Winners & Another Great Contest For Romance Readers!

The winner of Lena Diaz’s new book, He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, is wendybooks.  Congrats, Wendy!  I’ll be in touch soon.  Lena is also giving away five sets of trading cards to the following readers who commented on the blog:  catlady, Natasja, Robin D, librarypat, Christine Leone.  I’ll also be in touch you ladies for your addresses.

And for new visitors to my blog, I’d like to tell you about a fabulous contest I’m running with a group of fellow authors, which includes giveaways of entire backlists of your favorite romance stars.  I’m giving away paranormal and romantic suspense author Cynthia Eden’s backlist, and other prizes include the backlists of authors like Julia Quinn and Lisa Kleypas.  Yowzers!  You can find the details on how to enter this mega-contest here.

Have a great day, everyone!  Stop back tomorrow for another #SampleSunday excerpt of my V.K. Sykes contemporary romance, Hardball.


We Have A Winner & More Contests!

The winner of Angie Fox’s book, The Accidental Demon Slayer, is Gayle Cochrane.  Congratulations!  I’ll be in touch soon.

Thanks to everyone for stopping by the blog.  My guest authors next week include Karen Whiddon and Katharine Ashe, so be sure to stop on by.  And don’t forget that I’m running a fabulous contest with a group of other authors, which includes giveaways of entire backlists of your favorite romance stars.  I’m giving away paranormal and romantic suspense author Cynthia Eden’s entire backlist, and other prizes include the backlists of authors like Julia Quinn and Lisa Kleypas.  Zounds!  You can find the details on how to enter this mega-contest here.

Possibly The Best Romance Contest Ever!

WARNING:  Masssive Romance Reader SQUEE Moment Ahead!

There comes a time in a romance reader’s life when something amazing happens. Something awesome. Something really, really cool that makes you emit a high-pitched shrieking sound which then causes everyone around you to gape and stare. That shriek often sounds something like SQUEEEEEEEEE.

Dear friends and fellow romance readers, you might have a SQUEE moment ahead in your future.

Five huge romance fans who just happen to be romance authors as well have decided that we want to give you the opportunity to receive complete, SIGNED backlists of one of your very favorite authors (and yes, that means EVERYTHING they’ve ever written).

The romance fans/authors who are participating are: Ashley March, Shana Galen, Lila DiPasqua, Heather Snow, and moi, Vanessa Kelly.

The complete, SIGNED backlists they’re giving away are books from the following authors (henceforth known as “The Amazing Authors”):

Lisa Kleypas

Julia Quinn

Elizabeth Hoyt

Cynthia Eden

Julie Garwood

Before we can give these awesome prizes away, though, we need you to show how fanatical of fans you are. Since we know that you’re already following The Amazing Authors on Facebook (you are, aren’t you??), all you need to do is follow the authors who want to give away these complete, signed backlists to you. We all have to reach a certain number of followers; once that happens, then we will run a Facebook giveaway on our individual pages where you can enter to win the complete, signed backlists from the Amazing Authors.

(Please note, you must follow and enter on each of the five Facebook pages to be eligible to win each backlist. The giveaway won’t happen until AFTER the goals are met for ALL of us, and the giveaways will be open to US and international residents! All books will be in English as print books; if any books in the Amazing Authors’ backlists are currently our of print, used books will be purchased for those titles so that the backlist will be complete.)

Ashley March (must reach 2500 total “Likes” in order to give away Lisa Kleypas backlist)

Shana Galen (must reach 2000 total “Likes” in order to give away Julia Quinn backlist)

Lila DiPasqua (must reach 3500 total “Likes” in order to give away Elizabeth Hoyt backlist)

Vanessa Kelly (must reach 2000 total “Likes” in order to give away Cynthia Eden backlist)

Heather Snow (must reach 2500 total “Likes” in order to give away Julie Garwood backlist)

Those are the rules! Tell your friends, tell your family, tell any fellow romance fan you know. Soon, 5 lucky winners will win a complete, signed backlist from a favorite author that will make you SQUEEEEE!

And in other contest news…the winner of Deborah Cooke’s historical romance, The Beauty Bride, is Kathleen.  Congratulations!  I’ll be in touch soon.

Now, y’all get out there and start “liking” those Facebook pages!

Guest Blogging With Cynthia Eden, Plus Giveaway!

I’m guest blogging today with my super-talented friend, Cynthia Eden, who writes very sexy paranormal romance and romantic suspense.  We’re talking about the importance of secondary characters, which partly involves a discussion of this guy:

I’ll also be talking about some of the secondary characters in My Favorite Countess, and the role they play in the book.  Please stop by to join the discussion, and also have a chance to win a copy of the book!  You can join in on the fun on Cynthia’s blog.

New Orleans: It’s Complicated

After hubs and I went to Mobile last week to visit with writer friends Manda Collins and Cynthia Eden, we decided to swing by New Orleans for a quick visit.  I love NOLA, and Randy has never been, so we were both eager to go.  But I haven’t visited NOLA since Katrina hit, and I was really hoping the city was staging a comeback in a big way.

What did we find?  It’s complicated.

We all know about the devastation wrought by Katrina on the Gulf Coast, and most of us have seen pictures of the Ninth Ward, one of the worst hit neighborhoods in the city of New Orleans.  We’ve heard the reports that reconstruction and recovery has been a slow and difficult process.  Still, we hoped that the uniquely beautiful NOLA was roaring back to its prominence as both a tourist destination and a cultural gem of the South.  It is still those things, of course, but to a much lesser degree than we anticipated.

As we drove into the city, we were stunned by the level of destruction that was easy to spot, even from the interstate.  Neighborhoods that still looked wrecked, some with rebuilding going on, and some with little evidence of activity.  Exiting onto Canal Street, the first thing we saw were large office buildings and hotels, clearly abandoned.  I guess that’s not surprising, since a lot of business simply packed up and moved after the hurricane.  There was some rebuilding going on in the downtown core, and I take that as a hopeful sign.  But like most cities in the country, NOLA has been hit pretty hard by the recession, and the Gulf oil spill had to be a significant blow, too.  Given that a significant segment of the population was forced to move away after Katrina, I imagine the local tax base has been substantially diminished.

I know I sound gloomy, and it was hard not to be depressed by the signs of struggle and devastation.  But NOLA is still a beautiful city with much to offer.  As soon as we dropped our bags off at the hotel, we headed to the French Quarter to sample the food, drink, and fascinating mix of cultures in the Vieux Carre.  We wandered through the gorgeous streets, marveling as always at the beautiful balconies and centuries-old streets.

It’s Mardi Gras season, too, and many of the houses and shops are decked out for the celebration.


After lunch, we headed down to Jackson Square and the magnificent Saint Louis Cathedral, the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States.  St. Louis is a spectacular church and well worth the visit, if only to see the unusual pulpit in the shape of a giant shell.

Of course, no visit to NOLA would be complete without a stop at the Cafe Du Monde, the original French coffee house just off the Square.  The beignets and coffee are simply amazing, and better than I remembered from previous visits.  And Jackson Square is as beautiful and interesting as ever, surrounded by a collection of wonderful shops and home to tarot card readers and musicians hanging out in front of the Cathedral.  Here’s a picture of me, with the Square in the background.

You’ll notice, though, that the Square looks pretty quiet, another thing that really concerned me.  I’ve been to NOLA in the winter before, and it was a good deal more crowded than it was on this visit.  Maybe the weather didn’t help.  As you can see, it was a cool, overcast day that made everything seem a bit gloomy.

Of course, if you’re feeling in need of a pick-me-up, you don’t have to walk far.  Bourbon Street hasn’t changed at all, as you can see from the sign below.

Not that you’ll find me ripping off my shirt to get some beads, but the young folks seem to have a good time.  And, as always, there’s something you come across in NOLA that makes you scratch your head.

I’m hoping a hand grenade is a drink.  They do like their drinks big down in NOLA.  And how can you not love a city that still proudly proclaims, after everything they’ve been through, that their favorite alcoholic beverage is the Hurricane?

Our trip to NOLA was short, and we barely touched the surface of all the things to do.  We never got to the Garden District or visited the cemeteries.  We’ll save that for next time, whenever next time rolls around.

But I can’t help worrying about the future of NOLA, especially since it seems to have faded from the news.  So many disasters and crisis have pushed NOLA off the front page, but the struggle to reinvent herself is, clearly, far from over.  But NOLA has survived an incredible number of catastrophes and come back better than ever.  I hope NOLA and her citizens pull it off again, and I hope we never forget what was lost and has yet to be recovered.