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Rachel Puts Debut Author Elizabeth Heiter in the Crosshairs

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I’m so excited today to introduce my friend Elizabeth Heiter to our Kiss and Thrill readers. Elizabeth and I met in 2008 when we were both finalists in Romance Writers of America®’s Golden Heart® contest. She was an early reader of CONCRETE EVIDENCE and I in turn was extremely lucky and got to read HUNTED, which debuts today.

I absolutely loved HUNTED and Elizabeth’s heroine, FBI profiler Evelyn Baine. This book is intense, scary, and fascinating. If you are looking for a book that will keep you up late and take your breath away with the best fight scenes I’ve ever read, this book is for you!

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed I don’t give books star ratings, because I find stars just don’t capture exactly how I feel about a book. So, as is my wont, I needed to come up with a new rating for HUNTED. Only one symbol fully captures the intensity of this book.

HUNTED gets five crosshairs:

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So now it is my great pleasure to welcome Elizabeth to Kiss and Thrill!

RG: What published author (any genre) turns you into a total fangirl?  Is there a particular book or is this based on their entire body of work?

EH: I’m going to have to say Suzanne Brockmann.  I was perusing the romantic suspense section at the bookstore one day many years back and came across Over the Edge.  Well, as soon as I finished it, I went out and bought everything else I could find by her (I even found used copies of all her TDD books, which weren’t in reprint at the time), and I’ve read everything since then.  In 2010, I entered a haiku contest she was running and I won!  I got the chance to sit down and talk to her at a conference as part of my prize, and it was a fantastic experience.  Not only is she an amazing writer and a very nice person, I love how she uses her success to bring awareness to issues that matter to her.

RG: I think several of our Kiss and Thrill contributors are turning green with envy right now. 🙂 I Have you ever written fan fiction, and if so, what work was it based on?  If you haven’t, what would you be tempted to write fan fiction about?

EH: Yes!  The very first manuscript I ever finished was written with critique partner Robbie Terman (whom I’ve known since second grade).  In early high school, we wrote a Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys novel – all in pen, in a big notebook.  During our senior year of high school, we went back and took that basic plotline we’d created and completely rewrote it into our own story, separate from the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys world.  That manuscript got us “Gifted and Talented” credit in high school and showed me that I could finish a book.  There’s still a special place in my heart for Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys!

RG: I love that story! Robbie is the best–you are so lucky you grew up together! And it’s funny – another 2008 GH finalist, Diana Miller, also named Nancy Drew in her fan fiction answer (you can read that post here). Next question, Facebook or Twitter?

EH: Both, and neither.  I was a latecomer to social media, and I still find some aspects of it really bizarre (like when I’m at a restaurant and at the table next to me, everyone has their phones out and are tweeting instead of talking to each other!).  In other ways, it’s quite fun.  I like Facebook because there’s no limit on words (and as a novelist who likes to write 100,000 word books, that’s handy!) and I enjoy Twitter because it’s quick and I really enjoy the randomness of it.

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

EH: Hmmmm…my villains actually tend to use pretty straightforward methods for murder, most of the time.  It’s the body disposal where they get weird – for example, in more than one manuscript, I have used alligators (either to destroy evidence or as a way for a villain to try to kill off my heroine).  I’ve been intrigued by this idea ever since I went kayaking in the marshes in Georgia and had to sign a piece of paper that essentially read “this company is not liable if, while kayaking, an alligator eats you.”  I think only a suspense writer would be amused by that, but I still took that kayak trip (and I’m alive to talk about it!).

RG: I have been tubing and canoeing down rivers in Florida and I can confirm having alligator sightings every time. Never a dull moment on the river. 🙂 Okay, now for the best part, tell us about your debut release.

EH: My debut psychological suspense, HUNTED, is about an FBI profiler who learns just how deadly it can be to get inside the head of a killer.

In HUNTED, FBI profiler Evelyn Baine gets what looks like a typical serial killer case to profile.  Except when she arrives at the crime scene, the behavioral evidence seems contradictory.  But it does tell her the killer has struck before, and unless they stop him, he’ll strike again.  As she digs deeper into the case, the serial killer she’s tracking begins to track her too.  This time, it may be Evelyn’s turn to disappear…

New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann said, “This is a really excellent thriller – fast-paced and exciting, with a memorable cast of characters. Well done!”

RG: Okay, now I think my fellow K&T contributors are exploding with envy over the Brockmann quote! Thank you so much for sharing your debut release day with us, Elizabeth! With 2013 ending with your debut release, I know 2014 is going to be an exciting year for you.

Today Elizabeth is giving away a copy of HUNTED in ebook to one lucky commenter. To enter the drawing, tell us one thing you are looking forward to in 2014.

HUNTED
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Diana Miller’s DANGEROUS AFFAIRS Gets Rachel in Hot Water

I’m a bath person. I love that first moment of sinking into a tub—the slow immersion in a bath just a hint too hot and then riding the temperature down to perfect. This is how I felt as I sank into DANGEROUS AFFAIRS by Diana Miller. This book seduced me with liquid warmth, but it didn’t disappoint with water that cooled too fast. Every time I thought the romantic tension might ease, Diana deftly tossed in a new obstacle. And whenever it seemed events in the story could spiral out of control—possibly overheating—again, Diana’s firm grasp of craft guided the story and maintained tension, conflict, and suspense at the perfect temperature.

It’s been a while since a book immersed me so perfectly, so I’m thrilled to share it with our readers. In honor of this, today I’m creating my own personal rating system and giving DANGEROUS AFFAIRS highest marks: five bathtubs.

With great excitement I welcome Diana Miller to Kiss and Thrill!

DM: I’m thrilled to be here! And as another bath person, I can’t think of a greater honor than getting a five bathtub review! Thanks so much.

RG: Have you ever written fan fiction, and if so, what work was it based on?  If you haven’t, what would you be tempted to write fan fiction about?

DM: I’ve never written fan fiction, but I’ve always wanted to write a romantic suspense novel featuring Nancy Drew. Growing up I was obsessed with those books (actually I wanted to be her).

In my book Nancy would be in her early thirties. She broke up with long-time boyfriend (and college football star) Ned Nickerson a dozen years ago, when she discovered he cheated on her with a dippy cheerleader. He claimed he did it because was feeling unappreciated and needed someone who focused more on him than on mysteries and also wasn’t so blasted self-sufficient. Knowing he could lose Nancy, however, made Ned realize how much he loved her. He apologized and even resorted to groveling, but Nancy refused to forgive him, and their romance fizzled.

Shortly thereafter Nancy’s BFF Bess got a job, got married, and had twins. Her other BFF George either decided to become a doctor or came out as a lesbian and left River Falls to marry the girl of her dreams in Massachusetts. Nancy realized that life as a socialite, even one who spent some of her free time helping people by solving mysteries, wasn’t really fulfilling. So, following in her father’s footsteps, she decided to go to school and become a lawyer. She took over her dad’s practice in River Heights and now solves legal puzzles, which isn’t quite as exciting as solving mysteries, but is a whole lot safer.

Then out of the blue, someone tries to kill Nancy. She, her dad, and the local cops assume it must be one of the hundreds of villains Nancy helped put away during her stint as a girl detective. However, they have no idea which villain since dozens of them have finished their sentences and been released from jail. Enter former boyfriend Ned Nickerson, who’s involved either because he’s now an FBI agent or because he’s a former Navy SEAL turned PI who for some reason Nancy’s father hired to protect her. Ned now has to deal with a more mature Nancy who he finds hotter than ever, but who’s even more self-sufficient and doesn’t want his help or protection—and who still hasn’t forgiven him for cheating on her!

RG: This sounds fantastic—certain to be a five bathtubs book! Let me know if you need a beta reader. 😀

Next question: Facebook or Twitter?

DM: Facebook. No contest. Facebook is simple to use and easy to read. I love seeing all my friends’ family and vacation photos and funny posts (and Mary Strand’s weekly Hugh Jackman photos make Mondays more bearable).

Twitter, on the other hand, freaks me out. Partly it’s because I haven’t taken the time to figure it out, so it seems really complicated to me. But my biggest issue with it—and the reason I haven’t bothered figuring it out–is that tweets have to be short and concise. I used to be a lawyer and expounded for a living. I have trouble keeping a query letter to one page or limiting a synopsis to five pages. How am I supposed to say anything worthwhile in under 140 characters?

RG: LOL—I’m just the opposite. Facebook terrifies me. I think I’m the last person left who doesn’t have a FB page, but I love Twitter.

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

DM: I’m pretty boring when it comes to killing people—I’m not good at writing violence (I’m one of those people who closes her eyes and plugs her ears during violent movie scenes). Although I have been trying to work out the logistics of stabbing someone with an icicle, one the murderer either knocks off a roof just as the victim passes under it or actually uses like a sword. I’m talking about one of those big, heavy icicles with lethal points. Those things are scary and look like they could easily drill through someone’s skull or chest. And if I set that book in Minnesota (as I did DANGEROUS AFFAIRS), the villain certainly wouldn’t have trouble finding one. Unfortunately, we have five months of winter–and even more unfortunately, it’s going to start any day!

RG: Your heroine in DANGEROUS AFFAIRS is a soap opera actress. I loved the fact that while the TV genre got a little well-deserved ribbing, it was still treated with respect. As someone who spent my adolescence addicted to soaps, I appreciated the balance. I don’t watch soaps any more—I don’t have the time!—but I know if I allowed myself to turn on the TV during the day I’d quickly get hooked again. So my question for you—and for our readers—is have you ever been hooked on a soap, and if so which one(s)? Is it a habit you’ve broken or an indulgence you still enjoy?

DM: I’ve been hooked on DAYS OF OUR LIVES and GENERAL HOSPITAL since I was in junior high. Back before VCR’s, I lived for school vacation days so I could catch up on them, and I have to confess to skipping class with friends a couple times to watch a favorite hero/heroine’s wedding. Like you, I don’t have time to watch much anymore. But I still read their fan sites every week so I can keep up with what’s going on!

Okay readers, now it’s your turn to confess: have you ever been a fan of a soap opera? Today Diana is giving one lucky commenter a $25 Amazon gift card!

~ ~ ~

DANGEROUS AFFAIRS

When soap opera star Abby Langford leaves Los Angeles for her Minnesota hometown, she’s hoping to give her nine-year-old daughter the peaceful childhood she never knew. But instead of tranquility, Abby finds an old knife hidden behind a wall of her new house. Then the nightmares start: a blood-soaked victim and a killer’s arm slicing through the air, again and again.
Abby wonders if she’s having the nervous breakdown the tabloids claim she already had, especially when sexy, skeptical police chief Josh Kincaid questions her story. When menacing hate mail arrives, Josh’s professional concern for Abby soon evolves into an intense attraction, and the feeling is mutual. But as Abby’s visions grow more graphic and gripping, so does her fear.

Somewhere in the shadows of Abby’s memory lies the key to a very present danger. But she’ll have to stay alive long enough to find it…

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