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?



Barnes & Noble

My website



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

About Sarah Andre

Romantic Suspense That Keeps You Up All Night! I live in sunny FL, love daydreaming, reading and chocolate. I write in the wee hours of the morning before my helpless hubby and 2 male Pomeranian pups awaken with their demands. :) My debut LOCKED, LOADED and LYING is available now.

Posted on May 13, 2014, in Author Interview, Krista Hall, Sarah Andre and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 70 Comments.

  1. Happy Debut Day! to you, Krista and to BROKEN PLACES. I’m traveling most of the day today so I wanted to be sure to stop by early. It’s 1am here, so I HOPE I’m the first to leave you these good wishes. This is a fantastic story, gripping, poignant and real. It’s obvious why BROKEN PLACES won the Golden Heart. I’ll be thinking of you all day. I can’t wait for the world to meet Krista Hall.

    Sarah, my goodness that was a great interview. And Krista, I have one last thing to add:

  2. Dart, Carey, you beat me while I was posting my like. Lol. I wanted to be the first — cause I’m so excited for Krista! Congratulations, it is a fabulous book. Great writing and such a compelling plot. Your readers will gobble it up.

    So proud of you, darling girl. You worked very hard to get here and the journey was worth it. Just like Carey I have to say: Squeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

    • Your squee is music to my ears, Diana! Thank you for the kind words. This debut novel would not have happened without the generous support, collective wisdom, and good cheer of the K&T authors. You all are the best! Any announcements on your Golden Heart winning book The Spy in the Mirror?

  3. making a cross stitch print for my niece.

  4. Well, Krista, the Big Day has come! I wish you all the success possible because I know how hard you’ve fought to bring this story to the public.

    I love the excerpt you included because it shows the characters’ dilemma perfectly. She wants to protect her students from any further violence and police (possibly ICE interference) and he wants her to cooperate so he can find a killer of 2 girls.

    My project is like yours, writing the same story over and over until it’s spit-shined. I’ve also printed out ALL the emails from my sister about my niece since the 12 year old was born (cute stuff, funny stuff, tantrums, etc) and will make a scrap book of sorts for her 18th birthday.

    Happy Debut! I’m so proud of you!!

  5. Heather Ashby

    Congratulations, Krista. Broken Places looks like AN AWESOME book!!! I can’t wait to read it!!! And just look at the brilliant line-up of books by K&T authors that BP is joining. (VERY impressive list of covers on this site, ladies! Congrats to all of you.) Can’t wait to read Broken Places!

    • Hi Heather! Thank you! I hope you enjoy BP. I have your Love in the Fleet books on my kindle and there’s a poolside lounge chair with my name on it. I’m looking forward to starting my summer reading with FORGIVE & FORGET 🙂

      And I also want to mention that Heather donates half her royalties to Fisher House in support of our military families. How awesome is that!

      • I’m still so impressed by that, Heather. I’ve been tossing around the idea of Wounded Warriors or Paralyzed Vet Assoc as a charity for my novel (which features an Olympic athlete….I know…nice connection!)

  6. Congratulations, Krista!!! I am so happy for you and I can’t wait to read your book. I am so very happy for you andI hope your release day is amazing.

    And I know well the stress of not being able to let a project go. My current ms is in it’s fifth rewrite and I’m hoping it’s the last!

    • Sharon, I hope it’s the last rewrite too. I know it will be an amazing read. Congratulations on the 2014 Golden Heart nomination for See Her No More! Thank you for all the support these past few years 🙂

  7. Congratulations, Krista! I read the beginning of Broken Places as a judge, and I’m looking forward to reading the whole book. Sarah did you proud at the awards last year.

    As for long projects–I’m a slow writer, and unpublished, so with no deadlines, all my projects seem to take years.

    And Rosie is adorable!

    • Kay! What a fun surprise to find out you were one of the judges. Thank you! I couldn’t agree with you more: Sarah was simply magnificent at the podium last year. I was hoping she’d post a picture 🙂

      I’m looking forward to the day you announce your debut book. Who wouldn’t want to read a book titled: Jinn & Tonic!(Kay is a 3x Golden Heart finalist and one of my Lucky 13 sisters.) Keeping on writing!

      • Kay is a close chapter friend and I’m embarrassed to say I still have not read an excerpt of Jinn and Tonic, even after all the awards she’s received!

        Thanks for commenting Kay. If you loved Krista’s entry I assure you the rest of the book is a powerhouse of suspense!

  8. Happy Book birthday Krista! Sounds like an awesome read!

    I guess my Bledsoe sisters series has been going on for three years now. I believe in it, so I will keep on working on it. Sometimes that investment is required. Have a great day!

  9. Yay! Another Lucky 13 sister! Thanks for stopping by today, Piper. A lot of heart goes into those years-in-the-making projects! I’m looking forward to meeting the Bledsoe sisters in THE PREACHER’S PROMISE. The first book in the series comes out this summer, right?

    • An excerpt of Piper’s story is up on Amazon (it’s in a contest and readers can download the short entry onto their tablets and even write reviews.) It’s judged by Amazon, but we’re hoping Piper’s excellent reviews will help her get to the finals! Just type in her name or the title and it’ll pop up.

  10. Happy release day, Krista! Loved hearing about the research you did for this book. Can’t wait to read it! Many congrats!!!

    • Researching is one of my favorite parts of writing a book. I love digging deeper into subjects and finding those nuggets of gold that are perfect for the story. Thanks for stopping by, Miranda! And congrats on that 3-book contract with Entangled Indulgence! So happy for you!

  11. Happy release day, Krista!!!

  12. Yay, Krista! Happy release day. You’ve worked so hard to get here and I can’t wait to read BROKEN PLACES! My first book took years, but it was the characters and their story that kept me going. I loved them so much I wanted to share them with the world. 🙂 Doing a happy dance for you!

    • Gwen, I know exactly what you mean. I’m so glad you kept going because BLIND FURY is such a great read 🙂 And I can’t thank you enough for all the Scrivener tips and troubleshooting.

  13. Mona Kekstadt

    Yay Krista! Happy Book Release Day! Have on my list to order your book. Have a great day! 😃🎉🎉🎉🎉

  14. KRISTA!!!!! Huge hugs and may this be a fabulous official release day for you!!!

    I was lucky and thrilled to critique Broken Places in 2011 and am so thrilled this wonderful book has been set free in the wild!

    As far as projects that have taken years to complete… I started writing Grave Danger in 2002 (which is one of the reasons it’s set in that year)…

    • Rachel, sending huge hugs right back at you! I was Granted back in 2011 and that critique was so pivotal. I can’t thank you enough for all the support and shared wisdom over the past three years 🙂

  15. Happy Debut day Krista! Reading the excerpt is like being inside of an emotional tornado. You know they’re both right… but, where does the “they’re victims” mentality quit to become they’re responsible for creating victims. It is a fine line and I look forward to reading BP to see how you handle that line.

    Ongoing projects: moved into my house 8 years ago… still remodeling.

    Started a half acre rose garden… still planting.

    Started writing a romantic comedy two years ago…. still only have the first chapter.
    Etc… etc… sigh

    • Oh Julie! You win the projects that take years award! Sheesh. I remodeled (6-week projection) for 6 months and almost opened a vein! You have my sympathies.

      Thanks for “Getting” how fabulous Krista’s conflict is in this book. It’s sensational.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Julie! Life is definitely a work in progress, isn’t it. I’d love to see that half acre rose garden! I hope you enjoy Broken Places. Let me know what you think when you’re finished.

  16. Congrats on the release… This is my all time favorite genre and I am always looking for new authors. Cant wait to read it!!

  17. Krista! Congrats, Lucky 13 sister! Your book sounds great, and I loved the excerpt. You have all the right amounts of emotion and suspense, and it’s just the right appetizer for the whole book. 🙂 The gang setting, and the optimist/realist pull between the H/H is terrific! Can’t wait to read it. Thanks for letting us share in your special day! Here’s to many more release dates!

    And Sarah. I only have one thing to say…”realizing your dream”?? lol. Just sayin’. ::wink,wink:: Isn’t that what we’re all doing? 🙂

    • No, thank YOU, Kim, for stopping by to cheer for BP. Congratulations on the two YA Golden Heart nominations! Good luck in San Antonio. I’m sorry I’m going to miss all the fun, but I will be following the awards ceremony on Twitter per usual 🙂

  18. I didn’t say weave, weaver, knitting, Kim…

  19. Congrats, Krista. This sounds like a great read. I’m with you about NPR–such a wealth of info! Good luck with sales. I also like the sound of the earlier work you mentioned. All of that should keep you out of too much trouble. 🙂 Love your poochie, too.

  20. Krista!!! Heart confetti everywhere! Huge and heartfelt congrats on your debut. Which sounds absolutely phenomenal!

    Happy Book Birthday! And I really hope you’re enjoying one of those chocolate something-something cupcakes. 😉

  21. Woot! Happy release day! Stoked to read BROKEN PLACES… maybe at the end of the month when I’m off diving in the Galapagos and will hopefully have some down time 🙂

    Does graduate school count as something that took years to finish? Because it did. And the only thing that kept me going was that I woke up one day and was over 4 years into it and realised I was too far in the hole not to come out with a PhD :P.

    • Cris, I hope you do take Broken Places with you when you’re in the Galapagos Islands. That’s about as close to being there as I’m likely to get. The dive trip sounds awesome trip. (Sarah, can I change my dream vacation answer?) Graduate school definitely counts! Should we call you Dr. Cris? Thank you for stopping by K&T for the release day celebration!

    • You lead the most exciting life! I’m thinking Memoirs are in your future, Cris. Have a WONDERFUL trip, we’ll miss hearing from you. (I’m assuming no wifi on Galapagos…)

  22. Sounds fabulous, Krista! Running off to download it immediately!

    • Thank you, Lark! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it 🙂 How are those adorable puppies? Jody’s selfie on facebook the other day was too cute.

    • Thanks for commenting, Lark! You really will love this. Such an authentic portrayal of the gang world. A topic I would not have thought I would enjoy reading and I was hooked.

  23. Congratulations, Krista!!! I’m so excited for you and have no doubt it will be a runaway bestseller!!! Hugs!!!

  24. Congratulations Krista! I’m so happy for you. I know your book is amazing, and I’m expecting big things! Totally get that cupcake, you hear me?

    • Amy, those cupcakes are outrageously good. If you’re ever in DC, make sure you have Baked & Wired on your list of places to go. They have excellent coffee too. Thanks for helping me celebrate today. And congrats on the Golden Heart nomination for your YA mystery!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Amy! Wonder if the bakery ships to Houston…

  25. Well, Krista…WOW. What an amazing day! I’m sure with all the launching details you are exhausted. As Amy said, “go get that cupcake.” You deserve it! Congratulations again.

    • Sarah, a million thanks for making this a day to remember 🙂 Not only do I owe you two bottles of Champagne, I’m adding the Chocolate Cupcake of Doom. When is your flight arriving?

      Sending a huge thank you to everyone who stopped by today! Happy reading!

  26. Happy release day,Krista! Sorry I’m arriving late to your party, but here on the west coast my evening’s just beginning. Loved the sneak peek into how you created your novel and where you found your research. Your plot and characters sound intriguing! I raise my virtual glass of champagne to you!

  27. Jacqui! A visit from a west coast Lucky 13 is a great way to wrap up my book birthday party! Thank you for your kind words. Raising my glass of cyber champagne right back at you.

  28. Reblogged this on DIANA BELCHASE and commented:

    My dear friend Krista Hall just released her first, very fabulous book, Broken Places. I know you’ll all love this interview.

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