Monthly Archives: October 2016

Author Lena Diaz Breaches FBI Security!

It wasn’t easy, but I persevered and got inside an FBI field office. What I saw was…

fbiseal

AMAZING! It was so cool to be there! And it was like breaching Fort Knox to get inside. Seriously.

I was part of a tour group from my local Sisters in Crime chapter, a non-profit organization of lovers of mysteries and thrillers (both readers and authors.)

Weeks before the planned visit to the Jacksonville, Florida field office, I had to fill out forms giving the FBI permission to perform a full background check on me. Since they approved my visit, I’m guessing they totally missed my questionable internet searches such as “how to kill someone and make it look like an accident.”fbi

At the appointed time for the visit, I was told to leave my cell phone and anything that contained GPS tracking technology in my car. So, after divesting myself of all of my clandestine spying equipment, I went into the maximum security prison office visitor’s booth.

All the walls inside were glass from about waist-level up. A security guard was behind a thick Exit Strategy High Rez Finalwall of glass to my left and was apparently too scared to come out, because he stayed behind that wall the entire time. He spoke to me by talking into a phone on his side. His voice came through a speaker in the ceiling on my side. First order of business, “The Speech”–the warning about leaving my guns and weapons of mass destruction at home.

Then he instructed me to open a heavy, thick metal door in the bottom part of the wall and to place my purse, my notepad, and my Driver’s License inside the little cubby area behind the door. Once I did that and my door was closed, he opened a door on his side and took my belongings out.

NoExit Cover-Final-HighRezI was then instructed to pass through a metal detector while the guard sent my belongings through an airport-type of scanner. He also instructed me to pass through to the next glass-walled room, after buzzing the lock to open the door for me.

Next was “The Search”. He checked every nook and cranny inside my rather large purse. He felt it up so much that I’m fairly certain there will be dozens of baby purses in my home nine months from now.

Once satisfied that I wasn’t hiding any evil clowns, he placed the purse, my notebook, and a temporary ID into another metal cubby inside the wall. He kept my Driver’s License hostage until the tour was over. Once the door was closed on his side of the cubby, he again directed me through the phone/intercom to open the door on my side to get my belongings.

Armed with my temporary ID (okay, it was just a name-tag sticker, but it did say Federal FinalExit-HighRez
Bureau of Investigation on it), I was then permitted to exit the next door–after the guard buzzed the lock.

After all of that, I had finally achieved access to…the courtyard outside the actual FBI building. (sigh) Did I mention the entire facility is surrounded by super-high black metal fencing that could probably stop a tank?

From there, I had to go through another series of security measures. Here’s the short version.

  • FOUR FBI agents escorted our tour group of nine people the whole time.
  • EVERYTHING is secured and requires codes typed into keypads.
  • Before going through a door, the door behind you has to be closed and locked.
  • If one person needs to go to the bathroom, we all go to the bathroom. The tour group stays together no matter what.

What did I see while inside the building? Here are some highlights.

  • Guns. LOTS of guns. Some of them on the hips of FBI agents. Others in an armory.
  • I got to hold a Tommy gun. It was HEAVY.
  • I got to hold some bullet-resistant vests. The one the FBI SWAT team wears is super heavy. I could barely hold it up.
  • There is a Samurai sword in the armory. Don’t ask me why.
  • There are bomb blast doors inside.
  • They have commercial washers and dryers inside for the ERT (Evidence Response Team) and others to use. Why? Because when you go to crime scenes in really grungy areas you don’t want to bring the roaches home with you (shiver).
  • There was a presentation from a special agent who was on one of the ERT teams sent to Orlando to investigate the night club shooting.
  • The gun guy showed us all of those guns. Did I mention they were heavy? Oh – and he was CUTE.
  • Best part of the tour? The gym. There were two very special agents working out when we went inside. VERY special.
  • We met the Special Agent in Charge. How cool is that? He’s the top guy. In case you didn’t know.
  • There was a presentation by a female FBI Special Agent who talked about her specialty, white-collar crime.
  • Then we got to ask questions. Crazy questions. And they answered us without even blinking. Which is kind of scary if you think about it.
  • Oh, and I forgot to mention. The FBI had a photographer following us around the entire time, taking tons of pictures. To what end, I have no idea. But we did get one picture to take home with us (thus the picture posted on this blog.)
  • At the end of the tour, we got to go to a very important last stop–the FBI gift shop. I am now the proud owner of a set of handcuffs and lanyard that say FBI on them. I do have to say, their gift shop was a bit disappointing. Very small without a lot to choose from. I highly recommend the gift shop at the LAPD Police Academy instead. But that’s another blog post.
  • My hijacked Driver’s License was returned to me at the visitor’s booth at the end of the tour in exchange for my temporary FBI badge/sticker. Bummer. I wanted to keep the sticker and would have gladly forfeited my license in exchange.

giftshopOh, and did I also mention that when anyone leaves the FBI fortress compound employee parking lot, they have to punch in a special code to get the gate to open? I guess if you forget the code you have to live in the field office forever.

If I had to describe the visit in one word, I’d say INTENSE.

Lena Diaz

Now I’m off to correct the myths and errors in my current novel that includes some references to the FBI.

Lena Diaz is an award-winning author of romantic suspense for both Harlequin and Avon. Her books have been translated into French, German, Norwegian, Turkish, and Japanese and are sold in many countries around the world. With fifteen books published so far, she has three more scheduled to come out in 2017, and two (so far) scheduled to release in 2018. Lena lives in northeast Florida with her husband of 30 years, her son, her daughter, and her daughter’s cat–Weasley (yes, he’s named after a Harry Potter character.)

Learn more about Lena Diaz by visiting her website.

Move over Jack Reacher…Enter Gil Malloy!

Meet Crime Fiction Novelist R.G. Belsky

and the newest installment in the Gil Malloy series…

BLONDE ICE

blondeicefinalcover-R.G.Belsky

Son of Sam. Ted Bundy. The Boston Strangler. All of these infamous serial killers who made front page news shared a common trait—they were men who killed women for a sexual thrill.

But now Gil Malloy—ace reporter for the New York Daily News—is on the trail of a different kind of serial killer who breaks all of the rules. Dubbed “Blonde Ice” by the media, she’s a sexy blonde who picks up seemingly random men at bars and clubs, has sex with them, and then brutally murders them afterwards.

Malloy—who is already in the middle of a major political story about the election of the next New York City mayor—finds himself drawn to the case by secrets from his past. As he digs deeper, he begins to suspect that there could be some kind of link between the mayoral race and the emergence of the Blonde Ice killings.

As the body count and the political stakes continue to rise, Malloy soon realizes he’s covering what could be the biggest story of his career. All he has to do is live through it.

Amazon       Barnes&Noble      Simon&Schuster

Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, in New York, NY (John Makely / NBC News) NBC News Dick Belsky.

Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, in New York, NY (John Makely / NBC News)
NBC News
Dick Belsky.

Does that sound like an awesome story or what? This is the third novel in the Gil Malloy series. Now meet the fabulous author, R.G. Belsky.

R.G. Belsky is an author of crime fiction and a New York City journalist. His new mystery BLONDE ICE – the latest in a series featuring newspaper reporter Gil Malloy – was published by Atria on October 18. Previous books include SHOOTING FOR THE STARS and THE KENNEDY CONNECTION. Belsky is a former managing editor of the New York Daily News; metropolitan editor of the New York Post; news editor of Star magazine; and managing editor at NBCNews.com. He recently won the Claymore award and finished as a Silver Falchion Finalist at Killer Nashville.

Lena – Welcome to Kiss and Thrill! You have a long, prestigious history as a journalist and are still an active journalist. But you also write crime novels. Did you always want to write novels? What finally made you take that leap?


R.G. – I’ve actually been writing crime novels for a long time. I started back as a young journalist when I first read Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie and a few others – and got inspired to try my own. Most of my crime novels have been written while I was also working as a fulltime journalist at the NY Post, NY Daily News, Star magazine and NBC News. I always thought that gave me a big advantage in my fiction career because:

    • Being a news person gives you great ideas for crime novels. I’ve covered most of the big crime stories over the years – Son of Sam, O.J., Jon Benet, etc – and also been involved in some of the most sensational tabloid stories like “Headless Body in Topless Bar” – the famous NY Post headline. So when people ask me where I get the ideas for my crime novels, I always say: “I just go to work in the newsroom every day:”
    • There’s no place better than a New York City newsroom to find colorful characters. None of the characters in my crime novels are real, but they certainly have been inspired by many of the real life characters in my journalistic life. Much of the dialogue in my books too comes straight out of newsroom banter. I don’t think I ever could have created someone like Gil Malloy if I hadn’t been around a lot of Gil Malloys as a real life journalist.
    • A journalist has to deal all the time with the facts. He or she is consumed by them – everything in a news story has to be accurate. But in fiction, I get to make stuff up! I generally start with some real life facts as in The Kennedy Connection – pegged to the JFK assassination. But then I create fictional items like a secret son of Lee Harvey Oswald to propel the plot forward. Now that kind of freedom is really fun to do for a longtime journalist like me!

Lena – When you and I last spoke, your first novel in the Gil Malloy series, The Kennedy Connection, was coming out. Since then, you’ve published the second in this series—Shooting Stars. And the third, Blonde Ice, just came out (Happy book release!) This series has received amazing critical acclaim. To what do you attribute your success? What makes your books so different? What makes Gil Malloy so compelling?

R.G. – I follow a pretty basic rule when writing my fiction. I try to make the books – especially the characters – things I would want to read about. That’s especially true with Gil Malloy. He’s flawed, immature at times, and has a lot of other issues = but he’s basically a good guy with integrity who’s also very interesting. I guess I patterned him to a degree after some of the TV characters I’ve loved over the years like Jim Rockford and Columbo. I also try to make sure the story has as many twists and surprises as possible – but the character is still the most important thing to me. One of my favorite reader reviews on Goodreads consisted of just three words: “Gil Malloy rocks!” That’s the reaction I’m going for.

Here’s what critics and fellow authors are saying about his novels…

  • “Bombshell Twists” ~ Publishers Weekly
  • “Sensational! R.G. Belsky dazzles with his new mystery novel…Gil Malloy shines!” ~ Killer Nashville, Book of the Day
  • “Sinewy, compelling and addictive” ~ The Huffington Post
  • “Excellent thriller…establishes Malloy as a formidable hard-boiled hero.” ~ Booklist
  • “Malloy is a terrific character” ~ Sandra Brown
  • “completely entertaining” ~ Hank Phillippi Ryan

Lena – What’s next? More Gil Malloy books or a new series? Something else?

R.G. – I recently won the Claymore award at Killer Nashville for “Forget Me Not,” the next book I’ve been working on. It’s about the long ago disappearance of a child in New York City and a woman TV reporter who becomes obsessed with finding out answers about the case. I think it’s different than the Gil Malloy books – but still captures that same New York City media world that I know so well. Of course, I also hope to do more Gil Malloy books in the future too. I like writing Gil!

COMPLETE BOOKLIST

As Dick Belsky…

  • ONE FOR THE MONEY – Academy Chicago (1985)
  • SOUTH STREET CONFIDENTIAL – St. Martin’s (1989)
  • BROADCAST CLUES (Paperback version from Berkley Prime Crime of South Street Confidential) – 1993
  • LIVE FROM NEW YORK – Berkley Prime Crime (1993)
  • THE MOURNING SHOW –Berkley Prime Crime (1994)
  • SUMMERTIME NEWS – Berkley Prime Crime (1995)

As R.G. Belsky….

  • LOVERBOY – Avon 1998
  • PLAYING DEAD – Avon 1999
  • THE KENNEDY CONNECTION – Atria (2014)
  • THE MIDNIGHT HOUR – Novella – Atria (2015)
  • SHOOTING FOR THE STARS – Atria (2015)
  • BLONDE ICE – Atria (2016)

R.G. is giving away a PRINT COPY OF BLONDE ICE to a random commenter (Giveaway limited to U.S. mailing addresses.)

Just answer the below question to be entered into the drawing…

Who’s the scariest serial killer you’ve ever read or seen on screen?

Learn more about R.G. Belsky by visiting his website.

Giveaway for an Astonishing Debut!

Congratulations to WINNERS: Nan Dixon, Erika Kelly and Janice Hougland! All three of you have won a digital copy of RACE THE DARKNESS, by Abbie Roads. Thanks for commenting on Tuesday and celebrating her debut. Please click the CONTACT US page and let me know the email address of where you’d like your copy sent. -Sarah Andre

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RACE THE DARKNESS (excerpt)

They weren’t going to make it.

Not unless he suddenly sprouted blue tights and a red cape. The hope of escape morphed into despair and resignation and finally reckless pissed-off-ness. No fucking way was he going to die running. He stopped, turned, and faced the truck barreling toward them. The tires ate up the ground at an indecent rate. He clutched Isleen tighter to his chest. For her sake, he wanted it to be a quick death. No more lingering. No more pain.

That thought infuriated him. None of this was right. They shouldn’t be on the verge of death. Again.

The truck kept coming—now twenty-five feet away.

Everything slowed, happening as if through the quicksand of time. A white dandelion floaty meandered on the breeze directly between them and the truck. His heart no longer ran a staccato rhythm. Duh…dum. Pause. Duh…dum. Pause.

His life didn’t flash before his eyes. The future did. Isleen’s future. In an ethereal dream beyond time, her skin was gilded by firelight, her eyes devoid of sadness and fear, her body whole and healthy. She smiled, an expression so full of warmth and tenderness and undiluted joy that it plunked itself down inside his heart and wouldn’t leave.

He ached to create that kind of smile on her face, but their lives were over. It all could’ve gone so differently if he’d only listened to her, believed in her, found her years before now.

The air changed, displaced by the truck only a few feet from them. Heat from the engine blasted his face, smelling of burning oil, gasoline, and a scent reminiscent of popped corn. He locked eyes with the bitch behind the wheel. Her pudgy lips ripped back over her teeth in a snarling scream.

Xander knew anger—his best friends were fury and rage—but the look on the bitch’s face went beyond mere anger all the way to unholy.

The truck imploded.

The sound was supersonic, a resonation that rippled through his skin and muscle to rattle his bones and shake the earth underneath his feet. Metal and glass and fire shot outward, skyward, backward, in a near-perfect arc of destruction. Flaming debris rained around them.

He stood there holding Isleen, watching it happen, not believing the message his eyes sent to his brain.

“What the…?” The last of the truck parts hit the ground. The pieces burned. That’s all that was left—pieces. Nothing touched them, like they resided under an invisible dome of protection.

He glanced down at Isleen for an answer, but she was unconscious, her head lolling so limply on her neck that it looked as if he was carrying a corpse.

Today is DEBUT DAY for my insanely talented author-friend, Abbie Roads. RACE THE DARKNESS is the first book in her ‘Fatal Dreams’ series, and mark my words- she is launching like a superstar. Note the date and where you first heard her name mentioned, folks, because I’m introducing you to a future bestseller!

To celebrate this exciting occasion I’m giving away three digital copies of her debut romantic suspense to three lucky commenters. Even if it’s a “congratulations, Abbie,” consider yourself in the running. 🙂

Check out her book trailer:

Buy Links

Amazon    iBooks   Barnes and Noble   Google

 

AbbieFor more on Abbie Roads, please visit her Social Media Links:

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