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The Nine-Year-Long Rollercoaster Ride

Over here at Kiss and Thrill, it’s no secret that we loooove romantic suspense. We began this blog in 2011 specifically to share other authors, books and plots with you. Back then, only three of our members were under contract. Now, due to the myriad of publishing options, we’re all carving out a path that’s right for us. And after nine years of writing, I too will achieve that coveted title: published author. My debut, LOCKED, LOADED and LYING will be available on JUNE 16th!

Most authors will tell you: the whole writing-publishing experience is like a rollercoaster ride. The highs are true adrenalin rushes, the kind where you throw your arms in the air and shriek until you’re hoarse. Could be over winning writing awards or having a literary agent call and gush for twenty minutes about your novel before offering to represent you. There’s no other job or achievement (for me) that surpasses the thrill of creating characters and conflict, and sharing ‘my baby’ with the world. 

Along with the rush of those highs come the lows, which are just as powerful. Harsh judge comments on a contest entry, reading all those agent/editor rejections sure do emulate the G-forces of a rollercoaster. As in: it sucks the breath right out of you, leaves you stunned and glued in place (usually a fetal position on the floor.)

Nine-whole-years of crazy ups and downs, folks. 🙂snowy river

But the rollercoaster has click-clacked back to the loading platform, I’ve gotten off, and am shakily standing in line for a whole new ride. When I had absolutely NO topic for today’s blog, Sharon Wray suggested I write about the ‘standing in line’ part. The transition between signing a contract and actually selling a book on Amazon, B&N, etc.

It began with a phone call from my agent. “Entangled Publishing just sent over a contract for your book.” (See rollercoaster high symptoms above.) Then came months of pins and needles waiting while she negotiated my terms, and I suffered the torture of keeping this secret to myself. Which, of course, I didn’t. 😉

When I finally did sign the contract, oh boy, did I blurt the news! Unfortunately, the editor who’d loved my story, and initially sent over the contract to work with me was no longer there, so I was assigned to another editor. Yikes! I’d heard horror stories of writers changing editors and the new one did not like the plot, the voice or the writing.

Youth Olympic Games 2012Wasted energy! My new editor, Anya Kagan, was insightful, patient and saw the big picture–whereas I obsessed on a word or scene level. It became a team effort to spit-shine that manuscript. There were 1st edits (major revisions that instantly drew the reader’s sympathy to my hero’s plight, and upped the stakes he faced.) I returned those in a month and within 10 days 2nd edits were in my Inbox. Less changes, but a suggestion to delete an entire chapter that ‘explained’ my heroine, and wasn’t very interesting. Why not feed snippets of her secrets within the first 100 pages? Brilliant!cabin

3rd edits consisted of changing one sentence. (Yay me!) Then on to Copy Edits, where another editor, who specializes in fact-checking, read through the story and made suggestions. Could my hero (a US Olympic Alpine Skier) have competed in the 2006 Torino games? (Sure that was a long time ago, but Torino is also a major subplot. And don’t forget, I’d written the story back then!) Turns out, Bode Miller competed there, and he’s already competed this year, with a DNF (did not finish.) Case closed, I got to keep the Torino Olympics in the book. Whew!

Hooded man hiding gun behind his backOff the story went to be formatted into a book, and then we were Proofreading the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC.) Any changes here meant catching spelling errors, a word that was supposed to be italicized, etc., not to revise. I seriously had to reign in my inner editor (who’s still criticizing each paragraph, even after all these years!) By this time, if you’ve kept count, I’d reread this entire novel 5 times in 3 months. So to proofread it that slowly and with such care, made me honest-to-God hate the plot, the characters, every $@&# word on every page, and OMG-why did I ever think I could write?!  🙂 I hear that’s normal…

Next was creating my dedication and acknowledgements pages. After nine years I had a lot of people to acknowledge, because in the publishing industry it DOES take a village! Thanking all these people who’d done so much for me, in a page the whole world could read, warmed my heart. AND it was one more step toward authenticity…what a rush! Interestingly, I put much more time into it than I expected. I wanted to get the words absolutely right, the tone perfect. ASPEN road sign

I have one more step to look forward to: seeing what the Entangled graphic artist creates for a cover, which will happen in early May. Once I have the cover I can decorate my Facebook and Twitter pages, set up an Amazon Author page , update my website and invest in ‘swag.’ (Fun giveaways.)

You’ll notice I didn’t tell you much about LOCKED, LOADED and LYING. Why? Because there’s plenty of time and many blogs where my cover, official back-cover blurb, and plot points will be broadcast.

Love coupleFor now I leave you with 2 clues 1) these pictures are all broad hints: An heiress is murdered in Aspen and all evidence points to her boyfriend, my insanely hot hero, Lock Roane. He was too drunk to remember anything that night, but given his past history of blackout violence, it’s not a big leap for him to believe he did kill her.

On the eve of his felony murder trial he saves the life of a young woman in a blizzard, not knowing she’s his biggest media nemesis. And when Jordan Sinclair regains consciousness she will lie through her teeth to keep it that way (you’ll find out why.) As she recuperates she gets to know the personality he doesn’t show the camera and begins falling for him, but her tangled lies hamper their growing attraction. And sizzling sexual tension wreaks havoc in their frantic attempts to uncover the grisly events of what exactly happened on that fateful night.

And 2) “An impressive debut! This book has everything readers crave: believable, endearing characters, an intriguing conflict and plenty of heart. Don’t miss LOCKED, LOADED & LYING.” Brenda Novak

So that’s my standing-in-line story. Off to buckle up for the next ride!

WHAT WERE YOU DOING NINE YEARS AGO? COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD! WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED NEXT TUESDAY.

 The winner of a $10 gift card and e-copy of BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO WEEP  goes to Julie Oest!

Lena Diaz Dragged Out in Public & Forced to Speak!

Breaking news …

Diana and Lena

Diana Belchase and Lena Diaz at last year’s Golden Heart Awards

Multi-award winning author, Lena Diaz, was dragged out of a conference in Anaheim last summer and actually forced to speak — on film, no less — by the audacious Diana Belchase.

Despite her fervent protests, Lena was beaten into submission in the most terrifying and horrific manner by her blogmate.  Subjected to the greatest inequities, deprived of food and water until she capitulated, you, the viewer, will see here, the abject misery and torment to which an author can be subjected — not only by the nature of her profession, but in the name of so called friendship.

We ask you to judge, both the perpetrator and the victim.  Leave your verdict in the comment section and for your efforts, one of you will win an e-copy of Lena’s newest release, Explosive Attraction, for your effort.  But be warned — if you consider this a bribe, and the verdict turns unduly in Lena’s favor, Diana has vowed to retaliate — by searching out and videoing each of you… (insert loud menacing echo here).

MUUHAHAHA

Okay, now that that’s over (I just couldn’t resist!), I do have real news.  At a recent conference, it was heard that Lena is a new rising star who not only is doing phenomenally in the states but is taking Germany by storm as well!  All I can say is YIPPEE!

I can’t think of a more deserving person — after all this is the gal who went to the finals for the Beacon, the Golden Heart, and the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, and  WON both the TARA and the Daphne Du Maurier awards  — and she is an amazing person, too.

Lena Diaz, with author Robin Perini, and Diana Belchase during a tour of the LA Police Deptartment

Lena Diaz, with author Robin Perini, and Diana Belchase during a tour of the LA Police Deptartment

What do I mean by an amazing person?  Well, a top mother who fights for her kids in every way, someone who works to spread the message about diabetes and raise funds for research, a friend who always has your back, someone who, while working full time, donates her off-hours to her community and fellow writers.  On top of all that, she’s so modest I could barely get her on camera!  LOL.  Oh, and she still manages to find time to turn out the most incredible fiction I’ve ever read.

ExplosiveAttractionsmlTake her newest book, Explosive Attraction, Lena starts with the hero and heroine and a serial killer on page one and doesn’t stop.  Each page is filled with plot twists, sexual tension, and a story that will keep you riveted until you get to the very end.  Not only that, but it’s written beautifully.  Take a look at this excerpt:

“Even with heels on, Darby had to stand on her tiptoes for a good view of the picture. In the middle of a large, empty room, a man sat in a chair, his posture stiff and oddly strained. The low quality of the photograph reminded Darby of one of those cheap, do-it-yourself picture-printing machines found in drugstores. She squinted, wishing the exposure wasn’t so dark. “He looks familiar.”

“You know him?”

“I’m not sure. Maybe.”

She reached for the picture but he pulled it back.

“Fingerprints,” he reminded her, holding the edges with his gloved fingers. When she lowered her hands, he held the picture in front of her.

She tapped her nails against her thigh. “Why would he have his picture taken sitting in the middle of an empty room?”

“That’s a concrete floor. And those are industrial-style windows across the back. Probably a warehouse.” His jaw tightened. “And he’s not sitting there because he wants to.” He pointed to the arms of the chair. “He’s tied up.”

She let out a gasp and leaned closer to get a better look. Recognition slammed into her, stealing her breath. Was this some kind of joke?

“You know him,” Rafe said, not a question this time.

“Who is he?”

“An attorney, Victor Grant. He used to be in private practice, but he made assistant district attorney last week. I saw him at the courthouse just yesterday.”

He set the photograph down to reach for the envelope again. When he pulled out the watch, she realized it didn’t have a wristband connected to it. Rafe’s eyes widened and he let out a vicious curse. He grasped the watch in one hand and yanked his cell phone out of his jeans pocket with the other.

“What’s wrong?” Darby hated the alarm in her voice, but what had seemed like a harmless prank a few minutes ago now seemed like something far more sinister.

Rafe issued rapid-fire instructions into the phone to someone named Buresh. In answer to Darby’s earlier question, he held the watch down where she could see it.

A stark, digital readout flashed against the white background, displaying 00:00:15. The last number was decreasing—fourteen…thirteen…twelve…”

This is a book you do not want to miss, so please remember to enter  our prize drawing by leaving a comment below  The winner will be posted on Thursday when Lena returns, this time to interview author Angi Morgan and hear about Angi’s newest release.

Life and Death

The other day, I got to do something I never do.

Reflecting Pool DC

(c) 2013 Diana Belchase

My dear friend came into town and we took one of those double decker bus tours.  You know how it is, you live in a tourist place like D.C., and you don’t really get to see it until guests arrive from out of town.  What a treat.  Someone else did all the driving, we were deposited literally in front of every important monument without having to hike a million miles or search for a parking spot.

Even better, from the top deck, on this incredibly warm winter day, we had an elevated view and a tour guide narrating what we saw.

Heaven.

Heaven a top a tour bus

(c) 2013 Diana Belchase View from bridge crossing into Arlington National Cemetery.

The best part was that we were able to spend time together without either one of us fussing.  No one was cooking, or scrambling to do dishes, or trying to figure out where to go.  We just went, and did, relaxing and laughing together.

Arlington National Cemetery

(c) 2013 Diana Belchase

By the time we reached Arlington National Cemetery, I was too exhausted to move.  I guess my back isn’t what it used to be, and I told my friend to go ahead while I waited for her.  After all, I’ve seen the place before and why should she miss it because of me?

There in the stillness, the tombstones almost seemed to speak.  Husbands and wives buried next to each other, some men lying all alone.  Every now and then, a child was buried there, too.  All of them were so darn young.

Lively teens at Arlington National Cemetery

(c) 2013 Diana Belchase

A plaque from the French declared, “N’oubliez jamais.”  We will never forget.  But so many of these people are forgotten.  Their family tree dies out, and they blend into an amorphous group representing a time of sacrifice and courage.  And we, like the French, often forget what they sacrificed to make us the “Greatest Nation on Earth.”

Just before closing, a group of teenaged students came barreling down the road.  Their youthful energy was astounding.  Leaping, laughing, running — there in the cemetery .  It wasn’t that they were being disrespectful, they were just so full of life.  I’m sure even the specters that haunt the place envied their vivacity and smiled at their hijinx.

Geese over Arlington

(c) 2013 Diana Belchase

After all, isn’t this why all these brave people gave up their lives?  So future generations could run and play and thrive? Believing theirs was the war to end all wars.  Believing their sacrifice could make it better for generations to come.

Maybe that is why so many of us here are obsessed with writing and reading suspense and mysteries.  We face horror squarely, deal justice in a world that is not always just, and we laugh at death as our characters go on — against supremely terrifying odds — to live, to succeed, and to love.

And the winner of Rebecca York’s Harlequin Intrigue, Her Baby’s Father, is … Rolynn Anderson!  Please contact me within 10 days to collect your prize.

Up next is our Scrivener-famous Gwen Hernandez interviewing Ella Grace on Tuesday.   Ella Grace is the pen name for NYT Bestselling Author Christy Reece.  Find out why she’s got a new name and about her new series!

Mary Kay Andrews’ Murderous Secret Identity

Mary Kay AndrewsMary Kay Andrews books are transformative.  When you’re done with them, you think twice about your life decisions, and you feel as if you’ve found long-lost sisters.  She takes you down the back roads of America — to little towns and places where traditions and secrets run deep, and friendship runs even deeper.  Her heroines are the kind of women I want to be — brave, able to deal squarely with their problems (okay it might take a few chapters) and move in new directions.

(If you’re having trouble viewing the video, please update your adobe flash player)

But if you’re as much of a fan as I am — you might notice that there is always an element of suspense or mystery buried within the pages of her novels.  Well, the reason is finally made clear as Kiss and Thrill reveals that Mary Kay is also mystery writer Kathy Hogan Trocheck.  What a scoop!  Take that all you fancy reporters at CNN.  <smile>  And an even more recent scoop — Mary Kay just bought her dream house, Ebbtide, the one that was featured in her book Summer Rental!

I love Mary Kay’s dual identity more than I can say, because I also write both suspense and women’s fiction and can tell you, Mary Kay is exactly who I want to be when I finally grow up.

irisheyeseverycrookednannyTell us who you want to be when you grow up and you might win a copy of Spring Fever by Mary Kay!  SpringFever

Today we’re giving away as prizes TEN COPIES of her newest women’s fiction novel:  Spring Fevera fab read I know you’ll enjoy.  Don’t forget to leave a comment or ask a question to be entered!  Mary Kay is going to try to stop by and answer as many as possible.

(Please make sure you contact us within ten days of  us posting the winners or you’ll forfeit your prize.  Chances of winning depend upon number of people entered.  Winners will be chosen from those that leave comments today and tomorrow at both Kiss and Thrill and Diana Belchase’s website, and you are invited to post comments on both sites for an extra chance to win.)  Good Luck!

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