Winners & Contests!!

The winner of Manda Collins’ debut book, How to Dance with a Duke, is Donna Cummings.  Congratulations!  I’ll be in touch soon.

Thanks to everyone for stopping by the blog.  I have more great guests coming on next week, including Lisa Marie Rice and Elisabeth Naughton.  And if you’re new to my blog, please check out the contest I’m running with several other romance authors.  It’s a fabulous one, with lots of great prizes.  Details below!

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!

Now get out there and start liking those pages!

Guest Author: Manda Collins & Giveaway!

I’m SO thrilled to have one of my favorite people on the blog today.  She’s Manda Collins, and she writes fabulous and witty historical romance with a dash of mystery to spice things up.  Manda’s debut book, How to Dance with a Duke, will be released by St. Martin’s Press in January, 2012.  It’s a wonderful book, and I predict it will be one of the best Regency-set historical romances of the year.

Without any further ado, I’ll turn the blog over to Manda!

Thank you so much, Vanessa for having me here today!

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Moonlight & Magnolias Writers Conference in Atlanta. I’ve attended the conference, which is one of the best regional romance writers conferences around, before, but this year’s was special. Not only did the fabulous Vanessa Kelly win a Maggie Award for Sex and the Single Earl, but this year’s keynote speech was given by one of my very favorite authors, Eloisa James.  Which, in turn, afforded an opportunity for those of us who were regulars at the now defunct Squawk Radio (a group blog featuring Lisa Kleypas, Christina Dodd, Teresa Medeiros, Eloisa James and Liz Bevarly), and Eloisa’s Bulletin Board with Julia Quinn, to have a mini-reunion.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I get together with old friends there’s a lot of talk about the past, catching up on the present, and prognosticating about the future. And with this particular group of women, we talked again and again about how lucky we all felt to have found each other. What brought us together was our love of romance, but what forged our friendships into lasting ones was, for want of a better term, our “kindred spirits.”

When I got the idea for my Ugly Ducklings trilogy, I wanted to create a world not based on a brotherhood, but instead upon a sisterhood. Not unlike what I have with my friends. Cecily, Juliet and Madeline are cousins who have grown up in the spotlight, but not because of their stunning beauty. Instead, they are compared to their mothers, the Fabulous Featherstone sisters who, a generation earlier, took the ton by storm with their beauty and ensnared three of society’s most eligible bachelors in the parson’s mousetrap, and found wanting. Not only are they not as beautiful as their mothers, they also have bluestocking tendencies. Is it any wonder they find themselves still unmarried? Especially when the season’s toast enjoys nothing better than putting them in their place every chance she gets.

What I love about the friendship between these three women is the way that they support each other. No matter how harebrained the scheme, or how scandalous the scheme, Cecily, Juliet and Madeline can always count on one another.  When an accomplice is needed, they’re there. And when a scold or a stern talking-to is called for, they’re there for that too. They might argue and fuss from time to time, but always, always, they’ve got one another’s backs. Especially when the naysayers of the world try to tell them that they can’t succeed in their chosen fields simply because they had the misfortune to be born women. That really makes us…I mean them angry.

The first book How to Dance with a Duke comes out January 31, 2012.

Here’s a sneak peek at the back cover:

What’s a wallflower to do when she’s suddenly in need of a husband? Use all the pluck and moxie she can muster to get what she wants…


Miss Cecily Hurston would much rather explore the antiquities of Egypt than the uncharted territory of marriage. But the rules of her father’s exclusive academic society forbid her entrance unless she weds one of its members. To clear her ailing father’s name of a scandalous rumor, Cecily needs to gain admission into the Egyptian Club—and is willing to marry any old dullard to do it.


Lucas Dalton, Duke of Winterson, is anything but dull. He’s a dashing and decorated war hero determined to help Cecily—even if that means looking the other way when she claims the dance card of Amelia Snow, this season’s most sought-after beauty. But Lucas has a reason for wanting Cecily to join the Egyptian Club: His brother went missing during one of Lord Hurston’s expeditions to Egypt. An alliance with the explorer’s bluestocking daughter could bring Lucas closer to the truth about what happened…or it could lead him to a more dangerous love than either he or Cecily could have imagined….

So, let’s hear it for the sisterhood! And friendships! What are some of your favorite books about female friendship? Inquiring minds want to know!  Because I’m feeling generous I’m going to give away one of my precious, precious ARCs! So comment for a chance to win!

Wow!!  Vanessa, here.  An Advanced Reader’s Copy of How to Dance with a Duke!  Manda isn’t kidding when she says it’s precious!  I’m also going to throw in a copy of my first book, Mastering The Marquess.  It’s my birthday today, and I want to celebrate that along with Manda’s appearance on the blog.  So, one person who comments will win a copy of Manda’s book AND a copy of  Mastering The Marquess.

We Have A Winner!

The winner of The Naughty List, by Donna Kauffman, Cynthia Eden, and Susan Fox, is Tina Simon.  Congratulations!  I’ll be in touch soon.

Thanks to everyone for stopping by the blog.  My special guest on Friday is Manda Collins, a fabulous historical romance author whose debut book, How To Dance With A Duke, will be out in January.  Manda is so smart and always fun to spend time with, so please stop by!

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.