Monthly Archives: March 2012

Lena Diaz’s Simon Says Die Giveaway Winner

The winner of autographed copies of HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT and SIMON SAYS DIE is…

TrishJ!

Please contact us with your preferred physical mailing address within the next ten days to claim your prize. Your address must be in the U.S. or Canada.

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And the winner of the $25 gift card for either Amazon or Barnes & Noble is…

gillian!

Please contact us with your store preference and physical mailing address within the next ten days to claim your prize. Your address must be in the U.S.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by and commented and helped to make Lena’s release day special!

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Come back to Kiss and Thrill next Tuesday when our featured guest is author Liese Sherwood-Fabre!

Lena Diaz admits to stalking Teresa Medeiros!

Does tweeting “I love GOODNIGHT TWEETHEART by Teresa Medeiros” over and over count as stalking? Maybe. Read on for more details about Lena Diaz, her new release SIMON SAYS DIE, and her stalking problem.


Today is an exciting day for us here at Kiss and Thrill, because SIMON SAYS DIE, by our very own Lena Diaz, is being released today in ebook (you can also order it in paperback if you prefer, but you have to order online). To celebrate, I’m giving away a $25 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble to one lucky commenter, and Lena is giving a signed print set of both HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT and SIMON SAYS DIE. (Snail mail address must be in the US or Canada to qualify.)

I am super lucky to be the Kiss and Thrill team member who gets to interview Lena, because it meant I got to read an advance copy.  Gwen, Krista, Carey, and the rest of the Kiss and Thrill team can suck it…I got to read Lena’s book first!

There is so much to love about this book.  Pierce, who was kicked in the heart by Madison but still drops everything to help her when he realizes she is in danger.  Madison, who doesn’t know whom to trust or what to believe.  She reacted in fear by pushing away the one person she cares about the most.

SIMON SAYS DIE is a reunion story with two strong-willed protagonists who have to find their way past old hurts.  It’s also an intense suspense with a scary killer who is a master manipulator.

Rachel:  I usually start out by thanking my guest for joining us, but since you are one of us, instead I’ll say, I hope you don’t mind being in the hot seat.

Lena Diaz

Lena:  Rachel, can I just take a second and congratulate you again on being a 2012 Golden Heart®  finalist? I’m so thrilled for you!

Now, back to this post. Thank you so much for your kind words about Simon Says Die. I’m so glad you liked it! And I don’t mind being in the hot seat. It’s an honor to be interviewed by you. And if you ask really hard or embarrassing questions, hey, I’m willing to return the favor and interview you some time. (Insert evil laugh here.)

Rachel:  Thanks Lena – it’s an honor to be a finalist and I’m thrilled our own Sharon and Diana also finaled in the same category, but today is about YOU! 🙂

This is your second book, and Pierce and Madison both appeared in HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT.  Were you burning to tell Pierce and Madison’s story from the start, or did those characters jump out in the writing process and demand their own book?

Lena: First, let me emphasize that even though these books have some shared characters, you do NOT have to read the first one to understand and enjoy the second one. They each stand alone, by design. With that being said, the idea of writing Pierce and Madison’s story didn’t occur to me until the end of HKMHKMN (can I pick long titles or what?) The scene is where Pierce is speaking to Amanda, and Madison comes up in the conversation. It was literally while I was writing that scene that I started thinking that maybe Pierce and Madison should have their own story. Then my agent mentioned it, and I decided that must mean I really should write their book. I was halfway through writing SSD when HKMHKMN came out. Immediately readers began asking me when Pierce and Madison’s book would come out. Thankfully, I was able to tell them there would indeed be a book featuring those two characters. I think I may have had a mutiny on my hands if I hadn’t written this book!

As I write this blog post, there have been several reviews already on SSD (really good reviews, yay!) A couple of those reviews mention Pierce’s brothers, introduced in SSD, and that they should have their own books. I never really planned on writing more books for the brothers, although I do have a novella (basically a short story) idea for one brother and another character from SSD and may write that sometime. We’ll see. It depends on reader reaction and what next big idea strikes me I suppose.

Rachel:  I wondered if you were planning sequels for Pierce’s brothers too!  You realize you’re never going to get to write outside of this series unless you stop introducing yummy characters.

Okay, moving on to some of my favorite questions, what published author (any genre) turns you into a total fangirl?  Is there a particular book or is this based on their entire body of work?

Lena:  I’m a total fangirl of so many authors. It’s embarrassing, but for some reason when I actually meet ‘big’ name authors who are my idols, my hands start to shake, my face flushes, and my brain takes a vacation. I have actually forgotten my own name when speaking to one of my author-idols. Why? I think it’s because the characters and stories those people created mean so much to me. When I read a book that I love, the people in that story stick in my mind and become family to me. I mean, seriously – you are never going to convince me that those sexy, Dark Hunters Sherrilyn Kenyon writes about aren’t real.

When some friends and I were at the Atlanta Romance Writers conference and we invited some other attendees to sit with us for dinner, I was totally okay and acted like a normal person. Really, I did. Until I found out one of those people at dinner with us was Susan Carroll, the author of The Bridefinder, one of my most favorite books ever. God bless her that she didn’t run or call the police when I literally jumped to my feet and let out a little squeal of surprise when I realized who she was.

For me, it’s all about the characters, the stories. I go nuts for authors because their stories mean so much to me – just ask Teresa Medeiros. As you said in the title of this blog post, I’m practically her stalker. I tweet about her book Goodnight Tweetheart all the time. I love that book so much that I just can’t help it. But, hey, did you notice she just became a 2012 RITA®  finalist for that book??? Obviously I’m not the only stalker…I mean…fan of that book! (Congrats on the final, Teresa!)

I’m also a fan of Julie Garwood, Linda Howard, Brenda Novak, Karen Rose, Roxanne St. Claire…and on, and on, and on. I’ve met all of the women I just named, many times in some cases. I admire these women because I love their books, they’ve made such an incredible mark on our industry, and they are classy. They always treat their readers with respect, no matter how crazy I…er…I mean…the readers…act.

Rachel:  I think turning into a blithering idiot when you meet an author is pretty awesome praise.  The only thing better might be fan fiction, which brings me to my next question, have you ever written fan fiction, and if so, what work was it based on?  If you haven’t, what would you be tempted to write fan fiction about?

Lena:  Yep, that’s me. Blithering-idiot. Gee, thanks Rachel (grin). I’ve never read any fan-fiction and am not that familiar with it. I’ve heard some people really enjoy it, and that some authors have even had their start by writing fan-fiction. I can certainly understand the appeal of wanting your favorite characters to live on and continue to have more stories. And if someone liked my world-building and characters so much that they wanted to continue writing more stories for my characters, that’s kind of cool. It tells me my stories had a big impact on those people and touched them emotionally. And, really, there can be no bigger compliment to an author than that.

Rachel:  Tell us one guilty pleasure.

Lena:  Grey’s Anatomy. It’s killing my productivity right now. My daughter put it on TV on Netflix a few weeks ago and got me totally hooked. I had to go back and start watching the entire series – we’re talking like seven or eight seasons. I’m literally stuck in the middle of a Grey’s Anatomy marathon/illness right now. I’ve quit struggling against it because I’ve finally realized the only cure is to just give in and watch the entire series. Hopefully I’ll finish in a few days. Then I can move on!

Rachel:  A TV marathon sounds like fun!  I’m sure you can justify it as research, right?  There, no more guilt. 🙂

What is the strangest weapon you’ve used to kill off a character, either on or off-scene?

Lena: Ha! Thanks for the no-guilt card. I’ll play that card. 🙂 Hmm. Strangest weapon I’ve used to kill a character? Probably something I used in Simon Says Die, but I can’t tell you what that is because it would be a spoiler. In my first book, He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, the weapon was an ordinary knife. Nothing strange about that, really. What was strange was the three-day ritual the killer had, and his use of roses and thorns. But again, I don’t want any spoilers so I can’t go into that either. Let’s just suffice it to say that I don’t focus a lot on the murders in my books. I focus on suspense – that ever-present feeling of danger, of wondering what’s going to happen next. The murders usually happen off-page, and if they are on-page it’s very brief – no horror stuff in my books. Again, it’s all about suspense. Whether you know who the villain is or not, the point is to keep you on the edge of your seat wondering how the hero and heroine will overcome the bad guy, and how they will overcome whatever is keeping them apart and find true love that will last a lifetime.

Rachel:  I love edge-of-your-seat reads and SIMON SAYS DIE delivers!  What do you want to tell us about this book?

Lena:  Thanks! Edge-of-your-seat is a huge compliment. Both of my books are psychological thrillers that focus on the suspense element, but SIMON SAYS DIE is a bit more twisty. There are so many secrets between the characters, and enough surprises that the reader will (I hope) question what they think they know as they read the book. Neither of my books are mysteries, but I try to make readers wonder what’s the truth and what’s a lie. My goal is to keep the tension high and make them wonder how the characters can possibly survive and how they will ever overcome all the terrible things life throws at them and somehow end up in a happy, committed relationship.

While I loved writing this story, I’ll admit it was rather difficult to write Madison’s scenes. She has an incredibly strong, independent personality and is quite snarky at times. Keeping her sympathetic but true to character without her coming off as unlikeable was a balancing act. Hopefully I succeeded in showing her motivation, why she acts the way she does, so the readers will empathize with her.

This story also has more humor than my first one. I don’t write comedies, not at all. But Madison’s act-first-think-later personality gets her into some crazy situations. There are some places in the novel where I laughed out loud writing it. Hopefully my readers will enjoy those scenes as well. Okay, now for the official back cover blurb below.

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Simon says: I’m watching.

Madison McKinley knows someone is stalking her. The police tell her she’s imagining things, and they’re too busy trying to find the “Simon Says” killer to investigate. But day by day, hour by hour, Madison’s terror grows stronger, and not even the return of FBI Special Agent Pierce Buchanan into her life can calm her fears. Besides, how can she ask Pierce for his help after the way she ended things between them?

Simon says: I’m coming.

Pierce still wants Madison’s love, and his drive to protect her is more powerful than ever. He believes she’s in danger, even if the cops don’t. Finally, as more people start dying and the evidence mounts, the police turn their attention to Madison—as a suspect. Was Pierce a fool to trust her again, or are they both   caught in a complex game that neither will survive?

Simon says: Die.

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Lena:  Enough about me. I’d love to hear from the readers out there. Who are some of your favorite romantic suspense heroes and heroines? What makes them so memorable?

Remember, one commenter will win a signed print set of my books – HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT and SIMON SAYS DIE. (Snail mail address must be in the US or Canada to qualify for the prize.)

Rachel:  And I’m giving one commenter a $25 gift certificate to Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  Check back on Thursday to see if you are our winner.

Kiss and Thrill congratulates Three of its own 2012 Golden Heart Finalists!

Kiss and Thrill is proud to congratulate THREE of the Kiss and Thrill ladies for becoming 2012 Golden Heart finalists – Diana Belchase, Rachel Grant, and Sharon Wray. Well done ladies!

2012 K&T Golden Heart Finalists for Romantic Suspense

“Body of Evidence” by Rachel Grant
“Rogue’s Return” by Sharon Wray
“Spy in the Harem” by Diana Belchase

Kiss and Thrill also congratulates all of the finalists in the 2012 RITA®  and Golden Heart® contests. For a complete listing of the finalists, go to Romance Writers of America.

The Winner of the Joan Swan Giveaway is…

And the winner is….

Krista (5:20 pm).  Congratulations! Krista won a copy of Joan Swan’s FEVER in either print or ebook.  Please contact us with your name and your preferred physical mailing address within the next ten days to claim your prize.  Your address must be in the U.S. or Canada.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by and commented and be sure to go to Joan’s website and enter her blog tour giveaway – where you can win either a COLOR NOOK or KINDLE FIRE.  To enter, leave a comment here then go to:  http://joanswan.com/giveaways/blog-tour-ereader/ and fill out the entry form.

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Come back to Kiss and Thrill next Tuesday when our featured guest is our very own Lena Diaz!  Lena will be talking about her new release, SIMON SAYS DIE.

Lena Diaz

Join My Class Action Lawsuit Against Debut Author Joan Swan

It’s happened to all of us, right?  You innocently pick up a book, start to read, and get caught up in the story.  You can’t put it down.  It gets late.  You have to be up early the next day.  You keep reading anyway.  Finally, in desperation, you turn off the light, even though you are wide-awake.

You must sleep.

But you can’t.

You find yourself worrying how Teague and Alyssa (example names chosen at random) are possibly going to get their happily ever after.  I mean, the situation is impossible.  He’s an escaped convict.  There is no way he can elude the net that is closing in on him.  And she…she still doesn’t trust him.  After all, he did kidnap her…

Finally, sleep comes.  But what are the dreams about?  Teague and Alyssa.  Their impossible situation.  The hot, intense attraction they can’t ignore…

I (ahem, I mean, you) should have just stayed up and finished the book like you wanted to do in the first place.  Morning comes, and you want to call in sick to work.  You have reading to do.  Doctor appointment?  Reschedule it.  Teague and Alyssa are in trouble.  They need you to read their story.

After finding myself in a situation shockingly similar to the one described above, it occurred to me, the book I was reading, FEVER by Joan Swan, should come with a warning label.

Without a warning label, I didn’t know what I was getting into.  Joan Swan, I demand restitution.  Or at least rest.

For this reason, I have decided to spearhead a class action lawsuit against Joan for her lack of warning labels.  How can you join the class action?

1) Read FEVER.

2) Suffer at the hands of Joan, who mercilessly builds sexual tension while at the same time making the situation go from bad to worse for Teague and Alyssa.

3) Behave irresponsibly due to need to finish book.

4) Document behaviors in #3 above.  Oh, wait.  This part is impossible, because you will be too obsessed with the need to finish the book.  This might be where the class action falls apart.  In fact, what am I doing writing this, when I could be finishing FEVER?

Forget the class action.  I’ve got a book to read.  Someone call my son’s teacher and tell her I’m not available to help out in the classroom today, okay?

[Rachel tries to post this and call it a day, but the ladies at Kiss and Thrill drag her back to the computer, reminding her of her responsibilities.]

Rachel:  What, I still have to interview her?  I’m busy.  I’ve got a book to read.

Kiss & Thrill:  You didn’t even mention that Joan is giving away a copy of FEVER to one lucky commenter.  Or link to the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Books-A-million.  Or link to her website where she is offering a fabulous vacation giveaway.

Rachel:  But if I post those things, then she’ll get more victims.  More hapless, unwarned readers like me.

Kiss & Thrill:  Readers will thank you.  Now get to the interview.

Rachel:  [sighing heavily] Okay, but I’d much rather be reading.  Joan, I’d say I’m happy to have you join us today, but I think you know how I feel.

Joan:  Thanks for having me.  I think.

Rachel:  What published author—in any genre—turns you into a total fangirl?  Is there a particular book or is this based on their entire body of work?

Joan:  Oh, definitely Suzanne Brockmann.  I become a bumbling idiot, and I’d have to say for Suzanne it’s her body of work.

But there are so many others that would get me all starry eyed, like Harlan Coben, Sandra Brown, Cindy Gerard, Tami Hoag, Victoria Dahl, Tess Gerritsen, Dean Koontz…and on and on…

Rachel: [Warming to Joan] You’ve named several of my favorite authors—who come to think of it, don’t have warning labels on their books either…

On a similar subject, have you ever written fan fiction, and if so, what work was it based on?  If you haven’t, what would you be tempted to write fan fiction about?

Joan:  I haven’t written fan fiction.  In fact, I’ve never even read fan fiction, but I’ve heard of it, so I know what it is.  If I were to write fan fiction, I’d probably write something very similar to what I write now, because…well…I love what I write – romantic suspense and romantic thrillers with paranormal elements.

Rachel:  Tell us one guilty pleasure.

Joan:  Disappearing into a movie theatre for a matinee with a gigantic diet coke and a box of Red Vines.  I haven’t done a double feature since I was a kid, but I dream of it often.

Rachel:  Ohhh, a double feature!  I haven’t been to one of those in ages.  Sounds like heaven.  I’m going to add that to my to do list, right after I finish FEVER and get caught up on life.

What is the strangest weapon you’ve used to kill off a character, either on or off-scene?

Joan:  Strange is…well…an opinion.  Some would consider a curse the strangest.  Others would consider burning alive the strangest.  Really, it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

Rachel: I vote for the curse.  Can you tell us about your upcoming release?

Joan:  Why thanks for asking, Rachel!! 🙂

Rachel:  The Kiss and Thrill team made me.  I know you are just going to use this opportunity to lure me into your trap.

Joan:  [entirely unremorseful] I have two releases coming up that I’m pretty excited about.

I’m releasing my first Indie, Intimate Enemies, in April.  This is a two-time Golden Heart finalist and I’m thrilled to be able to share it with readers!

Blaze, book two in the Phoenix Rising series, releases from Kensington September 25th.  This book is a high-octane, reunion story with a tortured set of hero and heroine who have stolen my heart.  I LOVE this book!

Rachel:  Ooohh, is this Luke’s story?  I can’t wait to read it.  I’ll have to make sure I have nothing planned for September 25th and 26th, because I know I’m not going to be able to sleep until it’s done.

Joan, thank you so much for joining us today!  Now can I get back to reading FEVER?

Kiss & Thrill: No Rachel, you have one more thing to do.

Rachel:  Oh yeah.  Now that Joan has answered her questions, it’s our readers’ turn.  Which do you think is the stranger weapon, a curse or being burned alive?  Leave your answer in the comments section for a chance to win a copy of FEVER, and be sure to check back on Thursday to find out who the winner is.  Trust me, you want to read this book!

Joan:  Don’t forget, all commenters here are eligible to enter my blog tour grand prize of either a COLOR NOOK or KINDLE FIRE.  To enter, leave a comment here then go to: http://joanswan.com/giveaways/blog-tour-ereader/ and fill out the entry form.

One U.S. or Canadian commenter here will receive a copy of FEVER in either print or ebook.

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FEVER

Dr. Alyssa Foster will admit to a bad boy fetish…

But when she finds herself face to face with a convicted murderer with determination for freedom and an eye on her as his get out of jail free card, Alyssa knows she’s in deep trouble…. Not just because Teague Creek is a prisoner desperate for freedom, but because his every touch makes her desperate for more.

A man with a life sentence has nothing to lose…

Teague Creek has one shot at freedom, but his plan to escape with a hostage develops a fatal flaw: Alyssa. On the run from both the law and deadly undercover operatives who know of his strange abilities, he needs to avoid trouble, but every heated kiss tells him the fire between them could be just as devastating as the flames that changed him forever.

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Joan Swan is a triple RWA® Golden Heart finalist and writes sexy romantic suspense with a paranormal twist.  Her debut novel with Kensington Brava, FEVER, released February 28, 2012.  Her second novel, BLAZE, follows in October, 2012.

In her day job, she works as a sonographer for one of the top ten medical facilities in the nation and lives on the California central coast in beautiful wine country with her husband and two daughters.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Winner of the Leslie Tentler Giveaway!

Congratulations to Karen C, winner of Leslie Tentler’s EDGE OF MIDNIGHT! Please contact us with your name and with your preferred physical mailing address within the next ten days to claim your prize (must be in the U.S).

Thank you to everyone who stopped by and shared their favorite childhood reads and any-age re-reads! Be sure to check Leslie’s website for information about her upcoming releases.

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Come back to Kiss and Thrill next Tuesday when our featured guest is author of gritty romantic suspense, Joan Swan!

Drive-By Q&A with Romantic Suspense Author Leslie Tentler

I first met Leslie last fall at the Georgia Romance Writers Moonlight & Magnolias conference, where I picked up the second book in her Midnight trilogy, Midnight Fear. I had heard of her, since I tend to pay attention to new voices in romantic suspense, but I hadn’t had a chance to try her books. What I found when I dove into Midnight Fear was a complex, character driven novel that broke new ground in the genre.

Her February release, Edge of Fear, is another fresh take on a familiar story, which even the blurb shows:

The writer becomes the story when crime reporter Mia Hale is discovered on a Jacksonville beach – bloodied and disoriented, but alive. She remembers nothing, but her wounds bear the signature of a sadistic serial killer. After years lying dormant, The Collector has resumed his grim hobby: abducting women and taking gruesome souvenirs before dumping their bodies. But none of his victims has ever escaped – and he wants Mia back, more than he ever wanted any of the others.

FBI agent Eric Macfarlane has pursued The Collector for a long time. The case runs deep in his veins, bordering on obsession…and Mia holds the key. She’ll risk everything to recover her memory and bring the madman to justice, and Eric swears to protect this fierce, fragile survivor. But The Collector will not be denied. In his mind, he knows just how their story ends.

Now, without further ado, here’s Leslie Tenter!

MC: Hi Leslie, and thank you so much for stopping by KISS AND THRILL to be interrogated…uh, interviewed.

LT: Thanks for having me!

MC: Let’s get this party started! First off, when and why did you begin writing?

LT: Writing is something I’ve always done, just like I’ve always been a reader. I remember being in maybe fifth grade and sitting at my dad’s typewriter, pecking out little stories and then trying to get people to read them.

I didn’t fully realize that I wanted to “be” a fiction writer until after college, however. Making a living got in the way, though, and it wasn’t until many years later that I got serious about writing and completing a novel.

MC: Yeah, I think we’ve all been forced to choose between eating and writing at one time or another. So you said you were a reader. What book do you remember loving as a child? What was it that you loved?

LT: I checked “Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’Dell out of my elementary school library so many times! I was fascinated with the idea of a young girl living alone and surviving on an island for so many years. There’s a really sad scene in the book that would just kill me every time I read it, but then I’d go back and torture myself by reading it again.

I was also really into Nancy Drew mysteries. I always enjoyed the danger and near misses Nancy and her friends got themselves into. It’s what probably started my interest in suspense stories.

MC: Yay! Another Nancy Drew Fan! I think there are lots of us out here in Romancelandia. Or Romantic Suspense-landia, rather. We should have a convention or something. Do you remember the one where Nancy and Ned got trapped in the…*offstage throat clearing* Okay, okay.

Moving on, you say that you were always a writer, but when did you first consider yourself (or feel like) a writer?

LT:  Probably when I took a job as a staff writer at an Atlanta PR firm. It wasn’t really the type of writing I wanted to do, but at least it put me in the “writer” category. One reason I took the job was because it was right around the corner from the Margaret Mitchell house, which to me was really exciting.

Before my first book, “Midnight Caller”, was published, I spent nearly 20 years supporting myself working as a writer and editor in public relations.

MC: Oh, wow! How cool to work so near where Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone with the Wind. That must have been so creatively stimulating.

So, moving into your writing career itself, what is it about romantic suspense (aside from the Nancy Drew factor) that draws you to it as opposed to other sub-genres of romance?

LT: I love the elements of danger in romantic suspense stories, and the heightened passions that come along with that. While no one really wants that kind of danger in his or her real life, I’d think, it’s exciting to see it play out from the safety of a book. I’m especially drawn to male characters that act heroically and can be brave even to the point of foolishness when the stakes are high.

MC: I love your male characters. They’re tough, but also very human, which I think adds real depth to your stories, and takes some real craftsmanship.

Speaking of, what is the hardest part of writing for you?

The hardest is the business part of it, for sure. I have a lot of anxiety surrounding contracts and deadlines. That’s something I didn’t realize about myself until my first book sold as part of a three-book deal and I suddenly found myself facing a large contract and two additional looming deadlines. That was way scarier to me than a serial killer. 🙂

MC: No kidding! I feel the same way. But let’s not dwell on the tough stuff. What do you find is the easiest part of writing?

LT: The easiest part for me probably stems from my being a non-fiction writer and editor for so many years prior to writing fiction. I feel very confident with my self-editing skills and have been told by my editor and agent that I’m a very “clean” writer.

MC: I am so jealous! You’ll have to teach me your clean writing ways one of these days. For now, I’ll settle for hearing what you’ve been reading lately. Do tell!

LT: I’m reading “Evil at Heart”, the third book in Chelsea Cain’s series about tortured (literally) Portland detective Archie Sheridan and serial killer Gretchen Lowell. I also just started Nora Roberts’ “The Next Always.”

MC (updates her TBR list): So, can you tell us what you’re working on now? Inquiring minds want to know!

LT: I’m working on another romantic thriller that revolves around a homicide detective and is set in Atlanta, where I live. The other main character in the story is the detective’s ex-wife, who is an ER trauma doctor. And while the book deals with a high profile, multiple homicide investigation, it’s also just as much about what happened to this couple – their shared tragedy – that tore them apart.

MC: Ooh! I love the sound of that! Especially the Atlanta setting. Can’t wait to read it!

Leslie, I can’t tell you how much fun it was to have you as our guest today! Thanks for a great interview and for adding some great books to my all time favorites list!

Now, gentle readers, I have a question for you! Did you have one book in particular that, like Leslie, you checked out again and again from the school library? Or one that you owned but read again and again? One commenter will win a copy of Leslie’s latest book, Edge of Midnight.

To Sir With Love; An Evening with ER Braithwaite.

In 1959, E.R. Braithwaite wrote a book called To Sir With Love,based on his experiences teaching teenagers in London’s poor East End.  The book became a

E.R. Braithwaite wrote To Sir With Love

major best seller and iconic motion film, starring Sidney Poitier in 1967.  Even today the impact of his work as a teacher has inspired a multitude to follow in his footsteps.  But, in the long scheme of things, Braithwaite’s stellar career as an author is but a moment in the life of an incredible man.

Born of Oxford educated parents — both mother and father — in British Colonial Guyana, Braithwaite eventually went from being an unemployed, racially discriminated, Ph.D physicist in London, to a teacher, best selling novelist, social worker, consultant to UNESCO, Permanent Representative to the U.N., and professor at NYU and Howard Universities.  He is a man who has looked at life as a whole, not defining himself by any one moment or career, a true Renaissance man.

Ted stood straight and bright-eyed at the podium last night as he reminisced about his life and his famous book.  The content of his talk was intriguing — Life on Guyana, a land of water where the sole purpose of being, was the cultivation and export of sugar.  His own odd situation as an extremely bright black boy on scholarship in a school of privileged white students, where he was constantly held up as a role model of studiousness to the others.  A territory under British rule, where every large house or new car undoubtedly belonged to a white man.  He told us of his voyage to England on a steamer, where he spent long days holed up in a small cabin studying and reading books on every subject, and ending up on the docks of Liverpool.  His studies as a Ph.D student were normal, seeing white people without shoes and begging, was completely foreign and disorienting.  He said, when “one man begged for coppers, I gave him a few pieces of silver.”  He then shook his head as if still perplexed by the memory.

Braithwaite’s book, To Sir With Love, became an iconic movie starring SidneyPoitier

Braithwaite is a humble, no-nonsense man.  He takes inordinately long pauses between his words.  “To keep the audience in anticipation,” he said more than once.  The habit made it difficult to listen to an otherwise engaging tale.  Yet, later, when we discovered he’d be one hundred at his next birthday in June, those of us in the audience were amazed.  He appeared nearly thirty years younger than his years and of course, allowances were made.

When asked about his inter-racial marriage at a time when such things were rare, he said he never paid attention to such things.  “If you look right and left to see who is staring at you, you’ll ending up [falling and] breaking your nose.”

Ted Braithwaite with Diana Belchase

He focused attention on his book career stating writing came easily and his fame a great surprise to himself and his family.  As to the movie?  He snorted a quick, “No,” when asked if he liked Poitier’s portrayal.  “The movie made it look like fun and games,” he replied.

And what was the mysterious, unnamed present given to him by his students at the end of To Sir With Love?  Braithwaite seems embarrassed, then admits, “A very expensive set of about 100 cigarettes, custom monogramed ERB.”  Unfortunately Braithwaite, didn’t smoke.

Recently, someone said, to get struck by lightening, you must stand in the rain.  Ted Braithwaite has been struck several times by the lightening rod of fame and success, but his story proves the adage true.  He certainly has known the rain.

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