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Winner of a Nursery Rhyme book…

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Thank you all so much for stopping by on Tuesday to help me celebrate that my next nursery rhyme book will be released on September 10th. I’m so excited about Ashes, Ashes, They All Fall Dead!

And now (drum roll please) the winners of ebook copies of the first nursery rhyme book–He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not–are…

Carmen -and- Amy Valentini!

(If you already have a copy of He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, just visit my author website http://www.LenaDiaz.com and let me know which of my books you don’t have and I’ll be happy to substitute! )

Congratulations! Please follow instructions on the “Contact Us” page to claim your prize.

Please join us tomorrow when Gwen Hernandez will announce the winner of a copy of Crash and Burn, by Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin.

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Ashes, Ashes, They All Fall Dead

What do the following have in common?

  • A killer plucks the thorns off a rose one by one while he chants “he kills me”, “he kills me not” in a twisted game to decide whether his victims will live or die
  • A woman believes her stalker may be her husband, but he’s supposed to be dead
  • A serial arsonist with ties to an FBI agent’s forgotten tragic, past taunts her with letters bearing the names of his victims and the words “Ashes, ashes, they all fall dead”

If you guessed they’re from the books in my Nursery Rhyme Series, you’re correct!

The newest installment–Ashes, Ashes, They All Fall Dead–is available for pre-order now and will be released on September 10th.

Here’s the cover copy for “Ashes”:

What she doesn’t remember . . .

One by one the letters arrive at the FBI office in Savannah, Georgia. Inside, each bears a name–a victim of a twisted crime–and the sing-song phrase . . . Ashes, ashes, they all fall dead. Special Agent Tessa James becomes obsessed with finding the killer whose victims are crying out to her for justice.

Will kill her . . .

When sexy, brilliant consultant, Matt Buchanan, is paired with Tessa to discover who’s sending the “Ashes” letters, he discovers a serial arsonist is leaving nothing but murder in his wake. Inexplicably, the clues point to Tessa herself, forcing her to realize if she can’t remember the forgotten years of her past, the name on the next letter will be hers.

Cover-AshesAshesTheyAllFallDead-highrez

What has made writing this series so much fun is that it didn’t start as a series but evolved into one based on reader response to the characters.

HeKillsMeHeKillsMeNot High Res CoverThe first book–He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not–features Police Chief Logan Richards helping the lone victim of a serial killer when the killer comes back to finish his deadly game with her. I wanted a good side-kick character for Logan, so I created Pierce Buchanan, an FBI agent who made a career out of going after serial killers. Readers adored Pierce and asked me to write his story.

So that’s what I did.

SimonSaysDie High Res CoverPierce became the hero of Simon Says Die.  Pierce is from a family of five brothers (some blood-related, some not) and a father who puts family above everything else. I got so much mail asking for more books featuring the rest of the Buchanan family that a light bulb finally went on and I realized I had stumbled into a series.

Ashes, Ashes, They All Fall Dead is the newest book in this series. I absolutely adore Matt Buchanan. And there is so much emotion in this book that I actually cried while writing some of the scenes. That’s my first time ever as an author crying while I wrote, so I figure that’s a good sign.

What’s next? The fourth installment of the Nursery Rhyme Series will come out in 2014 and is tentatively titled Take the Key and Lock Her Up. It features Devlin Buchanan, know as Devil by his brothers. It turns out that Devlin has far more secrets than anyone in his family realizes, and a dark, tortured past that will shock you.

So, what started as a stand-alone serial killer novel became a series following the Buchanan men’s lives and watching them fall in love. I hope you’ll pick up one or more books in the series and that you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. While they do show the progression of the lives of the recurring characters, they can all be completely enjoyed as stand alone novels and can easily be read out of order as well.

Right now, Ashes, Ashes, They All Fall Dead is price reduced during the pre-order phase to $1.99, but the price will go up in a few days, so don’t wait!

Today I’m giving away two copies of He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, the first novel in this series. Just leave a comment letting me know what types of tropes you enjoy the most in romantic suspense. Are serial killers your thing? If not, what are your favorite types of stories?

Ashes, Ashes, They All Fall Dead

Amazon | B&N

Simon Says Die
Amazon | B&N

He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not
Amazon | B&N

Lamb, Well-Done (Joyce Lamb!)

There has been a bit of strife here at Kiss and Thrill.  Lena Diaz and Diana Belchase have been engaging in an all out war.

It started innocently enough,

Lena lobbed a cyber spitball. Diana retaliated with an e-eraser. But when the poisoned quills began splaying terse notes across electronic desktops it really became too much.  Someone had to win the honor of interviewing Joyce Lamb and it wasn’t going to be pretty.

In the ultimate battle, the two authors initially went separate ways. Lena interviewed Joyce on paper. Diana mounted a sneak attack and did a video interview.  Finally, in a shocking revelation, they realized, that like chocolate and peanut butter (okay you have to be my age to get that joke), they work much better together than apart.

Whew.  It was getting scary there for a while folks!

So, here we present our Kiss and Thrill threesome — er — Joyce Lamb well-done — okay, a joint interview of Joyce Lamb by Diana and Lena doing what they both do best — together!

Lena: Thanks Diana! I forgive you for the e-eraser throwing (rubs bruise on side of head.) And welcome, Joyce Lamb, to the Kiss and Thrill blog today. It was so fun meeting you at RWA nationals in Anaheim this year.

Diana: Yes, Welcome Joyce!  

Joyce: Thanks so much for having me, Lena and Diana!

Diana: We’re so glad you could be here today.  I’ll let Lena run with the questions in print since we did the video below.  See you in a sec!

Lena: I guess the most obvious question is – Who is Joyce Lamb?

Joyce: Well, that would be me and about a hundred old ladies living in the South. I have a Google alert set up for my name, and it’s shocking how many times I get an e-mail saying I’m mentioned somewhere, and it’s in an obit for a Joyce Lamb who lived/lives in the South. I’ve died a lot lately!

Lena: Yikes! I think I’d turn off my Google alerts if I was seeing my name pop up in obituaries (shiver). How long have you been writing?

Joyce: I wrote my first novel at 17 on my dad’s old electric typewriter. I’d graduated from high school early and immediately started college but with only a few classes at first. I got really bored really fast. So I entertained myself by writing. So, hmm, let’s do the math … I’ve been entertaining myself for 29 years. I suppose all that’s changed is the technology.

Lena: What genre(s) do you write?

Joyce: Romantic suspense. I love action/adventure movies and TV shows. So I write what I love to watch and read.

Lena: Me too! Give me some Die Hard or Criminal Minds any day. Love it. What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?

Joyce: They might be surprised to learn that I’m a full-time copy editor at USA Today in the Money section. As far from romance fiction as you can get! I do the Happy Ever After blog in addition to the copy editing, which can be a real handful. But I love it. And if anyone needs me to explain credit-default swaps, I can do that.

Lena: Thanks for the fun offer to talk credit-default swaps, but we need to get back to the interview. Please tell us about the USA Today HEA blog – how it came to be, your role in it.

Joyce: It was all about timing. True Vision (True #1) won a Daphne du Maurier award last summer, right about the time USA Today hired a digital books editor. When he introduced himself and congratulated me, I grabbed my moment and pitched the idea for a romance novels blog that would be the first ever on a mainstream newspaper’s platform. We already had a very popular video-games blog, so I pitched it as “romance novels are to women what video games are to men.” He loved the idea and here we are.

Lena: Congrats on the Daphne win! And I absolutely love the USA Today HEA blog. Can you tell us about your current release?

Joyce: Flash Heat came out in e-book format in June. It’s about a newspaper photographer who has in her possession an incriminating photo that someone is desperate to keep secret. The very hunky star reporter helps her figure out who, what, where, why and how, and along the way they have some pretty funny conversations and some steamy sex. Cole and Bailey are among my favorite couples that I’ve created. Their banter is a lot of fun.

Lena: Sounds like a lot of fun. Let’s get a little more personal for a moment. I’m going to insert some pictures of your kitty-cats, just because they’re so cute I can’t help it. And you can go ahead and tell us about your biggest fear.

Joyce: Dying in a plane crash. I’m not afraid of flying, though. Nervous, sure, but not fearful. I’m just afraid of the plane going down. Once when I fell asleep on a plane, I awoke to that intense sense of falling, like you get when you plunge down that first steep incline on a roller coaster. The plane had hit an air pocket and lost about a thousand feet in altitude all it once. Freaked me out big-time. So now I’m afraid of that sense of falling.

Lena: That would have terrified me! Let’s lighten things up a bit. What would your dream vacation be?

Joyce: Two weeks in a fancy beach house with my closest friends and family.

Lena: I’m more of a mountain girl myself, but then again, I live near the beach so maybe I’m jaded. Do you believe romance books present an unrealistic view of love and relationships?

Joyce: I think romance books present a “fictional” view of love and relationships, for the most part. Just as spy novels and movies present a fictional version of spying. It’s fantasy. Entertainment. And we all know the difference!

Lena: Okay, let’s go with something a bit deeper. What’s your opinion of the current trend to take classic literary works and write new books using those characters? Example – Jane Austen Fan Fiction?

Joyce: I’m torn on this. I find it fun, but I also think fan fiction shouldn’t come with a price tag. It’s OK to enjoy playing with the story and the characters. Share it with your friends and online, but making money off of it turns me off. I don’t imagine that if Jane Austen were still around she would be all that pleased to know that writers are not only making money off of something she worked really hard on but are also denying her the control she should have over the world and characters she created. If a writer bought “fan fiction rights,” if there was such a thing, then fine. Then the author has a say on who and what other writers can do. Mind you, fan fiction in general is a-OK with me! I enjoy a lot of it. What’s not OK with me is making money on it.

Diana:  Okay, I can’t wait any more.  You all must see this interview Joyce and I did in California just a few weeks ago!  Joyce was up for the Rita with not one but two books — against Nora Roberts and Cherry Adair (who btw only had one book each) — how’s that for making it big time!

Lena: Ahem. Gee, thanks for cutting me off there Diana. What, my PRINT interview wasn’t good enough for you? Hm?

Diana:  Actually your interview was great, Lena!

Lena: (blushes) Oh, okay. Sorry about that snarky comment there. Um, back to our wonderful guest. Actually, I thought it might be fun to show a sneak peek from Joyce’s latest release – FLASH HEAT. Below is an excerpt from chapter one that gives a really fun look at the interaction between the hero and heroine – AND – introduces the villain! Enjoy!

“Would you come on?” he called over his shoulder.

“I’m coming,” she replied, irritated at how breathless she sounded. She was in excellent shape. She played tennis every other day, and it wasn’t just hitting the ball around. It was cutthroat, I’m-serious-about-this-crap tennis. On days when she didn’t play, she rode her bike at least twenty miles, up hills and everything. Her muscles were toned, her body trim. But trailing a good twenty feet behind Cole—who moved fast and silently—made her feel out of shape and clumsy.

Of course, it did give her the opportunity to admire one of his better features. The man might be an ass, but he also had a damn fine one. Add to that long legs, a flat stomach—she was sure that a work of sculpted art lurked beneath the crisp shirts he usually wore—and he was indeed a very well-constructed man.

Dark good looks went with the fantastic body. His short, almost black hair always looked as if he’d just gotten out of bed, but rather than looking messy, it was sexy as all hell. Long thick lashes framed blue eyes the color of the water in the Caribbean—and showed just as many shadows.

He rounded the street corner ahead of her, bypassing the barricades blocking vehicle access to the closed street, and Bailey kicked her pace up to a jog. She imagined him standing next to the senator, both already in hard hats and each tapping a foot while they waited. She was just a few steps from the intersection, glancing into the front window of an indie bookstore she’d always meant to visit, when the strap of her camera bag caught on something.

Off-balanced, Bailey spun, more startled than afraid. But then she saw the man in motorcycle leathers and shiny black helmet. He seized the strap of her bag and dragged her back several feet into an alley that separated the bookstore from a hair salon.

“Hey!” she yelled, struggling against his strength.

He slammed her hard against the peach stucco, and a gloved hand that smelled of cigarettes cut off her next scream.

She could do no more than slap at his jacket and helmet until he trapped her between his body and the unyielding wall and held her immobile. Terror nearly choked her. Oh God oh God oh God …

He tugged at the camera bag, but the way she’d put it over her head made it impossible for him to simply tear it away from her and run.

She clasped the strap to her, instinctively protecting the expensive equipment, but then she heard a snick and saw morning sunlight reflect off a blade. White noise began to roar in her head.

He’s going to kill me.

Lena: (shiver) Wasn’t that great???? Here’s the cover for Flash Heat. 

Diana:  Well you have to admit, any way you get Joyce Lamb, on video, in a print interview, in her USA Today blog, or especially in her books True Shot, True Colors, True Vision, Flash Heat and so many others, she is fantastic!

Lena tell them about the prize!

Lena:  Joyce has graciously agreed to give away one digital copy of her novel, FLASH HEAT, to one lucky commenter. Joyce would love to answer any questions you have. And she’d like to know what would YOUR dream vacation be?

Lena:  Thanks again Joyce! You’ve been a wonderful guest.

Commenters: Don’t forget to stop by Thursday and find out if you are a winner! One lucky commenter wins an ebook copy of  FLASH HEAT (via Amazon.com gift certificate) from Joyce Lamb!

You can learn more about author Joyce Lamb at her website, or check out the Happy Ever After USAToday blog!

Lena Diaz admits to stalking Teresa Medeiros!

Does tweeting “I love GOODNIGHT TWEETHEART by Teresa Medeiros” over and over count as stalking? Maybe. Read on for more details about Lena Diaz, her new release SIMON SAYS DIE, and her stalking problem.


Today is an exciting day for us here at Kiss and Thrill, because SIMON SAYS DIE, by our very own Lena Diaz, is being released today in ebook (you can also order it in paperback if you prefer, but you have to order online). To celebrate, I’m giving away a $25 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble to one lucky commenter, and Lena is giving a signed print set of both HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT and SIMON SAYS DIE. (Snail mail address must be in the US or Canada to qualify.)

I am super lucky to be the Kiss and Thrill team member who gets to interview Lena, because it meant I got to read an advance copy.  Gwen, Krista, Carey, and the rest of the Kiss and Thrill team can suck it…I got to read Lena’s book first!

There is so much to love about this book.  Pierce, who was kicked in the heart by Madison but still drops everything to help her when he realizes she is in danger.  Madison, who doesn’t know whom to trust or what to believe.  She reacted in fear by pushing away the one person she cares about the most.

SIMON SAYS DIE is a reunion story with two strong-willed protagonists who have to find their way past old hurts.  It’s also an intense suspense with a scary killer who is a master manipulator.

Rachel:  I usually start out by thanking my guest for joining us, but since you are one of us, instead I’ll say, I hope you don’t mind being in the hot seat.

Lena Diaz

Lena:  Rachel, can I just take a second and congratulate you again on being a 2012 Golden Heart®  finalist? I’m so thrilled for you!

Now, back to this post. Thank you so much for your kind words about Simon Says Die. I’m so glad you liked it! And I don’t mind being in the hot seat. It’s an honor to be interviewed by you. And if you ask really hard or embarrassing questions, hey, I’m willing to return the favor and interview you some time. (Insert evil laugh here.)

Rachel:  Thanks Lena – it’s an honor to be a finalist and I’m thrilled our own Sharon and Diana also finaled in the same category, but today is about YOU! 🙂

This is your second book, and Pierce and Madison both appeared in HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT.  Were you burning to tell Pierce and Madison’s story from the start, or did those characters jump out in the writing process and demand their own book?

Lena: First, let me emphasize that even though these books have some shared characters, you do NOT have to read the first one to understand and enjoy the second one. They each stand alone, by design. With that being said, the idea of writing Pierce and Madison’s story didn’t occur to me until the end of HKMHKMN (can I pick long titles or what?) The scene is where Pierce is speaking to Amanda, and Madison comes up in the conversation. It was literally while I was writing that scene that I started thinking that maybe Pierce and Madison should have their own story. Then my agent mentioned it, and I decided that must mean I really should write their book. I was halfway through writing SSD when HKMHKMN came out. Immediately readers began asking me when Pierce and Madison’s book would come out. Thankfully, I was able to tell them there would indeed be a book featuring those two characters. I think I may have had a mutiny on my hands if I hadn’t written this book!

As I write this blog post, there have been several reviews already on SSD (really good reviews, yay!) A couple of those reviews mention Pierce’s brothers, introduced in SSD, and that they should have their own books. I never really planned on writing more books for the brothers, although I do have a novella (basically a short story) idea for one brother and another character from SSD and may write that sometime. We’ll see. It depends on reader reaction and what next big idea strikes me I suppose.

Rachel:  I wondered if you were planning sequels for Pierce’s brothers too!  You realize you’re never going to get to write outside of this series unless you stop introducing yummy characters.

Okay, moving on to some of my favorite questions, what published author (any genre) turns you into a total fangirl?  Is there a particular book or is this based on their entire body of work?

Lena:  I’m a total fangirl of so many authors. It’s embarrassing, but for some reason when I actually meet ‘big’ name authors who are my idols, my hands start to shake, my face flushes, and my brain takes a vacation. I have actually forgotten my own name when speaking to one of my author-idols. Why? I think it’s because the characters and stories those people created mean so much to me. When I read a book that I love, the people in that story stick in my mind and become family to me. I mean, seriously – you are never going to convince me that those sexy, Dark Hunters Sherrilyn Kenyon writes about aren’t real.

When some friends and I were at the Atlanta Romance Writers conference and we invited some other attendees to sit with us for dinner, I was totally okay and acted like a normal person. Really, I did. Until I found out one of those people at dinner with us was Susan Carroll, the author of The Bridefinder, one of my most favorite books ever. God bless her that she didn’t run or call the police when I literally jumped to my feet and let out a little squeal of surprise when I realized who she was.

For me, it’s all about the characters, the stories. I go nuts for authors because their stories mean so much to me – just ask Teresa Medeiros. As you said in the title of this blog post, I’m practically her stalker. I tweet about her book Goodnight Tweetheart all the time. I love that book so much that I just can’t help it. But, hey, did you notice she just became a 2012 RITA®  finalist for that book??? Obviously I’m not the only stalker…I mean…fan of that book! (Congrats on the final, Teresa!)

I’m also a fan of Julie Garwood, Linda Howard, Brenda Novak, Karen Rose, Roxanne St. Claire…and on, and on, and on. I’ve met all of the women I just named, many times in some cases. I admire these women because I love their books, they’ve made such an incredible mark on our industry, and they are classy. They always treat their readers with respect, no matter how crazy I…er…I mean…the readers…act.

Rachel:  I think turning into a blithering idiot when you meet an author is pretty awesome praise.  The only thing better might be fan fiction, which brings me to my next question, have you ever written fan fiction, and if so, what work was it based on?  If you haven’t, what would you be tempted to write fan fiction about?

Lena:  Yep, that’s me. Blithering-idiot. Gee, thanks Rachel (grin). I’ve never read any fan-fiction and am not that familiar with it. I’ve heard some people really enjoy it, and that some authors have even had their start by writing fan-fiction. I can certainly understand the appeal of wanting your favorite characters to live on and continue to have more stories. And if someone liked my world-building and characters so much that they wanted to continue writing more stories for my characters, that’s kind of cool. It tells me my stories had a big impact on those people and touched them emotionally. And, really, there can be no bigger compliment to an author than that.

Rachel:  Tell us one guilty pleasure.

Lena:  Grey’s Anatomy. It’s killing my productivity right now. My daughter put it on TV on Netflix a few weeks ago and got me totally hooked. I had to go back and start watching the entire series – we’re talking like seven or eight seasons. I’m literally stuck in the middle of a Grey’s Anatomy marathon/illness right now. I’ve quit struggling against it because I’ve finally realized the only cure is to just give in and watch the entire series. Hopefully I’ll finish in a few days. Then I can move on!

Rachel:  A TV marathon sounds like fun!  I’m sure you can justify it as research, right?  There, no more guilt. 🙂

What is the strangest weapon you’ve used to kill off a character, either on or off-scene?

Lena: Ha! Thanks for the no-guilt card. I’ll play that card. 🙂 Hmm. Strangest weapon I’ve used to kill a character? Probably something I used in Simon Says Die, but I can’t tell you what that is because it would be a spoiler. In my first book, He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, the weapon was an ordinary knife. Nothing strange about that, really. What was strange was the three-day ritual the killer had, and his use of roses and thorns. But again, I don’t want any spoilers so I can’t go into that either. Let’s just suffice it to say that I don’t focus a lot on the murders in my books. I focus on suspense – that ever-present feeling of danger, of wondering what’s going to happen next. The murders usually happen off-page, and if they are on-page it’s very brief – no horror stuff in my books. Again, it’s all about suspense. Whether you know who the villain is or not, the point is to keep you on the edge of your seat wondering how the hero and heroine will overcome the bad guy, and how they will overcome whatever is keeping them apart and find true love that will last a lifetime.

Rachel:  I love edge-of-your-seat reads and SIMON SAYS DIE delivers!  What do you want to tell us about this book?

Lena:  Thanks! Edge-of-your-seat is a huge compliment. Both of my books are psychological thrillers that focus on the suspense element, but SIMON SAYS DIE is a bit more twisty. There are so many secrets between the characters, and enough surprises that the reader will (I hope) question what they think they know as they read the book. Neither of my books are mysteries, but I try to make readers wonder what’s the truth and what’s a lie. My goal is to keep the tension high and make them wonder how the characters can possibly survive and how they will ever overcome all the terrible things life throws at them and somehow end up in a happy, committed relationship.

While I loved writing this story, I’ll admit it was rather difficult to write Madison’s scenes. She has an incredibly strong, independent personality and is quite snarky at times. Keeping her sympathetic but true to character without her coming off as unlikeable was a balancing act. Hopefully I succeeded in showing her motivation, why she acts the way she does, so the readers will empathize with her.

This story also has more humor than my first one. I don’t write comedies, not at all. But Madison’s act-first-think-later personality gets her into some crazy situations. There are some places in the novel where I laughed out loud writing it. Hopefully my readers will enjoy those scenes as well. Okay, now for the official back cover blurb below.

~~~~~~~~

Simon says: I’m watching.

Madison McKinley knows someone is stalking her. The police tell her she’s imagining things, and they’re too busy trying to find the “Simon Says” killer to investigate. But day by day, hour by hour, Madison’s terror grows stronger, and not even the return of FBI Special Agent Pierce Buchanan into her life can calm her fears. Besides, how can she ask Pierce for his help after the way she ended things between them?

Simon says: I’m coming.

Pierce still wants Madison’s love, and his drive to protect her is more powerful than ever. He believes she’s in danger, even if the cops don’t. Finally, as more people start dying and the evidence mounts, the police turn their attention to Madison—as a suspect. Was Pierce a fool to trust her again, or are they both   caught in a complex game that neither will survive?

Simon says: Die.

~~~~~~~~

Lena:  Enough about me. I’d love to hear from the readers out there. Who are some of your favorite romantic suspense heroes and heroines? What makes them so memorable?

Remember, one commenter will win a signed print set of my books – HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT and SIMON SAYS DIE. (Snail mail address must be in the US or Canada to qualify for the prize.)

Rachel:  And I’m giving one commenter a $25 gift certificate to Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  Check back on Thursday to see if you are our winner.