Guest Author: Barbara Meyers!!

I’m pleased to be hosting Barbara Meyers today, the author of the Braddock Brothers Series of stand-alone contemporary romances.  Barb has a new book out, and she’s graciously agreed to be my guest blogger today.

Vanessa asked for three to four paragraphs on a reader-oriented subject for this blog and I immediately wondered if I had anything appropriate already prepared.  I seem to write potential blogs all the time but mostly they are about my experiences, my thoughts, myself!

But if I were a reader reading this blog what would I want to read about?  This part about blogging always seems to elude me.  The truth is I don’t know what readers are interested in.  Books and reading, obviously.  Romance novels, right?

Although I love a good romance as part of the plot in the books I read I don’t seek out romance novels to read.  I think I od’d on them in my early twenties.  I read and re-read Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss among others.  But as I grew as a reader and became a writer, I wanted more.  I do love well-written romantic suspense, especially Tami Hoag and Sandra Brown, as well as straight suspense.  Most recently I’ve read Lisa Gardner’s The Neighbor and am almost finished with Fragile by Lisa Unger.  Though I once eschewed male writers (too brutal and too graphic) I forced myself to reassess that decision and try reading their stuff.  That’s how I discovered the work of James Grippando and Lee Child.  Check out my Goodreads list for other authors I’d recommend.  (Like Ruth Rendell!)

I have never been a fan of faces on the covers of my books.  Yes, they are contemporary romance novels but there’s a bigger story going on around the romance.  Authors are given some input on the covers, and Samhain Publishing does its best to make the faces on the cover resemble the characters.  With my latest, when I questioned the cover choice I got an interesting response.  Something along the lines of “this book is straddling the line between romance and women’s fiction, that’s why we wanted a romantic cover…”

If you like romance novels with a little something more going on, here you go! 

Thanks, Barb!  Readers, here’s the blurb from Barb’s new book, The First Time Again:

There’s no defense when love blindsides your heart.

Once Trey Christopher was the small-town golden boy. Now he’s just another burned-out, washed-up ex-quarterback with a bum knee, a tarnished reputation, and a simple wish. To be the kind of man he can face in the mirror. Moving back home is a start, as is hiring a down-on-her-luck local woman to help him out around his grandparents’ old homestead.

The last thing Baylee Westring wants is to clean house for a high school crush who barely remembers her name, but Trey’s money will finally top off her get-out-of-Henderson-forever escape fund.  Before she hits the road, though, Baylee’s got something for the man she still finds wildly attractive: the virginity he almost—but not quite—took during a drunken teenage party.

Neither is prepared for the emotional impact of that encounter. But just when Baylee dares to believe in happy ever after, an old enemy turns up to even the score. And Trey finds his heart left in the red zone, with his last chance for love ticking down to zero.

Warning: Contains an overeducated housekeeper who’s open to receiving a pass or two, and an ex-football player who can’t seem to stop himself from showing her all his moves.

Vanessa, here.  Doesn’t that sound great?  Since I write sports romances myself as VK Sykes, I’m a sucker for an athlete hero.  Check out details and an excerpt for The First Time Again on Barb’s website.

EXTRA, EXTRA!!  I’m visiting Ramblings With This Chick today, giving away copies of my new VK Sykes sports romance, Curveball.  Come visit me for your chance to win the latest addition to the USA Today bestselling series that I write with hubby!

The Naughty List Ladies & Giveaway!

I have a real treat on the blog today:  three fantastic authors for the price of one, and just in time for Christmas!  How is this possible, you might ask?  Well, take a look at today’s featured book.  It’s The Naughty List, a contemporary seasonal anthology with stories by three of my favorite authors, Donna Kauffman, Cynthia Eden, and Susan Fox.  I love Christmas anthologies, and this is a really good one.  It received a 5 blue ribbons review from Romance Junkies, which called it “a perfect feel good book for any time of year.”

Here’s the blurb for The Naughty List:

Naughty But Nice, by Donna Kauffman

Businessman Griffin’s never believed in luck…until sassy-sweet small-town baker Melody turns his world around. Except there’s a catch: There’s no way he’ll be able to build his empire and hold on to her. His new “lucky charm” could destroy all his dreams…or make this Christmas better than he ever imagined possible…

All I Want For Christmas, by Cynthia Eden

Good girl toy inventor Christie takes a walk on the naughty side when she sparks a no-strings fling with Santa—actually, sexy cop Jonas in a Santa suit. She loves her new “bad girl” persona, except as the holidays approach, she starts falling, and hard, for this known’ “love ’em and leave ’em” ladies man…

Tattoos And Mistletoe, by Susan Fox

Charlie returns to her hometown to fix up her aunt’s B&B, but she doesn’t count on LJ handling the renovations. Nerdy LJ pined for her in school, but now he’s grown into the town’s hottest bachelor. Charlie’s been burned before and won’t let him get close. But LJ’s determined to break down her walls and make her dearest Christmas wish come true.

Luckily for my readers, I was able to score an exclusive interview with the authors of this fun Christmas anthology.  Let’s see if we can get to know these ladies a little better!

Donna Kauffman

We all know that writing is hard work. What do you do to fill the creative well?

Donna: In addition to writing full time, my “play job” is freelance teaching arts/craft classes at a local craft shop here in northern Virginia.  My mom owned a craft shop while I was growing up, so it’s something that has always been a part of my life. I love the balance of creating things with my mind…and with my hands.  And teaching others has its own special joys as well.  (Plus it has the added benefit of getting me out around “non-fictional” folks for at least part of my week! 🙂  My other love is hiking.  I live right near the Potomac river and there are many wonderful trails literally in my backyard.  You’ll find me on them for some part of pretty much every day, year round.  I am also close to the Blue Ridge mountains and the Shenandoah Valley and hike there often as well.

Cynthia:  Writing is hard, but, to me, incredibly fun work.  When I need to replenish that creative supply, I talk long walks, watch some great movies (I am big into escapism) or head to the beach. I’m very fortunate because I live just 45 minutes away from the beach—definitely close enough for a creative excursion!

Susan:  The biggest thing for me is reading. I’m addicted! Other than that, I love watching a little TV, getting outside for a walk, exploring nature with my camera, and sharing dinner and a bottle of wine with a good friend. I try to exercise regularly and do my stretches, though that’s more about keeping in decent shape than filling the creative well. Man, I’m a pretty boring person, aren’t I?

Cynthia Eden

When you’re not writing “naughty” stuff, what do you like to read in your down time? Do you read in the genre you’re working in at the time, or does that mess with your head? What’s your favorite type of relaxation read?

Donna:  I read all sorts of things when I’m writing, which is pretty much all the time.  I don’t take any real breaks between books, so if I only read my own genre when I wasn’t writing it, I’d never have the chance to read it again. 🙂  It doesn’t mess with my head at all.  After 20 years in the business, I am very comfortable with my “voice” and feel confident that when I write it’s coming from my own well, and not influenced by anyone else’s work.  However, all reading, in all genres, definitely keeps me well immersed in the variety of storytelling that’s out there.  There are so many author’s voices I truly love and admire, across all genres.  If anything, reading their work only helps me define my voice even better.  You see how distinctly different we all are, and it helps me realize just how distinct and unique my brand of storytelling is.

For relaxation, my favorite kind of book is the kind I write, meaning “feel good” stories.  My editor once described my books as “humor with heart…and a lot of heat!”  Which…I’m good with that!  And that’s what I like when I sit down to read, too.  On my “anxiously awaiting list” is The Next Forever, the first in a new trilogy from Nora Roberts.  She’s been a friend of mine for more than 20 years now, so I am personally attached to this particular series as it’s based on her own Inn BoonsBoro, which I saw come to life in reality over these past couple of years.  I can’t wait to see how she’s brought something so dear to her heart into her fiction.

Cynthia:  I love to read paranormals, romantic suspense tales, and horror novels.  When I’m working on a particular story, I try not to read within that same genre (it just helps me to better distance myself). So I save all of those in-genre reads as rewards for when I finish my story. Once I’m done writing, I dive in for some prime reading time.  And my favourite type of relaxation read? I enjoy funny tales that can take me away.  Funny stories are great for relieving stress!

Susan:  Mainly, I read contemporary romance, women’s fiction, and romantic suspense—and then a smattering of everything else. At least everything else that’s fiction. I’m not much of a non-fiction reader. Give me escapism every time! But I do like to escape with characters and worlds I can relate to, so I’m not big on paranormal. When choosing what I’m going to read next, I like mixing things up. For example, I just read The Help, and now I’m on a gritty Lisa Gardner suspense novel, and I’m sure next it will be a romance. No, it doesn’t mess with my head to read the same kind of thing I’m writing. Reading is entertainment for me. I’m not analytical about it and I don’t compare other authors’ writing to my own. For a pure relaxation read—like to enjoy in a bubble bath at the end of a long day (which is sounding like a very good idea at the time I’m writing this!)—it will usually be romance or a more “lightweight” women’s fiction without a lot of angsty issues. Not that I don’t love those more angsty books, but not when I want pure R&R.

Susan Fox

If you were stranded on a desert island with just the basics for survival and you were allowed only one luxury item, what would it be?

Donna: Mark Harmon. 🙂   If he’s not available (given he’s been married forever to Pam Dawber and all…) then please substitute George Clooney.  He’ll always be single. 🙂

Cynthia:  Chocolate!  Oh, yes, that would definitely be my luxury item. I just can’t live without it!

Susan:  The longest book in the world! But no, I don’t count books as luxury items. For me, they’re necessities. So, how about a very fit, very hot, very smart guy? Or, no, maybe he falls more in the necessity category too. LOL. For pure luxury, I’ll settle for a fountain with an unending supply of chilled pinot grigio wine. Care to join me?

Vanessa, here.  Chocolate, men, and a glass of chilled pinot grigio…I like the way you ladies think!  Thanks so much for joining me on the blog today.  And I can’t wait to read The Naughty List.  Now that I know how y’all think, I know your stories are going to be lots of (naughty) fun!

And for my readers today, we’ll be giving away a copy of The Naughty List.  Just tell me the one luxury item you would bring to a deserted island.  One person who comments will win a copy of this fab book.