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Headless Body in Topless Bar -and- Who Shot JFK?

First, I’d like to wish a Happy Release Day to R.G. Belsky! THE MIDNIGHT HOUR released on February 3rd!

Now, it’s my pleasure to introduce our KaT readers to R.G. Belsky (aka Dick Belsky), New York City journalist and crime fiction author of THE MIDNIGHT HOUR and THE KENNEDY CONNECTION.

Dick was a managing editor at the Daily News and he writes about the media from an extensive background in newspapers, magazines and TV/digital news. He’s also been the metropolitan editor of the New York Post, news editor at Star magazine and managing editor at NBCNews.com – where he worked with Nightly News with Brian Williams, The Today Show, and oversaw all digital news content on the NBCNews website.

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His most famous journalistic achievement – or infamous, depending on how you look at it – was being part of the writing of the legendary New York Post headline: “Headless Body in Topless Bar.” Despite having covered many major stories in his career, that is the moment he’s most often asked about. (You can see his write-up about it here.)

What does that have to do with John F. Kennedy you ask?

His suspense thriller, THE KENNEDY CONNECTION, was published in August and is the first in a series of books featuring Gil Malloy, a hard-driving newspaper reporter with a penchant for breaking big stories on the front page of the New York Daily News.

jfkcoverTHE KENNEDY CONNECTION

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The Kennedy Connection is about the most famous unsolved cold case of all time – the JFK assassination. More than a half century later, a man comes forward claiming to be Lee Harvey Oswald’s secret son with evidence that Oswald didn’t do it. At the same time, a series of present day murders in New York City are linked by Kennedy half dollars left at the scene to what happened that long ago day in Dallas.

The person trying to unravel all this is Gil Malloy – a newspaper reporter for the New York Daily News who was a rising star until he made a mistake that derailed his career. Now he’s on the verge of the scoop of a lifetime. All he has to do is get someone to believe him.

They say you’re supposed to write about things you know – and that’s what Dick does in this book. He tries to give you an inside look at what a New York City newsroom is really like – the anxiety, the fear, the mistakes people make – not just the sanitized version you read about or see on TV or movies in a lot of other places.

The next installment in his Gil Malloy series, THE MIDNIGHT HOUR, releases February 3rd. HAPPY RELEASE DAY!midnighthour

THE MIDNIGHT HOUR (Released Feb 3rd!)

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High-profile murder, corrupt city politicians, serial killers, the press, the police—it’s all here in this novella featuring New York newspaper reporter Gil Malloy. 

Thirty years ago, a professor at a small college in Ohio came home one night, took out a butcher knife and massacred his wife and two young children. The professor was convicted for the murders and eventually executed by lethal injection. Except years later DNA evidence and other new crime detection techniques proved he was innocent. The real killer was never found.

But now – when a woman reporter at Gil Malloy’s paper is mysteriously murdered – Malloy picks up a new lead on the case that may have led to her death. He eventually uncovers long buried secrets about the decades old mass murder and how powerful people have covered up the truth. For Malloy – still haunted by mistakes as a reporter he’s made in the past – this story is a new chance for redemption. If he can live through it.

FUN FACTS ABOUT R. G. BELSKY 

* As a celebrity journalist, he’s been cursed out by stars like Sylvester Stallone, covered everything from the tragic death of Princess Diana to Julia Roberts’ wedding and once was mistaken by Mick Jagger for Keith Richards.

* He wrote a book about O.J. Simpson lavishing praise on O.J. as a role model long before that slow, white, Bronco chase. Oops.

* Parts of THE KENNEDY CONNECTION are based on real-life historical facts mixed up with fictional elements – like creating a Lee Harvey Oswald Jr. – to write it as a thriller.

* Dick is convinced that Lee Harvey Oswald did NOT act on his own.

* Dick has been in the Texas Schoolbook Depository Building and on the Grassy Knoll. He says the Grassy Knoll offers a much better vantage point and is the logical choice for an assassin.

* No, the Gil Malloy character is not based on Dick. But Gil is definitely a compilation of different journalists from different newsrooms where Dick has worked.

* Other crime novels by R.G. Belsky include SHOOTING FOR THE STARS (releases August 2015), PLAYING DEAD (available now), and LOVERBOY (available now).

 Comment on today’s post and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win an ebook copy of THE MIDNIGHT HOUR or THE KENNEDY CONNECTION. (Winner must choose between Kindle or Nook versions via the .com Amazon or B&N websites. Check back to see if you’re a winner in the next KaT post then follow instructions on our Contact page to claim your prize.)

R.G. Belsky website

R.G. on FACEBOOK: RGBelsky

R.G. on TWITTER: @DickBel


The winner of SCORCHED by Laura Griffin is Willa! Congrats! Please use the Contact Us link above to claim your prize. 🙂

Laura Griffin on her new book Beyond Limits, research, and Navy SEALs

An FBI agent and a Navy SEAL race against time in New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin’s newest Tracers novel.

Beyond Limits book coverLaura Griffin’s latest book, BEYOND LIMITS is out today! To celebrate, she agreed to hang out at Kiss and Thrill and answer a few questions about the new book and her writing process. She’s also giving away a signed copy of SCORCHED—the RITA Award winning book where Derek and Elizabeth first meet—to a lucky commenter.

I’m already counting the hours until I can pull out my iPad at the gym and start reading…

GH: Happy release day! Thanks for joining us on K&T. We appreciate the chance to get into your head a bit. 😉 Your early books were focused on characters working in or around law enforcement. The new books still have that element, but you’ve added Navy SEALs to the mix. What is it about these guys that drew your interest?

LG: Thanks for inviting me, Gwen! My first SEAL character appeared in the novella UNSTOPPABLE, and they keep finding their way back into my stories. What I love about these guys is that they tackle any challenge and they never give up. This tenacity makes them so interesting to write, especially when that never-quit attitude spills over into their personal lives.

GH: Did you discover anything fun, interesting, or surprising in your research for this book?

Laura Griffin headshotLG: In the story Navy SEAL Derek Vaughn is on a rescue mission overseas when he discovers clues of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. While researching the book I learned about the many ways our country is vulnerable. On the other hand, some of the new tools law enforcement has now are truly amazing. For example, the facial recognition techniques they use now are so sophisticated that it boggles the mind.

GH: When you get a new idea for a book, which usually comes to you first, the premise, a compelling scene, or a character? Do you know what sparked your idea for BEYOND LIMITS?

LG: I used to be a newspaper reporter, and often news headlines will spark the idea for a story. With BEYOND LIMITS I wanted to write about what a SEAL would do if he had inside knowledge of a pending attack on U.S. soil. Would he feel compelled to act or would he be able to leave it up to other people to handle? Derek Vaughn makes it his mission to help, even if it means he has to manipulate a woman he cares about to get inside info about the investigation.

GH: Are there any themes you feel like you keep returning to in your writing? Any idea why?

LG: Many of my stories feature women who are survivors of something. I like writing about people who look deep into themselves to find the strength to keep going even when disaster strikes. I’ve been blessed with some strong female role models, and I think about them a lot when I’m creating a story.

GH: What’s next on your plate?

LG: I’m having fun writing a new book in the Tracers series. It’s called SHADOW FALL, and it features some of my favorite Tracers characters: Mark Wolfe, Mia Voss, Kelsey Quinn. The hero of the story is Mark’s brother, Liam Wolfe, who runs a private security firm and finds himself at the center of an FBI murder investigation. SHADOW FALL should be out later this year, and I’ll keep you posted with details!

GH: I can’t wait! For readers who are new to the series, do the Tracers books need to be read in order?

LG: People ask me that a lot. Each story has a stand-alone suspense plot and each focuses on a different romantic couple. So you can pick up the series anywhere!

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Laura Griffin started her career in journalism before venturing into the world of romantic suspense. She is a two-time RITA Award winner as well as the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier Award. Laura currently lives in Austin, where she is working on her next book. Visit her at http://www.LauraGriffin.com or on www.Facebook.com/LauraGriffinAuthor.

Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of SCORCHED.

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

THE AUTHOR

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

THE BUZZ

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

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

THE BOOK

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THE BROKEN (Apostles Series #1)

He took her life, but left her alive.

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

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

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

THE INTERVIEW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BuriedCover

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

THE GIVEAWAY

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

THE QUESTION

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

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

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

Connect with Shelley

Website
Twitter
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Debra Webb and The Faces of Evil

debra webbToday I’m thrilled to welcome USA Today Best Selling author Debra Webb. We’ve got a fascinating interview followed by a giveaway for you, but first I’d like to turn my spotlight on Vicious, the latest in Debra’s Faces of Evil series. I LOVED Vicious! So often we talk about a book that you just can’t put down, but in reality, those books are hard to find. Vicious grabbed me from the first page and I found myself putting off many other things, like say…eating and bathing…because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. This story weaves a fascinating, dark tale involving a very strange definition of art. Find out what’s really on this serial killer’s canvas in Vicious. Here’s the official blurb below, followed by the interview I promised you.

Serial killer Eric Spears is far from done. He has chosen his next victim and Deputy Chief Jess Harris knows it’s only a matter of time until he comes for her.

The murders are vicious, the killer relentless. Has Birmingham’s major crimes team run into its most baffling and deadly case yet?

Carey: Debra first, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s such an honor to have you with us. Your Faces of Evil series is an amazing journey for readers. What inspired the series?

Debra: Thank you! It’s great to be here! The Faces of Evil was inspired by a study I watched several years ago about the scale of evil by Dr. Michael Stone. I was so enthralled. I couldn’t get the concept out of my mind. I decided to write a series where the same heroine solves cases that climb the scale of evil! I started with Obsession and Vicious is the most recent release. Vile is coming in March, Heinous in July and Depraved in December!

Carey: You have two protagonists who appear throughout the series, Jess Harris and Dan Burnett.  Please tell us what makes these two tick.

Debra: Jess and Dan have a long history. They were high school sweethearts with big dreams who went off to college together. But not all dreams come true and four years later Dan returned to Birmingham while Jess went on to become a celebrated profiler with the FBI. (You can read interviews with both Jess and Dan at Faces of Evil) Her return to Birmingham, along with an obsessed serial killer determined to haunt her, has turned both Jess and Dan’s lives upside down. No matter, the fact that they have always loved each other continues to triumph. I’ve really enjoyed watching their relationship evolve over the past seven books.

Carey: Is there something you can tell us about Jess that she’d never want Dan to learn, and vice versa?

Debra: We’ve been through some of that in the first six books! Jess is very independent and determined. I think she wouldn’t want Dan to know how much it really bothers her that his mother dislikes her. She doesn’t like anyone to see her weaknesses. Dan is the epitome of a good guy. But he has a few secrets of his own. A couple of those secrets are about to start haunting him and he would rather not have Jess learn about them.

Carey: Okay, you’ve got me determined to find out what Dan’s secrets are! I can’t wait to find out. Which of the Faces of Evil series was the most difficult book for you to write and why?

Debra: Ruthless, definitely. A serial killer known as the Man in the Moon abducted and murdered many, many children before he was caught. The abductions took place in the past so I didn’t have to put any of that on the page, which made it a little easier. I cried all the way through the scene where the remains were found. It was a very emotional story for me.

Carey: I can imagine how difficult that must’ve been. Sometimes the most powerful subjects are the hardest to write (and read) about. What’s up next for you?

Debra: I’m working on a follow up book to BONE DEEP. The story was so well-received, I decided to write BONE COLD which revolves around Special Agent Tom Cuddahy, a secondary character from BONE DEEP. Don’t miss my Faces of Evil short story in the My Evil Valentine thriller collection available now!

Carey: Has anyone ever given you a great piece of advice? What was it?

Debra: As long as you love what you do it will show in the work.

Carey: Your passion for storytelling certainly comes through in your books, so I’d say that was good advice. I’m sure many authors have inspired and supported you along the way. Can you tell us about one of them?

Debra: There are so very many! How about I name a few instead of one.

Vicki Hinze for her undying determination and sage words.

Peggy Webb for her incredible insights into life and invaluable friendship.

CJ Lyons, Cindy Gerard, Toni Magee Causey and Allison Brennan for being the best cheerleaders!

Regan Black for always having my back.

Kathy Carmichael and Rita Herron for always being happy to just listen.

Carey: A wonderful list! Ready for the lightning round? It’s easy- just name your favorite:

Fast Food Joint – Sonic

Vacation Spot – Anywhere in New England

Television Show – Rehab Addict

Song on your iPod (what’s the most played?) – Make a Memory by Bon Jovi

Valentine’s Day Gift – Roses

What’s the last book you read on your e-reader? Down and Dead in Dixie by Vicki Hinze

Carey: Ha! Debra, believe it or not Make a Memory by Bon Jovi is the second most played song on my iPod!

Connect with Debra: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Mailing List.

Readers do you have a question or comment for Debra? She’s giving away a Faces of Evil tote bag and a copy of Vicious to one lucky commenter. Fire away and good luck!

Kiss and Thrill Takedown

Lena DiazToday it’s my very great pleasure to take down…I mean interview…Kiss and Thrill’s very own Lena Diaz. Lena is a master story-teller whose stories will rev your heart and melt it at the same time. If you haven’t tried one of her books what are you waiting for? Her latest release, TENNESSEE TAKEDOWN is one of my personal favorites. The story opens with an electrifying office shooting and then never lets up. It’s a thrill a minute coupled with a luscious love story. I adored TENNESSEE TAKEDOWN. Please don’t miss it! (Print release is Jan 21st! Ebook release is Feb 1st!) And now for the interview. Don’t forget there’ll be a giveaway for commenters. More on that later, but now here’s Lena:

Carey: What’s your favorite way to kill a character?

Lena: My favorite method is whatever works but doesn’t leave many clues for the police. Wait, CHARACTER? Sorry, Um. Okay, I admit I’m quite the fan of a good gunfight. There’s just something sexy about the hero diving to avoid a bullet and doing that mid-air maneuver where he twists around and returns fire before he even hits the ground. (shiver) I’ve also used poison, knives, even fire. And in one of the stories I’m writing right now the hero is very dark with a tortured past. His weapon of choice? His hands.

Carey: Shivering back! Let’s talk hunks- who would you want to play Dillon in Tennessee Takedown, the movie? And who for Ashley?

Lena: A younger version of Jeffrey Dean Morgan would be the PERFECT Dillon. (swoon) He’s the actor who played Denny in Grey’s Anatomy. I love his physique–solid, without being a body-builder type. And he has that sexy stubble I love so much, with a voice that could melt butter and eyes that invite you to try him on for size. LOVE him. And since I’m on a Grey’s Anatomy thread here, Chyler Leigh (Lexie Grey) would be a great foil for Dillon. She’s smart, funny, and has that all-American girl-next-door appeal.

Fun Fact Alert regarding TENNESSEE TAKEDOWN: The fictional town of Destiny, Tennessee is one county over from fellow Intrigue author Paula Graves’s fictional town of Bitterwood. And the hero even mentions the Bitterwood sheriff in my book.

Carey: What’s your secret ingredient for an unputdownable book?

Lena: I wish I knew! If I did, I’d bottle it and sell it and make a blasted fortune! I do think the hero is the most important part of a love story, so I put a lot of work into making my heroes smart, funny, sexy and super-alpha. And when it comes to plotting my stories, I constantly ask myself what would most likely make sense to happen next at the end of a scene–and try to do something else. I like to be surprised when I read, so that’s what I try to give my readers.

Carey: Oh I love that twist of the scene! You’re so good at it. Do you prefer writing an action scene or a love scene…and why :-)?

Lena: Action, action, action! Action scenes are just plain fun because they show off some of the best qualities in an alpha male. They add tension and drama and get the heart racing. Love scenes can (and should) get the heart racing too. But, honestly, they are so incredibly difficult for me to write. I agonize over them, for many reasons. Mainly, they are an important turning point in any love story and have to occur at the right moment(s) to ratchet up the tension and change the conflict. I also don’t want to write anything “crass” that would turn off my readers. I want to treat this important part of a relationship with the dignity and respect it deserves, while drawing out every ounce of emotion that I can. It’s never easy, but when it works, it can elevate the story to an entirely new level.

Carey: I love both your love scenes and your action scenes. Guess that explains why! Can you tell us about the Deadly Game series and give us a sneak peek at Take the Key and Lock Her Up?

Lena: The Deadly Game series has that name because the titles of all the books are twisted versions of real childhood games (He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not; Simon Says Die; Ashes, Ashes, They All Fall Dead; Take the Key and Lock Her Up.) Each story focuses on bringing down a serial killer, and the heroes are all Buchanan brothers, except for Logan who is a best friend of one of the brothers.

“Take the Key” comes out this July and features Devlin, known as “Devil” to his brothers. Whereas the other Buchanan men come from law-enforcement types of backgrounds, Devlin has a dark, secret past that, well, let’s just say he avoids police every chance he gets. He’s a super tortured hero who walks a tightrope between his devil-may-care side he shows his family and the darkness that truly lurks in his soul. He’s definitely a reluctant hero, drawn into helping solve some abductions where women are imprisoned for years before ultimately being killed. This book goes back to my roots with the first book in the series in that it’s much more serious and darker than the other two books. Crossing my fingers my readers will love it as much as I do. Redeeming a seemingly unredeemable hero was a really difficult challenge but so worth it in the end.

Carey: I’m hopping with anticipation, Lena. And for good reason! Please tell us about your upcoming series with Avon.

Lena: I’m so thrilled to have sold a three book print series to Avon! The first book probably won’t be out until late 2015, and I can’t really share much about the series yet. But I will say that I sold it based on the tagline “The Bourne Identity meets The Firm.” And I can tell you that this series is a natural spin-off from Take the Key and Lock Her Up. Devlin’s past is integral to the basis for the entire series. He plays an important cameo role in the first book. And readers shouldn’t be surprised if other Buchanan men show up in these books as well!

Time for Lightning Round questions: 

Name your favorites:

Fast food restaurant – Outback! Love their green beans.

TV show – Law and Order SVU

Christmas gift you received this year – My son graduated from college! Best present ever.

Place to vacation – Gatlinburg, Tennessee. LOVE the Smoky Mountains.

Book of all time – I’ll let you choose one or your top three – Straight suspense-Coffin Dancer by Jeffrey Deaver. Romance-too many to name! Two classics I adore are Ashes in the Wind by Kathleen Woodiwiss and Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard.

Song on your ipod (go to most played and spill the actual song you’ve listened to most)  – Merry Go ‘Round by Kacey Musgraves.

Carey: Lena thanks for being such a good sport! And now I have to check out Kacey Musgraves. She’s new to me.

Lena: Thank you so much for hosting me, Carey!

Readers, for a chance to win TENNESSEE TAKEDOWN please leave a comment. Lena says: What I’d love to know from the readers is this: How dark is too dark for a romantic suspense? Do you enjoy stories where the hero is almost an anti-hero and has to be redeemed by the heroine? Examples of favorite dark heroes or stories would be awesome!  

You can find Lena on the web here: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Join her mailing list.

Why Karna Small Bodman Scares Me

Okay, I admit it, Karna Small Bodman intimidates the heck out of me.

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She’s had more high profile jobs than anyone ranking under Secretary of State.  And to be honest, there are a few Sec’s that she’s run rings around.  This is a woman who knows first hand how the White House and National Security really works.  She’s been thrust into emergency situations and the assassination attempt against a President.  She’s met with Cold War leaders, popes, and prime ministers and anchored TV news.

You’d probably be intimidated, too.

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Aboard Air Force One with President Reagan
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With Gorbachev

So, if my voice starts out a little shaky on this interview, please forgive me.  Just trying to remember this lovely woman’s bio, and the alphabet soup of Federal agencies she’s served with takes the talent of someone more experienced than I.

Karna has taken all that real world knowledge and used it in her thrillers.  It’s so accurate, her book, Castle Bravo, had me shaking in my boots.  Funny thing is, this amazing woman, who writes such scary, fact-based fiction is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.  She’s  smart, articulate, and kind.

So, forgive me as I trip over my words and her accomplishments and join me as I interview Karna Small Bodman.  This is one interview, you won’t want to miss.

LEAVE A COMMENT and WIN a digital copy of Karna’s newest short, The Agent!  Leave a comment at DianaBelchase.com, too, and get entered to win TWICE!

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The Midnight Confessions of Ella Grace

Manda hbio-picere. You may not know this about me,  but one of the romantic suspense hero types that really cranks my tractor is the small town sheriff. So when I picked up the first book in Ella Grace’s new trilogy set in Midnight, Alabama and saw that the hero was…a small town sheriff, I was SO there. And when I realized that Ella Grace is the alter ego of Christy Reece, who writes angsty, nail-biting international romantic suspense, I HAD to know more.

So, being the Nosy Nellie that I am, I invited Ella to K&T so I could get the real scoop for me and for all of you out there who read and loved her Last Chance Rescue books as Christy Reece and who are well on the way to adoring every word that Ella Grace puts on the page. Without further ado, let’s welcome to the K&T lounge, the delightful, Ella Grace!

MC: Welcome, Ella! I’m so glad you’re here. I first started reading your Last Chance Rescue series cover_rewardunder your Christy Reece name and became a fan. That you’re also an Alabama girl just cements it!

EG: Hey Manda! Thanks so much for having me over. I’m excited to be here. And I always love talking to another Alabama girl.

MC: Bama gals have to stick together! Only we know how grateful to be for the existence of Mississippi! Speaking of locales…Your Last Chance Rescue series feels global in scope, with many of the stories taking place overseas, and the headquarters of the Last Chance Rescue organization calling Paris home. Your new Ella Grace stories are set in small town Alabama, which is about as far from Paris as you can get. What are the challenges of writing about people and places that are so narrow in focus? Do you prefer one over the other?

EG: At first it was a struggle to go from an international setting to a place that could be my own back yard. I love the exotic excitement of international settings. Depending upon how far you want to go in making the setting a part of your story, it can add a lot or a little extra flavor. My LCR characters are sophisticated, street smart, and somewhat edgy. They wouldn’t fare well in a sleepy little southern town, no matter how many murders take place there. So I felt the need to tone down the ‘world-weary toughness’ of the characters but still make them comfortable if danger came calling. Which it does.

When I first started writing the series, I wanted to stretch myself creatively so I worked to keep Christy’s voice out of Ella’s writing. My Christy Reece books tend to be dark and angsty. I don’t think I was totally successful, because there’s quite a bit of angst in the first two books and the third one is shaping up to be even more so. However the blend of Christy and Ella’s voice began to work quite well and became a good fit for the series.

When the town of Midnight finally came alive for me, so did the book. The story wasn’t really working until I finally named the town. I was going for a Southern sounding name but could never find one that I liked or wasn’t already a real city or town in the South. Then I noticed that certain monumental, life-changing events kept occurring around the midnight hour. That’s when the name Midnight struck me, and suddenly the town and it’s citizens came alive.

hcover-midnight-secretsTo create it further, I drew on my knowledge of small southern towns. I grew up in a small Alabama community where whatever you did was scrutinized and talked about almost before you did it. And I’ve lived in small southern cities where shady dealings of law enforcement was known and accepted as a way of life. Having lived in the South most of my life, I felt comfortable creating the characters, from the quirky and loveable Aunt Gibby, the nosey Inez, the humorless but somewhat mysterious Faye, to the hideous red neck characters of the Daytons and Hensons. At some point in my life, I’ve met them all.

It was so much fun creating this pretty little south Alabama town. I’d love to live there–well, except for the murders. 🙂

I can’t say that I prefer one setting more than the other. However, I do have to get in a particular mindset to write each series. And in its own way, it’s freeing to be able to ‘switch gears’ voice-wise.

MC: Midnight Secrets the first of your new series set in Midnight, AL introduces the reader to the Wilde triplets whose parents died under mysterious circumstances when the three girls were children. Midnight Secrets is Savannah’s story which reunites her with her high school boyfriend Zach. Reunited lovers is one of the most popular tropes in romance. What do you think draws readers to these stories? Do you have a favorite?

EG: I adore reunited lovers stories. Four of my LCR books are reunion romances. There’s just something about having that history, the remembered heat of passion. Reigniting the spark and watching it flame out of control is so much fun to create and watch. You know I love angst and what’s more angsty than past hurts or betrayals and working to overcome them?

MC: Choosing triplets as your heroines for this series is a bold move, and I love it. What was your reason for casting this series with triplets instead of just sisters? Was there something about the bond between multiples–and especially identical ones that intrigued you?

EG: I really wish I had an intelligent, well thought out reason for making the sisters triplets. I don’t. From the moment I sat down to write Midnight Secrets, I knew the sisters were triplets. However, once I got into the story, I realized how much fun I was going to have with it. The sisters are identical in appearance but how they reacted to their parents’ deaths became such a wonderful personality and character study. Savannah turns inward, becoming shy and bookish. Samantha hides her pain behind her popularity, letting no one know what’s going on behind her bright smile. And Sabrina rebels, making each issue that comes her way a battle she must fight and win.

And I do love the bond that they have. It’s not psychic or supernatural. It’s pure, untainted lovehcover-midnight-lies between siblings. I didn’t want the typical strife one might see between sisters. I wanted the girls to be best friends. When the world comes crashing down around them, they have each other. No matter who’s against them, they always have each other’s backs. Their relationship is one of my favorite aspects of the series.

MC: The second book in this series Midnight Lies, is Samantha Wilde’s story. What kind of trouble is on the horizon for this sister, the cop? Who is her hero?

EG: Samantha is a homicide detective in Atlanta, dating Quinn Braddock, who she thinks is the ‘most perfect man on earth’. However when his ex-wife is murdered and he’s found standing over her body, she begins to wonder if the perfection she thought she saw in him was a facade. She’s never really dealt with her parents’ deaths and all of that comes crashing down on her, making her question her judgment.

Quinn is an ER doctor and has been betrayed repeatedly by the people in his life. However, if there’s one person he knows he can count on, it’s Samantha Wilde. Imagine his surprise when he realizes she’s not sure of his innocence.

After their break-up, Samantha returns to Midnight and Quinn follows her. But all isn’t rosy. They’ve hurt each other badly and their earlier relationship put more emphasis on their physical attraction than it did on getting to know each other. This is something they have to rectify if they’re going to move forward. Into the mix comes another murder and once again Quinn is considered a suspect. This time Samantha stands by her man, unaware that the killer has set his sights on her as his next victim.

MC: Who are some of your influences? Your favorite authors, romance, suspense or otherwise?

EG: I grew up reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. (MC: Hi fives! Always love meeting other Nancy Drew fans!) I loved the excitement and fun of puzzling out the mysteries. Some of my favorite romance and suspense authors are Linda Howard, Karen Rose, Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood and Allison Brennan.

MC: Do you have any more projects underway? Tell me about them!

EG: Yes, I’ve started a new series called Grey Justice. The first book, Nothing To Lose, features a young woman who has everything she’s ever dreamed of and then loses it all because of one family’s corruption and greed. She’s determined to see that they pay. Enter a mysterious man who offers to help her in her quest but has his own agenda and another man who’s number one goal is to save her from herself, even if it costs him his life.

I’m also continuing my Last Chance Rescue series, with at least three more books planned. And another book in the Wildefire series for Sabrina Wilde, the third triplet.

MC: Ella, thank you so much for visiting us today! I can’t wait to read your next book, no matter which of your personae is writing it!

To learn more about Ella Grace and her Wildefire Series or Christy Reece and Last Chance Rescue, check her out on the web, on her LCR Facebook Page, her Ella Grace Facebook Page, or @EllaGraceBooks on Twitter.

So, gentle readers, do you like your Romantic Suspense with an international flavor or a downhome flair? Tell us which one you like best, and give us an example! One lucky reader will receive a copy of Ella Grace’s latest Wilde Sisters book, Midnight Sins.

Plain Awesome : Alison Stone

Alison Stone (200X300)Keep reading for a chance to win a print copy of PLAIN PURSUIT.  But first I have to tell you, I’m so excited about our guest today. Alison Stone proves that great suspense comes in all flavors. I’d describe her books as sweet suspense, but she can elaborate on her writing herself-keep reading for an interview with the lovely Alison!  

All I know is I adored her latest release: PLAIN PURSUIT. This gem of a story set in Amish country has all the ingredients I crave: twists, turns, well-drawn characters, and of course nail-biting suspense. Alison has also given us insight into a faith and culture we don’t normally have access to. It’s just a plain great read, and written with a fresh, wonderful voice. You won’t want to miss it.

Before we go on to the interview, here’s a little about Alison and PLAIN PURSUIT:

Alison Stone left snowy Buffalo, New York and headed a thousand miles south to earn an industrial engineering degree at Georgia Tech in Hotlanta. Go Yellow Jackets! She loved the South, but true love brought her back North.

After the birth of her second child, Alison left Corporate America for full-time motherhood. She credits an advertisement for writing children’s books for sparking her interest in writing. She never did complete a children’s book, but she did have success writing articles for local publications before finding her true calling, writing romantic suspense.

Alison lives in Western New York with her husband of twenty years and their four children where the summers are absolutely gorgeous and the winters are perfect for curling up with a good book–or writing one.

Besides writing, Alison keeps busy volunteering at her children’s schools, driving her girls to dance, and watching her boys race motocross.

Random Acts and Too Close to Home were released by Samhain Publishing in 2012.

Plain Pursuit, a Harlequin Love inspired Suspense, is available now.

PLAIN PURSUIT

Danger in Amish Country

When her brother is killed in a small Amish town, Anna Quinn discovers she’s an unwelcome outsider. But the FBI agent investigating the case is right at home—because Eli Miller was born and raised in Apple Creek’s Plain community. Eli left his Amish faith behind long ago, but his heart is rooted in a local cold case he can’t forget—a mystery with strange connections to Anna’s loss. Desperate to uncover the truth, Anna and Eli are faced with stony silences and secrets…secrets that someone wants to keep buried in the past.

Copyright © 2013 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited

Interview with Alison Stone

Carey: Who are some of your favorite suspense authors?

Alison: The list of suspense authors I enjoy is long. But Lisa Gardner, Erica Spindler, Wendy Corsi Staub, and Harlan Coben are a few of the names that come to mind.

Carey: Oh, we need to have our own book club! I guess great minds read alike. Does your background in industrial engineering influence you as a writer?

Alison: My engineering background is both a blessing and a curse. My analytical side is great for plotting suspense. However that same part of my brain gets hung up on being a perfectionist. Perfectionism only leads to head banging and procrastination. I continually have to remind myself it’s okay to write a “crappy first draft.” It may come as no surprise that I prefer the editing process. I get tremendous satisfaction from fitting all the pieces neatly (and sometimes not so neatly) into place.

Carey: Alison, you describe yourself as a writer, mom and volunteer, just trying to figure it all out. I’m guessing part of what you’re figuring out is balancing family and career. What’s your best advice for others trying to find that balance?

Alison: Um, learn to say no? I’m getting better now that I’m a published author. Before I sold, I tended to volunteer my days away. Now, I realize I should have protected my writing time more. I still volunteer, but I’m more selective. It’s also easier to write now that all four of my kids are in school during the day. I’m lucky I don’t have a day job, so I know I have it much easier than those who work outside the home, have children, and write. But the most important advice I have for others (and I’m constantly reminding myself) is to enjoy the moment. To stop thinking “I should be writing” when I’m spending time with my kids…or doing almost anything else. The pressure to write more, better, faster is always there, but my new focus is to be “present.” Life’s moments are fleeting.

Carey: I have to say that resonates with me. So much of the time I’m thinking “I should be writing” when what I should be doing is being present in the moment. Your current release, PLAIN PURSUIT, takes place in a fictional Amish community called Apple Creek.  What drew you to write an Amish romantic suspense?

Alison: As a writer, I’d read about trends and popular settings. The idea for an Amish story kept popping up. I had long been fascinated by the Amish. When I was a little girl, I remember seeing an Amish gentleman riding on the edge of the road in a horse and buggy. When my dad explained that the Amish didn’t use electricity, I was fascinated. No TV? No Happy Days?

I kept putting the idea of writing an Amish story off. I’ll admit, I was a little intimidated by the research. Then when I was at the RWA conference a few years back in NYC, I heard a Harlequin editor say she’d love to see more Amish romantic suspense.  No more excuses. I had to write my Amish story. The idea of a plane crash in Amish country came to me while I was still in the hotel in NYC. I came home and started doing research. I sold Plain Pursuit less than a year later.

Carey: Your hero, Eli Miller, is an FBI agent who has left his Amish faith behind. What is Eli’s biggest personal challenge when he returns to his Amish roots?

Alison: Eli’s biggest challenge is facing his past. He became an FBI agent years after his little sister went missing while under his care. When he returns home, he has to deal with the guilt of leaving his Amish faith and causing the pain in his mother’s eyes.

Carey: How is the theme of forgiveness woven into the story?

Alison:  In doing research on the Amish, I read the book Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy. It retells the tragic events of the one-room schoolhouse shooting in Nickel Mines, PA that killed 5 Amish children and wounded 5 more. Immediately the world was amazed at how the Amish were able to forgive the gunman. Forgiveness is an integral part of the Amish community as prescribed by the New Testament. I knew I had to weave the theme of forgiveness into Plain Pursuit. In my novel, the hero has to learn to forgive the person responsible for his sister’s disappearance. And just as importantly, he has to learn to forgive himself.

Carey: That’s a powerful lesson. What do you see as your heroine, Anna’s, greatest flaw?

Alison: Anna’s greatest flaw is distancing herself from loved ones for fear of getting hurt. When she was a young girl, her parents died in a murder-suicide. Then as a young woman, she avoided her brother. The story opens with her brother’s death in a plane crash, leaving her to pick up the pieces. (Anna’s character growth also explores forgiveness.) She has to learn to open her heart to find peace.

Carey: What makes Anna and Eli a couple to root for?

Alison: Who couldn’t root for the Amish-turned-FBI hero and his damsel in distress? No seriously…both Anna and Eli have experienced terrible loss in their lives leaving them afraid to take chances with their hearts. When Anna’s brother turns out to be the prime suspect in the ten-year-old disappearance of Eli’s missing sister, they have to learn to put their differences aside to work together to find the truth, all while someone is working very hard to keep secrets buried in the past. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but Anna and Eli do live happily ever after.

Carey: What can readers expect to see from you in the future?

Alison: I’m thrilled to announce I recently sold another book to Love Inspired Suspense. This one involves murder, betrayal, and the high-stakes world of pharmaceutical research. Needless to say, I left the Amish world behind for my next story, but I do hope to revisit the Amish community of Apple Creek, New York in future books.

Carey: Congratulations! And I have to say that story sounds intriguing. I look forward to reading it! Alison, thank you so much for being our guest today! 

Alison: Thank you for hosting me on Kiss and Thrill.

 Readers, connect with Alison 

Website: AlisonStone.com

Twitter: @Alison_Stone

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

One lucky commenter will win a print copy of PLAIN PURSUIT!

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