Category Archives: Author Interview
Posted by Lena Diaz
Think You Know Harlequin Intrigue Author, Angi Morgan? Think Again.
I met Angi Morgan in 2010. She and I were both Romance Writers of America Golden Heart© finalists in different categories–which is why we’re still friends–she won, I didn’t. Okay, I would have still been her friend even if we’d been competing against each other. Why? Because once you meet Angi Morgan, there’s no way to NOT like her. I’m pretty sure that she doesn’t know what the word stranger even means. And she is one of the most welcoming, genuinely caring people I have ever met. She’s also a devoted animal lover who is a foster mom for dog rescue.
As an author, Angi selflessly promotes her fellow authors, whether she gets any promotion benefit out of it or not. Why? Because she cares about people, cares about her friends, and wants them all to do well. As a person, she goes out of her way to ensure that everyone is doing okay. When I saw her in Texas at conference last year, she took one look at me and decided I was dehydrated and took me up to her room and made me drink a bottle of water. She was right. I felt much better after that bottle of water. Angi’s like that – always looking out for others. And perhaps her most admirable quality is that she can make anyone smile. The gift of laughter, of making others feel happier just by walking into the room, is Angi’s superpower.
But don’t just take my word for it. Take theirs…
Diana Belchase: Angi presented me with my Golden Heart. I think she was just as nervous as I was — and so sweet. She had been a prior winner and had a two book contract and I kept thinking and hoping that would be me, too. Sigh, alas and alack it isn’t, but I remember that night with Angi, as she fumbled for her glasses, posed with me for the official photo, and gave me a great big hug, vividly.
Lizbeth Selvig: I met Angi Morgan in 2010 when she and I both finaled in RWA’s Golden Heart contest and then we each won our respective categories. We didn’t become fast friends right away, but we sure bonded–we know how to make each other laugh! Two years later I joined the group blog Angi started with several of our other GH sisters (Get Lost in a Story) and she also invited me to join a private chat room she’d started for a handful of authors who wanted a place to get together online and write. Since then I can honestly say Angi has never stopped encouraging me to push forward through the times when writing seems like a slog or when I’m at that point in a book when I’m sure I’ve lost any talent I ever had. I hope I do the same for her–because otherwise I’m getting all the perks of our friendship! Over the past four years I’ve come to realize that Angi encourages everyone she knows–she’s a wonderful friend. She also cares passionately about promoting her friends’ books, her books, and all romance reads in general. She’s one author who’s also an amazingly cool person!
Robin Perini: You can’t choose your relatives, right? Many a family reunion makes that truth all too real. Angi and I, though, that’s another story.
How can you be cousins, but not cousins? Well, when my uncle married Angie’s aunt, we became sort of cousins…kind of. Cousin-by-marriage? I guess that’s a title. Angi and I didn’t know each other. Our families tried to connect us, and of course, me being shy (and there is that thing about oh my gosh, I have to meet a pseudo-relative who also writes…can this be any more lame?). I reluctantly agreed to look her up.
We ended up standing in line practically next to each other during registration for a writing conference. I won’t even mention what I was saying—it was probably something like, “I have to find this chick whose aunt married my uncle and I don’t even know who she is….and there Angi was! LOL
We became acquaintances first, like you do sometimes with people you see only at a conference every other year or so. it’s an obligation, in a way. Though I will admit, every time we were able to get together, we talked our heads off. Then over time we discovered the truth: our paths are eerily similar and we have an amazing connection. How else does it happen that:
1) We both write romantic suspense
2) We both have the same agent (purely by accident, by the way)
3) We both won Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award in the same category one year apart
4) We both sold our first Harlequin Intrigue to the same editor …
There’s even more, but the best part is, that initial meeting fell away into memories. I’m blessed that my pseudo-relative became so much more. Not to mention that Angi shared one of the best writing tools that I use. Sprints. That’s another story, of course. The truth is you may not be able to choose your relatives, but you can definitely choose your friends…and sometimes not-exactly-cousins are the best gifts ever!
And now, for a brief interview…
Lena: When did you start writing for publication?
Angi: Oooo…trick question. I thought everything I wrote would be published. LOL I began learning the business in 1999. Ten years later when all the kiddos graduated, I concentrated on getting my story in front of the right people. And sold. So I began writing for publishers in 2010.
Lena: Any info you want to share about your Intrigue call story?
Angi: Other than it was awesome? And I was by myself? When my husband got home from traveling he took me to THE MELTING POT. He didn’t tell me he’d made a reservation OR that he’d told the staff I’d just sold. Flowers were delivered to the table and with them…a charm that represented his favorite thing in the book. Yes, my husband reads my books and actually enjoys them. It was a magical evening.
Lena: People you’ve met along the way who have been an inspiration?
Angi: Sharon Mignery, Patricia Vermiere, Tara Waldie, Amy Atwell, Robin Perini, Jan Schliesman, my Golden Heart class of 2010, my Intrigue sisters. I gain inspiration from so many people, it’s hard to name them all. But the daily instant messages I receive from fans…keep me going with my writing.
Lastly, I just want to share an amazing PARTIAL list of awards and finals for Angi’s books…
- Twice ranked on the top 25 of Publisher’s Weekly Trade paperback list
- Romantic Times Magazine Top Pick
- Romantic Times First Series Book Final
- Booksellers’ Best First Book Final
- Booksellers’ Best Series Romantic Suspense Final
- Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence Final
- Carolyn Readers Choice Award Final
- Daphne du Maurier award WINNER
- May 2011 Booksellers’ Best First Book Award Nominee
- May 2011 Booksellers’ Best Short Contemporary Award Nominee
- November 2010 Romantic Times Best Series First Book Nominee
- July 2010 RWA Golden Heart® WINNER
- Great Expectations romantic suspense WINNER
- Romancing the Tome series WINNER
- Barclay Sterling long contemporary WINNER
And did I mention dog rescue? Here’s some information about the work that Angi does.
Angi: People ask how I can foster pups and give them away. I won’t tell you it’s easy. But it is by far one of the best things I’ve done. Seeing a discarded dog find a home and become a part of a family brings tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. There just isn’t anything like the unconditional love of a pet. They’re there for you all the time…no matter what. I foster because there’s a family that needs the dog I’m training to love them.
What else does Angi do as a volunteer?
Angi: I served as a volunteer and on volunteer organization boards of numerous school organizations for 20 years (PTA, athletics, boosters, band, orchestra, choir, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts). Girls Fastpitch Softball for 22 years. Local writing organizations the past 14. We began volunteering as a foster family for Labrador retrievers in 2013.
What about volunteering for RWA?
Angi: National level: Regional Director, served on numerous committees. I was also the Literacy for Life book signing chair from 2004 through 2007. Local Level: President, President-Elect, Treasurer, Newsletter, Contest (just about every year) and lots and lots of other volunteer stuff
I’m extremely grateful that I met Angi all those years ago. And I’m honored and humbled to call her friend.
Here’s a Rafflecopter giveaway !
From last week’s blog post, the winner of an ebook copy of EASY TARGET by Kay Thomas is Kathleen Bylsma! And the winner of an ebook copy of EXIT STRATEGY by Lena Diaz is Cris! Congratulations! Please send your email address (and Nook or Kindle preference) via our Contact page.
Join us next Tuesday for another new post!
Posted by Lena Diaz
Whether You Like Heroes on Motorcycles or the Bad Boy Assassin Type, Kiss and Thrill has You Covered Today.
First up, hero Bryan Fisher from EASY TARGET, the brand new installment by author KAY THOMAS in her Elite ops series with Avon.
FIVE THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT BRYAN FISHER (aka Hollywood)
1. Growing up, I lived in California with my mom until I was nine years old. When she died in a car accident, I went to live with my grandmother in Springwater, Mississippi. The reason I love Dentyne gum so much is because my mom chewed Dentyne and always shared it with me.
2. I don’t have any tattoos, and I’ve never ridden a horse. But I love to ride motorcycles and I know how to surf. Yes, my nickname is Hollywood. And no, I don’t like to talk about how I got that particular “handle.”
3. I watch The Walking Dead and DVR it so I don’t miss episodes when I’m working on AEGIS jobs.
4. I love sushi, Wylie Coyote, and Pearl Jam. I hate broccoli. My favorite dessert is Key lime pie with graham cracker crust.
5. A romantic evening for me would include driving out of town away from the city lights to stargaze. Since I grew up in the country for the most part and now live in Dallas, that’s the one thing I miss the most—seeing a star-filled night sky. I enjoy sleeping under the stars, but fair warning, I don’t own a pair of pajamas…
(Lena fans herself after that pajamas remark.)
Here’s the back cover copy for EASY TARGET.
AEGIS: an elite team of ex-military men who will do anything for their country…and their women.
Fighting to clear her brother of murder, freelance reporter Sassy Smith is suddenly kidnapped and thrown into a truck with other women who are about to be sold…or worse. When she sees an opportunity for escape Sassy takes it, but she may have just jumped from the frying pan into the fire.
Former Marine Bryan Fisher (aka Hollywood) is no stranger to dangerous situations, or to his best friend’s little sister. When he rescues Sassy, Bryan is determined to keep her safe…if he can keep his hands off of her. Because Sassy is all grown up and not at all like the girl he used to know. But he’s got bigger problems. And with enemies coming at them from every corner, Bryan and Sassy will need to work together if they’re going to survive.
Next up is Mason Hunt, a bad boy assassin from EXIT STRATEGY, the first book in my (Lena Diaz) new EXIT Inc. series with Avon.
FIVE THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT MASON HUNT
2. I do have tattoos, but only Sabrina (my heroine) gets to see them. Not a motorcycle fan, but I can ride one if I have to. And horses? Yeah. I can ride those too. We ex-military, bad ass assassin types are trained to do pretty much everything in a pinch. Nickname? When Sabrina first met me, she labeled me Tall-Dark-and-Deadly, but that was before she got to know me. Now I have another nickname that she gave me instead. But like that Bryan guy in EASY TARGET, I’m not discussing it.
3. I don’t have time for TV shows. Too busy saving innocent people and killing bad guys.
4. I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Hey, protein, what can I say? Music? Country rock. Dessert? (grins and looks at Sabrina.) “Pass the whip cream, Rina.”
5. A romantic evening would include sitting on my back porch with the woman I love–Sabrina of course–watching the corn stalks waving in the field behind my house. Then a walk in the moonlight to the barn for some target practice with my Glock 22. After that? Cornfield sex. (Read the book and you’ll know exactly what I mean.)
Here’s the back cover copy for EXIT Strategy.
Lena Diaz launches her thrilling new series featuring the undercover vigilantes of EXIT Inc. with a skilled operative putting his life—and his heart—on the line for a woman in trouble
When Sabrina Hightower awakens to the sound of an intruder, she figures he’s there to rob her, murder her— or worse. She doesn’t expect to be carried off by a muscle-bound stud with male-model good looks . . . or that he came to rescue her.
Mason Hunt became an enforcer with EXIT Inc. to eliminate the bad guys—terrorists, militia groups, all those who would do America harm. But his latest target is innocent. If EXIT could lie about sultry, strong-willed Sabrina, what darker truths might they be concealing?
Going rogue in the rugged North Carolina mountains, Mason risks everything to keep Sabrina close, especially now that EXIT’s lethal assassins are chasing them down. The heat is on . . . but it’s nothing compared to the slow burn of seduction.
If you’d like to get to know Bryan better, pick up a copy of EASY TARGET.
Mason’s waiting for his chance to get to know you in EXIT Strategy.
GIVEAWAY! To celebrate the release of EASY TARGET and EXIT STRATEGY, Kay and Lena are each giving away one ebook copy of their books (winner must be able to receive the book on their Kindle or Nook from either Amazon(dot)com or B&N(dot)com.) Leave a comment for a chance to win and then check back next Tuesday to see the randomly chosen winners at the bottom of Tuesday’s post.
Join us next Tuesday when I take the Kiss and Thrill reins again and interview the amazing ANGI MORGAN!
Posted by Sarah Andre
He’d found what he needed. At last. After twenty years of waiting, of planning, of purposely blending in to escape notice, he had the thread that would lead him back to the only woman who’d ever really mattered in his life.
The only woman who’d ever been a challenge.
The only woman who’d ever gotten away.
Once his parents had finally gone to bed, and long after anyone would expect for them to have a visitor, Jasper Moore stared down at the envelope he’d recovered from his father’s desk. Inside was a letter from Evelyn Talbot’s father, pleading with Stanley and Maureen to come forward if they possessed any information on Jasper’s whereabouts. It said that Evelyn had been through enough. That the Moores should finally do the right thing and divulge any information they possessed.
But they never would. They were the ones who’d helped him escape in the first place, all those years ago—and they told everyone they hadn’t seen him since before the murders, even though, in recent years, he risked a furtive visit now and then, if he could do it safely.
Anyway, it wasn’t the letter that concerned Jasper. He didn’t give a shit about the Talbots’ emotional plea for justice and closure.
He was far more interested in the return address on the outside.
—Excerpt from HANOVER HOUSE by Brenda Novak
She’s baaaack! That vintage, creepy Brenda-Novak-writing, folks. She’s the kind of suspense writer who grabs you from the first page and sends you on the kind of ride even amusement parks would ban! HANOVER HOUSE, her return to the romantic suspense genre, isn’t the only change we’ve seen from Brenda this year. May, 2015 came and went without the usual author enthusiasm (let’s be honest–hysteria) over Brenda Novak’s Auction Anything for Diabetes Research. That’s right, after 10 successful years and accumulating a total of $2.4 million toward her Diabetes Research charity, Brenda took the year off. Well…not exactly.
“For 2015, I came up with another plan to raise money, one I thought readers might like even better. Because…what’s better than getting a great deal on a great book? Getting a steal of a deal on a whole bundle! And what’s better than having all the proceeds go to diabetes research? Well…nothing. Nothing I can think of, anyway. That’s why I’ve curated THREE fabulous box sets filled with BRAND NEW stories from some of today’s most popular authors—so I could launch my fundraising initiative for 2015 and contribute to the effort of finding a cure for my son (who was diagnosed at five) and all the other people who have to cope with this terrible disease.”
That bears repeating: Brenda ingeniously collected stories from some of today’s top-notch romance authors and developed 3 box-sets that are only available until the end of June. (A week from today, people!) ALL proceeds go toward her Research for Diabetes, and each is priced at $2.99, a staggering special! The kick-off to her romantic suspense series, HANOVER HOUSE is featured in the SWEET DREAMS set. So let’s start with that one. Brenda, who else has contributed to SWEET DREAMS?
SWEET DREAMS. This limited edition set contains thirteen new thrillers. Allison Brennan, Cynthia Eden, JT Ellison, Liliana Hart, Heather Graham, Alex Kava, CJ Lyons, Carla Neggers, Theresa Ragan, Erica Spindler, Tiffany Snow and Jo Robertson have all contributed. I’m in this box, too. I’m including a brand new story that’s nearly 200 pages long—HANOVER HOUSE, the start to the new suspense series I just sold to St. Martin’s Press. And none other than the amazing Lee Child has written the foreword.
Wow, that’s some superstar lineup! I’ve bought it already, but was intrigued with your other sets.
SWEET TALK. This is a limited edition contemporary romance collection featuring
ten brand new stories by such amazing authors as #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Sherryl Woods of Chesapeake Shores series fame. We also have the magnificent Linda Lael Miller, as well as Melody Anne, Violet Duke, Steena Holmes, Gina Maxwell, Molly O’Keefe, Melissa Foster, Rosalind James and Nancy Naigle. Great lineup, right? As a bonus, I’ve thrown in the prequel to my Whiskey Creek series, WHEN WE TOUCH—and megastar Robyn Carr has written the foreword.
So we’ve covered suspense readers, and contemporary romance readers…what would the last box set encompass?
SWEET SEDUCTION. This box is for those who like their romances with some HEAT (a la FIFTY SHADE OF GREY). It features new work from erotica greats Lexi Blake, Nicole Edwards, J. Kenner, Megan Hart, JS Cooper, Karen Erickson, Nina Lane, Roni Loren, Elisabeth Grace, Julia Kent, Mari Carr, Lauren Hawkeye and Avery Aster. Lisa Renee Jones, another popular author in this subgenre, has not only written the foreward, she’s provided one of her full novels as a bonus!
Brenda, I am truly amazed at the generosity of these authors giving their works to such a great cause. And my compliments to you for thinking up such an incredible giveaway to continue your ongoing charitable contributions to Diabetes research. Any last words?
“According to the CDC, nearly 10% of the American public has diabetes. That’s an outrageous figure! So let’s do something about it—read and raise money at the same time.” For more information, visit http://brendanovakforthecure.org.
Here are links to the different online stores that offer the sets:
And for more information on Brenda-the-author, please visit her at:
DON’T FORGET TO ORDER YOUR BOX SETS BEFORE NEXT TUESDAY, JUNE 30th!
AND PLEASE HELP BRENDA SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THIS ON ALL YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SITES.
Thank you for being here today, Brenda and we look forward to your new suspense series AND hearing how much you and these generous authors raised this year!
ANNOUNCING LAST WEEK’S COMMENT-WINNER!
CONGRATULATIONS TO ELIZABETH HEITER
FOR WINNING A $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD
Join us next Tuesday when Lena Diaz and Kay Thomas dish 5 things about
the heroes of their latest books– EXIT Strategy and Easy Target.
Sarah Andre and I have been close friends (some would call us twins) and Golden Heart sisters for a long time, and it’s a friendship I treasure. So I am not exaggerating when I say I am so excited and proud to introduce Sarah and her debut romantic suspense novel Locked, Loaded, & Lying.
And check out Brenda Novak’s cover quote! “An impressive debut! This book has everything readers crave: believable, enduring characters, an intriguing conflict, and plenty of heart. Don’t miss Locked, Loaded, & Lying.”
L3 (as I always think of it) is a blockbuster story intertwined with a beautiful romance and a fast-paced plot. And I can’t wait for you all to read it so we can talk about her hunky hero Lock Roane. (The heroine Jordan is lovely too, but Lock is hot, hot, hot!)
But since we have to wait to dish about Lock (another blog post), here is the trailer and blurb:
He might be innocent. Or he might be very, very guilty…
Olympic skier Lock Roane was on top of the world: smashing Alpine records, collecting medals, and basking in both the love of a nation and his beautiful heiress girlfriend. It all comes crashing down after Lock discovers his girlfriend had an affair—then awakens from a drunken bender covered in her blood. Given his history of violent blackouts, it’s not a big leap for him to believe he did kill her.
On the eve of his murder trial he saves the life of a car accident victim, not knowing she’s his biggest media nemesis. And when Jordan Sinclair regains consciousness, she’ll lie through her teeth to keep it that way.
Jordan is out of options and out of time…
To satisfy her blackmailer, she needs the inside scoop (and its tabloid cash reward) on Lock Roane. An attraction to the arrogant athlete was not part of the plan. Neither is trying to find out what really happened that night.
Now Jordan risks everything—including her life—to help Lock. But the more they discover clues pointing to someone else with a motive, the more Lock is also unraveling all the lies Jordan’s fed him. Her betrayal leaves him with two option: take his chances at his murder trial or forgive the woman who mesmerized him from the moment he saved her life.
SW: There are no words that express how much I love this story and how happy I am for you. But I’d love to know — What kind of research did you do for this story?
SA: The BARE minimum! Hate it. All I want is to write my story the way it unfolds in my head and not stop to authenticate details. But boy, did I learn a valuable lesson when Brenda Novak generously gave me editorial feedback. She asked if a tertiary character would be able to get a Sports Illustrated magazine in prison. It had never occurred to me to check! They have libraries, prisoners get mail…I was kind of annoyed she would want me to research such a minor detail. Well, this story had been through 5 FULL rewrites by then (5 plots, 5 different killers, 5 different ways the victim died…) and the guy in the Tutweiler Penitentiary had always gotten that magazine. Grumbling under my breath, I looked up Tutweiler Penitentiary in AL (which I’d randomly chosen 7 years ago by Google maps: ‘prisons in AL.’) I was SHOCKED to find out…it’s a women’s prison. Consider me spanked. Lesson learned.
SW: I am still laughing. I think that is the best answer I’ve ever had to an interview question! Do you prefer to write from the male POV or female POV?
SA: Easy answer! Male. I’m quite obsessed with what makes that gender tick. What pushes their buttons? What causes them heartache? Because on the outside they are way too stoic. Give me a real-life, emotionally stressed-out guy and all I see is a poker face? OMG, my imagination runs WILD. 🙂
All my stories, even the first one collecting dust bunnies under my bed, have been hero-based. They are larger than life: smokin’ looks, success, money, babes…and each figuratively gets ‘the rug pulled out from under him’ in the first chapter. They need the ordinary-heroine’s intelligence and talent to help them back on their feet. A guy like that needing someone? It’s a simmering pot of emotional conflict from the start.
SW: Are your story ideas first drawn from characters or from plot?
SA: Gosh, after writing for 10 years you’d think I’d know the answer! Plot, I guess. I’ll think: ‘what if this were to happen…’ and then I choose the two most ill-suited couple to go on that adventure, stick them on the same page and watch the sparks fly.
SW: What is your greatest strength as a storyteller?
SA: The feedback I’ve received from readers is that I zip the story forward through authentic sounding dialogue. Personally, I think my greatest strength is the friction and/or camaraderie between the hero and his ‘sidekick’ –in this case Lock’s brother, Leo.
SW: I have to agree! What was your favorite scene in this book to write?
SA: The car accident and rescue. Wrote it in one sitting during one of those days where storytelling comes like a gift from God. The words just fell onto the page, the scene unfolded with all the perfect action words and stark emotion. During all the rewrites I have barely revised it, and that’s saying something.
SW: What was the most difficult scene in this book to write?
SA: In ALL my novels I leave the sex scene until the bitter end! I’ll insert a placeholder ‘SEX SCENE HERE’ and move on. It takes all of my skill as a writer to describe the act, the emotions, have it end up original, erotic and realistic, and yet still complicate their problems further. I bow to erotica authors! Back in my dust-bunny book all I had to do was think, ‘you know, my mom is going to read this’ and I was done for the night! Packed it in right in the middle of a sentence. 😉
SW: Can you give us one interesting fact about Locked, Loaded, & Lying?
SA: I got my hero’s entire character from one glimpse of champion surfer, Bruce Irons on the cover of Outside Magazine back in April 2006. I was in a WF checkout line and saw his expression. Stupefied me…there was Lock’s personality! That’s exactly how he’d glare at the paparazzi lens. Arrogant, sexy, double-dog-dare stare with not-so-subtle impatience- like they were keeping him from the sport he loves. Still gives me shivers!
SW: Now Sarah has a question of you:
Who is your favorite Olympic athlete or favorite Olympic sport?
One lucky commenter will win a $25 e-gift certificate to Amazon!
Sarah, thanks so much for sharing your debut with us. I know this is just the beginning of a prolific and successful career!
Photos courtesy of Sarah Andre.
Posted by Diana Belchase
Today I’m speaking with my blogmate and “Best Books of 2014” author, Carey Baldwin. Carey’s book, Judgment was just named a Daphne du Maurier finalist and her newest book, FALLEN, debuts this week! Going with the theme of things that fall, I had a few questions for Carey.
Diana: How many times have you “fallen” in love?
Carey: I don’t really know how many times I’ve fallen in love, but I do believe that we have the capacity to fall in love an infinite number of times. Of course, I had my schoolgirl crushes- I can even remember feeling lovesick in the first grade. I wanted to call the object of my affection and invite him for a play date, but then my aunt explained “Girls don’t call boys.” I was six! Thank goodness times have changed.
But the real loves of my life are deep and many. My husband, my children, my parents, my friends, my patients…Life would be so sad if we were only allotted one love, I think. But, Bill, honey, don’t misinterpret, there’s no “hall pass” in your future! 🙂
Diana: What do you think makes a girl fall in love or you “fall” in love.
Carey: Intimacy. I think the more I get to know the “real” side of someone, the more likely I am to love them. Okay, let’s be honest though. A hot body never hurt!
Diana: Have you ever “Fallen: from a height? What was your worst fall?
Carey: Luckily, I haven’t yet had a truly bad physical fall. And I’m not afraid of heights, though I’m cautious. I love experiencing the thrill of that grand view you get from the top of a mountain, or a zip line. I think my favorite “fall” is the Tower of Terror at California Adventure. There’s something thrilling about a taking a dive when you know you’re safe. And that’s partly why I like to read and write thrillers.
Diana: How does the theme of Fallen people balance with redemption in your book? We have those that fall from grace, from windows, and into love — how do they, or do they, all find redemption in your book?
Carey: Great question, Diana! I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but I will tell you that one person who could be considered “fallen” by most standards, triumphs over not only fear and the evil that’s pursuing her, but also over her own shortcomings. She finds out she is a lot stronger and braver and more unselfish than she ever knew.
Diana: Here’s the blurb from Fallen. I can tell you, it’s a fast-paced, can’t put it down, kind of read with characters you’ll remember long after you finish.
A body just fell from the sky onto Hollywood Boulevard.
When a beautiful prostitute is dumped onto the Walk of Fame, FBI profiler Atticus Spenser and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Caitlin Cassidy are called in to solve one of their most baffling cases yet. The media’s dubbed him the Fallen Angel Killer—a crazed murderer who’s leaving the bodies of high-priced call girls in Los Angeles tourist traps.
The killer has raised the stakes, demanding that a mysterious celebrity publically admit to his sinful secrets—or he’ll dispose of his latest kidnapped escort. With every “john” the team exposes in their search for Celebrity X, another Hollywood secret is revealed and another charmed life is left in ruins. With time running out, Spenser and Cassidy will do anything to find the twisted serial killer…before another innocent woman winds up the next grotesque tourist attraction.
For an excerpt, please click HERE.
As a thanks to readers Carey is offering a $10 Starbucks gift card to one lucky commenter. Falling in love is risky. Tell us what would make you willing to take a chance on love?
Posted by Diana Belchase
Allison Leotta’s newest thriller, A Good Killing, asks the question:
How far would you go to save your sister?
As the eldest sibling in my family, I must admit this grabbed my attention. How many times did my mother say it was my job to watch over my brother? Even now, I worry about him and know there is little I wouldn’t do to protect him.
Allison perfectly captures the deep bonds and complicated relationship between siblings. Her heroine, Anna Curtis, balances a job as a Federal prosecutor, a romance gone wrong, and a sister in jeopardy who might not be as innocent as she might like. The result? A fascinating page turner and possibly Leotta’s best book yet.
Allison is a master at keeping the thriller thrilling while bringing out the softer side of her characters. Best of all, she uses her own experiences as a former Federal prosecutor to make sure the details are correct. If you’re like me, and inaccuracy drives you nuts, you’ll adore the exceptional factual authenticity of Allison Leotta’s books.
To learn a little bit more about Allison’s books, here is an interview I did with her a while back. In it, she discusses her series and how she came to write it. I hope you’ll enjoy watching.
Today I’d like to offer a warm Kiss & Thrill welcome to Heather Ashby and Chris Bergeron. Heather, a veteran contributor here at Kiss and Thrill, has combined her amazing writing skills with retired Marine Corps Major Chris Bergeron for the fourth book in the Love in the Fleet Series Unforgettable.
Unforgettable lives up to its title. It’s an amazing book with beautifully drawn characters. Adam, Gwyn, Mike, and Cate have such emotionally touching journeys that when you’re finished with the book you’ll wish they were real, then be sad when they’re not. And that’s what gives this book a special spot on the keeper shelf.
UNFORGETTABLE (Book 4 in “Love in the Fleet”)
The 9/11 spirits aboard USS New York are back! Their mission: help Adam, Gwyn, Mike, and Cate find their happily ever afters—and stay alive. As the only person who can see them, Lieutenant Gwyn Pritchard tries to help the spirits move on to the light. That is, when she’s not helping Gunnery Sergeant Adam Connor heal from his PTSD—or falling madly in love with him.
Captain Cate Hawkins, has run from her unconventional childhood by becoming a Marine Corps pilot. But when a mission in East Africa goes awry, she finds herself in a race for her life. After burying the hatchet with Cate, Navy pilot Mike Nikolopoulos wants nothing more than to rescue his new love. If the spirits help him save her, they’ll finally be free to move on. But can Mike overcome a sudden fear of flying to find his way to Cate before terrorists repeat “Black Hawk Down”—with a female American pilot this time?
SW: Welcome to Kiss and Thrill today, Chris and Heather. First of all, I have to tell you how much I loved this book. Second, I’d love to know how you two met.
Heather: When I was brainstorming Book 3, Never Forget about Marines on an amphibious assault ship, I realized I didn’t know anything about either one. My husband was the pool captain at Naval Station Mayport and told me that one of his lifeguards had a mom and dad who met on an amphibious assault ship. Mom was Navy and Dad was a Marine. I invited them for lunch and the magic began.
Chris: LOL. Heather asked me if I could help her out with Book #3, Never Forget and this is what I said: “I spent over twenty years writing training scenarios for Marines and never got to use half of them. I already know how we’re going to rescue those hostages at that consulate.” I was so excited that somebody wanted to hear the crazy ideas I had in my head.
SW: I’m dying to know what it’s like working with a co-author? Can you tell us about your writing process?
Heather: It’s pretty interesting since we’re both Pantsers and Puzzlers. We do a basic brainstorm at the beginning – in person before Chris retired, and now via FaceTime. I start writing the book and send Chris a quick sketch of scenes or chapters I need him to run with. It usually entails the bad guy and any Navy ship or USMC technicalities—or emotional issues our Marine protagonist might have.
Chris: It works for me. Not sure I’m ready to sit down and write a novel by myself, but when Heather sends me a framework to fill in with military – or villainous – details, I go to town. Like she said, we’re Puzzlers, so we write the scenes that call to us first and fit all the pieces together later. Somehow a complete book emerges. That’s part of the magic.
Heather: I typically write the relationship portion of the books and Chris writes the bad guys and external conflict, but then more magic happens. We tend to bleed over into the other’s turf and fine-tune each other’s scenes. And it just works. Examples: Chris will add layers of emotions to the characters and think up unique things for the spirit characters to do to help the crew of the USS New York. Yet, once he started back to college he got very busy. I needed him to write a poignant scene in Never Forget between two Marines sharing about a buddy who had died. He wrote back, “I’m super busy. Any way you can run with this one? You’re doing a great job writing Marine emotions and camaraderie.” I took that as the ultimate compliment. In Unforgettable, Chris was drowning in mid-term exams when I needed the final amphibious assault scene written. I knew what I wanted, but no way did I know the details.
Heather: Yet, when I was called out of retirement to teach middle school this past winter, Chris did almost all the writing for two months before his classes started. Then, like in a relay race, I took the baton and wrote the rest when his school began. One of the biggest compliments we’ve received was from our editor, the amazing Teresa Medeiros at Amber House Books. When she got the finished manuscript for Unforgettable, she said, “This book is seamless. I honestly can’t tell which one of you wrote which parts.” I hadn’t thought about it until this moment, but I think trust between co-authors plays a huge factor. That and the fact that there are no egos involved. We totally work as a team.
Chris: Speaking of trust, it’s great working with someone who encourages you to just write. I do my best “writing” while I’m doing PT. That’s military-speak for Physical Training. I’ll head out for a run, or a swim, or a long bike ride—or even skiing since I live in Michigan now—and the scenes will just form in my head. I get all the details like the steamy air our heroine is running through in Kenya, the buzz of the insects on the African plain, and even the shine of the villain’s gold tooth. All the thoughts tumble over each other in my head and when I get home, I dump them into the computer. I don’t worry about grammar or spelling or paragraphs or anything. I just write it down and send it to Heather. She’s always telling me, “Just send me sand and I’ll make sand castles out of it.” I think it really frees people up to write good, creative stuff when they don’t have to worry about mechanics or that some teacher with a red pen is going to point out your mistakes.
Chris: When Heather and I brainstormed Unforgettable, she said, “The USS New York will be off Somalia, so I’m thinking about a conflict with Somali pirates.” To which I replied, “It’s been done. I think we should do ‘Black Hawk Down’ with a female American pilot this time.” I have the utmost respect for the female Marine Corps aviators I watched take to the skies during my career. They are one of the last groups to brave the old boy network and succeed. I kind of based our heroine on Lieutenant Colonel Sarah “Diamond” Deal, who I had the honor of serving with during my final deployment to Afghanistan. So Heather and I made up Captain Cate Hawkins. Heather wrote her back story and I picked up the reins to shoot down Cate’s MV-22 Osprey and have her running from al-Shabab at the Somali/Kenyan border. I’ve served in East Africa, so it was fun setting the scene for Cate as I repeatedly put her in danger. And, because she’s a Marine, she repeatedly gets herself out.
Heather: Unforgettable has two love stories in it. While Chris was endangering Cate, I was healing another hero’s PTSD. I gave Gunnery Sergeant Adam Connor my late father’s issues of having his mother die in childbirth, then be the only survivor of a combat patrol. Talk about survivor guilt. Adam – and my dad – had suffered from it since birth—and war intensified it. (My dad was a World War II Marine who fought at places such as Guadalcanal and New Britain.) The healing aspect of this book is very important to us. My thought was that I may not have been able to heal my dad, but maybe we can guide another Marine—or soldier or airman or sailor or veteran—to seek help for his or her issues. We are already hearing from doctors and readers who are using the “Love in the Fleet” books as a tool for healing. This has been the high point of my publishing career.
SW: You say this is the final book in the “Love in the Fleet” series, but do you two have plans for any future books?
Chris: We’re both pretty busy right now, but there is the possibility of another book. Just because it’s the end of the series, doesn’t mean we can’t write a prequel at some point. One of the couples in Never Forget and Unforgettable is a World War II U.S. Marine and a Royal Navy WREN. They are elderly ghosts, but I’d like to explore how they met in WWII and how Bud served as a spy throughout Europe during the war. Always got to have your next dream on the horizon. In the meantime, I’m just excited about finishing up college Freshman English. I have to say it was pretty darn cool to lay a copy of my first novel on my professor’s desk.
Heather: We think Unforgettable has something for everyone. Suspense, military action, healing, two love stories, and even ghosts. Below, please find a short excerpt from a chapter Chris wrote. It literally made me jump out of my chair when I read the entire scene. Thanks so much for inviting us today, Sharon.
Excerpt from Unforgettable:
As the sun set, Cate climbed down from the termite mound and slid through the tall grass silently. Thank God, she’d been correct about the small clearing she’d spied. It was a stream—or at least it was a stream when it rained. Right now it was a series of muddy puddles. She submerged one of her collapsible canteens in the muck and strained the water through gauze from her first aid kit. After dropping in two iodine tablets, she drank her fill.
She was still being pursued by al-Shabab, but at least she wouldn’t die from thirst now. She even allowed herself a small smile—but it was short-lived. When she raised her eyes from the canteen, sheer terror twisted her gut. Twenty yards away, two sets of amber eyes stared back at her in the setting sunlight. A pair of massive female lions stood frozen, their gazes fixed on her. Moving as slowly as possible, she reached to her side and drew her pistol. If they charged, she might get one or two rounds off, probably only wounding one—and alerting her pursuers at the same time.
Cate was screwed either way.
She prayed they were more interested in a drink of muddy water than the flight-suit-encased-Happy-Meal she was beginning to feel like. After staring for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only seconds, the lionesses lowered their heads and began to lap at the murky water. Cate hoped they would drink their fill and be on their way. She pressed her elbows painfully to her sides, trying to make herself as small as possible. Both lions turned suddenly and peered in the direction Cate had come. Something had alerted them. They slunk off into the brush.
Suddenly she heard a motor growing closer by the second and she took off running. How could those men drive through the tall grass and brambles? Soon she could make out the sounds of undercarriages and brakes squealing. Surely this had been what had scared the lions away. Cate’s heart thundered as he picked up her pace. At times they would get close enough that she could hear voices as they called out to her: “We know you are out here, Lady America. Make it easy on yourself and give up. We have water and food. We’re not going to harm you. You are worth more to us alive than dead.”
And then, in the moonlit-speckled dusk, she heard another sound that made the whole world stop: the slow, throaty growl of an animal. Cate froze, then lowered herself to the ground. In her attempt to move away from the vehicles, she’d forgotten about the other pair of pursuers. Was it possible she was being hunted by two different sets of predators?
She slid down and lay prone on her belly, then eased herself under the thorny limbs of the closest tree. It was quiet for a few minutes and Cate could hear nothing but the pounding of her heart in her ears. But that was soon joined by the same low growl as before. The tall grass moved in the moonlight. Had to be the lions slinking through the brush. One came into view, crouched low to the ground, and started walking slowly toward her. Cate would lose no matter what. If she shot at the big cat—and even if she could take it down—the men would be on her in an instant.
Her heart hammering in her throat, Cate cocked her pistol. The lion’s head swung to its left. It doubled back in the direction it had come and disappeared from view. She blew out a breath of relief, lying motionless except for the racing of her pulse.
Then she heard what the lion must have heard: sticks breaking as something moved in her direction. And she smelled what the animals had probably smelled, cigarette smoke. Where the lion had stood just moments ago, two men appeared in the gloom. They were armed with what looked like AKs. One had his rifle slung over his shoulder and carried a large machete. His cigarette lit up his face as he took a puff. The moonlight lit the rest of him. Given the mix of military hardware and dark fatigues, these were the men Cate had feared: guerillas of the al-Shabab terrorist group, hunting their American prize. The other man flipped on a flashlight and began searching the ground.
“We’re here to help you, Lady America. So be a smart American lady and let us take you to safety.”
Cate infinitesimally shifted the pistol so it was aimed at the two men. She was about fifteen yards away, not a great shot in the dark, but it might be the best chance she’d get. The first man crushed out his cigarette and began to walk forward. He was not acting as if he could see her, though. The brambles were probably reflecting the flashlight’s beam back at them, and her camouflage flight suit was doing its job. She would let him come as close as possible to get off a good shot.
As he closed the distance, Cate took careful aim across the sights. The pistol butt rested on the back of her hand. Her first shot must be deadly accurate.
Closer . . . Closer . . .
She took the slack out of the trigger and prepared to fire.
Closer . . . Closer . . .
A beast sprang from the left! The man screamed and loosed a burst of rifle fire in the air. With a sick, wet crunch, the lion bit clean through his throat and vertebrate. The man with the flashlight screamed, “Simba, Simba!” and ran into the darkness. The second lion pounced on the body on the ground, grabbing the lifeless legs in her teeth and tearing.
Cate listened in horror to the sounds of slurping and crunching in the dark. She feared she would vomit and give herself away, but she didn’t dare move until she was certain the lions were sated. Then mentally thanking her two new girlfriends, Cate eased away from the bush and melted into the night.
SW: Thank you so much Chris and Heather for sharing that excerpt and for joining us today.
Now Chris and Heather would have a question for you: Besides marriage, tell about a partnership you’ve had in the past that worked like magic. Or one that didn’t work out, but you learned something valuable from the experience. OR tell us what you think of Chris’s excerpt. We have a $10 Amazon gift card for one lucky commenter.
If readers want to start the “Love in the Fleet” series with Book # 1 Forgive and Forget, it is $.99 through May 14 at all online sites!
Award winning author, Heather Ashby is a Navy veteran who taught school and raised a family while accompanying her Navy husband around the United States, Japan, and the Middle East. In gratitude for their Army son’s safe return from Afghanistan and Iraq, she now writes military romance novels, donating half her royalties to Fisher House Foundation in support of wounded warriors and their families. Her son serves as her cover model, helping to raise money for Fisher Houses around the world. Heather lives in Atlantic Beach, Florida with her retired Navy husband. Unforgettable is the fourth and final book in the “Love in the Fleet” series. www.heatherashby.com, Twitter: http://www.@HAshbyAuthor, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherAshbyAuthor?ref=hl
CHRISTOPHER BERGERON is a retired Major in the United States Marine Corps, with twenty-four years of service. His ten deployments include combat tours in Desert Shield/Desert Storm; Somalia; Kosovo; Haiti; Fallujah, Iraq; and Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Chris’s travels have covered the globe, including more than twenty countries. He lives with his wife and son in Rockford, Michigan, where he is currently a Communications/Marketing student at Grand Valley State University. Unforgettable is his first novel.
All photos courtesy of Heather Ashby and Chris Bergeron
And the winner for P.A. DePaul’s giveaway from last week is Missy Clifton! Congratulations!!!!
Today, I am so excited to introduce P. A. DePaul, an amazing romantic suspense author who Julie Ann Walker calls “A bold new voice in romantic suspense”. P. A.’s first book, Exchange of Fire, has one of the best RS covers I’ve ever seen. So I was thrilled to see her recent release, Shadow of Doubt, the second in her SBG military romantic suspense series, has an even better one. And those fabulous covers contain action-packed love stories that remind me of the classic Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series and Roxanne St. Clair’s Bullet Catchers series.
So let’s get started with a short blurb about Shadow of Doubt:
When her secretly filmed tryst shows up on the internet, Michelle Alger goes on the run. She has no choice. Not only was her one-night stand the son of a US senator, but he’s been murdered—and she’s the number one suspect. With both the senator and an avenging drug lord on her trail, her life is in danger. There’s only man she can trust. He saved her once, but will he still be her hero six years later?
Captain Jeremy Malone and the rest of Delta Squad have the senator’s order: find the mystery woman who killed my son. But to Jeremy, she’s no mystery. Six years ago his team of Green Berets rescued her from the torturous clutches of a Colombian cartel, and he’s never forgotten her. His personal and covert mission: find Michelle before anyone else. When he and Michelle do meet again, the sparks are explosive and consuming. They’re also dangerous as hell.
Because with each new bit of evidence, Jeremy suspects that Michelle’s innocence may be a ruse—a beautiful trap set by a woman who has even more secrets yet to bare.
SW: Welcome, P. A., to Kiss and Thrill!
PD: Hello Kiss and Thrill! I’m so excited to be here today. Thank you for having me!
One of the questions I’m asked a lot is about who inspired me to start writing. I usually blink stupidly at the poor individual while my mind is rapidly imagining every book I’ve ever read. Then panic sets in because I’m such a bookoholic, I know I’m forgetting as many as I’m remembering. Sidebar: I’ve always loved to read since the moment I could sound out the words on the page. Family trips to the library were my favorite and I always took the maximum amount of books out. So from that perspective the simple answer is: Everyone I’ve ever read inspired me. Some authors completely captivated me, sweeping me away into the worlds they created, while others made me slam the book down and think why would the author have the character do X instead of Y.
The real question I think for me to answer is: Which author jolted me so hard, my mind became consumed with “I can do this”? That answer is: J.R. Ward. She wrote a compendium to her Black Dagger Brotherhood series and within those pages was a chapter encouraging anyone with the desire, thought, wish, whatever to just go for it, even if the person never sends it anywhere. I read that chapter before bed and woke up the next morning with an idea for a book. And so began my writing career.
My first completed novel never actually saw the light of day sadly. That story still carries a very special place in my heart and I’m hoping someday the world will want to read about a twenty-one year old boy who dies in a robbery gone wrong and finds out there is an entire world he’s never known existed, and a war raging between heaven and hell…and he’s one of the keys to victory.
I will admit it took me four years (and many manuscript versions, re-writes, and new drafts…not to mention tears, frustrations, and wondering why I thought I could do this) before I sold my first book to a small press publisher. Guardian Redeemed is a paranormal romance about angels, demons, and the humans caught in between. Perversely, in the hurry-and-wait world of publishing, it only took six months before I sold my Romantic Suspense SBG series to Penguin in their Berkeley InterMix line. In this series, SweetBriar Group—or SBG as the operatives like to call it—is a corporation the rest of the world believes is an environmental company, but is really a front for a privately funded clandestine agency. Delta Squad is one of SBG’s Black Ops teams. It’s made up of men and women who have their ups and downs, good days and bad days like the rest of us. They laugh, fight, cry, and squabble but in the end, they are a fully functioning, extremely cohesive group who are closer than family. They’ve learned to rely on each other to the point they’re considered the best of the best.
Now I want to take a moment and pay forward the advice that meant so much to me. If you ever had an inkling, an idea, a crazy thought that maybe, just maybe, you have a story to tell…do it. You never know what you can accomplish until you try. There are so many excellent online courses through powerhouses such as Writer’s Digest and/or writing associations such as Romance Writers of America (RWA), you can learn everything you need to know to start. As J.R. Ward said (and I’m paraphrasing) even if you never present your book to a publisher, at least you have a novel you’d like to read.
SW: And in case you’re still not convinced to give this series a try, here are a few quotes that might change your mind.
Praise for Shadow of Doubt
“Nonstop action and heart-melting romance on every page! P.A. DePaul is a bold new voice in romantic suspense.”— Julie Ann Walker, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author
Praise for Exchange of Fire
“If you enjoy military action, suspense, steamy romance, and a little danger, this is the series for you.” —Library Journal
“A pulse-pounding thrill ride from start to finish that will leave you clamoring for more.”—Elle Kennedy, author of the Killer Instincts series
“A dynamic tale…fast-paced and riveting, with surprises at every turn of the plot.”—Fresh Fiction
“This book was everything I love about romantic suspense.”—Smitten with Reading
SW: Thank you, P. A., for spending the day with us and we wish you tons of success with your SBG series!
Now P.A wants to hear from you! Have questions about writing? Want to know something about the SBG series? Just want to say hello? Awesome. Please comment so we can chat!! And there are a few prizes for lucky commenters. P. A. is offering one e-copy of Shadow of Doubt, a very cool SBG T-shirt, and various SBG swag!
P.A. DePaul is a multi-genre romance author including paranormal fantasy and romantic suspense. She originally hails from Carroll County and Baltimore County, Maryland, but also lived in Macon and Warner Robins, Georgia. She currently resides in a beautiful community just outside Philadelphia. Shadow of Doubt, is the second novel in the SBG series. You can find the first: Exchange of Fire, at all major E-Retailers. You can also learn more about her at www.padepaul.com, www.facebook.com/padepaul, https://twitter.com/PADePaul, http://www.pinterest.com/padepaul, http://www.goodreads.com/PADePaul, and https://www.tsu.co/PADePaul.
And the winner of Sarah Andre’s $20.00 Amazon gift card is Patti Straight!