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.
Cheers, Sharon! Hope you’re enjoying RWA.
There has been a ton of great news at Kiss and Thrill this month. There have been literally an avalanche of award nominations for our members. While all the KaTs have a slew of awards for books both published and unpublished, here are a few you might not yet have heard about that were announced in the last thirty days:
Sharon Wray is a real dynamo. She writes Romantic Suspense, Historical, and just recently has branched into Young Adult. Over the years she’s accumulated eight Golden Heart nominations, won the Daphne du Maurier three times, and nearly every award in her path. This month her new YA book, Wicker Hollows is up for both the Rosemary, from the Young Adult Chapter of the Romance Writers of America, that same book is also up for the Daphne du Maurier — a really phenomenal event because there is no YA category in the Daphne and it is as rare as a solar eclipse for an YA to be a finalist.
Just recently, Sharon also won first place in the Marlene Contest Romantic Suspense division for her book Let the Heavens Fall.
Sarah Andre. With her first book published just last year, Sarah is taking the publishing world by storm. Her book Locked, Loaded, and Lying has been nominated for the Booksellers’ Best Award — a recognition from book sellers across the country, and has also been named a finalist for the Golden Quill Award.
Sarah is a multi-award winner and is also a two time Golden Heart finalist. Her newest book, Tall Dark and Damaged came out just last week, too!
Lena Diaz is another veteran award winner. She’s been a Golden Heart finalist, won the Daphne du Maurier award more than once and is continuing her now fifteen book winning streak. This year Lena has been nominated for the Bookseller’s Award for her book, Arresting Developments.
Lena is once again nominated for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Mystery and Suspense for her book, Missing in the Glades.
The rest of the gals at Kiss and Thrill (the KaTs) are proud of you as we know our readers are, too! Please join us in congratulating them on their success.
Serious and Silly: I’m thankful for my husband’s Elvis impersonation. I swear it made me fall in love with him.
Serious: I’m thankful for my three incredible children and the beautiful world we live in.
Silly: I’m thankful that my son and daughter will be home for the holiday. (Seeing a trend?)
Serious: I’m grateful for my mom and sisters and all the laughter we share when we’re together.
Silly: I’m grateful for my DVR because it means I can take the time to talk to a friend or get interrupted by a family member and not worry about “missing” anything during my favorite show. The DVR puts me in control of TV, unchains me from the box, and means way less viewing time since it’s on my schedule, not theirs. Plus, fewer commercials. Yay!!
Serious: I am grateful for my husband who is the love of my life, is always there for me, and thinks I’m great even when I’m not. What did I ever do to deserve him?
Silly: Rite-in-the-Rain notebooks for jotting down story inspirations while in the shower or tub.
Serious: I’m grateful that I live where I can pursue my dreams and take that journey with the people I love most in this world.
Silly: I am thankful to Bonita Boarding and Kennel Camp for taking my little hooligans off my hands every morning.
Serious: I am thankful for the final safe return of my older brother, from 18 months in the US Embassy in Afghanistan. (In the picture he is holding Flat Stanley, some 3rd grade class drew and mailed it to him. Too cute!)
Silly: I’m thankful to Netflix and Hulu which kept me from losing my mind during my six weeks of mandatory IV antibiotic treatments.
Runner-up: I’m thankful to my wonderful friends (Lena, Carey, Rachel, Diana, Gwen, Krista, Sarah and Sharon) who also kept me from losing my mind during those six weeks.
Serious: I am grateful for my husband and two children who have brought me more happiness than I deserve.
All of us are so grateful for your recovery, Manda. We love you!
If anyone wants to share a silly or serious thing they’re thankful for today, we’d love to hear it.
If you’re a romance writer, then you are probably aware of the drama going on regarding the question how much romance is necessary for a story to be classified a romance novel. I think of it as the Great Controversy.
If you’re a reader, hopefully you haven’t noticed.
SInce I’ve always had more romance than plot in my manuscripts, the Great Controversy is something I hadn’t thought much about. Not because I didn’t care but because I know what happens when you try to quantify the subjective.
Fools run errands and those wild geese you’re chasing bite back.
It’s like trying to eat a spaghetti sandwich. It’s possible, but you’re left with a mess and you’ve lost half of your noodles.
So, this summer, I let the Great Controversy go. I left it to others who are more articulate than I to work out the answers. Then I forgot about it.
Until I went to the airport for my flight to San Antonio for the annual RWA Conference and met the Angry Young Man.
Tall. Shaved head. Sharp tongue. His dark tattoos threatened to slash me, but it was his words that cut.
Romance novels? Pathetic. Formulaic. Pornographic.
I stepped away quickly, not wanting to engage in an argument before boarding a plane.
Yet, despite his derision, his eyes held desperate questions.
Will I ever be loved?
Will I ever love another?
Are Happily Ever Afters real?
My heart hammered and I felt nauseous. I hate conflict. And I had no words at the time, especially since we were on the same flight and might have to sit next to each other. But I was disappointed in myself. How could I aspire to be a romance writer when I couldn’t even defend my profession? I didn’t want to go to RWA anymore. Even if it meant missing the Golden Heart ceremony.
What difference did a Golden Heart final make if I couldn’t take away the pain in that man’s eyes?
Stuck with a non-refundable ticket and in desperate need of chocolate, I snuck away to the far end of the gate area. I searched my carry-on for my emergency dark chocolate with almonds candy bar. Instead, I found my RWA badge carefully tucked around my signed copy of Letters to Kelly by Suzanne Brockmann (which I take to every conference as my good luck charm).
The book dismissed me as a coward. My Golden Heart pins glittered, accusing me.
If my words couldn’t heal the Angry Young Man, then whose would?
Why was I so afraid?
That’s when the truth slammed her fist into my stomach. The Great Controversy had stolen my confidence. All this worrying about my books not being romantic enough had made me doubt my stories, my writing, my career aspirations. I’d thought that by ignoring the Great Controversy, it wouldn’t touch me.
Like a true introvert, I’d just wanted to be left alone.
Instead, I’d left my heart’s gate unguarded and self-doubt had crept in.
My desire for chocolate died, and I watched people move in and out of gates, down hallways, dragging baggage and pillows and kids. But in many of their eyes I saw an emptiness. A sad kind of desperation.
Were they just weary travelers? Or were they in the same kind of pain as the Angry Young Man? Just less obvious?
I heard loud voices nearby and looked up. The Angry Young Man was arguing with the flight attendant manning the departure door. I couldn’t hear his words, but his dark voice made everyone turn. For a second, we all held a collective breath, all held together in the moment. A minute later, a security officer escorted the Angry Young Man away. When he passed me, I met his gaze.
Will I ever be loved?
Will I ever love another?
Are Happily Ever Afters real?
I wanted to reach out and tell him that everything would be alright. That I had the answers to the questions in his eyes.
But he disappeared around the corner and everyone retreated back to their private space. Each person separate again, lost in their own thoughts. But something inside me had shifted, and I took out one of my Golden Hearts and pinned it to my sweater.
Although no one else would know what the pin meant, those mirror-image question marks holding the shape of a heart confirmed what I knew to be true.
I took strength from the heart’s beauty and found truth in its form.
Formulaic? Romance novels bring order and comfort to the chaos and suffering of the human condition.
Pathetic? Romance novels offer hope to the seeking, soothe the ill, and give solace to the grieving.
And the other word that’s not worth repeating? Romance novels prove that true love given and true love received can change the world.
I’m still not sure if my stories meet the requirements of the Great Controversy, but I learned something that day in the airport. The power of a romance novel comes not just from its level of romance, but from its graceful ability to answer the questions of the Angry Young Man.
Will I ever be loved? Yes. With great passion.
Will I ever love another? Yes. With great truth.
Are Happily Ever Afters real? Yes. With great beauty.
Maybe, instead of asking the question of how much romance is in a romance novel, we should be asking if a novel fulfills its promise to the reader. A promise written with great passion, great truth, and great beauty. A promise of a happy ending.
I am proud to be a romance writer. I am proud that my stories offer a mix of adventure, suspense and love. I am proud that my manuscripts–like those written before and those yet to be–end with the same three simple words.
Three simple words which, almost invisible on their own, carry a force unlike any other.
Three simple words which, when strung together, hold the weight of a golden heart, the answers for an Angry Young Man, and the power to heal the world.
So yes, Mr. Angry Young Man. There is a Happily Ever After.
I, and my books, promise.
Now I’d love to know what is your absolute favorite romance of all time?
I will be offering two books for two lucky commenters: The first, in honor of my last K&T interview with Heather Ashby, will be an e-copy of Heather’s newest release Never Forget.
Second, in honor of my K&T interview coming up, I will be offering an e-copy of Night Sky, a new Young Adult novel by Suzanne Brockmann and her daughter Melanie Brockmann.
(You don’t want to miss it! My fourteen-year old daughter and I will be interviewing Suzanne and her daughter Melanie for our first ever mother/daughter and mother/daughter interview. It’s going to be tons of fun!)
All photos courtesy of Sharon Wray
We here at Kiss and Thrill would like to take a teensy moment to congratulate 2 of our own: Sharon Wray and Krista Hall!
Sharon and Krista have finaled in the Romantic Suspense genre of the uber-prestigious 2013 RWA Golden Heart® writing contest! Sharon is actually a double-finalist. Yes, thank you, we think she’s awesome too! Let’s hear the gossip:
How many Golden Heart® nominations have you received over the years? SHARON: This year the two finals are numbers four and five. (It seems so strange to write that.) KRISTA: I have three GH noms as Krista Reynolds: 2007 Single Title for Enemy Hearts, 2011 RS for Borderlands, and 2013 for Broken Places. I plan to use Krista Hall as my writing name.
And the manuscript name? SHARON: The title entries were Juliet’s Rogue and Rogue’s Redemption. KRISTA: Broken Places.
Can you give us a ‘peek’ into the exact moment you got ‘the call’? SHARON: The entire family was on day 11 of the flu. I have to admit I was waiting/hoping for a call, but when the phone rang I was in the middle of taking my daughter’s temperature while making another cup of tea. I tried to answer as calmly as I could but my hand shook so much I spilled my tea on the counter, then I started coughing. Luckily, Leslie Kelly (the RWA Board Member who called) was really sweet about it. But when she told me I was a double finalist, I started to cry. Learning that two of my manuscripts (which combined had been rejected close to a hundred times) were finalists sent me over the emotional edge. Again, Leslie was really nice but I ended the phone call as quickly as I could so she wouldn’t think I was out of my mind.
KRISTA: The Call came while I was in the shower. I never heard the phone ring–not the landline, nor my cell. I got dressed and headed to work, which means I walked downstairs to my office/laundry room. I was trying to forget that RWA would be announcing the nominees that morning, but my work emails weren’t keeping my mind on, well, work. Since it was Tuesday, I clicked over to our Kiss and Thrill loop saw that Sharon had two nominations. Yay, Sharon! I figured this wasn’t my year for a GH nomination. Again. I posted my snarky slogan on the super hilarious blog post you and Darynda Jones wrote and felt cheered up enough to go back to my work emails. A few minutes later, I decided to check my phone for messages. The first message was from an 817 number. Thought it was probably another poll or canned political message. It was Diane Kelly! With good news! I called her back–it wouldn’t feel real until I talked to her 🙂 (QUICK PLUG: Diane Kelly is our guest next Tues!)
Will you be attending the RWA Awards at the Convention this July? SHARON: I am going to Atlanta! Just not sure yet who’s watching the kids or how I’m going to get there or how I’m going to pay for it. (Can the hotel sleep eight women in one room?) But I am definitely going! KRISTA: I don’t know if I’m going to Atlanta. Still trying to decide.
Where are you in the process of getting your work published? SHARON: I am in the process of revising Juliet’s Rogue for my agent. Once it’s done and we both love it, then it will go out on submission with all sorts of praying and crossing of fingers. KRISTA: I’m finalizing edits on Broken Places while Bob Mayer’s voice is still in my head. WRW hosted him for a 2 day workshop on Saturday and Sunday. After 10 hours of Bob Mayer, he sticks in your head like super glue! [I DON’T GET IT?] [REALLY? WHY?] [WHAT’S THE PAYOFF FOR THE READER?] It’s a good thing, right? Then I plan to query agents. But mostly, I’m trying to stay focused on the writing. I have the last third of Broken Places’ sequel to finish and another one to start. My goal is to have my trilogy completed by the end of the year.
When you stand at the podium and accept the coveted Golden Heart® AWARD, what secret sign will you give K&T readers as code that you just said ‘hi.’ SHARON: I will tuck a strand of hair behind my ear–casually and with a cryptic smile, of course! KRISTA: I’ll use a code word: “WORKSHOP.” 🙂
Congratulations again, Sharon and Krista, best of luck!
Surprise! Darynda Jones could not narrow it down to 1 winner, so we have 5 winners and a GRAND PRIZE WINNER! Each of you has 10 days to respond and claim the Darynda Jones novel of your choice. (Please use the Contact Us tab at the top and let us know how to send it to you.)
SNARKY SAYING WINNERS:
LAURA BAIRD: Your Choice, but personally, I’d go for the light.
ANGELA TRENHOLM: My nagging is a sign I still care. My silence is a sign that I’m plotting your death.
STACY SCUDDER: No, I can’t go to the gym. I’m in the fitness protection program.
MICHELLE GORE: If this coffee were a person, I’d get naked and make love to it.
RACHEL KROGEN: Be nice to your sister. One day you may need an alibi.
AND OUR GRAND PRIZE WINNER: (pay attn winners, it involves you too!)
JENNIFER BRAY-WEBER: Never let someone drive you crazy. It’s nearby and the walk is good for you.
Congratulations, Jenn! Not only do you win your Darynda Jones book-of-choice, but also a $25 Amazon gift card AND Darynda wants to buy each of the winners above one of YOUR NOVELS!
Each of the 5 winners: please choose the Jennifer Bray-Weber book of choice too! Titles and descriptions can be found at
CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN to Laura, Angela, Stacy, Michelle, Rachel and Jenn!
Diane Kelly writes romantic mysteries featuring feisty heroines, quirky sidekicks, and sexy leading men, with humor that leaves readers laughing out loud.
Diane’s manuscript for Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure won the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart award. Her manuscripts have received more than two dozen RWA chapter awards as well. Diane’s fiction, tax, and humor pieces have appeared in True Love Magazine, Writer’s Digest Yearbook, Romance Writers Report, Byline Magazine, and various other publications. See you all then!