Blog Archives

Colleen Thompson: Passionate and Relentless

Have you ever met a multi-published, award-winning  author who is so personable, modest and cheerful you think ‘that’s exactly how I want to be when I’m that famous’?

Well, for me that author is romantic suspense writer, Colleen Thompson. She’s survived this crazy industry so long and experienced so many ups and downs in her career, yet manages to remain passionate about her writing and relentless to stay in the game and get her next story published! 

Although she probably doesn’t know this, Colleen’s the first person I met after joining the West Houston chapter of RWA. I tend to be uber-neurotic going someplace new, so of course I was way too early and sat at a table by myself long enough to think that getting up and going home was a really great idea.

Then Colleen came in, smiled that big smile and asked if she could sit with me. She went out of her way to make me feel welcome and not the dumbest writer ever for not knowing lingo like ‘Series Contemporary.’

Even under tight deadlines Colleen attends chapter meetings, pinch-hits a topic if our scheduled speaker cancels, teaches online classes and can always be relied upon to generously give her time to authors in all stages of their careers. Oh, and she still manages to co-host a blog, update her status on Facebook with lightning speed and posts pictures of darling rescue dogs in need of adoption. Yeah, I want to be just like Colleen Thompson when I grow up!

Welcome Colleen! Who are your favorite romantic suspense authors?

I first fell in love with romantic suspense reading Nora Roberts, Tami Hoag, and Sharon Sala. I still love those authors and have also come to enjoy novels by Karen Rose and Allison Brennan.

I know for some of your books you’ve actually gone to the small town (for your setting) or done an activity. What was the most interesting thing you did in the name of research?

A few years ago, I went flying in gliders while researching Triple Exposure, whose heroine is a glider pilot. Then I spent a fun afternoon brainstorming with glider pilots about ways one might sabotage a sailplane (what they generally call gliders) to make it crash. Thankfully, they all got into the spirit of the thing rather than calling the FAA to report me!

 More recently, I’ve spent time speaking with a forensic anthropologist about the life cycles of the various insects that feed on a decomposing human body.

…sorry to interrupt…but UGH! GROSS.

After reading and talking about it, I decided to forego the field trip—I could already imagine what it smelled like all too well. (I have what I call “smell-a-vision,” which makes me smell everything I read about or see on a TV or movie screen. This is awesome when I’m reading about blooming lilacs or baking bread. Not so much, when I’m researching decaying corpses. Gross!)

You have been in this industry a long time. If you were just starting today what would you do differently?

I would give serious consideration to some of the alternate routes available today.

Many mainline publishers are giving new authors the opportunity to break in to their electronic-only lines (and buying very few debut titles for their print-first lines.)

There are some very reputable smaller e-presses out there, too, some of which have been regularly putting their authors on bestseller lists. These don’t usually pay advances, but they give a writer experience in working with an editor and publicity team, and some authors are breaking out and into print or indy e-book success.

If I were writing something too different for the current market, I would also seriously consider indy publishing—but not until I had my work independently edited by a pro (not a friend or critique partner) and gotten myself a sharp, professional-looking cover. Then I’d spend six months to a year studying how to launch it right before diving in with self-publishing.

While your dream may have been to publish first with one of the big houses, don’t close your eyes to or be snobbish about other opportunities. With a lot of work, a lot of talent, and some good, old-fashioned luck, they really can work.

Tell us a little bit about Boxing the Octopus?

My good friend, New York Times bestselling author Joni Rodgers, and I met at a book signing and instantly bonded, after which we went out for coffee once every week or so.

She’s a memoirist, ghostwriter, and novelist, while I’m a mass market paperback original genre girl, so we’d had very different experiences, but each of us had respect for the other—and a lot of hard-earned respect for what it takes to stay in the game putting out books year after year.

During one of those talks, Joni compared grappling with the publishing biz to “boxing the octopus,” and I blurted, “That’s it! That’s our blog’s name!

 In late 2006, we launched Boxing the Octopus, www.boxocto.com, to foster an ongoing conversation on the writing life. And I’m still not finished yakking!

Do you like movies that scare you or make you cry?

Ha! Seriously, I like scary books a lot better than scary movies, for some reason. I hate having stuff jump out at me onscreen, but I can read (and write) suspense all night.

While I don’t like emotionally manipulative tearjerkers, if they’re really honest and understated, they can be devastatingly beautiful. One favorite of mine is the Italian film, Life Is Beautiful. Set during the Holocaust, it features a loving father who convinces his little boy (to help him survive the concentration camp where they are taken) that the experience is all a game.

I laughed at the funny moments (believe it or not, there are quite  a few) and cried my eyes out at the ending, but loved it enough to recommend it to all my friends and family members.

Oh my gosh! One of my top favorite movies (only the Italian version!)

You’re married to a true alpha-hero, Mike, a fireman.  Does he get teased by his fellow firefighters given his wife is a romance writer?

Not that I know of, but since he’d just shrug it off if anyone made a dumb remark, I can’t say for certain. For the most part, his fellow firefighters have been awesome, buying copies for their wives and mothers and answering my research questions. One (actually an ambulance supervisor/EMT and not a suppression firefighter) took me for a ride-along one busy Friday night, where we visited the trauma center ER and scoped out all the dicey areas where I could never go on my own at 2am! I used a lot of that research in my book, Fade the Heat.

You used to write historical romance. (under the names Gwyneth Atlee and Colleen Easton.) Why the change to Romantic Suspense?

I loved, and still love, American-set historicals set around true-life events and have recently been bringing some of these older books back (under my Gwyneth Atlee historical romance pseudonym) in e-book form.

Unfortunately, the market for these books contracted in the early 2000s sank, putting a lot of authors (and my then-editor) out of work. I was reading and enjoyed so much mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense at the time that I wanted to try my hand  (after seven historicals, all of which included a lot of suspense elements) in this exciting new-to-me arena. I was instantly hooked—and found a more receptive home for my darker, grittier voice.

What’s up next for you writing wise (or speaking engagements)?

After Relentless Protector (Harlequin Intrigue) in September, I’ll be promoting Passion to Protect (Harlequin Romantic Suspense) which comes out in November. Meanwhile, my agents are shopping several new proposals, but nothing I can talk about at the moment, darn it!

OK, then on to my favorite topic…favorite food ever?

Snow crab legs with melted butter. But lumpy mashed potatoes, my favorite comfort food, runs a close second!

Mmm! I’m right there with you on the lumpy mashed potatoes. How can readers get a hold of your backlist, given that your prior publisher collapsed?

I’m very excited about a deal I’ve just signed with Amazon to bring back my nine single-title (full-length, as opposed to the briefer category books I enjoy writing for Harlequin) romantic suspense novels, which were in limbo with my former publisher’s (Dorchester’s) financial collapse. Already available in e-book form, the books will soon be out in paperback and hardcover formats. Readers have been asking for these books for two years, so this is terrific news!

That’s exceptionally good news and you REALLY deserve it, Colleen! Thank you so much for visiting us today. For more information on Colleen, please click here for her website: http://www.colleen-thompson.com/

Colleen will be answering questions today and is giving away a copy of her newest release “RELENTLESS PROTECTOR” to one lucky commenter. Stop back on Thursday to see if it’s YOU!

 

K&T Summer Reading List

Thank you for all the great book recommendations to pack in our beach bags or download onto our e-readers! Here’s a downloadable PDF list of your suggestions as well as K&T’s Winter and Spring picks: K&T Murderously Good Reads [July 2012]  Happy reading!

Join us next Tuesday, July 10th, when romantic suspense author TERRI MOLINA will be our guest and discusses her new release–DARK OBSESSION–with Sarah Andre. We’ll be giving away an e-book copy of Dark Obsession on Thursday, July 12th, to one lucky winner.

D.P. Lyle and LOVE IS MURDER – Carey aims her spotlight

There’s a Q and A with D.P. Lyle and a chance to win LOVE IS MURDER coming up!

Today, I’m pleased to welcome Dr. D. P. Lyle to Kiss and Thrill. It’s a special pleasure for me to host him today because, like me, Dr. Lyle is a physician/author. In fact he’s written numerous nonfiction guides for writers, and I refer to his HOW DONE IT: FORENSICS text often. I recommend it highly for anyone writing suspense. In a moment, I’ll be spotlighting his contribution to the anthology, LOVE IS MURDER.  But first, check out his amazing bio:

D. P. Lyle, MD is the Macavity Award winning and Edgar Award and Scribe Award nominated author of many non-fiction books (MURDER & MAYHEM; FORENSICS FOR DUMMIES; FORENSICS & FICTION; MORE FORENSICS & FICTION; HOWDUNNIT: FORENSICS; and ABA FUNDAMENTALS: UNDERSTANDING FORENSIC SCIENCE) as well as numerous works of fiction, including the Samantha Cody thriller series (DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND and DOUBLE BLIND); the Dub Walker Thriller series (STRESS FRACTURE; HOT LIGHTS, COLD STEEL, and RUN TO GROUND); and the Royal Pains media tie-in novels (ROYAL PAINS: FIRST, DO NO HARM and ROYAL PAINS: SICK RICH). His essay on Jules Verne’s THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND appears in THRILLERS: 100 MUST READS.

He has worked with many novelists and with the writers of popular television shows such as Law & Order, CSI: Miami, Diagnosis Murder, Monk, Judging Amy, Peacemakers, Cold Case, House, Medium, Women’s Murder Club, 1-800-Missing, The Glades, and Pretty Little Liars.

LOVE IS MURDER

This is an anthology comprised of the writings of an amazing group of suspense/romantic suspense authors. The list of contributing authors is long and drool worthy. If you’re a romantic suspense fan (and really, why else would you be hanging around :-)?) I promise you’ll find many of your favorite authors. But even better, you’ll get a chance to discover other fantastic ones you’ve never read before. This is your opportunity to broaden your horizons while being guaranteed a dizzying infusion of surefire favorites.  And I have to add, of course, that anyone who has been going through Black Ops withdrawal, like me, will be excited to read Cindy Gerard’s contribution to the anthology, which just happens to follow D.P. Lyle’s. Seriously, how good can this get?

Dr. Lyle’s story is called EVEN STEVEN, and believe me, this short story will suck you in, rev the wheels on your bus, and leave you wondering where the line is between the good guys and the bad guys. The story may be short, but it packs a wallop. I love a story that isn’t afraid of tackling tough subjects and raising as many questions as it answers. A story that not only entertains but makes you think is rare. One thing you won’t feel after reading EVEN STEVEN is complacent.

Check out this Excerpt from EVEN STEVEN: 

“I can still smell him.” Martha Foster inhaled deeply and closed her eyes.

Tim stood just inside the doorway and looked down at his wife. She sat on the edge of their son’s bed, eyes moist, chin trembling, as were the fingers that clutched the navy blue Tommy Hilfiger sweatshirt to her chest.

Behind her, a dozen photos of Steven lay scattered across the blue comforter. A proud Steven in his first baseball uniform. A seven-year-old Steven, grinning, upper left front tooth missing, soft freckles over his nose, buzz-cut hair, a blue swimming ribbon dangling around his neck. A playful Steven, sitting next to Martha at the backyard picnic table, face screwed into a goofy expression, smoke from the Weber BBQ rising behind them. Tim remembered the day he snapped the picture. Labor day weekend. Just six months before…that day. He squeezed back his own tears and swallowed hard.

Questions and Answers with D.P. Lyle

Carey Says:

For the record, your honor, Dr. Lyle was kind enough to provide the Q and A, so I can’t take credit for the great interview.

What is your guilty pleasure?

There are so many. A good book, a lap cat, and/or a chocolate milkshake for starters. But I don’t feel guilty about any of them.

Describe your favorite meal.

This one is easy. The one meal each year that never changes, and hasn’t since I was a kid, is ribs, coleslaw, and cornbread, consumed every year on New Year’s Day while watching college football. It doesn’t get much better than that.

If you were not a writer, what would be your career?

Exactly what I am, a cardiologist. I can’t imagine doing anything else for a living. I not only knew by age 10 that I wanted to go to medical school but also that I would deal with hearts. I remember watching a documentary on the at that time new blue baby surgery and was absolutely fascinated. I decided then exactly what I wanted to do. During medical school, and even before, I knew which direction I was going. The good news is that I could focus on that goal while the bad news was that I did not consider any other subspecialties of medicine. But I think sticking with cardiology was the right choice. The last few decades have seen incredible progress in the field.

If you could time travel, which year would be your destination?

I would say that I would have two destinations: back to around 1500 so I could have lunch with Leonardo da Vinci or forward to say around 2300 to see where all this is going.

What inspired your contribution to LOVE IS MURDER?

I had never written a short story, wasn’t sure that I could, and wasn’t sure that I even wanted to. But then this anthology came along and a story idea came to me and I decided to give it a try. The story seemed to blossom and almost write itself and I literally completed it over a weekend. Over the next couple of weeks I did some rewrites and polishing but for the most part it was done after couple of days. I was pleasantly surprised when it was accepted for this anthology. I can’t wait to see the final product.

Another positive thing that came out of this experience was that after the story was completed I sent it to my older sister who read it and asked, “What happens next?” I replied, “Whatever you want to happen.” She laughed and said that she only wanted to make sure that I intended the ending to be ambiguous, which I did. Over the next few weeks I mulled over that question: What does happen next? The answer to that is my next Dub Walker thriller, RUN TO GROUND, which will be out this August.

Carey says: I’m also anxious to find out what happens next. I’ll definitely be looking out for RUN TO GROUND. In fact I’m looking out for our readers as well because I’m delighted to announce that Dr. Lyle will be back with us on August 14th with a guest blog and the low down on RUN TO GROUND.  So mark your calendars!

Now I’ll open it up for comments. Remember, one lucky commenter will win a copy of LOVE IS MURDER!

GOLIATH? MEET DAVID.

Americans love an underdog. Whether it’s the downtrodden hero in a movie, the come-from-behind win of a loser team or our kick-ass attitude in the Revolutionary War, we root for the small guy! Especially if said guy is unassuming, passionate and relentless in the face of horrible odds.

   Meet the 2012 literary version of an underdog: Murder By The Book Bookstore in Houston, Texas. Their website states it’s one of the oldest and largest specialty bookstores in the nation, having opened their doors in 1980 and stocking over 25,000 books.

   Despite that formidable pedigree, MBTB is unassuming. Situated in a tiny strip center the interior is dim and cozy, jam-packed with new and used hardbacks, paperbacks, T-Shirts with cool literary sayings and comfortable old armchairs. At MBTB you are welcome to hang out, read, explore and not feel like you have to keep buying expensive lattes. (But if you want one–the coffee shop is next door.)  

   Passionate? You bet. Ask about any book and the staff can lead you to the exact location in a far corner bookshelf. Want to know when Author X is coming out with Book Y? They’ll know and chances are they’ve already booked Author X for a book signing.

   Last year alone MBTB hosted more than 200 of America’s favorite mystery, crime, suspense, science fiction, fantasy and romantic suspense authors. And I mean BIG names. Lisa Gardner, Tami Hoag and Lisa Scottoline all appeared within 6 weeks of each other (I know this because I went to all 3!) How about P.D. James? Sue Grafton? Harlan Coban? Yep, all have signed books in the little Houston bookstore. Many times.

Relentless? Check. Murder By The Book is one of the most aggressive ma & pa bookstores to take on the giant e-book sites and has no plans to surrender. In fact they keep coming up with ingenious ways to stay competitive and capture reader attention, even if you don’t live anywhere near Houston!

   Meet the leader of this scrappy underdog team: John Kwiatkowski, Publicity Manager for Murder By The Book.

   Welcome, John and thank you for being here! If a reader has a Nook/Kindle e-reader and loves the convenience of the click-to-buy read, how can an “Indie Bookstore” like MBTB stay afloat in 2012?

   It’s easy with a Nook.  You can purchase eBooks from the Murder By The Book website and load them onto your Nook. 

   With Kindle it’s a little bit trickier.  The Kindle Fire will allow you purchase eBooks from other retailers, but the original Kindle does not.  

   In most cases, we’re selling our ebooks for the same price as most other retailers. 

   We’re always happy to walk you through the process.  More info about how to use Google eBooks with different types of eReaders can be found on our website. 

   How does the resell work with e-Google? (Meaning where do readers go to shop and how do they get it downloaded to their specific e-reader?)

   With Google eBooks, customers can purchase and download eBooks directly from the MBTB website. 

   In the bottom left-hand column of our website there’s a box that allows customers to search or browse for eBooks that are available from us. 

   Google eBooks work with just about any kind of eReader and we have the instructions for each type of reader linked on the website.  http://www.murderbooks.com/gbook/help

   I know most of our suspense readers would love to browse in your store or buy from you online. But they also enjoy other genres (ex., historical romance.) Is that something they could still buy from you?

   One of the wonderful things about our partnership with the ABA and Google eBooks is that any book that is available as a Google eBook is available for purchase from our store.  It doesn’t have to be a mystery. 

   We’re also always willing to order any book (regardless of genre) for our in-store customers.  We may require prepayment if it’s not something we would stock on the shelves, and we can usually get it within a week. 

   How is the American Booksellers Association (ABA) helping indie bookstores like MBTB?

   The ABA has helped us out immensely.  Without the help of the ABA it would be almost impossible for small stores like us to get into the eBook game.  They’ve set up all the infrastructure that allows us to be able to compete in the eBook business. 

   Without their help, we would have had to find a reseller and develop a high maintenance website that would allow us to deliver the books to customers.  Thanks to the ABA, we’re able to focus on selling books and not the logistics of being able to do so. 

   Tell us about your idea to Skype during book signings.

   We’ve done several Skype events this year.  Our first was with Alan Bradley, the author of the Flavia de Luce mysteries.  Bradley lives in Malta, so a tour wasn’t possible at the time.  It was wonderful to welcome him into the store even if it was just through a webcam. 

   Our most successful Skype event was with Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.  We had Preston in the store, and Child was able to join via Skype.  Since Child doesn’t travel, it was a unique opportunity for fans to see them together. 

   When possible, we’ve also tried to arrange for signed copies of the author’s book when we’re hosting them for a Skype event. 

   Do you have e-book signings?

   We haven’t started doing eBook signings yet.  Realistically, the profit margin on eBooks is so low that it would be tough for us to sell enough eBooks at a signing to warrant the additional cost of staying open and staffing the store.  It’s not something that we’re ruling out, but not something we’re actively pursuing right now. 

   Tell us why buying novels (either hardcopy or electronically) from MBTB and other indie bookstores is more customer-oriented than large brick and mortar chains or online sites?

   We spend a lot of time getting to know what we have in the store.  It doesn’t stop when we go home for the night.We’re still reading new releases or discovering old gems that might have slipped by us. 

   While we might not have read every book in the store, we can usually offer some insight about most titles, whether it’s from trade reviews or other customer feedback. 

   Each staff member has their own “Staff Picks” shelf, and the remaining shelves in the bookstore are filled with handwritten recommendations.  We really strive to get the right book into the hands of a reader that will love it. 

   We also host a variety of events in the store.  We have a series of luncheon events and have hosted authors like Lee Child, Charlaine Harris, Michael Connelly, and Anne Perry.  The luncheons offer a more intimate feeling than our regular events at the store. 

   We host evening events at the store for a wide range of authors from established bestsellers to debut authors just starting out. 

   We also have two books groups that meet here in the store. 

   In addition to author events, we also host Murder By The Book Recommends events where the staff talks about their favorite recent reads. 

   Earlier this year we hosted an eBook open house where we encouraged customers to bring in their eReaders and we would walk them through the steps of purchasing eBooks from us.

   Basically our goal is to provide an experience, whether it’s meeting your favorite author or discovering someone who could become your favorite author.  That’s missing when you’re just ordering a book from a website. 

   Whew! That’s really creative! Online sites have discounts and specials. Tell us how you fight that?

   We have several promotions that we run throughout the year.  We typically have a used book sale during the summer and the last week of the year. 

   In recent years, we just started offering gift bundles.  We take some of our favorite books from the past year and create gift sets to satisfy any type of reading tastes.  We try to pick lesser known titles that people might not have picked up on their own. 

   Last year some of our giftsets had themes like Private Eyes Are Watching You, Southern Gothic Gems, Supernatural Cozies, Excellent Espionage, Southern Humor, and more.  We love helping pick out books for gifts!

   Can a reader download an e-book from you if they do not have a Kindle/Nook?

   They can.  If you still want to read eBooks or eOriginal short stories but don’t want to invest in an eReader, there is a program called Adobe Digital Editions that allows you to open and read eBooks on your desktop.  The program is free and can be downloaded here: http://www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions/devices/

   Who’s the most amazing author to have held a book signing and why?

   It’s so hard to pick a favorite.  We hosted over 200 authors in 2011.  Our biggest surprise lately was being able to host Anne Rice in the store.  Her publisher was extending her tour and we were thrilled to be one of the stores that was asked to host her. 

   We had over 500 people in the store over the course of the evening and had such a great time!

   Huge events like that are always fun because everyone is so excited about being here.  It’s impossible not to have a good time when you’re surrounded by that many people who can’t wait to meet an author that has meant so much to them. 

   A huge percentage of your clients are in other states and countries. Why is that, given that there are certainly bookstores in those places?

   A large part of it is because of the signed books that we’re able to offer.  With so many authors visiting the store, we offer a chance for customers to order signed books from us.  We can get them inscribed. 

   As long as a copy of the author’s newest book is purchased from us, we even allow people to send in other books by an author to get them signed as well. 

   What question should I have asked that you want readers to know?

   People always want to know how our in-store signings work.  For large events, (famous author names) we give out first-come-first-serve line numbers with the purchase of the author’s newest book.  (The line numbers become available the day the book goes on sale.)  And the number you get is your actual place in line after the author-talk and Q&As, when the actual book signing begins.

   The talks are always free to attend, but to get anything signed the author’s newest book has to be purchased from us. 

   We’ve got a complete listing of our signing policies on our website.  http://www.murderbooks.com/signing-policies

   Well America, summer is here and books abound! Why not take a chance on an Indie Bookstore and electronically download some great reads for the same prices as the giant e-sites? Permission given to pass the blog interview or information to everyone in your social network. Let’s get the word out and do our part to help the cozy ma & pa underdogs!

Receive a $25 gift card to Murder By The Book, to use in-store or electronically!

Simply leave a question or comment for John anytime today and you’re automatically in the our Kiss and Thrill drawing. The lucky winner’s name will be posted on Thursday, May 31st, so check back!

Visit John and the rest of the MBTB staff at www.murderbooks.com

Please don’t forget to bid on the amazing items in Brenda Novak’s 2012 Cure for Diabetes Auction! ONLY 2 DAYS REMAIN! http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/

To Sir With Love; An Evening with ER Braithwaite.

In 1959, E.R. Braithwaite wrote a book called To Sir With Love,based on his experiences teaching teenagers in London’s poor East End.  The book became a

E.R. Braithwaite wrote To Sir With Love

major best seller and iconic motion film, starring Sidney Poitier in 1967.  Even today the impact of his work as a teacher has inspired a multitude to follow in his footsteps.  But, in the long scheme of things, Braithwaite’s stellar career as an author is but a moment in the life of an incredible man.

Born of Oxford educated parents — both mother and father — in British Colonial Guyana, Braithwaite eventually went from being an unemployed, racially discriminated, Ph.D physicist in London, to a teacher, best selling novelist, social worker, consultant to UNESCO, Permanent Representative to the U.N., and professor at NYU and Howard Universities.  He is a man who has looked at life as a whole, not defining himself by any one moment or career, a true Renaissance man.

Ted stood straight and bright-eyed at the podium last night as he reminisced about his life and his famous book.  The content of his talk was intriguing — Life on Guyana, a land of water where the sole purpose of being, was the cultivation and export of sugar.  His own odd situation as an extremely bright black boy on scholarship in a school of privileged white students, where he was constantly held up as a role model of studiousness to the others.  A territory under British rule, where every large house or new car undoubtedly belonged to a white man.  He told us of his voyage to England on a steamer, where he spent long days holed up in a small cabin studying and reading books on every subject, and ending up on the docks of Liverpool.  His studies as a Ph.D student were normal, seeing white people without shoes and begging, was completely foreign and disorienting.  He said, when “one man begged for coppers, I gave him a few pieces of silver.”  He then shook his head as if still perplexed by the memory.

Braithwaite’s book, To Sir With Love, became an iconic movie starring SidneyPoitier

Braithwaite is a humble, no-nonsense man.  He takes inordinately long pauses between his words.  “To keep the audience in anticipation,” he said more than once.  The habit made it difficult to listen to an otherwise engaging tale.  Yet, later, when we discovered he’d be one hundred at his next birthday in June, those of us in the audience were amazed.  He appeared nearly thirty years younger than his years and of course, allowances were made.

When asked about his inter-racial marriage at a time when such things were rare, he said he never paid attention to such things.  “If you look right and left to see who is staring at you, you’ll ending up [falling and] breaking your nose.”

Ted Braithwaite with Diana Belchase

He focused attention on his book career stating writing came easily and his fame a great surprise to himself and his family.  As to the movie?  He snorted a quick, “No,” when asked if he liked Poitier’s portrayal.  “The movie made it look like fun and games,” he replied.

And what was the mysterious, unnamed present given to him by his students at the end of To Sir With Love?  Braithwaite seems embarrassed, then admits, “A very expensive set of about 100 cigarettes, custom monogramed ERB.”  Unfortunately Braithwaite, didn’t smoke.

Recently, someone said, to get struck by lightening, you must stand in the rain.  Ted Braithwaite has been struck several times by the lightening rod of fame and success, but his story proves the adage true.  He certainly has known the rain.

And the WINNER is…

 

We’re celebrating 2 Winners this week, seeing as how we also had our Monday inaugural post bloggers!

 For commenting on Allison Brennan’s guest interview on Tuesday, our winner is: LEIGH  LAVALLE!

Congratulations, Leigh, Allison Brennan will be sending you the first novel in her Lucy Kincaid series: Love Me To Death!

For commenting on Monday’s inaugural “island books” blog, our winner is: BRANDIE NICKERSON!

Congratulations Brandie, you’ll be receiving a $10 gift certificate toward any e-book of your choosing!

And a heartfelt thank you to everyone who posted Monday sharing their romantic suspense reads and on Tuesday welcoming Allison. Wasn’t she terrific and personable? I’ve met her at conferences and she’s just like that in person.

Today, rather than blogging about romantic suspense, I HAD to share this hilarious short video on the magic of plots: Which one would you like to see expanded into novel length?! 🙂

http://fpdorchak.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/plot-device/

ALLISON BRENNAN- Personally Speaking

NY Times Bestselling Author

Allison Brennan

Thank you so much for helping us launch our Kiss and Thrill Blog, Allison, and congratulations on your new release: If I Should Die, your 17th novel that was published last week!

 You are a prolific, multiple NY Times and USA Today Bestseller. Which current Romantic Suspense authors are absolute favs or impulse buys for you? (Online, airports, bookstores…)

J.D. Robb is an auto-buy. I have all her books. Love Eve Dallas and Roarke! Laura Griffin & Roxanne St. Claire are auto-buy romantic suspense; Tess Gerritsen, Lisa Gardner and J.T. Ellison are auto-buy suspense “with romantic elements” for me, too. I also recently bought a Shannon Butcher book on impulse—can’t wait to finish my revisions so I can dive into my towering TBR piles!

You do a fabulous job scaring your readers- what situation in daily life/news event scares you the most?

Crimes against children. There’s a special place in Hell reserved for anyone who hurts the most innocent in our society.

 If you could interview a serial killer (alive or dead) who would it be, and what would you ask?

Oh, just one? Actually, I don’t know that I’d want to go face-to-face with a serial killer. Maybe Dorathea Puente, because she’s from Sacramento and killed her boarders for their social security checks. Right after I moved to Sacramento when I was 19, a friend drove me past her house and told me all about her crimes. She’d just been arrested, but the trial wasn’t until several years later. I think she got away with it for so long because she was a little old lady and no one thinks that “grandma” is capable of murder.

How do you separate the twisted violence of your plots from your hectic life with 5 kids? (Meaning go straight from describing a serial killer butchering a victim to fixing dinner.)

 I don’t think I’m that gruesome in my books! LOL. I write when the kids are at school, then take the afternoon and evening “off” to do kid stuff (sports, homework, dinner, etc.) Then I write at night. I think about other people who have far more difficult jobs—like the cops and coroners and crime scene investigators who have to work with real victims and killers. They, too, go home and have families, but they deal with far more violence than I do. Mine is fiction! But I probably compartmentalize in a similar way.

 I know you’re a pantster (write by the seat of your pants, instead of plotting a story out), and your research is impeccable. Do you research first for ideas (i.e., cyber stalking/burying an IP address in cyber space like a needle in a haystack) or get an idea first and then research specifically what you need?

I prefer “organic writer.”  <g> I do both forms of research. I read a lot of true crime and participate in a lot of research “field trips” that aren’t specific to any book I’m writing, so I have a lot of ideas and information I can pull up when I need it. But for the details, I research as I need information. For example, I wanted to confirm a crime scene detail that I thought I had right, but couldn’t find the specific in my forensic books, so I emailed a friend (the fabulous writer D.P. Lyle) who confirmed my set-up, and also gave me the whys (which helps!)

The Evil Series (Speak No Evil, See No Evil, Fear No Evil) were all published in 3 consecutive months in 2007. Please tell me you were not on a book-a-month deadline?! If these were not previous stories you’d written, how difficult was this to pull off?

 I had two back-to-back trilogies. The first (The Prey, The Hunt, The Kill) were all written before the first book came out, though The Kill was on a tight deadline. We contracted for the second trilogy in February of 2006, and I had tight deadlines, but not each month!

Practically, when writing these trilogies especially since Ballantine wanted them out sooner to capitalize on the success of the first trilogy, I had to juggle all three books at one time. I didn’t have any of these written, though because I focused on one setting (San Diego) and one family (the Kincaid’s) it made the story research easier.

That meant while waiting for revisions on SPEAK, I started writing SEE. When I got revisions back, I put SEE aside, revised SPEAK, then went back to writing SEE. I turned in SEE and worked on copyedits for SPEAK. Then turned those in and worked on revisions for SEE.

Available 11/22/11

The Evil Series and part of the FBI series features heroes and heroines from the Kincaid family, (brothers and sisters of your new series heroine, Lucy Kincaid.) What was it about Lucy that inspired you to give her her own series?

Lucy is a strong and compassionate heroine who suffered great crimes and in turn killed her attacker—in cold blood. He was unarmed when she shot him. She has some issues she hasn’t addressed yet; she’s complex and believable. Better, I can focus on one protagonist from the beginning of her career, building her over time.

I had wanted to write a series, and after writing FEAR NO EVIL I knew that I wanted to write about Lucy. When I met Sean Rogan briefly in Fatal Secrets and Cutting Edge, I just knew he was perfect for Lucy. I was thrilled when I put them on the page together that there was chemistry! Sean has a very interesting backstory as well, most of which hasn’t been revealed. I can’t wait to see what pops up for him over the next few books!

As a follow up, this is the first time in your publishing career that you’ve centered a series around one reoccurring heroine. Are you finding that difficult? (For example, your books have a romantic Happily Ever After, and now you have Lucy Kincaid and Sean Rogan together in more books. Is it difficult to keep the conflicts and growth going?)

Yes and no. I like being able to build Lucy & Sean’s relationship over time—one of my problems in romantic suspense is the HEA after two days. With Lucy & Sean, I can add layers to their relationship, to give them a solid foundation that will withstand the pressure of their careers and conflicts.

 I thought I would have a much harder time with conflict between them. Once they’re together, how can I keep them together while also growing their relationship and have conflict that’s organic to the story? I start with the foundation: they are together and are willing to fight to keep their relationship. Then I look at who they are: Lucy is driven to fighting bad guys, sometimes at the expense of all else. She internalizes the pain of the victims, she understands the motivations of the criminals even though that makes her uncomfortable and depressed. She is battling her own feelings of right and wrong. Sean is fun-loving, arrogant and super smart—but he has some very justified animosity toward law enforcement. Yet he’s in love with Lucy, who wants to be an FBI agent above all else. As Sean’s reasons for distrusting cops come out, it’s going to increase the tension between them. Plus, Sean is no saint—even I don’t know what he’s capable of. But I do know that anything he does that might be illegal he does for the right reasons.

Anyway, I’m having fun exploring the grey areas in crime and punishment and justice, and I can think of no two better people to tell these stories than Sean and Lucy!

How many books do you plan for the Lucy Kincaid series? What’s after that?

I don’t have a set number. When I feel there is no more room for growth or conflict that’s organic to the story and characters, I’ll probably end the series. I’d like to write at least ten books in the series because I don’t think Sean’s past is going to really come out until after book six.

Coming April 2012!

The third Lucy Kincaid series, ‘If I Should Die’ came out last week, 11/22/11. And the next is ‘Silenced’ coming in April 2012. Can you give us a sneak peek of ‘Silenced’?

SILENCED: Washington sex scandal and a cold-blooded killer. Lucy risks her career and her life when, three weeks before she’s supposed to report to Quantico, she and her training partner Noah Armstrong are assigned to investigate the murder of a known mistress to a powerful congressman.

For Kicks: Which Hollywood stars would be great to play Lucy Kincaid and Sean Rogan, if the series became a TV or movie deal?

Oh, how fun! Hmm … It’s hard to pick, because I have a picture of her in my mind, and no one quite matches it.

 For Lucy, I think someone like Salma Hayek or Jessica Alba or Natalie Martinez or Serinda Swan.

 For Sean, Henry Cavill is probably leading right now … though I also like Milo Ventimiglia or Matt Bomer might work. Matt has his eyes …

 Now, for Noah Armstrong, an important secondary character, I’d love to see Mark Wahlberg play him!! Actually, I’d love to see Mark Wahlberg play anything …

Would you ever consider self-publishing the remaining paranormal series Original Sins?

Yes, I’m considering it. I’d prefer to find a publisher for the series, but if that doesn’t happen, I’ll look at doing it myself and publishing it the way I want—as urban fantasy/supernatural thriller, not paranormal romance.

 Thank you so much for hosting me this week! I’m excited about this new blog, and hope to visit often!

Thank YOU, Allison!  For more info on Allison Brennan, her books and future speaking engagements please visit her website at www.AllisonBrennan.com

Do any of you have questions, comments or want to share your favorite Allison Brennan novel with the rest of us? 

***All participants are eligible for the Thurday, 12/1 drawing!  Allison is giving away a copy of: Love Me To DeathCheck back to see if you’re the winner!

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