Author Archives: Sarah Andre
A 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.)
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.
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.
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!
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!
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:
Mona Kekstadt and Kim MacCarron are the lucky winners of BROKEN PLACES by Krista Hall.
Congratulations ladies! You may choose either an e-copy or signed paperback. Please click on the Contact Us link above and let us know how you’d like to receive the novel.
Thank you to everyone who stopped by on Tuesday to celebrate Krista’s debut. We hope you enjoy her novel too.
Next Tuesday Diana Belchase has a surprise up her sleeve. Could be a post, a video interview of yet another famous author-friend of hers or…something else. Come on back to find out!
Can you hear us shrieking in triumph here at Kiss and Thrill? Today is DEBUT DAY for Krista Hall, one of our talented authors!
BROKEN PLACES is the romantic suspense novel that WON the prestigious Golden Heart® Award last year. (I should know, I read Krista’s acceptance speech to 2,000 romance writers!)
BROKEN PLACES is a riveting, authentic glimpse into Hispanic gangs in DC. The violent culture, lingo, signs and graffiti (also known as tagging) are so realistic I figured Krista had worked on a gang task force or dated an FBI hottie. No joke. There were scenes where my heart was in my throat for the danger the main gangbanger, Bandit faced.
It’s my honor to bring you Krista’s debut interview:
You are literally ‘realizing your dream’ today. How does it feel?
Exciting! Broken Places is a story that wouldn’t let go of me. I’ve been working on it for four years. I loved writing it and was determined to find a way to publish it in 2014.
Chingazos (or variant, chingasos) is Spanish slang for hard punches or blows. I added the word loco or crazy to emphasize the unpredictability of gang violence. My cover designer, Naomi Raine created this graphic for the Chingazos Locos gang symbol. What do you think?
Cool! T-shirts for all!
On Twitter. I was reading Sarah Wendell’s (@Smart Bitches) tweets as the awards were announced. I couldn’t believe my eyes when my name popped up and my twitter feed exploded with congratulations. (Thank you, K&T and GH sisters!)
Then I switched to a video feed and watched you OWN the podium, Sarah. You were awesome—so poised and elegant. I was not (T-shirt, running shorts, ponytail), but I was wearing my Lucky 13 pin. :-) I still owe you a bottle of Champagne. Make that two bottles. We need to celebrate your nomination for the 2014 Golden Heart® Award.
(Krista, this post is not about me…) ;) Why did you title this novel BROKEN PLACES?
A couple of years ago, when my book group was reading The Paris Wife, I was inspired to reread Hemingway’s novels. There is a line from A Farewell To Arms that made me think of the characters in BP, particularly FBI Agent Cruz Larsen: “The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”
He wants to shake Trevy up so that she’ll “rip off those rose-colored glasses and take a good hard look at the real world. Then maybe she’d see what he saw. Violence that didn’t care about good or bad, innocent or depraved, right or wrong.”
What type of research did you do to make the gang behavior, lingo and violence so authentic?
There were some high profile MS-13 (a violent, transnational Latino gang) trials making local news when I started writing Broken Places so The Washington Post reporting was a trove of information. Also relevant interviews on NPR’s Fresh Air, Tell Me More, and the D.C.-based Kojo Nnamdi Show. (Yes, I’m addicted to NPR.) The Internet was useful for researching gang slang.
Urban ethnographer Susan Phillips’s book Wallbangin’ was a great resource. Not only did I learn a lot about gang culture and graffiti, but also a sense of what it’s like to insert yourself in dangerous places where you’re an obvious outsider, the struggle of working with people you’re afraid of, and the personal doubts about the ethical implications of using people’s lives to document societal and cultural phenomena. These are issues Trevy struggles with throughout the book. What is her responsibility to act in the face of the suffering she witnesses?
What writing or publishing projects are in your future?
I’m working on the second book of the Broken Places trilogy. I’m also planning to revise my 2007 Golden Heart® (finalist) manuscript about a flower farmer in western Virginia who becomes embroiled in a political scandal that endangers her livelihood and life.
Now to the GOOD STUFF! Favorite movie?
Miss Potter. Until I saw the movie, I had no idea Beatrix Potter was such a trailblazer—a writer, illustrator, natural scientist, conservationist, and woman with IDEAS.
I shouldn’t have been surprised, though. Despite the whimsy of her drawings, think of all the subversive rule-breakers featured in her stories: The Tale of Two Bad Mice, The Fierce Bad Rabbit, etc. And the English Lake District where much of the movie was filmed is a visual feast.
Food you can’t say ‘no’ to?
The Chocolate Cupcake of Doom at Baked & Wired in Georgetown.
OMG! I’ll be on the next flight over! A dream trip for you would be…?
Three weeks in Australia and New Zealand with a weeklong layover in Kauai, Hawaii.
Doing book signings! What do you hope readers take away from your story?
Mostly, the enjoyment of a good read and I hope the message is an optimistic one: There can be sweetness after the storm. Do you know the R.E.M. song, Sweetness Follows? If Broken Places had a playlist that song would be on it.
And now, readers, without further ado! An excerpt of BROKEN PLACES:
“Spare me the lecture, Doc.”
Trevy fastened the cover on the zoom lens of her camera and stuffed it back into her bag with short, jerky motions that betrayed her rising temper. “Don’t you see, if you’d only take the time to understand how these children fall victim to gangs–“
“I know more about it than you ever could,” Cruz said, revealing more than he’d intended. But the good doctor was too wrapped up in her thoughts to notice. “To you, everyone’s a victim. Christ, I’m sick of that mentality.”
“They are victims,” Trevy said, her hands forming tight little fists at her sides. She looked furious enough to hit him, but her voice was remarkably calm. “These children are living on the margin, between two cultures, if you will. Do you know what kind of extreme talent and resolve it takes for even one of them to climb the economic ladder out of poverty?”
“These children are killing each other.” Cruz turned his back on her. He didn’t like the look of the group of teenage boys across the street. They all seemed to have shopped at the same store with the same shopping list. Red sports jerseys, baggy jeans tucked into high-top sneakers, red bandanas in back pockets. LDRs or LDR wannabes, thugs in the making. He cut a warning glance at them and then stepped nearer to Trevy, blocking her from view.
Trevy paused a moment to glare at him before pulling out the notebook and tape measure she always carried in her satchel. She began measuring the images on the wall and jotting down notes. “Do you have a heart?” she asked, as if picking up the thread of a dropped conversation.
“Excuse me, Dr. Barlow, if I don’t feel like joining your pity party for a bunch of street thugs who are intent on turning this part of the city into a war zone,” he said, leaning close enough to smell her shampoo. The scent–light and clean, with a floral note–only made him angrier. “Two girls are dead. Save your pity for them.”
Comment for a chance to win one of TWO copies of BROKEN PLACES! Question of the day:
Have you ever started a project that took years to finish? What kept you going?
Check back on Thursday to see if you’re a lucky winner! (Signed paperback available only in the Continental US. Nook or Kindle e-book available for all.)
Where can readers find out more about you, Krista?
Please click the Contact Us button above and let us know where to send your goodies. (Email address for the PDF and snail mail for the notebook.)
Thanks to everyone who stopped over on Tuesday to welcome Rolynn and leave a comment! We really appreciate your time and interest.
Please join us next Tuesday, May 6th, when Rachel Grant hosts Diana Miller.
And on Wednesday, May 7th, our very own Krista Hall gives us a sneak peak at her DEBUT COVER REVEAL!
Broken Places was the 2013 Golden Heart® Winner in Romantic Suspense.
Make sure to come over and celebrate with us!
And on Thursday, May 8th, Krista Hall welcomes
Shelley Coriell and her new release THE BROKEN.
Today we welcome back a frequent guest: romantic suspense author ROLYNN ANDERSON. In researching her next novel, LIE CATCHERS, Rolynn set sail for Petersburg, Alaska. The small fishing town had an unsolved crime from 1932, the murder of the town’s richest, most beloved merchant: Sing Lee. She’s here to tell us a bit about the real story and how she interwove it with her latest release (which I devoured!)
by Rolynn Anderson
When: Early 1900’s
Where: Petersburg, Alaska, in the shadow of the LeConte Glacier
Who: Tlingit Indians, Norwegian immigrants. And one Chinese entrepreneur.
Why: The Tlingits and Norwegians made a living as fishermen. Sing Lee, the Chinese entrepreneur, made money off the fishermen.
How LIE CATCHERS (just released this month) came about:
It’s 2011 and my husband and I are cruising from Washington State to Alaska on our trawler, Intrepid (see picture below). Never had we covered that distance, much less navigated such difficult stretches of water.
We arrived in Petersburg, Alaska, all the strangeness of a scary virgin voyage replaced by our fascination for this charming fishing village.
The town, located on the northern portion of Mitkof Island, was settled first by Tlingit and Haida tribes. Norwegians showed up in the early 1900′s. Chinese workers soon arrived to gut and package fish caught by the Norwegians.
But one Chinese man, Sing Lee, stood out among the subservient workers. In no time at all, he’d established a country store and built up a reputation as a generous citizen and shrewd businessman. And yes, he may have run a little opium sideline business. (see his picture, below)
He was murdered in 1932 and to this day, the crime remains unsolved. I decided to solve the crime in LIE CATCHERS entwining it with a recent murder.
Why? Because I wanted to juxtapose how a crime was handled in 1932 next to a murder managed by authorities in 2014.
My other motivator: absolving the guilt carried by a whole town for never collaring the murderer of an important citizen.
For fun, I stirred in a budding romance between a Petersburg free-lance writer (researching the Sing Lee cold case) and a Treasury agent from Fresno sent to the Alaska town to solve the recent murder. The result is LIE CATCHERS!
Two unsolved murders will tear apart an Alaska fishing town unless a writer and a government agent reveal their secret obsessions.
Treasury agent Parker Browne is working undercover in Petersburg, Alaska to investigate a money scam and a murder. His prime suspect, Liv Hanson, is a freelance writer struggling to save her family’s business. Free spirited, full of life, and with a talent for catching liars, she fascinates Parker.
Trying to prove she’s a legitimate writer who cares about Petersburg’s issues, Liv pens a series of newspaper articles about an old, unsolved murder. When her cold case ties in with Parker’s investigation, bullets start to fly.
Parker understands money trails, and Liv knows the town residents. But he gave up on love two years ago, and she trusts no one, especially with her carefully guarded secret. If they mesh their skills to find the killers, will they survive the fallout?
I’m wondering if an historical event moved you to research and write a story. Comment on this concept and one of you, chosen at random will win a PDF of LIE CATCHERS (put your e-mail addy at the end of your comment). In addition, I’ll send you a mini-notebook, waterproofed, manufactured by Rite in the Rain.
Buy Sites: Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00HJDS1LG
Wild Rose Press: http://tinyurl.com/kedp4lr
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005527LS2 Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4990049.Rolynn_Anderson
SUSPENSE SPIKED WITH ROMANCE
FADEOUT won a RONE award; LIE CATCHERS is a nominee for a RONE award!
Thanks for explaining the story behind the story, Rolynn! Readers, please comment for a chance to win a copy of LIE CATCHERS!
Congratulations again to the 4 romantic suspense RITA® nominees! We really enjoyed having this chance to meet you individually. And thanks for submitting your first lines, smoking-hot covers and back cover blurbs. We wish you all the best of luck on Awards Night!
And now announcing this week’s lucky winners!
JUSTICE FOR SARA by Erica Spindler goes to: JULIE O
THE KILLING GAME (DIGITAL COPY) by Toni Anderson goes to: CARMEN PACHECO
OFF THE EDGE by Carolyn Crane goes to: DIANE SALLANS
THRILL RIDE by Julie Ann Walker (2 signed copies) go to: DOMINIQUE BROTHERS and ELLEN CULVERWELL
WINNERS: Please click on the CONTACT US link above, and let us know where the nominees can send your books. Remember, you have 10 days to respond and this giveaway is only eligible to readers in the Continental US. (Sorry everyone else!) :(
Thank you to ALL the many, many commenters who stopped by this week! It was so exciting hosting the 4 RITA® RS nominees and we appreciate you joining us.
Be sure to check in next week when we host Laura Griffin and learn about her upcoming release–her hardcover debut–FAR GONE!
Welcome 2014 RITA® romantic suspense nominee Julie Ann Walker!
Her nominated novel is: THRILL RIDE
HER FIRST LINE IS: “They say he’s gone rogue.”
HE’S GONE ROGUE
Ex-navy SEAL Rock Babineaux is as Cajun as they come—spicy, sexy, and more than a bit wicked. But would he actually betray his country? Even his best friends on the special-ops Black Knights team aren’t sure they can trust him. Now the target of a massive manhunt, Rock knows the only way to protect the team—especially his partner, Vanessa—is to run…
SHE WON’T BACK DOWN
Rock might think he can outmaneuver them all, but he hasn’t counted on how stubborn Vanessa Cordero can be. And she refuses to cut him loose. Sure, her partner has his secrets, but there’s no one in the world she’d rather have by her side in a tight spot. Which is good because she and Rock are about to get very tight…
Julie Ann Walker is the award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Black Knights Inc. romantic suspense series. She is prone to spouting movie quotes and song lyrics. She’ll never say no to sharing a glass of wine or going for a long walk. She prefers impromptu travel over the scheduled kind, and she takes her coffee with milk. You can find her on her bicycle along the lake shore in Chicago or blasting away at her keyboard, trying to wrangle her capricious imagination into submission.
For more information on Julie Ann Walker: (just go to our Nov 7th blog; she guest-hosted!)
Julie Ann is generously giving away 2 signed copies of THRILL RIDE to 2 lucky commenters.
Check back tomorrow to see if you won!