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Move over Jack Reacher…Enter Gil Malloy!

Meet Crime Fiction Novelist R.G. Belsky

and the newest installment in the Gil Malloy series…

BLONDE ICE

blondeicefinalcover-R.G.Belsky

Son of Sam. Ted Bundy. The Boston Strangler. All of these infamous serial killers who made front page news shared a common trait—they were men who killed women for a sexual thrill.

But now Gil Malloy—ace reporter for the New York Daily News—is on the trail of a different kind of serial killer who breaks all of the rules. Dubbed “Blonde Ice” by the media, she’s a sexy blonde who picks up seemingly random men at bars and clubs, has sex with them, and then brutally murders them afterwards.

Malloy—who is already in the middle of a major political story about the election of the next New York City mayor—finds himself drawn to the case by secrets from his past. As he digs deeper, he begins to suspect that there could be some kind of link between the mayoral race and the emergence of the Blonde Ice killings.

As the body count and the political stakes continue to rise, Malloy soon realizes he’s covering what could be the biggest story of his career. All he has to do is live through it.

Amazon       Barnes&Noble      Simon&Schuster

Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, in New York, NY (John Makely / NBC News) NBC News Dick Belsky.

Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, in New York, NY (John Makely / NBC News)
NBC News
Dick Belsky.

Does that sound like an awesome story or what? This is the third novel in the Gil Malloy series. Now meet the fabulous author, R.G. Belsky.

R.G. Belsky is an author of crime fiction and a New York City journalist. His new mystery BLONDE ICE – the latest in a series featuring newspaper reporter Gil Malloy – was published by Atria on October 18. Previous books include SHOOTING FOR THE STARS and THE KENNEDY CONNECTION. Belsky is a former managing editor of the New York Daily News; metropolitan editor of the New York Post; news editor of Star magazine; and managing editor at NBCNews.com. He recently won the Claymore award and finished as a Silver Falchion Finalist at Killer Nashville.

Lena – Welcome to Kiss and Thrill! You have a long, prestigious history as a journalist and are still an active journalist. But you also write crime novels. Did you always want to write novels? What finally made you take that leap?


R.G. – I’ve actually been writing crime novels for a long time. I started back as a young journalist when I first read Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie and a few others – and got inspired to try my own. Most of my crime novels have been written while I was also working as a fulltime journalist at the NY Post, NY Daily News, Star magazine and NBC News. I always thought that gave me a big advantage in my fiction career because:

    • Being a news person gives you great ideas for crime novels. I’ve covered most of the big crime stories over the years – Son of Sam, O.J., Jon Benet, etc – and also been involved in some of the most sensational tabloid stories like “Headless Body in Topless Bar” – the famous NY Post headline. So when people ask me where I get the ideas for my crime novels, I always say: “I just go to work in the newsroom every day:”
    • There’s no place better than a New York City newsroom to find colorful characters. None of the characters in my crime novels are real, but they certainly have been inspired by many of the real life characters in my journalistic life. Much of the dialogue in my books too comes straight out of newsroom banter. I don’t think I ever could have created someone like Gil Malloy if I hadn’t been around a lot of Gil Malloys as a real life journalist.
    • A journalist has to deal all the time with the facts. He or she is consumed by them – everything in a news story has to be accurate. But in fiction, I get to make stuff up! I generally start with some real life facts as in The Kennedy Connection – pegged to the JFK assassination. But then I create fictional items like a secret son of Lee Harvey Oswald to propel the plot forward. Now that kind of freedom is really fun to do for a longtime journalist like me!

Lena – When you and I last spoke, your first novel in the Gil Malloy series, The Kennedy Connection, was coming out. Since then, you’ve published the second in this series—Shooting Stars. And the third, Blonde Ice, just came out (Happy book release!) This series has received amazing critical acclaim. To what do you attribute your success? What makes your books so different? What makes Gil Malloy so compelling?

R.G. – I follow a pretty basic rule when writing my fiction. I try to make the books – especially the characters – things I would want to read about. That’s especially true with Gil Malloy. He’s flawed, immature at times, and has a lot of other issues = but he’s basically a good guy with integrity who’s also very interesting. I guess I patterned him to a degree after some of the TV characters I’ve loved over the years like Jim Rockford and Columbo. I also try to make sure the story has as many twists and surprises as possible – but the character is still the most important thing to me. One of my favorite reader reviews on Goodreads consisted of just three words: “Gil Malloy rocks!” That’s the reaction I’m going for.

Here’s what critics and fellow authors are saying about his novels…

  • “Bombshell Twists” ~ Publishers Weekly
  • “Sensational! R.G. Belsky dazzles with his new mystery novel…Gil Malloy shines!” ~ Killer Nashville, Book of the Day
  • “Sinewy, compelling and addictive” ~ The Huffington Post
  • “Excellent thriller…establishes Malloy as a formidable hard-boiled hero.” ~ Booklist
  • “Malloy is a terrific character” ~ Sandra Brown
  • “completely entertaining” ~ Hank Phillippi Ryan

Lena – What’s next? More Gil Malloy books or a new series? Something else?

R.G. – I recently won the Claymore award at Killer Nashville for “Forget Me Not,” the next book I’ve been working on. It’s about the long ago disappearance of a child in New York City and a woman TV reporter who becomes obsessed with finding out answers about the case. I think it’s different than the Gil Malloy books – but still captures that same New York City media world that I know so well. Of course, I also hope to do more Gil Malloy books in the future too. I like writing Gil!

COMPLETE BOOKLIST

As Dick Belsky…

  • ONE FOR THE MONEY – Academy Chicago (1985)
  • SOUTH STREET CONFIDENTIAL – St. Martin’s (1989)
  • BROADCAST CLUES (Paperback version from Berkley Prime Crime of South Street Confidential) – 1993
  • LIVE FROM NEW YORK – Berkley Prime Crime (1993)
  • THE MOURNING SHOW –Berkley Prime Crime (1994)
  • SUMMERTIME NEWS – Berkley Prime Crime (1995)

As R.G. Belsky….

  • LOVERBOY – Avon 1998
  • PLAYING DEAD – Avon 1999
  • THE KENNEDY CONNECTION – Atria (2014)
  • THE MIDNIGHT HOUR – Novella – Atria (2015)
  • SHOOTING FOR THE STARS – Atria (2015)
  • BLONDE ICE – Atria (2016)

R.G. is giving away a PRINT COPY OF BLONDE ICE to a random commenter (Giveaway limited to U.S. mailing addresses.)

Just answer the below question to be entered into the drawing…

Who’s the scariest serial killer you’ve ever read or seen on screen?

Learn more about R.G. Belsky by visiting his website.

Blessed Are Those Who Weep

Giveaway alert: a Nook or Kindle copy of BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO WEEP and a Starbucks card are up for grabs.

Today I’m thrilled to welcome my wonderful friend and fellow Witness author, Kristi Belcamino, to the blog. Kristi has a fascinating and heart-wrenching story to tell you, so I’ll let her do most of the talking, but I just have to say a few words about her new release BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO WEEP.

This story grabs you by the throat from the beginning and never lets go. The heroine, Gabriella Giovanni, leads you through a maze of compelling characters and twisting events until you arrive at an ending that will leave you breathless. But it’s not the heart-pounding ending you’ll read for. It’s Gabriella herself. A heroine who’s brilliant yet vulnerable, brave yet all too human. Pick it up today, then kick back with a glass of red wine, a hanky, and a do not disturb sign.

Here’s the blurb:

San Francisco Bay Area reporter Gabriella Giovanni stumbles onto a horrific crime scene with only one survivor—a baby girl found crawling between the dead bodies of her family members. Reeling from the slaughter, Gabriella clings to the infant. When Social Services pries the little girl from her arms, the enormity of the tragedy hits home. Diving deep into a case that brings her buried past to the forefront, Gabriella is determined to hunt down the killer who left this helpless baby an orphan.

But one by one the clues all lead to a dead end, and Gabriella’s obsession with finding justice pulls her into a dark, tortuous spiral that is set to destroy everything she loves …

The Story That Did Me In

By Kristi Belcamino

I’ll never forget the story that did me in.

The one that slayed me and changed my career path entirely. The one that ultimately led me to quit my job as a newspaper reporter.

It was about the perfect family destroyed — shattered — by tragedy.

As a crime reporter, I had been blithely cruising through other people’s tragedies for years. I was moved and haunted by many of the stories I covered — some which caused me to drink and smoke too much — but I was still able to do my job and more importantly, I still loved doing my job.

My two close friends at the paper were just like me. We thought nothing of talking about “floaters” and “decomps” and those words were sprinkled into our ever day conversation.

Not much rattled us. Dead body? No problem.

In fact, I’ll never forget how excited I was one day to get a new copy of a homicide investigator’s manual in the mail. It was chock full of graphic photos of various modes and manners of death, including close-range gunshot wounds to the face and explosions and people crushed to death. Not pretty.

But that didn’t stop my friend C and I from taking the book to a Chinese restaurant and flipping through it over lunch.

C also had seen more autopsies at our county morgue than probably any reporter in the history of our newspaper. She was soft-spoken, drop-dead gorgeous, and fearless.

I only saw one autopsy. A guy about my age who overdosed. I can recognize the smell of a dead body to this day.

C and I were regular visitors at the morgue and I soon got a reputation at the newspaper. Every time an intern started, the editors would tell me to take them to the morgue that first week.

I wonder how many interns were traumatized by the experience? I took one young woman on a day when a young man who died in a motorcycle crash was on the slab as we walked into the room. The first thing we saw was the giant chunk of his skull that was missing at the top of his head.

But none of that bothered me. Not really.

Then I gave birth.

The flood of hormones transformed me into another person. Suddenly, everything I reported on was much too close to home.

All the evil that I had kept at arm’s length seemed to follow me home at night.

I would immerse myself in the seediest, darkest part of life and then come home to the very definition of innocence in my baby. I was having a hard time reconciling these two worlds, but then it got worse.

Right before Christmas, a mother in a wealthy suburb and her two children, who I think were less than a year apart, were walking on a beautiful fall day to get ice cream. They were on a parkway, where a wide sidewalk was separated from the road by a patch of grass.

The kids were either in front of or behind the mother when a suspected drunk driver went careening off the road and plowed into the kids, killing them both.

Not long after, the parents invited the press to talk to them in their luxurious home in a rich subdivision. I sat with other reporters in their living room and looked around at the beautiful couple in their beautiful home.

The mother, who I had imagined would be curled up in the fetal position with dirty hair and slobber on her wrinkled clothes, looked more put together than I ever had in my entire life.

She was gorgeous. Her husband was gorgeous. Without knowing their story and looking at them in their fancy home, you would think they had everything.

And yet, they had nothing. Not anymore. Some drunken fool had taken away their life.

The million dollar house was empty and hollow, haunted by memories of children playing and laughing.

Later, my editors asked me to do a story about what this couple’s Christmas was like. I refused. Or rather, I simply kept forgetting to do it.

I couldn’t force myself to call them. I knew what their Christmas was going to be like. Or at least I suspected. It was going to be a hellish nightmare, just like the rest of their days were right now.

So, I suppose it could have been any story that fall — any tragedy that struck me to the core — but that was the story that did me in. Suddenly as a mother, I couldn’t dip into and out of other people’s tragedies anymore. I just couldn’t do it.

I had always cared about my job and cared about the victims of tragedies and tried to do them justice in the best way I could, but I couldn’t do it anymore. When I became a mother, the emotions struck too sharp and too deep for me to continue doing my job properly.

I quit my job a few months later.

But I am forever changed by my former life as a reporter. I have seen things that help me put everything into perspective.

Luckily most of the people I know live very sheltered lives. When they complain — and cry — about trivial things, I try to understand. II tell myself they don’t know. They don’t understand.

They don’t know how lucky they are. They have a little bubble around their lives. They feel invincible. And maybe it is necessary to feel that way to go on day to day.

But I know something different. I know that bubble doesn’t protect them from tragedy. Tragedy is not picky. It is not discerning. It has a laissez-faire attitude in who it strikes. There is no rhyme or reason.

That’s one thing I know.

I’ve sat in too many living rooms of people who know the same thing.

This knowledge may seem like a burden to some. And in fact, up-close knowledge of that as a crime reporter was more than I could handle as a new mother.

But with hindsight, I realize this knowledge is not a burden, but a gift.

It is a gift because it reminds me to pick my battles, put minor setbacks in perspective and to never, ever take one moment of this precious life for granted.

Kristi Belcamino is a writer, photographer, and crime reporter who also bakes a tasty biscotti.

As a reporter, she’s flown over Big Sur in an FA-18 jet with the Blue Angels, raced a Dodge Viper at Laguna Seca, and attended barbecues at the morgue. Her first novel was inspired by her dealings with a serial killer.

During her decade covering crime in California, Belcamino wrote and reported about many high-profile cases including the Laci Peterson murder and Chandra Levy’s disappearance. And because of her police sources, she was one of the first reporters in the country to learn that the passengers on Flight 93 had fought back on 9/11. She has appeared on Inside Edition and local cable television shows. Her work has appeared in such prominent publications as the Miami Herald, San Jose Mercury News, and Chicago Tribune. She now works part-time for the St. Paul Pioneer Press as a police reporter.

Connect with Kristi on her website, facebook, or twitterprofilecowboy2

Readers leave a comment or question for Kristi. One lucky person will win an e-copy of BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO WEEP and a $10 Starbucks card. Good luck!

 

 

The “Art” of the Short Story

Triple Derringer winner, Art Taylor, teaches writing and literature at George Mason University.  He’s such a fan of noir, that he’s named his son, Dash.  Please join me as we sit down and discuss  how he writes his winning short stories, his students, and what makes great short fiction.

Enjoy!

Great News!

Art is giving away a copy of the latest, Chesapeake Crimes anthology:  This Job Is Murder with his Derringer-winning  story, When Duty Calls.  It has a host of great shorts from other award winning authors, too — like Barb Goffman, Donna Andrews, and a forward by Elaine Viets.  So leave a comment here and/or at my other website to enter.

This job is murder

Now, for another dazzling short — well not a short story, but novella, by our very own Carey Baldwin, tell us who your favorite short story or mystery author is.  For an extra chance to win, guess why Art’s son is named Dash.  Or be really sneaky and go to DianaBelchase.com and leave a comment there (under this same post) for another chance.  Tune in on Thursday to see who won.

Here is our second amazing prize!

HUSH

Reformed bad boy Charlie “Drex” Drexler returns to his hometown of Tangleheart, Texas hush-by-carey-baldwin-ebooklg-e1373254420916hoping to make peace with his dark past and make amends to those he’s wronged. He’s also looking to reconnect with an old flame. But Anna won’t cooperate, new questions tear open old wounds and his best friend’s wife and baby disappear. Can Drex and Anna mend their broken hearts while fighting for their lives and racing to bring mother and baby home safely?

Read an excerpt here.

Plain Awesome : Alison Stone

Alison Stone (200X300)Keep reading for a chance to win a print copy of PLAIN PURSUIT.  But first I have to tell you, I’m so excited about our guest today. Alison Stone proves that great suspense comes in all flavors. I’d describe her books as sweet suspense, but she can elaborate on her writing herself-keep reading for an interview with the lovely Alison!  

All I know is I adored her latest release: PLAIN PURSUIT. This gem of a story set in Amish country has all the ingredients I crave: twists, turns, well-drawn characters, and of course nail-biting suspense. Alison has also given us insight into a faith and culture we don’t normally have access to. It’s just a plain great read, and written with a fresh, wonderful voice. You won’t want to miss it.

Before we go on to the interview, here’s a little about Alison and PLAIN PURSUIT:

Alison Stone left snowy Buffalo, New York and headed a thousand miles south to earn an industrial engineering degree at Georgia Tech in Hotlanta. Go Yellow Jackets! She loved the South, but true love brought her back North.

After the birth of her second child, Alison left Corporate America for full-time motherhood. She credits an advertisement for writing children’s books for sparking her interest in writing. She never did complete a children’s book, but she did have success writing articles for local publications before finding her true calling, writing romantic suspense.

Alison lives in Western New York with her husband of twenty years and their four children where the summers are absolutely gorgeous and the winters are perfect for curling up with a good book–or writing one.

Besides writing, Alison keeps busy volunteering at her children’s schools, driving her girls to dance, and watching her boys race motocross.

Random Acts and Too Close to Home were released by Samhain Publishing in 2012.

Plain Pursuit, a Harlequin Love inspired Suspense, is available now.

PLAIN PURSUIT

Danger in Amish Country

When her brother is killed in a small Amish town, Anna Quinn discovers she’s an unwelcome outsider. But the FBI agent investigating the case is right at home—because Eli Miller was born and raised in Apple Creek’s Plain community. Eli left his Amish faith behind long ago, but his heart is rooted in a local cold case he can’t forget—a mystery with strange connections to Anna’s loss. Desperate to uncover the truth, Anna and Eli are faced with stony silences and secrets…secrets that someone wants to keep buried in the past.

Copyright © 2013 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited

Interview with Alison Stone

Carey: Who are some of your favorite suspense authors?

Alison: The list of suspense authors I enjoy is long. But Lisa Gardner, Erica Spindler, Wendy Corsi Staub, and Harlan Coben are a few of the names that come to mind.

Carey: Oh, we need to have our own book club! I guess great minds read alike. Does your background in industrial engineering influence you as a writer?

Alison: My engineering background is both a blessing and a curse. My analytical side is great for plotting suspense. However that same part of my brain gets hung up on being a perfectionist. Perfectionism only leads to head banging and procrastination. I continually have to remind myself it’s okay to write a “crappy first draft.” It may come as no surprise that I prefer the editing process. I get tremendous satisfaction from fitting all the pieces neatly (and sometimes not so neatly) into place.

Carey: Alison, you describe yourself as a writer, mom and volunteer, just trying to figure it all out. I’m guessing part of what you’re figuring out is balancing family and career. What’s your best advice for others trying to find that balance?

Alison: Um, learn to say no? I’m getting better now that I’m a published author. Before I sold, I tended to volunteer my days away. Now, I realize I should have protected my writing time more. I still volunteer, but I’m more selective. It’s also easier to write now that all four of my kids are in school during the day. I’m lucky I don’t have a day job, so I know I have it much easier than those who work outside the home, have children, and write. But the most important advice I have for others (and I’m constantly reminding myself) is to enjoy the moment. To stop thinking “I should be writing” when I’m spending time with my kids…or doing almost anything else. The pressure to write more, better, faster is always there, but my new focus is to be “present.” Life’s moments are fleeting.

Carey: I have to say that resonates with me. So much of the time I’m thinking “I should be writing” when what I should be doing is being present in the moment. Your current release, PLAIN PURSUIT, takes place in a fictional Amish community called Apple Creek.  What drew you to write an Amish romantic suspense?

Alison: As a writer, I’d read about trends and popular settings. The idea for an Amish story kept popping up. I had long been fascinated by the Amish. When I was a little girl, I remember seeing an Amish gentleman riding on the edge of the road in a horse and buggy. When my dad explained that the Amish didn’t use electricity, I was fascinated. No TV? No Happy Days?

I kept putting the idea of writing an Amish story off. I’ll admit, I was a little intimidated by the research. Then when I was at the RWA conference a few years back in NYC, I heard a Harlequin editor say she’d love to see more Amish romantic suspense.  No more excuses. I had to write my Amish story. The idea of a plane crash in Amish country came to me while I was still in the hotel in NYC. I came home and started doing research. I sold Plain Pursuit less than a year later.

Carey: Your hero, Eli Miller, is an FBI agent who has left his Amish faith behind. What is Eli’s biggest personal challenge when he returns to his Amish roots?

Alison: Eli’s biggest challenge is facing his past. He became an FBI agent years after his little sister went missing while under his care. When he returns home, he has to deal with the guilt of leaving his Amish faith and causing the pain in his mother’s eyes.

Carey: How is the theme of forgiveness woven into the story?

Alison:  In doing research on the Amish, I read the book Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy. It retells the tragic events of the one-room schoolhouse shooting in Nickel Mines, PA that killed 5 Amish children and wounded 5 more. Immediately the world was amazed at how the Amish were able to forgive the gunman. Forgiveness is an integral part of the Amish community as prescribed by the New Testament. I knew I had to weave the theme of forgiveness into Plain Pursuit. In my novel, the hero has to learn to forgive the person responsible for his sister’s disappearance. And just as importantly, he has to learn to forgive himself.

Carey: That’s a powerful lesson. What do you see as your heroine, Anna’s, greatest flaw?

Alison: Anna’s greatest flaw is distancing herself from loved ones for fear of getting hurt. When she was a young girl, her parents died in a murder-suicide. Then as a young woman, she avoided her brother. The story opens with her brother’s death in a plane crash, leaving her to pick up the pieces. (Anna’s character growth also explores forgiveness.) She has to learn to open her heart to find peace.

Carey: What makes Anna and Eli a couple to root for?

Alison: Who couldn’t root for the Amish-turned-FBI hero and his damsel in distress? No seriously…both Anna and Eli have experienced terrible loss in their lives leaving them afraid to take chances with their hearts. When Anna’s brother turns out to be the prime suspect in the ten-year-old disappearance of Eli’s missing sister, they have to learn to put their differences aside to work together to find the truth, all while someone is working very hard to keep secrets buried in the past. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but Anna and Eli do live happily ever after.

Carey: What can readers expect to see from you in the future?

Alison: I’m thrilled to announce I recently sold another book to Love Inspired Suspense. This one involves murder, betrayal, and the high-stakes world of pharmaceutical research. Needless to say, I left the Amish world behind for my next story, but I do hope to revisit the Amish community of Apple Creek, New York in future books.

Carey: Congratulations! And I have to say that story sounds intriguing. I look forward to reading it! Alison, thank you so much for being our guest today! 

Alison: Thank you for hosting me on Kiss and Thrill.

 Readers, connect with Alison 

Website: AlisonStone.com

Twitter: @Alison_Stone

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlisonStoneAuthor

One lucky commenter will win a print copy of PLAIN PURSUIT!

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!

Cherry Adair in Person!

Who doesn’t love Cherry Adair books?  She’s an incredible writer, the prolific author of over 32 bestselling, suspenseful action adventures.  In print interviews, she’s fun — but in person?  Well, this firecracker is hysterically funny, will keep you on your toes, and is absolutely not to be  missed.

Cherry sat down with me a few months ago to tell me a little about her books, her life, and how she got both her wonderful Montana accent and a life coach named Murgatroyd.  Remember to leave a comment below to be entered to win a copy of Ice Cold!

Hope you enjoy her as much as I do!

So, today’s question is do you have a secret person, real or imaginary who gives you that boost — or should I say kick you know where — when you need one?

  Thanks Cherry for stopping by!  Don’t forget everyone, to leave a comment below. One lucky commenter will win a digital copy of Cherry’s newest, hottest release in the T-FLAC series, Ice Cold! (See the trailer Here.)  So make sure you’re entered by commenting!  Cherry will be stopping by today and tomorrow to answer questions, too!

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