Category Archives: Author Spotlight

Congratulations to KaT’s own 2017 RITA and GOLDEN HEART Finalists!

The Kiss and Thrill ladies would like to congratulate two of our own, on their tremendous achievements.

Congratulations to SARAH ANDRE for being the first KaT ever to become a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® awards!

Congratulations to DIANA BELCHASE, a former winner of the RWA Golden Heart® awards, who has just become a Golden Heart finalist for the…wait for it…FOURTH time!  We’re so happy for both of you and will be cheering you on at the award ceremonies!!!

Sarah Andre

Wow! We all knew that Sarah Andre was talented. We knew she was a wonderful friend. We knew she had a generous spirit. But we did not know she would be the first among us to garner one of the highest honors in the romance writing community: a coveted RITA final, which is like the academy awards for published romance novels. Congratulations, Sarah! We love you and we are so proud!

What folks are saying about her Rita finalist book, Tall Dark and Damaged:

“…Although the build-up pretty much had me rocking back and forth in the fetal position, the ending was fantasmically awesome! It really plays out like a movie, with every scene described in such vivid detail that you could really picture everything playing out with absolute clarity. Another unique feather of this ending is that although it ends happily, it in no way ends perfectly.” Romance4theBeach

“Solid romantic suspense with strong characters and surprising plot twists.” Kirkus Review

“Get comfortable and be prepared to stay up all night, once you start reading TALL, DARK & DAMAGED.” Susan Breeden

“Brilliant! Five star read, five star plot, five star writing! The plot of Tall, Dark and Damaged is amazing. So many twists and turns and a spectacular ending. I would never believe anyone who told me they saw this ending coming–and yet it makes perfect sense AND it makes you happy! How does that even happen with such a thick, juicy plot??” Leigh

Here is the list of finalists in the romantic suspense category for the 2017 RITA. Sarah is one of only EIGHT finalists!

Romantic Suspense
All the Dead Girls by Rita Herron; Montlake Publishing; Alison Dasho, editor
Atone by Beth Yarnall; Penguin Random House, Loveswept; Sue Grimshaw, editor
Field of Graves by J. T. Ellison; Harlequin, MIRA Books; Nicole Brebner, editor
Killer Countdown by Amelia Autin; Harlequin, Romantic Suspense; Carly Silver, editor
Mr. and Mr. Smith by HelenKay Dimon; Penguin Random House, Loveswept; Shauna Summers, editor
One Minute to Midnight by Nico Rosso; Carina Press; Rhonda Stapleton, editor
Repressed by Elisabeth Naughton; Montlake Publishing; Charlotte Herscher and Christopher Werner, editors

Tall, Dark and Damaged by Sarah Andre; Self-published; Anya Kagan, Touchstone Editing, editor

Diana Belchase

Her manuscript, VENGEANCE, is a finalist in the Romantic Suspense category.

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

CONGRATULATIONS DIANA!

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

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

Here is the list of finalists in the romantic suspense category for the 2017 Golden Heart. Diana is one of only SIX finalists!

Romantic Suspense
“The Fire Beckons” by Lynnette Labelle
“The Guide” by Sarah Morgenthaler
“Seductive Strokes” by Patty Hoffman
“Semper Fi” by Meta Carroll
“Shot Down” by Tracy Brody

“Vengeance” by Diana Belchase

 

CONGRATULATIONS SARAH AND DIANA!

 

Move over Jack Reacher…Enter Gil Malloy!

Meet Crime Fiction Novelist R.G. Belsky

and the newest installment in the Gil Malloy series…

BLONDE ICE

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

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

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

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

Amazon       Barnes&Noble      Simon&Schuster

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMPLETE BOOKLIST

As Dick Belsky…

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

As R.G. Belsky….

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

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

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

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

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

Giveaway for an Astonishing Debut!

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

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RACE THE DARKNESS (excerpt)

They weren’t going to make it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The truck imploded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out her book trailer:

Buy Links

Amazon    iBooks   Barnes and Noble   Google

 

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

Facebook Author PageTwitter | Pinterest

 

A Writer / Reader Conference Not to be Missed!

Austin Camacho is incredible. Not only is he former military and the author of ten gripping books, he is also the force behind the C3 Conference. C3 is short for Creatures, Crimes and Creativity — and the event is geared at writers, from those yet to pick up a pen to bestsellers, as well as fans of genre fiction. Whether you love horror, mystery, thriller, science fiction, or fantasy, this con has something for everyone. Loads of international bestselling authors, innovative workshops, and best of all — lunch! Because, I don’t know about you, but I can’t be creative on an empty stomach. Here are the details:

September 30 – October 2, 2016

at the Sheraton Columbia Town Center in Columbia, MD.

For more details, please go to creaturescrimesandcreativity.com

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Author Austin Camacho is director of the C3 Conference

And if that isn’t enough reason for you to register, here is C3 founder, Austin Camacho on the top 10 reasons you should attend. I particularly like #1 all the way at the bottom.

Top 10 Reasons to Attend the Creatures, Crimes and Creativity Con

by Austin Camacho

I want to thank Diana for giving me this opportunity to tell everyone why they want to attend The Creatures, Crimes & Creativity (C3) Con this year. The C3 Con is the Mid-Atlantic’s book lover event of the year. And this year, we have two international bestselling authors as keynote speakers. But that’s only the beginning.

 

We draw readers AND writers of genre fiction: horror, mystery, thriller, suspense, science fiction, fantasy and paranormal authors will gather in Columbia MD, Sep. 30-Oct 2. Before the Con our little community hangs out at:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/452670518248659

So let’s count down the top ten reasons for attending the C3 Con:

#10 – FELLOWSHIP: Imagine being surrounded by avid readers and excellent writers for an entire 3-day weekend!

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#9 – REED FARREL COLEMAN: Author of the heralded Moe Prager series and Jesse Stone novels, he’s been called our noir poet laureate. He’ll give a keynote address at dinner and teach a class.

#8 – ALEXANDRA SOKOLOFF: Known for her Huntress/FBI thrillers, her smooth blend of paranormal and crime fiction is some of the most original and unnerving work around. She will give the other dinner keynote talk and offer a one-woman class.

CONTINUE READING HERE

 

What Readers Want in Female Protagonists

Jess Lourey and Shannon Baker are thriller and mystery writers who have, between them, published 19 books. When they realized Jess’s thriller, Salem’s Cipher, and Shannon’s mystery, Stripped Bare, were set to launch on the same day, September 6, they joined forces for the Lourey/Baker Double Booked Tour.  Doesn’t that sound delicious?

Today this phenomenal duo are discussing whether female sleuths need to be alpha-heroes for today’s readers or if the old-fashioned, Ms. Marple-type character still works? We hope you readers will chime in and let us know what you think, too! Take it away Shannon:

Jess and Shannon are giving away a copy of Salem’s Cipher and Stripped Bare. For a chance to win tell us your favorite women protagonist or leave a comment.

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Shannon: Thanks, Diana, for letting us drop by. I hear a lot about the “kick-ass” woman detective or sleuth when people talk about women protagonists in crime fiction — and while I’m glad the crime writing world has progressed far beyond the idea of women protagonists only knitting and sipping tea — I’m not sure all women crime fighters need to be tough, gun-toting mamas. So today Jess and I are going to answer the question about our women protagonists—Miss Marple or V.I Warshawski?

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Shannon and Jess

When I started writing about Kate Fox, the star of my new series, I didn’t set out to write a tough crime fighter in the Nebraska Sandhills. In fact, Kate walked right into my life, and like meeting a new friend, I’ve been getting to know who she is. Kate is a person, who happens to be a woman and accidently falls into a new career. One she never expected, or wanted.

For me, writing a character is a lot like raising a child. You give them guidance and discipline, love them and nurture them, and maybe prod them along, but they come out of the womb already loaded with who they are. I can push Kate into situations that test her mettle, but she’s going to react according to who she is, with very little help from me. (I know, writers are crazy, and explaining how would take much longer than we have space for in this blog.)

Diana: I love that Shannon! How would you characterize your heroine, Kate?

Shannon: I don’t think of Kate as kick-ass. She doesn’t go looking for trouble. In fact, she goes to great lengths to avoid it. She’s smack in the middle of eight brothers and sisters, so there’s always some crisis brewing. Her MO is to duck and weave.

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But she doesn’t run from a problem. She might clench her teeth and bow her neck and barrel in reluctantly, but … READ THE REST OF THE POST BY CLICKING HERE

All about Sharon Wray.

IMG_5582KaT member, Sharon Wray supplied all these photographs…take a look at them…aren’t they SO Sharon Wray?! She’s the most optimistic, genuinely kind and considerate friend/fellow writer I know.

I believe the entire romance writing world knows her because of her eight RWA Golden Heart nominations in six years, because she’s always volunteering for chapter positions or cheering others on through yahoo loop emails, and because of the hundreds of poignant photographs and heartfelt blogs she’s posted over the years.

We were hugely ecstatic but a bit confused when we learned her most important moment in being a writer (getting the coveted book contract offer from a publisher) was communicated in a Publisher’s Weekly announcement. (The rest of us usually type the news in all caps all over social media.) Sharon was in the middle of a hectic summer and getting ready for the RWA national conference, so she hurriedly told the overall story, but promised to tell the nitty-gritty details when she returned. And here she is:

Can you tell us about the moment you realized your publishing dream had just come true?

It was surreal. After I hung up on a Skype call with my agents (Deidre Knight and Kristy Hunter), having accepted Deb Werksman’s offer from Sourcebooks, I sat at my desk shaking. After all these years (11!), I’d actually sold a book. And two more! I couldn’t even call my husband. I was so afraid to say anything to anyone because I was worried someone would  tell me it was all joke.

But now that I have a deadline, I know it’s not only not a joke, it’s a dream come true. I’m so grateful to my agents and editor, and I’m determined not to let them down.

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Explain ‘auction’ for those readers who’ve never heard the term associated with novels.

An auction is when a novel has two or more offers for publication from different publishing houses, and a literary agent negotiates the best deal for his or her author. Negotiations can include (but aren’t limited to) advances, subsidiary rights, marketing plans, release dates, etc. For the author, it’s very exciting and a crash course in all things publishing. Here’s a great article by Rachelle Gardner who explains it much better than I ever could!

What was your family’s reaction after you sold?

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Donut the Dog whose lack of interest keeps Sharon humble.

They were all so excited, including the dog, and they gave me hugs and we all cried. Then we went out to dinner to celebrate! And while at dinner, the kids asked about going to Disney World to really celebrate. Still thinking about that one. 🙂

When did you you know you wanted to start writing novels?

In 2004, my four-year old twins and I moved to Savannah, GA from Fairfax, VA (temporarily) to take care of my father who was dying of cancer. Taking care of my dad and the twins, while my husband was still in Virginia, was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever had to do. There was little free time and lots of stress involved.

It was during this time that my sister-in-law Kieran Kramer (now a USA Today Bestselling author for St. Martin’s Press) suggested I keep track of everything going on in my journal. Kieran had always been a writer and was actively pursuing a romance writing career. And I’d always admired her talent and perseverance.

During the summer of 2004, I found that writing helped me find a place for all of my emotions and I slowly moved from non-fiction into fiction. I realized that all the stories I’d always had in my head needed an outlet. In 2005, after my dad’s death, I finished my first manuscript, joined RWA, and entered the Golden Heart (and didn’t final!). After that, although I was in the early stages of learning how to write, I was hooked!

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In those 11 years, you’ve done an incredible amount of research and learning writing craft. What “Ah-Ha!” craft resources do you recommend?

There are so many, but here’s a list of my favorites:

Laura Baker & Robin Perini’s Discovery Story Magic 

Laura Baker’s Turning Points (DSM part 2)

Michael Hauge’s Identity to Essence

Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat

Alicia Rasley’s Emotion without Purple Prose

Kathleen Baldwin’s Scene & Sequel

Suzanne Johnson’s Plot Quilting 101

Margie Lawson’s Rhetorical Devices & Empowering Character’s Emotions

Tiffany Lawson Inman’s Madness to Method &  Writing Authentic Choreograph

Back to your contract details! Do you have tentative titles and publication dates?

The Series title is The Deadly Force Series which I love. I honestly don’t know yet about whether or not I can keep my original titles. I also don’t know my publication dates, but I hope to know soon.

Right now the first three books are titled:

When Next We Meet

Hope Craves an Execution

Pale in Her AngerIMG_5555

I thought this saga was planned for 6 novels. Are you cutting the series short or planning on another multiple book deal?

For now I’m writing the first three books in the series for Sourcebooks. Hopefully, if things go well, I’ll be asked to write the next three.

Can you give us the overall story line for the series?

The Deadly Force series is about Colonel Torridan and his group of elite ex-soldiers who operate a self-defense school while seeking the truth behind an operation gone wrong.

These men are devoted to each other, determined to seek the truth instead of justice, and willing to risk their honor, their lives, and their souls to save themselves and the women they love. And, in the process, protect the world.

Do you believe in Serendipity?

Yes. I also believe in God’s timing. And in my case, the timing couldn’t be more perfect. I have three books to write in the next two years, but the kids go off to college next summer. I was already worried about how I was going to handle that (I suspect I won’t be handling it well) but now that I have three books coming out, I know I’ll be too busy to cry or feel lonely.

The timing of Sourcebook’s offer isn’t an accident and I’m so grateful that when the twins do go off to school, I’ll have plenty of work to focus on (besides my husband and dog!). I’m also grateful this didn’t happen earlier. I wouldn’t give up the time I’ve spent with my family for anything in the world.

Three Books you’d take to a deserted Island?

JR Ward’s Dark Lover (Paranormal Romance), Stephen King’s The Shining (Horror), and Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me (YA)

 Favorite foods you can’t say no to?

Oreos. Perfection in a small, round cookie.

Yummy. 🙂 Do you have any advice for writers still waiting for the call?

Never Pillow

Never stop writing. But Winston Churchill said it best in his October 29, 1941 speech at his childhood school (he almost didn’t graduate).

“. . . never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”

This quote–this speech–has never failed me in my darkest moments of self-doubt and worry.

Sharon, I think you know how much we’ve looked forward to celebrating your publishing contract, and how excited the eight of us are for you! Thanks for the pictures, and even formatting this for me, because that’s just the kind of friend you are!! –Sarah

Sharon-Wray

You can find Sharon here at Kiss and Thrill and DON’T miss her own blog www.sharonwray.com (it’s what a blog SHOULD be!)

She also loves to connect with readers on: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Goodreads

All photographs courtesy of Sharon Wray.

A Magical Shop in Paris Generates a Novel

deyrolleToday is release day for Lark Brennan’s second book in The Durand Chronicles. This is a series based on the psychic skills of the powerful Durand family and their war against the evil faction in the world; the Dissemblers, who thrive on creating chaos and death. IRRESISTIBLY YOURS is Adrien’s story, the most powerful member of the Durand family. What’s compelling in this fast-paced adventure/thriller is the inner demons he faces and the critical decisions he’s forced to make for the family’s survival. It’s a riveting read, and I’m pleased to welcome Lark back to KaT today!

Tell us where did you got the idea for IRRESISTIBLY YOURS?LarkBrennan_IrresistiblyYours_HR

On a rainy January day in Paris, my husband and I were strolling down the rue du Bac when a window display of framed insect specimens caught his eye.

We went into the charming little garden shop, browsed for a few minutes, and were about to leave when the woman behind the counter told us we absolutely must go upstairs.

We weren’t expecting much, but it was raining and cold outside so we climbed the worn stairs and emerged among Deyrolle’s incredible collection of taxidermy animals—featuring every species from elephants and giraffes to donkeys, wolves, rabbits, and even mice–all posed as though they are having a jolly time in the elegant townhouse. Then and there I fell in love with the place and every creature in it.54

I joked to my husband, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the man who owned Deyrolle could bring the animals to life when no one was around?” That imaginary man later became Adrien Durand, and IRRESISTIBLY YOURS is his story.

It was important that Adrien Durand’s ability to animate the taxidermy animals of the Maison d’Ermonie have a plausible and serious purpose that makes him uniquely qualified to be head of the family. The last thing I wanted was to write a Night at the Museum Meets Doctor Dolittle comedy.

Instead, the entire structure of the psychic world evolved around what the ‘animals’ are and the enormous stakes the family has in protecting them. Although the paranormal elements are an integral part of the world, the story includes suspense, international intrigue, a bit of pseudo-science and, of course, a love story.

Tell us a little about Adrien and Tate.

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Lark’s inspiration for Adrien

One of the most powerful telepaths in the world, Adrien loved being a covert agent in the Durands’ war against their ancient enemies and hates being trapped in Paris running the family’s worldwide business empire. The one thing he treasures is his ability to connect with the beings who inhabit Maison d’Ermonie’s taxidermy animals—until Tate shows up and his world is turned upside down.

Tate is an animal telepath and empath from Indiana who has hidden her abilities in order to protect herself. The joy in her life comes from volunteering in animal rescue organizations where she can help animals with her unique abilities. When she meets Adrien, for the first time she doesn’t need to hide who she is–which makes it far too easy to fall hopelessly in love with him.

Are The Durand Chronicles a continuous story or does each book stand alone?

The books can definitely stand alone although I think they’re more fun to read in order. Each is a complete romantic suspense with a different Durand cousin as the hero or heroine.  There’s an over-arching story that threads through the series but it’s very easy to pick up at any point. Some of the characters from Book 1 appear in Book 2 and readers are introduced to new family members–all navigating tricky family dynamics.

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Released last year

The Durand Chronicles have been called a mash-up of suspense, romance, adventure, and paranormal. How would you describe the stories?

You forgot science fiction. 🙂 I call them romantic suspense with a psychic element. The series takes place in the present in the Real World but unbeknownst to the general population, some people have genetic-based psychic abilities. The Durands are among the most powerful of those psychics.

Each book has a fast-paced suspense plot. For two centuries the Durands have been waging a covert war with a faction of psychics bent on controlling non-psychics by creating chaos, destruction and terrorism, and that conflict is always in the background. In IRRESISTIBLY YOURS, a new, unsuspected enemy sets out to destroy Adrien and his entire family using both psychic and legal manipulation—and manages to throw suspicion on Tate and divide the family in the process. 

Could you give us a short excerpt based on your visit to Deyrolle, so the readers can see the charming humor the animals bring to the story? (Readers: There really IS a horse to greet you as you reach the top of the stairs!)

Excerpt

Tate’s smile wilted as Adrien led her through the gallery of stuffed animals to reception. He was sorry to disappoint her but the sooner she was gone, the better. What had passed between them when he touched her was out of his control, and nothing in this place could ever be out of his control. That was who he was and what he was.

“Thank you,” she said. You and this enchanted place are what I’ll remember of Paris.

He’d read her thoughts and his instincts went on high alert. She sensed too much. “Would you like to have lunch?” he asked.

“I wish I could. I’m due at the convention center at one.”

“Tomorrow, perhaps? Here at twelve thirty?”

Her eyes lit up and he was rewarded with a lovely smile.

“I’d like that.” She stroked the horse’s neck on her way down the stairs. “It was nice meeting you, Maurice. Au revoir, Mr. Durand.”

His reply lodged in his throat. “Bye,” he managed as she disappeared down the stairs.

When the door below closed he whirled on the horse. “Maurice? How the hell did she know your name?”

The horse’s ear twitched. A good guess?

“I don’t think so.” He turned so he could address the room. “What’s going on here?”

Louis, a huge African lion, replied. Don’t you like her?

“I don’t even know her. And anyone showing up here with empathic abilities that strong is suspect. What if she’s a Dissembler?”

She isn’t, Maurice replied. She’s completely untrained and unguarded. You know that. You were in her head the entire time she was here.

“Forget it. I’m not looking for a woman.” Especially an empath.

The llama replied, Tate is different. She felt us. She likes us.

“That is not good. Even if she isn’t a spy, someone sent her here.”

Victor appeared in the doorway. “So who was the empath?”

“Some American tourist,” Adrien snapped.

“What’s your problem?”

He’s taking her to lunch tomorrow, a cheetah confided.

Victor grinned. “Really?”

Adrien groaned. “You’re on my side. Humans stick together.”

“She looked pretty hot to me—in a wholesome sort of way.”

“Drop it. What do you have for me?”

Victor handed him a business card. “His camera crew is due at two o’clock to plan the video shoot. In the ballroom.”

Which was in chaos. Adrien chuckled. “Then let’s go put it in order.”

They entered the ballroom and Victor leaned against the wall, awaiting directions.

Adrien crossed to the center. He stood among the stuffed animals and breathed deeply, focusing on tapping into the power of the Source below. The energy swirled and pulsed until the air crackled. Soon the power surged through him, growing, pounding, expanding until it filled his body and mind with light. Slowly he lifted his arms.

The energy flowed from the Source through him to the Guardians, pure spirits who had taken possession of the stuffed bodies over the past three centuries.

The animals began to move.dss

Thank you so much for sharing the incredible story-behind-the-story. Because I’ve been on this particular book’s journey with you from the first time you handed out pages in a critique group, I made a point of visiting Deyrolle a few years ago, and it was as magical as you described! The most remarkable part of wandering through rooms of vibrant, astonishingly alive-looking animals in the most darling poses was thinking: “Lark nailed it!”

On behalf of my eleven-year critique partner, I’d like to gift 5 digital copies of IRRESISTIBLY YOURS to 5 lucky commenters!

QUESTION: What quirky way does your pet communicate with you? (Can be an animal from your past.) 

Winner will be announced on Friday, June 25th!

 

 

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Lark Brennan

– Author Bio, Social media & Buy Links

 

Lark Brennan’s love of reading, writing and travel — including a few years spent sailing and diving in the Virgin Islands –has led to a string of colorful jobs and a well-worn passport. Her travels have also inspired her romance series, The Durand Chronicles, which takes place in some of her favorite destinations—Paris, British Virgin Islands, New Orleans and Scotland. Lark dreams of one day moving to Paris, and in the meantime lives in Texas with her brilliant husband and two adorable canine “children.”

You can find Lark Brennan at: www.larkbrennan.com

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Celebrating our GH Sister, Diana Belchase

Hi, Sarah Andre here! For those of you who don’t know what the RWA Golden Heart® is, it’s the most prestigious contest in the nation for romance writers. A tiny percentage of entrants are called in late-March, and notified that their scores (judged by fellow writers) were high enough to qualify for the nomination. What exactly does getting a nomination mean? It’s the equivalent of getting an Oscar nomination! No joke. And guess what? We at Kiss and Thrill are thrilled to congratulate one of our own for this incredible career achievement–Diana Belchase! Let’s get to know her a lot better, shall we?

  1. sarah-and-diana-golden-heart-2012

    Sarah and Diana at the Golden Heart Awards Ceremony

    Tell us about the 2016 GH call!

Oh my goodness, it was incredible. Diane Kelly, the President of RWA, called me personally. It meant so much because I knew her, and because of that, this is the first time I can remember who called me this clearly. It still is very much a haze. I had forgotten that Friday was “THE” day we’d find out. So the call first went to voicemail and then when she rang back again, and she said “Hi, this is Diane Kelly from RWA.” I just went blank – wondering why she was calling me and I said, “Yes? Nice to hear from you.” So Diane repeated herself, “DIANA, THIS IS DIANE KELLY CALLING YOU FROM RWA.” She didn’t yell, but she did emphasize her words very strongly. All of a sudden the light bulb went off and instead of being more coherent, I was much, much less coherent. I remember trying so hard to not scream in her ear. I was absolutely surprised and dazed.

  1. This is your third nomination, and you won the Romantic Suspense category in 2011. How is this a different experience?

The first time I won in 2011 it was a surreal experience. I was thrilled, but I didn’t fully understand what the Golden Heart® meant. Being in the world of finalists was such a different experience – we were competitors, yet became really good friends. In fact, we started a blog together! And making those friends has been one of the best experiences of my life.

In 2012 when I finaled a second time, it was a total relief. Frankly, I thought the first time around was a fluke – i.e. the right combination of judges and just plain luck. Of course, that is always true to a certain extent, but down deep I felt unworthy the first time out. The second nomination said, despite all the rejections and near misses at being published, I did write well enough for people to like my work, and it meant the world to me.

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The coveted Golden Heart medallion

Now, in 2016 as a third-time nominee, it has come at a moment when I really needed a burst of confidence. It’s been a long waiting game, bittersweet seeing so many of my Golden Heart® friends get published — I’m thrilled for them, but have been feeling a bit left behind. This nomination reminds me that even if editors think “there are too many female spies on the market” (really would we ever say there were too many male spies on the market?) that there are at least eighteen people out there who have read my work and like it. Eighteen glorious people who might one day buy my books.

This time is so much sweeter because I know so many more writers and people online. To have blogmates, like you, want to honor me by interviewing me is something I’d never believed would have happened to me. Seeing so many fellow GH nominees, now published, and up for RITAs® at the same time is amazing! It is great to cheer for them, to support them, and to know they are rooting for me, too. Most of all, I am honored, so deeply and incredibly honored to be among the smart, fabulous Golden Heart® nominees once again.

  1. Can you give us a blurb or excerpt of SPY IN THE MIRROR?

Her contact is dead, her bureau chief is missing, and the guy she’s in love with might be working for the enemy.

After watching her parents’ car explode like the final blast of a dying star, rookie spy Trina Bianchi becomes determined to follow in their footsteps, to hone her skills, and to track the man who ordered their deaths. But as the desire for vengeance consumes her, can anyone crack the ice of her heart? Will she ever be happy or allow herself to love?

Sent into her first big mission in Hong Kong, Trina is ordered to do the one thing she isn’t good at – make friends. Why can’t she just plant bugs, climb buildings, and break into safes like usual? Instead, she must enter posh, British ex-pat society in order to uncover the murderous traitor killing agents and selling U.S. military secrets.

Soon she’s juggling a lecherous boss at her cover job, catty socialites, playboy financiers, and ducking bullets – losing her heart to the one man she can never have.  Will she succeed before someone launches a U.S. nuclear weapon against the American people?

  1. Wow, that’s pretty riveting! How did you come up with the BORN TO SPY series idea?

Every story starts with a germ of an idea taken from real life. The Spy in the Mirror came to be because of the Cox report – investigating how U.S. secrets ended up in the hands of China. Escape From the Harem came from an article about Prince Jeffrie inviting American starlets to his palace and then not letting them leave. But most of all this series came about because it was what I wanted to read and couldn’t find: a woman who was as capable as James Bond, but dealing with the things he never did – a family, insecurity, choosing between insatiable vengeance and love.winning-the-golden-heart-2011

  1. If this goes to Hollywood, who do you envision playing your h/h?

It is totally ridiculous but I’d love Taylor Swift to play Trina. And Trina is a dark brunette, and Taylor is blonde – but when she played both roles of geeky neighbor and sexy, have-it-all cheerleader for her You Belong With Me video, I said, wow, that’s Trina – the geeky girl who can transform herself into anyone she needs to be.  I haven’t thought about who the hero would be, but his song is definitely Chris Daughtry singing What About Now.

  1. Do you write full time? If not what does your day look like?

I write as much as I can between the craziness of daily life. And that is a good chunk of every day, but also includes blog posts and writing and producing my TV show, BookSmart which currently airs only in the D.C. area but hopefully will soon be expanding it’s market. (Ssshhh!) We just got a new director and a new studio so I’m very excited about that. Of course, my fiction is my first love and that takes up a good part of my day, too.

  1. Favorite food you can’t say no to?

Brussels sprouts. Okay cringe and laugh, but I absolutely love them! I love chocolate ice-cream, too.

  1. (Whew! Saved by chocolate ice cream…) What question should I have asked, that you would like readers to know about you?

That I’m very grateful to have you interview me today and that I’m so proud to be a member of Kiss and Thrill. Thank you so very much.

Thank you so much for answering these questions, and know that every one of us is rooting for you!

Want to know Diana even better? Check out her website  and Facebook page!

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