Monthly Archives: May 2014

Last Day to Win!

The gals  at Kiss and Thrill have assembled an auction basket for the Brenda Novak Annual Online Auction for Diabetes Research.

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This is a cause near and dear to our hearts.  So many of our family and friends here at Kiss and Thrill have been affected by this terrible disease.  So please go and bid on something — from jewelry to books to exciting vacations, there is something for everyone.

Our own gift basket, valued at more than $200, is a real steal!  It features $125 in gift cards (including cards for jewelry, books, and starbucks), two items of clothing, two audio and seven print/digital books from Kiss and Thrill authors, a character naming, and a wonderful tote to carry everything in.  You can find our basket HERE.  

You must bid by 7 PM PT on 5/31/2014, so don’t delay!

 

There’s Something About a Man in Uniform

640px-Pararescuremen_extraction_-_081016-F-5957S-919Military romantic suspense is a wildly popular subset of romantic suspense (one of my favorites to read and write). But why are men in uniform so attractive? I know why I love them so much (especially the one I married), but I was curious what other readers thought, so I asked at a Facebook party a few months ago. Below is a list of the most common reasons the readers I chatted with cited for loving a military (or ex-military) hero:

  1. Self-sacrificing. This was number one, no contest. Apparently a brave man who’s willing to die for his beliefs and to save those he loves makes us weak in the knees like no one else. This probably also explains the popularity of other heroes in uniform like law enforcement and fire fighters.
  2. Intense/determined. Readers love a man who will stop at nothing to save the day (and the heroine). Oh, and when he turns that intense focus on her? Swoon.
  3. Honorable. A strong sense of honor and integrity is sexy as hell.
  4. Hot/muscular. Are you surprised this came in so low? As much as we enjoy the muscular physique that military training makes possible, it’s the man on the inside we really love.
  5. Loyal. A man who stands by those he cares about and keeps his word is a definite keeper.
  6. Alpha. The military is a hotbed of alpha males, and we love watching these tough guys exhibit the traits above. We love it even more when their tough exterior cracks and we see their soft heart on the inside.

I think the purest embodiment of these traits is the special forces hero. Suzanne Brockmann got romance readers lusting after Navy SEALs, first with her Tall, Dark, and Dangerous series for Silhouette Intimate Moments, and later with her single-title Troubleshooters series. After SEALs received publicity for capturing Osama Bin Laden and rescuing Captain Phillips, they became the vampires/dukes of the romantic suspense shelf.

They’re everywhere.

Occasionally the Army Delta guys or Rangers get some love too. With the possible exception of Marine Corps special operators, I think it’s the Air Force spec ops guys who are most overlooked, though that’s slowly changing.

504px-United_States_Air_Force_Pararescue_Emblem_%22That_Others_May_Live%22Air Force Special Operations Forces (SOF)? Yes, they exist. In fact, they might just be the toughest SOF group out there. You’ve probably even watched a few movies that featured them—specifically pararescueman—without realizing it (Perfect Storm, Black Hawk Down). In Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Steve Rogers’ new friend, Sam Wilson, is a former pararescueman, though the way they describe his mission initially makes him sound like a pilot. Even the Captain is confused.

When I first started writing military romance, I wanted to highlight the Air Force’s lesser known SOF teams, all of whom go through similar training as SEALs or Delta Force, but also require additional education for their specialty. It takes nearly two years for them to get through their training “pipeline” and be ready to join a squadron.

The Air Force has three major types of special operators.

Deliver with carePararescueman (a.k.a. PJs or pararescue jumpers). Their motto is “These things we do, that others may live,” often shortened to “That others may live.” First tasked with rescuing downed pilots in Vietnam (often under fire), they are experts at combat search and rescue: inserting into hostile territory to rescue/return American or allied servicemembers. In addition to possessing all of the skills you’d expect from a special operator—weapons training, fast-roping, static and freefall jumping, combat dive techniques—every one is a trained paramedic with the skills to handle battlefield trauma.

Above all else, their goal is to do whatever it takes to save lives. According to AirForce.com, they must be willing to “…parachute, scuba dive, rock climb or even snowmobile into hostile territory to get to a wounded Airman…”

Their original mission has expanded to include picking up NASA astronauts who return to Earth via water landing, as well as participating in civilian search and rescue operations and humanitarian missions. Since 9/11, they have participated in more than 12,000 life-saving, combat rescue missions.

Kick-ass special operators with heart? Be still mine.

512px-JTACCombat Controllers. Combat controllers are also special operators, but instead of paramedic training, they become FAA-certified air traffic controllers. According to the Air Force fact sheet, “The mission of a combat controller is to deploy, undetected, into combat and hostile environments to establish assault zones or airfields, while simultaneously conducting air traffic control, fire support, command and control, direct action, counter-terrorism, foreign internal defense, humanitarian assistance and special reconnaissance in the joint arena.”

So, basically, they risk their lives to set up runways, control the air traffic in their area, and call in close air support for troops under fire (i.e. direct the assets in the air to take out the enemy). These guys are serious multi-taskers.

125th_STS_SOWT_takes_weather_readings_at_Fort_CarsonSpecial Operations Weathermen. Yep, you read that right. Special operators who are also meteorologists. Who knew?

Combat weathermen, are assigned to SOF teams from all services to forecast the mission impact of the weather in the area of operation. According to the Air Force fact sheet, “They collect critical weather, ocean, river, snow and terrain data, assist mission planning, generate accurate mission-tailored target and route forecasts in support of global special operations and train joint force members and coalition partners to take and communicate limited weather observations.” So, brains and brawn. What’s not to love?

Want more of these Air Force heroes? Here are a few books to check out.

Blind Fury by Gwen Hernandez (yes, I’m shameless!) – Hero Mick Fury is a former pararescueman (my Men of Steele series revolves around several former PJ teammates).

Breakpoint by JoAnn Ross – Features former Combat Controller Dallas O’Halloran.

Cover Me by Catherine Mann – This is the first in her Elite Force: That Others May Live series featuring active-duty PJ heroes.

Want to learn more about the real heroes who inspire us? Try one of these nonfiction books.

None Braver by Michael Hirsh

That Others May Live by Pete Nelson and Jack Brehm

Guardian Angel by William Sine

Do you like a man in uniform? What’s the draw for you?


All images were obtained via Wikimedia and are in the public domain.

 

Losing Mary Stewart, Auction for Diabetes and Winner!

Sad news.  The woman who pioneered the genre of Romantic Suspense, Mary Stewart, died this month at the age of 97.  While that’s a ripe old age for most, Mary’s loss to those of us at Kiss and Thrill is immeasurable.  Lady Mary Stewart was one of the first authors to write female-centric novels that involved both mystery and romance.

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courtesy MaryStewartNovels.com

She inspired all of us here at Kiss and Thrill and we know she inspired millions of readers and authors worldwide.  If you get a chance to read one of her delightful books, like Madam Will You Talk?, Touch Not the Cat, This Rough Magic, or Nine Coaches Waiting, and the Merlin Chronicles, I believe you’ll find her books not only inspiring but a whole lot of fun.  You can find out more about her life at MaryStewartNovels.com

On another note, please remember that we at Kiss and Thrill have assembled an auction basket for the Brenda Novak Annual Online Auction for Diabetes Research.

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This is a cause near and dear to our hearts.  So many of our family and friends here at Kiss and Thrill have been affected by this terrible disease.  So please go and bid on something — from jewelry to books to exciting vacations, there is something for everyone.

Our own gift basket features $125 in gift cards (including cards for jewelry, books, and starbucks), two items of clothing, two audio and seven print/digital books from Kiss and Thrill authors, a character naming, and a wonderful tote to carry everything in.  You can find our basket HERE.  

Finally, saving the best for last, the winner of  Don and Renee Bain’s novel, Close -up on Murder is Bella!  Congratulations.  I know you will enjoy it very much.

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Join us next Tuesday when our own Gwen Hernandez will be writing about military romance and special forces.  Gwen’s book, Blind Fury, is fabulous, and being married to a military man, this is something she knows a lot about.  I can’t wait to hear what she says.

Until then, have a super Memorial Day weekend! See you Tuesday!

 

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From Lansbury to Truman, Murder They Wrote

Don and Renee Bain are one of the cutest couples in the world.  He’s tall and lanky, she’s petite, both are soft-spoken, and both are intent on murder.

(If the video doesn’t load, please update your Adobe.)

That’s no joke.  They murder literally dozens of people each year — within the pages of the books they co-write.  In fact, they are the brains and talent behind Universal’s “Murder She Wrote” series.  With now fifty books under their belt (a few more have released since the video interview) they are the embodiment of Jessica Fletcher now that the series is no longer on the air.

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Angela Lansbury played Jessica Fletcher on Murder She Wrote on TV (photo by Alan Light)

 

But, that’s not all the Bain duo has been up to.  Don Bain — who jokingly refers himself as the “world’s tallest, oldest, bearded stewardess” — was the real author of the sensational “Coffee, Tea, or Me,” book that once was considered steamy enough for mothers to refuse to allow their daughters to become flight attendants.  He also collaborated with Margaret Truman on her Washington, D.C. based mysteries and, until now, could reap none of the credit.

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(Click on covers for more info)

With Renee at his side, they discuss how they come up with story ideas, how they work as a team, how they try to emulate Angela Lansbury’s voice and mannerisms, and the ups and downs of working within the limitations of an iconic series.

Leave a comment or a question below about ghost writing — is it a let down, or a wonderful surprise? — and Don and Renee will give one lucky reader who responds a copy of Close Up on Murder.  

Enjoy!

 

Some of the upcoming titles for Don Bain include Experiment in Murder from the Margaret Truman series, Lights Out, and the rerelease of Coffee, Tea or Me.

Twelve Shades of Midnight

Author Rachel Grant

I’m so thrilled to be able to tell my readers about my next project! TWELVE SHADES OF MIDNIGHT is a box set of twelve paranormal novellas that will be released a few days before Halloween. I’m excited to be a part of this amazing lineup of authors for my first venture in writing paranormal.

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TWELVE SHADES OF MIDNIGHT

The stroke of midnight ushers in many things. From hijinks and mischief to danger and evil, romance is the magic that binds these paranormal novellas together. Join 12 bestselling and award-winning authors as they explore the different shades of midnight in exclusive, never-before-released stories.

Liliana Hart – THE WITCH NEXT DOOR
Darynda Jones – A LOVELY DROP
Shea Berkley – DARK SECRETS: STONE COLD DEAD
Dakota Cassidy – WITCHED AT BIRTH
Claire Cavanaugh – MIDNIGHT RENEGADE
Rachel Grant – MIDNIGHT SUN
Trish McCallan – SPIRIT WOODS
Angi Morgan – BODYGUARDS IN HEELS: HIT…

View original post 58 more words

Thursday Winners!

Click cover to buy

Mona Kekstadt and Kim MacCarron are the lucky winners of BROKEN PLACES by Krista Hall.

Congratulations ladies! You may choose either an e-copy or signed paperback. Please click on the Contact Us link above and let us know how you’d like to receive the novel.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by on Tuesday to celebrate Krista’s debut. We hope you enjoy her novel too.

Next Tuesday Diana Belchase has a surprise up her sleeve. Could be a post, a video interview of yet another famous author-friend of hers or…something else. Come on back to find out!

AWARD-WINNING DEBUT RELEASE!

Click cover to buy

Click cover to buy

Can you hear us shrieking in triumph here at Kiss and Thrill? Today is DEBUT DAY for Krista Hall, one of our talented authors!

BROKEN PLACES is the romantic suspense novel that WON the prestigious Golden Heart® Award last year. (I should know, I read Krista’s acceptance speech to 2,000 romance writers!)

BROKEN PLACES is a riveting, authentic glimpse into Hispanic gangs in DC. The violent culture, lingo, signs and graffiti (also known as tagging) are so realistic I figured Krista had worked on a gang task force or dated an FBI hottie. No joke. There were scenes where my heart was in my throat for the danger the main gangbanger, Bandit faced.

It’s my honor to bring you Krista’s debut interview:

You are literally ‘realizing your dream’ today. How does it feel?

Exciting! Broken Places is a story that wouldn’t let go of me. I’ve been working on it for four years. I loved writing it and was determined to find a way to publish it in 2014.

What does Chingazos mean?fist-graffiti

Chingazos (or variant, chingasos) is Spanish slang for hard punches or blows. I added the word loco or crazy to emphasize the unpredictability of gang violence. My cover designer, Naomi Raine created this graphic for the Chingazos Locos gang symbol. What do you think?

Cool! T-shirts for all!

IMG_0467This story WON the prestigious RWA Golden Heart® Award. (A ceremony you were unable to attend.) Give us a glimpse of how you heard and what you did.

On Twitter. I was reading Sarah Wendell’s (@Smart Bitches) tweets as the awards were announced. I couldn’t believe my eyes when my name popped up and my twitter feed exploded with congratulations. (Thank you, K&T and GH sisters!)

Then I switched to a video feed and watched you OWN the podium, Sarah. You were awesome—so poised and elegant. I was not (T-shirt, running shorts, ponytail), but I was wearing my Lucky 13Lucky 13s pin. 🙂 I still owe you a bottle of Champagne. Make that two bottles. We need to celebrate your nomination for the 2014 Golden Heart® Award.

(Krista, this post is not about me…) 😉 Why did you title this novel BROKEN PLACES?

A couple of years ago, when my book group was reading The Paris Wife, I was inspired to reread Hemingway’s novels. There is a line from A Farewell To Arms that made me think of the characters in BP, particularly FBI Agent Cruz Larsen: “The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”

He wants to shake Trevy up so that she’ll “rip off those rose-colored glasses and take a good hard look at the real world. Then maybe she’d see what he saw. Violence that didn’t care about good or bad, innocent or depraved, right or wrong.”

Montrose Park Sundial, a pivotal location in the story!

Montrose Park Sundial, a pivotal location in the story!

What type of research did you do to make the gang behavior, lingo and violence so authentic?

There were some high profile MS-13 (a violent, transnational Latino gang) trials making local news when I started writing Broken Places so The Washington Post reporting was a trove of information. Also relevant interviews on NPR’s Fresh Air, Tell Me More, and the D.C.-based Kojo Nnamdi Show. (Yes, I’m addicted to NPR.) The Internet was useful for researching gang slang.

Urban ethnographer Susan Phillips’s book Wallbangin’ was a great resource. Not only did I learn a lot about gang culture and graffiti, but also a sense of what it’s like to insert yourself in dangerous places where you’re an obvious outsider, the struggle of working with people you’re afraid of, and the personal doubts about the ethical implications of using people’s lives to document societal and cultural phenomena. These are issues Trevy struggles with throughout the book. What is her responsibility to act in the face of the suffering she witnesses?

 The photo is from Wikimedia Commons and is in the public domain.

The photo is from Wikimedia Commons and is in the public domain. This is the make & model of Trevy’s car, which plays an important role!

What writing or publishing projects are in your future?

I’m working on the second book of the Broken Places trilogy. I’m also planning to revise my 2007 Golden Heart® (finalist) manuscript about a flower farmer in western Virginia who becomes embroiled in a political scandal that endangers her livelihood and life.

Krista Hall

Krista Hall

Now to the GOOD STUFF! Favorite movie?

Miss Potter. Until I saw the movie, I had no idea Beatrix Potter was such a trailblazer—a writer, illustrator, natural scientist, conservationist, and woman with IDEAS.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, though. Despite the whimsy of her drawings, think of all the subversive rule-breakers featured in her stories: The Tale of Two Bad Mice, The Fierce Bad Rabbit, etc. And the English Lake District where much of the movie was filmed is a visual feast.

Food you can’t say ‘no’ to?

The Chocolate Cupcake of Doom at Baked & Wired in Georgetown.

OMG! I’ll be on the next flight over! A dream trip for you would be…?

Three weeks in Australia and New Zealand with a weeklong layover in Kauai, Hawaii.

Doing book signings! What do you hope readers take away from your story?

Mostly, the enjoyment of a good read and I hope the message is an optimistic one: There can be sweetness after the storm. Do you know the R.E.M. song, Sweetness Follows? If Broken Places had a playlist that song would be on it.

 All the K&T members begged me to request this: Do you happen to have a picture of your darling new puppy, Rosie? 🙂Rosie 7

And now, readers, without further ado! An excerpt of BROKEN PLACES:

“Spare me the lecture, Doc.”

Trevy fastened the cover on the zoom lens of her camera and stuffed it back into her bag with short, jerky motions that betrayed her rising temper. “Don’t you see, if you’d only take the time to understand how these children fall victim to gangs–“

“I know more about it than you ever could,” Cruz said, revealing more than he’d intended. But the good doctor was too wrapped up in her thoughts to notice. “To you, everyone’s a victim. Christ, I’m sick of that mentality.”

“They are victims,” Trevy said, her hands forming tight little fists at her sides. She looked furious enough to hit him, but her voice was remarkably calm. “These children are living on the margin, between two cultures, if you will. Do you know what kind of extreme talent and resolve it takes for even one of them to climb the economic ladder out of poverty?”

“These children are killing each other.” Cruz turned his back on her. He didn’t like the look of the group of teenage boys across the street. They all seemed to have shopped at the same store with the same shopping list. Red sports jerseys, baggy jeans tucked into high-top sneakers, red bandanas in back pockets. LDRs or LDR wannabes, thugs in the making. He cut a warning glance at them and then stepped nearer to Trevy, blocking her from view.

Trevy paused a moment to glare at him before pulling out the notebook and tape measure she always carried in her satchel. She began measuring the images on the wall and jotting down notes. “Do you have a heart?” she asked, as if picking up the thread of a dropped conversation.

“Excuse me, Dr. Barlow, if I don’t feel like joining your pity party for a bunch of street thugs who are intent on turning this part of the city into a war zone,” he said, leaning close enough to smell her shampoo. The scent–light and clean, with a floral note–only made him angrier. “Two girls are dead. Save your pity for them.”

Comment for a chance to win one of TWO copies of BROKEN PLACES! Question of the day:

Have you ever started a project that took years to finish? What kept you going?

Check back on Thursday to see if you’re a lucky winner! (Signed paperback available only in the Continental US. Nook or Kindle e-book available for all.)

Where can readers find out more about you, Krista?

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

My website

Facebook

 

HAPPY DEBUT DAY, Krista, we are so proud of you! Here’s to soaring sales and a best-selling future!toast

Diana Miller Winner!

We’ve had a fun, busy week at Kiss and Thrill! First I want to thank Diana Miller and Shelley Coriell for joining us, and say to Krista Hall how much we all enjoyed being part of her cover reveal!

Before we get to our winner, here is a Golden Heart® Fun Fact – between the 3 women featured this week at Kiss and Thrill, they share 14 Golden Heart finals and 2 wins!

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The winner of a $25 Amazon gift card from Diana Miller is:

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To claim your prize, please contact us within ten days.

Rosie 7The excitement continues next week here at Kiss and Thrill, when Sarah Andre interviews Krista Hall for her debut release BROKEN PLACES. Fingers crossed there will be more puppy pictures!

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