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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!

Suspense Spiked with Romance: Rolynn Anderson

  1. FADEOUT’S heroine, Jan Solvang, just might be YOUR funeral planner.  What’s one phrase about you she MUST include in your obituary?
  2. (Answer in our comment section for a chance to win an e-copy of FADEOUT, the new romantic suspense novel by Rolynn Anderson!)

Hmm…I guess mine would be: Sarah Andre always felt tremendous joy when a friend achieved the dream of publishing a novel.

And it’s true (although that question was harder than I expected!) For me, the coolest part of being a writer is connecting with others, watching their careers launch and applauding their successes. 

So picture this: Spanking New Writer goes to a conference and lines up to pitch to her first agent. (Translated: uncontrollable trembling, dry mouth, clammy hands, whispering the blurb over and over.) Smiling Writer behind her introduces herself and chats so amiably New Writer almost forgets her anxiety, which ultimately makes for a much better first pitch.

You guessed it! Rolynn Andreson stood behind me at the Desert Rose RWA chapter’s Desert Dreams Conference waaay back in 2006. And we’ve reconnected at that conference every time since. So imagine my thrill this year when she told me she’s now published! It is an absolute pleasure to introduce you to my friend, Rolynn Anderson.

Hi Rolynn, thanks for joining us today! In your debut novel, LAST RESORT how did you come up with a terror plot involving the Winter Olympics (which is plotted out realistically enough to give me the chills!) 

Rumor has it this huge, posh fishing resort in Big Bay, B.C., was once owned by drug lords.  Now it’s owned by London Drugs!  I mean the place HAD to be written about. The other rumor I heard from the locals: CBS was going to house its crew at the big lodge for the Winter Olympics and fly them to Whistler by helicopter.  That never happened…except in my novel.  Don’t you love rumors? 

 Is there another novel in the works involving any of the primary or secondary characters from this story?

Not yet, but I’d love to give Rena another adventure with Nora riding shotgun.

Your newest release FADEOUT: Again…how did you come up with a series surrounding a funeral planner?

My father died of Alheimer’s in 2005.  My sister, brothers and I were planning his funeral in a traditional way until I realized how many young children were attending the memorial.  We dumped old rituals in order to properly honor my father and teach the children gently about death.  The event was so successful, I began thinking about the value of a ‘boutique’ (my term) funeral planner.  Jan Solvang’s story emerged, and of course I had to add suspense and romance to the mix. Jan’s got a fainting disorder called Syncope and she’s inherited a Scottish terrier (Elwood) with some quirks, too.

Who are your favorite RS authors?  Linda Howard, Suzanne Brockman.

SWOON, the second in the funeral planner series, comes out November 15th.  Can you give us a sneak peek?

Jan’s been a boutique funeral planner for over a year, and her dead clients still refuse to rest in peace.  She’s supposed to bury a missing woman and an infamous man, but her research on them disturbs family secrets, unmasks killers and imperils her relationship with Roman. 

Wow! Sounds terrific. (Reader, please note Brenda Novak’s testimonial for Swoon below!)

Rolynn, tell our readers a bit about your fascinating retirement (summer adventures.)

My husband and I spend the four summer months living on our boat (a 46 foot trawler), cruising from Washington State, up the breathtaking Inside Passage, all the way to Alaska and back.  We fish for shrimp, Dungeness Crab, rockfish, salmon and halibut, but mostly we enjoy the beauty of the area and the friends we reconnect with every year.

Do you ever get ideas for a story from those summer months?

Absolutely.  I’ve just finished a double murder mystery called LIE CATCHER that takes place in Petersburg, Alaska.  Liv, the main character, is a “Tlingwegian”…great grandma was a Tlingit Indian; great grandpop was a rough and tough Norwegian fisherman.

How do you spend your winter months besides writing?

We love to travel in the U.S. as well as abroad, but I also enjoy my half acre of fruit trees and garden in Central Coast California.  I golf once or twice a week and I’m tournament chair of our golf club, as well.

Favorite food?  Peanut butter and chocolate.

If you had a career do-over and had not been a teacher/principal…what profession would you choose?

A wine-maker; an athlete (golf?); a CEO.

 

Don’t miss SWOON by Rolynn Anderson! If you like an interesting cast of characters, a heavy dose of mystery and a lot of fabulous surprises, you’ll be happily turning pages late into the night.”

~ Brenda Novak, NYT and USA Bestselling Author of WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES

Don’t forget to leave a comment below:

What phrase should funeral planner, Jan Solvang include in YOUR obituary?

Stop back Thursday to see if you’ve won an e-copy of FADEOUT.

 

Rolynn Anderson, SUSPENSE SPIKED WITH ROMANCE
LAST RESORT-print and digital at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/3cq6d7b
FADEOUT- print (digital soon) at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/9yo9wwq 
Web: http://www.rolynnanderson.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/rolynnanderson
Blog: http://blog.rolynnanderson.com/

Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/63vsnmt

Nine Coaches Waiting . . . for Mary Stewart, the Mother of Romantic Suspense

When I was in eighth grade, the Vice Principal called me to his office. Apparently, I had lost track of time during study hall in the school library and missed all of my afternoon classes. I’d never been in trouble before and didn’t know how to get to the Vice Principal’s office. So the librarian had to walk me down. And there I stood, trembling, with a book pressed against my chest.

The Vice Principal stood over me with a black beard and a scowl, like a dark storm cloud. “What happened?”

“I don’t know,” I answered, praying he wouldn’t call my parents. “But it wasn’t my fault. I know it.” I was, after all, a straight A honor student and secretary of the Latin Club (which is probably why I didn’t have any dates until my Junior year in High School).

“What were you doing?” he asked.

Wanting to throw up, I held out my book and said, “I found this in the stacks and sat on the floor to read the first chapter to see if I liked it. And before I knew it, the last bell rang.” Then, much to my horror, I burst into tears.

The Vice Principal, a father of five girls, took the book out of my hands. “Ahh, Nine Coaches Waiting. Did you finish it?”

Finish it? I’d DEVOURED it. But I didn’t say that. I just snuffled and nodded.

Then with a wave of his hand, he dismissed me, saying, “Next time, don’t open any book by Mary Stewart until you know you have hours of free time ahead of you.”

So relieved, I ran from the office and left school. My dad usually picked me up at the public library across the street, but that day he was late and I had to wait an hour. That hour changed my life. Hidden deep in the fiction shelves, I found a world belonging to Mary Stewart, an author I’ve since learned is the “Mother of Classic Romantic Suspense”. With gothic overtones, bad boy heroes, and stories set in exotic places, I fell in love with a genre I had never heard of before. And the most wonderful thing about Mary Stewart was the number of her books on the shelf. That day, I checked out seven. And I found out the Vice Principal was right.

In less than a week, I read them all and went back for more.

Mary Florence Elinor Rainbow was born in England on September 17, 1916. After receiving a B.A. and a M.A. in English, and working as an elementary school teacher during WWII, she married Frederick Henry Stewart in 1945. Although she continued teaching part-time, her husband encouraged her to start writing. In 1953, at the urging of her husband, she sent a manuscript for Madam, Will You Talk? which was accepted for publication by Hodder and Stoughton. The book, published in 1954, received wonderful reviews. From 1955  until 1980, she published one book a year, every one a bestseller. Since 1954, her books have never been out of print and a few were made into movies.

The element that drove her success–the same element that captured me during a school day and made me miss my classes–was her ability to craft a suspenseful mystery with a love story. This blending is so masterful, that neither the love story nor the mystery can stand on its own. One drives the other in a breathless pace of action, adventure, and romance.

In a time when there were few women authors writing commercial fiction, she quickly became one of the most important twentieth-century female authors, rivaling Daphne Du Maurier and Victoria Holt (Eleanor Hibbert). She was an author ahead of her time, not just with her romantic suspense novels, but with her best-selling Arthurian Fantasy series where she broke all the rules and made Merlin–not Arthur–the protagonist.

Ivy TreePam Regis writes in a A Natural History of the Romance Novel, “Stewart’s influence extends to every writer of romantic suspense, for Stewart understood and perfected this hybrid of romance and mystery and used it as a structure for books so beautifully written that they have endured to become part of the canon of the twentieth-century romance novel.” (Ch. 14 (pgs. 143-154)–Courtship and Suspense: Mary Stewart)

Her influence can still be seen today. In 2006, when Nine Coaches Waiting was reissued, Sandra Brown (one of my favorite authors) wrote the forward, stating, “With its cast of fascinating characters, its ominous setting, and its captivating plot, this story of suspense and romance entertains today, as it did half a century ago. Generations of readers have adored it. It’s the kind of haunting novel that one rereads every year or so. Other writers, this one included, have been inspired by Ms. Stewart’s style, but her incredible use of language can never be duplicated.” (Nine Coaches Waiting, Forward by Sandra Brown, Chicago Review Press, 2006, pp. iii – iv)

And the book that got me in so much trouble? I just bought a reprint for my daughter. But after she turned up her nose saying she doesn’t like historicals (i.e. stories that take place in the twentieth century), I took an afternoon last week, curled up with a cup of tea, and reread it. By the time I put it down, I discovered my husband and kids had fed themselves dinner and gone to bed. Without notice, I’d read from 2 PM until 11:30 PM. The afternoon and most of the night were gone, and I’d finished the book. Again.

For those readers interested, here is the back cover blurb from the William Morrow edition of Nine Coaches Waiting, 1959.

“The Chateau Valmy, rising in foursquare classical dignity from a wooded plateau in the Haute-Savoie, seemed like a dream come true to Linda Martin. Young, lovely, she had had little in her life to spark a genuine gift for love and laughter, but now, as English governess to nine-year-old Comte Philippe de Valmy, it would be easy to forget the tragedy of her father and mother, the drab orphanage years, the dreary school where she had taught. But tension was in the very air–at first negligible, then building to an unbearable degree, as does a gathering storm.

At its center was the young count’s uncle, Leon de Valmy, dynamic, arrogant, yet the epitome of charm, whose paralysis seemed little hindrance as he moved noiselessly in his wheelchair from room to room–supervising, ordering, dominating everyone in sight, including his beautiful but unaccountably abstracted wife and his small, silent nephew and ward. Only his son Raoul, a handsome, sardonic young man who drove himself and his car with equal abandon, seemed able to stand up to him. To Linda, Raoul was an enigma. Though physically attracted to him, she sensed some dark twist in his nature…

And then one day deep in the woods there occurred a frightening, unaccountable incident–the first ripple to mar the calm, serene surface of an idyllic existence.”

And for those who just have to read the first line before you buy a book (which would be me), how can you not want to read a story that starts like this:

“I was thankful that nobody was there to meet me at the airport.” (Nine Coaches Waiting, Chapter 1, p. 3)

Now I’d love to know I’m not the only one who has lost time while lost in a novel. Has it ever happened to you? And which story was it?”

Colleen Thompson: Passionate and Relentless

Have you ever met a multi-published, award-winning  author who is so personable, modest and cheerful you think ‘that’s exactly how I want to be when I’m that famous’?

Well, for me that author is romantic suspense writer, Colleen Thompson. She’s survived this crazy industry so long and experienced so many ups and downs in her career, yet manages to remain passionate about her writing and relentless to stay in the game and get her next story published! 

Although she probably doesn’t know this, Colleen’s the first person I met after joining the West Houston chapter of RWA. I tend to be uber-neurotic going someplace new, so of course I was way too early and sat at a table by myself long enough to think that getting up and going home was a really great idea.

Then Colleen came in, smiled that big smile and asked if she could sit with me. She went out of her way to make me feel welcome and not the dumbest writer ever for not knowing lingo like ‘Series Contemporary.’

Even under tight deadlines Colleen attends chapter meetings, pinch-hits a topic if our scheduled speaker cancels, teaches online classes and can always be relied upon to generously give her time to authors in all stages of their careers. Oh, and she still manages to co-host a blog, update her status on Facebook with lightning speed and posts pictures of darling rescue dogs in need of adoption. Yeah, I want to be just like Colleen Thompson when I grow up!

Welcome Colleen! Who are your favorite romantic suspense authors?

I first fell in love with romantic suspense reading Nora Roberts, Tami Hoag, and Sharon Sala. I still love those authors and have also come to enjoy novels by Karen Rose and Allison Brennan.

I know for some of your books you’ve actually gone to the small town (for your setting) or done an activity. What was the most interesting thing you did in the name of research?

A few years ago, I went flying in gliders while researching Triple Exposure, whose heroine is a glider pilot. Then I spent a fun afternoon brainstorming with glider pilots about ways one might sabotage a sailplane (what they generally call gliders) to make it crash. Thankfully, they all got into the spirit of the thing rather than calling the FAA to report me!

 More recently, I’ve spent time speaking with a forensic anthropologist about the life cycles of the various insects that feed on a decomposing human body.

…sorry to interrupt…but UGH! GROSS.

After reading and talking about it, I decided to forego the field trip—I could already imagine what it smelled like all too well. (I have what I call “smell-a-vision,” which makes me smell everything I read about or see on a TV or movie screen. This is awesome when I’m reading about blooming lilacs or baking bread. Not so much, when I’m researching decaying corpses. Gross!)

You have been in this industry a long time. If you were just starting today what would you do differently?

I would give serious consideration to some of the alternate routes available today.

Many mainline publishers are giving new authors the opportunity to break in to their electronic-only lines (and buying very few debut titles for their print-first lines.)

There are some very reputable smaller e-presses out there, too, some of which have been regularly putting their authors on bestseller lists. These don’t usually pay advances, but they give a writer experience in working with an editor and publicity team, and some authors are breaking out and into print or indy e-book success.

If I were writing something too different for the current market, I would also seriously consider indy publishing—but not until I had my work independently edited by a pro (not a friend or critique partner) and gotten myself a sharp, professional-looking cover. Then I’d spend six months to a year studying how to launch it right before diving in with self-publishing.

While your dream may have been to publish first with one of the big houses, don’t close your eyes to or be snobbish about other opportunities. With a lot of work, a lot of talent, and some good, old-fashioned luck, they really can work.

Tell us a little bit about Boxing the Octopus?

My good friend, New York Times bestselling author Joni Rodgers, and I met at a book signing and instantly bonded, after which we went out for coffee once every week or so.

She’s a memoirist, ghostwriter, and novelist, while I’m a mass market paperback original genre girl, so we’d had very different experiences, but each of us had respect for the other—and a lot of hard-earned respect for what it takes to stay in the game putting out books year after year.

During one of those talks, Joni compared grappling with the publishing biz to “boxing the octopus,” and I blurted, “That’s it! That’s our blog’s name!

 In late 2006, we launched Boxing the Octopus, www.boxocto.com, to foster an ongoing conversation on the writing life. And I’m still not finished yakking!

Do you like movies that scare you or make you cry?

Ha! Seriously, I like scary books a lot better than scary movies, for some reason. I hate having stuff jump out at me onscreen, but I can read (and write) suspense all night.

While I don’t like emotionally manipulative tearjerkers, if they’re really honest and understated, they can be devastatingly beautiful. One favorite of mine is the Italian film, Life Is Beautiful. Set during the Holocaust, it features a loving father who convinces his little boy (to help him survive the concentration camp where they are taken) that the experience is all a game.

I laughed at the funny moments (believe it or not, there are quite  a few) and cried my eyes out at the ending, but loved it enough to recommend it to all my friends and family members.

Oh my gosh! One of my top favorite movies (only the Italian version!)

You’re married to a true alpha-hero, Mike, a fireman.  Does he get teased by his fellow firefighters given his wife is a romance writer?

Not that I know of, but since he’d just shrug it off if anyone made a dumb remark, I can’t say for certain. For the most part, his fellow firefighters have been awesome, buying copies for their wives and mothers and answering my research questions. One (actually an ambulance supervisor/EMT and not a suppression firefighter) took me for a ride-along one busy Friday night, where we visited the trauma center ER and scoped out all the dicey areas where I could never go on my own at 2am! I used a lot of that research in my book, Fade the Heat.

You used to write historical romance. (under the names Gwyneth Atlee and Colleen Easton.) Why the change to Romantic Suspense?

I loved, and still love, American-set historicals set around true-life events and have recently been bringing some of these older books back (under my Gwyneth Atlee historical romance pseudonym) in e-book form.

Unfortunately, the market for these books contracted in the early 2000s sank, putting a lot of authors (and my then-editor) out of work. I was reading and enjoyed so much mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense at the time that I wanted to try my hand  (after seven historicals, all of which included a lot of suspense elements) in this exciting new-to-me arena. I was instantly hooked—and found a more receptive home for my darker, grittier voice.

What’s up next for you writing wise (or speaking engagements)?

After Relentless Protector (Harlequin Intrigue) in September, I’ll be promoting Passion to Protect (Harlequin Romantic Suspense) which comes out in November. Meanwhile, my agents are shopping several new proposals, but nothing I can talk about at the moment, darn it!

OK, then on to my favorite topic…favorite food ever?

Snow crab legs with melted butter. But lumpy mashed potatoes, my favorite comfort food, runs a close second!

Mmm! I’m right there with you on the lumpy mashed potatoes. How can readers get a hold of your backlist, given that your prior publisher collapsed?

I’m very excited about a deal I’ve just signed with Amazon to bring back my nine single-title (full-length, as opposed to the briefer category books I enjoy writing for Harlequin) romantic suspense novels, which were in limbo with my former publisher’s (Dorchester’s) financial collapse. Already available in e-book form, the books will soon be out in paperback and hardcover formats. Readers have been asking for these books for two years, so this is terrific news!

That’s exceptionally good news and you REALLY deserve it, Colleen! Thank you so much for visiting us today. For more information on Colleen, please click here for her website: http://www.colleen-thompson.com/

Colleen will be answering questions today and is giving away a copy of her newest release “RELENTLESS PROTECTOR” to one lucky commenter. Stop back on Thursday to see if it’s YOU!

 

Thursday’s Winners!

We have 2 winners today, thanks to Terri Molina’s generosity!

Forget Me Not (e- or paperback): Stacey Purcell

An e-copy of Dark Obsession: Marsha R West

Congratualtions ladies! Please click on the Contact Us tab above and let us know where we can send your books. And a special thank you to everyone who stopped by to meet Terri and leave a comment!

Please join us next Tuesday when Kiss and Thrill welcomes Anna DeStephano with her newest Entangled release Her Forgotten Betrayal.

Nationally bestselling, award-winning author Anna DeStefano has searched her entire life for the soul of the matter at the heart of her world’s mysteries. Her passion is transforming these inner landscapes into rich storytelling.

Also a workshop and keynote speaker, writing coach and editor, Anna’s creative vision permeates every challenge she undertakes. She wants you to stop, look, and keep digging, until you find the soul of your own fantasies. She speaks and blogs regularly about life, what makes her giggle and weep, the wacky world of writing, and all things that inspire her creative soul.

Terri Molina’s Dark Obsession

Terri Molina

Today Kiss and Thrill welcomes Romance Suspense author Terri Molina!

Terri has penned 3 novels: Her Will His Way,  Forget Me Not and her newest release Dark Obsession. She resides in Arizona (but also calls Houston ‘home’) and is active in RWA chapters in both states.

Sarah: Welcome Terri, we’re glad you stopped by today! Who are your favorite authors? 

TERRI: I love a variety of authors. Those filling my bookshelf right now are, Lee Child, Robert Gregory Browne, Robert Crais, Allison Brennan, Lisa Gardner and Nora Roberts.

 Sarah: When did you start writing?

TERRI: I think I’ve always written, but I didn’t get serious about being published until around 2003, when I finished my first two novels.

 Sarah: How did you know this is what you wanted to do?

TERRI: When I finished the drafts of my first two novels. Haha!  Actually I always wanted to be an actress, but that didn’t quite work out the way I’d hoped. I’ve always enjoyed telling stories so I thought I’d move to that area of entertainment instead.

 Sarah: I don’t know about actress, Terri, but I could see you kicking some a** on Survivor! 🙂 Who is your Personal Hero?

TERRI: I think I’d have to say my daughter Amanda. She’s had to deal with so much in her life–born with Cerebral Palsy, was diagnosed Type 1 Diabetes her junior year of high school and now she’s dealing with other (hopefully minor) illnesses. But she’s never once let it define her. She’s brave and strong and believes strongly in her sense of self. When she wants something, she goes for it and doesn’t think about whether she’ll succeed or not. I wish I had half her strength.

 Sarah: What a wonderful personality! I wish Amanda all the best and attitude is half the battle. Tell us about Dark Obsession! It sounds fabulous!

Ramon (Ray) Chavez, a farmer from the Rio Grande Valley, doesn’t believe in visions or omens or the mysticism of his Mexican/Indian heritage. When he’s awakened by the spirit of this great-grandmother with a message that something is coming, Ray passes it off as a bad dream. But he may just reconsider his position when he finds Lexie Solis stranded on the edge of town, in search of a new life. Ray feels an instant attraction, as well as a connection, to the skittish young woman. But what Lexie doesn’t tell Ray or his family is that she is on the run from an abusive ex-boyfriend and he may be more powerful than even she wants to believe.

When Lexie is assaulted by an unseen force, they learn that the man she is hiding from is a master of the dark arts and his obsession with Lexie goes beyond his need to control her; he wants to possess her soul as well. As their past lives parallel, Lexie’s only hope for salvation is in Ray’s hands. But can he accept his destiny in time to save the woman he loves as well as his own life?

TERRI: Dark Obsession is the second novel I wrote and it’s based (very) loosely on an incident I went through in my early twenties.  

Sarah: OH REALLY?! (Furiously rehashing the story to try to figure out the incident!) How and when did you get ‘discovered?’

TERRI: Uh….have I been discovered??  Haha!  I think my first taste of…shall we say ‘vindication’….was back in 2004 when I signed with my first agent. That didn’t quite work out as I’d hoped. Long story short…I wrote a novella for a publishing house (which fell through) and sold it to an online publisher–Cobblestone Press in 2008. A few years later I sold my first novel to another online publisher, Decadent Publishing, and most recently I sold book three–Dark Obsession to Crimson Romance (another online publisher).  See a pattern?

 Sarah: Yeah…it’s called writing and selling…and I’m not at all jealous! 🙂 What’s in your writing future? 

TERRI: I just completed my third full length novel called House of Cards. It’s more or less on submission, so I’ll let you know when that one sells. In my opinion, it’s my best work yet. I’m also at work on a follow-up to Dark Obsession.

 Sarah: Cool! I look forward to hearing more about House of Cards and I’m thrilled to hear there’s a follow-up to Dark Obsession! Name a book that changed your life.

TERRI: It was more an author that changed my life. After I started reading Nora Roberts’ works I began to realize, ‘hey, I can do this too’, so I took the time to learn the craft and business and set to work writing.

 Sarah:  Er…that was my answer too. Wonder how many authors out there pinpoint the great Nora Roberts and how “easy” (snort) she makes it look as their inspiration. What’s your writing habit? (How long each day? Are you a plotter/pantster?)

TERRI: I’m a pantster. I can’t, for the life of me, plot a novel.  My writing days vary, sometimes I’ll write for a few hours, sometimes not at all. I’m very undisciplined. And when I start a new book, I have to have a title first, otherwise I’m lost at where to begin.

 Sarah: Your plots have great suspense–what scares YOU?

TERRI: Hmmm….I would have to say Bugs!  They really creep me out and I hate watching movies or reading stories with bugs! John Saul wrote a book back in the eighties called The Homing….gave me nightmares!

 Sarah: I have to laugh given you live in AZ with scorpions and Black Widows! What food can you never say no to?

TERRI: Chicken!  I love chicken cooked any way you can cook it!

Thanks so much for being here today, Terri. I hope our readers enjoyed getting to know a little more about you and your work. For more information on Terri and her romantic suspense novels:

ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS FOR TERRI?  One lucky winner (chosen on Thursday) will receive an e-copy of her newest release Dark Obsession.

Carey Baldwin – First Do No Evil Debut – Giftcard Winner!

Thank you everyone who stopped by this week to meet Carey Baldwin and learn about her debut romantic thriller, FIRST DO NO EVIL. The lucky commenter who has won a $25 gift card is Rachel Kall (June 26, 7:30pm post)! Congratulations! Please use the Kiss and Thrill contact page on this website to tell us the email address to send your gift card, and whether you prefer Amazon or Barnes&Noble.

Check back with us on Tuesday for a special Kiss and Thrill blog post!

One Killer is in her Blood. The other is in her House.

That’s the first line on the back of Carey Baldwin’s debut medical thriller, FIRST DO NO EVIL. That line gave me chills, and I knew I had to read more. Carey was kind enough to let me read an ARC (advance reader copy) of her novel. The story did not disappoint! The back cover blurb appears below.

One killer is in her blood. The other is in her house.

There’s a killer lurking in Dr. Skylar Novak’s family tree: the gene for breast cancer. That’s why her brilliant brother invented the Bella vaccine. But even if the miracle drug protects her from the cancer that took her mother’s life, it can’t save Sky from the flesh and bone evil stalking her in secret.

When the killer strikes, detective Daniel Benson finds himself in the wrong place at the right time. The bold detective manages to save Sky’s life…just in time for her to return the favor. Survival leads to seduction, and Danny risks everything–his career, even his life, to keep Sky safe. But will the buried sins they uncover cost him her heart?

Danny’s strong arms may hold her close, but only Sky can stop the terror that’s coming next…

Warning: Contents include: One heart-melting hero–good luck getting this delicious detective out of your head. One reluctant heroine–wielding a Glock was never on her to-do list. One crazed villain–an entire flock of baa baa black sheep won’t be enough to put you to sleep. And a lifesaving vaccine with one deadly side effect–murder.

FIRST DO NO EVIL was an absolute joy to read. Why? What makes this story so incredibly, amazingly good? It’s not the plot – although the plot is very good with just the right amount of twists and turns that I like in romantic thrillers. It’s not the characters – although the hero is an awesome blend of sexy alpha AND beta in one delicious package. And the heroine is smart and sassy and independent, the perfect match for the hero. So why did I enjoy this book so much? It’s that special spark, that nearly indefinable star quality, that buzz word editors throw around but is so hard to understand . . . until you see it. What is it? VOICE. What makes FIRST DO NO EVIL so special is Carey Baldwin’s unique voice–her writing style, the way she strings her words together, the very words she uses when building her story.

An interview with Carey Baldwin, www.careybaldwin.com

Lena: Tell us a bit about yourself – where did you grow up? Are there experiences in your past, such as places you’ve visited, that inspire and find their way into your writing?

Carey: I grew up in Ft. Worth, Texas. Lots of great characters in Texas. I was originally going to locate my novella from THREE WEDDINGS AND A MURDER, Solomon’s Wisdom, in an actual small Texas town near Ft. Worth. But then, with all the murder and mayhem, I realized that might not be well received! So I invented Tangleheart, Texas.

I also lived in Flagstaff, Arizona for a number of years and taught at the university. I adored the town and set FIRST DO NO EVIL there.

Lena: What else about you might surprise readers?

Carey: I’m left-handed, and I’m terrified of crickets.

Lena: Oh my gosh! I’m picturing a horror movie now, with swarms of crickets chasing people down main street. 🙂 What was your inspiration for writing FIRST DO NO EVIL? And how did you come up with such an awesome title?

Carey: In medical school we were taught the principle “Primum non nocere”, which translates “First do no harm.” This is medical ethics 101. It’s meant to remind physicians that our treatments have side effects, and we should always be mindful of the potential to unintentionally cause injury. At least that’s my interpretation.

In this case, I twisted the phrase to reflect the fact that it’s possible for human beings to intentionally inflict harm on one another. It would be great if everyone could abide by the principle of non-maleficence, wouldn’t it?

As for the inspiration for FIRST DO NO EVIL, I was thrilled when the HPV vaccination against cervical cancer came out. It’s the only vaccine available that can prevent cancer. It also stirred a lot of controversy and tapped into people’s fears. I wondered which cancer vaccine would come next, and how it might be received.

Lena: I love when real life, even indirectly, inspires an author’s stories. What about the character names in FDNE? Or in any of your stories. How do you come up with character names?

Carey: I do enjoy playing with character names. In the case of Skylar Novak, I had an idea that she would be natural and a lover of nature- so “Sky” seemed to fit her personality. The hero, Danny, was stuck with his “little brother” name from my first manuscript. Danny is the baby brother of my very first hero, Christian Benson. I’ve also named a villain in one of my stories-not saying which one-after a guy who dumped me! I have that in common with Taylor Swift 🙂 .

Lena: 🙂 I’ve always wondered how Taylor ever gets boyfriends when they have to be worried they’ll end up in a song. And I’m so with you on the ‘stuck with a name’ thing. We really have to be careful how we name secondary characters. You never know when they’ll have their own story. Speaking of stories . . . FDNE is a medical thriller and really does have a lot of medical spice sprinkled in, which I loved. Have you always wanted to write medical thrillers?

Carey: I didn’t want to write a typical medical thriller, but once I read THE SURGEON by Tess Gerritsen I had an aha moment. I realized I wanted to write a book like that! A wonderful thriller with strong romance and medical elements coming into play. My next book is only medical in the sense that the heroine is a psychiatrist- and her practice of psychiatric medicine is a key element in the plot.

Lena: You recently got married (Congrats!) and inherited a teenager. Was your new daughter an inspiration for the father/daughter relationship in your debut novel?

Carey: Yikes! No. Troubled Katie was already written before I ever met my bonus daughter! But I totally have a thing for single dads, and that’s part of why I love my new husband. There’s nothing sexier (to me) than a great father.

Lena: Dogs or cats?

Carey: Both. Until recently I had a dog and four cats, all rescue. But last year I lost my fifteen- year-old puppy and one of our cats. So now we are a kitty only family. However, the addition of the teenage daughter keeps me from being lonely!

Lena: Ah, that’s so sweet. Favorite movies?

Carey: Notting Hill, To Kill a Mockingbird, Splendor in the Grass, The Hunger Games, One True Thing, and, drum roll please…The Way We Were.

Lena: I love Notting Hill! And there are some oldie-goldies in that list. Moving on . . . One of the things that impressed me most about FIRST DO NO EVIL is how you portrayed the hero, Danny. Instead of being all tough all the time, he has a deep respect for human life and abhors violences, even though he’s an alpha hero. Did you do any research to help you delve into how a policeman feels about his work? Or did you pull upon your background as a psychologist? In other words – what’s your secret for being so great at characterization????

Carey: Lena, Lena, Lena! That’s a lot of questions disguised as one! But thank you for the compliment!

I did interview a homicide detective several times. I also tried to take a homicide-investigation training seminar, but the instructor didn’t want a writer to be privy to real cases and confidential information. Ironically, I was told that if I stated that I needed the information for use in my medical practice, I would be allowed to attend. But lying to the police didn’t seem like a good plan! So I settled for reading the instructor’s classic homicide text instead. I also ordered and read a number of police training manuals known as training keys. I got them from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and I highly recommend these real training manuals.

FIRST DO NO EVIL is not a police procedural. With all the medical details, I thought that adding police procedures would be too much. However, since Danny is a cop, I wanted to be sure I had a bead on how a true detective would react in certain scenarios. I was especially interested in the use of force continuum and how police make decisions about using deadly force.

Lena: I am SO going to have to look into those training manuals. Thanks for the tip! Can you share your call story? It can be the call when you got an agent, or the call (or email?) when you made your first sale.

Carey: Ha! Well I was thrilled when my agent called and offered me representation, but she warned me at the time that romantic suspense was not selling. What a wonderful, and rare, agent to take me on at a time like that. Thank you, Nalini Akolekar!

When Nalini called to tell me Lindsey Faber loved my book and wanted to aquire it for Samhain, I was over the moon. I remember asking Nalini over and over on the phone…”Is Lindsey going to be my editor? Lindsey herself?” Thank you, Lindsey Faber!

Lena: You are definitely in great hands with the awesome Nalini Akolekar (Spencerhill Associates, Ltd.) as your agent. Not that I’m biased of course. (wink – Nalini is my agent too.) Now on to a really serious question. Mac or PC?

Carey: Mac.

Lena: Me too! And it has nothing to do with that gorgeous Mac guy on the Mac vs. PC commercials. Really. Ahem. So what do you do for fun?

Carey: I hike, and I chase wildflowers. I used to love to run, but now I am focused on walking. Got that big 40 Mile Avon Breast Cancer walk coming in about 90 days!

Lena: (Do the wildflowers run from you??? 🙂 ) That’s awesome about the Avon Breast Cancer walk. I hope you raise tons of money for that great cause. Can you share your writing process? Do you write every day? Only on weekends? Do you have set word count or page count goals?

Carey: Not a word count girl. I write until I wear out. I write in the middle of the night and on weekends. I would love to have time to write during banker’s hours. Maybe someday…

Lena: What genres do you like to read and who are some of your favorite authors?

Carey: I read broadly, across romance genres and outside of romance as well.

It goes without saying that my fellow Kiss and Thrill authors, and my co-authors of THREE WEDDINGS AND A MURDER are not only among my favorite authors, they are close to my heart.

Other favorites would certainly include Cindy Gerard, Harlan Coben, Dean Koontz, Julia Quinn, Tess Gerritsen, Stephen King, Eloisa James, Truman Capote, Harper Lee, Somerset Maughn, Allison Brennan, Brenda Novak, Karen Rose, Carla Neggers, Lisa Kleypas, Anne Tyler – see what I mean, the list is getting too long.

Lena: Wow. And I thought I had a long list. All great authors though. We read a lot of the same ones. Now for a burning question. Star Wars or Star Trek?

Carey: Star Trek. I love the pseudoscience!

Lena:  Yes (fist pump). I love Star Trek. What’s your favorite television show?

Carey: I gotta go with “Survivor”. My under-the-bed first manuscript is about old flames who re-encounter one another on the show “Stranded”, based of course on my aforementioned beloved reality show.

Lena: Sounds cool! What future projects are you working on?

Carey: DUTY TO WARN, the second book in the Blood Secrets series. I’m one of those who doesn’t like to spill the premise (I always think I’m so high concept 🙂 ) too far away from completion, but I will tell you it takes place in New Mexico and features “Aunt Faith” from FIRST DO NO EVIL. She’s a psychiatrist and one of her patients turns out to be a serial killer. Of course there’s a fantastic twist!

Lena: White, milk, or dark chocolate?

Carey: Milk chocolate.

Lena: Beer or champagne?

Carey: Champagne. Can I have it with milk chocolate?

Lena: Okay, but only if I get some too! Now for the most fun part of the interview – the infamous free association test. Come on, you know I had to do this. Please say the first word that comes to your mind!

Candy: Cotton
Handsome: Bill
Salad: Waldorf
Big: (Carey’s answer was bleeped out to keep the post family friendly 🙂 )
Sweet: Tarts
Fishnet: Stockings
Music: Country
Hotel: Bliss
Hot: Tamale
Dance: Slow

LenaOkay…I know I’m nowhere near as talented as Carey with the psychological conclusions, but here I go. 

Carey is one hot tamale who secretly wishes she was wearing fishnet stockings while slow dancing to some country music with her handsome hubby Bill after enjoying a romantic, blissful interlude at a hotel where they shared a Waldorf Salad with cotton candy and sweet tarts for dessert!

Carey, thank you so much for being with us today and for putting up with all those questions! Now let’s open things up for questions and comments from our readers. Tell us what you love the most about romantic thrillers!

Commenters: Stop by Thursday and find out if you are a winner! One lucky commenter will win a $25 gift card to either Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice).

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