Blog Archives

Political Thrillers for Super Tuesday!

It’s Super Tuesday! If you live in one of the thirteen U.S. states and one territory* holding primaries today, chances are you will be heading to the ballot box (or a caucus) to cast your vote for the presidential candidate of your choice. Right?

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In celebration of those of you who exercised your right to vote today, K&T has put together this non-partisan, recommended reading list of political thrillers.

What political thrillers would you add to our list?

If you live in a Super Tuesday state, don’t forget to vote today!

*Super Tuesday States and Territories: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming, and American Somoa

How do you top a North Korean Firing Squad?

IE-frontCover-Final-r2-72dpiThere is an ailment that afflicts some authors, popularly known as “Second Book Syndrome” in which an author struggles to write the next book after publication of their first novel (sometimes it strikes after a novel is viewed as a critical and/or financial success). I didn’t face this syndrome in the typical manner—it hit me as I began writing my 4th novel. At the time, none of my books were published, so there was no measure of success to trigger it, just my own neuroses.

For me, the syndrome surfaced because I’d just completed Body of Evidence and whenever I sat down to write, the vicious little voice in my head would say, “How do you top a book that starts with a North Korean firing squad?” And I couldn’t let go of the idea that I had to top it. In my head, the 3rd Evidence Series novel had to be more dynamic than the last.

But still, in spite of these doubts, I wrote. I finished the first draft, and I liked it. There were parts I even loved. But I knew it needed work, so I set it aside and started another book, which I planned to make the 4th book in the series. But still, that fear lingered even as I finished the first draft of the next book.

Then I had an idea for a novella that would tie the first 2 Evidence books to the 2 unpublished manuscripts, creating a stronger link across the series. That novella (which ended up being a short novel) is the 3rd book in the Evidence Series, Withholding Evidence.

Writing Withholding is what finally cured me of Second Book Syndrome, because I approached the work differently. Instead of trying to top a firing squad, I aimed for a funny and sexy opening to set the tone for that particular book. While some books require firing squads, others require a cocky half-naked SEAL confronting a curious historian, or a heroine on a quest for justice finding an injured former Army Ranger deep in the Alaskan wilderness.

With this clarity, I finally returned to that book I’d drafted while struggling with the Syndrome. I went to Alaska to research the setting, and started from scratch with the story, so the doubts that hampered me wouldn’t find their way into the new draft. In an instant, the vision of Isabel hiking through woods and finding Alec came to me, and I knew I had my opening. Does it top the firing squad? I have no idea, but that no longer matters to me. What matters is I was eager to find out what happens next, which is all we can ask from any first scene.

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Incriminating Evidence released today, and after reading about my struggle with the Syndrome, you can probably imagine my joy when one of the first reviews opened with: “I absolutely loved this book. It is the fourth book in this series, and in my opinion, it is the best.”

You can read on for an excerpt of Incriminating, or visit an online vendor to download a longer sample.

Amazon | iBooks | KoboBarnes & Noble

This evening (Tues, March 24th) from 7 – 10 p.m. EDT, my critique partner, Darcy Burke, and I are having a party to celebrate the release of Incriminating Evidence and Darcy’s fabulous book, Yours to Hold, on Facebook. Stop by to chat with our great lineup of guest authors and enter giveaways to win lots of fun prizes (including several items that play a role in Incriminating Evidence)!

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 Incriminating Evidence Excerpt:

There was only one solution. Well, two. Either give him her blanket, or share it with him. The smart thing would be to share it. They’d both be warm. They’d both get the rest they needed to face the hike to her truck tomorrow.

But sharing a blanket, getting up close and personal with Alec Ravissant, definitely didn’t feel like the right thing. The right thing would be to give him the blanket and get the hell out of the cabin, head back to her truck alone. When she arrived home, she could call Raptor and tell them where they could find their boss.

“If you’re trying to decide if you should give me your blanket,” Alec said softly, “forget it. I won’t take it from you. I can handle a little chill.”

Crap. He was awake, meaning the right thing wasn’t an option. If she tried to leave, he’d follow, and he was in no condition to traipse six miles through the woods. “No, I was debating sharing it with you.”

His mouth curved in a slow smile. “You wanna get close to my body, Jenna?”

Isabel rolled her eyes at his tone even as she stiffened at the fake name. He was going to be so pissed when he found out who she really was. “No, but I don’t want you to die after I worked so hard to save your ungrateful life.” She grabbed the Mylar tent. “It’s not a regular emergency blanket, it’s the tent kind—a long tube. We’ll have to shimmy into it.” Read the rest of this entry

Love and Scandal – Rachel Kall

Rachel Kall

It’s my pleasure to welcome my friend and fellow suspense author, Rachel Kall, back to Kiss and Thrill. Rachel writes political thrillers, including her brand new series she calls “Love and Scandal.” What a perfect name for a series involving politics and romance!

So, what are people saying about her new series? Take a look…

“Rachel Kall writes gritty, fast-paced, realistic romantic suspense that carries a punch to the gut and a twist to the heart. Don’t miss a word!” —Roxanne St. Claire, New York Times bestselling author

Excuse me while I shove the little green monster off my shoulder. What an awesome endorsement!

Rachel just released PRESIDENTIAL PURSUIT, a prequel novella to the first book in this series. (But you can read either one first.) Helen Riley, the heroine, has overcome some serious issues in her past to rise to the level of frontrunner in the presidential election. Below is the cover and a description of the story.

Rachel Kall-Presidential Pursuit coverDynamic and determined, Helen Riley has devoted her life to public service. Now she’s on the verge of doing something no other woman has ever done: Become the President of the United States of America. But her enemies will stop at nothing to end her Presidential hopes.

Smart, loyal, and sexy Sean Mackay has never pushed to be more than Governor Riley’s best friend and strongest supporter. However, when her life is threatened Sean steps up to protect the woman he loves beyond all reason.

As the campaign heats up, sparks begin to fly between Helen and Sean. Will she make history and admit her love for Sean, or will her pursuit of the White House end in tragedy?

Rachel’s gorgeous kitty, Willow, certainly appears to approve of PRESIDENTIAL PURSUIT! Rachel Kall-Willow PP

Love intrigue, suspense, and scandal? Then the Love and Scandal Series is for you. Set in the nation’s capital, these stories are full of drama, feature sexy heroes, political intrigue, and edge of your seat suspense.

The first full-length novel in this series was released just a few days ago and is called RACE TO KILL.

When fiercely independent Vivian Reese is thrust onto the national stage during a heated presidential campaign, she doesn’t expect to become a media darling. She also doesn’t expect to start to fall for her sexy new bodyguard, Marcus Locke. But when threats start surfacing against the sitting President’s campaign and all evidence points to Vivian, she doesn’t know who to trust. 

Rachel Kall-RacetoKillDelta Force Operator turned FBI agent Marcus Locke is supposed to be investigating campaign finance crimes. He’s not supposed to be checking out the sexy, eloquent campaign spokeswoman Vivian Reese, who’s one of his prime suspects! But when they are caught in the middle of a presidential race that is quickly turning deadly, he is forced to put both his heart and his job in the line of fire.

Tempers flare and passions ignite as the campaign gets dangerous, but when bullets start to fly will either of them survive?

Not to be left out, Rachel’s cute lab, Chloe, wants to let you know that she highly approves of RACE TO Kill! Rachel Kall-chloe rtk

Now, for a quick lightning round of questions…

Q. Favorite TV shows?

A. I Love The Good Wife, Castle, Bones and New Girl.

Q. Favorite food

A. I love cheese. Which also means I love pizza.

Q. Pepsi or Coke?

A. Neither! I’ve given up soft drinks. But I love coffee.

Q. Cat or dog person?

A. I’m a HUGE animal lover. I have 2 dogs and 3 cats.

Q. Beach or mountain?

A. Beach

Q. Dream vacation?

A. Grand Cayman.

***

One lucky commenter will win a free e-copy (Nook or Kindle, winner’s choice) of PRESIDENTIAL PURSUIT.  Check back on Thursday to see if you’re a winner!

Rachel’s question for commenters: “I love writing strong and intelligent heroines, so writing the story of the first woman president was exciting. What are the characteristics that you like most in romantic suspense heroines? What things turn you off?”

***

Author links

www.rachelkall.com

Twitter: @rachelkall
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorRachelKall
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/rachelkall

Why Karna Small Bodman Scares Me

Okay, I admit it, Karna Small Bodman intimidates the heck out of me.

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She’s had more high profile jobs than anyone ranking under Secretary of State.  And to be honest, there are a few Sec’s that she’s run rings around.  This is a woman who knows first hand how the White House and National Security really works.  She’s been thrust into emergency situations and the assassination attempt against a President.  She’s met with Cold War leaders, popes, and prime ministers and anchored TV news.

You’d probably be intimidated, too.

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Aboard Air Force One with President Reagan
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With Gorbachev

So, if my voice starts out a little shaky on this interview, please forgive me.  Just trying to remember this lovely woman’s bio, and the alphabet soup of Federal agencies she’s served with takes the talent of someone more experienced than I.

Karna has taken all that real world knowledge and used it in her thrillers.  It’s so accurate, her book, Castle Bravo, had me shaking in my boots.  Funny thing is, this amazing woman, who writes such scary, fact-based fiction is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.  She’s  smart, articulate, and kind.

So, forgive me as I trip over my words and her accomplishments and join me as I interview Karna Small Bodman.  This is one interview, you won’t want to miss.

LEAVE A COMMENT and WIN a digital copy of Karna’s newest short, The Agent!  Leave a comment at DianaBelchase.com, too, and get entered to win TWICE!

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Go Ahead, Judge a Book By Its Cover: Rachel Grant’s Body of Evidence

That’s one awesome cover, right? And it captures the essence of the book so well. Smart. Sexy. Desperate. Political.

Body of Evidence is a fantastic read that will challenge you, inspire you, terrify you, and lift you up in the end. I always learn so much when I read a Rachel Grant book, but I’m entertained in the process and don’t notice. This is an unputdownable, intense romantic thrill ride that cements Rachel Grant’s place in the vanguard of new romantic thriller authors.

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. Here’s the low down on

BODY OF EVIDENCE

“Top-notch page turner! The perfect mix of suspense and romance.”~ Jill Barnett, New York Times Bestselling Author

And she thought facing a firing squad was bad…

When archaeologist Mara Garrett traveled to North Korea to retrieve the remains of GIs lost in combat, she never imagined she’d be arrested, convicted of spying, and sentenced to death. Her only hope is Curt Dominick, the powerful, ambitious, and infuriatingly sexy US attorney prosecuting her uncle, a former vice president of the United States.Diamond Head

What starts off as a rescue mission quickly morphs into a race across the Pacific. Someone is after Mara, and they’ll risk everything to stop her from reaching Washington DC. With betrayal around every corner, Curt and Mara have little reason to trust each other and every reason to deny the sparks between them that blaze hotter than the Hawaiian sun. Still, desire clashes with loyalty when they discover a conspiracy that threatens not only their lives but the national security of the United States.

Turnabout is Fair Play.

Now let’s ask Rachel some of the same questions she likes to ask her victims, er, I mean the authors she interviews.

Carey: 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?

Rachel: I think I could meet most if not all of the authors I discovered as an adult and keep my cool, but there are three authors I discovered in my teens, who, if I were to meet them in person, would turn me into a blithering, dumbstruck fool:

Dean Koontz – I read WHISPERS at age 12 or 13 (1983, I think) and was blown away. From that moment forward, I was done reading kids books.

Elizabeth Peters – it’s her fault I became an archaeologist. The first book I read by her was THE CAMELOT CAPER. Pure pleasure.

Mary Higgins Clark – I discovered her at the same time I discovered Dean Koontz, and started with THE CRADLE WILL FALL. Dean Koontz made me a reader, Elizabeth Peters made me want to be an archaeologist, Mary Higgins Clark made me want to be a writer.

Carey: 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?

Rachel: I’ve never written fan fiction, but I think my writing developed from the desire to take the kinds of books I enjoy—romance, mysteries, and thrillers—and write the kind of book I want to read—a suspense heavy romance, or a romance heavy thriller.

I’ve read my share of thrillers that I thought would have been better with the emotional impact of a romance, and plenty of romance that I would have loved if there were more focus on the suspense.

Carey: I’m with you on that front! Facebook or Twitter?

Rachel: Twitter.

Carey: Once again, I’m with  you! I love the instant interaction of Twitter. What is the strangest weapon you’ve used to kill off a character, either on or off-scene?

Rachel: I haven’t gotten creative in this area, although, in Concrete Evidence, my heroine does defend herself with a sharp Marshalltown trowel. Does that count?

(And yes, archaeologists do speak about trowels by brand name—as long as the brand is Marshalltown [Goldblatt isn’t worth mentioning in my opinion]. Also, I’ve been to the Marshalltown trowel company’s headquarters in Marshalltown, Iowa. Yeah, archaeologists, we’re that cool.)

After reading this to my husband he pointed out that in CONCRETE EVIDENCE a character is killed with a refrigerator.

Carey: LOL. Tell us about Body of Evidence.

Rachel: BODY OF EVIDENCE was a gift. From the moment the concept hit me—an archaeologist working for JPAC in North Korea sentenced to death by firing squad, her only hope for rescue, a US Attorney on the verge of prosecuting the biggest case of his career—I knew I HAD to write it. But the year following the initial inspiration was a difficult one on a personal level, and my writing was derailed for about ten months. Finally, when I got back to the story, writing was a way to process grief and move forward. I wrote the last half of the book (50k words) in 15 days, and found my voice again as a writer.

Writing this book was exactly what I needed. I got to escape into Mara and Curt’s problems. I got to write my favorite kind of hero and heroine—smart people who get caught up in an extraordinary situation—and give them the happy ending I wish we all could have.

I loved writing Mara’s understandable but conflicted hero worship of Curt, and Curt’s legendary control slowly crumbling. I wish every couple, every conflict, came to me this clearly.

Carey: Thanks so much Rachel. I loved this book and I know our readers will too!

Body of Evidence opens in North Korea and then races across the Pacific. What settings, exotic or otherwise are your favorites for romantic suspense? One lucky commenter will win a digital copy of BODY OF EVIDENCE!

Connect with Rachel!

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 Books by Rachel Grant

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