Monthly Archives: April 2016

Our Beloved Graveyard Queen Returns!

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Amanda Stevens

Readers: Think back a few years ago–I went bonkers for the first three novels in the Graveyard Queen series, about Amelia Gray, a graveyard restorer who stumbles across clues and gravestone symbols to catch killers. She also sees ghosts, and believe me-they aren’t the cute Caspar kind! 

Well The Visitor, book four, was released this month and I read it (with constant goosebumps) in one  sitting. I’m delighted to welcome back one of the most prolific Gothic thriller writers in modern times: Amanda Stevens.

Hi Amanda. There’s a four year gap between your last Graveyard Queen novelWhat have you been doing during this time?

The Prophet was the last of the original three books in the series.  Since then, I’ve written three more books—The Visitor, The Sinner and The Awakening.  Life threw me a huge curve-ball in 2013 and it took me a while to get back into writing.  But I’ve worked my way back and I think the next Graveyard Queen trilogy echoes my struggles.  It’s been a dark and twisty journey for both Amelia and me.

I’m thrilled that über-hottie John Devlin is playing a bigger role in this story, and looks to be a major conflict for Amelia in The Sinner! Did you always have his dark and haunted background mapped out or has this growing issue with his grandfather and the family business come to you as the novels have progressed.

Devlin’s evolution is interesting to me because from the very first moment he stepped out of the mist in The Restorer, I knew he was more than just a haunted police detective.  He had something really, really dark in his background, something that he might not admit even to himself.  Something that initially led him to Dr. Shaw and the Institute for Parapsychology Studies and then repelled him from all things paranormal.

So to answer your question, I didn’t have his background mapped out, but it was always there in the back of my mind so that all I had to do was flesh it out when I needed to.  That’s been another interesting thing about this series—sometimes I’ll drop something about a character’s background or even mention something in passing that doesn’t seem to be all that important to the current story and then I get to the next book and I realize that I’ve been subconsciously dropping clues and setting up backstory all along.  I think it’s all there in my head and has been since the very first book, but I didn’t know it until I needed it—if that makes sense.
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Unitarian Churchyard in Charleston–so lush, so Southern, so Gothic. There’s a scene in The Visitor that takes place in this churchyard. Photographer: Amanda Stevens.

The Sinner looks to be an epic clash of forces. Is this the end of The Graveyard series or have you signed for more?

The sixth and final book (for now) is The Awakening, which will answer a lot of questions and resolve a lot of issues, but I don’t think Amelia’s story can ever be completely wrapped up.

 Do you plan to go to San Diego (this year) or Orlando (next year) to attend RWA the conference?

I’m not going to San Diego this year and I don’t have any plans as yet for Orlando, but that would be a great conference to attend because The Graveyard Queen will be ending and hopefully I’ll be launching a new series by then.MagnoliaCemeteryCharleston

A shot of a baby crib memorial in Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston.  This grave inspired the plot for The Awakening–the 6th Graveyard Queen Book. Photographer: Amanda Stevens.

What has changed in publishing these four years now that you’re back in the fray? Deadlines tighter? Self-marketing expectations? A shake up in the editorial crew?

Believe it or not, I’m still working on the same contract I had before I took a step back so nothing has changed for me personally as of yet.  But in that four-year period, my publisher was bought by HarperCollins so I’ll soon find out what that means in terms of a new contract and new expectations.  I’ve had the same editor for twenty years and she and my agent have been incredibly understanding and supportive. I’m optimistic about a new contract and about my career overall, but I’m also realistic.  Four years in publishing is a lifetime.

I know you shy away from public speaking, but if you gave a workshop what do you think you’re most expert at to share with new writers?

Writing is so instinctive to me that I have a hard time trying to explain the process.  I really don’t know how I do any of it.  But I suppose I would stress the importance of creating atmosphere and a sense of place, a sense of dread.  I subscribe to the Alfred Hitchcock school of suspense that less is more.  What you don’t see/read can be far more disturbing than a lengthy description of blood and gore.

What books have you read recently that leave you in awe? (Doesn’t have to be romance.)

I still think about Michael Gruber’s Tropic of Night even though I read that book some years back.  Talk about atmosphere and a sense of dread!  Currently, I’m reading The Saints of the Lost and Found by T. M. Causey, which has a wonderful premise.  I love a good premise!  One of the most memorable has to be The Farm by Tom Rob Smith.  It’s an older book that I found while browsing Half Price Books.  The back cover synopsis sold me.  

Describe a relaxing day for you.

I live a pretty stress-free life these days so a typical day for me is several hours of writing with a little gardening thrown in and then an evening of binging on The Walking Dead or whatever series I’m into at the moment.  Lunch and dinner with friends, a day at the beach now and then.  It’s all good.

Favorite recent movie and why?

Mad Max: Fury Road.  Beautifully shot, non-stop action, breathless stunts and an amazing cast.  My son was in town when the movie came out and we went to see it together.  He’s a filmmaker so I always love hearing his take and whatever inside information he’s gleaned out in Hollywood.  That movie left us both so gobsmacked, we went back the next day to see it in 3-D.  Another beautifully-shot movie is Crimson Peak.  So Gothic and dark and lovely.

TheVisitorAlthough the indie option is out there for all writers, many still seek the traditional path and/or are still trying to get an agent. What advice do you have for them?

Gosh, it’s been so long since I went through the process and so much has happened to me personally and to the industry as a whole that I don’t feel at all qualified to offer advice.  I mean, I’m a dinosaur.  But for someone wanting to go the traditional route, I imagine perseverance is still key.  Keep sending out those query letters, keep polishing that manuscript and never stop working on your craft.  Probably the best thing you can do for your career and your sanity is to develop a thick skin.  Writing is personal, but publishing is a business.

Connect with Amanda here:

Website     Author FB Page     Twitter

Audio Book News, a Giveaway, and a Sale!

Hi KaTs! Rachel here to share some news. First, from today’s Publisher’s Marketplace:Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 7.46.08 AM

That’s right, 4 more Evidence books are coming out in Audio in September! I’m very excited about the audio release of BODY OF EVIDENCE, WITHHOLDING EVIDENCE, INCRIMINATING EVIDENCE, and COVERT EVIDENCE and utterly thrilled to be working with Audible.

Audio book lineup

The first book in the series, CONCRETE EVIDENCE, is already available in audiobook format. You can listen to a sample and find buy links here. While you are visiting my website, you can sign up for my mailing list, and I’ll let you know when the other books are available for purchase in audio.

ColdEvidence-FrontCover-Final-72dpiStarting Friday, April 22nd, I’m hosting a Rafflecopter giveaway to celebrate COLD EVIDENCE’s first 50 reviews on Amazon. As of now there are 52 reviews and a 4.8 star rating! I think that’s worth celebrating with some fun swag. Entry information and photos of the prizes (a Hobuck Resort hoodie and COLD EVIDENCE shopping bag) can be found on my Facebook fan page. But don’t worry, if you aren’t on Facebook you can still enter!

Enter the giveaway here.

This is what USA Today had to say about COLD EVIDENCE:

Cold Evidence is exciting, intelligent, angst-y and sexy, with a depth of conflict and plot I found mesmerizing. Grant achieves an ideal balance between romance and suspense while keeping the adrenaline surging, and just when you think the danger is done … she sets you straight with yet another twist.”

COLD EVIDENCEKindle | iBooks | Kobo | Nook

Finally, INCRIMINATING EVIDENCE is on sale for $0.99/£0.99 through May 1st!

INCRIMINATING EVIDENCE is an enemies-to-lovers story, and many readers tell me Alec is their favorite hero. Here’s a glimpse at why:

Smexy Books gave INCRIMINATING EVIDENCE a B+ and said:

This book really has a fun and engaging premise. I love black-ops/special-ops/military action and throw it into the woods of Alaska with a great heroine and some really bad guys – and I’m all set.

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 I really liked both of them – they are tough and they don’t let the other get away with anything. They have really good chemistry.

I also feel like the detail with the military training and weapons and the Alaskan landscape in general are really presented well. A lot of detail that makes everything very realistic – something you don’t always get in romantic suspense books.

INCRIMINATING EVIDENCE: Kindle | iBooks | KoboNook

Congratulations to KaT’s own 2016 GOLDEN HEART Finalist, DIANA BELCHASE!

  • popping champagne corkThe Kiss and Thrill ladies would like to congratulate one of our own, the fabulous DIANA BELCHASE for being a finalist in the prestigious 2016 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart awards!

Her manuscript, ESCAPE FROM THE HAREM, is a finalist in the Romantic Suspense category.

The Golden Heart is to unpublished authors what the Academy Awards are to actors and actresses. It’s an incredible honor that thousands of authors aspire to. But only a handful ever become finalists, and even fewer actually win. Diana has done both! She has won the Golden Heart before, and we’ll be rooting her on this year to win it again! But win or not, just being a finalist puts her at the top of the pack, the cream of the crop, a writer who stands out from others as being extremely talented with a very bright future ahead of her.

CONGRATULATIONS DIANA!

We all love you very much and are so proud of you.

Here is the announcement about the finalists, excerpted from the Romance Writers of America website.

Romance Writers of America (RWA), the trade association for aspiring and published romance fiction authors, announces the finalists for the 2016 Golden Heart® Awards. The Golden Heart recognizes excellence in unpublished romance manuscripts.

The 2016 winners will be announced at a black-tie awards ceremony at the 2016 RWA Annual Conference.

DIANA BELCHASEDiana at Viennese Ball 2-2012

Diana is a truly kind, intelligent, wonderful person and we are all so happy for her. Below is a list of just some of her writing accomplishments, in addition to this year’s Golden Heart final!

Daphne Du Maurier Nominee 2015 (By the Skin of Her Teeth)
Daphne Du Maurier Nominee 2015 (His Brother’s Child)
Daphne Du Maurier Nominee 2015 (At Midnight)
Golden Heart Winner 2011 (Spy in the Mirror)
Golden Heart Finalist 2012 (Spy in the Harem)
Silver Quill Winner 2011 (Spy in the Mirror)
Wisconsin Fab Five Winner 2011 (Spy in the Mirror)
Jack Reid Award 2010 (The Spy Next Door)
NEORWA Cleveland Rocks 2nd Place 2009 (The Spy Next Door)

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(Above three pictures courtesy of Sharon Wray. From top down, left to right – 2012 Golden Heart Finalist class; Diana with Lena Diaz at an RWA conference; Diana, Rachel Grant, and Sharon Wray at an RWA conference)

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(2011 Golden Heart Finalists, left to right: Rachel Grant, Diana Belchase, Gwen Hernandez, Sharon Wray, Sarah Andre)

And now for some words from some of Diana’s fellow KaTs!

“Congratulations, Diana! No matter what happens at the awards ceremony, you’re already a winner. I’ll be cheering for you.” – Gwen Hernandez

“Dear Diana,

You’ve worked so hard to reach this highest-of-writer pinnacles. The nomination is a testament to your patience and perseverance. You’ve faced down more hardships than any other friend I know, so take a moment to just sit with this awesome accomplishment. Enjoy San Diego! My most heartfelt congratulations.” – Sarah Andre

 

“Diana is such a hard worker but she’s also extremely talented and generous. So it’s wonderful to see her get the recognition she deserves. Congratulations, Diana!” – Manda Collins

 

“One of my fondest memories was spending the day with Diana on the Kiss of Death tour of the LAPD Academy. She lovingly forced me out of my shy shell and I had the absolute best time and made a friend for life. Diana is one of the smartest, kindest, most interesting people I know. And she’s one hell of a writer. Congratulations on your latest achievement, Diana!” – Lena Diaz

 

“Diana is one of the most generous women I know. Besides being a wonderful writer, she’s a true and trusted friend who will always answer the phone to help you with your problems (both plot-wise and personal). Her advice (again both with plots and personal problems) is always honest and straightforward. She has a way of knowing what needs to be said even if it’s not necessarily what one wants to hear. But because she’s so diplomatic and kind, you know her comments come from the heart. Her only intent is to help make your writing shine and offer a sounding board when life becomes overwhelming. Meeting Diana is one of the reasons I so value the Golden Heart contest. Without that opportunity, I never would’ve met Diana or any of my Golden Sisters. Sisters who, like Diana, have changed my life for the better. Congratulations, Diana! I am so very proud of you!” – Sharon Wray

Congratulations Diana! One reason I’m so happy for you is that I know you are always happy for others (including me). When others succeed, you are the first in line with a big grin and an atta girl! When others face disappointment or a setback (including me), you are there with a big hug, a sympathetic ear, and advice on how to move on to the next goal. I’ll never forget the way you helped me prep for my panel at Thrillerfest when I was a bundle of nerves, or all the fun we had at the FBI writers day, or introduced me to all your friends when I knew no one. In short, Diana, you are true blue and I’m so happy you are my friend. I can’t wait to hug you at RWA. I’ll be the one cheering loudly and embarrassing you in front of your peeps. Congratulations!” – Carey Baldwin

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