Monthly Archives: February 2014
Posted by Sharon Wray
Thank you to everyone who stopped by on Tuesday to celebrate Gwen Hernandez’s debut release of BLIND FURY! The lucky winner of her romantic suspense is jackielayton.
Congratulations! Please click on the Contact Us link to let us know if you prefer digital or paperback.
Thank you, Heather Ashby, for spending the day with us yesterday. And the lucky winner of Forget Me Not is …… Sasharenay
Congratulations! Sasharenay, please contact us here with your email address to claim your e-book.
Please join us next Tuesday, March 4, when Lena Diaz interviews Paranormal Suspense author Mary Behre.
We can’t wait!
Posted by Sharon Wray
Today I am so pleased to welcome Heather Ashby, a 2012 Golden Heart sister as well as an award-winning romantic suspense author!
After the successful debut of her first book Forgive & Forget, Heather has just released the second book in her “Love in the Fleet” series, Forget Me Not, to even more acclaim. And I heard a rumor that she’s also brought along Forget Me Not’s sexy hero Sky Crawford. I can already tell he’s a flirt!
SW: Welcome, Heather! I loved this book and am not surprised to hear all sorts of wonderful buzz about this story, the hero, and especially the villain. Can you share the blurb without giving away too much?
HA: Thanks, Sharon, for inviting me back to Kiss and Thrill! Here’s the blurb for Forget Me Not:
Suffering from survivor guilt, playboy Navy Seahawk pilot Sky Crawford swears he’ll never marry, unsure he deserves happiness—besides there are too many hot chicks to choose from.
War widow and veterinarian Daisy Schneider swears to love only animals after her Marine pilot husband is killed in Afghanistan—but work fails to ease her loneliness or the guilt that she might have saved him. The last thing she needs is a sweet-talking, fast-playing military pilot in her life.
Between a fiery battle with drug runners at sea and one stray, matchmaking Siamese cat, the fur flies in Forget Me Not as Sky and Daisy learn about life, love, and second chances.
SW: I know this is your second book but can you tell me about this amazing Romantic Suspense list Forgive and Forget is on?
HA: I was stunned when Suspense Magazine voted my debut novel, Forgive & Forget, to their “Best of 2013” list for Romantic Suspense with Linda Howard, Allison Brennan/Laura Griffin, and Sandra Brown. This was beyond my wildest dreams.
SW: I am so happy for you, and the award is much deserved. In researching the cocaine trade, how difficult was to come by the information? Were you afraid of ending up on someone’s list?
HA: I did wonder if the FBI was going to come for me after reading my Google search history or seeing what I checked out of the library. While packing for a wedding in St. Petersburg, Florida, my normally sweet husband pulled my current reading material from the suitcase, got in my face, and exclaimed, “No, you are not going to sit around the pool at the Don Cesar Hotel reading How to Smuggle Cocaine for Profit and Fun.
SW: I don’t blame him! Did the reality of the drug world scare you?
HA: Yes, the above book was written by a drug lord to show just how easy it is to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. In addition to reading about the “selling of souls for profit,” I was shocked at what growing and processing cocaine does to the environment. Besides the slashing and burning for more farm land to grow coca, millions of liters of caustic chemicals, including pure gasoline, are dumped into rivers and jungles.
SW: How did you get a Navy helicopter pilot to help you with the writing/authentication? Can you tell me a bit more about him/her?
HA: Oh, it was definitely a him, and didn’t he look hot in that flight suit! Oops, did I type that out loud? Seriously, he is the dad of a former student of mine. And I was thrilled to learn that he’d always wanted to write a thriller, but didn’t know where to start. So he enjoyed adding his two cents worth, along with authenticating scenes, especially cockpit dialogue and actions, and the drug interdiction/firefight. We even added in a character based on his best friend, a naval aircrewman who perished in a flight accident. Petty Officer Billy Quinn is honored in the story and on our dedication page.
SW: Your books are known for their realism. What extra lengths did you go to do research?
HA: The Navy invited me to go through their Seahawk helicopter flight simulator. They said: “We are so thrilled that someone is going to write about what our pilots and crews do to make the world a safer place, we will help you in any way we can.” Although it was all simulated, it was 100% realistic – including movement. I sat in the pilot’s seat and my “co-pilot” (another cute pilot in a flight suit) guided me to land our helo on the flight decks of various sized ships, including a frigate which has a postage stamp-sized deck. Then they had me do it “at night” and “during a thunderstorm.” Next they set up the drug runner scenario I would be writing about. I got to fire warning shots on a “go-fast” – a speed boat – while it evaded interdiction by zigzagging. Since the mules did not cease and desist, I next got to pick off their “$100,000 engines” with lasers, one by one until they were DIW, dead in the water. After that, my co-pilot let me fire three Hellfire missiles! (No, not at the drug runners.) And finally, they had me experience a tail rotor failure, which throws a helicopter into a violent spin – and might, just maybe, happen in the book . This was one of the most exciting days of my life!
SW: Tell me about your “Villain”.
HA: The villain in Forget Me Not is cocaine. Through interwoven chapters, the reader follows the journey of the cocaine from harvest to processing to the mules who transport it in go-fasts to the distributer. Various characters are introduced, such as a drug lord, his son who has a conscience, the manager at a processing plant, and a go-fast captain, but they are only there as a means of guiding the villain – the cocaine – on to the next step in its journey.
SW: Was writing this book harder than the first? Was it a revision of an older book?
This book was way easier than Book 1, because I knew what I was doing. I had no idea about writing a novel when I wrote Book 1, which means it was re-written five times over before being published. I actually wrote Book 2 with the Golden Heart in mind, ensuring lots of voice in the beginning as opposed to the backstory that had been in Book 1. I also wrote it around a hook at page fifty. I was very excited when Book 2 was named a Golden Heart finalist. (Original title: Cat On A Hot Steel Flight Deck.)
SW: As we’re talking, an incredibly handsome man has walked in. And since Heather has prepared me, I’m pretty sure that killer smile and sexy wink belongs to Sky Crawford, the luscious hero of Forget Me Not. “So, Sky, what was the first thing you thought when you met Daisy? (be honest!)”
Sky: If you want me to be honest, how about go right to the source? Here’s my reaction when I first saw Dr. Daisy at her vet clinic.
Attention on deck. All hands man your battle stations. Hot. Chick. Alert.
Sky’s brain flipped over to autopilot. Left eye did the ring finger check. No rings. Good sign. Right eye—hey, something was wrong here. His right eye knew it was assigned breast patrol, but it couldn’t seem to move past her blond hair swept up into some kind of barrette thingy. Hair that screamed for him to pull out the clip so he could watch the flaxen mass come tumbling down, like the walls of Jericho. Then both eyes got too lost in her pale blue ones to even consider glancing lower.
Mayday. Mayday. Losing focus fast. Send reinforcements.
Peripheral vision was called in as backup and the situation report said any woman that looked this good in a pair of scrubs must be some mighty fine booty.
SW: I’m surprised she even talked to you. What was it about Daisy that changed things for you?
Sky: She didn’t put up with my BS. But since I love it when desirable women play the hard-to-get card, I wasn’t about to give up the chase.
SW: Was there ever a moment when you had to choose between Daisy and the final showdown with the drug runners?
Sky: Yeah, but that would be a spoiler, sweetheart.
SW: Your story involves your ongoing recovery from PTSD. Can you tell us how Daisy helped you in your recovery?
Sky: She made me acknowledge that I might have some…you know…issues…and I might have to…um…get some help. Okay, so she threw my a** out until I actually got help.
SW: What help did you give Heather in her ongoing research into your world of Navy pilots?
Sky: I suggested she work out at the base gym on the Navy base. See, if she goes around 11 AM and uses a certain treadmill, she can watch all the hot guys in uniforms walk by on their way to the locker room before their lunch-hour workout. That also affords her a good view of the chin up bars, since she has a thing for upper-body musculature. And I reminded her that nobody would suspect her of “doing research,” since she’s old enough to be their mother. And as to the hot love scenes, I just whispered them all into her ear.
SW: Are Navy pilots really this sexy? Or is it all for show?
Sky: Oh, sweetheart, we are really that sexy. (Heather says it’s the flight suits, but don’t listen to her. Come on, this is the Skylark you’re talking to—king of the skies and the bedroom. The King of Hearts.)
SW: Okay. As cute as he is, it’s time to shut him down and ask the weekly question:
Do you like unusual villains? Or do you prefer the standard scary drug-kingpin type villain?
And if villains aren’t your thing at all, what do you think about cocky heroes who get taken down by sexy, smart heroines?
And for one lucky commenter, Heather will be giving away one e-copy of Forget Met Not!
Heather Ashby is a Navy veteran, whose mother was one of the original Navy WAVES in WWII. After leaving the service, Heather taught school and raised a family while accompanying her Navy husband around the United States, Japan, and the Middle East.
In gratitude for her Army son’s safe return from Afghanistan and Iraq, she now writes military romance novels, donating half her royalties to support wounded warriors and their families.
An award-winning author of romantic fiction, Heather is a member of Romance Writers of America, and also belongs to regional/specialty chapters, including The Golden Network and First Coast Romance Writers. Additionally, she holds memberships in RomVets and the Military Writers Society of America. Heather lives in Atlantic Beach, Florida, with her retired Naval Engineer husband and three rescue cats.
All photographs courtesy of Heather Ashby and Sharon Wray.
Posted by Sarah Andre
Is this the smoking hot sex scene you submitted to a contest and won?
Ha, what a way to start! I was going to thank you for hosting me today, but…
Just kidding. 😉 Yes, the first big love scene between Mick and Jenna is the one I submitted to the Between the Sheets contest back in 2011. I received perfect scores from two of three editors/agents, but the competition must have been fierce because I took 2nd place.
2nd Place?! I find that hard to believe. 😦
Oh, hello K&T readers. Sorry to start the interview without formally introducing you to today’s author. You see, she’s one of our own and we are SO PROUD OF HER! Scroll down a couple of inches and Gwen Hernandez’s picture is on the left…there she is! Today is her debut of BLIND FURY. I had the honor (i.e., beat out everyone else pictured on the left) to read it in advance and host her today. I can assure you BLIND FURY is a fast-paced, can’t-put-down read. Ask my husband…his dinner was burned; a sure sign that this is an author headed for the best-seller lists.
So let’s get back to the interview: Tell us how you were able to make Mick so authentic? Specifically: suppressing the daily horror he faced fighting terrorists, the ‘itch’ to return to that life-or-death existence once he came home and the genuine brotherhood camaraderie/lingo?
I’m so glad you found Mick authentic. I read a lot of books, blogs, and articles about military and private security contractors (PSCs), but the book that really brought Mick to life for me was Big Boy Rules by Steve Fainaru. It’s about PSCs in Iraq and what motivates them to work in that environment. The Long Walk by Brian Castner, about a former EOD officer trying to leave the war behind, is another good one.
Some of my sense for how men interact comes from my reading, but it also comes from years of working in male-dominated fields or workplaces. Oh, and I’m an Army/Navy brat who spent time in Air Force training, and married an Air Force officer, so that helps too. 😉
One major mystery in BLIND FURY is a dark secret Mick promised to keep from the sister of his dying best friend. (And he keeps it from us, readers, it’ll drive you crazy!) This secret ultimately puts their lives in danger, but he promised. Did you know in advance what the (mind-blowing) secret would be, or did you hope to come up with something as you wrote the story?
I had a pretty good idea of what the secret would be when I started, though some of the specifics changed over time.
When did you conceptualize this plot and what triggered it?
I started this book back in 2010, and the initial spark came from reading Blackwater by Jeremy Scahill. He was writing about the scandal surrounding Blackwater (private security company) and its contractors, and I wanted to explore what it would be like to be a good guy working in that type of environment.
Any current actor/actress in mind for Mick and Jenna, when Hollywood calls (and they will!)
I would love it if Hollywood called (thank you!), but I’m awful at finding actors to match the vision in my head. Bodies are easier though. I think Blind Fury’s cover captures Mick’s physique quite nicely. 😉
You’re so very polite! I would have said: “I think BLIND FURY’S cover captures Mick’s smokin’ hot bod just fine!” 😉
The cover mentions A Men of Steele Novel. What is Steele and how many novels are planned for this series?
Steele refers to Steele Security, which admittedly is a pretty loose connection in Blind Fury. Mick’s friend, Kurt Steele, has a company that provides personal security and security assessments. In this book, Kurt and some of his guys help out Mick and Jenna, but they’ll be the heroes in the later books. I have a least four stories in mind so far.
Any tentative publishing dates and titles we can look forward to?
Right now I’m working on a short novel starring Jenna’s friend, Tara, who will get her happily ever after with a new guy at Steele. 😉 Her book, Blind Justice, should be out by May of this year.
Beyond that, I’m hoping to get Blind Ambition (Dan’s book) done before fall, and one more as-yet-untitled book (Kurt’s story) out early next year.
(Readers: get to work thinking up a Blind __ title.)
Because of your husband’s work your family has moved many times. Where have you lived and which place was your favorite? Why?
If you go back to my childhood, the list gets really long—if I had a theme song, it would be “I’ve Been Everywhere” by Johnny Cash—but my husband’s Air Force career has taken us to Oklahoma, Ohio, California, Virginia/DC, and Alabama. We’re back in Virginia now, but hoping to get to California again (or Europe). I’m a west coast, beach girl at heart.
Meeee tooo! Fingers crossed you’re transferred to Orange County and I can live in your garage apt. (Hey, a girl can dream!)
As Supreme Goddess of Scrivener (software for authors), you’ve been famous in the writing world long before this debut release. Which was easier—writing fiction or a detailed, humorous Dummies book?
Ha, I could get used to Supreme Goddess. 😉 Not sure about famous, but maybe known in certain circles. (See Readers? She’s so very polite! She’s crazy-famous to us writers.) Writing Scrivener For Dummies was definitely easier. My sense of humor is a good match for the Dummies line, and I wrote a lot of technical documentation in the years before I turned to writing for fun. Plus, I can outline like a champ for nonfiction, but I’m a complete seat-of-the-pants writer with my fiction. That was quite a shock to this left-brained gal, but I’ve learned to go with it.
On to the nosy, mind-your-own-business type of questions our readers have been waiting for! Novel you are presently reading?
I’m between books, but I just finished Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare. Loved it.
Food you make a pig of yourself eating?
Corn tortilla chips. And Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Sometimes together.
(Tiny gagging sound.) How…uh…unusual. Favorite movie or TV show?
I have such a hard time picking favorites, but my current TV obsession is BBC’s Sherlock.
Meeee tooo! Benedict Cumberbatch (sigh.) I even like saying his name…
Well, I know you’re a private person, so I’ll stop being nosy (perhaps Carey can throw in her famous ‘lightning round’ in the comments section…snort!) On a serious note: We are SO thrilled for your romantic suspense debut, Gwen, and I personally cannot recommend this riveting story enough!
And now you’ve officially finished your very first K&T romantic suspense interview! 🙂
Thanks so much for hosting me today, Sarah!
Gwen is giving a free copy of BLIND FURY to one lucky commenter. Answer both of these questions (if you dare!): “Have you ever had an important or huge secret to keep? Did you keep your promise or spill the beans?”
Check back on Friday to see if you won!
CLICK HERE TO READ THE BACK COVER OF BLIND FURY.
Please join us February 27th, when Sharon interviews Heather Ashby. Heather will tell us everything about her newest release, Forget Me Not, and her sexy hero, Sky Crawford.
Posted by Diana Belchase
It’s hard living life as a prude — especially when you’re a member of Kiss and Thrill. I admit, sometimes too much flesh on a cover makes me a bit uncomfortable. Yes, I’m weird, but I like guys better in a tux than in the buff.
When you’re surrounded day after day by a bevy of fantastic writers with equally fantastic covers — that just happen to have half-dressed men on them — it’s too much to bear. You find yourself bending around the edges.
I’m so proud of these gals! Look at the wonderful books in the almost never-ending column to the right.
Yes, the ones over there. The ones with all those hunky guys on them? ———————————————————————————————>
And look at this new cover from our own Gwen Hernandez, whose new book is debuting in a few short weeks. Who wouldn’t be corrupted by that?
Before you know it, I’ll be sporting guys like this on my covers, too. And I’m the gal who was once asked to send in a partially undressed hunky hero photo for a special blog. Do you know what I sent in? This:
A photo of my husband’s bare feet!
So, now that they’ve bent me to their will, and in honor of my dear friends here, I am posting this little video from Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen didn’t write it this way — but Lord, she should have. LOL.
(If you don’t see the video, please update your Adobe.)
Honestly, this video clip makes me happy in so many different ways. (Collin Firth, Collin Firth in a bathtub, Collin Firth in a robe — need I say more?) But the main one is that we see through Mr. Darcy’s eyes why and how he is falling in love with Elizabeth.
Often I wonder why heroes in historical literature wanted to marry their heroines. The men get so little air time to vent their feelings — and in certain books, such as Jane Eyre — okay I hear the protests already — it seems as if the hero falls in love out of the blue. We know how little the heroine, in this case, Jane, thinks of herself, and how she has begun to worship her boss, but he gives both her, and the reader, almost no clue of his affection until it is sprung upon us.
I suppose that is why I love books with multiple points of view. I want to know what the characters are thinking. I want to feel how hopelessly in love the hero is falling. For me, it’s the best part of the book. Better than the abs on the front cover.
So, what do you think? Do you prefer books with one point of view or with more than one? Do you like half-dressed men on your covers? I really want to know.
Oh, and about the corruption thing — please don’t tell my husband!
Posted by Diana Belchase
Ellen Byerrum is fantastic. She’s a novelist, playwright, reporter, Washington journalist, and a graduate of private investigator school in Virginia. Her Crime of Fashion mysteries star a savvy, stylish female sleuth named Lacey Smithsonian, a reluctant fashion reporter in Washington D.C.
Her books are fun, sassy and unexpected. No wonder two of them have been made into Lifetime movies!
Ellen sat down with me to talk about Washington style (which she calls “The City Fashion Forgot”), the stress of Cherry Blossom season, and a haunted Russian shawl inspired by the Hillwood Museum collection.
(If you cannot view the video, please update your Adobe. For better quality, click the YouTube link on the bottom right of the video frame and then, once on YouTube, adjust resolution by clicking on the little tool cog wheel in the right bottom corner.)
Here is a blurb about Ellen’s latest book, Veiled Revenge
Washington, D.C., fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian has always believed clothes can be magical, but she’s never thought they can be cursed. Until now. Lacey’s best friend, Stella, is finally getting married, and at her bachelorette party, fellow bridesmaid—and fortune-teller—Marie Largesse arrives with a stunning Russian shawl. A shawl, Marie warns, that can either bless or curse the wearer. When a party crasher who mocks the shawl is found dead the next day, the other guests fear the curse has been unleashed. But Lacey has her doubts, and she must employ all her Extra-Fashionary Perception to capture a villain who has vowed that nobody at this wedding will live happily ever after….
So, what do you think? Is Washington, D.C. the least fashionable city on earth or do you have your own nominee for that distinction? What role do you think fashion plays in developing a character? (To leave a comment please click on the title of this post and scroll to the bottom.)
Posted by Gwen Hernandez
Happy Valentine’s Day! A day that celebrates romance seemed like the perfect day to reveal the cover of my upcoming romantic suspense, Blind Fury. So, what do you think?
I’ll be back to talk about Blind Fury in more detail when it releases on Feb 25th. Want to make sure you don’t miss release day, and be entered for a chance to win? Sign up for my newsletter: http://eepurl.com/oLFjv.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Posted by Carey Baldwin
Michelle, please contact us here with your snail mail and email address to claim your prize.
Posted by Carey Baldwin
Today I’m thrilled to welcome USA Today Best Selling author Debra Webb. We’ve got a fascinating interview followed by a giveaway for you, but first I’d like to turn my spotlight on Vicious, the latest in Debra’s Faces of Evil series. I LOVED Vicious! So often we talk about a book that you just can’t put down, but in reality, those books are hard to find. Vicious grabbed me from the first page and I found myself putting off many other things, like say…eating and bathing…because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. This story weaves a fascinating, dark tale involving a very strange definition of art. Find out what’s really on this serial killer’s canvas in Vicious. Here’s the official blurb below, followed by the interview I promised you.
Serial killer Eric Spears is far from done. He has chosen his next victim and Deputy Chief Jess Harris knows it’s only a matter of time until he comes for her.
The murders are vicious, the killer relentless. Has Birmingham’s major crimes team run into its most baffling and deadly case yet?
Carey: Debra first, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s such an honor to have you with us. Your Faces of Evil series is an amazing journey for readers. What inspired the series?
Debra: Thank you! It’s great to be here! The Faces of Evil was inspired by a study I watched several years ago about the scale of evil by Dr. Michael Stone. I was so enthralled. I couldn’t get the concept out of my mind. I decided to write a series where the same heroine solves cases that climb the scale of evil! I started with Obsession and Vicious is the most recent release. Vile is coming in March, Heinous in July and Depraved in December!
Carey: You have two protagonists who appear throughout the series, Jess Harris and Dan Burnett. Please tell us what makes these two tick.
Debra: Jess and Dan have a long history. They were high school sweethearts with big dreams who went off to college together. But not all dreams come true and four years later Dan returned to Birmingham while Jess went on to become a celebrated profiler with the FBI. (You can read interviews with both Jess and Dan at Faces of Evil) Her return to Birmingham, along with an obsessed serial killer determined to haunt her, has turned both Jess and Dan’s lives upside down. No matter, the fact that they have always loved each other continues to triumph. I’ve really enjoyed watching their relationship evolve over the past seven books.
Carey: Is there something you can tell us about Jess that she’d never want Dan to learn, and vice versa?
Debra: We’ve been through some of that in the first six books! Jess is very independent and determined. I think she wouldn’t want Dan to know how much it really bothers her that his mother dislikes her. She doesn’t like anyone to see her weaknesses. Dan is the epitome of a good guy. But he has a few secrets of his own. A couple of those secrets are about to start haunting him and he would rather not have Jess learn about them.
Carey: Okay, you’ve got me determined to find out what Dan’s secrets are! I can’t wait to find out. Which of the Faces of Evil series was the most difficult book for you to write and why?
Debra: Ruthless, definitely. A serial killer known as the Man in the Moon abducted and murdered many, many children before he was caught. The abductions took place in the past so I didn’t have to put any of that on the page, which made it a little easier. I cried all the way through the scene where the remains were found. It was a very emotional story for me.
Carey: I can imagine how difficult that must’ve been. Sometimes the most powerful subjects are the hardest to write (and read) about. What’s up next for you?
Debra: I’m working on a follow up book to BONE DEEP. The story was so well-received, I decided to write BONE COLD which revolves around Special Agent Tom Cuddahy, a secondary character from BONE DEEP. Don’t miss my Faces of Evil short story in the My Evil Valentine thriller collection available now!
Carey: Has anyone ever given you a great piece of advice? What was it?
Debra: As long as you love what you do it will show in the work.
Carey: Your passion for storytelling certainly comes through in your books, so I’d say that was good advice. I’m sure many authors have inspired and supported you along the way. Can you tell us about one of them?
Debra: There are so very many! How about I name a few instead of one.
Vicki Hinze for her undying determination and sage words.
Peggy Webb for her incredible insights into life and invaluable friendship.
CJ Lyons, Cindy Gerard, Toni Magee Causey and Allison Brennan for being the best cheerleaders!
Regan Black for always having my back.
Kathy Carmichael and Rita Herron for always being happy to just listen.
Carey: A wonderful list! Ready for the lightning round? It’s easy- just name your favorite:
Fast Food Joint – Sonic
Vacation Spot – Anywhere in New England
Television Show – Rehab Addict
Song on your iPod (what’s the most played?) – Make a Memory by Bon Jovi
Valentine’s Day Gift – Roses
What’s the last book you read on your e-reader? Down and Dead in Dixie by Vicki Hinze
Carey: Ha! Debra, believe it or not Make a Memory by Bon Jovi is the second most played song on my iPod!
Readers do you have a question or comment for Debra? She’s giving away a Faces of Evil tote bag and a copy of Vicious to one lucky commenter. Fire away and good luck!