Happy Thanksgiving!

Diana Belchase:

Wishing all my readers a Happy Thanksgiving!

Originally posted on Kiss and Thrill:

contentHappy Thanksgiving! Today I’d like to share some silly and not so silly things those of us at Kiss and Thrill are thankful for.

Carey:

BillandElvisSilly: I’m thankful I’m not a turkey.

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.

Lena:

photoSerious: I’m thankful that my son and daughter will be home for the holiday.

Silly: I’m thankful that my son and daughter will be home for the holiday. (Seeing a trend?)

Krista:Rosie in my chair

The GirlsSilly: I’m grateful for Rosie who always keeps my favorite writing chair warm when I’m not sitting in it.

Serious: I’m grateful for my mom and sisters and all the laughter we share when we’re together.

Diana: 

Silly: I’m grateful for my DVR because it means I can take…

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Celebrating Heroes on Veteran’s Day

November 11th is Veteran’s Day. There will be ceremonies at Arlington Cemetery and at the White House. Some government offices and banks will be closed. But, unfortunately, a great number of the men and women who’ve served our country will wake up today and feel forgotten.

Let’s change that.

Korean War Memorial (c) Diana Belchase 2013

I’m running this post early so that when they wake up on Tuesday the 11th, there will be a mass of loving messages from readers to our military personnel around the world.

Three years ago, I compiled a booklet of messages — some from online readers, some hand written — thirty pages of love that was duplicated many times and sent overseas. The reaction and gratitude still takes my breath away. And it’s the least I could have done. I hope this year, to make Cyber Hugs for Heroes a bigger deal. Please add your thoughts and good wishes below and let our heroic men and women know they are remembered.

Heroes are important to writers — especially thriller and suspense writers. But no matter how well we write a character, there is nothing that compares to real life heroes. Ordinary people, sometimes with extraordinary skills, all with enormous courage to confront horrific situations and keep us safe.

So often our unsung heroes in the Armed Forces are never thanked for the sacrifices they’ve made to protect us all. They receive poor pay, tremendous responsibility, dangerous accommodations, and they do it all with a smile. It’s now our turn to say, “Hey, thanks for being there, for serving, for doing for me what I cannot do for myself.”

Iwo Jima Memoria (c) Diana Belchase 2011

So, to all our Vets, and also to those in clandestine service where there is no holiday — officers in the CIA, NSA, FBI, Homeland Security, Secret Service, and too many others to list, I’m sending you all a huge

THANK YOU!

Each and every one of you — whether on the battlefield or behind a desk– work as a team to keep us and much of our planet safe. This includes our allies throughout the world (Did you know November 11th is called Remembrance Day in Canada, Australia and Britain?). You humble us with your sacrifice. Our debt to you will never be repaid. God bless you and keep you from harm.

Please let our vets know how much they mean to you by leaving a comment below. I’ll spread the word to make sure they are seen.

(I will NEVER abuse your email — but note you do not need to leave your email to leave a message below.)

Alan Orloff: Murder, Politics & the Serious Comedian

deadlycampaigncoverIt’s Alan Orloff’s birthday! To celebrate, I’m running a video interview we did at Malice.

Alan’s books are great and so are his not-to-be-missed author signings.  If you think that’s hype, tell me when was the last time you saw an author wearing a star spangled Cat-in-the-Hat hat and doing a stand up comedy routine? His book, The Deadly Campaign, is just the thing to get you through the upcoming elections without actually having to murder someone yourself.

Anyway, without ado, here is the video. Enjoy, and “Happy Birthday” to a great guy!

 

How to Ruin a Series with a Big Bang

My favorite TV show is The Big Bang Theory. I’ve come to love the characters so much that I think of them as friends. On days when I don’t feel well — which is frankly more often than I’d like — I love to curl in bed with four or five episodes on my DVR and forget my troubles and pains.

Why then do I hate the new season so much?

bbt-jpg

source: wikipedia

I waited for this season, rejoiced there’d be at least another three years of shows, counted the days until I found out what happened to Sheldon when he freaked out and ran away from home.

Somehow with the cutting of Penny’s hair, the laughter and tenderness of the characters were severed.

You see, the big reason I love Big Bang Theory is because these characters grow. We know so much about them, have even met their parents, know of their traumatic childhood incidents, shared their hopes and dreams. We’ve rooted for them. We’ve cheered when the little guy got the sexy girlfriend. But all of that seems to have stopped this year.

Each of the major characters, aside from Penny and Leonard, have had major epiphanies — Howard stopped being creepy and became a loving husband, Raj learned how to talk to women and has a girlfriend, Sheldon is more flexible, has moved forward with his relationship with Amy, and has even reconciled changing his area of scientific research.

Where is the growth for Penny and Leonard?

The_Big_Bang_Theory_Cast

source: wikipedia

Leonard (Johnny Galecki) is in exactly the same place he was at the beginning of the series except he miraculously has a girlfriend that outshines every nerd’s dreams. But I don’t think he’s the problem.

Penny (played by Kaley Cuoco), who at the beginning was sweet and fresh and normal, became a bitter, alcoholic — a one note joke that’s become flat over the years. But even worse, all the dreams she had of being an actress have suddenly disappeared.

How awfully sad.

Now, a pharmaceutical salesperson, she’s a bit more responsible than before. But her character arc is lumpy and underdeveloped at best. Where are the stories of her struggling with her decision to quit acting — especially since she’d decided last year to devote herself full time to that career? Where are the longing moments? Where are the snippets from her background to let us know why she wanted to act, why she hated school so much, why booze became her best friend? When did money get more important than dreams?

In every good story the hero and heroine give of themselves. Anyone who’s ever read The Gift of the Magi knows that to be true. What has Leonard given to Penny aside from money? Has he helped her in her career? Has he helped her past her psychological issues? And for Penny the questions are even greater — Why does she love Leonard? Why can’t she do without him? What sacrifice does she make to understand him and his career better? And frankly, whatever happened to her goal to graduate from the local community college?

I see Sheldon and Amy grow toward one another, making sacrifices. Howard has given up his mother and his slimy jokes, Bernadette has agreed to have children. They’ve all grown and they’re all at a plot standstill.

Kaley_bbt

source: vagueonthehow

Penny and Leonard have not grown, and their relationship isn’t believable, no matter how much I wish it were. After all those autobiographical vanity cards after each episode by Chuck Lorre, I wonder if his own difficulties with women mean he doesn’t understand how to make Penny’s character work? Still, he has a team of writers to help him. What are they doing?

Big Bang Theory is getting killed in its new time slot on Monday nights — but it’s not the time slot, it’s lazy writing.

If it were up to me, Penny would have continued to pursue her acting career. She’d actually have found fame. Think of the potential as Leonard struggles with her flying to exotic film locations, paired with sexy costars. He has been burned by Priya’s infidelity — how wonderful it would have been to see him go through jealousy and then relearn trust as he discovers that Penny’s love for him is true. Penny might be cast in a role as an astronaut, and while studying for the part start to understand more of Leonard’s work. Maybe she gains pride that he is so smart. Perhaps he’d get to put down the sexy actor or become a consultant on set.

Who knows?

I hope this works out because I want these characters to succeed. After all, like all my other friends, I’m rooting for them. ;-)

Yes, Mr. Angry Young Man. There is a Happily Ever After.

Diana Belchase:

Another wonderfully poetic post by Sharon Wray. I’m delighted to share this with my readers.

Originally posted on Kiss and Thrill:

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.

IMG_2304

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…

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Columbus, Our Lost Hero

Columbus Day hardly gets much notice lately. There are furniture store sales, some government offices and banks are closed, a parade in New York City that is no longer nationally televised, and he’s no longer held up like a hero to school children.

(c) Diana Belchase 2012 Palermo Museum

I feel sorriest for kids everywhere who, it seems, are only entitled to heroes out of Marvel comic books and not from real life. It’s fashionable to hunt down every mistake our forefathers made, to talk of their wrongs against society, to hold them accountable for the barbaric practices that were commonplace in their time period.

To tear them down until there is no shred of heroism left.

Granted, Columbus was far from perfect. Just like the other great men of history who entered the slave trade, unwittingly spread disease, conquered lands that were not their own, and took treasure they were not entitled to, so, too, did he. Some say he might not be the first European to find America. But whether you believe that or not, he was the first to colonize and make these lands known to all of Europe. In essence, he was the first non-native American.

Columbus_Taking_Possession-1

I think of the dangerous voyage my own grandparents made to come to this country. They didn’t speak English, didn’t have a place to stay, no job waiting, yet they crossed an ocean in a ship much like he did, taking a chance that there was someplace better in this world for them to be. Like the settlers that came after him, Columbus crossed the mighty Atlantic in a fleet of three surprisingly small wooden ships, losing one on the way. That took daring, and intelligence, and perseverance that is rare today.

How many people could do that?

I personally have trouble going out of state without GPS, how did this man do this with only the stars to guide him? No maps, no computer, no one who gave him oral directions. Out alone on a rough sea. hoping to see land, commanding a crew who believed they might fall off the edge of the world and might mutiny any moment. He did this a total of four times in the late 1400’s a remarkable 522 years ago. It was equivalent of being the first man on the moon.

Amazing.

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Columbus means a lot to me as an American of Italian descent. My culture is riddled with forced stereotypes: Mafia bosses, New Jersey Housewives, loud arrogant members of the Jersey Shore. We’re thought of as pizza chefs and mobsters. Less widely remembered are the incredible contributions people of Italian descent have made — with our hands building the infrastructure of the U.S. — tunnels, roads, and bridges — with our genius sculpting and painting the decorative parts of buildings in every major American city, and with our minds as scientists and leaders.

The magnificence of the Capitol dome, scientific inventions like the telephone (only in the U.S. do people not know the true inventor of the telephone is Meucci) are ours. We are doctors, lawyers, and teachers. We carry the culture and refinement of the Romans, Tuscans, and Sicilians in our blood. Places non-Italians love to travel and somehow snobbishly distinguish from the Italians who live in the U.S. We are Supreme Court justices and the guy who carries your mail.

We deserve a hero.

Perhaps that is why I am a thriller writer and love the suspense and romantic suspense genres so much. These stories are at their core about heroes, some unlikely, some highly trained, all imperfect individuals who must summon an extreme level of heroism and courage few, like Columbus, possess.

columbus

Isn’t it a shame this is how we celebrated Columbus’ 500th Anniversary?

Seven percent of the U.S. identifies itself as being of Italian descent. There are probably more, but so many of us have been taught to be ashamed and try to hide the fact of our ancestry. Among us there is no unified voice that asks for a month devoted to our history. We deserve that, too.

This month is Hispanic History Month. I have been aghast at how little I know of Hispanic history — of which Columbus is a key figure.  It is right and apt that this Italian American’s birthdate falls in the midst of this particular month. Without the support of Spain, Columbus would not have discovered the Carribean and Latin America. He would not have been Governor of Hispaniola. He is as much a hero for those of Spanish descent as he is for those of Italian.

But let’s not squabble. To me, he is a hero for us all.

Eustress: Help Carey Celebrate JUDGMENT’S Release

Diana Belchase:

Help celebrate Carey Baldwin’s fantastic new release, Judgment, and you might win a wonderful massage!

Originally posted on Kiss and Thrill:

Hi Friends!

popping champagne corkI hope you are all having a wonderful fall! This is a special day for me, and I love celebrating it with you. I’m definitely eustressing today. Have you guys heard this term? I first learned about eustress way back when, in graduate school, but to simplify I’ll just use this definition from Wikipedia –which is right on the money:

“Eustress occurs when the gap between what one has and what one wants is slightly pushed, but not overwhelmed. The goal is not too far out of reach but is still slightly more than one can handle. This fosters challenge and motivation since the goal is in sight. The function of challenge is to motivate a person toward improvement and a goal.”

So Eustress, while uncomfortable, is really a positive thing. The source of my “good stress” today is the release of JUDGMENT, the first book in my…

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