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Twelve Shades of Midnight

Author Rachel Grant

I’m so thrilled to be able to tell my readers about my next project! TWELVE SHADES OF MIDNIGHT is a box set of twelve paranormal novellas that will be released a few days before Halloween. I’m excited to be a part of this amazing lineup of authors for my first venture in writing paranormal.

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TWELVE SHADES OF MIDNIGHT

The stroke of midnight ushers in many things. From hijinks and mischief to danger and evil, romance is the magic that binds these paranormal novellas together. Join 12 bestselling and award-winning authors as they explore the different shades of midnight in exclusive, never-before-released stories.

Liliana Hart – THE WITCH NEXT DOOR
Darynda Jones – A LOVELY DROP
Shea Berkley – DARK SECRETS: STONE COLD DEAD
Dakota Cassidy – WITCHED AT BIRTH
Claire Cavanaugh – MIDNIGHT RENEGADE
Rachel Grant – MIDNIGHT SUN
Trish McCallan – SPIRIT WOODS
Angi Morgan – BODYGUARDS IN HEELS: HIT…

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Kimberly Kincaid’s Novellas Make Dangerous Delicious

Kimberly Kincaid

I first heard Kimberly Kincaid’s name when we were both 2011 Golden Heart nominees, and more recently when she released the first two novellas in her Line series. When I mentioned to my blogmates that I’d like to invite Kimberly to K&T, Sharon Wray told me she adores Kimberly. And after reading Kimberly’s novellas, I adore her too.

These novellas remind me of the most delicious artisan chocolates. They are beautifully crafted, packed with unique flavors, and intensely satisfying. And unlike those artisan chocolates I love, these are guilt-free treats! Read one Kimberly Kincaid novella and you’re going to want to gobble up—um, read the rest of them. Kimberly’s heroines are foodies—a personal chef and a chef/owner of a local diner—and her heroes are cops. A suspense thread originating in LOVE ON THE LINE drives the action in her newest novella DRAWING THE LINE.

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DRAWING THE LINE

When Detective Jason Morgan is tasked with keeping a local restaurant owner safe as part of a make-or-break case, he rises to the challenge. The job is his first priority, and he owes it to the memory of his father, a detective killed in the line of duty, to do it at any cost. But Jason never expected Serenity Gallagher to be so beautiful, so serious…or so tough to protect.

Serenity has moved from place to place at the whim of her capricious mother all her life. The last thing she wants is to leave the diner she finally calls home, even if it means being stuck with a sexy blue-eyed detective. But she’s the only witness to a horrible crime, and the man behind it wants her very, very dead. Going into protective custody means survival, no matter how much Serenity hates hiding.

As Jason and Serenity bide their time together, they are shocked to discover they have much more in common than the surface reveals. But keeping her safe is Jason’s number one priority, no matter how much he’s drawn in by the woman beneath the witness, and Serenity’s past makes it difficult to trust. As the stakes get higher and the spark burns hotter, can Jason and Serenity draw the line?

I love Kimberly’s novellas so much that I’m giving away Kindle e-books of DRAWING THE LINE to three commenters. But first let’s pick Kimberly’s talented and highly imaginative brain.

Writing and cooking…

For me, they honestly go hand in hand. I was raised in a family where food is definitely love, and we cook to show affection and caring. This is something I try to translate into each of my books, albeit in different ways. So whether my characters are cooking to soothe themselves through rough emotions (Serenity does this in DRAWING THE LINE) or to nurture the ones they care for (Violet, in LOVE ON THE LINE), there’s always a little food to go with the love in my books!

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The first time I cooked…

My mom has always had an open-kitchen policy, so I was young! But the first thing I remember ever cooking pretty much on my own was Hamburger Helper. I think I was maybe eleven. Now we make our own version of cheeseburger macaroni at my house…just without the box 🙂

The best dinner party ever…

Has good friends, good food, and good spirits! It can be a lobster boil on the beach or a black tie affair. Dinner parties don’t need to be fancy to sustain people. Some of the best dinner parties I’ve ever had have been on a picnic blanket with my kids. For me, it’s about the gathering, and the simple celebration of whatever food you’ve got. Everything else is extra.

Opening Lines: “Having spent half her life in one restaurant or another, Serenity Gallagher had seen just about everything a professional kitchen had to offer. Except for a body on the floor. That was definitely new.”

Recipes…

Making up your own recipes is a little daunting at first, I admit. But here’s the crux of it: Nothing’s written in stone. I use some age-old recipes that have been handed down to me, I use new recipes that I find online and in books, and I make things up as I go. Sometimes I combine one or all of these methods. Cooking is about the journey. Sometimes, we get lost! But it’s okay to start over when that happens. It’s what the pizza guy is for!

In my spare time…

I’m laughing, because I don’t think I have any. But… in my spare time, I read (of course), cook (you know it was coming), take my kids to the library, watch action movies with my husband, study martial arts and shop for shoes. Not necessarily in that order.

The next book I write…

I’ve got two in the works right now (one is getting “The End” today!) The third “Line” novella, OUTSIDE THE LINES, which features Dr. Blake Fisher, the sexy-serious ER doc who has appeared in the other two “Line” novellas, and a fourth novel to go with my Kensington PINE MOUNTAIN series which debuts with a full length novel  TURN UP THE HEAT in March. After that, I’m looking at a few other projects. There may or may not be firefighters on the horizon. I plead the fifth 🙂

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Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a 2011 RWA Golden Heart® finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. Visit her any time at www.kimberlykincaid.com or come check her out on Facebook (www.facebook.com/kimberly.kincaid1) and Twitter (@kimberlykincaid).

Tell us about your best dinner party ever for a chance to win Kimberly Kincaid’s novella DRAWING THE LINE! Three winners will be announced on Friday! Plus the three winners of Manda Collin’s novella THE PERKS OF BEING A BEAUTY!

The Perks of Being A Beauty . . . and Manda Collins!

Manda Collins

It’s a very special time here at Kiss and Thrill because it’s release day for our very own Manda Collins and her Regency romance novella The Perks of Being A Beauty.

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Not sure why a blog devoted to suspense readers is gushing over Regency romances? Just check out this amazing review from Romantic Times for Manda’s next release Why Dukes Say I Do (release date July 30, 2013).

“Witty and smart, Collins’ prose flows smoothly as she merges a charming, compassionate love story with gothic suspense. Collins again brings modern-day issues into the Regency period, compelling readers to identify with her three-dimensional characters. Add strong pacing and depth of emotion, and there’s no doubt this is a winner. Four and a half stars, Top Pick!”

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Not to be outdone,  The Perks of Being a Beauty is a lovely story of an unusual heroine seeking both forgiveness and redemption. It’s a story I just adored.

The beautiful Miss Amelia Snow is not accustomed to being snubbed by the gentlemen of the ton. But when her mother dies unexpectedly, forcing Amelia to take employment as companion to a wealthy cit’s daughter, she quickly learns to play down her looks or risk losing her position. When her employers, the Smithsons, decide to throw a country house party, she is determined to fade into the background. But how can she when the Smithson’s guest of honor is Lord Quentin Fortescue, the childhood friend who stole her heart?

Younger son, Lord Quentin Fortescue, is far more interested in his host’s cotton mills in the north than he is in courting the man’s dim-witted daughter. But it’s the girl’s companion who makes him look twice. Years ago, Miss Amelia Snowe rejected his proposal without a backward glance. Quentin has molded himself into just the sort of man she’d have wanted back then, but is Amelia still the smug beauty who broke his heart? And can either of them risk their newfound positions to indulge the fiery attraction that burns between them?

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And because we love Manda and her books so much, we’ve  intertwined her interview with a virtual blue bouquet in honor of her “blue” book. (Okay, maybe there’s a touch of purple and yellow!)

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SW: Manda, I am so thrilled about the acclaim your books have been getting. How much harder was it to write a novella versus a single-title book?

MC: I find novellas a great deal easier to write. Yes, you have to choose your words carefully because of word count limitations, but it’s much easier to hold all the details of a novella in my head than it is to do with a novel. I really like the compactness of a novella, the way you can look at issues much more closely than you can in a novel, when you have to keep up the pace and not dwell on any one thing. I’d love to write three or four novellas a year. They recharge my batteries before I dive into a longer project.

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SW: It’s never easy redeeming a difficult character from other stories, yet you do a splendid job with Amelia. Were you worried about what your readers would think about her redemption? Especially considering her awful behavior in the Ugly Duckling books?

MC: Thank you! But, I’m STILL worried! For whatever reason, readers seem to be more forgiving of heroes with flaws than of heroines. And even though I feel like Amelia has grown and changed (as heroines do in their own novels) I know that all readers aren’t going to take her redemption seriously. Which is okay. They aren’t required to. But I am relieved that a number of readers are going along with Amelia on her journey toward becoming a better person.

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SW: Your redemption of Amelia was witty and believable. What, specifically, did you do in this story to make her more sympathetic?

MC: I looked at the things she was doing that were so awful in the earlier books and tried to imagine what might have brought her to that point. What made her into the kind of person who would sneer and scoff and generally make life miserable for her peers? And I discovered that she’d been influenced by her mother and as many of us do when we “grow up” she realized that her mother’s way of doing things was perhaps not the right way. And so, she began to unthaw and make amends for her past wrongs. Seeing her make amends is important to helping readers believe she can become a better person.

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SW: I love the fact Amelia wears glasses (and that Quentin makes her wear them). How common was it for women of the Ton to wear them in public?

MC: You know, I’m not all that sure. I confess to using my own feelings about being a “girl who wears glasses” and Marilyn Monroe’s character from How to Marry a Millionaire for those bits. And I think Amelia without her spectacles was sort of a disguise in reverse. When she’s wearing her glasses, she’s acknowledging her true self. But when she’s not, she’s denying it. So by making her wear them, Quentin is at once accepting her for who she is, and making her do so as well.

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SW: When you’re writing, do you connect more intensely with the hero or the heroine?

MC: It depends on the book. One of the things I like about writing romance is that I get to focus on two protagonists instead of one. So I can explore life from two different perspectives and life experiences. Of course, in every book there’s going to more of a focus on one or the other, and with me, which one depends on which character has the most to overcome. Or alternately, which character needs to change the most. I tend to write the first draft with the heroine in mind and the second draft with the hero.

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SW: You write description and dialogue beautifully, but which do you prefer to write?

MC: Oh, dialogue without a doubt. There’s just something intoxicating about carrying on dialogue with imaginary characters. Especially when YOU are playing both parts. Maybe it assuages my inner actress? Whatever the reason, I love writing banter. Always have. 🙂

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SW: How long did it take you to get published? How did you find your agent?

MC: From the time I finished my first novel to actual publication it took four years. I finished my first book, a Victorian historical called Portrait of a Nightingale, in 2008 and started querying in late 2008/early 2009. I got my agent, Holly Root, from a cold email query I sent to her in October of ’08. I sent her my partial, she asked for the full, and I heard back from her in March of the next year asking me to make some revisions before she could offer representation. I was recovering from open heart surgery at the time, so I had to ask for a little time.

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She was understanding and told me to take my time. (Which was HARD, let me tell you.) And when I sent her the revisions, she got back to me in a month and I signed with her in October. So the process took around a year. Though Portrait got a lot of editorial interest, it was a little too outside the box and didn’t sell. So the next year, I decided to go back to my roots and write a Regency. How to Dance with a Duke sold after four months on submission.

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SW: Do you think being a librarian had an effect (good or bad) on your decision to become an author?

MC: Not really. I love books of course—always have—but to me librarianship is only minimally about the contents of the items we collect and organize. It’s more about being able to boil them down to their essence and describe them for others to find. Let’s be honest: there’s no possible way that librarians can read and understand every book they catalog or recommend! And I wanted to be a writer long before I decided to become a librarian. It does give me extra opportunities to squee, though. Seeing my books in Worldcat for the first time was a real high that I don’t think anyone who isn’t a librarian would appreciate.

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SW: What is the one thing you wish you’d known before you got “The Call”?

MC: I wish I’d known that “The Call” doesn’t spell an end to your days of fretting over what people think of your book. Yes, it does mean that you’ve finally moved onto the next rung of the ladder. But there’s just more chances to be judged waiting for you on every rung of the ladder. First it’s whether you get into WalMart or Target, then it’s what the big review journals think of it, then it’s what reviewers think of it, then it’s what readers think of it. Then the process starts all over again with your next book. It’s literally never ending. And what’s really crazy-making is that it even continues for authors who are New York Times bestsellers. Because as soon as one book hits it, then it becomes about hitting higher than your last book. And if you don’t there’s teeth-gnashing about why and what you can do next time.

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Not to say that I don’t LOVE this business. I do. But you’ve got to come into it with the knowledge that people are always judging you. And to keep your sanity, you’ve got to be able to step away from all that and focus on the writing. If you can’t, then you’ll be miserable. And worse, you’ll find it impossible to concentrate and your work will suffer.

My advice? Just let go of what you can’t control and concentrate on what you can. Be zen about it.

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SW: Great advice, Manda. And as a special treat, Manda is debuting her new trailer for The Perks of Being A Beauty right here on Kiss and Thrill.

SW: Thank you, Manda, for sharing your release day with us. And because Manda is as sweet as she is talented, she is giving away three e-copies of The Perks of Being A Beauty to three lucky commenters. Now, we’d love to know . . . how do you feel about the redemption of difficult heroines? (we will not use the “b” word, but you get what we mean :))

How-to-Romance-a-RakeManda Collins is the author of the Ugly Ducklings Trilogy, a series of historical romance novels. Manda spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. An affinity for books led to a graduate degree in English, followed by another in librarianship. By day, she works as an academic librarian at a small liberal arts college, where she teaches college students how to navigate the tangled world of academic research. A native of coastal Alabama, Manda lives in the house her mother grew up in.

You can find Manda on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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