Monthly Archives: March 2013

Snarky Winners and GH Nods

We here at Kiss and Thrill would like to take a teensy moment to congratulate 2 of our own: Sharon Wray and Krista Hall!

Sharon Wray

Sharon Wray

Sharon and Krista have finaled in the Romantic Suspense genre of the uber-prestigious 2013 RWA Golden Heart® writing contest! Sharon is actually a double-finalist. Yes, thank you, we think she’s awesome too! Let’s hear the gossip:

How many Golden Heart® nominations have you received over the years? SHARON: This year the two finals are numbers four and five. (It seems so strange to write that.) KRISTA: I have three GH noms as Krista Reynolds: 2007 Single Title for Enemy Hearts, 2011 RS for Borderlands, and 2013 for Broken PlacesI plan to use Krista Hall as my writing name.

And the manuscript name?  SHARON: The title entries were Juliet’s Rogue and Rogue’s Redemption. KRISTA: Broken Places.

Krista 2012

Krista Hall

Can you give us a ‘peek’ into the exact moment you got ‘the call’? SHARON:  The entire family was on day 11 of the flu. I have to admit I was waiting/hoping for a call, but when the phone rang I was in the middle of taking my daughter’s temperature while making another cup of tea. I tried to answer as calmly as I could but my hand shook so much I spilled my tea on the counter, then I started coughing. Luckily, Leslie Kelly (the RWA Board Member who called) was really sweet about it. But when she told me I was a double finalist, I started to cry. Learning that two of my manuscripts (which combined had been rejected close to a hundred times) were finalists sent me over the emotional edge. Again, Leslie was really nice but I ended the phone call as quickly as I could so she wouldn’t think I was out of my mind. 

KRISTA: The Call came while I was in the shower. I never heard the phone ring–not the landline, nor my cell. I got dressed and headed to work, which means I walked downstairs to my office/laundry room. I was trying to forget that RWA would be announcing the nominees that morning, but my work emails weren’t keeping my mind on, well, work. Since it was Tuesday, I clicked over to our Kiss and Thrill loop saw that Sharon had two nominations. Yay, Sharon! I figured this wasn’t my year for a GH nomination. Again. I posted my snarky slogan on the super hilarious blog post you and Darynda Jones wrote and felt cheered up enough to go back to my work emails. A few minutes later, I decided to check my phone for messages. The first message was from an 817 number. Thought it was probably another poll or canned political message. It was Diane Kelly! With good news! I called her back–it wouldn’t feel real until I talked to her 🙂  (QUICK PLUG: Diane Kelly is our guest next Tues!)

 Will you be attending the RWA Awards at the Convention this July? SHARON: I am going to Atlanta! Just not sure yet who’s watching the kids or how I’m going to get there or how I’m going to pay for it. (Can the hotel sleep eight women in one room?)  But I am definitely going! KRISTA: I don’t know if I’m going to Atlanta. Still trying to decide.

 Where are you in the process of getting your work published? SHARON: I am in the process of revising Juliet’s Rogue for my agent. Once it’s done and we both love it, then it will go out on submission with all sorts of praying and crossing of fingers. KRISTA: I’m finalizing edits on Broken Places while Bob Mayer’s voice is still in my head. WRW hosted him for a 2 day workshop on Saturday and Sunday. After 10 hours of Bob Mayer, he sticks in your head like super glue! [I DON’T GET IT?] [REALLY? WHY?] [WHAT’S THE PAYOFF FOR THE READER?] It’s a good thing, right? Then I plan to query agents. But mostly, I’m trying to stay focused on the writing. I have the last third of Broken Places’ sequel to finish and another one to start. My goal is to have my trilogy completed by the end of the year.

When you stand at the podium and accept the coveted Golden Heart® AWARD, what secret sign will you give K&T readers as code that you just said ‘hi.’ SHARON: I will tuck a strand of hair behind my ear–casually and with a cryptic smile, of course! KRISTA: I’ll use a code word: “WORKSHOP.” 🙂

Congratulations again, Sharon and Krista, best of luck!

AND NOW: THE WINNER OF THE SNARKY T-SHIRT SAYING CONTEST…freefireworks

Surprise! Darynda Jones could not narrow it down to 1 winner, so we have 5 winners and a GRAND PRIZE WINNER! Each of you has 10 days to respond and claim the Darynda Jones novel of your choice. (Please use the Contact Us tab at the top and let us know how to send it to you.)

SNARKY SAYING WINNERS:

  • LAURA BAIRD: Your Choice, but personally, I’d go for the light.
  • ANGELA TRENHOLM: My nagging is a sign I still care. My silence is a sign that I’m plotting your death.
  • STACY SCUDDER: No, I can’t go to the gym. I’m in the fitness protection program.
  • MICHELLE GORE: If this coffee were a person, I’d get naked and make love to it.
  • RACHEL KROGEN: Be nice to your sister. One day you may need an alibi.

AND OUR GRAND PRIZE WINNER: (pay attn winners, it involves you too!)

JENNIFER BRAY-WEBER: Never let someone drive you crazy. It’s nearby and the walk is good for you.

Congratulations, Jenn! Not only do you win your Darynda Jones book-of-choice, but also a $25 Amazon gift card AND Darynda wants to buy each of the winners above one of YOUR NOVELS!

Each of the 5 winners: please choose the Jennifer Bray-Weber book of choice too! Titles and descriptions can be found at

http://www.jbrayweber.com/jennifers-books

CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN to Laura, Angela, Stacy, Michelle, Rachel and Jenn!

Next Tuesday, April 2nd, in honor of (groan) TAX MONTH Diana Belchase welcomes romance writer and CPA, Diane Kelly!small_MG_5109ars2-300x200

Diane Kelly writes romantic mysteries featuring feisty heroines, quirky sidekicks, and sexy leading men, with humor that leaves readers laughing out loud.

Diane’s manuscript for Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure won the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart award. Her manuscripts have received more than two dozen RWA chapter awards as well. Diane’s fiction, tax, and humor pieces have appeared in True Love Magazine, Writer’s Digest Yearbook, Romance Writers Report, Byline Magazine, and various other publications. See you all then!

DARYNDA JONES: Snarky T-Shirt Saying CONTEST!

DARYNDA_JONES   That’s right, readers! Our guest blogger today is…(deep inhale, preparing to gush) the talented, funny, prolific, creative, generous, GH and RITA Award winning, best-selling author DARYNDA JONES. You know, of the super successful Charley Davidson series– the Grim Reaper who moonlights as a coffee-addicted PI and has ATTITUDE up to here? (Look up, way up!)

If you’ve read any of her books in the series you know Darynda begins each chapter with a hilariously snarky phrase–the kind you see on a bumper sticker or T-Shirt. The kind that makes you laugh out loud (for real, not LOL.) I’m delighted to welcome her today and extend her fun contest to you and all your friends- spread the word!

Write your favorite snarky saying in our comments section below. Darynda will pick her favorite one on Thursday and the winner gets a Darynda Jones novel of choice. (P.S.: She also writes a wicked-funny YA series, see details below.) Without taking up another inch of precious blog space- here’s Darynda Jones:

Avail 7/9/13

Avail 7/9/13

   Thank you to everyone at Kiss and Thrill for having me today! As a connoisseur of snarky T-shirt sayings, I thought it would be fun to list my favorites, because nothing brings a smile to the face like snark.

    I fell so in love with Julia’s Bridgerton series, and I thought it so clever that she opened each chapter with a little quip from Lady Whistledown. Then I picked up the Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi’s Spiderwick series and they did something very similar. Instead of a title for each chapter as many children’s books have, they opened with a little preview of what was about to happen, something like, ‘Chapter One: In Which More than a Cat Goes Missing.’

   I’m sure there are other authors who do this, but I fell in love with that type of subtle foreshadowing and wanted to do something similar. Only I was writing about a snarky grim reaper with trouble for a middle name. How could I incorporate that kind of fun with something that reflected Charley’s personality? Snarky T-shirts of course. And the chapter headings were born.

First-Grave-on-the-Right-tn  So here is a list of some favorites from the Charley series. In case you are wondering, most of them really and truly are T-shirt and bumper sticker-type quotes. I make up a few here and there, but not many. Can you guess which two out of this list I made up?

  • Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.
  • If it has tires or testicles, it’s gonna give you trouble.
  • What happens if you get scared half to death, twice?
  • Is it sexy in here or is it just me?
  • Upon the advice of my attorney, my shirt bears no message at this time
  • Some girls wear Prada. Some girls wear Glock 17 short recoil spring-loaded semi-automatic pistols with a loaded chamber indicator and a non-slip grip.
  • Where am I going and what am I doing in this hand basket?
  • You know those bad things that happen to good people?  I’m that. 
  • Death comes to those who wait. And to those who don’t. So either way…
  • If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is NOT for you.
  • Some days you’re the cat. Some days you’re the brand new, suede leather Barcalounger.
  • Only two things in life are certain. Guess which one I am.
  • Welcome back. I see the assassins have failed.
  • Hi. I’m Trouble. I heard you were looking for me.
  • Two drinks away from girl-on-girl action.
  • When life hands you lemons say, “Lemons? What else have you got?”
  • It puts the lotion in the basket.
  • I love children, but I don’t think I can eat a whole one.
  • Jenius
  • ADD.  A lifetime of distractions.
  • Sarcasm.  Only one of the services offered.
  • When fighting clowns, always go for the juggler.
  • I may not look like much, but I’m an expert at pretending to be a ninja.

   And, yes, that is a very small sampling. The collection goes on for pages and pages. So, have you seen any great sayings lately you’d love to have on a T-shirt? One caveat: Anything you say can and will be used against you. And quite possibly in my next book.

Thanks again!  ~D~

daryndaINFO AND LINKS:

www.DaryndaJones.com www.cafepress.com/daryndajones www.facebook.com/darynda.jones.official

Check out Darynda’s YA series: Death and the Girl Next Door and Death, Doom and Detention

Okay Readers, I’ll list a few of mine and then you’re up! 🙂

    • I know the Voices in my Head Aren’t Real, But They Sure Have Some Good Ideas
    • Yet, Despite the Look on My Face You’re Still Talking
    • I’m Not Shy, I’m Holding Back My Awesomeness So I Don’t Intimidate You
    • I’m jealous of Me Too
    • You say I’m a B**ch Like it’s A Bad Thing
    • I’m Not Mean, You’re Just a Sissy

Letter to a CP: Sometimes the Best Comes Out Last {Again}

Since next week is the Rita/Golden Heart announcement day, my K&T sisters have asked me to repost this letter I “wrote” last week to my CP (critique partner). I hope that all who are waiting for a call, especially those who don’t get one, find some comfort in these words. They come from a writer’s heart.

“Monkey buttshine!” my son screams at his sister.

“Rat hag!” she yells back.

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I drop the laundry basket and head downstairs.

They know the m-b word is not allowed. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what a monkey butthshine is, but to my twins, it’s the worst thing they can call each other. In their odd twin language, rat hag is the second-worst. So the one who starts the fight, the one who says “monkey buttshine” first, always wins.

“Take it back!” As usual, they speak at the same time, in the same false tone, with the same heavy breathing. Faced off like two cage fighters, they circle each other.

My daughter has on the ugly face, my son’s fists are clenched.

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And my mother’s heart breaks. “Why do you speak to each other like that?”

They both turn and look at me, two pairs of blue eyes wide, as if noticing me for the first time.

My son answers first. “Because she tricked me. She’s always tricking me.”

“Am not!” my daughter replies.

“Are too! It’s why you’re the oldest,” he pauses for affect. “Monkey buttshine!”

Good grief. Not this again. “Your sister was born first because she was lowest. There was no grand conspiracy to make you younger.”

“By eleven minutes,” my daughter adds with a wonderful teenage sneer. “But mom said it felt like eleven hours!”

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Did I mention my twins are thirteen?

“Go finish your chores.” I pick up the laundry basket with a heavy sigh (I can add drama to any situation as well). “And I don’t want to hear those words again.”

“Why not?” my son asks as I leave the room. “I’ve heard you say worse things to yourself.”

Without responding, I stumble up the steps and make it to my bedroom. My heart races and everything blurs.

I’ve heard you say worse things to yourself.

Those words cut me as surely as if I’d taken the sharpest knife to the softest skin on my forearm. Not only because I’m horrified that they’ve heard me, but because they’ve spoken the truth.

I drop the basket in front of the window, the morning light highlighting the folded white laundry, and I see all the variations in the white cotton, where the bleach never penetrated. Perfection is a self-defeating behavior, but self-destruction by words is far worse. Especially when one is a writer with an entire arsenal of rhetorical devises armed and ready.

I am, and always have been, harsher on myself than anyone else. Usually I keep the brutal self-talk inside, but I have a tendency to mutter when I’m upset. I just figured no one else was listening. But, apparently, I was wrong.

As I reach down to start putting away the yellowed whites, my cell phone vibrates. A text from one of my CPs.

21 days until GH/Rita  finals announcedI don’t think I have a chance of finaling. I feel like puking.

I take a deep breath. Those words carry so much emotion, and I remember her disappointment when she didn’t final last year. I remember her smiling on Facebook and cheering on her fellow writers with the grace and humor she’s known for. I also remember the horrible things she and many of my published/yet-to-be published friends confided to me about themselves and their own manuscripts while others celebrated online. And I don’t know how to respond.

Yes, I’ve finaled in the Golden Heart three times over the last three years but I’ve also not finaled five times. I know the disappointment and can still taste the tears, but I hesitate to type back. How can I encourage her when I treat myself with the same kind of contempt? With a kind of harshness I wouldn’t shower on my worst enemy?

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As I put away laundry and struggle with what to say to my CP, I hear the kids downstairs negotiating whose turn it is for dog doo-doo duty. In the midst of back-and-forth promises and threats, my son says, “I’m sorry I called you a monkey buttshine. You’re prettier than a monkey’s butt.”

“I know.” My daughter quickly responds, “And I didn’t come out first on purpose. I was at the right place at the right time. But sometimes the best comes out last.”

My heart skips. Sometimes the best comes out last.

“At least we have each other,” my son says. “Can you imagine how hard this would all be if we had to do everything alone?”

And, again, I’ve learned from my children. My twins were born with a confidence I’ve always envied. Everything they’ve ever faced from speech therapy, entering middle school, to getting braces, they’ve had a sibling. A friend. A partner.

I stand by the bedroom window and watch them outside. In yellow puddle boots and arms wrapped in plastic newspaper bags, they work together to clean the yard while the dog chases them. And I smile. They’ve shared everything. Haircuts at the scary cartoon place. Death of the beloved hamster. Whispers in the dark. Birthdays. They may argue, but they don’t fear because they are never truly alone.

Suicide by words is just plain old fear wrapped in vivid imagery and clever metaphors. 

And isn’t it my job as a CP, as a friend, as a colleague, to stamp out this fear in both myself and those I love? It’s my privilege to encourage in the face of trials and disappointments. To celebrate in times of joy. To sit by quietly, just holding her hand, as she struggles. And even though I’ve failed myself doesn’t mean I can’t do better, can’t try again. Maybe by helping her, by not letting her face her fears alone, I can help myself.

I reach for the phone, but I don’t text. Instead, I compose an email for her and all the other brave writers who entered RWA’s Golden Heart/Rita contest this year.

“Dear Friend, Let me take your hand,

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and whisper softly,oatlands-030

Regardless of what happens on March 25 or in two months or next year, I will not let you listen to the words of the serpent.

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Regardless if that editor reading your newest manuscript offers you a contract or rejects you, I will not let you hide.

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Regardless of the path your publishing career takes, you are still a writer. Your words (and drawings) still matter.

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Your words aren’t meant to draw blood. Your words are meant to change peoples’ hearts. And isn’t that the most important thing? Isn’t that why you became a writer?”

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Whether or not the phone rings on March 25, please remember these words for they come from my heart. Sometimes the best things come out last.

And the best is always worth waiting for. Just ask the teenagers. They know everything.

P.S. You are not a monkey buttshine (whatever that is) 

Have you ever suffered from your own internal words? Words you’d never say to anyone else? How do you rise above the negative self-talk? I’d love to know I’m not alone.

The winner of any one book from Christy Reece’s LCR series is Chris Bails. Congratulations, Chris! Contact us within the next 10 days to collect your prize.

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And next Tuesday, March 26th we are thrilled to host DARYNDA JONES. She’s blogging, answering questions and holding a SNARKY T-SHIRT SAYING CONTEST. Stop by and give us your best! Darynda will pick the winner on Thursday 3/28, the winner gets a Darynda Jones book of choice.

Ella Grace: Christy Reece’s not-so-dark secret

EllaGraceChristyReeceWhen I met Christy Reece at my first-ever Romance Writers of America chapter meeting in 2009, she’d just sold a three book series called Last Chance Rescue. In short order, she made another three book deal and became a best-selling author. Nine books later, the New York Times bestseller is switching gears—and names—to pen the new romantic suspense Wildefire series as Ella Grace.

Her first Wildefire book, MIDNIGHT SECRETS, comes out April 30th. I’m so excited she agreed to join us on Kiss & Thrill today to answer some questions about her new identity and the new series.

GH: We’re all dying to know, why the name change?

EG: My publisher decided they didn’t want to continue the LCR series and asked me to develop a new one. My editor had some specific elements she wanted to see in the new series proposal. She wanted a more character driven storyline, more romance, not as dark as my LCR books, and a domestic setting. (Many of my LCR stories had international settings.) With those suggestions in mind, I created the Wildefire series. I’ve always wanted to write a series based in the South since that’s where I’m from, so I created the town of Midnight and put it in South Alabama, not far from Mobile.

Then my publisher suggested a name change. I resisted at first. I already had a solid reputation as a romantic suspense author and didn’t want to lessen that by taking a new name. But as I continued to write the first book in the series, I realized the name change might be for the best. Christy Reece’s stories are darker and plot driven, featuring tortured, kick butt characters and nasty, evil villains. Ella Grace’s books are character driven, romance centered, and contain as much mystery as suspense.

Believe me, it wasn’t an easy decision to make and I still don’t know if it was the right one. It’s my sincere hope that my LCR readers will enjoy this new venture. I also hope to gain new readers who prefer less dark stories.

Fingers crossed!

GH: I have no doubt you’ll succeed. Good writing always wins. Your Last Chance Rescue series is full of seriously tortured (and hot) heroes and heroines, steamy encounters, international adventure, twisted villains, and well-deserved happy endings. I never would have guessed such a quiet, sweet woman could be so mean to her characters! 😉 Tell us about the Wildefire series, and what makes it different from LCR. What’s behind the name? Are there any cross-over characters?

EG: Ah yes, I do love to torture my characters. And quiet, sweet woman? I do have you fooled! ☺

The Wildefire series revolves around the three Wilde sisters who lost their parents to a murder/suicide when the girls were just children. Since their last name is Wilde and they live on Wildefire Lane, we chose to call it the Wildefire series.

Cross-over characters from my LCR books? No, they’re completely separate. However, I could definitely see my heroes being LCR operatives!

GH: The Wildefire series is set in Midnight, Alabama. What made you decide to switch to a southern setting? In what ways does Midnight resemble the small Alabama town you grew up in?

EG: I grew up in Alabama and the southern culture is one I’m familiar with and love. Every region of the country has its eccentricities and flavor. Southerners pride themselves on their uniqueness. I’ve enjoyed creating the town of Midnight and filling it when some unique and colorful characters. Thankfully, Midnight in no way, shape, or form, resembles the tiny community where I was raised. We only had a stop sign. Midnight has traffic lights, plus businesses like Tillie’s Hair Today, Gertie’s Wash and Wait and Faye’s Diner. Gossiping is a national pastime in Midnight and these three businesses always have the juiciest and most up-to-date news. Oh wait, my little community did have Ethel-Mae’s hair salon. ☺

GH: Wow, one stop sign! In your LCR books, you really put your characters through the ringer. They’re tough and kick-butt, but usually emotionally—and sometimes physically—scarred. How do the characters in the new series compare? And can you tell us a bit about the hero and heroine in Midnight Secrets?

EG: The Wildefire series features strong, heroic men and tough, smart women. The men are still kick butt, the women a little less so. But thankfully they are resilient, because I do put them through the emotional wringer.

The hero and heroine of MIDNIGHT SECRETS are Zach Tanner and Savannah Wilde, who were childhood sweethearts until something ripped their world apart. Ten years later, Savannah is a prosecutor in Nashville, Tennessee and returns to Midnight to sell the family home. Zach, who used to be the town bad boy, is a war hero and now Midnight’s new police chief. The two never stopped loving each other but must face some painful issues before they can be together again. In the midst of all of this, Savannah discovers that her parents’ death wasn’t a murder/suicide at all. She takes it upon herself to discover who and why.

GH: Ooh, sounds fabulous! Do you plot out your books ahead of time, or start with a basic premise and go with the flow?

EG: I don’t plot, however, I do a huge amount of world and character building in my head. And I have a tendency to chat with my characters, similar to a character interview, before I start writing. Before I begin the book, I try to write out a short synopsis just to make sure I know where I’m going. The story always changes, but if I get stuck, I can go to the synopsis to get back on track.

GH: Your writing style sounds very similar to mine, despite my constant struggle to be more of a plotter. Okay, now the fun stuff. 🙂 What’s a treat you just can’t say no to?

EG: Homemade chocolate chips cookies (without nuts!) Yum!

GH: Mmm, warm right out of the oven… Ahem. I read on your site that you once jumped out of a plane to impress a man. (You’re clearly a braver woman than I am.) How’d that work out?

EG: Let’s just say I’ve forgotten the guy but I’ll never forget the thrilling, pulse pounding excitement of the jump. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. So glad I had the opportunity.

GH: What’s next for you after the three books in the new series? Will you be doing any more writing as Christy Reece?

EG: So far, there are only two books in the Wildefire series, though I do hope to sell more. I have another sister I want to write a story about, plus three very sexy and intriguing men.

And yes, I will definitely continue to write Christy Reece books. I’m currently finishing up another Last Chance Rescue novel that I’m self publishing. I hope to write at least three more LCR books before ending the series. Then, I have several different romantic suspense series ideas I want to explore.

GH: I’m glad to hear there’ll be more LCR books, but I can’t wait to read MIDNIGHT SECRETS! Thanks so much for joining us on Kiss and Thrill today!

Here’s a bit more about MIDNIGHT SECRETS, due out April 30th:

secrets_.bAT THE STROKE OF MIDNIGHT, THE HEAT BEGINS

On a hot southern night, with a storm on the horizon, a family is shattered. Three beautiful daughters—Savannah, Samantha, and Sabrina Wilde—go on with their lives, each significantly changed, as they bear the memory of the murder-suicide that killed their parents. For years, they have stayed away from Midnight, Alabama. Until Midnight calls them home.

Savannah is the first one back, when a grueling case in Nashville leads the young prosecutor to seek shelter in the quiet of the once grand Wilde mansion. But when she finds letters casting doubt on her family’s dark, shameful past, she realizes that peace in Midnight is a shallow façade and sinister secrets lurk beneath the surface. Zach Tanner, once the town’s bad boy, is now the new police chief and still has a wild hold over her. Zach can feel it, too, but he hurt Savannah once. As teenagers, they broke every rule together. Now it’s his job to keep her safe, even though he isn’t sure who her enemies are, or which ones might be his own. All he knows is that they have only each other to face dangers they can’t see coming.

Ella Grace aka Christy Reece lives in Alabama with her husband and a menagerie of pets.

Ella’s giving away a copy of one of Christy Reece’s LCR books (winner’s choice) to one lucky commenter, and she wants to know your favorite Southern food or Southern saying.

Hers? 

“My favorite Southern food is fried okra and my favorite saying is, you guessed it: Bless your heart. :)”

Don’t forget to check back Thursday to see if you won!

Life and Death

The other day, I got to do something I never do.

Reflecting Pool DC

(c) 2013 Diana Belchase

My dear friend came into town and we took one of those double decker bus tours.  You know how it is, you live in a tourist place like D.C., and you don’t really get to see it until guests arrive from out of town.  What a treat.  Someone else did all the driving, we were deposited literally in front of every important monument without having to hike a million miles or search for a parking spot.

Even better, from the top deck, on this incredibly warm winter day, we had an elevated view and a tour guide narrating what we saw.

Heaven.

Heaven a top a tour bus

(c) 2013 Diana Belchase View from bridge crossing into Arlington National Cemetery.

The best part was that we were able to spend time together without either one of us fussing.  No one was cooking, or scrambling to do dishes, or trying to figure out where to go.  We just went, and did, relaxing and laughing together.

Arlington National Cemetery

(c) 2013 Diana Belchase

By the time we reached Arlington National Cemetery, I was too exhausted to move.  I guess my back isn’t what it used to be, and I told my friend to go ahead while I waited for her.  After all, I’ve seen the place before and why should she miss it because of me?

There in the stillness, the tombstones almost seemed to speak.  Husbands and wives buried next to each other, some men lying all alone.  Every now and then, a child was buried there, too.  All of them were so darn young.

Lively teens at Arlington National Cemetery

(c) 2013 Diana Belchase

A plaque from the French declared, “N’oubliez jamais.”  We will never forget.  But so many of these people are forgotten.  Their family tree dies out, and they blend into an amorphous group representing a time of sacrifice and courage.  And we, like the French, often forget what they sacrificed to make us the “Greatest Nation on Earth.”

Just before closing, a group of teenaged students came barreling down the road.  Their youthful energy was astounding.  Leaping, laughing, running — there in the cemetery .  It wasn’t that they were being disrespectful, they were just so full of life.  I’m sure even the specters that haunt the place envied their vivacity and smiled at their hijinx.

Geese over Arlington

(c) 2013 Diana Belchase

After all, isn’t this why all these brave people gave up their lives?  So future generations could run and play and thrive? Believing theirs was the war to end all wars.  Believing their sacrifice could make it better for generations to come.

Maybe that is why so many of us here are obsessed with writing and reading suspense and mysteries.  We face horror squarely, deal justice in a world that is not always just, and we laugh at death as our characters go on — against supremely terrifying odds — to live, to succeed, and to love.

And the winner of Rebecca York’s Harlequin Intrigue, Her Baby’s Father, is … Rolynn Anderson!  Please contact me within 10 days to collect your prize.

Up next is our Scrivener-famous Gwen Hernandez interviewing Ella Grace on Tuesday.   Ella Grace is the pen name for NYT Bestselling Author Christy Reece.  Find out why she’s got a new name and about her new series!

The Dark Powers of Rebecca York

Rebecca York is back with us in a video interview this time.  She’s amazingly prolific and always interested in helping new writers.  In fact, she received  the Washington Romance Writer’s Mentoring Award last April.  I’m so proud to call her my friend.

For a peek at the written interview with special little details about the Rebecca York  few people get to see, please click here.

Thanks so much for being my guest, Rebecca. Wishing you much success with your new book!

So, tell us your favorite type of suspense hero and you may win a copy of Rebecca’s newest Harlequin Intrigue, Her Baby’s Father.  (You can gain an extra entry by posting a comment at DianaBelchase.com, too.)

Please stop by tomorrow when I post the winner and talk about life, death, and Arlington National Cemetery.

Winner Winner!

bio_pic2First, thank you, Kylie Brant for a fascinating interview! We loved learning more about you and are looking forward to your new CIRCLE OF EVIL trilogy.

The winner of  DEADLY SINS is Maureen! Maureen, please email us via our contact page with your email and snail mail address and choice of print or e-copy. Congratulations! 

Don’t forget to join us on Tuesday, March 12th when the lovely Diane Sawyer ….oops! I mean the lovely Diana Belchase presents one of her trade-mark video interviews featuring the incomparable Rebecca York.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Deadly Darling: Kylie Brant

bio_pic2The first time I met Kylie Brant I was struck by how friendly and sweet she was. It didn’t surprise me to learn she was a teacher, because she was so smart and nice. It didn’t surprise me to learn she wrote romance because we were at a romance writers’ conference 🙂 . But what did surprise me was to learn that behind this lovely, kind, and fun woman lurked the devious mind behind some truly twisted and sexy suspense. Her books are dark, fantastic, and wildly popular. But I won’t spoil the story. I’ll let her tell it herself. Please help me welcome the fabulous Kylie Brant!

Carey: Kylie, you and I have some things in common. You live in an old Victorian—I wish I lived in an old Victorian. You write ten pages a day—I wish I wrote ten pages a day. See how much we have in common?

Kylie: You’re too funny :-).  During the school year my only days to write are the weekends, so those ten page days don’t add up very fast!

Carey: I’m truly amazed by the balancing act you manage. I know you have a very rewarding and demanding day job and a wonderful family. Before we talk about your writing, can you tell us a little about your work and family life?

Kylie: I have five kids—four boys and a girl.  Men and women now, actually.  But when I started writing my kids were 12, 11, 7, 4 and 4.  So I had to learn to write amidst chaos.  That was the natural state of things around here, back in the day!

I’m also a special education teacher, working with students with learning and behavior problems.  It’s challenging, incredibly rewarding and never ever boring.

Carey: Incredible, that with all those demands, you have managed to write twenty-five romantic suspense books for Silhouette and six dark romantic thrillers for Berkeley. I know you think I’m going to ask about those series (and I am) but first I want to know…what are those Harlequin parties really like?

Kylie: They’re the best party in town at RWA, hands down. Some might rave about their decadent dessert tables, but I’m more a fan of the open bar and dancing <g>.

Carey: Now that we’ve got the important stuff covered, how did you begin writing for Harlequin? Do you have a favorite from among your Silhouette series?cover_012009

Kylie: I always say I started writing because my favorite writers couldn’t write fast enough to keep me in reading material.  The Romantic Suspense line got its start as Intimate Moments, and I cut my teeth on early books by Linda Howard, Erin St. Claire (Sandra Brown) and Elizabeth Lowell.  When I decided to try my hand at writing I wrote the kind of book I liked to read…emotional with a good suspense to go along with the romance.  I was lucky enough to sell the first book I wrote, but it went through several revisions first.

I wrote several series for Silhouette.  My favorite was probably the Alpha Squad SWAT trilogy, if for no other reason than I loved the research for it.

Carey: Kylie, what inspired you to write your fabulous Berkley Mind Hunters series? How do you write so authentically and wonderfully about a subject that is far from your life experiences?

Kylie: So you’re assuming that my personal experience doesn’t include planning serial murder and de-fleshing skeletal remains?  Glad I get the benefit of the doubt :-).  My husband always says if something happens to him the cops should first look at my extensive research library, LOL.

I love dark suspense with lots of twists and turns.  And despite my absolute lack of knowledge regarding anything the least bit interesting I am quite adept at research.  I find forensics, with all its myriad sub-categories, endlessly fascinating.  I’ve been fortunate enough to find experts to help me with the plot-driven details needed for my stories.

Although I’ve never been a fan of the CSI shows (they’re factually inaccurate), I do love a good cop/detective story.  I’m on a lot of loops with law enforcement types and they all agree that there are no perfect crimes, just limited time and resources for the police.  So I began wondering what would happen if the law did have infinite time and resources on their side…add in cool forensic experts and The Mindhunters were born.

Carey: Does the reader need to start with book one, WAKING NIGHTMARE?  Or can they start anywhere in the Mind Hunters series, which includes WAKING EVIL, WAKING THE DEAD, DEADLY INTENT, DEADLY DREAMS, and DEADLY SINS?

Kylie: I’m told the books stand alone well.  They’re tied together because the characters work for the same company, and their enigmatic boss, Adam Raiker, appears in each.  The Deadly series does have an over-arching suspense plot involving Raiker, and probably is a bit more interwoven than the first three.cover_092009

Carey: Can you choose one of heroes and one of your heroines from the Mind Hunters and tell us what makes them tick?

Kylie: I was surprised by the amount of reader mail I got from the very beginning on Adam Raiker.  When I began the series I never intended that he’d be more than a secondary character who comes in at the end of each book.  But readers (and my editor!) demanded that he get his own story (Deadly Sins).

Raiker is a legendary former FBI profiler who was caught by the child killer he was trailing and kept for days and tortured.  He ended up escaping and killing the villain, but he’s disfigured by the incident.  He wears a patch over his lost eye, has scars across his throat and hands, and nearly lost a leg, so he walks with a cane.  He’s tenacious, a bit irascible and ferocious when cornered.  He’s also carrying a torch for the woman he loved—and lost—seven years earlier.

Carey: I heard a rumor that you have a new series coming out in 2013. Can you tell us about Circle of Evil?

Kylie: Circle of Evil is a dark romantic suspense trilogy I’m going to be self-publishing, beginning in May.  The three books take place in Iowa and follow characters working for the state’s Division of Criminal Investigation.  Although each book will feature a different hero and heroine, the suspense plot will be inter-linking throughout the three books.

Chasing Evil begins when DCI agent Cam Prescott discovers that someone has been burying bodies atop recently dug graves in small county cemeteries.  Each of the victims has been horribly tortured…and each is numbered.   Touching Evil will be available in October and Facing Evil in 2014.  The books will be available in both print and digital.

Carey: Oooh! Sounds positively…EVIL. Beyond your next series, we’re all curious to know what your plans are. What’s in store for Kylie Brant fans?

Kylie: In addition to my new series, I have a couple straight suspense projects currently being considered by publishers.  Hope to have some news soon!

Carey: We look forward to hearing that news and please come back and share it with us! Thank you so much for being here today. I know our readers have comments and questions for you, so I’ll open it up to them now.

Kylie is a midwestern school teacher with a secret life writing dark, sexy, suspense. Do you have a secret life, or is there something most people would never guess about you? One lucky commenter will win a copy of DEADLY SINS – your choice of print or e-book!deadly_sins

To learn more about Kylie visit her at KylieBrant.com

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