All nine of us are up here and the champagne is overflowing!
Welcome, friends, as we celebrate blog-mate and close friend, Sharon Wray on her debut day. Every Deep Desire is book one in her Deadly Force series and a novel that garnered her one of eight RWA Golden Heart® nominations.
Like most things Sharon undertakes (studying wedding dress design in the couture houses of Paris, a mother of twins, a librarian and astounding photographer) she added her unique flair to the modern day romantic suspense. Every Deep Desire is a sweeping saga of haunted pasts, tortured secrets, epic yearning and a love that transcends all. K&T members thought this blog post should reflect a unique approach as well, so we’ve each participated in the interview. Grab some bubbly and join us!
Need-to-know questions from the great interviewer, James Lipton; “Inside the Actors Studio”:
- What is your favorite word? Grace.
- What is your least favorite word? Hurry.
- What turns you on? Politeness.
- What turns you off? Bad breath.
- What sound or noise do you love? Garden water fountains.
- What sound or noise do you hate? Barking dogs.
- What is your favorite curse word? Damn.
- What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Home organizer.
- What profession would you not like to do? Anything where I have to drive.
- If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? “I missed you.”
When did you know you wanted to write novels, and when did you actually begin writing?
When my dad was diagnosed with cancer in 2004 (my twins were four), I started reading romance novels again to help offset some of the grief. After reading Night Embrace by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dark Prince by Christine Feehan, and Letters to Kelly by Suzanne Brockmann, I decided I wanted to write a novel myself. Except I had no idea how so I joined RWA in March 2, 2004. My debut novel comes out March 6, 2018.
This modern retelling of Romeo and Juliette is fascinating. How did Shakespeare influence you to create your strong heroine?
It was a trip to Verona and a guide took us to see the city’s most famous celebrities: Romeo and Juliet. We went to Juliet’s courtyard and Romeo’s palazzo, and she told us the history of this famous story. A history that included six earlier sources of the love story, including a mention in Dante’s Divine Comedy. But the detail that caught my attention was that she kept calling the story Giulietta and Romeo.
Apparently, in all of the prior source material that Shakespeare used, Juliet was the protagonist. The story belonged to the heroine!
When I got home, I read translations of all of the source material and studied the literary criticisms. Shakespeare had not only made Juliet the main protagonist, but that it was the first time in all of his works that a woman was the hero of a play. The reason why deserves a blog post all its own, but when you study the text you can see that Juliet is given half of all of Romeo’s sonnets. She makes plans and follows through while the men can’t control their tempers. She even kills herself like a man while Romeo uses poison—a woman’s weapon.
Up until this time, within my own work, I’d assumed that the men in my Deadly Force series were the protagonists. The men had suffered terribly—violence, combat, POW camps, etc—so why wouldn’t they be the ones who had to change the most? But when I looked at the story emotionally (like I’d studied Romeo and Juliet), I realized that my heroines had the harder journey. They might not have undergone physical suffering, but their emotional journeys came with higher risks. Once I made my heroines the protagonists, the stories came together in a way I’d never expected. And Juliet, in Every Deep Desire, took me on a journey that left my breathless and exhausted. And all of the work to rewrite the books has been worth it.
Do you believe in serendipity? Your career (and how massively busy you are writing, editing and promoting the 3-book deal) is taking off just as your kids headed off for college. Is this the perfect time or do you wish you were well into your publishing career?
While part of me would like to already have ten books on the shelf, the truth is I wouldn’t have been willing to give up the time with my family that that would’ve required. I do think that God’s timing is perfect. Now that my twins are in college, I have the freedom to work, each day, as long as want. For the first time in 18 years, my time is my own and I’m spending almost every waking hour writing or with my husband.
What authors have been your greatest influence? And why?
I know the Bronte sisters are a clichéd choice, but clichés don’t become what they are for no reason. When I was in sixth grade I started Jane Eyre on Thursday morning and finished it on Friday at one a.m. When I woke up at noon on Friday, I started Wuthering Heights and stayed up all night, not finishing it until almost four a.m. Then I crashed. When I woke up later on Saturday, I remember going downstairs and feeling . . . different. I felt awake. I realized that life was much larger, and far more dangerous and exciting, than I’d ever thought possible. And the realization that I, too, might grow up and fall in love filled me such wonder and joy, I could barely breathe.
Tell us a bit about the overall story line for the series.
The Deadly Force series: Where ex-Green Berets and their smart, sexy heroines redeem Shakespeare’s greatest love stories.
The series is about a team of ex-Special Forces soldiers, accused of vicious war crimes, who are desperate to prove their innocence and find their enemies before they attack again. As these men struggle to rebuild their lives and redeem their honor, it’s the women they love who teach these alpha males that Grace always defeats Reckoning.
What is the tentative schedule for deadlines and publishing dates?
Every Deep Desire, March 6, 2018 (today!)
One Dark Wish, (book 2) is currently in revision and I hope to finish soon. This book is tentatively scheduled for publication January 2019.
Deadly Force 3, (book 3) is due September 1. (Yikes!!!!) Title and publication dated TBD. I just call this one DF3. (Poor, untitled DF3. LOL.)
You, of all people, know what patience and perseverance means in this business. Do you have any advice for writers still waiting for ‘the call’?
Two things in particular: I wasted so much time wondering “if” it would ever happen that I wish I could go back and tell myself to worry less and laugh more. If you begin as you wish to proceed, things will work out eventually. Maybe not the way you expected, or in the time frame you wanted, but usually even better than you’d hoped. So write every day as if you’re published. Take classes, learn your craft, and build your network of writing friends. That way, when the time comes, you’re ready.
The second thing is an order from Winston Churchill. And for our purposes, the enemy is our own self doubt:
“Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
Sharon, we all wish you an unforgettable debut day and a bestselling series!
Thanks so much, Sarah, for hosting me today. It’s such an amazing thing to celebrate my debut with my Kiss and Thrill sisters.
He’s taking it all back
His honor, his freedom, and the woman he loves
Rafe Montfort was a decorated Green Beret, the best of the best, until a disastrous mission and an unforgivable betrayal destroyed his life. Now, this deadly soldier has returned to the sultry Georgia swamps to reunite with his brothers, and take back all he lost. But Juliet must never know the truth behind what he’s done…or the dangerous secret that threatens to take him from her forever.
It took Juliet Capel eight long years to put her life back together after her husband was taken from her. Now Rafe is back, determined to protect her at any cost, and it’s not just her heart that’s in danger. The swamps hold a secret long buried and far deadlier than either of them could have imagined…
BUY LINKS: (Please don’t forget to help a debut author out by leaving a review!)
I am thrilled to introduce you to my critique partner of 10 years, Lark Brennan. On December 1st she’ll debut her multi-genre romance, DANGEROUSLY YOURS. (It’s a romantic, paranormal, suspense-thriller.) Lark is an outstanding author, whose wild imagination and unique world building will turn this industry on its head. Check this out:
Whales don’t just vanish, but marine biologist Lex Durand saw one do just that. With years of research at stake and driven by her bond with the whale, she seeks the help of scientist-in-hiding Bodie Flynn—a man with a mysterious past and a justified hatred of her brother. But while Lex was warned Bodie would be difficult, she never expects to find he has psychic abilities equal to her own.
Bodie despises being trapped in Durand Tech’s version of the witness protection program, and when a gorgeous Durand heiress lands on his beach asking for help, he’s unhappier still. The last person he wants in his life is the sister of the man who ruined him, but the disappearance of Lex’s whales could be related to his own research and he isn’t above using her to get her data.
As the dangerous force behind the changing seas becomes deadly, Lex and Bodie must put aside their personal agendas to track down a powerful foe. But when their attraction reaches a boiling point, facing their feelings may prove the hardest battle yet. Dangerously Yours
Welcome, Lark, and congratulations!! Your authentic world-building even blew your editor away. How did you come up with this unique premise?
I was playing around with the idea of a family of powerful psychics when Lex Durand marched in—a 6’ tall, gorgeous animal telepath who runs a marine mammal research foundation. She had so much attitude, I had to write her story. Of course a romance about a marine biologist had to start with a whale vanishing on camera and Lex blackmailing a super-hot physicist into helping her find it.
What kind of research did you do to make delphic energy and dolphin behavior sound so authentic?
Delphic energy is a totally made up scientific explanation of psychic abilities—glad to hear it sounds believable. I’m sure real scientists would roll their eyes. As for the dolphins—I spent countless hours on the web, bought a dozen dolphin books then ended up contacting the medical director at the Dolphin Research Center in Florida. She answered even my stupidest questions brilliantly. The dolphin telepathy I made up. I’m sure I’m going to hear from animal telepaths that I got that wrong.
Your descriptions of the BVI beaches, restaurants, etc. are sensational. Did you visit or live there?
I lived in the US Virgin Islands for seven years and spent a lot of time sailing and diving in the BVI. It’s an amazingly beautiful part of the world. We sailed the BVI just last summer and I’m relieved to report the places in the book are still there.
I know you’re under contract for a series, tell us the date, title and any details about the next book.
IRRESISTIBLY YOURS comes out June 21, 2016. It takes place in Paris where powerful telepath Adrien Durand has been forced to take over his family’s international business empire and protection of the source of their power. A lovely American empath shows up and he suspects she’s a spy. There’s plenty of action and intrigue and smooching.
Nothin’ wrong with plenty of smooching! Tell us one thing you’re thankful for (so we can call this a Thanksgiving post.) 😉
I’m so grateful to have such wonderful and supportive family and friends, especially the generous authors who have made the rocky road to publication so much fun.
Favorite food you can’t say no to?
Can’t think of a food, but don’t test me with a glass of excellent Bordeaux. 🙂
“I’d love to be stuck on a deserted island with…” (can be dead or alive.) And the one item you’d take with you.
My husband’s not reading this, right? No contest– Chris Hemsworth. And the item? I’d be wearing Heidi Klum’s body.
Favorite novel or author, and why?
Wow, there are so many. Probably Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ NATURAL BORN CHARMER because I love every character and subplot in it—and it has Dean Robillard!
If you could have any other career besides your present ones and had the skill to do it, what would you be?
(Wow, I’ve known you for 10 years and that came outta left field!) What question did I not ask that you’d like readers to know about you?
A question for all of you—one commenter will get a $25 Amazon gift card:
Bodie and Adrien are clean shaven except when stubble catches up with them, but I’m seeing lots more men with beards these days. How do you feel about facial hair? What do you think is sexy in a hero—clean shaven, stubble, beard, other? While you’re thinking about men and hair—body hair or man-scaping?
On Saturday, December 5th at 4:30pm, Lark is signing at MURDER BY THE BOOK with best selling romantic suspense author Laura Griffin! 2342 Bissonnet St, Houston
Lark’s love of reading, writing and travel has led her to a string of colorful jobs and a well-worn passport – as well as several years spent sailing and diving in the Virgin Islands. Her travels have inspired her stories–romantic adventures set in some of her favorite destinations around the world. When not traveling, she lives in Texas with her brilliant husband and two adorable canine “children.”
You can find Lark at larkbrennan.com, www.facebook.com/LarkBrennan and @larkh.
Thank you SO much for being here today, Lark, my excitement for your debut is only second to yours! Welcome to the published world, my friend. Buckle up, your sales will resemble a comet. 🙂
Over here at Kiss and Thrill, it’s no secret that we loooove romantic suspense. We began this blog in 2011 specifically to share other authors, books and plots with you. Back then, only three of our members were under contract. Now, due to the myriad of publishing options, we’re all carving out a path that’s right for us. And after nine years of writing, I too will achieve that coveted title: published author. My debut, LOCKED, LOADED and LYING will be available on JUNE 16th!
Most authors will tell you: the whole writing-publishing experience is like a rollercoaster ride. The highs are true adrenalin rushes, the kind where you throw your arms in the air and shriek until you’re hoarse. Could be over winning writing awards or having a literary agent call and gush for twenty minutes about your novel before offering to represent you. There’s no other job or achievement (for me) that surpasses the thrill of creating characters and conflict, and sharing ‘my baby’ with the world.
Along with the rush of those highs come the lows, which are just as powerful. Harsh judge comments on a contest entry, reading all those agent/editor rejections sure do emulate the G-forces of a rollercoaster. As in: it sucks the breath right out of you, leaves you stunned and glued in place (usually a fetal position on the floor.)
But the rollercoaster has click-clacked back to the loading platform, I’ve gotten off, and am shakily standing in line for a whole new ride. When I had absolutely NO topic for today’s blog, Sharon Wray suggested I write about the ‘standing in line’ part. The transition between signing a contract and actually selling a book on Amazon, B&N, etc.
It began with a phone call from my agent. “Entangled Publishing just sent over a contract for your book.” (See rollercoaster high symptoms above.) Then came months of pins and needles waiting while she negotiated my terms, and I suffered the torture of keeping this secret to myself. Which, of course, I didn’t. 😉
When I finally did sign the contract, oh boy, did I blurt the news! Unfortunately, the editor who’d loved my story, and initially sent over the contract to work with me was no longer there, so I was assigned to another editor. Yikes! I’d heard horror stories of writers changing editors and the new one did not like the plot, the voice or the writing.
Wasted energy! My new editor, Anya Kagan, was insightful, patient and saw the big picture–whereas I obsessed on a word or scene level. It became a team effort to spit-shine that manuscript. There were 1st edits (major revisions that instantly drew the reader’s sympathy to my hero’s plight, and upped the stakes he faced.) I returned those in a month and within 10 days 2nd edits were in my Inbox. Less changes, but a suggestion to delete an entire chapter that ‘explained’ my heroine, and wasn’t very interesting. Why not feed snippets of her secrets within the first 100 pages? Brilliant!
3rd edits consisted of changing one sentence. (Yay me!) Then on to Copy Edits, where another editor, who specializes in fact-checking, read through the story and made suggestions. Could my hero (a US Olympic Alpine Skier) have competed in the 2006 Torino games? (Sure that was a long time ago, but Torino is also a major subplot. And don’t forget, I’d written the story back then!) Turns out, Bode Miller competed there, and he’s already competed this year, with a DNF (did not finish.) Case closed, I got to keep the Torino Olympics in the book. Whew!
Off the story went to be formatted into a book, and then we were Proofreading the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC.) Any changes here meant catching spelling errors, a word that was supposed to be italicized, etc., not to revise. I seriously had to reign in my inner editor (who’s still criticizing each paragraph, even after all these years!) By this time, if you’ve kept count, I’d reread this entire novel 5 times in 3 months. So to proofread it that slowly and with such care, made me honest-to-God hate the plot, the characters, every $@&# word on every page, and OMG-why did I ever think I could write?! 🙂 I hear that’s normal…
Next was creating my dedication and acknowledgements pages. After nine years I had a lot of people to acknowledge, because in the publishing industry it DOES take a village! Thanking all these people who’d done so much for me, in a page the whole world could read, warmed my heart. AND it was one more step toward authenticity…what a rush! Interestingly, I put much more time into it than I expected. I wanted to get the words absolutely right, the tone perfect.
I have one more step to look forward to: seeing what the Entangled graphic artist creates for a cover, which will happen in early May. Once I have the cover I can decorate my Facebook and Twitter pages, set up an Amazon Author page , update my website and invest in ‘swag.’ (Fun giveaways.)
You’ll notice I didn’t tell you much about LOCKED, LOADED and LYING. Why? Because there’s plenty of time and many blogs where my cover, official back-cover blurb, and plot points will be broadcast.
For now I leave you with 2 clues 1) these pictures are all broad hints: An heiress is murdered in Aspen and all evidence points to her boyfriend, my insanely hot hero, Lock Roane. He was too drunk to remember anything that night, but given his past history of blackout violence, it’s not a big leap for him to believe he did kill her.
On the eve of his felony murder trial he saves the life of a young woman in a blizzard, not knowing she’s his biggest media nemesis. And when Jordan Sinclair regains consciousness she will lie through her teeth to keep it that way (you’ll find out why.) As she recuperates she gets to know the personality he doesn’t show the camera and begins falling for him, but her tangled lies hamper their growing attraction. And sizzling sexual tension wreaks havoc in their frantic attempts to uncover the grisly events of what exactly happened on that fateful night.
And 2) “An impressive debut! This book has everything readers crave: believable, endearing characters, an intriguing conflict and plenty of heart. Don’t miss LOCKED, LOADED & LYING.” Brenda Novak
So that’s my standing-in-line story. Off to buckle up for the next ride!
WHAT WERE YOU DOING NINE YEARS AGO? COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD! WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED NEXT TUESDAY.
The winner of a $10 gift card and e-copy of BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO WEEP goes to Julie Oest!
Posted by Krista Hall
I’m so excited to share the cover of my debut romantic suspense novel BROKEN PLACES, winner of the 2013 Golden Heart® Award!
She’s on a mission to change lives
When one of her students becomes the latest victim of a D.C. gang-slaying, sociology professor Trevy Barlow is determined to protect the other girls in her literacy class for at-risk teens—even if it means compromising her own safety.
He’s on a short clock to find a killer
FBI gang task force agent Cruz Larsen isn’t about to let Trevy endanger herself or sidetrack his investigation with her do-gooder meddling. But when a key witness refuses to talk to anyone except her, Cruz has to find a way to earn her trust so that she’ll play by his rules.
Now a sadistic predator is after them
For Cruz, keeping Trevy safe has become more than a duty—his heart is involved too. But all of his leads have flatlined. And he’s beginning to suspect that a hidden third party has rekindled the gang rivalry for reasons far beyond a D.C. turf war. Caught in the crossfire, Trevy will have to risk it all to give them a fighting chance to survive.
BROKEN PLACES will be available next week! I hope you’ll come back to K&T on Tuesday for the release day celebration!
Tomorrow Shelley Coriell visits K&T to tell us about the first book in The Apostles, her debut romantic suspense series.
In the meantime, tell us about your favorite romantic suspense covers. What covers are too compelling to resist?