Monthly Archives: March 2013
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 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 Places. I 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.
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!
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
CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN to Laura, Angela, Stacy, Michelle, Rachel and Jenn!
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!
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.
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.
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!”
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 announced. I 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?
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,
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.
Regardless if that editor reading your newest manuscript offers you a contract or rejects you, I will not let you hide.
Regardless of the path your publishing career takes, you are still a writer. Your words (and drawings) still matter.
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?”
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.
The other day, I got to do something I never do.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.