Darynda Jones Prize Winner!

I know I’ve dragged this out quite some time. Two weeks doesn’t sound like much, unless you’re waiting with bated breath for me to post something — anything — about who won the delectable prize of reading a Darynda Jones Eighth Grave After Dark ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) well before anyone else.

Diana and Darynda

So, without more ado, and before I sound like that cute guy who promised to call, and possibly never did — the winner is (drum roll please) …

NYMERIAS!

Congratulations to her. Please contact me within ten days to collect your prize. And to everyone else who entered, please forgive me. I know this is a really yummy prize, but there will be many more chances to win cool stuff here at DianaBelchase.com and also at KissAndThrill.com.

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But at least as a consolation prize, here is the great new cover for Eighth Grave After Dark! You can use the link at the top of the post to preorder right now. And don’t forget these last two wonderful books in Darynda’s Grim Reaper Series.

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I wish I had a book to give each and every one of you.  You’re my fans and I love you that much. But among the several  thousands who read, commented and followed on two sites, that just cannot be. But, take heart, I know Darynda will be back, so you’ll all have another chance then, and her book will be out this May.

Have fun, and keep reading!

 

 

 

Martin Luther King Jr: Celebrating his Life, his Legacy, his Libary

I admire Martin Luther King tremendously. He was a man who embodied the true American spirit believing that all men should be free. Using civil disobedience — peaceful protest — his words and actions sparked tremendous change and brought the attention of a nation to the needs of citizens who were being treated abominably.

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Portrait of MLK at Washington, DC’s central library which is named in his honor.

 

Much like the patriots, he sparked a revolution of his own — yet no matter how provoked, his strong and gentle spirit knew that violence wasn’t the answer. He was a man of learning, and like his father and his grandfather before him, he graduated from Morehouse College. At Crozer Theological Seminary he was elected President of his predominantly white senior class before going on to receive his doctorate from Boston University.

The author of five books and numerous articles, Dr. King borrowed from Christian teachings and the methodology of Ghandi to create change in a positive way. He motivated an entire region to boycott buslines for their discriminatory practices. His achievements were recognized world wide and for them he received the Nobel Peace Prize.  I wish we had another leader like him today.

(Please click on a photo to enlarge the gallery.)

In the spirt of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I’d like to bring my readers on a virtual visit to the memorial here in D.C. No, not the big marble memorial — though it’s lovely and I’ll do a post on that another day — but Washington, D.C.’s main library that was named in his honor. Somehow, I think it might be the memorial MLK would have liked best.

*The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library – Central Library is open 7 days a week and is located at 901 G St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001 and is across from the National Gallery and the Chinatown/Gallery Place Metro station.

 

 

Darynda Jones: Snarky Sayings and Grim (Reaper) Secrets

Darynda Jones has a secret. On paper, her alter ego Charley Davidson is snarky, sex-mad, able to kick paranormal foes DJONES001-2in their paranormal behinds. In real life, Darynda is probably one of the sweetest people you’ve ever met. She has a humble, self-deprecating humor, she’ll tell you all her writing secrets as if they don’t amount to much, and she’s more likely to talk about her kids than her books.

Is it no wonder I love this gal?

You’ll love her even more because Darynda is giving one reader who leaves a comment below, here or at KissAndThrill.com, an ARC — yes that’s right — an ADVANCE READER’s COPY of her book number 8!  

Eighth Grave After Dark isn’t out until May, and though you might have to wait a bit to get the ARC, you’ll be in the know with reviewers across the country who get the book months in advance!   So leave us your best bit of snark, or tell us why you love Darynda, or why you want to read her book, and we’ll let you know who won next week. 

Here are some things you might not know about her:

*Awards: Darynda has won 11 awards, including the Daphne du Maurier, the RITA, the Bookie Award (three times!), 2 HOLT Medallions, the Golden Heart, the GOTCHA, The PASIC, and the Rebeca (LERA).

*Genre: Darynda has written in a ton of genres, even though they’re not all published, including historical!

*Education: She’s a Summa cum Laude graduate and has a BA in Sign Language Interpreting.

*Eighth Grave After Dark will be out on May 19th and Darynda will also be in an anthology, Dark Screams, Volume 3 which will be out on May 12th. Steven King was in Volume 1 and there will be a collector’s edition available, too, with all 25 authors signatures. Our gal is now in the same league as Steven King — but we all knew that already, right?

I sat down with Darynda to discuss her Grim Reaper Charley Davidson series that launched with the mega-best seller First Grave on the Right. She also speaks about how she writes humor and bubbles snark on the page and gives up secrets about her newest series.

Enjoy!

(If the video doesn’t play properly, please update your Adobe.)

Darynda’s latest books are Sixth Grave on the Edge, and Seventh Grave and No Body, I know you’ll love them!

Don’t forget to leave your comment below or at KissAndThrill.com to be eligible for the drawing for an Advance Reader’s Copy of Eighth Grave After Dark! A comment left on both websites will be counted twice, and if you follow either blog, you qualify for up to two more entries! So commenting in both places and following both blogs gives you four chances to win. (If you already follow, you’re already entered one time.) 

( UPDATE: The contest is now closed)

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Treasure at the Washington Winter Show

A jazz group played in the foyer, white jacketed waiters served delicacies, and champagne sparkled in flutes at the bar. Was this a fancy society wedding? No, it was the preview party for the the Washington Winter Show is underway this weekend at the Katzen Art Center at American University. Best of all, it’s proceeds go to help children and families at risk in the Washington, DC area.

It’s well worth braving the cold to visit the booths and examine some real treasures. Whether you can afford it or not (which I cannot ), seeing sparkling jewelry, Chinese kimonos, and oversized Bison bones from the Pleistocene are fascinating.

(all photos (c) Diana Belchase 2015)

I interviewed three dealers: Jay Gates of Gates Antiques who describes how an English, Dutch marquetry cabinet was made, Judy Loto of Russack & Loto Books, who talks about why it’s important to collect books about collecting, and finally William Hutchison of William Hutchison Books, who shows us a family inscribed edition of Ulysses S. Grant’s autobiography and a gorgeous edition of Shakespeare’s comedies.

The Washington Winter show runs from January 9-11, 2015 and is at American University’s Katzen Art Center, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC. Tickets are $20 and go to raise funds for at risk children and families in Washington, D. C.

Loving Loretta Young on her Birthday!

Today is LorettaYoung’s birthday.  Yes, there are many other people to celebrate this month who seem a whole lot more important, but this woman means something to me and I wanted to share.  I believe film, and song, and the stuff my friends and I write matter.  The subtle themes weave their way into society and change things.  I hope we send out positive, optimistic themes that change all of us for the better.

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If you look at Loretta Young’s body of work, she did just that.  Her TV series was brilliant — and there always was an obvious message.  In fact, some would say, Loretta pounded it home at the end by reading quotes from great literature, philosophy and the Bible.  Somehow, though, she did it with such grace that those lesson’s were sweetly consumed.  Whether she portrayed a disillusioned school teacher, a speech-writing mother, an alcoholic, a Japanese woman outsmarting her husband, or an Asian queen, her acting skills were impeccable.  She didn’t seem to care if a role cast her in a less than positive light, as long as the message came through.  Her 108 films were equally empowering.

I’ve must admit, I’m addicted to old movies.  There is something wonderful about the clear black and white images, the language, and the “America is a great nation” plots that hooks me every time.  Lately, my favorite has become Loretta Young in The Farmer’s Daughter. 

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The plot is simple (SPOILER alert):  a young woman from the country loses her money in the big city and takes a job as maid in the home of a renowned political family.  Her innate intelligence and kindness wins everyone’s heart, including that of the single, extremely handsome congressman.  She goes to college at night and is by nature a political devotee herself – so when they clash over a candidate the young congressman sets out to endorse, she ultimately ends up running for Congress herself.

The film was made in 1947.

Sounds pretty preposterous, right?  A woman running for Congress back then?  So, I did some research.  It turns out that by 1947 thirty-six women had served in Congress.  Roughly half of them were placeholders – widows whose husbands had left vacant seats – who kept the office running until a male replacement could be voted on during the next election.

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Jeannette Rankin
By permission of the Collection of the U.S. House of Reps.

But a few of them were pretty stunning.  The first woman in Congress was Jeannette Rankin, a Republican from Montana (an early women’s suffrage state), who was elected in 1916 — four years before most women in the U.S. could even vote.  To me, that is utterly amazing.  I went through the women’s liberation movement, the angst over whether or not to be a feminist, the conversations about the glass ceiling – and this woman served in the federal government most women couldn’t even vote for.

Rankin said, “ I want to be remembered as the only woman who ever voted to give women the right to vote.”

So back to the farmer’s daughter (again SPOILER alert).  Our heroine is honest and true but the man she runs against is not.  He concocts a smear campaign to say she spent a night at a motel with a man.  Remember this is 1947 and she is unmarried.  Our brave Congressman follows her back to her father’s home and says, come back to Washington as my wife – you’ll be the happiest person to not have been elected to Congress.

The end right?  Gosh, I was about to throw my pillow at the TV set, when in walks Papa.  Who, in 1947, advises his daughter to go back and fight for the seat in Congress and the truth above all.

Now, I understand where women of my generation got the gumption to ask to be more than mere housewives.  Perhaps not all of our fathers, but certainly our mothers saw movies like these and inspired us from our cradles to be the best we can be.

All I have to say is thank you Mom, thank you Loretta, and thank you Hollywood.

Feed Your eReader

IMG_2156Happy New Year!

For those of you who have gotten lovely eReaders, many with matching gift cards or even traditional gift certificates to your favorite book stores, here are a few recommendations.

There are enough categories here to please everyone, I hope. Enjoy!

Cozy Mystery:

Lethal Black Dress by Ellen Byerrum  819NvdukVwL._SL1500_

When does a little black dress become a lethal black dress?
When it becomes unexpectedly weaponized at the most security-conscious event in Washington, D.C.—the fabled White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian is delighted to finally take her place at the legendary D.C. insider bash, but she senses something is amiss with shoddy TV reporter Courtney Wallace’s vintage Madame X gown with its stunning emerald lining.  Spies, lies and an enemy close to home bring Lacey face to face with danger and jealousy, the green-eyed monster. But this time, will the style sleuth discover that green is also the color of death?

Paranormal Romance:

Under His Nose by Candice Gilmer (a new NY Times Bestsellilng Author!) 818gI4IM7UL._SL1500_


All it takes is faith, trust, and fairy dust. A swift kick never hurts, either.
Fairy Godmother Christy must use every skill at her command–just not her magic–to thwart Cupid’s meddling and get Roark and his perfect match Stephanie together without changing their free will or ruining her perfect record. Or she’ll never get her own Happily Ever After.

This is the first in the Guys and Godmothers series and a real delight.

Historical Romantic Suspense:

Why Lords Lose Their Hearts by Manda Collins  81gQLOMpPOL._SL1500_

The youngest of the Duke of Pemberton’s five sons, Lord Archer Lisle is used to waiting his turn. For years, he could only stand by, seething, as Perdita suffered at the hands of her husband, but now she’s under threat from another source—one who will stop at nothing to make her pay for the late duke’s death. But the good-natured Archer can be dangerous when crossed—and he’ll do anything to keep the woman he’s adored for so long safe in his arms…

Just the book to chase the winter chills away!

Romantic Suspense:

Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Lena Diaz

Detective Emily O’Malley just stumbled upon a killer’s lair—and the remains of a woman he  71Uws+SANlL._SL1500_ kept locked away for years. But this killer isn’t done yet. More women are missing, and all clues point to Devlin Buchanan—the man who seems to know just a little too much. Emily’s instincts are rarely wrong, and now they’re telling her this sexy, mysterious man is hiding something big …

As a trained assassin for EXIT Inc—a top-secret mercenary group posing as an international tour company—Devlin “Devil” Buchanan isn’t afraid to take justice into his own hands. But when the hot new detective on his trail gets too close to the organization and a contract is placed on her life, Devlin does the only thing he can: he turns rogue agent and kidnaps her to save her life.

Thriller:

Judgement by Carey Baldwin  81Fw1tJENzL._SL1500_

When a coed falls prey to a sadistic murderer, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Caitlin “Caity” Cassidy and FBI profiler, Special Agent Atticus Spenser, are called in to testify–one for the defense, one for the prosecution. With warring approaches to justice, these two rivals have been butting heads for years–both inside the courtroom and out. And at first, this case appears to be no different.
But when a brutal attack leaves the accused man dead and Caity in critical condition, petty differences take a backseat to saving lives. As the lone survivor, Caity knows too much, and the killer–a madman calling himself the Man in the Maze–is coming back for round two. Now Caity and Spense must join forces to uncover the killer’s identity before Caity’s time–and luck–runs out.

A Suspense Magazine “Best Books of 2014″

Young Adult:

Fade to Black & White41G9oanKtoL by Kris Abel-Helwig

Clever, introverted Joan struggled to come to terms with her mother’s death by plunging herself into a dark, colorless, emotionless world. At home, she played lacrosse with her older brother; the best therapy for two kids who had lost the solar power on which their lives had run. Away from home, she haunted the hallways of high school like an invisible ghost. Until one summer day when a golden boy moved in next door, which caused her humorous, awkward, often embarrassing inner conversations to tumble out to complicate and light her path back to living once more, out loud and in color.

Non Fiction Science:

Sex, Love and DNA by Peter Schattner  71MaSEcbmZL

Can the discoveries of 21st-century molecular biology answer age-old questions about the human experience? Can studying proteins and DNA help us understand how we make our choices in sex and love? How we communicate? Why some people are able to become top athletes, while others have the intellectual gifts to become outstanding scientists or artists? Where our emotions come from? Or why we age and die? In the past such questions have generally been reserved for philosophers or psychologists, and some will argue that this is as it should be. Yet we are biological animals, and by studying biology, and especially the biology of cells and proteins and DNA, we can learn a lot about what it means to be human.

Fictional Memoir:

I Am Sophie Tucker by Susan and Lloyd Ecker  91J-okDJF-L._SL1500_

Part fairy tale, part crime novel, part rags to riches Hollywood myth, I Am Sophie Tucker tells the outrageous story of one of showbiz’s biggest personalities. From 1906 through the beginning of television, Sophie Tucker and her bawdy, brash, and risqué songs paved the way for performers such as West, Monroe, Midler, Cher, Madonna, and Gaga.

Tucker tried to get her story published for nine years, without success. Undaunted, Sophie hired half a dozen ghostwriters, but she still had no takers for her no holds barred autobiography. Eventually, Doubleday published a sanitized version in 1945.“After immersing ourselves in Sophie’s papers and surviving friends,” says co-author Lloyd Ecker, “this initial volume is what should have been the actual autobiography of Tucker.”

Historical Fiction:

Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

Incredibly well written with poetic use of language —  serious readers with literary bents will love this book!

The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more 51lMNwDJMyLfragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.

With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly.

Romantic Suspense:

Broken Places by Krista Hall  81giAci6OLL._SL1500_

When one of her students becomes the latest victim of a D.C. gang-slaying, sociology professor Trevy Barlow is determined to protect the other girls in her literacy class for at-risk teens—even if it means compromising her own safety.

FBI gang task force agent Cruz Larsen isn’t about to let Trevy endanger herself or sidetrack his investigation with her do-gooder meddling. But when a key witness refuses to talk to anyone except her, Cruz has to find a way to earn her trust so that she’ll play by his rules.

Paranormal Romance Anthology:

Twelve Shades of Midnight by Liliana Hart, Darynda Jones and Rachel Grant plus 9 others!

12 authors…12 unforgettable, never-before-released stories  The stroke of midnight ushers in many things. From hijinks and mischief to danger and evil, romance is the magic that binds these paranormal novellas together. Join 12 bestselling and award winning authors as they explore the different shades of midnight in exclusive, never-before-released stories.

Liliana Hart – THE WITCH NEXT DOOR   812rEEg-W9L-1._SL1500_
Darynda Jones – A LOVELY DROP
Shea Berkley – DARK SECRETS: STONE COLD DEAD
Dakota Cassidy – WITCHED AT BIRTH
Claire Cavanaugh – MIDNIGHT RENEGADE
Rachel Grant – MIDNIGHT SUN
Trish McCallan— SPIRIT WOODS
Angi Morgan – BODYGUARDS IN HEELS: HIT AND RUN HALLIE
Robin Perini – DARK GUARDIANS: NIGHT OF THE JAGUAR
Robyn Peterman – SWITCHING HOUR
Ann Voss Peterson – THE SCHOOL
Jenn Stark – GETTING WILDE

Which shade of midnight are you?

Non Fiction Social Justice:

Faces: Imprisoned Women and Their Struggle with the Criminal Justice System by Betty May

A riveting portrayal of women living behind bars and what put them there.

In 2008 a group of women serving life sentences for capital crimes decided to reach out to 91YVBi0DRwL._SL1500_ at-risk youth and warn them of the consequences of bad choices. With the mantra: If we can help just one kid, all this work will be worth it, they produced and performed a play: FACES. The play became a phenomenon and reached hundreds of people—in the prison and at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. This is their story.
It is also the author’s story. How she went from knowing nothing about the Criminal Justice System to becoming an advocate for these women and an activist for change. The women’s mantra became her own and the basis for this book.
One of the women said of FACES, the play: “If I had seen this play when I was a teenager, I probably wouldn’t be here now.” The women and the author want FACES, the book, to reach young adult readers and help them in the same way.

Profits from the sale of this book will be shared with the prison and with Social Justice organizations.

Romantic Suspense:

Blind Fury by Gwen Hernandez

When always-play-it-safe Jenna Ryan starts questioning how her brother died in 914qA+DuNgL._SL1500_Afghanistan, someone decides she must be stopped. Permanently. Her brother’s best friend—a sexy thrill-seeker she can’t stop thinking about—won’t reveal what he knows about the fatal shoot-out, putting Jenna at odds with the only man she trusts to keep her alive.

Former special forces operator Mick Fury would give his life to keep his best friend’s irresistible sister safe. He took an oath to stay silent about their last mission, but Mick’s will is tested by the white-hot attraction to Jenna he’s tried to ignore for years. Now he must risk everything—even falling in love—to protect her from the truth that could destroy them both.

Travel Fiction:

Evil Eye by Veronica Di Grigoli

Istanbul beckons Celeste Hamilton like a siren. Entranced by the misty city of mosques, 71XUBS6+5YL._SL1200_bazaars, and palaces, her dream adventure in this city, split by the sparkling blue sea, soon turns into a nightmare. A web of deceit pulls Celeste from bright, sunlit streets into shady back alleys along the ancient Bosphorus. Without understanding, she’s stumbled onto a villainous secret. Her landlady lets slip puzzling comments that don’t make sense. The sinister charms and dark magic spells she places in Celeste’s room are horrifying.

Then, the morose caretaker of the orphanage where Celeste volunteers starts staring at Celeste’s beloved boys like a vulture sizing up its next meal. When Celeste’s favourite boy goes missing, Celeste discovers that she herself is the target of a dark plot.

Can Celeste save the child – and herself – before someone destroys her?

Paranormal Thriller:

The Betrayed by Heather Graham

Sleepy Hollow isn’t so sleepy anymore… One night, New York FBI agent Aiden Mahoney receives a visitor in a dream—an old friend named Richard Highsmith. The very next day he’s sent to Sleepy Hollow because Richard’s gone missing there. 912JTC--6bL._SL1500_

Maureen—Mo—Deauville now lives in the historic town and works with her dog, Rollo, to search for missing people. She’s actually the one to find Richard…or more precisely his head, stuck on a statue of the legendary Headless Horseman.

Mo and Aiden, a new member of the Krewe of Hunters, the FBI’s unit of paranormal investigators, explore both past and present events to figure out who betrayed Richard, who killed him and now wants to kill them, too. As they work together, they discover that they share an unusual trait—the ability to communicate with the dead. They also share an attraction that’s as intense as it is unexpected…if they live long enough to enjoy it!

Artist Advice Non Fiction:

Daily Painting by Carol Marine

(I found this book — while directed at young artists — to also be advice that can be applied to anyone in the creative arts. Do it everyday and stop being so hard on yourself to unleash your creativity was a message that really struck home for me.)

A unique system for jump-starting artistic creativity, encouraging experimentation and growth, and increasing sales for artists of all levels, from novices to professionals.  Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 7.46.37 AM

Do you want to bring the joy back into your art? Have you landed in a frustrating rut? Are you having trouble selling paintings in galleries, getting bogged down by projects you can’t seem to finish or abandon, or finding excuses to avoid working in the studio? Author Carol Marine knows exactly how you feel—she herself suffered from painter’s block, until she discovered “daily painting.” The idea is simple: do art (usually small) often (how often is up to you), and if you’d like, post and sell it online. Soon you’ll find that your block dissolves and you’re painting work you love—and more of it than you ever thought possible!

Romantic Suspense/Thriller series:

Dead Heat by Allison Brennan

(Can I tell you how much I love 91mZWGr5oPL._SL1500_Allison Brennan’s Lucy Kincaid series? This may be last, but it certainly isn’t least!)

Assigned to San Antonio’s Violent Crimes unit, Lucy Kincaid joins a team of seasoned veterans and newer agents for a task force called Operation Heatwave. It’s supposed to be a simple sweep of known offenders with outstanding warrants. But when Lucy and her team try to bust two local brothers for jumping bail, she walks into a hotbed of pure evil. Their names are George and Jaime Sanchez. They are charged with murder, drug trafficking, and worse. And one of them is still out there.

Well, that’s just a fraction of this year’s list! Hope you all find something lovely to read in 2015. Happy New Year!

Greek Tragedy in Western Kansas

I had the pleasure of interviewing Charlotte Hinger,charlotte-hinger-web-221x276 the author of four books. Her novel, Hidden Heritage was cited by Kirkus Reviews as “One of the Best Mysteries of 2013″ and also “One of the Best Fiction Books of 2013.”

A native Kansan with a flaming state loyalty, she says her books prove “the Greek tragedy is alive and well, it’s just moved to Western Kansas.” Her mysteries contain elements such as witchcraft, herbal medicine, Episcopalians, lots of family drama, and of course murder.

“A female priest drops the chalice at the altar because someone has whispered to her, I know who you are and I know what you’ve done.” —  Charlotte Hinger describing Lethal Lineage

“One of the most famous Kansas editors said once, ‘What ever happens in the United States happens first in Kansas.’ We’re almost like a bellwether for all the problems the country’s  going to have to deal with, we think them up first.”

Charlotte is the kind of person who wants everyone to succeed and as a teacher of writers she has great advice:

1. Finish the book. Write it twice before anyone ever sees it. Make sure it’s your best work.

2. Intelligent marketing to publishers. Research houses that are appropriate to your submission . i.e. no fishing books sent to publishers that only print thrillers.

3. Read the publisher’s guidelines. They will tell you what they’re looking for, length, formatting, how to submit.

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