Blog Archives

Thursday Winner – Undercover Twin and Working Girls!

CONGRATULATIONS TO JENNA BLUE WHO WINS A DIGITAL COPY OF:

Cover Undercover Twin - Lena Diaz

Jenna, please click on the Contact Us tab above within the next 10 days and let us know where we can send it. I just know you’ll love the story!

CONGRATULATIONS TO JULIE OEST

Julie, you won a print copy of BODY OF EVIDENCE and an ebook by either:  Melissa F MillerM A ComleyCheryl BradshawToni Dwiggins, or Phoenix Sullivan! Please Contact us with your mailing address and choice of ebook.

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Next Tuesday Kiss and Thrill will be hosted by Diana Belchase. We look forward to seeing you then!

Working Girls… Do It For Thrills ~ 6 Author/6 Book Bundle

As a reader, my favorite kind of book is a thriller that features a strong, smart professional woman whose work opens the door to adventure, mystery, and sometimes romance, so it is with great excitement that I share with our Kiss and Thrill readers that CONCRETE EVIDENCE is part of a book bundle with just these types of books. It’s a thrill to see my title included with these great books by fabulous authors!

Available only for a limited time, you can get WORKING GIRLS which includes 6 complete novels for just $0.99!

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When stakes are at their highest, these working girls draw on the tools of their trades to kick butt, take names and make a difference.

 IRREPARABLE HARM – Melissa F Miller
Someone’s using a smartphone app to bring down commercial airliners and only attorney Sasha McCandless and the federal air marshal she’s teamed with can prevent more disasters. When the madman’s killing spree takes a personal turn, Sasha will need both her legal skills and her Krav Maga training to stop him.

GUARANTEED JUSTICE – M A Comley
Retired Detective Inspector Lorne Simpkins is happy running her new animal rescue centre with her husband. But when sisters Linda and Fiona Carter come to her desperate to adopt a guard dog, Lorne takes up the mantle of Private Investigator when she learns the reason. Linda was brutally raped by a serial rapist — who’s named Fiona his next victim.

BLACK DIAMOND DEATH – Cheryl Bradshaw
On the slopes of Park City, Utah’s newest ski resort a woman is found dead. Accident — or murder? Private Investigator Sloane Monroe is on the case when a second dead body is found. Now the killer is tracking Sloane’s every move, and her life depends on uncovering the truth before he strikes again.

CONCRETE EVIDENCE – Rachel Grant
Accused of stealing artifacts from a shipwreck, underwater archaeologist Erica Kesling is determined to clear her name. An undercover job with the buyer of the missing antiquities puts her close to her goal. Until a sexy, charismatic intern with secrets of his own shows up, placing her heart — and her life — in jeopardy.

BADWATER – Toni Dwiggins
A terrorist has stolen radioactive material, leading forensic geologists Cassie Oldfield and Walter Shaws on a perilous hunt through Death Valley. The unstable atom — in the hands of an unstable man — is governed by Murphy’s Law. Whatever can go wrong, will. And when it does, field skills won’t be enough to save them.

SECTOR C – Phoenix Sullivan
A pair of seemingly unrelated outbreaks — a rise in human stroke-like cases and a rapidly spreading animal disease — lead a CDC analyst and a veterinarian to a shocking discovery at a big-game compound. But even if they can escape with the secret of Sector C, it may already be too late.

In the WORKING GIRLS book bundle, the heroines are: an attorney, two private investigators, an archaeologist, a forensic geologist, and a veterinarian. Today’s question for our readers: what is your fantasy adventure career?

One commenter will win a print copy of BODY OF EVIDENCE and an ebook by one of the other WORKING GIRLS authors – winners choice!

WORKING GIRLS
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

Walker and Neggers Winners!

Special thanks to our amazing guest bloggers this week. Carla Neggers Neggers_Carla_11_col1-2

Julie Ann WalkerAnd Julie Ann Walker!

The winner of the first four books in the Black Knights series is: Jolene A The winner of the ten dollar Amazon Gift card is Jeanne Dotterweich Please contact us here with your email and snail mail address to claim your prize. 

This week’s featured K and T author is Gwen Hernandez, author of Scrivener for Dummies.

Looking to write the great American novel? You’ll need Scrivener and this book!

ScrivenerFDCoverHere’s what one Amazon reviewer had to say: “This book is a wonderful aid in understanding and navigating the software, and in making good use of its many features. The author is clearly very familiar with the Scrivener program and she writes about it with the confidence and authority of an expert.”
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect book to accompany the software, October 26, 2013
By John M. (New York)

You can read the full review here.

Purchase on Amazon here.

 

DC By The Book: A mash-up of literature, history, geography and technology

Capitol at nightMore often than not, when you’re reading about Washington DC, you’re likely to find words like dysfunctional, partisan, nuclear option, filibuster, and gridlock. But politics aside, there’s still plenty to love about this town, especially if you’re a fiction writer or a reader. Recognizing that DC is the go-to setting for tons of books from super serious to high octane entertainment, two DC librarians recently started a clever crowdsourcing project to encourage the exploration of the town’s social and geographic history by populating a database of excerpts from novels with DC scenes and mapping them:

DC BY THE BOOK.

Capitol Medallion

I love to read books set in my town so I couldn’t wait to explore the DC By The Book website. Once there, I found out that you can join the project as a contributor by recommending  novels with DC settings. Or you can help the librarians map the books that are already listed on the site by finding the excerpts set in the Washington DC neighborhoods, parks, government buildings, museums and so on. There’s also a cool map that shows you the locations where scenes from the books take place.

I couldn’t resist adding a couple of books with scenes set in some of my favorite places in DC to the website.

Allison Leotta opens DISCRETION Discretion-paperback-cvr-thumbwith a young woman, Caroline, dressed like a K Street lobbyist in an “ivory St. John suit, Manolo heels,” entering the Capitol through the Senate-side for a private, evening appointment with a congressman. Except Caroline is not a lobbyist; she is an expensive prostitute. A staffer walks her through the Capitol to his boss’s personal office. On the way, they pass through the magnificent Brumidi Corridors—“the most beautiful corridor Caroline had ever seen.”

Brumidi Corridors 2

Caroline pauses in the Rotunda—“the ceremonial heart of the Capitol”— to admire Brumidi’s masterpiece on the domed ceiling:  “The Apotheosis of Washington, a fresco painting of the first President depicted as a god among angels.”

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The staffer ushers Caroline past a sign—“No Visitors Beyond This Point”—and up the stairs to the congressman’s personal office in the Capitol building.

No Visitors

Inside the congressman’s office, Caroline admires the view of the National Mall from the balcony.

View

You’ll have to read the book if you want to find out how Caroline’s night ends. Or visit DC By The Book to see if the excerpt has been posted and mapped.

FrontCover-Final-300dpiA lot of the action in CONCRETE EVIDENCE, by our own Rachel Grant, takes place in DC. One of my favorite scenes is a romantic moonlit walk through the presidential memorials along the Tidal Basin:

Holding hands, Erica and Lee “walked in the darkness around the basin. She managed to drop his hand before they reached the Jefferson Memorial, and he could feel her build a barrier between them until it was as solid as the marble columns surrounding the statue of the nation’s third president.”

Carol M. Highsmith

Carol M. Highsmith

Be sure to check out this mash-up of literature, history, geography and technology: DC by the Book

But before you go, dear Reader, share your favorite setting for fiction. And K&T authors, tell us about your favorite places to set the novels you write.

Comment for a chance to win

CONCRETE EVIDENCE (Kindle or Nook).

The lucky winner will be announced on Thursday!

Happy exploring!

Tipping One Back with NYT Bestselling Author Julie Ann Walker

One of the best things about blogging at Kiss and Thrill is having the excuse to get to know authors we’ve met only briefly at writer’sJulie Ann Walker workshops (and when I say “workshop” it’s a euphemism for “bar”).  It’s great fun to meet writers at workshops and talk craft and business, but the drawback is the crowds and the noise (and the pricey drinks).  I picked up met Julie Ann Walker at a workshop a year and a half ago and was thrilled to see her success this fall, when her debut trilogy hit the New York Times bestseller list.

I’m delighted to introduce our readers to Julie, who writes sexy, thrilling suspense centered around Black Knights Inc.–on the surface a tricked-out motorcycle shop, but really the cover for a team of  elite special operatives.

Julie is giving signed copies of the first three Black Knights Inc. books to one lucky commenter.

Rachel:  Julie, welcome to Kiss and Thrill!

HELL-ON-WHEELS-final1Julie: It’s great to be here! And in order to keep the vibe going, I have a full glass of Cabernet in hand. Okay, so you caught me.  It’s my second glass… 😉

R: And I have a pint of my favorite ale.  This feels just like a bar workshop! 😉  So, 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?

J: I have to pick just one?  Geez, don’t make me work for this or anything.  LOL!  But, hmmm, let’s see… *scratches head*  I guess it’s best if I represent our lovely genre – the BEST genre in all of romance… nay, all the literary WORLD – and choose the reigning queen herself, Suzanne Brockmann. I love how she pushed boundaries in her Troubleshooters series.  I love that one of her heroes was gay.  I love that she – gasp – actually wrote a rape scene that was harrowing and graphic and real, and that it didn’t end up cut into a million pieces, lying like sad confetti on the editing-room floor.  I love that her stories were always a twofer, with dual romantic relationships for me to sink my teeth into.  I love that when the situation was dire, she threw in some gallows humor, not to take the edge off, usually, but to subtly accentuate each of the characters’ personalities.  Basically, I just love her.   And if I ever get the chance to meet her – fingers crossed – I’ll probably prostrate myself at her feet, swearing life-long fealty.   So… yeah, you might consider me one of her fangirls.  😉

R: Hmmm.  I wonder if she hangs out at the bar at RWA National?

J: *swoon* Just the thought makes me giddy!

R: 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?

InRidesTrouble_CVR.inddJ: I’ve never written fan fiction.  But if I had to choose a series I was sad to see end, a set of characters I’d like to continue to follow, it would have to be Christine Feehan’s The Drake Sisters series.  I want to see babies being born, dangit!  I want MANY more sexy times between the characters.  I want to see magic and mayhem and what their mystical-power-imbued offspring will get up to.  Did I mention I want more sexy times between the characters???

R: Facebook or Twitter?

J: Oy.  Now this is actually a more difficult question than you might think.  Simply because I LOVE the literary community which, as we all know, is made up of fans, writers, reviewers, bloggers, etc.  So, I adore Facebook for the opportunity it provides me to connect with readers on a daily basis.  But, in the same breath, I adore Twitter because that’s where all my homegirls hang out.  I get to talk shop with other authors who are struggling with characters and plots – just like me.  I get to touch base with bloggers and reviewers who are fundamental in getting the word out about new books.  So… I guess my answer is BOTH.  And, yeah, yeah.  That’s a total copout.  But that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

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

REV-IT-UP-finalJ: Well, I wish I could say I’m really creative when it comes to death scenes, but the truth of the matter is, I tend to eighty-six everybody in the usual manner.  Gun shots, stabbings, garrotings.  I will say I’ve been toying with the idea of chopping off a villain’s head with a rotating helicopter blade.  But then the question becomes, do I chop off his head at the neck?  Or do I just nip the tip?  Take off the top three inches or so?  See, these are the types of questions we romantic suspense authors ponder on a daily basis.  Perhaps we all need to go to group therapy.  Obviously we have some not-so-subconscious violent tendencies.  LOL!

R: Tell us about your upcoming release.

Thrill-Ride-CoverJ: THRILL RIDE is the fourth book in the Black Knights Inc. series, and I think it’s the hottest one yet.  Of course, I’m biased.  😀  In a nutshell, it centers around ragin’ Cajun, Richard “Rock” Babineaux, and Vanessa Cordero, the Black Knights’ resident communications specialist.  Set mainly in the jungles of Costa Rica, the book opens with Rock on the run after having been listed as a rogue agent.  When Vanessa goes to find him, she inadvertently leads the men who are hunting him right to his door.  Bullets fly, engines rev, and hearts race.  Plus, you know, sexy times…

Thank you, Kiss and Thrill, for having me on today.  It’s been a blast!

 ~~~

Okay, I have one more question for Julie–and our readers–to answer in the comments: describe your dream motorcycle.  Julie is giving one lucky commenter signed copies of the first three Black Knights Inc. books!  Check back on Thursday to see if you are our winner.  Winner must provide a U.S. mailing address and contact us within ten days to claim the prize.

Kat Martin talks about AGAINST THE ODDS and mining for stories

Kat---Ventura-Star-(275by20I’ve been a Kat Martin fan since I first picked up NOTHING BUT VELVET in 1997.  Her historicals always had a well-crafted suspense element, which must have made it natural for her to switch to writing contemporary romantic suspense.  If you’ve never read one of her suspense novels, you are in for a sexy, fun, thrilling treat!  As a long-time fan, I’m delighted to host Kat on the blog today.

Kat is giving an autographed copy of AGAINST THE ODDS to only lucky commenter.

MINING FOR STORIES

by Kat Martin

Odds-Cover-(300by450)All year long I am searching for a new and interesting story.  Each year, they seem more elusive.  Tomorrow, AGAINST THE ODDS, the seventh book in my Against Series that started with AGAINST THE WIND, will be released.  As I began to conceive the story, I knew that Alex Justice and Sabrina Eckhart would be thrown together in a tale of greed and murder, but I wasn’t exactly certain how the story would play out.

Or who would be the villain!

I first met Sabrina and Alex in AGAINST THE SUN, where they showed up as friends of Jake Cantrell and Sage Dumont, the woman Jake was hired to protect.

I liked Alex and Sabrina right away, but it wasn’t until SUN was well underway that I realized Sabrina and Alex just had to have their own book.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to put them together, but little by little, a plot began to unfold in my head.

Even half way through, I was still finding my way, trying to figure out who the real bad guy was.

I was particularly happy to be able to write both Alex Justice and Ben Slocum’s stories (Ben’s is AGAINST THE EDGE, book eight of the Against series), since I fell in love with them as I was writing AGAINST THE SUN.

As AGAINST THE ODDS begins, Sabrina receives an inheritance from her uncle–an abandoned silver mine in the West Texas desert.  Running out of money, Rina is determined to find the mine and make it productive, even if it means putting up with the cocky jet jockey she is determined to dislike but finds ridiculously attractive.

G.Q. handsome and obscenely wealthy, Alex is a private investigator and an ex-Navy pilot.  Alex is just the man she needs to fly her safely into the desert in search of her late uncle’s property.  It’s a sexy tale of survival, murder, betrayal, and intrigue that kept me writing long after I should have been done for the day.

I hope you’ll watch for Alex and Sabrina in AGAINST THE ODDS, out in time for Christmas on December 18.

Have a wonderful holiday,

Kat

P.S.  What gifts will you be shopping for this Christmas?

~~~

Links:  ExcerptBook Trailer | Kat’s Contest |PW Review

Purchase Links:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Leave a comment for Kat and you’ll have a chance to win a signed copy of AGAINST THE ODDS!  Check back on Wednesday to see if you are our winner.  Winner must provide a U.S. mailing address and contact us within ten days to claim the prize.

Amanda Brice’s Recommended Summer Reads for Teens and Tweens

As the mother of a twelve-year-old voracious reader, I can’t keep up with my daughter’s need for books.  Thankfully, I have friends who are wonderful Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction authors whom I rely on to recommend books.  Thanks to my friends, my daughter and teenaged nieces think I’m a genius for selecting books.

My daughter adores Amanda Brice’s Dani Spevak middle grade mysteries.  After reading the first book, Code Name: Dancer she couldn’t wait for the sequel.  The short story in Eternal Spring helped to tide her over as she waited for Pointe of No Return to be released in Kindle format.  Now she’s devoured Pointe, and is ready for more.

Summer starts in my house tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. and I need help keeping my kid in books for the next ten weeks.  Thankfully, Amanda Brice has come to my rescue.

To thank Amanda for her help, I’m giving a copy of Pointe of No Return and one of the books she recommends below (winner’s choice) to one lucky commenter.

~~~~~

First I want to say thank you to Rachel and the rest of the Kiss & Thrill ladies for hosting me today. It’s an awesome blog and it’s so much fun to be here to discuss reading suggestions for your tweens and teens.

Now that school is out (or will be shortly), moms and dads across the country are faced with the task of what to do with their kids for the next 2 months or so. I can’t help you with summer camps or childcare or occupying their every waking hour, but in keeping with the suspense theme of this website, I can help provide you with a list of awesome YA and middle grade mysteries.

These books are in no particular order, so don’t try to interpret it as a ranking of preference. But they’re some of my faves – both classic and modern, and I hope they’ll become your kids’ faves, too.

For the tweens:

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

When an eccentric millionaire dies mysteriously, sixteen very unlikely people are gathered together for the reading of the will…and what a will it is!

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere she wants to run to somewhere–to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and preferably elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing that her younger brother, Jamie, has money and thus can help her with the serious cash flow problem she invites him along.

Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie, find themselves caught up in the mystery of an angel statue that the museum purchased at an auction for a bargain price of $250. The statue is possibly an early work of the Renaissance master Michelangelo, and therefore worth millions. Is it? Or isn’t it? Claudia is determined to find out. This quest leads Claudia to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.

Alex Rider: Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

When his guardian dies in suspicious circumstances, fourteen-year-old Alex Rider finds his world turned upside down. Forcibly recruited into MI6, Alex has to take part in grueling SAS training exercises. Then, armed with his own special set of secret gadgets, he’s off on his first mission to Cornwall, where Middle-Eastern multi-billionaire Herod Sayle is producing his state-of-the-art Stormbreaker computers. Sayle has offered to give one free to every school in the country – but there’s more to the gift than meets the eye.

Rush for the Gold: Mystery at the Olympics by John Feinstein

Bestselling sportswriter and Edgar Award winner John Feinstein is back with another sports mystery featuring Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson—this one set at the summer Olympics in London.  In this book, Susan Carol isn’t a reporter—she’s an Olympian, competing as a swimmer at her first Olympic games. Stevie is both proud and envious of her athletic prowess. And he’s worried by the agents and sponsors and media all wanting to get up close and personal with Susan Carol.  But the more disturbing question becomes—how far might they go to ensure that America’s newest Olympic darling wins gold?

Hot Ticket by Tracy Marchini

Hot tickets could be awarded for doing something cool, saying something funny, or sometimes even just wearing something the ticket dispenser liked.  All authentic hot tickets were two inch by six inch rectangles made from this orange cardboard material, with “HOT TICKET” written in big bold letters at the top.  Hot tickets first started becoming popular about a month after school started.  Then there was this rash of copycat tickets on regular paper, but people just tossed those in the trash.  Everybody could figure out it was one of their friends that made it anyway.  But an authentic ticket – that was something you kept.

Some people had their lockers decorated in hot and shame tickets.  Some people kept their hot tickets at home to prevent theft.

If I got a hot ticket, I would definitely keep it taped on the inside door of my locker.  Right now my locker only had a locker mirror, a picture of Lucy and I from my birthday party at Six Flags and these annoying cat stickers from the person who had my locker before me.

Fifth grade did not prepare me for this at all.

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham

In the small city of Strattenburg, there are many lawyers, and though he’s only thirteen years old, Theo Boone thinks he’s one of them. Theo knows every judge, policeman, court clerk — and a lot about the law. He dreams of a life in the courtroom. But he finds himself in court much sooner than expected. Because he knows so much — maybe too much — he is suddenly dragged into the middle of a sensational murder trial. A cold-blooded killer is about to go free, and only Theo knows the truth. The stakes are high, but Theo won’t stop until justice is served.

For the teens:

Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday

First I find out that my boyfriend is cheating on me. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And now he’s depending on me to clear his name. Seriously?

As much as I wouldn’t mind watching him squirm, I know that he’s innocent. So I’m brushing off my previously untapped detective skills and getting down to business. But I keep tripping over dead bodies and I’m still no closer to figuring out who did it. And what’s worse: all signs seem to point to me as the killer’s next victim.

I really need to pick a better boyfriend next time.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush – who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about himself-a truth he never wanted to face.

Thirteen Reasons Why is the gripping, addictive international bestseller that has changed lives the world over. It’s an unrelenting modern classic.

The Twin’s Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Lucy Sexton is stunned when her mother’s identical twin sister shows up at the family’s front door one day. Separated at birth, the two women have had dramatically different upbringings, and Lucy’s mother, Aliese, will do anything to make it up to Helen-including taking Helen into their home and turning her into a lady that all of society will admire. Aunt Helen’s transformation is remarkable. But is it just Lucy’s imagination, or does Helen seem to enjoy being mistaken for Lucy’s mother? Then, on New Year’s Day, Lucy is horrified to find her aunt and mother tied to chairs in the parlor. One of them has been brutally murdered-but which twin has died? Surely her daughter will know…

Filled with shocking twists and turns, The Twin’s Daughter is an engrossing gothic novel of betrayals and secrets that will keep readers guessing until the end.

Heist Society by Ally Carter

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own–scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring her back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help. For Kat there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in history–or at least her family’s (very crooked) history.

Revenge of the Homecoming Queen by Stephanie Hale

I, the flawless Aspen Brooks, was born to be Homecoming Queen. I’ve prepped for it like some kids do the SAT. So can someone please tell me why the crown was given to my evil nemesis?

As if that wasn’t bad enough, somebody seems out to get me. Locker vandalism, a slashed tire, and horrendous lipstick graffiti are just a few of the ways someone is trying to get under my blemish-free skin. (And I’m not even going to mention how the biggest geek in school kissed me, and I didn’t hate it.)

But things start getting serious when girls begin disappearing. I can’t be worrying about tiaras or crushing on a geek when the detective on the case is completely clueless. I have to save the day, all while looking fabulous.

 The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world…and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer…and becoming his prey herself.

Kings & Queens by Courtney Vail

Seventeen-year-old Majesty Alistair wants police to look further into her father’s fatal car wreck, hopes the baseball team she manages can reclaim the state crown, aches for Derek…or, no…maybe Alec…maybe. And she mostly wishes to retract the hateful words she said to her dad right before slamming the door in his face, only to never see him again.

All her desires get sidelined, though, when she overhears two fellow students planning a church massacre. She doubts cops will follow up on her tip since they’re sick of her coming around with notions of possible crimes-in-the-works. And it’s not like she cries wolf. Not really. They’d be freaked too, but they’re not the ones suffering from bloody dreams that hint at disaster like some crazy, street guy forecasting the Apocalypse.

So, she does what any habitual winner with zero cred would do…try to I.D. the nutjobs before they act. But, when their agenda turns out to be far bigger than she ever assumed, and even friends start looking suspect, the truth and her actions threaten to haunt her forever, especially since she’s left with blood on her hands, the blood of someone she loves.

~~~~~

Thank you, Amanda for these wonderful recommendations!  This is bound to keep my daughter busy for a few weeks at least. 🙂

And now it’s our readers’ turn to make their own recommendations.  What Middle Grade or Young Adult book do you recommend?  We’re opening up the genres for the question, so you don’t have to recommend mysteries, although I’d love to see more mystery recommendations if you have them!

One lucky commenter will win a copy of one of the books Amanda recommended (winner’s choice) plus a copy of my daughter’s recommendation, Pointe of No Return.  The winner will be announced on Thursday and must provide a U.S. or Canadian address within ten days to claim their prize.

Pointe of No Return by Amanda Brice

Aspiring ballerina Dani Spevak’s visions of sugar plums are dashed when she’s assigned to understudy her nemesis, Hadley Taylor, in the Nutcracker. Pretty, popular, and rich, that girl has all the luck. Or so she thought.

When Hadley mysteriously disappears with opening night just around the corner, Dani can’t sit idly by, even if it means losing the part. Now she’s running all over Phoenix in a race against the clock. From reality TV trophy wives to sleazy real estate developers to a possible drug ring, the cast of suspects begins to add up. Will she find Hadley before the curtain rises?

Lena Diaz admits to stalking Teresa Medeiros!

Does tweeting “I love GOODNIGHT TWEETHEART by Teresa Medeiros” over and over count as stalking? Maybe. Read on for more details about Lena Diaz, her new release SIMON SAYS DIE, and her stalking problem.


Today is an exciting day for us here at Kiss and Thrill, because SIMON SAYS DIE, by our very own Lena Diaz, is being released today in ebook (you can also order it in paperback if you prefer, but you have to order online). To celebrate, I’m giving away a $25 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble to one lucky commenter, and Lena is giving a signed print set of both HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT and SIMON SAYS DIE. (Snail mail address must be in the US or Canada to qualify.)

I am super lucky to be the Kiss and Thrill team member who gets to interview Lena, because it meant I got to read an advance copy.  Gwen, Krista, Carey, and the rest of the Kiss and Thrill team can suck it…I got to read Lena’s book first!

There is so much to love about this book.  Pierce, who was kicked in the heart by Madison but still drops everything to help her when he realizes she is in danger.  Madison, who doesn’t know whom to trust or what to believe.  She reacted in fear by pushing away the one person she cares about the most.

SIMON SAYS DIE is a reunion story with two strong-willed protagonists who have to find their way past old hurts.  It’s also an intense suspense with a scary killer who is a master manipulator.

Rachel:  I usually start out by thanking my guest for joining us, but since you are one of us, instead I’ll say, I hope you don’t mind being in the hot seat.

Lena Diaz

Lena:  Rachel, can I just take a second and congratulate you again on being a 2012 Golden Heart®  finalist? I’m so thrilled for you!

Now, back to this post. Thank you so much for your kind words about Simon Says Die. I’m so glad you liked it! And I don’t mind being in the hot seat. It’s an honor to be interviewed by you. And if you ask really hard or embarrassing questions, hey, I’m willing to return the favor and interview you some time. (Insert evil laugh here.)

Rachel:  Thanks Lena – it’s an honor to be a finalist and I’m thrilled our own Sharon and Diana also finaled in the same category, but today is about YOU! 🙂

This is your second book, and Pierce and Madison both appeared in HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT.  Were you burning to tell Pierce and Madison’s story from the start, or did those characters jump out in the writing process and demand their own book?

Lena: First, let me emphasize that even though these books have some shared characters, you do NOT have to read the first one to understand and enjoy the second one. They each stand alone, by design. With that being said, the idea of writing Pierce and Madison’s story didn’t occur to me until the end of HKMHKMN (can I pick long titles or what?) The scene is where Pierce is speaking to Amanda, and Madison comes up in the conversation. It was literally while I was writing that scene that I started thinking that maybe Pierce and Madison should have their own story. Then my agent mentioned it, and I decided that must mean I really should write their book. I was halfway through writing SSD when HKMHKMN came out. Immediately readers began asking me when Pierce and Madison’s book would come out. Thankfully, I was able to tell them there would indeed be a book featuring those two characters. I think I may have had a mutiny on my hands if I hadn’t written this book!

As I write this blog post, there have been several reviews already on SSD (really good reviews, yay!) A couple of those reviews mention Pierce’s brothers, introduced in SSD, and that they should have their own books. I never really planned on writing more books for the brothers, although I do have a novella (basically a short story) idea for one brother and another character from SSD and may write that sometime. We’ll see. It depends on reader reaction and what next big idea strikes me I suppose.

Rachel:  I wondered if you were planning sequels for Pierce’s brothers too!  You realize you’re never going to get to write outside of this series unless you stop introducing yummy characters.

Okay, moving on to some of my favorite questions, 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?

Lena:  I’m a total fangirl of so many authors. It’s embarrassing, but for some reason when I actually meet ‘big’ name authors who are my idols, my hands start to shake, my face flushes, and my brain takes a vacation. I have actually forgotten my own name when speaking to one of my author-idols. Why? I think it’s because the characters and stories those people created mean so much to me. When I read a book that I love, the people in that story stick in my mind and become family to me. I mean, seriously – you are never going to convince me that those sexy, Dark Hunters Sherrilyn Kenyon writes about aren’t real.

When some friends and I were at the Atlanta Romance Writers conference and we invited some other attendees to sit with us for dinner, I was totally okay and acted like a normal person. Really, I did. Until I found out one of those people at dinner with us was Susan Carroll, the author of The Bridefinder, one of my most favorite books ever. God bless her that she didn’t run or call the police when I literally jumped to my feet and let out a little squeal of surprise when I realized who she was.

For me, it’s all about the characters, the stories. I go nuts for authors because their stories mean so much to me – just ask Teresa Medeiros. As you said in the title of this blog post, I’m practically her stalker. I tweet about her book Goodnight Tweetheart all the time. I love that book so much that I just can’t help it. But, hey, did you notice she just became a 2012 RITA®  finalist for that book??? Obviously I’m not the only stalker…I mean…fan of that book! (Congrats on the final, Teresa!)

I’m also a fan of Julie Garwood, Linda Howard, Brenda Novak, Karen Rose, Roxanne St. Claire…and on, and on, and on. I’ve met all of the women I just named, many times in some cases. I admire these women because I love their books, they’ve made such an incredible mark on our industry, and they are classy. They always treat their readers with respect, no matter how crazy I…er…I mean…the readers…act.

Rachel:  I think turning into a blithering idiot when you meet an author is pretty awesome praise.  The only thing better might be fan fiction, which brings me to my next question, 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?

Lena:  Yep, that’s me. Blithering-idiot. Gee, thanks Rachel (grin). I’ve never read any fan-fiction and am not that familiar with it. I’ve heard some people really enjoy it, and that some authors have even had their start by writing fan-fiction. I can certainly understand the appeal of wanting your favorite characters to live on and continue to have more stories. And if someone liked my world-building and characters so much that they wanted to continue writing more stories for my characters, that’s kind of cool. It tells me my stories had a big impact on those people and touched them emotionally. And, really, there can be no bigger compliment to an author than that.

Rachel:  Tell us one guilty pleasure.

Lena:  Grey’s Anatomy. It’s killing my productivity right now. My daughter put it on TV on Netflix a few weeks ago and got me totally hooked. I had to go back and start watching the entire series – we’re talking like seven or eight seasons. I’m literally stuck in the middle of a Grey’s Anatomy marathon/illness right now. I’ve quit struggling against it because I’ve finally realized the only cure is to just give in and watch the entire series. Hopefully I’ll finish in a few days. Then I can move on!

Rachel:  A TV marathon sounds like fun!  I’m sure you can justify it as research, right?  There, no more guilt. 🙂

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

Lena: Ha! Thanks for the no-guilt card. I’ll play that card. 🙂 Hmm. Strangest weapon I’ve used to kill a character? Probably something I used in Simon Says Die, but I can’t tell you what that is because it would be a spoiler. In my first book, He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, the weapon was an ordinary knife. Nothing strange about that, really. What was strange was the three-day ritual the killer had, and his use of roses and thorns. But again, I don’t want any spoilers so I can’t go into that either. Let’s just suffice it to say that I don’t focus a lot on the murders in my books. I focus on suspense – that ever-present feeling of danger, of wondering what’s going to happen next. The murders usually happen off-page, and if they are on-page it’s very brief – no horror stuff in my books. Again, it’s all about suspense. Whether you know who the villain is or not, the point is to keep you on the edge of your seat wondering how the hero and heroine will overcome the bad guy, and how they will overcome whatever is keeping them apart and find true love that will last a lifetime.

Rachel:  I love edge-of-your-seat reads and SIMON SAYS DIE delivers!  What do you want to tell us about this book?

Lena:  Thanks! Edge-of-your-seat is a huge compliment. Both of my books are psychological thrillers that focus on the suspense element, but SIMON SAYS DIE is a bit more twisty. There are so many secrets between the characters, and enough surprises that the reader will (I hope) question what they think they know as they read the book. Neither of my books are mysteries, but I try to make readers wonder what’s the truth and what’s a lie. My goal is to keep the tension high and make them wonder how the characters can possibly survive and how they will ever overcome all the terrible things life throws at them and somehow end up in a happy, committed relationship.

While I loved writing this story, I’ll admit it was rather difficult to write Madison’s scenes. She has an incredibly strong, independent personality and is quite snarky at times. Keeping her sympathetic but true to character without her coming off as unlikeable was a balancing act. Hopefully I succeeded in showing her motivation, why she acts the way she does, so the readers will empathize with her.

This story also has more humor than my first one. I don’t write comedies, not at all. But Madison’s act-first-think-later personality gets her into some crazy situations. There are some places in the novel where I laughed out loud writing it. Hopefully my readers will enjoy those scenes as well. Okay, now for the official back cover blurb below.

~~~~~~~~

Simon says: I’m watching.

Madison McKinley knows someone is stalking her. The police tell her she’s imagining things, and they’re too busy trying to find the “Simon Says” killer to investigate. But day by day, hour by hour, Madison’s terror grows stronger, and not even the return of FBI Special Agent Pierce Buchanan into her life can calm her fears. Besides, how can she ask Pierce for his help after the way she ended things between them?

Simon says: I’m coming.

Pierce still wants Madison’s love, and his drive to protect her is more powerful than ever. He believes she’s in danger, even if the cops don’t. Finally, as more people start dying and the evidence mounts, the police turn their attention to Madison—as a suspect. Was Pierce a fool to trust her again, or are they both   caught in a complex game that neither will survive?

Simon says: Die.

~~~~~~~~

Lena:  Enough about me. I’d love to hear from the readers out there. Who are some of your favorite romantic suspense heroes and heroines? What makes them so memorable?

Remember, one commenter will win a signed print set of my books – HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT and SIMON SAYS DIE. (Snail mail address must be in the US or Canada to qualify for the prize.)

Rachel:  And I’m giving one commenter a $25 gift certificate to Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  Check back on Thursday to see if you are our winner.

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