Category Archives: Guest blog

What It Takes to Be an FBI Profiler

Guest post by ELIZABETH HEITER

liz2Getting inside the heads of the country’s most depraved serial killers, arsonists, and terrorists. That’s the job of an FBI profiler, and my heroine, Evelyn Baine, has been working toward the job since she was twelve years old and her best friend was abducted. Now, more than eighteen years later, Evelyn has been part of the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit for almost two years. She’s seen some of the worst of society, and the drive to find out what happened to her best friend Cassie is what kept her going through the long days and the challenging cases.

Now, after the first two books in my Profiler series (HUNTED and VANISHED), Evelyn has done it. She’s solved the case of her career and finally resolved Cassie’s case. It’s brought her some closure…and also some doubt. Finding Cassie has been the driving force in her entire life, and now she wonders: does she still have what it takes to be an FBI profiler?

SeizedIn SEIZED, my brand new release, Evelyn isn’t sure. To make matters worse, her boss has been punishing her for some of the rule bending she did on Cassie’s case by assigning her BS assignments. The latest is a trip into a remote area of Montana, to interview a convicted bomb-maker. When fellow agent Jen Martinez approaches Evelyn with a request for a profile of a local cult, Evelyn sees it as her chance to finally do her job again…and to see if this is where she still belongs.

But things quickly take a dangerous turn in SEIZED. Martinez has been insisting the Butler Compound is more than it seems – that the FBI is missing a serious threat there. But the BAU has already evaluated them as a simple group of survivalists, looking to stay off the grid, but not a concern. When the group takes Evelyn and Jen hostage, everything changes.

Inside, trapped with group of anti-federalist white supremacists, Evelyn (who’s biracial) is in danger from the start. But she soon realizes Jen is right – this group is more than just a threat to her life. She thinks the group is planning a deadly attack and only she can stop it. The problem is, she’s never been more unsure about whether she can still do her job as a profiler. If she’s right, she has to get word to the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team agents surrounding the compound.

She’s secretly dating HRT agent Kyle McKenzie, and she knows she can get a message he’ll understand, telling them to breach the compound. If she does and the FBI comes in, she knows she’ll be the group’s first casualty. If she doesn’t, the group could unleash a surprise attack that will shatter the country.

To learn more about SEIZED and AVENGED (my new Profiler short story releasing a chapter a day for free), visit my website at elizabethheiter.com. You can also follow me on Facebook at elizabeth.heiter.author and Twitter at @ElizabethHeiter.

Thanks for joining us, Elizabeth! Readers get your copy of SEIZED today: AMAZON  iBOOKS  BARNESandNOBLE

Author Smackdown: Writers get it wrong!

Guest post by Rolynn Anderson.rolynn_small

Writing is a humbling career.  Every day I make presumptions and end up red-faced because I was wrong-sometimes horribly wrong-about my reckonings.  FAINT, my sixth novel, released this week, is living proof of author smackdown.  I took on Alzheimer’s, blindness, embalming, burial rituals, organ transplants, and clairvoyant dogs in FAINT, third in the funeral planner suspense series.  No wonder the novel took me two years to write!  My research on all these areas made me woozy with revelations.

 

Let’s take embalming.  Better yet, you take embalming.  Whoa!  Consider the instruments and chemicals involved, the cleaning of the corpse and plumping with injections…the make-up…the dressing.  Lordy, I even watched a ‘Do it at home’ embalming on You Tube.  I had to hide my eyes half of the time.  Among all these new learnings: Embalmers are bound by strict rules, forbidden to stray beyond their ‘normal’ tasks.  They can’t even take fingerprints off the cadaver!

 

Blindness.  Pete, a character in my novel, is a blind forensic investigator.  I’d learned about blind men and women employed by the FBI after 9/11 to analyze suspect audio tapes and I wanted to explore their skill sets.  Some of my characters were prejudiced against Pete.  New learnings: blind people are shunned in some cultures, regarded as ‘less than,’ even evil.

 

untitledTelepathic dogs.  I was worried Elwood (Elly) a Scottie, who warns his mistress when she’s going to faint, was pushing a paranormal envelop.  New learning: dogs can be trained to alert their owners of impending seizures and insulin lows.  Elly’s skill was not a stretch, at all. 

 

Burial rituals.  Turns out every religion has a specific way to deal with the deceased.  New learning: Certain orthodox religions require mourners to kiss the corpse in an open casket, within twenty-four hours.

Sounds like fiction, huh?  I love what research turns up, pleased to see my presumptions challenged and energized by the complexity I get to add to characters and plots.  Now, with my sixth book published, I’ve learned to test each and every assumption…but I must admit I don’t mind being wrong, because I can use that new information in my story!

 

It’s your turn.  

GIVEAWAY QUESTION On what topic did your research for a book point out faulty assumptions?  A free e-book of FAINT (you choose the format) goes to a random commenter.

Here’s FAINT, my newly released third in the Funeral Planner Suspense Series.  Happy New Year, everyone!  Rolynn

 

Their dead clients refuse to rest in peace.Faint Rolynn

 

How did small-town boutique funeral planning morph into crime-solving?  Ask freelance embalmer Trudy Solomon, or Pete McDonald, a blind, forensic investigator.  They’re unearthing mysteries of the deceased for their pregnant boss, Jan Keller, while her journalist husband, Roman, is benched by a ten million dollar defamation suit.

 

A dead client goes missing, and investigating his disappearance forces Trudy and Pete to confront their fiercely independent styles.  When danger stalks them, will they blend brains, brawn and belief in one another to solve crimes and save themselves?

 

Buy Sites:

Amazon  Smashwords  iTunes   Kobo  B&N

Website

 

BRENDA NOVAK returns to Romantic Suspense!

HanoverHouse_800x1200He’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?

CLICK TO ORDER

CLICK TO ORDER

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

CLICK TO ORDER

CLICK TO ORDER

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?

CLICK TO ORDER

CLICK TO ORDER

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.IMG_4444

Here are links to the different online stores that offer the sets:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1CZiYtP (or click on the covers.)
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1INYQMz
Apple: http://apple.co/1CVYPlu
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1By6eMw
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1vT84jP

And for more information on Brenda-the-author, please visit her at:

www.BrendaNovak.com

Author Facebook

Goodreads

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!

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 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.

Blessed Are Those Who Weep

Giveaway alert: a Nook or Kindle copy of BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO WEEP and a Starbucks card are up for grabs.

Today I’m thrilled to welcome my wonderful friend and fellow Witness author, Kristi Belcamino, to the blog. Kristi has a fascinating and heart-wrenching story to tell you, so I’ll let her do most of the talking, but I just have to say a few words about her new release BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO WEEP.

This story grabs you by the throat from the beginning and never lets go. The heroine, Gabriella Giovanni, leads you through a maze of compelling characters and twisting events until you arrive at an ending that will leave you breathless. But it’s not the heart-pounding ending you’ll read for. It’s Gabriella herself. A heroine who’s brilliant yet vulnerable, brave yet all too human. Pick it up today, then kick back with a glass of red wine, a hanky, and a do not disturb sign.

Here’s the blurb:

San Francisco Bay Area reporter Gabriella Giovanni stumbles onto a horrific crime scene with only one survivor—a baby girl found crawling between the dead bodies of her family members. Reeling from the slaughter, Gabriella clings to the infant. When Social Services pries the little girl from her arms, the enormity of the tragedy hits home. Diving deep into a case that brings her buried past to the forefront, Gabriella is determined to hunt down the killer who left this helpless baby an orphan.

But one by one the clues all lead to a dead end, and Gabriella’s obsession with finding justice pulls her into a dark, tortuous spiral that is set to destroy everything she loves …

The Story That Did Me In

By Kristi Belcamino

I’ll never forget the story that did me in.

The one that slayed me and changed my career path entirely. The one that ultimately led me to quit my job as a newspaper reporter.

It was about the perfect family destroyed — shattered — by tragedy.

As a crime reporter, I had been blithely cruising through other people’s tragedies for years. I was moved and haunted by many of the stories I covered — some which caused me to drink and smoke too much — but I was still able to do my job and more importantly, I still loved doing my job.

My two close friends at the paper were just like me. We thought nothing of talking about “floaters” and “decomps” and those words were sprinkled into our ever day conversation.

Not much rattled us. Dead body? No problem.

In fact, I’ll never forget how excited I was one day to get a new copy of a homicide investigator’s manual in the mail. It was chock full of graphic photos of various modes and manners of death, including close-range gunshot wounds to the face and explosions and people crushed to death. Not pretty.

But that didn’t stop my friend C and I from taking the book to a Chinese restaurant and flipping through it over lunch.

C also had seen more autopsies at our county morgue than probably any reporter in the history of our newspaper. She was soft-spoken, drop-dead gorgeous, and fearless.

I only saw one autopsy. A guy about my age who overdosed. I can recognize the smell of a dead body to this day.

C and I were regular visitors at the morgue and I soon got a reputation at the newspaper. Every time an intern started, the editors would tell me to take them to the morgue that first week.

I wonder how many interns were traumatized by the experience? I took one young woman on a day when a young man who died in a motorcycle crash was on the slab as we walked into the room. The first thing we saw was the giant chunk of his skull that was missing at the top of his head.

But none of that bothered me. Not really.

Then I gave birth.

The flood of hormones transformed me into another person. Suddenly, everything I reported on was much too close to home.

All the evil that I had kept at arm’s length seemed to follow me home at night.

I would immerse myself in the seediest, darkest part of life and then come home to the very definition of innocence in my baby. I was having a hard time reconciling these two worlds, but then it got worse.

Right before Christmas, a mother in a wealthy suburb and her two children, who I think were less than a year apart, were walking on a beautiful fall day to get ice cream. They were on a parkway, where a wide sidewalk was separated from the road by a patch of grass.

The kids were either in front of or behind the mother when a suspected drunk driver went careening off the road and plowed into the kids, killing them both.

Not long after, the parents invited the press to talk to them in their luxurious home in a rich subdivision. I sat with other reporters in their living room and looked around at the beautiful couple in their beautiful home.

The mother, who I had imagined would be curled up in the fetal position with dirty hair and slobber on her wrinkled clothes, looked more put together than I ever had in my entire life.

She was gorgeous. Her husband was gorgeous. Without knowing their story and looking at them in their fancy home, you would think they had everything.

And yet, they had nothing. Not anymore. Some drunken fool had taken away their life.

The million dollar house was empty and hollow, haunted by memories of children playing and laughing.

Later, my editors asked me to do a story about what this couple’s Christmas was like. I refused. Or rather, I simply kept forgetting to do it.

I couldn’t force myself to call them. I knew what their Christmas was going to be like. Or at least I suspected. It was going to be a hellish nightmare, just like the rest of their days were right now.

So, I suppose it could have been any story that fall — any tragedy that struck me to the core — but that was the story that did me in. Suddenly as a mother, I couldn’t dip into and out of other people’s tragedies anymore. I just couldn’t do it.

I had always cared about my job and cared about the victims of tragedies and tried to do them justice in the best way I could, but I couldn’t do it anymore. When I became a mother, the emotions struck too sharp and too deep for me to continue doing my job properly.

I quit my job a few months later.

But I am forever changed by my former life as a reporter. I have seen things that help me put everything into perspective.

Luckily most of the people I know live very sheltered lives. When they complain — and cry — about trivial things, I try to understand. II tell myself they don’t know. They don’t understand.

They don’t know how lucky they are. They have a little bubble around their lives. They feel invincible. And maybe it is necessary to feel that way to go on day to day.

But I know something different. I know that bubble doesn’t protect them from tragedy. Tragedy is not picky. It is not discerning. It has a laissez-faire attitude in who it strikes. There is no rhyme or reason.

That’s one thing I know.

I’ve sat in too many living rooms of people who know the same thing.

This knowledge may seem like a burden to some. And in fact, up-close knowledge of that as a crime reporter was more than I could handle as a new mother.

But with hindsight, I realize this knowledge is not a burden, but a gift.

It is a gift because it reminds me to pick my battles, put minor setbacks in perspective and to never, ever take one moment of this precious life for granted.

Kristi Belcamino is a writer, photographer, and crime reporter who also bakes a tasty biscotti.

As a reporter, she’s flown over Big Sur in an FA-18 jet with the Blue Angels, raced a Dodge Viper at Laguna Seca, and attended barbecues at the morgue. Her first novel was inspired by her dealings with a serial killer.

During her decade covering crime in California, Belcamino wrote and reported about many high-profile cases including the Laci Peterson murder and Chandra Levy’s disappearance. And because of her police sources, she was one of the first reporters in the country to learn that the passengers on Flight 93 had fought back on 9/11. She has appeared on Inside Edition and local cable television shows. Her work has appeared in such prominent publications as the Miami Herald, San Jose Mercury News, and Chicago Tribune. She now works part-time for the St. Paul Pioneer Press as a police reporter.

Connect with Kristi on her website, facebook, or twitterprofilecowboy2

Readers leave a comment or question for Kristi. One lucky person will win an e-copy of BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO WEEP and a $10 Starbucks card. Good luck!

 

 

Dirty Drafting: 11 Quick Tips from Jill Sorenson

We have a special treat for the authors and aspiring authors among our followers today, a guest post by Jill Sorenson, who writes gritty, action packed, sexy romantic suspense. I love Jill’s books, so I’m thrilled to gain some insight into her process. She has some terrific tips here that I intend to try.

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Dirty Drafting: 11 Quick Tips

Hello Kiss & Thrill! Thanks so much for having me back.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is just around the corner. I’ve never participated in this event because writing an entire novel in one month sounds like a nightmare to me. Drafting is my favorite part of the writing process. Why would I want to stress out and rush the most enjoyable step?

Writing fast is practically a requirement for romance authors, but the key for me is writing steady and delivering a quality manuscript. If you hammer out an incoherent mess in a month and it takes you six months to edit, you’re not getting to the finish line any faster than someone who works at a less frenetic pace.

rdirty-647x1024I wrote my latest novel in three months, most of it while my kids were home on summer break. That’s pretty fast for me. Some authors write a lot faster. I follow people on twitter who do “1k in 1hr” sprints, 5k days, even 10k days. I don’t know how they do it, so I’ll just tell you how I do what I do. If drafting is painful for you and you can’t wait to tinker/revise, try NaNo. If you prefer editing as you go and writing a clean first draft, read on.

There is no one true way, just different ways that work better for different people. I’ve heard fast authors say that anyone can learn to be fast, and I don’t believe that. I believe that everyone can improve their speed, but we all have physical and mental limitations. If you’re a genius, your brain might be supersonic. Or you might be a slow genius. I’m not any type of genius. I’m more of an Emma Stone in Easy A than a Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. I want to be a commercial success, not a critics’ darling. I don’t have the natural ability to write 5k every day or the luxury to write slow.

So here are my tips for steady drafting.

1. Edit as you go (if you prefer) but always keep moving. Your first paragraph or chapter might make no sense by the time you get to the end. Characters change and develop over the course of a novel. Do what feels right in order to move forward, but don’t get bogged down by small details. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It will never be perfect.

2. Outline before you start. This is an important one for me. I research and do a detailed outline several weeks in advance. I’m constantly plotting, reworking and looking things up as I go, too. Stay flexible, but have a plan. An outline is a solid foundation that you can build on. You can also throw it out if you have to. Having plan makes it easier to move full steam ahead and avoid painting yourself into a corner.

3. Write every day, or almost every day. Taking long breaks will steal your momentum. Steady, daily progress is good.

4. Know where you’re going. Even if you’re not a big plotter, you can jot down notes every day before you start. Just a few minutes of concentration can make the difference between flying over the keys and staring at a blank page.

5. Don’t stop for the day at the end of a scene or chapter. Some authors stop mid-sentence. It trains your brain to keep thinking about the next sentence/scene/chapter, rather than closing the mental doors when you close the screen.

6. Take notes after you’re “done” for the day. This is my favorite tip for increasing speed and productivity. I love writing freehand notes. I remember things I forgot to do, continually reassess plot points, and jot down ideas for the next scene.

7. Get enough sleep. This is a challenge for me. Sleep well and your brain will function better, faster.

8. Beware of children. They require a lot of attention and feeding. If a childless person tells me that anyone can write 5k per day if they just try hard, I will twist her nose off and feed it to my child.

9. Exercise! I run almost every day, and I believe this has helped my output tremendously. It also helps keep me sane. If you spend too much time indoors, living with the imaginary people inside your head, you might end up with cabin fever, wielding a rubber mallet. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

10. Don’t force it. Sometimes you have to sit your ass in the chair and get it done. Sometimes you have to do the opposite. When you’re pulling your hair out, rewriting the same sentence fifty times, just leave it alone. Go do some laundry, get a snack. Switch to a notebook. Changing scenery can jog you in a new direction.

11. Keep a cuts file. I do this for every book, and it helps me when a scene isn’t working. I’ll save a copy of the problem section in my cuts file. Then I can delete and rearrange dialogue or paragraphs without worrying about losing any important bits. It’s a quick, efficient way to get unstuck and move forward.

So there you have it. 11 quick-n-dirty tips for those who prefer clean first drafts! As always, do what works for you, be passionate about your writing, and try to have fun. Remember that a writing career is a marathon, not a sprint. Find your own pace.

Are you a writer? Do you plan to attempt NaNoWriMo? Do you have any tips you’d like to share or thoughts on Jill’s tips? Share them. We haven’t had a craft conversation at K&T in a long time, and I LOVE talking craft.

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Jill SorensonJill Sorenson is the RITA-nominated author of more than a dozen romantic suspense novels, including the Aftershock series by HQN. She lives in the San Diego area with her family. She’s a soccer mom who loves nature, coffee, reading, twitter and reality TV. Jogging keeps her sane. Riding Dirty is her first erotic suspense novel.

You can find her at www.jillsorenson.com.

COULD YOU BE A KILLER?

Today we welcome back multi-published author, Stacy Green. And since I’m in the chaotic stage of unpacking hundreds of boxes after moving from Houston to FL last week, I asked Stacy to come up with something intriguing that captures the tone of her newest release: ALL GOOD DEEDS. Take it away, Stacy!

StacyFall1pressCOULD YOU BE A KILLER?

This question planted the seed for my newest character Lucy Kendall, a former CPS worker turned private investigator and vigilante killer of sex offenders.

The criminal mind is a fascinating place and oftentimes a mystery for investigators. Bundy, Gacy, Lucas–the worst of the worst–are almost easy to understand. They just aren’t wired right. Add a dose of lousy nurturing, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

But what about the outliers? The people who are good by society’s standards and then one day just snap? Did they have it in them all along? Do we all possess that shadow side that lurks, waiting for something to turn us bad?

I think any one of us are capable of killing someone–or at least doing serious bodily injury–if the circumstances are right.

Some of these are pretty straightforward: someone hurting our kid, our pets, our career. People have snapped over less.

But what about something that isn’t personal? Something that doesn’t directly affect you but is a sore on society? What would make you risk your freedom, and how would you do it?

Lucy Kendall snaps when a child killer walks free. But she doesn’t lash out in a clumsy, unorganized way. She thinks things through, figuring out the best method to do her work AND keep herself out of jail. And even as she figures out the most efficient way for her to end someone’s life, she doesn’t believe she’s a killer.

Her targets are men who have destroyed kids lives and will do it again. Lucy believes with her whole heart sex offenders can’t be cured, and her actions take care of a problem the justice system and society simply can’t–or won’t.

I believe that most if not all of us possess what Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung called the Shadow Side.

The shadow exists as part of the unconscious mind and is composed of repressed ideas, weaknesses, desires, instincts and shortcomings…These latent dispositions are present in all of us, Jung believed, although people sometimes deny this element of their own psyche and instead project it onto others. SOURCE

This theory was a major influence on developing Lucy Kendall. Although there is tragedy in her past, she is a normal member of society. But her shadow side has seeped through her veneer until it now rules her choices and ultimately, her life.

She’ll have to come to terms with being a killer, her real motives, and answer the ultimate question: now that she has fully engaged her shadow side, is she even capable of not killing?

Does her choice of victim make her exempt? If she’s caught, is she a hero or a villain?

Or does her methodology make her just as evil as the famous serial killers we have such a fascination with?

I don’t have the answers to those questions, but I do know that as I get older, I realize more and more that life is not black and white. Our systems are flawed and need changing, but whether or not there are any good alternatives remains to be seen.

I think any one of us could become a Lucy Kendall if the circumstances are right, and I will further argue that instead of moral code, it’s fear of punishment that keeps most of society in check. Score one for the penal system.

What about you, thriller readers and writers? Is life black and white? Should there be exemptions? And what would it take for you to administer Lucy Kendall Justice? Comment for a chance to win a copy of my new release, ALL GOOD DEEDS!

ALL GOOD DEEDS by Stacy GreenAllGoodDeedsEbook

Lucy Kendall lived her life in a strange mixture of carefully calculated moves and impulse decisions. Cracking the skull of the man who molested her sister and attacking her was impulse. Spending half her teenage years drinking and acting out were calculated cries for attention from her narcissistic mother followed by impulsive rages at her lack of concern.

The decade spent working in Child Protective Services before becoming a private investigator taught her two truths. One, CPS failed miserably in protecting children. Two, Lucy was more than willing to do it for them, meting out her brand of dark justice in spite of her own fear of death. But Lucy’s crusade is compromised when a self-proclaimed sociopath offers to help—and leaves her no choice but to accept it.

When eight-year old Kailey Richardson is abducted, it sets off a chain of events linked to Justin Beckett, a suspect in a life-changing case in Lucy’s past. The path she’s chosen since dealing with Beckett has been dark and terrifying—but she has no idea just how deep she will go or where the twisted road will take her.

She’s about to find out.

About the Author

Born in Indiana and raised in Iowa, Stacy Green earned degrees in journalism and sociology from Drake University. After a successful advertising career, Stacy became a proud stay-at-home mom to her miracle child. Now a full-time author, Stacy juggles her time between her demanding characters and supportive family. She loves reading, cooking, and the occasional gardening excursion. Stacy lives in Marion, Iowa with her husband Rob, their daughter Grace, and the family’s three obnoxious but lovable canine children.

Thanks for being our guest today, Stacy! You raise some interesting points and questions. Readers: For more information on Stacy Green here are her links.

Website: www.stacygreen.net

Amazon Author Page

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Twitter @StacyGreen26

Winner Announcement: And the winner of ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS KISS by Manda Collins is Patti Straight. Congratulations Patti! Please use our contact page to claim your prize and let us know if you prefer an e-book or print on release day. Please include your email and snail mail addy (if you want print). 

 

Allison Brennan: let’s talk books and TV shows!

Brennan_official_photocred Brittan Dodd We welcome back one of the modern day Romantic Suspense Greats: Allison Brennan! Besides being a wife and raising 5 children, she’s presently writing 3 separate series. 1)Her best-selling Lucy Kincaid novels, 2)A new series featuring Max Revere, a spunky investigative reporter and 3) the Moreno and Hart Mysteries collaboration with colleague Laura Griffin. Crash and Burn cover

Therefore, it’s a quite an honor she took time out of her busy schedule to write this:

I am thrilled to once again guest blog here at Kiss and Thrill!

Sarah asked me to write something totally fabulous. There’s nothing that kills the muse faster than expectations. Which got me thinking about reader expectations for Romantic Suspense.

Romantic Suspense is a broad and thriving genre where any of us can write a story about two worthy people battling against all the odds to defeat the bad guy and live happily ever after. Any way you get there is a win. Because the only REAL expectation in a romantic suspense (other than a good story well told) is that the hero and heroine should at least be one step closer to a commitment. They need to overcome internal and external conflicts so that, even if there are no wedding bells or shared bedrooms, the readers know they will make it, together.

I wrote 12 romantic thrillers–each book with one hero and one heroine who were together by the end of the book. It was clear in the structure and set up, and I felt I had a broad canvas to play with, so I did. But after 12 of a similar type of story, I was a little burned out and ready to try something else…and was inspired by J.D. Robb’s successful IN DEATH series (which is one of my all-time favorite series.)

I was nervous about launching a romantic suspense series–where there is the same hero and heroine throughout multiple books. But I’m glad I did. Lucy Kincaid and Sean Rogan have had their ups and downs, but they are together in San Antonio in DEAD HEAT, the 8th book of the series, that comes out today!DeadHeat-1

But even though I’ve followed Sean and Lucy over the past years, and readers know they will stick together, I never want to get complacent about their relationship. One of the things I love most about Eve and Roarke (J.D. Robb’s characters) is that their personal conflicts are organic to who they are as people–so their arguments are never contrived, and while we know they are going to be together by the end of the book, how they overcome the conflict is an integral part of the story and keeps us turning pages as much as the mystery plot.

The season 5 finale of CASTLE illustrates how they do it right. The swing scene. Rick and Kate love each other, but there are some very real conflicts in their relationship. Where are they going? Kate has an opportunity to do something amazing with her career–a once in a lifetime shot at advancement that will take her out of New York City.

Rick has had two failed marriages and his mother has been a bit of a naysayer regarding whether he’s truly committed to the relationship. Add in external plot issues that highlight their core emotional and relationship problems, and you go into the last two minutes not knowing what each of them is going to do.

What I loved the most was that Kate said she was taking the FBI job, Castle proposed, and said they would make it work. Their love and respect for each other would not only help them overcome any hurdles, but empower them to do so. The first four episodes of season 6 were outstanding in how they handled Kate’s job and the transition back to New York. The wedding proposal and subsequent job conflicts were true to character, as was how Kate got fired and how she got her job back at NYPD.

There is nothing I dislike more than a contrived story plot point in order to keep characters together or apart. (Like the season finale of CASTLE 6 … they’d better nail Season 7 or I’ll be really mad.)

I thought a lot about the job conflict for Kate because in many ways Lucy has a similar conflict. After graduating from Quantico, the FBI rarely assigns an agent to the office from which they were recruited. So I knew if I assigned Lucy to the Washington DC office, it would be a contrived plot point to keep them in DC and Sean as a principle of Rogan-Caruso-Kincaid. So I thought back over the course of all the books to identify core conflicts.

One of Sean’s core conflicts, going back to even before the Lucy series when Sean’s brother Duke had his book (CUTTING EDGE), was that he never felt that he lived up to his brother’s expectations. I worked with that, and broadened it by diving into more back story in how Sean got to be who he was. There were tidbits spread throughout the series, but in STOLEN readers get to learn all about Sean’s criminal past and what he’s willing to do to protect Lucy from his past mistakes. And in the end, it feels right that he walks away from the family business and seeks to find his own path.

So moving Lucy to San Antonio, it’s a no brainer that Sean went with her. And right now, in DEAD HEAT, they are at a perfect place together – Sean has made friends (including a good friend working in Lucy’s FBI squad); Lucy loves her job and is working hard; and Sean has spent time fixing up their new house. But he doesn’t have a job and while he doesn’t need one, he would be miserable without something to do – or get into a lot of trouble. Lucy sees it now, while Sean hasn’t quite gotten there yet because he’s in the happy bubble of having the woman he loves living with him. But it’s a real conflict that they are going to have to address, and hopefully it’ll be organic to the story.

There are other issues that will have to be addressed, things that are partly resolved (like Lucy’s past) but that can and will come up. Whether they’ll get married and when and why. And there are a few unresolved issues from Sean’s past … maybe things that Sean didn’t even know were unresolved. 

The fun thing about writing a continuing series is that I can explore more issues between two people—and a strong secondary cast–while also keeping the suspense on the front burner. Series like CASTLE, and to a lesser degree BONES, help promote such storylines.

 

What do you think? Do you like continuing characters? Let’s talk about series … or Castle or Bones! I’m a bit of a television addict, so I’m game to talk about whatever you are!

 

One lucky commenter will win a signed first edition hardcover of NOTORIOUS, the first book in my new Max Revere mystery series, OR a signed copy of DEAD HEAT, the latest Lucy Kincaid thriller – winner’s choice!notorious-final

Thank you SO much for sharing your thoughts on creating a series with organic, ongoing conflicts, Allison! Readers, for more information, please visit her at:

Website: http://www.allisonbrennan.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AllisonBrennan

Twitter: @Allison_Brennan

 

 

 

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

THE AUTHOR

Shelley_Coriell

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

THE BUZZ

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

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

THE BOOK

The_Broken

THE BROKEN (Apostles Series #1)

He took her life, but left her alive.

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

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

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

THE INTERVIEW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BuriedCover

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

THE GIVEAWAY

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

THE QUESTION

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

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

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

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