Author Archives: Gwen Hernandez

Romantic. Isn’t it?

The minute Halloween ended, the stores had their Christmas decorations up. Yikes! So now I’m thinking Christmas gifts. And romance. Because, uh, romance writer.

Which got me thinking me of my first Christmas with my husband (a.k.a. The Engineer), back in our dating days. He bought me aftermarket cruise control for my car.

Seriously.

picture of cruise control

Right up there with vacuum cleaners you say?

Well, maybe. Would I have swooned for some jewelry? Oh yeah. But romance is about more than cards and flowers and gems. You can have all that and still end up with a dud instead of a stud. Flowers and jewels are easy outs. Pick one and I’ll probably like it.

Venice jewelry store display

No, the real challenge in my mind—and the real definition of romantic—is knowing your partner well enough to get a gift he or she will truly enjoy. It shows you’ve been listening and have given a lot of thought to what would please.

In that respect, in spite of what his roommate thought, The Engineer’s gift was wildly romantic. We had been driving two hours each way to another city every few weeks for family visits. Without cruise control, I was constantly battling my lead foot and my (then) sporty five-speed to stay within a reasonable speed limit. How much nicer life would have been if I had a newer car with cruise so I could relax. I definitely didn’t need any more speeding tickets!

Well, the newer car was out. We were poor college students, after all. But the cruise control… Who knew you could put something like that on after market? The Engineer, of course! And he installed it too. See? Smart, handsome, and handy with a tool. How could a girl go wrong? 😀

And every once in a while, he gets totally impractical and buys me something pretty that I don’t need. Like jewelry. Which makes it all the more special, because he also understands that sometimes I just want something that sparkles.

What’s the most romantic (or unromantic) gift you’ve ever received?

Becoming a writer: Why I write romantic suspense

Circled list item“In 7th grade I wrote a novel. It was horrible, but I’ve always wanted to try again.” That’s a line from a note I created in my early days on Facebook called “25 Random Things About Me.”

Thank goodness I quit “wanting” and tried again!

I’m not sure when I first realized I liked to write, but it happened somewhere between a disastrous report on the parts of the eye in 6th grade and my pre-teen attempt at a novel (a super-short story, actually).

pic of text from my first novel

Text from my first “novel.”

That first manuscript included an orphaned heroine, a cross-country adventure while eluding the police, and a crush on a bad boy who helped her out of trouble.

How it took me so long to figure out that I should write romantic suspense, I’ll never understand.

Maybe it’s because I never considered writing as a career. Other people made a living at it, not people like me. Success as a writer seemed as likely to happen as that singing career I’d once envisioned. The idea of making a living writing is still daunting—and as yet unrealized—but here I am plugging away at the keyboard most days, ever hopeful, because it’s the best job I’ve ever had.

For years, I dabbled in poetry, wrote a slew of technical documentation, and emailed random flashes of story ideas home for safekeeping. When I finally quit working for someone else back in 2008 (wow, time flies!), I knew I needed something to keep my brain engaged and challenged. Something that could satisfy my insatiable desire to learn, my unending curiosity, my hunger for a behind-the-scenes look at professions and scenarios I’ll never (I hope) experience firsthand.

Like reading, but better. It was time to seriously pursue writing.

pic of books on a shelf

Some of the many authors who’ve inspired me.

Fiction was my dream, but I didn’t have any big ideas. Not the kind I thought I wanted to take on. I’d spent most of my adult life reading mysteries, thrillers, and historical adventures. I couldn’t imagine where authors like Sue Grafton, David Baldacci, Ken Follett, Michael Crichton, Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, Joseph Finder, and Khaled Hosseini got their ideas. Talk about intimidating.

It wasn’t until I picked up a couple of old historical romance novels from the “Free” box at the library that I realized there was a genre for the stories in my head. It was an epiphanic (yes, that’s a word), slap-your-head sort of moment. I knew historical wasn’t for me (love to read it, can’t write it), but when I found romantic suspense authors like Suzanne Brockmann, Christina Dodd, JoAnn Ross, Laura Griffin, Roxanne St. Claire, and so many others, I found my home.

I started writing immediately, and haven’t stopped since. Releasing my own romantic suspense (Blind Fury) earlier this year was the culmination of a five-year effort/dream that really goes all the way back to junior high.

What if I hadn’t picked up those free books? Would I have come to romance another way eventually? I hope so. It’s likely. But who knows how much longer it would have taken?

I’m just grateful for the ways of the universe, and happy to have found my niche.

Is there anything you’ve always wanted to try (or try again)? What’s holding you back?

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.

 

Starbucks Gift Card Winner!

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Congratulations to Mona Kekstadt! You’re the winner of a $15 Starbucks gift card from Laura Griffin.

Please email Laura with your mailing address and she will send your prize: laura@lauragriffin.com.

TheBodyguard

Be sure to join us next week to talk sexy bodyguards with Lena Diaz and celebrate her new release, THE BODYGUARD. Enjoy your weekend!

Laura Griffin’s Hardcover Debut: Far Gone

fargoneOne of my favorite authors, Laura Griffin, has a new book out next week, and this one’s special because it’s her first hardcover release. Congrats, Laura!

FAR GONE is another fabulous addition to her quickly expanding oeuvre. A sexy, stoic FBI agent, and prickly, kick-ass cop, and a homegrown terrorist make for an explosive read that will keep you up long past bedtime.

Laura was gracious enough to stop by K&T to talk about FAR GONE, and give away a Starbucks gift card for one lucky commenter. (The caffeine is for the morning after you stay up all night reading. 😉 )

Your new book FAR GONE is a bit of a departure from your Tracers series. How is it different?

Thanks so much for inviting me to visit Kiss & Thrill!

FAR GONE is my first hardcover book, so I’m very excited about that. I spent a lot of time planning this story before I wrote a word, really trying to get my heroine down. Andrea Finch is a detective with the Austin Police Department who is on leave from her job after a shooting incident when she gets an S.O.S. call from her younger brother in West Texas. Andrea suspects her brother has gotten himself mixed up in a really bad situation and goes out there to investigate.

Did you do any special research for this story?

I love book research! While getting ready to write this one, I went on a police ride-along here in Austin. I love this city (my hometown), but I wanted to see it through a cop’s eyes.

Another big help for me was visiting the LAPD training academy with the suspense writers’ chapter of Romance Writers of America. [GH: That tour was awesome.] Touring their facilities and learning all about their rigorous training was really useful when I sat down to write this book. Also, I got to meet a number of women on the job, who helped me get a sense of what it’s like to be a woman in the male-dominated field of law enforcement.

LauraGriffinCopy 2014 (2)This book isn’t an official part of your Tracers series. Do you plan to write any more Tracers book?

Absolutely! I love writing the Tracers series. And readers will recognize a few familiar faces from the series in FAR GONE. I couldn’t resist bringing some of my favorite Tracers in to help with the forensic aspects of the story.

What are you working on next?

I’m working on the new Tracers book, this one featuring Derek Vaughn and Elizabeth LeBlanc, who first met in the book SCORCHED. I don’t have a title yet, but I’ll keep you posted!

[I loved Elizabeth in this book. I’m excited to read her and Derek’s story.]

Also, I’m excited to be writing a new addition to my Moreno & Hart mystery series with Allison Brennan. The book is called HIT & RUN and it features the female PI duo Scarlet Moreno and Krista Hart. Allison and I have had fun collaborating on this series.

Ooh, more Moreno & Hart. Yay! Anything else you’d like to tell readers?

I hope you’ll enjoy FAR GONE! And I would love to see some of you at the RT Convention in New Orleans this May, or the RWA Convention in San Antonio, where I’ll be signing books.

Can’t wait to see you in San Antonio!

GIVEAWAY! To celebrate the release of FAR GONE Laura is giving away a $15 Starbucks card. Leave a comment for a chance to win and then check back on Thursday.

 

Sharon and Sarah Final in the Golden Heart (and a Thursday winner)!

Sharon, Gwen, and Sarah before the 2013 GH/RITA Awards in Atlanta.

Sharon, Gwen, and Sarah before the 2013 GH/RITA Awards in Atlanta.

Every year around this time, thousands of romance writers are sitting by their phones waiting for “the call.” Not the one from an editor or agent, but from one of the members of the board of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) telling them their manuscript or book finaled in either the Golden Heart® (unpublished) or the RITA® (published) Awards.

These prestigious contests are sort of like the Oscars of romance, complete with a ceremony emceed by an author-celebrity, lots of fancy gowns, and a golden statue for the RITA winners. The only thing missing is the E! reporter.

I can tell you from experience that there is no day so nervewracking as finalist announcement day. (Okay, except the actual awards ceremony.) I’ve been through it twice (2010 and 2011) so far. You think you will distract yourself with writing, but find that you’re constantly checking the RWA web page, Facebook, and Twitter to see if your category is done. And every time the phone rings your heart skips a beat.

Several of us at Kiss and Thrill suffered through the suspense again today, and I’m happy to announce that Sarah Andre and Sharon Wray are both Golden Heart finalists in the Romantic Suspense category!!

We’re so proud and excited and can’t wait to cheer them on this summer in San Antonio!

And now on to today’s winner…

 CONGRATULATIONS msrh0nda!

You’ve won the digital copy of Avery Flynn’s newest release: High-Heeled Wonder.

Please click on the Contact Us key and let us know where to send it.

Thank you ALL for stopping by and adding to our eyesore-fashion list!

 HighHeeledWonder500

Congratulations also to the 2014 RITA Romantic Suspense nominees:

Toni Anderson: THE KILLING GAME

Carolyn Crane: OFF THE EDGE

(Frequent K&T guest!) Julie Ann Walker: THRILL RIDE

Erica Spindler: JUSTICE FOR SARA

On Tuesday, April 1st, Sarah is posting the first sentence of each of their books! Please stop by and read the lines, see their covers and check out their bios. She’s invited each of the nominees to visit, so please come and congratulate them!

Cover reveal! Blind Fury 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?

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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!

Winner of Tempted Into Danger

The winner of TEMPTED INTO DANGER by Melissa Cutler is

Michelle Vasquez!

 


Congratulations! Contact us by January 19th to claim your prize.

And be sure to join us next week when Sharon interviews Heather Ashby!

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