Thursday, September 18, 2014

Behind the scenes with the Durham Police Department

One thing about being a published author I don't think I'll ever get used to is how many pans you have to keep on the fire all at once. For example, right now I'm supposed to be promoting Winning Ruby Heart, my September Superromance (break for promotion--the book is awesome, you should go buy a copy to give to a friend!). I'm also working on a project that's just for me and I'm doing research for the another book.

Whew.

All this is a lot, but it's fun. The research part of the work can lead you down paths you didn't even know existed. One of the books I'm working on has a homicide detective for a hero. Since everything I know about police work comes either from watching Law & Order (I can watch those episodes over and over and over), The Wire, Homicide, or reading Homicide, I knew I needed to talk with a detective.

I emailed several people in the Durham Police Department, picking people off their website (or who posted to my local police district listserv) who I thought might be helpful, until I got a response from the awesome Kimberle Walker, a public affairs specialist for the department. She both helped me get an interview with a homicide detective and pointed me in the direction of the Citizen's Police Academy (CPA).

The CPA has been amazing. It's a six-week course, two nights a week and we've been learning about how the department works. So far we've covered crime scenes, homicide, domestic violence, and fraud investigations, forensics (which I had to miss for work-related reasons), 9-1-1 (including touring the call center), recruitment, hostage negotiations, and SET (Selective Enforcement Team aka SWAT). And I've still got three weeks left!

This course has been especially interesting to take in the wake of the protests and police action in Ferguson, Missouri. Durham, like most (if not all) cities around the country, has a problem targeting minorities for traffic stops. The city of Durham (police department included) is working on addressing this racial bias (see this article about the process) and creating a city that is fair and just for every citizen. The questions Ferguson brought to the front page of papers around the country are being discussed in the class, with the police department. The openness with which the department, the city, and its citizens are talking about these issues gives me hope for the future, at least in Durham.

The class has cut into my writing time and it's so interesting that I keep having to remind myself that it is for work and I'm not goofing off. What I'm learning in the class should make my writing richer, not just the cop book I'm working on, but all my future books. The spiraling effect of research is the best part about it! As an author, I never know when research I did five years ago will pop up and take a scene from good to perfect.

Do you know if your local police department offers a citizen's police academy? Have you ever taken one? Would you take one?


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

First Draft of Superromance No 5 DONE!!


Woohoo!! Last Friday I typed The End on my fifth Superromance and (the fifth book in my ongoing series) - I am so darn happy :)

All my Superromances are set in the fictional UK seaside town of Templeton Cove and so far all my characters are British too…although I am feeling I might have an American come to town for a visit very soon. This is my last contracted book so fingers crossed, I will be offered another once I hand this book in by the end of next month.

The stories are a mix of contemporary romances and romantic suspense novels which is one of the reasons I can't seem to leave this small town behind and move onto to a new setting. I still have so many stories I want to tell.

Book 4 is my first ever Christmas story and brings a brand new hero and heroine to my cast of characters - Christmas At The Cove is a reunion/secret baby story and was one of my favorite to write. A contemporary romance with lots of heartache as well as joy, all set against the backdrop of snuggly coats and boot, Christmas lights, ice-rinks and hot mugs of coffee. Love it!

As authors, we need to keep the ideas flowing regardless of how hard it is to sit ourselves in front of the  laptop every day - luckily I garner most of my inspiration from the far too many hours of TV I watch. I still want to write about a fire in Templeton, a reunion between a child given up for adoption and his birth mum, as well as the investigation into the untimely death of one of my established characters. You'll have to keep reading to find out who!

Happy Reading!

Rachel x
Christmas At The Cove - Nov 2014
What Belongs To Her - Mar 2014
A Man Like Him - Aug 2013
Finding Justice - Feb 2013


Monday, September 15, 2014

Guilty Pleasures

Mary Sullivan

This weekend was one filled with guilty pleasures and it was wonderful.

Too often my work week extends into the weekend. I end up working on either the writing or the writing business. My daughter has told me so many times to make every weekend a 'dedicated' weekend…to leave the work strictly for Monday through Friday. It rarely works that way, though. Even if I don't actually write on the weekend, I will write up blogs, or do research, or do promotion, or judge contests, or…the list goes on.

This weekend, I had the most relaxing I've had in ages. I attended an antique and book sale, I had a leisurely, hours-long lunch with a friend and we laughed a lot. I watched shows I've been meaning to catch up on. I read two books.

I'm crazy about all kinds of puzzles, so I did a bunch of word puzzles and also worked on a jigsaw puzzle.

It felt so good to kick back and take time for myself.

I ate ice cream! I rarely keep ice cream in the house because I find it so hard to resist when it's in the freezer calling my name—I just love it—but I went out yesterday afternoon and bought myself one of those small promo packs of Rolo ice cream as a treat. So bad. Not only ice cream, but also candy!

In the grocery store, I was actually able to walk past an entire display of chocolate I really like. Don't know how I had the strength to resist. Maybe because of the Rolo chocolates in the ice cream I had already picked up. LOL

One of my biggest guilty pleasures is potato chips. I really can't keep those in the house, and don't buy them.

What are your guilty pleasures? What are your taboo snacks you turn to when you think you deserve a treat? What do you turn to when you need a little boost, or just feel you deserve to kick back and do something fun?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hi, I'm Kristina!

I've been pondering a great, catchy blog headline for about five minutes now...and finally decided since I'm introducing myself I should just, well, introduce myself! So, here goes!

Hi, everyone! I'm Kristina Knight, I'm a romance addict. And a new SuperRomance author (my first Super comes out in January). And a mom (to one awesome 6-year-old) and a wife (RadioMan makes my Twitter and Facebook feeds at least once a day). I like to quilt and I'm starting a new project this weekend for our neighbor's new baby! And I love the romance genre - reading it, writing it.

I read my first Harlequin when I was about 11. We were on summer break, visiting my grandmother, and I wanted something to do...so I 'borrowed' one of her Harlequin Presents. It was a book called Snow Bride and the pages were yellowed and dog-eared and she'd left a note about it on the front page 'VVG' - which stood for very, very good. I gobbled up that first book and picked up another. And another. And another. I graduated to Danielle Steel and Jackie Collins books in high school, along with Jane Austin and the Bronte sisters. I've read mysteries and thrillers, literary fiction, biographies, westerns, horror...but romance has always been my first love.

My first book was published in 2012 and since then I've published 8 more with four more in the works over the next year or so...so bad for a two year period! I'm so excited to be part of the SuperRomance family and I can't wait to get to know you all!

Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police--no, she wasn't a troublemaker, she was a journalist. Her career took her all over the United States, writing about everything from a serial killer's capture to the National Finals Rodeo. Along the way she found her very own Knight in Shining Cowboy Boots and an abiding love for romance novels. And just like the characters from her favorite books, she's living her own happily ever after.

Kristina writes sassy contemporary romance novels; her books have appeared on Kindle Best Seller Lists. She loves hearing from readers, so drop her a line!

Little Books, Big Impressions....

by Amber Leigh Williams

November 2012 - expecting!
 
Since my son (who is now almost two) was born, he has slowly inherited the bulk of my childhood library. This is quite impressive. I had more Little Golden Books than any other child I knew. Family members knew better than to get me clothes or board games for my birthday. I was perfectly content with books and coloring books. A few weeks ago, my son disappeared into his room while I was writing. I could hear him rummaging around his bookshelves, trying to find something new. A few minutes later, he reappeared with a Winnie the Pooh hardback picture book, one of those old ones from way back when. I read him the story and he placed it on the floor to go and rummage for another.

Later, while I was making dinner, my son brought the book to my husband to read. I heard them reading it quietly together after which my husband asked me, “Why are there names in this book?”

I glanced at the page, saw the penciled names scrawled there in my own childish handwriting and pursed my lips, thinking back. “Those were some of my stuffed animals,” I replied.

He looked at the names and frowned. “And why did you write them in the book?”

“It’s like a library book,” I told him. “You know how you write your name in the front of a library book?”

He thought it over then slowly began to smile. “So I take it you were the librarian….”

“Yes,” I said. When I saw my husband’s smile grow into a teasing grin, I sighed. “You pretended to be Robin Hood. I pretended to be a librarian. We all had our things.”

 
Whether our little boy pretends to be a character of folklore or a librarian remains to be seen. We’ll be thrilled either way. However, as children my husband and I both struggled a bit with reading and learning to love the written word. For me, this came in adolescence. The hub is still coming around to it. So from the moment we found out that we had a baby on the way, we began buying books. Board books. Picture books. Counting books. Story books. Even interactive books. We might have quibbled over names and methods of child-rearing. But the one thing we both knew with absolute certainty was that our child would be surrounded by books and hopefully come to love them. Because aside from unconditional love and support, the greatest gift any parent or guardian can give to a child is the gift of literacy.

Whatever either of us are doing, however important it may seem, when our son brings my husband or me a book to read, we drop whatever we’re doing and read to him. This point was really driven home to us over the early summer months when our little guy went through an independent phase. He would pick up a book and start flipping through it but he no longer brought it to us to read and if we tried to do so anyway, he would grow agitated. We knew this was just a phase and that it was all a part of his toddler years. Still, we missed the cuddles and joy story time usually brought.
 
 
In July, we were all-too-happy when, little by little, this phase ended and he brought books to us to read to him again, crawling into our laps to listen and flip the pages by himself. Only this time when we opened the books and began reading, he did something terrific. He turned his face to ours and puckered his lips for a kiss as if to say “thank you.” Two months later, he’s still doing this. It’s enough still to make me sniffle. It’s even greater to watch my husband melt when it happens. Above all else, it shows us that our little guy attributes books to love and affection and we’re doing something right. Our plan is working! Almost as much as watching him grow and achieve what he will in life, we’re so excited to see how his love of stories and books evolves.
 
Here's a little gallery of pictures from our latest story hour and the minion's favorite book, Five Little Pumpkins. I hope you enjoy!
 
"Woooo went the wind!"

"Aaaand out went the light!"

"And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight!"

"The End!"

"Read it again, Daddy."

"But first a kiss...."
We're less than a month away from the launch of my second Harlequin Superromance novel, Married One Night. You can preorder your copy today at Amazon! In addition, RT Book Reviews has given Married One Night 4-1/2 Stars. Thank you, RT! Readers, you can find out more about Married One Night and the October book launch at my website....
 
Happy reading, everybody!
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