Krista Hall

Romantic Suspense Author


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My Fav Podcasts for Writers (And Readers)

Whether it is genre or literary, excellent fiction is rooted in the real world. In order for you, the reader, to take that leap of faith from the concrete to the virtual worlds of our stories, we, the writers, must first earn your trust that our stories have a foundation in truth, even when they take place in alien or imaginary places. So how do we find those kernels of truth?

Research. Lots of research.

One of my favorite research methods is listening to podcasts—usually in my car, while running my daily errands. (Today that proved impossible when the forecast for snow exceeded expectations so Rosie and I had the day off.)

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Here are a few of my favorite podcasts paired with book recommendations.

WORKING (Slate)

Get the inside skinny on many usual and unusual professions with these podcast episodes. Titles include: How Does a Forensic Anthropologist Work? How Does an Animal Behavior Specialist Work? How Does a Club Doorman Work? Sometimes the only way for a writer to get inside the head of a character working in an unfamiliar profession is to listen to real people talk about what they do for a living, why they do it, and how it is meaningful to them. After all, it’s not the profession that makes a character compelling, it’s the character’s passion for that profession.

The Janitor’s Boy and Rising Tides

STUFF YOU MISSED IN HISTORY CLASS

Compelling romantic suspense is grounded it in real world events. As a chemistry major, I have to admit that I either forgot or missed a great deal of what I was taught in high school history class. Luckily for me, this podcast offers a range of interesting historical facts to enrich plots as well as intriguing tidbits such as Who Was the Real Professor Moriarty? I had no idea that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character was inspired by the real life criminal mastermind Adam Worth.

All the Light We Cannot See and The Final Problem, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

THE BLACK TAPES

This podcast is too scary for me, but if you like your mystery/suspense wrapped in spooky/scary…

The Bazaar of Bad Dream and The Dead Play On

READING LIVES

Writers are also avid readers. Listening to these podcasts episodes gives me the opportunity to learn from writers I probably will never have the good fortune to meet, let alone engage in conversation. For instance, did you know… Iconic romance author Beverly Jenkins does not write during the NFL playoffs. She once binge-read Harlan Coben’s Bolitar series on her kindle. And she was featured in a 5-page spread in the 1995 Valentine’s Day edition of People magazine written by reporter Nancy Drew.

Night Hawk and Deal Breaker (Myron Bolitar)  and The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew)

Do you have a favorite podcast? Add to my list…please!


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Happy Holidays! A White House Tour

Democrat, Republican, Independent, naturalized citizen, American-born, permanent resident, foreign visitor, adult, child. No matter who you are, it is always a thrill to cross the threshold into “The People’s House” aka The White House. But during the holidays, it is magical. This year you are greeted by giant penguins as you enter through the East Visitor entrance.IMG_1619Portraits of First Ladies line the walls as you walk up the steps toward the East Colonnade–Nancy Reagan in her signature red and Bess Truman exuding Midwestern warmth. The first tree you see is the Gold Star Tree in honor of the men and women who gave their lives in service to our country. It is always surrounded by a crowd of people, writing messages of hope and gratitude and remembrance. You, too, can send a message to our troops and their families by visiting Honoring Our Troops on the White House website.IMG_1625The East Colonnade is a winter wonderland this year (even though the temperature outside is well-above freezing). Hand-crafted snowflakes bearing the hopes and aspirations of D.C. public school students float in the air and a cheerful cadre of snowmen have invaded the East Garden.IMG_1624 Rounding the corner, you enter the East Garden Room. Tennis ball trees surround the First Family’s dogs Bo and SunnyIMG_1628 Milk bones dangle from the branches of a Douglas fir while Abe Lincoln looks out from a corner, reminding us of where we are.IMG_1629Pass through the long central hall way on the ground floor. Peek into the White House Library where six trees are trimmed with novels and manuscripts, the Vermeil Room with the ethereal portrait of Jackie Kennedy, and the China Room with the striking portrait of Grace Coolidge and her white collie Rob Roy. In addition to the holiday decorations, these rooms brim with antique furniture from the Federal period. Then up the stairs to the East Room where I stopped to pose for a photo.

If you look closely, you’ll see the famous Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington—the one First Lady Dolley Madison saved when the British invaded Washington D.C. and ransacked the White House in 1814. Festive trees fill the Green Room, Blue Room, and Red Room, but my favorite eye-candy is the artwork hanging on practically every inch of wall space: Portraits of iconic statesmen like Benjamin Franklin, sweeping landscapes of America’s West, scenes from America’s past, and twentieth century masterpieces like The Builders by Jacob Lawrence.

Onward to the State Dining Room where the eye-candy really is candy!

The forty-five minute holiday tour ends in the Cross Hall and Grand Foyer. Here images of our late-twentieth and twenty-first century presidents stand sentinel. The haunting, almost surreal portrait of John F. Kennedy across from the eternal optimist, Ronald Reagan, as you enter the Cross Hall. And George W. Bush and Bill Clinton on opposite walls in the Grand Foyer. Music spills into the air as a pianist seated at the 1938 Steinway plays holiday tunes.

One last look, then you exit out the front doors, down the steps of the North Portico, and head toward Pennsylvania Avenue.

Before I leave the White House grounds, I take a moment to savor the view of D.C. from inside the wrought iron fence that surrounds The People’s House.

Happy holidays! Wishing you and yours peace, love, and joy in the New Year!

 

 

 

 


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Dog On KaT: Rosie Sniffs Out Her Favorite Animal Sleuth

Check out Dog On KaT–the new pilot segment on the Kiss and Thrill romantic suspense, mystery, and thriller group blog. My writing pal Rosie gives the Chet and Bernie Mystery series five wags 🙂

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Private Eye Rosie

Dogs are natural sleuths, especially scent dogs like my chocolate Lab Rosie. She is curious about everything. Her inner monologue on a walk: That bush smells different today. Hey there’s a silver wrapper in the grass, maybe it will taste good. Oh yum, a banana peel! Squirrel! What’s in that bag? Does that person getting out of his car want to pet me? Wait, I don’t want to go that way. Look, there’s a bug on the sidewalk. Where’s it going? Is it food? Hey, I’m not done eating that…Rosie vs Beetle

But you don’t have to know a dog like Rosie to enjoy the crime-solving antics of Rosie’s favorite dog sleuth Chet the Jet of the Chet and Bernie mystery series by Spencer Quinn (aka Edgar Award winning author Peter Abrahams). Chet is a K-9 school drop out and the faithful companion of down-and-out private investigator Bernie Little.

Cozy mysteries…

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Kiss and Thrill’s 2015 Summer Middle Grade/Young Adult Reading List

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Ellen Reading

The last few years, our very own Rachel Grant has put together Kiss and Thrill’s annual MG/YA summer reading list. But since she’s in the midst of another book release (Covert Evidence), I offered to do the list this year. As a librarian and former reader’s advisor (for all reading levels), I was happy to compile it. It helps that I am surrounded by children who read within these ranges. Besides my fifteen-year old boy/girl twins, I have seven nieces and nephews between 8-18 who offered recommendations.

This year’s list is divided between Young Adult and Middle Grade, then subdivided by genres including YA romance, Paranormal, Action/Adventure, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Classics, etc. I also marked with an asterix those books that have been made into a movie or are currently in movie production. There are books on this list for every tween and teen reader, even the most picky.

Below is just a small sample of this year’s…

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Diana Belchase’s Triple Play–Three Daphne Nominations!

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Festive and colorful fireworks display

Unassisted triple plays are rare in baseball—only 15 players can claim the accomplishment. In the romance writers’ world, unassisted triple plays are just as elusive. Today, I am proud to announce that K&T’s Diana Belchase has achieved an unassisted triple play—three nominations for the prestigious Daphne Award for excellence in mystery and suspense.

The Daphne Award, named after Daphne DuMaurier who wrote the iconic book Rebecca (“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”), is for published and unpublished authors of romantic and mainstream suspense, mystery, and thrillers. The unpublished division finalists were announced this week. Diana was nominated for:

Historical Romantic Mystery/Suspense
Diana Belchase for At Midnight

Inspirational Romantic Mystery/Suspense
Diana Belchase for His Brother’s Child

Mainstream Mystery/Suspense
Diana Belchase for By the Skin of Her Teeth

Not only is Diana a talented writer across multiple genres, she is also a skilled storyteller across multimedia. In addition to…

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SHARON WRAY AND THE GOLDEN HEART!

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Something awesome happened yesterday, March 26th!

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K&T author Sharon Wray was nominated for her seventh and eighth Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. SEVEN AND EIGHT! Sharon has been a romantic suspense finalist every year since 2010. EVERY YEAR! An amazing and well-deserved accomplishment. And we couldn’t be prouder!

The Golden Heart is the gold standard of excellence for unpublished manuscripts in the romance genre. It means that your colleagues—other romance writers—have judged your manuscript to be one of the best of the best in unpublished romance fiction.

Golden Heart Pin Sharon now has eight of these Golden Heart pins!

Being nominated is a heady, pulse-pounding, exciting experience. But the best part is meeting your fellow nominees. And that’s why I consider myself so lucky to have been nominated for the Golden Heart in 2011 because that’s when I first met Sharon.

After eight Golden Heart nominations, it goes without saying that…

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Tis the Season to Give and Give Back

Thanksgiving is over. We Americans were thankful for our blessings and then quickly pivoted to preparations for the season of giving (aka Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, etc.). It is also the season to give back. Today, I have my own opportunity to give back. As it happens, it is also a second chance because it was an opportunity that I passed up the first time it presented itself.

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What was the opportunity? (You were wondering that, right?) Modeling.

Yes, as surprising as it may sound, late last week I found myself suddenly in demand as a model. In a fashion show for a holiday luncheon benefit. An event I was helping to organize and planning to attend.

What I hadn’t planned on is the catwalk.

When the call to action came last week—We’re down three models; please help us out—the words on the tip of my tongue were all negative. I can’t. I ate too much pumpkin pie last week. I might trip on the catwalk. But before those words could launch into sounds of refusal, I remembered how much generosity, support, and kindness has been given to me this year. These same women who are dedicating their time, talents, and energy to organize the Northern Virginia Alliance League (NVAL) holiday luncheon to benefit Friends of Guest House, were also the same women who celebrated with me earlier this year when I announced that I had published my first book.NVAL

My heart has been full of gratitude at their enthusiasm and support expressed in word and deed. Not only have many of my NVAL friends bought Broken Places, they have also taken the time to write reviews on Amazon, to express interest in the writing and publishing process, to invite me to talk to their book groups, and to give copies of Broken Places to their friends.

It has truly been a wealth of blessings. I have a pretty good idea of how George Bailey must have felt at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. (Another holiday favorite of mine.) How could I say no to these friends who have given me so much? It was my time to give back. Keep your fingers crossed I don’t trip over my own two feet!

BrokenPlaces-FrontCover-Final-72dpiDo-gooders and second chances are two prominent themes of Broken Places so in the spirit of giving back, I will be donating half of my December Amazon royalties to Friends of Guest House, a 501(c)(3) serving women ex-offenders returning to the community after serving their time. Sometimes a helping hand can make all the difference. I think the mission statement from the Friends of Guest House website says it best: Help, hope, and new beginnings for Northern Virginia’s ex-offender women.

Here’s a list of other authors who are doing good while entertaining us with stories that give us the opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes, even if just for a few short hours.

  • Heather Ashby donates half of her royalties to Fisher House to support military families in the U.S.
  • JK Rowling is donating all global royalties for The Cuckoo’s Calling to The Soldiers’ Charity to support military families in the U.K.
  • Nora Roberts donates millions every year to the Nora Roberts Foundation to support literacy and children’s programs.
  • Debbie Macomber serves on the Board of Warm Up America which distributes hand-knit afghans, caps, and other items to tens of thousands of people in need.
  • K&T’s Rachel Grant and the authors of the Hometown Heroes book bundle are donating all royalties to Pets For Vets.
  • K&T’s Lena Diaz organizes the K&T donation as well as donating her own books and other items to the annual Brenda Novak Auction in support of Juvenile Diabetes research.

Wishing you and your family peace and joy in this season of giving! Christmas background with snowy fir trees

All month, the kindle edition of Broken Places is a free download for anyone who purchases the paperback edition through Amazon. Give a gift and keep one for yourself!