Did they have it in them all along? Do we all possess that shadow side that lurks, waiting for something to turn us bad?

I think any one of us are capable of killing someone–or at least doing serious bodily injury–if the circumstances are right.

Some of these are pretty straightforward: someone hurting our kid, our pets, our career. People have snapped over less.

But what about something that isn’t personal? Something that doesn’t directly affect you but is a sore on society? What would make you risk your freedom, and how would you do it?

Lucy Kendall snaps when a child killer walks free. But she doesn’t lash out in a clumsy, unorganized way. She thinks things through, figuring out the best method to do her work AND keep herself out of jail. And even as she figures out the most efficient way for her to end someone’s life, she doesn’t believe she’s a killer.

Her targets are men who have destroyed kids lives and will do it again. Lucy believes with her whole heart sex offenders can’t be cured, and her actions take care of a problem the justice system and society simply can’t–or won’t.

I believe that most if not all of us possess what Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung called the Shadow Side.

The shadow exists as part of the unconscious mind and is composed of repressed ideas, weaknesses, desires, instincts and shortcomings…These latent dispositions are present in all of us, Jung believed, although people sometimes deny this element of their own psyche and instead project it onto others. SOURCE

This theory was a major influence on developing Lucy Kendall. Although there is tragedy in her past, she is a normal member of society. But her shadow side has seeped through her veneer until it now rules her choices and ultimately, her life.

She’ll have to come to terms with being a killer, her real motives, and answer the ultimate question: now that she has fully engaged her shadow side, is she even capable of not killing?

Does her choice of victim make her exempt? If she’s caught, is she a hero or a villain?

Or does her methodology make her just as evil as the famous serial killers we have such a fascination with?

I don’t have the answers to those questions, but I do know that as I get older, I realize more and more that life is not black and white. Our systems are flawed and need changing, but whether or not there are any good alternatives remains to be seen.

I think any one of us could become a Lucy Kendall if the circumstances are right, and I will further argue that instead of moral code, it’s fear of punishment that keeps most of society in check. Score one for the penal system.

What about you, thriller readers and writers? Is life black and white? Should there be exemptions? And what would it take for you to administer Lucy Kendall Justice? Comment for a chance to win a copy of my new release, ALL GOOD DEEDS!

ALL GOOD DEEDS by Stacy GreenAllGoodDeedsEbook

Lucy Kendall lived her life in a strange mixture of carefully calculated moves and impulse decisions. Cracking the skull of the man who molested her sister and attacking her was impulse. Spending half her teenage years drinking and acting out were calculated cries for attention from her narcissistic mother followed by impulsive rages at her lack of concern.

The decade spent working in Child Protective Services before becoming a private investigator taught her two truths. One, CPS failed miserably in protecting children. Two, Lucy was more than willing to do it for them, meting out her brand of dark justice in spite of her own fear of death. But Lucy’s crusade is compromised when a self-proclaimed sociopath offers to help—and leaves her no choice but to accept it.

When eight-year old Kailey Richardson is abducted, it sets off a chain of events linked to Justin Beckett, a suspect in a life-changing case in Lucy’s past. The path she’s chosen since dealing with Beckett has been dark and terrifying—but she has no idea just how deep she will go or where the twisted road will take her.

She’s about to find out.

About the Author

Born in Indiana and raised in Iowa, Stacy Green earned degrees in journalism and sociology from Drake University. After a successful advertising career, Stacy became a proud stay-at-home mom to her miracle child. Now a full-time author, Stacy juggles her time between her demanding characters and supportive family. She loves reading, cooking, and the occasional gardening excursion. Stacy lives in Marion, Iowa with her husband Rob, their daughter Grace, and the family’s three obnoxious but lovable canine children.

Thanks for being our guest today, Stacy! You raise some interesting points and questions. Readers: For more information on Stacy Green here are her links.

Website: www.stacygreen.net

Amazon Author Page

Facebook Stacy Green, Author

Twitter @StacyGreen26

Winner Announcement: And the winner of ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS KISS by Manda Collins is Patti Straight. Congratulations Patti! Please use our contact page to claim your prize and let us know if you prefer an e-book or print on release day. Please include your email and snail mail addy (if you want print). 

 

Thursday Winner!

DeadHeat-1A special thank you to Allison Brennan for hosting our blog on Tuesday. Congratulations to jdh2690! You win a signed copy of either DEAD HEAT (The Lucy Kincaid series) or NOTORIOUS (The first in the Max Revere series.)

Please click on the Contact Us link and let us know where to send you book.notorious-final

 

Thank you to all of the commenters on Tuesday, we appreciate you stopping by and chatting about books and TV shows, what works and what is contrived.

Next Tuesday, June 10th, Rachel will host Amanda Brice, who returns with her 3rd ANNUAL YA SUMMER READING LIST. If you have tweens or tweens, do not miss this!Amanda Brice

Allison Brennan: let’s talk books and TV shows!

Brennan_official_photocred Brittan Dodd We welcome back one of the modern day Romantic Suspense Greats: Allison Brennan! Besides being a wife and raising 5 children, she’s presently writing 3 separate series. 1)Her best-selling Lucy Kincaid novels, 2)A new series featuring Max Revere, a spunky investigative reporter and 3) the Moreno and Hart Mysteries collaboration with colleague Laura Griffin. Crash and Burn cover

Therefore, it’s a quite an honor she took time out of her busy schedule to write this:

I am thrilled to once again guest blog here at Kiss and Thrill!

Sarah asked me to write something totally fabulous. There’s nothing that kills the muse faster than expectations. Which got me thinking about reader expectations for Romantic Suspense.

Romantic Suspense is a broad and thriving genre where any of us can write a story about two worthy people battling against all the odds to defeat the bad guy and live happily ever after. Any way you get there is a win. Because the only REAL expectation in a romantic suspense (other than a good story well told) is that the hero and heroine should at least be one step closer to a commitment. They need to overcome internal and external conflicts so that, even if there are no wedding bells or shared bedrooms, the readers know they will make it, together.

I wrote 12 romantic thrillers–each book with one hero and one heroine who were together by the end of the book. It was clear in the structure and set up, and I felt I had a broad canvas to play with, so I did. But after 12 of a similar type of story, I was a little burned out and ready to try something else…and was inspired by J.D. Robb’s successful IN DEATH series (which is one of my all-time favorite series.)

I was nervous about launching a romantic suspense series–where there is the same hero and heroine throughout multiple books. But I’m glad I did. Lucy Kincaid and Sean Rogan have had their ups and downs, but they are together in San Antonio in DEAD HEAT, the 8th book of the series, that comes out today!DeadHeat-1

But even though I’ve followed Sean and Lucy over the past years, and readers know they will stick together, I never want to get complacent about their relationship. One of the things I love most about Eve and Roarke (J.D. Robb’s characters) is that their personal conflicts are organic to who they are as people–so their arguments are never contrived, and while we know they are going to be together by the end of the book, how they overcome the conflict is an integral part of the story and keeps us turning pages as much as the mystery plot.

The season 5 finale of CASTLE illustrates how they do it right. The swing scene. Rick and Kate love each other, but there are some very real conflicts in their relationship. Where are they going? Kate has an opportunity to do something amazing with her career–a once in a lifetime shot at advancement that will take her out of New York City.

Rick has had two failed marriages and his mother has been a bit of a naysayer regarding whether he’s truly committed to the relationship. Add in external plot issues that highlight their core emotional and relationship problems, and you go into the last two minutes not knowing what each of them is going to do.

What I loved the most was that Kate said she was taking the FBI job, Castle proposed, and said they would make it work. Their love and respect for each other would not only help them overcome any hurdles, but empower them to do so. The first four episodes of season 6 were outstanding in how they handled Kate’s job and the transition back to New York. The wedding proposal and subsequent job conflicts were true to character, as was how Kate got fired and how she got her job back at NYPD.

There is nothing I dislike more than a contrived story plot point in order to keep characters together or apart. (Like the season finale of CASTLE 6 … they’d better nail Season 7 or I’ll be really mad.)

I thought a lot about the job conflict for Kate because in many ways Lucy has a similar conflict. After graduating from Quantico, the FBI rarely assigns an agent to the office from which they were recruited. So I knew if I assigned Lucy to the Washington DC office, it would be a contrived plot point to keep them in DC and Sean as a principle of Rogan-Caruso-Kincaid. So I thought back over the course of all the books to identify core conflicts.

One of Sean’s core conflicts, going back to even before the Lucy series when Sean’s brother Duke had his book (CUTTING EDGE), was that he never felt that he lived up to his brother’s expectations. I worked with that, and broadened it by diving into more back story in how Sean got to be who he was. There were tidbits spread throughout the series, but in STOLEN readers get to learn all about Sean’s criminal past and what he’s willing to do to protect Lucy from his past mistakes. And in the end, it feels right that he walks away from the family business and seeks to find his own path.

So moving Lucy to San Antonio, it’s a no brainer that Sean went with her. And right now, in DEAD HEAT, they are at a perfect place together – Sean has made friends (including a good friend working in Lucy’s FBI squad); Lucy loves her job and is working hard; and Sean has spent time fixing up their new house. But he doesn’t have a job and while he doesn’t need one, he would be miserable without something to do – or get into a lot of trouble. Lucy sees it now, while Sean hasn’t quite gotten there yet because he’s in the happy bubble of having the woman he loves living with him. But it’s a real conflict that they are going to have to address, and hopefully it’ll be organic to the story.

There are other issues that will have to be addressed, things that are partly resolved (like Lucy’s past) but that can and will come up. Whether they’ll get married and when and why. And there are a few unresolved issues from Sean’s past … maybe things that Sean didn’t even know were unresolved. 

The fun thing about writing a continuing series is that I can explore more issues between two people—and a strong secondary cast–while also keeping the suspense on the front burner. Series like CASTLE, and to a lesser degree BONES, help promote such storylines.

 

What do you think? Do you like continuing characters? Let’s talk about series … or Castle or Bones! I’m a bit of a television addict, so I’m game to talk about whatever you are!

 

One lucky commenter will win a signed first edition hardcover of NOTORIOUS, the first book in my new Max Revere mystery series, OR a signed copy of DEAD HEAT, the latest Lucy Kincaid thriller – winner’s choice!notorious-final

Thank you SO much for sharing your thoughts on creating a series with organic, ongoing conflicts, Allison! Readers, for more information, please visit her at:

Website: http://www.allisonbrennan.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AllisonBrennan

Twitter: @Allison_Brennan

 

 

 

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