Author Archives: Krista Hall

Tis the Season to Give and Give Back

Thanksgiving is over. We Americans were thankful for our blessings and then quickly pivoted to preparations for the season of giving (aka Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, etc.). It is also the season to give back. Today, I have my own opportunity to give back. As it happens, it is also a second chance because it was an opportunity that I passed up the first time it presented itself.

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What was the opportunity? (You were wondering that, right?) Modeling.

Yes, as surprising as it may sound, late last week I found myself suddenly in demand as a model. In a fashion show for a holiday luncheon benefit. An event I was helping to organize and planning to attend.

What I hadn’t planned on is the catwalk.

When the call to action came last week—We’re down three models; please help us out—the words on the tip of my tongue were all negative. I can’t. I ate too much pumpkin pie last week. I might trip on the catwalk. But before those words could launch into sounds of refusal, I remembered how much generosity, support, and kindness has been given to me this year. These same women who are dedicating their time, talents, and energy to organize the Northern Virginia Alliance League (NVAL) holiday luncheon to benefit Friends of Guest House, were also the same women who celebrated with me earlier this year when I announced that I had published my first book.NVAL

My heart has been full of gratitude at their enthusiasm and support expressed in word and deed. Not only have many of my NVAL friends bought Broken Places, they have also taken the time to write reviews on Amazon, to express interest in the writing and publishing process, to invite me to talk to their book groups, and to give copies of Broken Places to their friends.

It has truly been a wealth of blessings. I have a pretty good idea of how George Bailey must have felt at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. (Another holiday favorite of mine.) How could I say no to these friends who have given me so much? It was my time to give back. Keep your fingers crossed I don’t trip over my own two feet!

BrokenPlaces-FrontCover-Final-72dpiDo-gooders and second chances are two prominent themes of Broken Places so in the spirit of giving back, I will be donating half of my December Amazon royalties to Friends of Guest House, a 501(c)(3) serving women ex-offenders returning to the community after serving their time. Sometimes a helping hand can make all the difference. I think the mission statement from the Friends of Guest House website says it best: Help, hope, and new beginnings for Northern Virginia’s ex-offender women.

Here’s a list of other authors who are doing good while entertaining us with stories that give us the opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes, even if just for a few short hours.

  • Heather Ashby donates half of her royalties to Fisher House to support military families in the U.S.
  • JK Rowling is donating all global royalties for The Cuckoo’s Calling to The Soldiers’ Charity to support military families in the U.K.
  • Nora Roberts donates millions every year to the Nora Roberts Foundation to support literacy and children’s programs.
  • Debbie Macomber serves on the Board of Warm Up America which distributes hand-knit afghans, caps, and other items to tens of thousands of people in need.
  • K&T’s Rachel Grant and the authors of the Hometown Heroes book bundle are donating all royalties to Pets For Vets.
  • K&T’s Lena Diaz organizes the K&T donation as well as donating her own books and other items to the annual Brenda Novak Auction in support of Juvenile Diabetes research.

Wishing you and your family peace and joy in this season of giving! Christmas background with snowy fir trees

All month, the kindle edition of Broken Places is a free download for anyone who purchases the paperback edition through Amazon. Give a gift and keep one for yourself!

 

Winners!

CONGRATULATIONS,  QUANTUM and JDH2690! You’re each the winner of  BROKEN PLACES!

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 To claim your prize contact us with your email address and preferred ebook format within 10 days.

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CONGRATULATIONS TO 2014 RITA & GOLDEN HEART FINALISTS!

This year the winners in the romantic suspense category are:

RITA winner Carolyn Crane for OFF THE EDGE

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And GOLDEN HEART winner Denny S. Bryce for CHASING DAMN

Denny Bryce

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Tune in tomorrow when Manda gives a sneak peek into the final installment of her Wicked Widows trilogy, Perdita and Archer’s story, WHY LORDS LOSE THEIR HEARTS…

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A Killing in the Hills–A Novel

Wikimedia Commons, Mmacbeth, 3-27-2014

Wikimedia Commons, Mmacbeth, 3-27-2014

Sometimes in my dreams I’m back in Charleston, West Virginia, wandering the wooded ridgelines of Sherwood Forest where I lived for six years as a child. The hills and hollows, the switchback roads, the heavy humidity, and the acrid scent of chemicals when the wind blew in from the southwest. The wild beauty of the hills co-existed with hulking chemical plants along the banks of the Kanawha River and grinding poverty in the hollows. Contrasts with razor sharp edges that pierce your soul, even when you’re just a kid.

Krista (far right) with her Sherwood Forest BFFs, early 70s

Krista (far right) with her Sherwood Forest BFFs, early 70s

And that probably explains why I was drawn to Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and West Virginia native, Julia Keller’s Bell Elkins books—a fairly new mystery series set in fictional Acker’s Gap, “a shabby afterthought of a town tucked in the notch between two peaks of the Appalachian Mountains, like the last letter stuck in a mail slot after the post office has closed down for keeps.”

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This mystery series begins with a dream too. County prosecutor Bell Elkins is haunted by her early years in a trailer on the banks of a West Virginia creek and the dark tragedy that changed the course of her life. “You could smell the creek, a damp rotting smell that was somehow also sweet, even before you could see it. The woods around it made a tight screen, as if the branches were gripping hands in a game of Red Rover. Daring you to break through.”

In A KILLING IN THE HILLS, Julia Keller’s debut book, three old men in a crowded restaurant are gunned down in broad daylight: “Pock Pock Pock.” Bell Elkins and the local sheriff Nick Fogelsong suspect that the horrific crime is tied to the illegal prescription drug trafficking that is “roaring across the state like a wildfire in a high wind,” but they are baffled by the shooter’s deliberate targeting of the three old friends. “One shot per head.” This is not a random act of violence. And even worse, Bell’s teenage daughter witnessed the murders.

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What I like best about the series is Bell Elkins. She’s a fierce crusader with a shadowy past that both propels her and hinders her in her roles as prosecutor, mother, friend, sister, ex-wife, and child of Acker’s Gap. “To know and not to do is not to know,” is the driving force behind Bell Elkins’s return to the small mountain town from which she had once thought she’d made a clean break. She has an unshakable conviction that she must do what she can to beat back the poverty, hopelessness, and crime that is ravaging her homeland. In this way, she reminds me of the heroine of my own book, BROKEN PLACES, who also wrestles with the same question: What is our responsibility to act in the face of the suffering we witness?

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Reading the Bell Elkins books reawakened a lot of memories for me (West Virginia luggage—a paper bag, riding my bike up and down the steep roads of my hilltop neighborhood, the scent of the woods in the summer), but you don’t need to have lived in West Virginia to thoroughly enjoy this excellent crime fiction series. Author Julia Keller explores universal themes of loss, redemption, forgiveness, and personal responsibility that resonate powerfully while her skillful crafting of engrossing mysteries will keep you guessing to the end. Good stuff, as my AP English teacher used to say!

What book have you read recently that struck a personal chord? I’m giving away BROKEN PLACES (ebook) to one randomly selected commenter! Be sure to return to K&T on Monday, July 28th, to see if you’re the winner. I’ll also be posting the names of the 2014 Romance Writers of America Rita® and Golden Heart® Romantic Suspense Winners!

 

MURDER DOWN UNDER WINNER!

CONGRATULATIONS, JACQUI NELSON!

You’re the Murder Down Under winner of The Profiler ebook!

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  To claim your prize contact us with your email address and preferred format within 10 days.

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And don’t miss Carey Baldwin’s Andy Rooney style blog next Tuesday!

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A Starbucks gift card is up for grabs! 

Happy reading!

MURDER DOWN UNDER WITH AUTHOR CHRIS TAYLOR

Sydney

My infatuation with all things Australia started in the early eighties with The Thorn Birds, Mad Max, and A Town Like Alice. Then came the Shark Greg Norman, Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, and Wolverine Hugh Jackman. Now I have a new name to add to my Aussie fan girl list: Australian writer Chris Taylor and her Australia-based romantic suspense series: The Munro Family.

I first met Chris last year when we were both finalists for the 2013 Golden Heart Award for Romantic Suspense. Today she joins us (from a time zone 14 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Daylight Time aka UTC/GMT+10) to talk about her debut suspense series–4 books published and more on the way. And be sure to read to the end for details about the giveaway.

G’day and welcome to K&T, Chris!

Chris Edited for profile

With settings in Sydney, Canberra, and northern New South Wales, reading the Munro Family series is like taking an armchair vacation to Australia. (I recognize the Parliament House in the background of one of your covers.) Where did your inspiration for the series come from?

The Betrayal - Book 4 Canberra

Chris: I’ve always loved reading series. When I discover an author I absolutely can’t get enough of, it’s a dream come true if I also find out they have written a series. I get to revisit all of those characters I’ve fallen in love with along the way and I get to the point where I almost feel part of their family! (A little weird, but true LOL!)

ThePredator_1400_newSo, I wanted to give my readers that same kind of experience. That said, I also wanted my books to be stand alone stories, so that it didn’t matter if you came into the series halfway or read them out of order. I think you get more out of The Munro Family Series if you read them in order because you know all of the past history etc, but you can pick up any of my books and enjoy the story. That was very important to me.

The name “Munro” was also an important choice. In my hometown, there are two very prominent families and they both share the surname “Munro”. One family is Aboriginal and the other family is white. They are not related.Sydney by day

In The Munro Family Series, the patriarch of the family is Aboriginal and his wife (the mother of the Munro children who feature in the series), is white. The children are mixed heritage and each one deals with this in their own way (along with solving crimes and finding love – I do write romantic suspense after all!).

Tell us how your background prepared you to write the series?

Ebook High - Book 2 (1)Chris: My background as a lawyer has helped enormously with the legal /crime aspects of the series. All of the Munro men (including their Aboriginal father) are in law enforcement. During my years as a criminal lawyer, I worked for both the prosecution and for the defence at various times over the course of my career and I have been inside many police stations, jails and courtrooms. I am also very fortunate to have the opportunity to regularly consult on all aspects of policing with a currently serving Australian Federal Police officer (AFP) which is a bit like the FBI in the US. It has helped enormously with my credibility and the accuracy of my “fictional facts”.

Favorite movie(s)?   

Chris: There are so many!!  I LOVE going to the movies! Eight Seconds with Luke Perry is certainly up there, along with Pretty Woman and On Golden Pond (Wow, I’m showing my age here!) More recently, I’ve added The Book Thief, The Railway Man and of course, ANYTHING starring Hugh Jackman (anyone who has read any of my books will realize I have a bit of an obsession with him. And who could blame me??) Hugh Jackman

Certainly not me 🙂 A dream trip for you would be to…?

Chris: Nashville, Tennessee. I am so hoping to be able to get there after the RWA Nationals in San Antonio this month. I am totally in love with the “Nashville” TV series and I have always LOVED country music!

What writing or publishing projects are in your future?

Chris: Book Five in The Munro Family Series (The Deception) will be released this month. Book Six (The Negotiator) and Book Seven (The Ransom) are currently being edited and Book Eight (The Defendant) is in a rough draft. I’m hoping to release all eight by the end of the year. (Yes, I function on very little sleep!!)

Wow! That’s quite a list! Congratulations, Chris! Let’s end on an excerpt from THE PROFILER—Book 1 in the Munro Family series.

TheProfiler final_Ebook

A psychopathic killer is stalking the women of Sydney…

Federal Agent Clayton Munro, a criminal profiler with the Australian Federal Police (AFP), has been called upon to assist in hunting down a vicious murderer who is intent upon carving up his victims while they’re still alive. Guilt-stricken over his wife’s suicide, Clayton’s forced to set aside his personal issues in order to focus on the case.

Detective Ellie Cooper is also no stranger to heartache. Pregnant and abandoned at the altar by a fiancé intent on pursuing a career with the AFP, her opinion of the elite body of officers is anything but favorable. Angered when her boss orders her to partner with the Fed, she’s determined not to cut him any slack.

But women are dying on the streets of western Sydney and the pressure is mounting to find the person responsible.

Will Clayton and Ellie be able to put aside their animosity and work together to catch a killer before it’s too late? And what about the special fascination the killer seems to have with Ellie…

 

Chris Taylor is giving away The Profiler (ebook) to one lucky commenter. For a chance to win, tell us what you love or hate about reading series.

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And Chris wants K&T readers to know that THE PROFILER will be available for free through Bookbub on July 18-28th!

You can find Chris Taylor online at www.christaylorauthor.com.au. She’s also on Facebook, Twitter, and goodreads. You can find the Munro Family series on Amazon, B&N, iBooks, and Kobo.

 

The News: Shelley Coriell’s Apostles Series is here!

THE AUTHOR

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No one was more excited than the authors at K&T when we heard The News that our Golden Heart sister Shelley Coriell  was writing a romantic suspense series. The first book in the series THE BROKEN has finally arrived in the stores, and more importantly, on our bookshelves. And even better still, Shelley is spending the day at K&T to talk about The Apostles series. Before I introduce her, let’s start with The Buzz. And don’t stop reading before you find out about The Giveaway. Shelley’s Book Birthday Bash and Book Giveaway is AMAZING!

THE BUZZ

“… the suspense is top-notch, with so many twists and turns that even the most astute reader will be riveted to the stunning conclusion.” — Publishers WeeklySTARRED REVIEW

“TOP PICK, 4.5 Stars. Coriell’s latest grips the reader from the first page. A definite must-read.” — RT Book Reviews Publishers Weekly — Best Summer Books 2014

THE BOOK

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THE BROKEN (Apostles Series #1)

He took her life, but left her alive.

Three years ago, reporter Kate Johnson was the first victim-and only survivor-of the Broadcast Butcher. Scarred both physically and psychologically by the brutal serial killer, Kate lives life on the run, knowing that one day, he will find her and finish what he started.

In the pursuit of justice, you sometimes have to step outside the law.

Agent Hayden Reed spends his life chasing monsters. The only way to stay sane is to detach, but the second the Broadcast Butcher case crosses his desk, Hayden knows this is the case that might just cost him his soul. To catch this vicious murderer before he strikes again, Hayden must find Kate and earn her trust. For it’s her darkest secrets that hold the key to stopping this madman once and for all . . .

THE INTERVIEW

KH: Congratulations on such stellar reviews, Shelley! How did you come up with the idea for the maverick team of elite FBI agents called the Apostles? Did you do any special research for this story?

SHELLEY: I kept writing stories about law enforcement officers who weren’t afraid to break a few rules when it came to fighting evil. Since my hunky crime fighters worked outside the box and at times outside the law, I knew they wouldn’t fit in with the Blue Suits at the FBI. That’s when Parker Lord popped into my head. A childhood friend of the president of the United Sates, he’s a legendary FBI agent who is now wheelchair bound and living as a semi-recluse along the rocky cliffs of Northern Maine. Over the past five years, Parker has hand-picked a select group of agents who, like him, are a little maverick, a lot broken, but in the end, fierce champions of justice. As for research, I went through an eight-week citizens police academy where I trained in everything from fire arms to crisis negotiations to forensics. That’s also where I learned how to throw a 250-pound man over my shoulder in hand-to-hand defensive training.  Take that, bad guys!

KH:  Why did you start the series with Agent Obscenely Thorough aka Special Agent Hayden Reed?

SHELLEY: Hayden is a world-renown criminal profiler who “sees everything but feels nothing.” I loved the idea of creating a romance hero who spent so much time in his head that he wasn’t in touch with his heart. Early in the book, one of the minor characters—Detective Lottie King—likens Hayden to peanut brittle, “all shiny and polished, hard as hell, too. In order to get to that stage, you got to boil the shit out of it. So I figure you’ve done some boiling in your life.” It was fascinating to see Hayden’s pains and past, and eventually his heart, revealed.

KH: You have a colorful cast of characters in THE BROKEN. Which one was the most fun to write? Which one ended up surprising you?

SHELLEY: Detective Lottie King was hands-down the most fun to write. She’s a sixty-something grandma and homicide detective with no filter. She and her four-inch stilettos have walked some rough roads, and she swears like a trucker. Lottie is raw and honest, has a giant capacity for love, and is key in softening the heart of my guarded-heart hero, Hayden. She was such a strong voice in my head that she now has her own series of short stories.NewShoes_small

As for surprises, heroine Kate Johnson threw me for a loop. Kate had a rough childhood and stabbed twenty-five times by a serial killer. She’s broken and scarred, BUT she has a great sense of humor, which you see through her interactions with the cantankerous but lovable Smokey Joe. Then I got to thinking, Why should I be surprised? Humor and laughter are great healers.

KH: Lottie was one of my favorite characters too. I didn’t realize, however, that she was wearing Louboutins 😉 Way to go, Lottie! Where did the idea for Agent Reed’s custom painted silk ties come from?

SHELLEY: I needed an anomaly, something in marked contrast to Hayden’s exquisite custom suits, fancy Italian shoes, and Egyptian cotton shirts. And because Hayden is such a “head guy” I knew this “something” needed to come from the heart, such as art. Hand-painted silk neckties were a perfect fit.

KH: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

SHELLEY: I’m a former restaurant reviewer, food retailing magazine editor, and avowed foodie. I love everything about food. I haunt local farmers markets, go to wine tastings, putter in my kitchen, and adore sharing good food and great wine with people I love.

KH: Tell us about your rescue weimaraner? (Then I’ll have an excuse to tell you about my puppy Rosie.) What makes her the world’s neediest dog? Rylee_

SHELLEY: We rescued Rylee four years ago from a local weimaraner shelter and were told up front that she had “issues.” She had fear-based aggression while on a leash, abandonment anxiety, and health problems. At least two adoptive families had already returned her. During a home visit, Rylee charmed us. She was sweet-natured, adored our three teen-age daughters, and knew basic commands. We had hope. We moved forward with the adoption in part because I work out of the home so Rylee wouldn’t have to be alone during the day. Long story short, we’ve been working with her for four years, but she still has issues on all fronts, especially with being alone. If she gets lonely while I’m working at my desk, she climbs into my lap…all 65 pounds of her, and when my husband and I are gone, she sneaks into bed with one of the girls. She’s clearly a dog who had a good deal of trauma in her early life, but at least now she has love.

Okay…now you, Krista, we all need Rosie details. And pictures! Rosie 7

KH: How wonderful that you found each other–the magic of three. Rylee meet Rosie. She’s a 4-month-old chocolate Lab puppy with one white paw. Twenty-five pounds of pure energy! The word that best describes her is: beguiling. But I digress.. How many books do you plan to write for The Apostles Series?

SHELLEY: That is very much up to readers. I have three Apostle books under contract with Grand Central Forever. Hatch Hatcher, the team’s crisis negotiator, is featured in THE BURIED, and bombs and weapons specialist Evie Jimenez gets her time in the spotlight in THE BLIND. If the series takes off and readers want more Apostles, I have at least five more elite crime fighters who’ve popped into my world, including a missing and endangered child specialist, gem and jewelry specialist, forensic artist, forensic linguist, and a sharp-shooting assassin.

KH: I’m excited to see that smooth-talking, southern charmer Hatch Hatcher is front and center in book 2 THE BURIED. How long am I going to have to wait to get my next Apostles-fix?

BuriedCover

SHELLEY: Six months. THE BURIED comes out on Oct. 28, 2014. But Hatch is so worth the wait. Gotta love a man who lives on a 35-foot sail boat called No Regrets. I’m equally thrilled about Evie’s story, THE BLIND (January 2015). Evie is the “kid sister” to all of my yummy Apostles, but as a bombs and weapons specialist, she holds her own and then some. I have never had a character take over a story like fiery, big-hearted Evie. The world has been warned.

THE GIVEAWAY

To celebrate the release of THE BROKEN, Shelley is giving one lucky reader TEN SIGNED books from her favorite thriller/romantic suspense authors with new releases from Lisa Gardner, Allison Brennan, C.J. Lyons, Sandra Brown, Laura Griffin, and Kiss & Thrill authors Carey Baldwin and Rachel Grant! Enter to win at Shelley’s Book Birthday Bash & Book Giveaway.

THE QUESTION

Shelley’s heroine Kate Johnson is a justice-seeking investigative reporter, but readers quickly discover she’s also an artist. She designs and sells tourmaline jewelry. Art also plays an important role in Hayden’s past (hint – it has to do with those hand-painted silk neck ties). If you could create any type of art and do it well, what art would you chose? Anything is game…fine art, performing art, technical arts!

See, I told you Shelley has an awesome giveaway! Thank you for joining us at K&T, Shelley. I know our readers will love your new series as much as we do!

Shelley Coriell is an award-winning author of romantic suspense and novels for teens. Her debut romantic thriller, THE BROKEN, was named one of the Best Romances of Summer 2014 by Publishers Weekly and a Top Pick/4.5 Stars by Romantic Times Book Reviews. An avid foodie and former restaurant reviewer, Shelley lives in Arizona with her family and the world’s neediest rescue weimaraner.

Connect with Shelley

Website
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Krista Hall’s Cover Reveal! Broken Places

I’m so excited to share the cover of my debut romantic suspense novel BROKEN PLACES, winner of the 2013 Golden Heart® Award!

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She’s on a mission to change lives

When one of her students becomes the latest victim of a D.C. gang-slaying, sociology professor Trevy Barlow is determined to protect the other girls in her literacy class for at-risk teens—even if it means compromising her own safety.

He’s on a short clock to find a killer

FBI gang task force agent Cruz Larsen isn’t about to let Trevy endanger herself or sidetrack his investigation with her do-gooder meddling. But when a key witness refuses to talk to anyone except her, Cruz has to find a way to earn her trust so that she’ll play by his rules.  

Now a sadistic predator is after them

For Cruz, keeping Trevy safe has become more than a duty—his heart is involved too. But all of his leads have flatlined. And he’s beginning to suspect that a hidden third party has rekindled the gang rivalry for reasons far beyond a D.C. turf war. Caught in the crossfire, Trevy will have to risk it all to give them a fighting chance to survive.

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BROKEN PLACES will be available next week! I hope you’ll come back to K&T on Tuesday for the release day celebration!

Tomorrow Shelley Coriell visits K&T to tell us about the first book in The Apostles, her debut romantic suspense series.

In the meantime, tell us about your favorite romantic suspense covers. What covers are too compelling to resist?

Thursday’s Winner is…

MAUREEN!!

Dangerous Invitation Cover

Congratulations, Maureen! Erica Monroe is giving you an e-copy of A DANGEROUS INVITATION!! Be sure to contact K&T in the next 10 days with your email address and the format you prefer. For more information: K&T’s prize winner policies. Happy reading!

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debra webb

Next Tuesday, the fabulously talented Debra Webb joins us to talk about her new release.

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