Blog Archives

New Release – Tennessee SWAT Continues with SECRET STALKER!

A SWAT officer loves a suspected murderess. What could possibly go wrong?

secret-stalker Lena Diaz

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Ten years ago, Bexley Kane and Max Remington were high-school sweethearts hoping to get married and start their future together. But a stalker, and his death, ended their hopes and dreams and sent Bex fleeing town under suspicion of murder.

Now she’s back, and the past has caught up to her. But will SWAT officer Max Remington learn to trust and love her again? Or will Bex’s secrets destroy them both?

In 2014, award winning book TENNESSEE TAKEDOWN introduced readers to the sexy SWAT team of Destiny, Tennessee. This year readers get to experience more stories about the wonderful men and women in the TENNESSEE SWAT series, beginning with MOUNTAIN WITNESS. The newest release is out now, SECRET STALKER. And there will be more stories after that.

Below is an excerpt from SECRET STALKER. Enjoy!

CHAPTER ONE

The whispers started thirty seconds after Bexley Kane walked down aisle three in the Piggly Wiggly on Magnolia Street. Not that there was a Piggly Wiggly on any other street in the tiny town of Destiny, Tennessee. With a population the size of a large high school in other parts of the state, this town could only support one grocery store. And one movie theater. And one Waffle House. But, oddly enough, there were four Starbucks. Too bad not one of them was anywhere close to Magnolia Street. Bex sure could use a venti caramel macchiato right now.

Head high, shoulders back, she began filling her cart as quickly as possible while pretending not to notice the other shoppers talking behind their hands as she passed. But, come on, did they really believe that she didn’t know they were gossiping about her? She could well imagine what they were saying.

Is that who I think it is? What’s it been, ten years? Why is she back in town?

You didn’t hear? Her mama done passed away. I heard she died of a broken heart, on account of her daughter didn’t visit even once after she got run out of town.

You think Chief Thornton will arrest her this time?

Is there a statute of limitations on murder?

“Miss Kane, nice to see you today.” Mr. Dawson gave Bex a genuine, welcoming smile from behind the deli counter. “I was hoping I’d see your lovely face at least one more time before you left Destiny. You here for lunch? We’ve got a brand-new batch of pickled pigs’ feet.” He proudly thumped a large jar on top of the display case that looked like a science experiment gone horribly wrong.

Bex very nearly lost her breakfast. She averted her gaze from the nauseating sight and smiled at one of the few people in Destiny who hadn’t treated her like a pariah in the week that she’d been back.

“Hello, Mr. Dawson. I called in an order for some lunch meats and grilled chicken. Could you see whether it’s ready, please?”

“Gladys must have taken that order. I’ll check the cooler. Won’t take but a minute.” He opened the massive walk-in refrigerator behind him and headed inside.

Bex checked her grocery list. The only thing left to get was mustard, one of several things she’d forgotten the first time she’d been in the store. After today’s shopping trip, she should have enough to tide her over for several more days, until she finished taking care of all of the details of her mother’s estate. Then she could hop into her car and leave Destiny in the dust. Again. And this time, she’d never come back.

If she remembered correctly, Mr. Dawson kept the condiments across the aisle from the meat case. Since little else had changed in this town, she doubted that had, either. She turned around—and locked gazes with the one person she’d hoped to avoid.

Max Remington.

His golden-brown eyes stared at her in shock for all of three seconds. Then they filled with anger. His jaw clamped tight and, without a word, he circled around her and headed to the sandwich counter at the other end of the deli.

Gladys miraculously appeared as if from thin air, eager to take Max’s order. Bex couldn’t help noticing that he was all smiles and yes, ma’ams, no, ma’ams when speaking to the older woman. But he couldn’t even spare a hello for his former lover.

His curt dismissal shouldn’t hurt. After all, she was the one who’d left him. But he’d been her first love. And she’d built him up in her mind over the years as her handsome hero, dreaming of what life could have been, should have been, if she’d said yes that night.

And if Bobby Caldwell hadn’t died.

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Mountain Witness - Lena Diaz

TennesseeTakedown

 

FINAL EXIT – The Explosive Conclusion to the EXIT Trilogy

It’s here! The last book in the EXIT Inc. trilogy, FINAL EXIT!

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FINAL EXIT is the story of washed-up FBI agent, Kade Quinn, trying to redeem himself and rehabilitate his career after a personal tragedy sent him on a downward spiral into addiction. Rounding up all of the Enforcers who used to work for EXIT, so they can be re-trained and sent back out into society without the controls and oversight of their former agency, seems like “the right thing” to do. And Kade is proud to be a part of this mission. Until he meets Enforcer Bailey Stark. Her resistance to being taken, and her repeated assertions that the government is killing Enforcers instead of retraining them, is met with denial and then shock as Kade begins to suspect she might be right.

While Kade and Bailey work together to bring down the evil forces behind EXIT Inc. once and for all, they fall in love along the way. Of course! This is, after all, a romance. It’s full of action, like all of my stories. But I’m particularly pleased with the romantic arc of these two very damaged people. And if you’re a fan of the enemies to lovers trope, I really think you’re going to enjoy this one.

As with all of the EXIT books, there’s a host of sexy alpha-male secondary characters from earlier books, including the Buchanans from my Deadly Games series. The below flowchart is something I put together to show the connections between the characters in the DG series. (Yes, I’m a nerd, who loves flowcharts and spreadsheets.) You might have to click on the chart to enlarge it and see it better.

Lena Diaz Buchanan-family-tree

Did I mention that I love flowcharts? Here’s another one, showing an overview of the EXIT series. (Click on the chart to enlarge it and see it better.)

 

Lena Diaz exit-series-family-tree

So how are these series linked? The picture below is a BIG hint. Devlin (Devil) Buchanan is one of the brother’s from the Deadly Games series. Unbeknownst to his family, he’s also an Enforcer for EXIT Inc. In TAKE THE KEY AND LOCK HER UP, Devlin’s two world’s collide and he fights to protect both the woman he’s starting to love and his family from the employer he’s trusted his entire adult life. The aftermath of that struggle is the creation of the Equalizers, a group of former EXIT Enforcers and others who join together to fight against what EXIT has become. That struggle continues throughout the EXIT series, beginning with EXIT Strategy and ending in an explosive climax in FINAL EXIT.

Lena Diaz series-for-katLena Diaz Website Books Page with Buy Links

It was so much fun bringing in the Buchanan’s and even Logan Richards (a friend of the Buchanan’s from HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT) as secondary, but extremely important, characters throughout the EXIT series.

Although the four-book Deadly Games series and the three book spin-off EXIT series are incredibly fun to read in order, each story contains a unique and fulfilling love story and can be enjoyed as a stand-alone book. You’ll understand what’s going on even without reading the earlier stories.

I hope you’ll give FINAL EXIT a try. And let me know what you think! Shoot me an email through my website. And please join my newsletter list if you’d like to receive notifications of future releases or giveaways. Sometimes I do giveaways ONLY to my subscribers, like last week when I gave away ten books to randomly drawn names from my newsletter list.

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Birth of a Series! The Sexy SWAT team of Destiny, Tennessee!

Mountain Witness - Lena Diaz

In 2014, TENNESSEE TAKEDOWN introduced readers to the fictional town of Destiny, Tennessee and the sexy, funny SWAT team of five alpha men and one kick-butt woman. Readers loved it. TT won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence. And to this day, it’s still my best-selling Harlequin Intrigue.

But why am I talking about a book that released three years ago?

Because, in response to reader emails asking for more of the sexy heroes of the Destiny, Tennessee SWAT team, I’ve created a new Tennessee SWAT series. And the first book, taking up where TT left off, is MOUNTAIN WITNESS!

MOUNTAIN WITNESS – Print releases January 17. eBook releases February 1st!

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A woman in hiding and a man on a mission in the Smoky Mountains

Detective and part-time SWAT officer, Chris Downing, doesn’t know much about his neighbor. In the rural town of Destiny, Tennessee, Julie Webb lives a life of seclusion, rarely even offering a smile or wave. Only when Chris hears her frantic screams one night does he gain a glimpse into the life of a woman in hiding, and in saving her life, he is forced to kill her attacker. But Julie’s troubles are only beginning to unravel. When Chris learns the identity of Julie’s attacker, questions of trust are raised and suspicions run high. Together they will uncover the motives of a killer…and the undeniable attraction between them.

TennesseeTakedown

MOUNTAIN WITNESS begins one year after TT ended. All of the SWAT characters from TT make appearances in MW. And readers get a very special glimpse into the lives of the hero and heroine from TT and what has happened to them since that book ended.

I had a blast writing this book, and have three more to go to finish out the series–including SECRET STALKER, which comes out next month!

secret-stalker Lena DiazSo far the feedback from readers about MOUNTAIN WITNESS has been wonderful. I’m looking forward to hearing from readers of TENNESSEE TAKEDOWN as well, and how they’re receiving the continuation of that world in these new books. I hope everyone loves the fabulous alpha-heroes, and heroines, of Destiny, Tennessee!

To celebrate the release of MOUNTAIN WITNESS, I’m giving away a print copy of both MOUNTAIN WITNESS and SECRET STALKER to a random commenter on this post. So, tell me readers, what makes a SWAT hero sexy? What makes any hero sexy?

The randomly drawn winner of the two print books will be announced in the comments of THIS post on Tuesday, January 24th, so be sure to check back to see if you won.

Learn about these and other books by Lena Diaz by visiting her website.

A Series Finale, Saying Goodbye to Mystic Glades

Hostage Negotiation Cover

HOSTAGE NEGOTIATION – Pre-order now for August 23, 2016 (paperback) or September 1, 2016 (eBook).

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It’s with mixed feelings that I announce the upcoming end of the MARSHLAND JUSTICE mini-series. On August 23rd, the fourth and final book, HOSTAGE NEGOTIATION, makes its way into the world.  While I’m extremely excited for readers to experience this incredibly emotional story, I’m sad to see my time in the town of Mystic Glades come to an end. It’s been a blast, one of the quirkiest, most unique series that I’ve written. And readers have been equally enthusiastic. The first book, MISSING IN THE GLADES, won the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence in mystery and suspense. The second book, ARRESTING DEVELOPMENTS, was a finalist in the Bookseller’s Best Award. I’m crossing my fingers that the last two books, DEEP COVER DETECTIVE and HOSTAGE NEGOTIATION, will also garner some award recognition.

Here’s a full description of the story in HOSTAGE NEGOTIATION…

Many women went missing outside Mystic Glades. She escaped.

When he took the job, Zack Scott heard about the horrors waiting in the swamp. So when Kaylee Brighton dashed into the road like the devil was on her tail, the new police chief gave her a safe place to recover. Imprisoned for months, Kaylee could lead Zack to her captor. Though Zack swore to protect her, only Kaylee knew the darkness that awaited them if she returned. She couldn’t begin to understand what drove Zack, but she knew the importance of having him by her side. Because it wasn’t enough for Kaylee to have escaped. Now it was time to take back her life.

I hope you’ll give the MARSHLAND JUSTICE mini-series a try, including this last installment, HOSTAGE NEGOTIATION. You can see the whole series, and all of my books, highlighted on the BOOKS page of my website.

All about Sharon Wray.

IMG_5582KaT member, Sharon Wray supplied all these photographs…take a look at them…aren’t they SO Sharon Wray?! She’s the most optimistic, genuinely kind and considerate friend/fellow writer I know.

I believe the entire romance writing world knows her because of her eight RWA Golden Heart nominations in six years, because she’s always volunteering for chapter positions or cheering others on through yahoo loop emails, and because of the hundreds of poignant photographs and heartfelt blogs she’s posted over the years.

We were hugely ecstatic but a bit confused when we learned her most important moment in being a writer (getting the coveted book contract offer from a publisher) was communicated in a Publisher’s Weekly announcement. (The rest of us usually type the news in all caps all over social media.) Sharon was in the middle of a hectic summer and getting ready for the RWA national conference, so she hurriedly told the overall story, but promised to tell the nitty-gritty details when she returned. And here she is:

Can you tell us about the moment you realized your publishing dream had just come true?

It was surreal. After I hung up on a Skype call with my agents (Deidre Knight and Kristy Hunter), having accepted Deb Werksman’s offer from Sourcebooks, I sat at my desk shaking. After all these years (11!), I’d actually sold a book. And two more! I couldn’t even call my husband. I was so afraid to say anything to anyone because I was worried someone would  tell me it was all joke.

But now that I have a deadline, I know it’s not only not a joke, it’s a dream come true. I’m so grateful to my agents and editor, and I’m determined not to let them down.

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Explain ‘auction’ for those readers who’ve never heard the term associated with novels.

An auction is when a novel has two or more offers for publication from different publishing houses, and a literary agent negotiates the best deal for his or her author. Negotiations can include (but aren’t limited to) advances, subsidiary rights, marketing plans, release dates, etc. For the author, it’s very exciting and a crash course in all things publishing. Here’s a great article by Rachelle Gardner who explains it much better than I ever could!

What was your family’s reaction after you sold?

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Donut the Dog whose lack of interest keeps Sharon humble.

They were all so excited, including the dog, and they gave me hugs and we all cried. Then we went out to dinner to celebrate! And while at dinner, the kids asked about going to Disney World to really celebrate. Still thinking about that one. 🙂

When did you you know you wanted to start writing novels?

In 2004, my four-year old twins and I moved to Savannah, GA from Fairfax, VA (temporarily) to take care of my father who was dying of cancer. Taking care of my dad and the twins, while my husband was still in Virginia, was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever had to do. There was little free time and lots of stress involved.

It was during this time that my sister-in-law Kieran Kramer (now a USA Today Bestselling author for St. Martin’s Press) suggested I keep track of everything going on in my journal. Kieran had always been a writer and was actively pursuing a romance writing career. And I’d always admired her talent and perseverance.

During the summer of 2004, I found that writing helped me find a place for all of my emotions and I slowly moved from non-fiction into fiction. I realized that all the stories I’d always had in my head needed an outlet. In 2005, after my dad’s death, I finished my first manuscript, joined RWA, and entered the Golden Heart (and didn’t final!). After that, although I was in the early stages of learning how to write, I was hooked!

Badge

In those 11 years, you’ve done an incredible amount of research and learning writing craft. What “Ah-Ha!” craft resources do you recommend?

There are so many, but here’s a list of my favorites:

Laura Baker & Robin Perini’s Discovery Story Magic 

Laura Baker’s Turning Points (DSM part 2)

Michael Hauge’s Identity to Essence

Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat

Alicia Rasley’s Emotion without Purple Prose

Kathleen Baldwin’s Scene & Sequel

Suzanne Johnson’s Plot Quilting 101

Margie Lawson’s Rhetorical Devices & Empowering Character’s Emotions

Tiffany Lawson Inman’s Madness to Method &  Writing Authentic Choreograph

Back to your contract details! Do you have tentative titles and publication dates?

The Series title is The Deadly Force Series which I love. I honestly don’t know yet about whether or not I can keep my original titles. I also don’t know my publication dates, but I hope to know soon.

Right now the first three books are titled:

When Next We Meet

Hope Craves an Execution

Pale in Her AngerIMG_5555

I thought this saga was planned for 6 novels. Are you cutting the series short or planning on another multiple book deal?

For now I’m writing the first three books in the series for Sourcebooks. Hopefully, if things go well, I’ll be asked to write the next three.

Can you give us the overall story line for the series?

The Deadly Force series is about Colonel Torridan and his group of elite ex-soldiers who operate a self-defense school while seeking the truth behind an operation gone wrong.

These men are devoted to each other, determined to seek the truth instead of justice, and willing to risk their honor, their lives, and their souls to save themselves and the women they love. And, in the process, protect the world.

Do you believe in Serendipity?

Yes. I also believe in God’s timing. And in my case, the timing couldn’t be more perfect. I have three books to write in the next two years, but the kids go off to college next summer. I was already worried about how I was going to handle that (I suspect I won’t be handling it well) but now that I have three books coming out, I know I’ll be too busy to cry or feel lonely.

The timing of Sourcebook’s offer isn’t an accident and I’m so grateful that when the twins do go off to school, I’ll have plenty of work to focus on (besides my husband and dog!). I’m also grateful this didn’t happen earlier. I wouldn’t give up the time I’ve spent with my family for anything in the world.

Three Books you’d take to a deserted Island?

JR Ward’s Dark Lover (Paranormal Romance), Stephen King’s The Shining (Horror), and Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me (YA)

 Favorite foods you can’t say no to?

Oreos. Perfection in a small, round cookie.

Yummy. 🙂 Do you have any advice for writers still waiting for the call?

Never Pillow

Never stop writing. But Winston Churchill said it best in his October 29, 1941 speech at his childhood school (he almost didn’t graduate).

“. . . never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”

This quote–this speech–has never failed me in my darkest moments of self-doubt and worry.

Sharon, I think you know how much we’ve looked forward to celebrating your publishing contract, and how excited the eight of us are for you! Thanks for the pictures, and even formatting this for me, because that’s just the kind of friend you are!! –Sarah

Sharon-Wray

You can find Sharon here at Kiss and Thrill and DON’T miss her own blog www.sharonwray.com (it’s what a blog SHOULD be!)

She also loves to connect with readers on: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Goodreads

All photographs courtesy of Sharon Wray.

A Writer’s Dream-Come-True!

Sharon-Wray

We, Kiss and Thrill authors, are ecstatic to announce that one of our own has sold a 3-book deal AT AUCTION to Sourcebooks! Sharon Wray has always been one of the greatest supporters and cheerleaders of other writers, all while steadily toiling at rewriting/revising her own work. She is a multiple award winner, whose superior stories have stood out for so long that we’ve screamed ourselves breathless at this prestigious acknowledgement. Sharon is attending the Romance Writers of America conference this week, but feel free to post your celebratory comments, we’ll make sure she gets them! Here are ours:

Sharon, it may be a cliche to say it couldn’t happen to a nicer person, but in this case it’s true. No one is more deserving, more talented or has worked harder than you. I am beyond thrilled for you, and I know this is only the beginning of a fabulous career. Congratulations and much love!-Carey.

I’m so excited for you, Sharon. All of your hard work and persistence are paying off. Can’t wait to read your books!- Gwen.

Congratulations Sharon! I’m thrilled that your book is receiving the attention it deserves. You’ve researched every detail of this, rewritten, reworked, and caressed every line. I’m so proud of you and will be the first one up on my feet cheering when you win the Rita someday soon! Big proud hugs–Diana.

Sharon! I am so thrilled for you! Knowing how hard you’ve worked for this and how many ups and downs you’ve gone through in this process makes this moment that much sweeter. Your success is well deserved and I can’t wait to see your successes on the published side of the curtain! Much love, Manda.

Sharon, Congratulations on your debut sale! A series, at auction, no less! How cool is that? You’ve worked so hard for this. I’m so thrilled for you. Enjoy the ride. -Lena.

I am as excited about your news as if it were my own! For years I’ve been in awe of your amazing talent and your generosity towards other writers. Now it’s your turn. And I can hardly wait for the rest of the world to read your sensational romantic suspense stories. Your career hasn’t just started- it’s already racing down the success highway. Buckle up! -Sarah.

Sharon is an amazing talent and a generous, caring friend. I’m so thrilled that the world is going to discover a shining new star. Congratulations, Sharon! I cannot wait to see how bright you shine! xoxo Krista

Sharon, from the moment we met in 2011 I’ve known you would make a huge entrance onto the romantic suspense stage! I’m so happy for you, but I’m more happy for *me* because now I finally get to read your amazing books which I’ve been dying to read since I judged you in a contest (just weeks before our first meeting) and knew without a doubt you would win. And you did. See, I’m right about everything. 

Congrats sweetie!! I couldn’t be happier for you (and me)! -Rachel.

toast

 

Cheers, Sharon! Hope you’re enjoying RWA.

Lena Diaz Introduces the Darynda Jones of Romantic Suspense – BRYNN KELLY

Deception Island_Lena Diaz quote

Brynn Kelly Headshot

Can you tell that I LOVE DECEPTION ISLAND, the romantic suspense debut novel by incredible author BRYNN KELLY???

Those of  you who read paranormal romance know the name Darynda Jones. She’s the Queen of Voice in that genre. Well, I predict, with absolute confidence, that Brynn Kelly, will be the Queen of Voice in the romantic suspense genre. When I read Deception Island I was completely blown away.

EVERYTHING about this novel is fantastic: pacing, plot, characters, tone, twists, turns, and on and on. But what pulls it all together, what makes it a step above ANYTHING that I have read in recent times (including my own books, even though I’m green with envy admitting it) is her VOICE. The way she turns a phrase, word choice, dialogue, it’s all so UNIQUE and fresh and fun!

But don’t just take my word for it.

How many authors do you know who debut in HARD COVER these days?

Brynn Kelly’s debut novel, DECEPTION ISLAND, is available now, in HARD COVER.

For a publisher in today’s hard-to-sell climate to put a publicity machine behind a new author and introduce her in hard cover is unheard of, and it shows that her publisher (Harlequin-HQN) believes she’s the real deal.

Who else agrees with my fangirl-craziness about Brynn Kelly’s debut novel? Take a look…

“Intense and exciting, Brynn Kelly’s Deception Island is romantic suspense at its best!” -New York Times bestselling author Carla Neggers

“Captivating and cutting edge! Deception Island offers smoldering chemistry, cunning twists, and a whole lot of heart. Brynn Kelly delivers everything I love in a romance.” -New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham

“The romantic suspense genre just got a hot new talent …this thriller is expertly laced with psychological drama. Add in an unexpected and passionate attraction and you have one truly unforgettable tale.” –RT Book Reviews

“Sexual tension, mystery, and danger crackle off every page!”-New York Times bestselling author Laura Kaye

“In Deception Island, Brynn Kelly pens a raw, dark, emotional novel of danger and intrigue that will keep readers turning the pages.” –New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin

“DECEPTION ISLAND is a brilliant thriller that will have you begging for more. The plot is a maze of surprising and harrowing twists and turns that lead to a dynamic conclusion.” –Fresh Fiction

“It was rough, raw and real, with a storyline that hypnotized me and some of the best character development I’ve had the fortune of reading.” –The Romance Reviews

“Kidnappings and pirates and romance-oh my! Brynn Kelly’s fresh new voice is sure to become a mainstay among romantic suspense aficionados! Deception Island is a keeper.” -New York Times bestselling author Cindy Gerard

“Deception Island is the perfect book for someone searching for a hero with a dark past, enough passion for any woman’s deepest desires, and an amazing code of honor. The story, and the heroine with a wild heart and a fierceness to match, make this one you’ll never forget.” -New York Times bestselling author Sharon Sala

In Brynn’s own words…

Lena: By all appearances, it seems like you are an “overnight success” in the fiction world. Is Deception Island the first novel that you’ve written?

Brynn: Aren’t we all overnight successes in this industry? (grin) Deception Island is my third completed novel, and comes after ten years of serious tinkering with novel-writing, twenty years of journalism and non-fiction, several years of freelance manuscript copy-editing, and a childhood lost to reading and writing and daydreaming. So yes, totally an overnight success! It took that long to find my voice, figure out what I loved to write and develop the confidence and skills to (hopefully!) pull it off. I might revisit those earlier manuscripts someday, but for now I’m happy to write them off as my apprenticeship and leave them under the bed.

Lena: Can you tell us your “call story”, how you found out that you’d sold DI in a two-book deal to HQN? And when you found out you were going to debut in hard cover, did you faint, scream, what? Readers LOVE call stories, so please feel free to describe your feelings, what you were doing when you found out about the contract, etc.

Brynn: Let me tell you about this crazy twelve-hour period back in March last year. Several months earlier, I had entered Deception Island in the Golden Heart and my agent had submitted it to my dream publisher, Harlequin’s HQN Books. This is an imprint that rarely takes on a debut author, so it was a long shot, but holy cow, what an amazing place to start.

We’d had feedback that the editor we’d submitted to “loved it”, and was passing it around for second reads. The second reads turned into further reads, and it went around the building—and in fact around the world (as I later discovered)—until it felt as if everyone from the VP of publishing to the sales and marketing team to the janitor had read it. Every time we received an update, the hope and the tension rose.

It was beautiful torture—I told myself that the longer it took, the better were my chances, but of course the longer it took, the more devastating a “no, thanks” would be. And it could come at any time. I got to the point that I was relieved when a day passed with no word, because that was one more day hope remained alive. In the meantime, I was questioning whether all the effort and angst was worth it. Maybe I should quietly release the dream, quit writing, and live a calm everyday family life that wasn’t at the mercy of this emotional rollercoaster?

So back to that week in March. The Golden Heart finalists were due to be announced on the Friday in the US, and after all the waiting, my stomach was a pit of snakes. On my Friday afternoon (Thursday in the US), the phone rang. A US number. It was Tessa Dare! Deception Island had finaled, and they’d decided to tell me early because of the time difference! I had to keep it under wraps but I did quietly let my agent know.

That night, I couldn’t sleep. About 4am, I slipped onto the internet and found an email from my agent, Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill Associates. She said there was news from HQN and asked when would be a good time to call. She used exclamation marks. Surely she wouldn’t use exclamation marks if it was a pass? I told her to call anytime, because … sleep? As if! I took the call in my lounge, in the dark, whispering so I didn’t wake the husband and kids. It was a two-book offer. And weirdly, after all that waiting and tension, I felt totally calm. I think Nalini was a little confused. But my overwhelming emotion was relief. Over the days and weeks that followed, I kept waiting for the ecstasy to hit, but somehow it never did. The feeling was more of a lifting of tension, and a quiet contentment that this dream I’d been working toward for so long was coming true, that all that work wasn’t for nothing, that I wouldn’t have to face the choice of giving up writing.

I had a similar reaction to hearing that Deception Island was being released in hardcover. I took a call from my agent while I was volunteering at a school fundraiser, standing on the veranda of the school hall in pouring rain. She said that HQN was so confident about Deception Island and they’d had such positive external feedback that they’d decided to publish it in hardcover. I said, offhand, “Oh, cool!” My reaction was so understated that Nalini said something like, “Do you understand what a big deal this is?” The funny thing is, I’m normally a very emotional person. I wonder if my brain is subconsciously shielding me after all the ups and downs of the writing and submitting process?

 

Some Ways That You Too Can FanGirl Over Brynn Kelly!

Author Website: http://brynnkelly.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/brynnwrites

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brynnkellyauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14537646.Brynn_Kelly 

Deception Island - Brynn Kelly 

A stolen boy

A haunted soldier

A cornered con woman…

Rafe Angelito thought he was done with the demons from his past—until his son is kidnapped. Blackmailed into abducting an American heiress, the legionnaire soon finds himself trapped in paradise with a fiery, daring beauty who’s nothing he expects…and everything he desires. But when he uncovers her own dark secret, Rafe realizes he’s made a critical mistake—one that could cost him everything.

Playing body double for a spoiled socialite was supposed to be Holly Ryan’s ticket to freedom. But when she’s snatched off her yacht by a tall, dark and dangerous stranger, the not-quite-reformed con artist will make a desperate play to turn her captor from enemy to ally, by any means necessary.

Yet as scorching days melt into sultry nights, Holly is drawn to the mysterious capitaine, with his unexpected sense of honor and his searing touch. When they’re double-crossed, they’ll have to risk trusting each other in ways they never imagined…because in this deadly game of deception, it’s their lives—and hearts—on the line.


Buy Links for Deception Island (Or visit your local book store!)

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Harlequin has graciously agreed to give away one Hard Copy print book of DECEPTION ISLAND to a random commenter.

JB Schroeder’s Trial by Fire (ahem, red pen).

JB

JB Schroeder, Author of Unhinged

Hi Readers- Sarah Andre here! In the small world department: I sat next to a friendly woman at a recent luncheon, who turned out to be the mother of a romance writer. Not only did I know her daughter’s name, JB Schroeder, among the thousands of authors, but she was a guest on Kiss and Thrill last year, hosted by Lena! Naturally I invited JB to my house when she came to visit her mother and the hours flew. We talked about writing as if we’d been best friends for years! When I heard she had a new release coming out I invited her back to K&T- let’s catch up with what JB’s been doing, shall we?

Hey girl! You and I had a discussion about certain books kicking our author butts, but being better writers in the end because of all that hard work. Locked, Loaded, and Lying was that book for me. Yours, is Unhinged, which is also releasing today, May 24. Congrats!

Thank you! Yes. I wanted to try something unusual with Unhinged, but didn’t pull it off so well in the first draft. It went through four major overhauls—essentially re-writes. And then came the revisions! But it was all worth it! The story is better for it, and I was determined that my second book to hit virtual shelves would be just as good as the first (Runaway). According to my Review Crew ARC readers, I succeeded in that! Hooray!

Yay- I can hardly wait to read it, JB! As a struggling pantser I’m dying to know what techniques others have learned in their trial by fire. Tell me three writing challenges you learned from re-writing/revising Unhinged.

Red Herrings don’t necessarily make twists—sometimes they are just distracting.

When I started Unhinged I had three possibilities for the villain, and I thought I intertwined it all pretty well. But my critique partners felt that one characters role be condensed to reduce confusion. Later, my editor strongly suggested that same character be eliminated entirely because she wasn’t really necessary! It changed a lot in the book, but you find other ways to do what you need to, and make better use of the cast that is there. In other words: do more with less!book

Sometimes it’s all about the reveal.  This ties in closely to my red herring problem. You don’t have to keep the villain’s identity secret. Even if the reader knows fairly early WHO the villain is, they still love the journey. For one thing, its exciting to know more than the characters know. Just like watching a movie, gripping the edge of the chair, and thinking “Oh no, sister, bad idea. Do NOT go into the basement!” For another, the fun is in the HOW. How does the villain create trouble, how do the protagonists find out what they need to, and of course, how do they stop the villain? In Unhinged, I actually mapped out on a timeline exactly what could be revealed when for maximum effect. And I’ve been hearing a lot of OMG’s from my readers in all the right spots, so I know it worked!

Villains need motivation too. My first draft of Unhinged had the villain just plain crazy—which was super fun and allowed for a lot of creative license. But my agent pointed out that that level of loco meant the villain couldn’t possibly pull it all off. I needed a serious motivation and goal for the villain, not to mention a reason behind the crazy. It took weeks, but when I finally came up with THE IDEA—everything came together: goal, motivation, conflict, numerous juicy bits to reveal, and even an awesome twist.

Oh my gosh, this sounds SO exciting! And I absolutely LOVE your cover and the series name. I  know you’re a graphic artist who does covers and this is your own creation…I’m green with envy. Thank you for joining us, JB! We wish you all the best in your new release, and come back to visit us soon! (Both K&T and my house.) 🙂

So thrilled to celebrate release day with the fab ladies of Kiss and Thrill. Thank you, Sarah!

Unhinged is available on Amazon here

And you can connect with JB on her website.

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