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Freaky Friday Ghosts and Giveaways!

(Stop #2 – see JustRomanticSuspense for stop #1)

Since Halloween plays a critical role in the plot of my romantic thriller, FIRST DO NO EVIL, I wanted to do something special to celebrate the holiday.

At first, I thought about re-telling my favorite ghost stories from childhood. But we’ve all heard them before. Then I thought, what if….

What if – I poll my friends and find out if they have had some sort of TRUE paranormal experience. Wouldn’t that be fascinating?

It turns out several of my author friends have had paranormal encounters, and they were willing to share. The stories I have for you today may seem less dramatic than those childhood tales and urban legends…but these stories are TRUE.

I’ve got more stories posted on the other blog I’m doing today over at JustRomanticSuspense so be sure and drop by there to read more true life ghosties!

Samhain author Carey Baldwin (that’s me!): Blue-eyed Brown-eyed Girl

I make no warranties that someone else in my family may not have a different version of this story. Everyone seems to have his own way of telling it. But according to family lore, my grandmother, Bessie Baldwin, was clairvoyant. This much I know is true because I remember: She was a beautiful woman with very unusual eyes. One of her eyes was blue. The other eye was half green and half brown. Like a magical marble.

According to family lore, she frequently knew when trouble was about to befall someone near and dear, or had a premonition before someone passed. Only once, that I know of, did she have a vision that was not directly related to family members.

When I was a little girl, a python escaped from the Ft. Worth zoo. Everyone was hunting the python. Where had it gone? Was it injured? Would someone harm the snake or be harmed by the snake? The whole community became caught up in the human interest story of the lost python. Day after day news reports came in that the python was still missing and feared dead or lost forever. After a few days, my grandmother turned to my grandfather and said, “Call the zoo and tell them the python is curled up in the grasses behind her cage.”

My grandfather did what any sensible person would do- he refused. So my grandmother called the zoo herself. Sure enough, the python was there behind the cage, just as she’d predicted!

Three-time Golden Heart finalist Sharon Wray: Baboo the Friendly Ghost

I grew up in a haunted house with a real imaginary friend- a ghost -named Baboo. Although no one in my family believed me, ever since I was a small child I could sense when Baboo was around. My room had once been an attic, and every night at 3am, his pacing would wake me up. I’d tell him to please stop, and he always did. Eventually I learned to sleep through it. Every once in a while my dad would ask me why I was walking around at night. I’d just shrug and say I couldn’t sleep.

Baboo wasn’t an active ghost who moved things or tormented me, but he did have one habit which used to drive my parents crazy. Baboo liked to turn all the locks in the house. My dad would lock up the house every night, but some mornings all the deadbolts were unlocked. I used to try to tell my parents it was Baboo, but at an early age I realized no one believed me.

This went on for years – since preschool until I went to college.

But one day in middle school I came home early. I had a key just in case my parents weren’t home, and that afternoon I went into the house through the front door. Except every time I turned the key, it would relock.

The key would turn, open, then immediately relock as if someone were on the other side of the door turning the lever. I got so frustrated, I went to the side door. Four times I’d unlock the deadbolt, four times it would relock. Finally, I went to the lower basement door and it opened. As I went in, I heard noises upstairs. I just assumed it was my father who often came home for lunch and I’d missed him walking around the house. So I yelled, “Hi, Dad!” as I went up the basement stairs.

Just as I said that, the door ahead of me slammed shut and locked. I was about to pound on the door when I heard two male voices speaking – and I realized neither one was my father. A moment later, I heard a crash, a few curses, then a door slam.

I stood there shaking, not sure what to do, when the door in front of me suddenly unlocked and opened. I could barely walk, I was so scared. But I also realized that Baboo wouldn’t have opened the door if it wasn’t safe – so I went into the house. A few things were knocked over, some things broken, but the back kitchen door was wide open. Someone had broken in and I’d interrupted. The police found the two men later that night, trying to break into a neighbor’s house. Both men were carrying guns and knives.

Many, many years later my father asked me about that day. He asked me if Baboo had kept me out of the house. I said yes. He nodded and apologized for not believing me. He then admitted that he’d had an incident with Baboo the day before he sold the house, but he wouldn’t tell me what happened. Maybe he still didn’t believe it. My parents moved out of the house nine years ago, and I often wonder if the new family has met Baboo or if he finally found his way home.

Avon Impulse and Harlequin Intrigue Author Lena Diaz: Grandma’s Favorite

Most of my family comes from Kentucky. Since my dad was in the Navy, we traveled a lot, and we were living in Florida when my oldest sister woke up in the middle of the night and saw my grandmother standing at the foot of her bed – my grandmother who lived in Kentucky at the time. My grandmother didn’t say anything, but she smiled sadly and reached out as if to pat my sister, then disappeared. It totally freaked my sister out. She got up and ran into my parents’ room. My mom and dad tried to console her, and then the phone rang to tell my dad that his mom – the grandmother my sister had just seen – had just passed away. My sister was always my grandmother’s favorite grandchild and my sister has always believed that grandma came to her that night in spirit to say goodbye.


Dr. Skylar Novak: Halloween Havoc

Okay this story is not true and it is not a paranormal story, because Sky Novak is the heroine of my romantic thriller, FIRST DO NO EVIL. But it is a great read for Halloween!

FIRST DO NO EVIL opens on a Halloween morning. Halloween is the worst day of the year for Sky, the anniversary of her father’s murder. If you want to know more about Sky’s story, I’ve pasted the blurb below:



One killer is in her blood. The other is in her house.

There’s a killer lurking in Dr. Skylar Novak’s family tree: the gene for breast cancer. That’s why her brilliant brother invented the Bella vaccine. But even if the miracle drug protects her from the cancer that took her mother’s life, it can’t save Sky from the flesh and bone evil stalking her in secret.

When the killer strikes, detective Daniel Benson finds himself in the wrong place at the right time. The bold detective manages to save Sky’s life…just in time for her to return the favor. Survival leads to seduction, and Danny risks everything—his career, even his life, to keep Sky safe. But will the buried sins they uncover cost him her heart?

Danny’s strong arms may hold her close, but only Sky can stop the terror that’s coming next…

Warning: Contents include: One heart-melting hero—good luck getting this delicious detective out of your head. One reluctant heroine—wielding a Glock was never on her to-do list. One crazed villain—an entire flock of baa baa black sheep won’t be enough to put you to sleep. And a lifesaving vaccine with one deadly side effect—murder. 

Commenters : We’ve got PRIZES GALORE! So please read carefully.

One grand prize, consisting of the following books, will be awarded to one lucky commenter: FIRST DO NO EVIL by Carey Baldwin, (Nook or Kindle copy); SIMON SAYS DIE, and HE KILLS ME HE KILLS ME NOT by Lena Diaz (winner’s choice of electronic or print), HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE by Manda Collins (winner’s choice of electronic or print copy). Leave a comment here, on Kiss and Thrill, to be eligible to win this grand prize.

But wait, today only, EVERYONE’S A WINNER

Are you the kid who never, ever, won the cakewalk, no matter how many tickets you bought? Well, not on my watch. Today I’m also blogging over at JustRomanticSuspense and everyone who leaves a comment by midnight tonight on this blog, AND my Just Romantic Suspense blog will win an electronic copy of FIRST DO NO EVIL for kindle or nook. Remember, you must comment on both blogs to automatically win FIRST DO NO EVIL.

So tell us please, do you have a favorite Halloween memory?



Congratulations, Emily,


How to Dance with a Duke

AND  How to Romance a Rake

Please click on Contact Us and let us know if you prefer digital or paperback.

Thank you to everyone who commented on Manda’s new release last week, and to those who shared our link on Facebook and Twitter. We appreciate your enthusiasm for our Kiss and Thrill author and friend!

TOMORROW: We interview WILL SIMON, forensic computer PI, author of several thriller novels and a story in the Love is Murder 3 anthology.

If his plots are even remotely based on personal experiences he should be assigned a triple-digit aka…like: Will Simon, 008.

Don’t miss this interview!

How to Romance a Rake by Manda Collins

This week at Kiss and Thrill we are excited to celebrate the release of HOW TO ROMANCE A RAKE by our own Manda Collins!

How to Romance a Rake

You can lead a wallflower to the ball, but you can’t make her bloom–unless one daring young bachelor turns up the heat…

What’s a nice girl like Miss Juliet Shelby doing at a place like Lord Deveril’s ballroom? With her shy demeanor, she’s a total stranger to the dance floor and a source of mockery for the ton. So imagine her surprise when Deveril gallantly comes to her defense–and offers to teach her to dance! Juliet can hardly believe the most handsome bachelor in London would notice her, until he takes her in his arms and sets her heart ablaze…

Lord Alec Deveril has never felt such a spark of attraction for an unmarried lady before. Unlike the “fashionable” ladies he’s accustomed to, Juliet possesses a generous spirit, a fiery intelligence–and an explosive secret. Deep in the London underworld, a dear friend has vanished, and Juliet fears the worst. Deveril insists on helping, escorting her through the darkest alleys in town. But he too is hiding a shocking secret–and the only way he can defeat the devil in his past is to seduce the angel in his arms…


This book is so yummy we are certain you will love the blend of regency ballrooms with thrilling mystery, but don’t take our word for it, this is what reviewers have to say:

“Collins’ second installment of the Ugly Duckling trilogy is both a lovely, sensitive romance and a taut thriller.”RT Book Reviews

“This beautifully penned story is packed with mystery, passion, humor, warmth, surprising plot twists, clever dialogue, secrets and romance as it compassionately addresses the issues facing those who have suffered physical and/or emotional distress.” – Romance Junkies


We are so excited about Manda’s release we are giving away books!

Manda Collins

Leave a comment about historical romances with a mystery/suspense subplot for a chance to win a print or ebook copy of Manda’s books.  We’ll leave the comments open until 11:59 pm EST on Sunday, August 5th, and announce the winner on Monday, August 6th.  One winner will win both HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE and HOW TO ROMANCE A RAKE. If you’d rather not leave a comment, but are on Twitter then tweet “#HowtoRomanceaRake” and include @KissandThrill in the tweet and you will be entered in a second drawing.  One randomly selected winner will receive HOW TO ROMANCE A RAKE.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BAM | Powell’s

And the WINNER Is…

Thank you so much to Tara Janzen for joining us on Tuesday and dishing on the bad boys, hot cars and big guns of her CRAZY/LOOSE world!

Look for Tara’s Steele Street Series as well as her re-released Loveswept titles in e-book format on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers.


Next Tuesday Kiss and Thrill’s Manda Collins welcomes author Shiloh Walker!

Shiloh Walker has been writing since she was a kid. She fell in love with vampires with the book Bunnicula and has worked her way up to the more…ah…serious works of fiction. She loves reading and writing anything paranormal, anything fantasy, and nearly every kind of romance. Once upon a time she worked as a nurse, but now she writes full time and lives with her family in the Midwest.  She writes paranormal and contemporary romance, as well as romantic suspense.


Now, it’s time to announce the winner of Tara’s Steele Street thriller of your choice.

(Note: Only commenters with a U.S. mailing address are eligible, so if anyone announced below does not provide a U.S. mailing address, we will choose another winner.)

 The winner of one e-copy (Kindle or Nook) or hard copy (winner’s choice) is:  Sonya Natalia!

 CONGRATULATIONS! To redeem your free book – please email your snail mail address and preferred email address to (or go to contact page for details). Remember, we must hear from you within 10 days.

How to Dance with a Duke Winner!

Thank you so much to our very own MANDA COLLINS! We are so proud and excited for your new release:


If you haven’t ordered it yet, what are you waiting for? Here’s the link!

Next Tuesday we are thrilled to host Tara Janzen, New York Times bestselling author and creator of the acclaimed Steele Street series of romantic suspense novels about a hotshot crew of former juvenile delinquents and car thieves in Denver, Colorado who grow up to become one of the U.S.A.’s most elite black ops forces. Tara is giving away an e-copy or print copy of the Steele Street thriller of your choice to one lucky commenter

Now it’s time to announce the WINNER! Remember you must contact us within 10 days at to claim your prize. Please send your email address where you wish to have your e-book gift notice delivered, and let me know if you prefer your e-book for Kindle or Nook.

The winner of an e-book HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE (to be delivered as soon as it is released)…and…a $10 Amazon Gift card is: Tina B

Manda Collins: Carey Spotlights Manda and HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE

Today I am honored to spotlight  our very own Manda Collins!

I have a fun interview with Manda in store for you, plus a chance to win her book and an amazon gift card.

But first, I want to tell you about her debut novel, HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE (St. Martin’s press) which releases Jan. 31, 2012 and has already garnered critical acclaim.

I adored HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE. And if you are a fan of witty, sophisticated, historical romance I suspect you will too. The writing is so smooth and light it practically floats off the page.

From the first line, the banter and wit and just plain good writing entertained me. Manda jumps right into the story and introduces her delectable ugly duckling, Cecily Hurston and her dashing duke, Lucas Dalton with a darling first meet. Seriously, who can resist a darling first meet? Okay, perhaps you’ve had your fill of D words by now, but bear with me for just one more:


HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE showcase’s Manda Collins’ particular talent for creating engaging dialogue, and I don’t just mean the flirty banter between the hero and heroine. The girl talk is fabulous! The fun conversations among the ugly duckling cousins call to mind the work of Eloisa James and Tessa Dare.

Now add in spicy chemistry between Lucas and Cecily and that should be enough to satisfy any reader. But Collins elevates her story beyond the standard fare when she sweetens the plot with a mystery involving the disappearance of Lucas’ brother and an ancient curse.

HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE is a fantastic, fresh, and sexy read you won’t want to miss. Yay for romance spiced with mystery!…And ladies, remember to smile, bat and tilt the next time you find yourself at a ball with a stolen dance card.

Now without further ado…wait…what’s that ado I hear?

Carey: “Is that you, Tux Guy?”

Tux Guy: “Mais oui. I wish to speak.”

Carey: “Well, get on with it then. Say your peace so we can move on to my glorious interview with Manda Collins.”

Tux Guy: “You know you want it.”

Carey smiles, bats her lashes, and tilts her head. “Kind of full of yourself.”

Tux Guy: “I’m talking to our readers, not you.”

“Oh.” Carey blushes prettily.

Tux Guy: “And I was referring to Manda’s book. You know you want it.  Preorder it here.” 

Carey:  If you were stranded on a desert island with one other author, yes the real author, not his or her book, who would it be and why?

Manda: Wow, that’s a tough one. I mean it would have to be someone who doesn’t get on my nerves. And someone who shares my sense of humor—because I figure surviving being stranded on a desert island takes some serious humor skillz. And it couldn’t be one of my friends because then that might hurt another friends’ feelings. And it would need to be someone with great survival skillz because I have, like, none. Is MacGuyver an author? No? I guess going just on skill set alone, I’d choose Bob Mayer since he was a special forces guy and would exponentially increase the chances of me getting off that desert island alive. (I know that’s pretty selfish, but hey, you did ask!)

Carey: Ha. You are a genius! If I’m stranded on a desert island, I’m bringing Bob Mayer too! What is your favorite book?

Manda: Wow, just one? It kind of varies from year to year, month to month, day to day. Right now it’s Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas. But if you’d asked me last month it would have been Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner. Hmmm, I am liking Lisa books lately, I suppose.

Carey: What is your favorite song?

Manda: Shipbuilding” by Elvis Costello

Carey drops another $1.29 at iTunes before asking: Do you have a special way you order your food? For example, do you always hold the sprouts on your salad or ask for a side of cherries with your diet coke?

Manda: I always order things—especially salads and burgers—without onions or green peppers. I hate, hate, hate the texture of raw onions.  (shudders)

Carey grins. For some reason, Manda’s hatred of raw vegetables seems slightly kinky: How did you come to write your first manuscript?

Manda: I wrote my first manuscript as a direct result of the Avon Fanlit competition (where, incidentally, I met you, dear interviewer!) A group of us formed an email loop where we posted our daily, weekly, monthly goals and it was during that period that I finished my first book. Which, sadly, did not sell.

Carey: I remember thinking back then (in the Fanlit competition) that you were loaded with talent. And see, I was right!

Manda, Do you have a personal hero?

Manda: For me this would be my grandmother, who has gone through a number of losses over her lifetime, but who still manages to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. I know if she hadn’t been there for me I wouldn’t be here today.

Carey: I have a feeling she is amazingly proud of you.

Manda, like you, I live in a house with three cats and more books than strictly necessary. Have you got a fun cat story to share? Can we see the cats?

Manda: Of course you can see them! (Flips open wallet filled with cat pix.) As you said I have three.

Spike is the oldest. He’s a Lavender Point Siamese mix, and is the most finicky. He is addicted to Pounce treats. If there were a kitty 12-step program for treat addiction he’d be a prime candidate.

Next is Tiny, a gray tabby, who is the oddball, and who outgrew his name many pounds ago. He doesn’t like to be held. He doesn’t cuddle (except with Spike who is his adopted dad). And he is afraid of everyone who is not already a member of the household.

Finally, there’s Stephen, a tuxedo cat, who is named after Stephen Colbert, who also looks good in a tux. He is the youngest, and the most laid back—I think because he was a street cat before I adopted him and as such he knows a good gig when he sees it. The main story among all of them of late is their deep and abiding hatred of my sister’s little Shi-Tzu mix, Charlie.

It’s cats and dogs. Living together. Mass-hysteria. If the cats ever figure out how to join forces Charlie’s in real trouble. But lucky for him, so far they are all too concerned with their own interests to cooperate with one another.

Carey stops searching for her DVD of ARISTOCATS, and regroups: I adore a bluestocking heroine. Can you explain for our contemporary readers, what the implications of being a bluestocking were for young ladies in the regency period?

Manda: A bluestocking was a pejorative term for a female intellectual. Basically during the regency period it was considered unfeminine for a young lady to get too much of an education. And bluestockings were often stereotyped as being dowdy, humorless and just plain unappealing.

Carey says: Please tell us about your upcoming release, HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE.

Manda: Well, it’s the story of Miss Cecily Hurston, a noted scholar and a notorious bluestocking, and Lucas Dalton, Duke of Winterson, a celebrated war hero, and their quest to discover just what happened between her father and his brother on an expedition to Egypt. They’ll work together to solve the mystery and in the process they’ll fall in love.

Carey: What inspired you to write an “Ugly Duckling” series? And what other books do you have planned for the series?

Manda: Well, when I was coming up with the concept of this trilogy, I kept remembering the story of the Gunning sisters, who were quite real, and were among the most celebrated beauties of the ton. They were the daughters of poor Irish farmers, but based on their beauty alone they took the beau monde by storm and ended up marrying into the aristocracy. But I kept wondering what it would be like to be the daughter of someone famous only for her beauty and her social cachet. So I came up with the Fabulous Featherstones, who are the mothers of my heroines, Cecily, Juliet and Madeline, who are dubbed the Ugly Ducklings by a cruel gossip sheet and it sticks. After Cecily’s book, will come Juliet’s story, which is followed by Madeline’s.

Carey: When you are not busy herding cats, dogs, sisters, and books, what causes do you champion?

Manda: Well, I’ve got a few. Libraries, and information literacy. The American Cancer Society. The Amputee Coalition of America. And The National Marfan Foundation ( For those of you who don’t know, Marfan Syndrome is a connective tissue disorder, and it’s thought that Abraham Lincoln suffered from it. Some of the key characteristics are elongated limbs, long skinny fingers and excessive height. If you know someone with these traits who hasn’t been checked out by a physician, I would urge you to urge them to do so.  Not because I love doctor visits;) But because a symptom of Marfan’s you can’t see is a propensity to suffer from an aortic dissection. (Though he didn’t have Marfan’s this is what killed John Ritter). It can happen out of nowhere in seemingly healthy people. There are lots of ways that it can be prevented—one of which is valve replacement, which I’ve gone through twice now. Life expectancy used to be in the 40s for Marfan’s patients, but just in the last fifteen to twenty years that has risen to the 70s where everyone else is! /PSA

Carey: Thank you Manda for describing Marfan’s Syndrome, a disease that has a set of physical characteristics that can be easily spotted if only one is aware of them. And thanks for sharing some of your own inspirational story and courage with us. 

Then, as she is wont to do, Carey goes bonkers and suggests a free association test. Please say the first word that comes to your mind- no cheating! Turn off that editor!


WallflowerJakob Dylan





GameCock (!?!)


ER…Should I touch this free association test with a ten foot…pole? Yes, I am up to the challenge: Manda secretly wishes to go white water rafting with Jakob Dylan of the Wallflowers. However (she fantasizes) as she and Jakob are admiring the turquoise blue of the sky, a cock crows, drawing their attention to the shoreline where Tom Sellek is grooming his mustache. Tom and Dylan exchange an icy glare. Who will win fiery Manda’s heart? The choice, a hard ones, is all hers.

Yep. I think we’re done with free association tests…for now at least. And people, I can hardly wait for book number two in the Ugly Duckling series: HOW TO ROMANCE A RAKE

COMMENTERS -as a special treat for stopping by today, we will be giving away one e-copy of: HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE to be delivered as soon as it is released, as well as one $10 Amazon gift card. There will be one winner. That winner will receive both the gift card and HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE. Don’t forget to check Thursday’s blog to find out if you are our lucky winner!

The floor is open for questions or comments for Manda, so fire away!

And the WINNER is…

Thank you so much to Elisabeth Naughton for joining us on Tuesday and demonstrating how her devious mind works!

We have exciting news to announce today.  Elisabeth’s STOLEN trilogy is being re-released in ebook.  Look for her books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers.

Filled with globe-trotting adventure, steamy romance and riveting suspense, the Stolen books from RITA nominated romantic adventure author Elisabeth Naughton will appeal to fans of Romancing the Stone and Indiana Jones.

Now, it’s time to announce the winner of Elisabeth’s latest romantic suspense release, WAIT FOR ME.

(Note: Only commenters with a U.S. mailing address are eligible, so if anyone announced below does not provide a U.S. mailing address, we will choose another winner.)

The winner of one e-copy or hard copy (winner’s choice) is:  Susan W.

CONGRATULATIONS! To redeem your free book – please email your snail mail address and preferred email address to (or go to contact page for details). Remember, we must hear from you within 10 days.


Next Tuesday at Kiss and Thrill Carey Baldwin will interview our very own Manda Collins!  Comment for a chance to win Manda’s debut release, HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE and a ten-dollar Amazon gift card.

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