What I’m Reading: Sept 2015

Mike Bond’s new book, Killing Maine is out. If you like hard hitting thrillers, this one is for you. I’m giving away a free copy. Tweet, or Comment or Like on Facebook or my website  in order to be entered. (Sorry, contiguous U.S. addresses only.) Multiple comments/likes count as extra chances to win.



Inspiration at the Met: China Through the Looking Glass

Possibly one of the most frequent questions I get as an author is: Where does your inspiration come from?

The answer: From everything, and everybody, everywhere. 


An example of this is from a recent trip to NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The fantastic exhibit, China Through the Looking Glass, had all the hamster-wheels in my brain running at full speed. In possibly the world’s best curated exhibit, the amazing Met staff arranged clothing that had been inspired by Chinese art, not in a separate clothing exhibit, but right in the midst of their Chinese art section. Visitors could see how a lacquer screen influenced a dress, how decorative items guided the bottle for Opium perfume, or how the flutter of fans were reflected in the flounce of a ballgown.

It had my little noggin smoking, too.

Look at the gold number above. What could you hide underneath that skirt? What are the observant statues thinking? One Buddha reclines seductively, the other looks down as if guarding his own secret. Are they enemies or friends as the beautiful spy negotiates the party?


Could the flounces of this dress be hiding tools to break into a safe? Or gear to climb out a four story window?

And this jacket appears to be practically bullet proof already. Do these long sleeves hide guns or maybe a knife?


And among the bustle and hustle of tourists of every description what information is being traded, who is being followed, and who disappears into the crowd?

Hopefully you’ll see some of these threads weave into stories with the release of my book, The Spy in the Mirror, next yearUntil then, perhaps your imagination will run as wild as mine.

(All images copyright 2015 Diana Belchase)


Cold War With Russia — Again?

Originally posted on Kiss and Thrill:

Since moving to the D.C. area, I’ve become a wonk — yes that is an official term. While it can mean a studious or hardworking person — things I certainly hope I am, it mostly means a person who takes an excessive interest in minor details of political policy. It unofficially means the kind of person — often a female — who likes and remembers all the sticky details of a subject. Said female is often considered boring, overly studious, and generally not sexy in the least little bit.

In other words, a female wonk is the 21st century version of a bluestocking.

So when I was invited last week to Georgetown University to hear Ambassador Linton Brooks talk about the U.S. relationship with Russia, I immediately jumped at the chance.


Being on the Georgetown campus is amazing. I love surrounding myself with all these intent young people who are…

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New York, New York: A Kiss and Thrill reunion

Originally posted on Kiss and Thrill:

Carey, Lena, Diana, Sharon, Gwen, and Sarah at the Death by Chocolate party Carey, Lena, Diana, Sharon, Gwen, and Sarah at the Death by Chocolate (Daphne Awards) party

Last week, eight of us—we missed you Manda!—attended the Romance Writers of America National Conference in New York City. Ostensibly, we went for the workshops on writing craft, business, personal development, and industry trends offered by some of the best in the genre. Not to mention the chance to network with authors, editors, and agents.

But mostly, I think we attended to be surrounded for just a few days by those rare people in this world who really get us: other romance writers (especially other romantic suspense writers).

There’s nothing as precious as the chance to reconnect with friends, and this year we managed to get nearly all of the Kiss and Thrill women together in one place at one time, some of whom have never met in person!

Rachel, Gwen, and Krista after the Golden Heart/RITA Awards ceremony Rachel, Gwen, and Krista after the Golden…

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An Excerpt from GOOD EARL GONE BAD!

Diana Belchase:

Manda Collins gives us a sneak peak at her newest book!

Originally posted on Kiss and Thrill:

Good Earl Gone Bad (1)While the rest of the KaT gang is off living it up in NYC at the RWA Conference,  I thought I’d share some deets about my next book with you guys.

Good Earl Gone Bad is the second book in my Lords of Anarchy series,  only this time around the Lord of Anarchy is actually…wait for it…a lady! Lady Hermione Upperton to be exact!

But things aren’t so easy for the first female member of The Lords of Anarchy,  and soon she’s teaming up with the haughty gambler, Lord Mainwaring to clear her name when she’s accused of murder.
Coming October 6, 2015
ISBN-13: 9781250061072
ISBN-10: 1250061075

Audacious, extravagant, indulgent-the Lords of Anarchy live at top speed, with nothing to chase but pleasure…at every imaginable cost.…


Marriage? To a gambler? You must be joking! Yet Lady Hermione Upperton has never backed down from a challenge. When her spendthrift…

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Dark Secrets of the Chincoteague and Assateague Island Ponies

This summer, before you take your horse-crazy teenaged daughter to Chincoteague to see the pony swim from Assateague Island, there are few facts you might want to know. The story is dark, less than romantic, and a hard truth about how women are perceived by men yet today.

The wild ponies of Chincoteague belong to the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department in a grant from the Federal government.  Each year the ponies are moved from Assateague Island to Chincoteague to allow vets to inspect them and to auction off animals that exceed the 150 horse herd limitations.**  The average price of a Chincoteague Pony, also known as an Assateague Horse, is about $1300, though prices as high as $11,700*** have been bid.  The money goes for a great cause, buying equipment for the volunteer firefighters. ****

The men who round up the horses are affectionately known as Salt Water Cowboys.  Many are from the fire department, but not all.  They are not only bound together in a brotherhood of spirit, but also of blood, as sons often follow in their father’s footsteps in this labor of love.

Notice I said men, fathers and sons?


The Salt Water Cowboys appear to refuse to let a single female, no matter how qualified, into their tight knit group.

Perhaps the women and girls who go this year should bring picket signs with them asking where the female riders are?

If you check the internet, you will not find any reference to this possibly discriminatory practice – at least none that I could find.  The stories are romantically portrayed – the beauty of the horses, the wonderful charity and wildlife refuge supported by these men’s efforts.  However, my neighbor is one of these Salt Water Cowboys.  His twenty-year-old daughter is one of the best equestrians in the state.  This is a young woman who has worked in a landscape business moving trees with her bare hands during the day, and in the evenings and her days off, works her own business taking care of and training horses.  Not only is she knowledgeable and strong, with blue ribbons lining her bedroom, her sweet attitude and hard work make her one of the neighborhood’s most adored females.

I am extremely troubled when her mother tells me that this young woman has been directly and frankly informed that she will never be permitted to join the Salt Water Cowboys, nor ever ride to gather the herd and pen the horses, merely because she’s female.

DSC02229In a fit of compassion, this year, she was told she’d be allowed to muck stalls and clean tack – as if playing Cinderella to her often less accomplished male cohorts somehow makes things better!

What I’d like to know is how this potentially discriminatory practice continues in a society where we feel we’ve conquered the most overt forms of discrimination against women.  I’d also like to know why no news correspondent has jumped at the chance to cover this story.

To be fair, when I contacted the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department’s PR Spokesperson and member since 1992, Denise Bowden, she told me that “It’s not that females aren’t exactly not allowed to join, but there is a many years long wait list, and they are only allowing fire volunteers to join at this time.”  She did confirm, however, that there is not a single female currently riding among the Salt Water Cowboys.

Considering the number of qualified horsewomen in this area, and the long tradition of penning ponies, doesn’t this seem strange?

My neighbor lives more than three and a half hours, from Chincoteague.  It is unlikely he is an active member of that fire department.  In addition, quite a fuss was made about a young boy, Tyler Marks, being inducted into the Saltwater Cowboys at the age of 16 in 2010.*****  My neighbor’s daughter has been involved with the group as an observer and supporter since she was born.  How many years on the wait list does that account for?  Stories of fathers and sons abound, but not even the two token female officers, Denise Bowden, V.P. or Cathy Repsher, Asst. Sec.,****** the only women on the roster, currently appear to ride with the group.


There are female firefighters throughout the country, are none of them qualified to ride with the Salt Water Cowboys?

In a July 2007 article in the Washington Post, group member, Eddie Thornton, was quoted as saying, ” There’s really no training.  I mean, you have to be capable of riding a horse and know how to control a horse.”  When reporter, Karen Hart, asked “So, if someone who wasn’t a part of the fire company wanted to be a saltwater cowboy, how would they go about joining the roundup?” Thornton replied, “They would have to talk to the pony committee chariman and tell them how long they’ve been riding.  And if they have an available spot, they may be able to go, they may not.”*******

Too bad Ms. Hart didn’t ask him whether or not they had to be male.

DSC02240 DSC02237

The Newbery winning children’s book, Misty of Chincoteague (1947) inspired generations of girls to take up riding.  The 1961 film, Misty, based on that book, is still a favorite among girls today.  At the roundup onChincoteague during the last Wednesday and Thursday of every July, the number of women and girls far exceed those of males.********  They look on with glee, never knowing that the event will possibly forever mark them as different, as inferior and separate, by a band of men known as the Salt Water Cowboys of Chincoteague.71XzmB2j3ML._SL1000_

* Wikipedia

** Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company// Pony Penning History

***Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company// Pony FAQ

**** Wikipedia

***** “Youngest Salt Water Cowboy in First Pony Penning” by Misty Thornton and Robert Boswell, July 27, 2010, Enfold (wildpoytales.info/archives/1283) Island Life, Pony Tales

***** Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company List of Members (cvfc3.com/members/volunteer)

******* “A Cowboy of Cincoteague’s Pony Express” by Karen Hart, Special to The Washington Post, Sunday, Jully 22, 2007

******** “Chincoteague Island: “Saltwater Cowboys” Round up wild Ponies. (Local) by Erika Reif, Staff writer, The Virginian-Piolot, July 31, 1997.

Motorcycle Heroes and Bad Boy Assassins

Diana Belchase:

Lena Diaz’s newest book releases today and she’s celebrating by interviewing her hero among with Kay Thomas’. This is total fun with two great authors and the opportunity to win two fantastic books. Enjoy!

Originally posted on Kiss and Thrill:

Whether You Like Heroes on Motorcycles or the Bad Boy Assassin Type, Kiss and Thrill has You Covered Today.

First up, hero Bryan Fisher from EASY TARGET, the brand new installment by author KAY THOMAS in her Elite ops series with Avon.


EasyTarget HiRes1. Growing up, I lived in California with my mom until I was nine years old. When she died in a car accident, I went to live with my grandmother in Springwater, Mississippi. The reason I love Dentyne gum so much is because my mom chewed Dentyne and always shared it with me.

2. I don’t have any tattoos, and I’ve never ridden a horse. But I love to ride motorcycles and I know how to surf. Yes, my nickname is Hollywood. And no, I don’t like to talk about how I got that particular “handle.”

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