romance author

Belated Releases Giveaway!

I have two sweet friends who released books last week–and I completely missed their release days!

Life has gotten away from me, but I don’t want these great books to get away from you! So I’m celebrating these releases with a big giveaway! All you have to do is help us spread the word about these saucy new books and you could win 1 of 10 books or 1 of 5 gift cards!


The first new release I’d like to tell you about is one I’ve read myself. CAN’T GO WITHOUT by Angelisa Stone, is book two in her Oasis Waterfall series. This book is an emotionally riveting read. Angelisa creates characters to die for and a hero to drool over.

 

cgwCAN’T GO WITHOUT
“What’s the one thing you can’t go without?”

Tristan O’Donnell has money, women, and all the luxuries that cold hard cash can buy. Tristan’s been sucking sunshine right from the monogrammed silver spoon his life was served up on since the day he was born. And quite frankly, he wouldn’t want it any other way. He’s his mother’s pride and joy, his father’s right-hand-man, and the envy of every guy around. All Tristan has to do is flash his million dollar smile, give his trademark wink, and he gets what he wants, when he wants, anytime he wants.

Leah Franchetti grinds her fingers to the bone; sculpting, painting, recreating treasures from trash—the very sentiment that defines her life. Her inventive, vindictive, lucrative, and seemingly unforgivable plan allowed her to shortcut her way into the life she always imagined, owning an art gallery, surrounding herself in the comfort of her passion and dreams.

When circumstances force Leah and Tristan to come face-to-face with the past and with Leah’s devious manipulation, truths come flooding forth, destroying those in the present and possibly jeopardizing both of their highly anticipated futures. Can Tristan overcome Leah’s slander and deception—despite how dangerously close he comes to losing the one thing he can’t go without—money? Will Leah be forced to come clean, knowing she’ll have to live her life with the one thing she can’t go without—her dignity?

Pick up CAN’T GO WITHOUT at Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 


 

And the second release is CATCH ‘N’ KISS by Rhian Cahill. Are you game?

CatchNKiss300CATCH ‘N’ KISS

In this game of chase, a kiss isn’t the only reward.

Are You Game? Book 2

Divorced with two teenage daughters, Jody Walsh doesn’t need any more complications in her life, and Dan O’Conner is proving to be a big one. His pursuit may give her bruised ego a much-needed boost, but Jody’s learned to guard her heart and trust is something she isn’t willing to give another man no matter how well he kisses.

One kiss and Dan knows what he wants. He isn’t about to walk away from the kind of chemistry he and Jody have. Unfortunately, the more he chases the more she runs. If only he could get her running in his direction.

When a night of passion doesn’t convince her they’re meant to be, Dan is left with no choice but to prove he’s worth taking a risk on, no matter how much he complicates her life.

Warning: Story contains a woman not willing to put her heart at risk and a man determined to persuade her otherwise—and he’s willing to use his washing machine to show her why he’s worth it.

Pick up CATCH ‘N’ KISS at Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 


 Now…Enter to WIN book 1 in these two series’ or 1 of 5 gift cards! Easy entry!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Joanne Kennedy & Hot, Dark and Cowboy!

>Today I’m happy to welcome Joanne Kennedy!  Joanne’s newest cowboy romance, Tall, Dark and Cowboy with Sourcebooks released November 1st and is available everywhere books are sold (links below).  I’ve got my own review for you and an interview from Joanne. 

As always, we’ve got some great giveaways as well!  Danielle at Source has generously offered 2 copies of Tall, Dark and Cowboy for giveaway today and I’m giving away five custom handmade bookmarks!  So get out there and tell us what you love most about cowboys! YUM!
 
TALL, DARK AND COWBOY


She’s looking for an old friend. . .

In the wake of a nasty divorce, Lacey Bradford heads for Wyoming where she’s sure her old friend will take her in. Bit her high school pal Chase Caldwell is no longer the gangly boy who would follow her anywhere. For one thing, he’s now incredibly buff and handsome, but that’s not all that’s changed. . .

What she finds is one hot cowboy. . .

Chase has been through tough times and is less than thrilled to see the girl who once broke his heart. But try as he might to resist her, while Lacey’s putting her life back together, he’s finding new ways to be part of it.


Available at Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Booksamillion | iTunes

My Review:There are three things I’m a sucker for: A tortured hero, a reunion story and, yes, a hot cowboy. And while it may seem like this predisposes me to fall for Hot, Dark and Cowboy before I ever opened the pages, believe it or not, I’m not that much of a pushover. While those story lines may initially hook me, they don’t keep me if the writing’s weak or the pacing’s sluggish or the characters’ are lack-luster.

Which means my love for Hot, Dark and Cowboy is genuine.

I always enjoy a strong heroine, and while I don’t like where Lacey has been—acting as a trophy wife for a wealthy older man, I do appreciate that’s she’s learned from her mistakes and is now standing on her own, bent on making a new life for herself. I love her smart mouth and the way she holds her own with the sexy, Alpha cowboy she’s paired with.

Chase’s past is more heartrending—the farm boy turned mouthwatering cowboy. His longstanding infatuation and unrequited love for Lacey makes him the instant underdog we root for and shows the reader he’s got the staying power for a lifetime. He is endearing, pleasant and entertaining throughout.

The chemistry between Lacey and Chase is hot and grows hotter with each encounter. The love scenes are steamy and passionate – have something cold to drink nearby.

This is one of those books I love to hate…those, “Okay, just one more chapter…” books that have me up until two in the morning when my eyes are burning and I can’t keep them open any longer.

This is the first of Joanne’s books I’ve read — it definitely won’t be the last! Joanne’s writing is clean, her dialogue is fun and witty and her pacing is fast.

Tall, Dark and Cowboy is a fun, fast, entertaining read!

Now, more from Joanne:

Joanne, tell us about Tall, Dark and Cowboy.
“Tall, Dark and Cowboy” is about Lacey Bradford, an ex-trophy wife who flees a dangerous divorce and runs to the one person who’s always cared about her. But her old friend Chase Caldwell has changed from a gangling farm boy into a sexy, muscular cowboy, and the loss of his family turned him into a bitter and resentful man who’s not about to help the woman who broke his heart. Lacey decides it’s time to end her habit of letting men take care of her and begins to build a new life of her own in Chase’s adopted Wyoming hometown. But when her ex’s criminal cronies turn up, the cowboy can’t resist helping a damsel in real distress.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?
I love the characters. On the surface, Lacey is different from most of my heroines. She was raised to privilege, and she’s a little spoiled. But deep down, she’s a strong, resilient woman—and Chase brings out the best in her. As for Chase, he’s a good man struggling to rebuild his life and overcome bitterness and sorrow.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?
Lacey doesn’t realize that her ex-husband cheated Chase’s family out of their property. He lost the future he’d always counted on, and he thinks it’s Lacey’s fault.

What is your strategy in creating antagonists/villains?
I think antagonists are the hardest characters to create, because they so easily devolve into stereotypical villains. I was struggling with this in an earlier book when I went to a great workshop by agent Donald Maas. He pointed out that in the villain’s mind, nefarious actions are totally justified. Everyone thinks they’re the hero of their own story, so I try to see the plot from the villain’s point of view. It helps me see that they’re simply flawed people too, just like the hero and heroine. It’s just that their flaws are worse!

Is there a message in this novel that you want readers to grasp?
The book is about starting over, in your life and in your heart. Chase and Lacey both need to learn to put the past behind them. It’s about forgiving yourself and the people around you so you can be your best, truest self.

How does your family view your writing career?
My husband helps a lot with the website and newsletter, but more importantly he’s proud of me and very understanding about my occasional spaciness when I’m lost in a book and not thinking clearly about the real world (that happens a lot). He’s funny, supportive, and understanding. No wonder I write romance novels.

What is your writing routine?
I’m not really a morning person, so I take care of the business aspects of writing in the mornings. Creativity sets in around 11:00, and I work on and off for the rest of the day. There’s no set routine; I just write whenever I don’t have to do something else.

How do you keep in touch with your readers?
I love Facebook! I’ve met so many people online that I consider friends, and it’s so easy to keep in touch and share what we’re doing. It’s great that when you “click” with someone at a conference or writing retreat you can keep in touch so easily. And by the way, I’m listed on Facebook as “Joanne Kennedy Books.” I post lots of fun Western stuff and try to give readers a sense of what it’s like to live in Wyoming.

What are you reading now?
I just read The Book of Bright Ideas by Sandra Kring. I loved it; the characters are wonderfully real. Now I’m reading The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker, which is also fabulous and beautifully written. I read a lot of romance too – I’m just going through a literary fiction phase right now.

What would you like to tell readers?
Just thank you! It means so much that people want to share the world I write about and spend time with the characters I create. I love what I do, and I know I’m very lucky to have the support of readers.

What did you do before you became a full-time writer?
I’ve worked in bookstores most of my life. I owned a used and rare bookstore, and managed several independent and chain bookstores. It’s really a dream come true to have my own books on the shelves.

I’ve also been interested in animals all my life, and I’ve dabbled in everything from chicken-keeping to horse-training. That’s why my books always have animal characters that are as important as the human ones.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Stories are important, but characters matter most. When we think of the classics we loved, we don’t think of the plots; we think of Jane Eyre, Elizabeth Bennet, Heathcliff, Scarlett O’Hara. Strong, true-to-life characters create their own stories and make a book memorable.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I think it’s essential for writers to know as much as possible about the mechanics of putting a plot together and creating an arc for readers. I don’t do a lot of outlining or preparation, but that knowledge is a part of me now and definitely informs my writing. You have to study and learn until a sense of story becomes internal, something that’s automatic.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
A comfortable desk so you don’t hurt yourself spending hours crouched over the computer. A space, however small, where you have a few personal talismans and touchstones that remind you of your true self. A willingness to accept and learn from criticism, and a desire to make every story the best it can be. Most important of all—a supportive family.

What do you most like about writing? Least like?
What I like is the way stories unfold and fit together. Sometimes different aspects of a voice “click” in a subconscious way and it feels like magic.

What I like least is sitting at a computer all day! I recently had neck surgery and it’s frustrating that I can’t stay at the keyboard as long as I want to.

What would you say is your biggest writing quirk?
Writing itself is just one big quirk. It’s never off my mind. Everywhere I go, I listen for snippets of conversation and look for events and people I can use in my books. It makes life brighter and more meaningful when you know you can save pieces of your experience and show them to other people.

Which is your favorite of the books you have written?
That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child! I love Cowboy Trouble because it was my first-born and has so much of “me” in it. I love One Fine Cowboy because the hero of that story, Nate, has connected amazingly with readers, and because it won me an RWA RITA nomination, which was an honor I didn’t expect. I love Cowboy Fever because I admire the heroine so much and it’s about therapy riding, a cause very close to my heart. And I love Tall, Dark and Cowboy because while Lacey and I are very different, we had to learn the same lessons and find our strength.

What are your current projects?
I just finished my fifth book, Cowboy Crazy, which stars a rodeo cowboy. I’m very excited about it, and think it might be my best—although I love the one I’m working on now, which is called Cowboy Tough. It’s about a New York artist who comes to a dude ranch to teach painting workshops and butts heads with their outfitter, a former rodeo cowboy.

Where can we find you online?
My website is at www.joannekennedybooks.com, and I’m on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Joanne-Kennedy-Books/114277591920110.

We’ve got 2 copies of Tall, Dark and Cowboy for giveaway and 5 custom handmade bookmarks! So get out there and tell us what you love most about cowboys!

About the Author

Joanne Kennedy is the author of three previous contemporary Western romances for Sourcebooks. She brings a wide variety of experience, ranging from chicken farming to horse training, to her sexy, spicy cowboy stories. She is a 2011 finalist in the prestigious Romance Writers of America RITA© Awards, for One Fine Cowboy.

Joanne lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where she is working on her next book, Cowboy Crazy (June 2012). For more information, please visit http://joannekennedybooks.com/.



>Joanne Kennedy & Hot, Dark and Cowboy!

>Today I’m happy to welcome Joanne Kennedy!  Joanne’s newest cowboy romance, Tall, Dark and Cowboy with Sourcebooks released November 1st and is available everywhere books are sold (links below).  I’ve got my own review for you and an interview from Joanne. 

As always, we’ve got some great giveaways as well!  Danielle at Source has generously offered 2 copies of Tall, Dark and Cowboy for giveaway today and I’m giving away five custom handmade bookmarks!  So get out there and tell us what you love most about cowboys! YUM!
 
TALL, DARK AND COWBOY


She’s looking for an old friend. . .

In the wake of a nasty divorce, Lacey Bradford heads for Wyoming where she’s sure her old friend will take her in. Bit her high school pal Chase Caldwell is no longer the gangly boy who would follow her anywhere. For one thing, he’s now incredibly buff and handsome, but that’s not all that’s changed. . .

What she finds is one hot cowboy. . .

Chase has been through tough times and is less than thrilled to see the girl who once broke his heart. But try as he might to resist her, while Lacey’s putting her life back together, he’s finding new ways to be part of it.


Available at Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Booksamillion | iTunes

My Review:There are three things I’m a sucker for: A tortured hero, a reunion story and, yes, a hot cowboy. And while it may seem like this predisposes me to fall for Hot, Dark and Cowboy before I ever opened the pages, believe it or not, I’m not that much of a pushover. While those story lines may initially hook me, they don’t keep me if the writing’s weak or the pacing’s sluggish or the characters’ are lack-luster.

Which means my love for Hot, Dark and Cowboy is genuine.

I always enjoy a strong heroine, and while I don’t like where Lacey has been—acting as a trophy wife for a wealthy older man, I do appreciate that’s she’s learned from her mistakes and is now standing on her own, bent on making a new life for herself. I love her smart mouth and the way she holds her own with the sexy, Alpha cowboy she’s paired with.

Chase’s past is more heartrending—the farm boy turned mouthwatering cowboy. His longstanding infatuation and unrequited love for Lacey makes him the instant underdog we root for and shows the reader he’s got the staying power for a lifetime. He is endearing, pleasant and entertaining throughout.

The chemistry between Lacey and Chase is hot and grows hotter with each encounter. The love scenes are steamy and passionate – have something cold to drink nearby.

This is one of those books I love to hate…those, “Okay, just one more chapter…” books that have me up until two in the morning when my eyes are burning and I can’t keep them open any longer.

This is the first of Joanne’s books I’ve read — it definitely won’t be the last! Joanne’s writing is clean, her dialogue is fun and witty and her pacing is fast.

Tall, Dark and Cowboy is a fun, fast, entertaining read!

Now, more from Joanne:

Joanne, tell us about Tall, Dark and Cowboy.
“Tall, Dark and Cowboy” is about Lacey Bradford, an ex-trophy wife who flees a dangerous divorce and runs to the one person who’s always cared about her. But her old friend Chase Caldwell has changed from a gangling farm boy into a sexy, muscular cowboy, and the loss of his family turned him into a bitter and resentful man who’s not about to help the woman who broke his heart. Lacey decides it’s time to end her habit of letting men take care of her and begins to build a new life of her own in Chase’s adopted Wyoming hometown. But when her ex’s criminal cronies turn up, the cowboy can’t resist helping a damsel in real distress.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?
I love the characters. On the surface, Lacey is different from most of my heroines. She was raised to privilege, and she’s a little spoiled. But deep down, she’s a strong, resilient woman—and Chase brings out the best in her. As for Chase, he’s a good man struggling to rebuild his life and overcome bitterness and sorrow.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?
Lacey doesn’t realize that her ex-husband cheated Chase’s family out of their property. He lost the future he’d always counted on, and he thinks it’s Lacey’s fault.

What is your strategy in creating antagonists/villains?
I think antagonists are the hardest characters to create, because they so easily devolve into stereotypical villains. I was struggling with this in an earlier book when I went to a great workshop by agent Donald Maas. He pointed out that in the villain’s mind, nefarious actions are totally justified. Everyone thinks they’re the hero of their own story, so I try to see the plot from the villain’s point of view. It helps me see that they’re simply flawed people too, just like the hero and heroine. It’s just that their flaws are worse!

Is there a message in this novel that you want readers to grasp?
The book is about starting over, in your life and in your heart. Chase and Lacey both need to learn to put the past behind them. It’s about forgiving yourself and the people around you so you can be your best, truest self.

How does your family view your writing career?
My husband helps a lot with the website and newsletter, but more importantly he’s proud of me and very understanding about my occasional spaciness when I’m lost in a book and not thinking clearly about the real world (that happens a lot). He’s funny, supportive, and understanding. No wonder I write romance novels.

What is your writing routine?
I’m not really a morning person, so I take care of the business aspects of writing in the mornings. Creativity sets in around 11:00, and I work on and off for the rest of the day. There’s no set routine; I just write whenever I don’t have to do something else.

How do you keep in touch with your readers?
I love Facebook! I’ve met so many people online that I consider friends, and it’s so easy to keep in touch and share what we’re doing. It’s great that when you “click” with someone at a conference or writing retreat you can keep in touch so easily. And by the way, I’m listed on Facebook as “Joanne Kennedy Books.” I post lots of fun Western stuff and try to give readers a sense of what it’s like to live in Wyoming.

What are you reading now?
I just read The Book of Bright Ideas by Sandra Kring. I loved it; the characters are wonderfully real. Now I’m reading The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker, which is also fabulous and beautifully written. I read a lot of romance too – I’m just going through a literary fiction phase right now.

What would you like to tell readers?
Just thank you! It means so much that people want to share the world I write about and spend time with the characters I create. I love what I do, and I know I’m very lucky to have the support of readers.

What did you do before you became a full-time writer?
I’ve worked in bookstores most of my life. I owned a used and rare bookstore, and managed several independent and chain bookstores. It’s really a dream come true to have my own books on the shelves.

I’ve also been interested in animals all my life, and I’ve dabbled in everything from chicken-keeping to horse-training. That’s why my books always have animal characters that are as important as the human ones.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Stories are important, but characters matter most. When we think of the classics we loved, we don’t think of the plots; we think of Jane Eyre, Elizabeth Bennet, Heathcliff, Scarlett O’Hara. Strong, true-to-life characters create their own stories and make a book memorable.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I think it’s essential for writers to know as much as possible about the mechanics of putting a plot together and creating an arc for readers. I don’t do a lot of outlining or preparation, but that knowledge is a part of me now and definitely informs my writing. You have to study and learn until a sense of story becomes internal, something that’s automatic.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
A comfortable desk so you don’t hurt yourself spending hours crouched over the computer. A space, however small, where you have a few personal talismans and touchstones that remind you of your true self. A willingness to accept and learn from criticism, and a desire to make every story the best it can be. Most important of all—a supportive family.

What do you most like about writing? Least like?
What I like is the way stories unfold and fit together. Sometimes different aspects of a voice “click” in a subconscious way and it feels like magic.

What I like least is sitting at a computer all day! I recently had neck surgery and it’s frustrating that I can’t stay at the keyboard as long as I want to.

What would you say is your biggest writing quirk?
Writing itself is just one big quirk. It’s never off my mind. Everywhere I go, I listen for snippets of conversation and look for events and people I can use in my books. It makes life brighter and more meaningful when you know you can save pieces of your experience and show them to other people.

Which is your favorite of the books you have written?
That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child! I love Cowboy Trouble because it was my first-born and has so much of “me” in it. I love One Fine Cowboy because the hero of that story, Nate, has connected amazingly with readers, and because it won me an RWA RITA nomination, which was an honor I didn’t expect. I love Cowboy Fever because I admire the heroine so much and it’s about therapy riding, a cause very close to my heart. And I love Tall, Dark and Cowboy because while Lacey and I are very different, we had to learn the same lessons and find our strength.

What are your current projects?
I just finished my fifth book, Cowboy Crazy, which stars a rodeo cowboy. I’m very excited about it, and think it might be my best—although I love the one I’m working on now, which is called Cowboy Tough. It’s about a New York artist who comes to a dude ranch to teach painting workshops and butts heads with their outfitter, a former rodeo cowboy.

Where can we find you online?
My website is at www.joannekennedybooks.com, and I’m on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Joanne-Kennedy-Books/114277591920110.

We’ve got 2 copies of Tall, Dark and Cowboy for giveaway and 5 custom handmade bookmarks! So get out there and tell us what you love most about cowboys!

About the Author

Joanne Kennedy is the author of three previous contemporary Western romances for Sourcebooks. She brings a wide variety of experience, ranging from chicken farming to horse training, to her sexy, spicy cowboy stories. She is a 2011 finalist in the prestigious Romance Writers of America RITA© Awards, for One Fine Cowboy.

Joanne lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where she is working on her next book, Cowboy Crazy (June 2012). For more information, please visit http://joannekennedybooks.com/.



Author Sarah Grimm Interview + Giveaway!

>

Sarah Grimm is here talking about her new release After Midnight, and we’re giving away 5 custom handmade bookmarks AND an Ecopy of After Midnight! Simply leave a comment to enter. Open internationally.

Sarah, tell us about your latest release.
She wants to forget her past.

He wants to reclaim his.

Sometimes the moment that changes everything comes After Midnight.

Thirteen years—that’s how long Isabeau Montgomery has been living a lie. After an automobile accident took her mother’s life, Izzy hid herself away, surviving the only way she knew how. Now she is happy in her carefully reconstructed life. That is until he walks through the door of her bar…


Black Phoenix singer/front man Noah Clark came to Long Island City with a goal—one that doesn’t include an instant, electric attraction to the dark-haired beauty behind the bar. Coaxing her into his bed won’t be easy, but he can’t get her pale, haunted eyes nor her skill on the piano out of his head.

Can Noah help Isabeau overcome the past? Or will her need to protect her secret force her back into hiding and destroy their chance at happiness?

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?
That even though Izzy views herself as damaged, through Noah’s love she rediscovers that she’s beautiful.

What sparked the idea for this book/series?
Teenage fantasies about meeting and marrying a rock star, combined with the maturity to know that a twenty-something musician is not happily-ever-after material. Add to that the picture in my mind of a woman alone in a bar, playing the piano. That picture spawned a series of ‘what if’ questions which led to After Midnight.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?
Music. It’s what brings them together as well as threatens to tear them apart.

What was the hardest part of this book to write and why?
Isabeau’s childhood was so tragic all the scenes that dealt with it were extremely hard to write. But the most difficult was the scene where her step-father (for lack of a better name) sits Noah down and tells him about losing Izzy’s mother in the car accident, followed by immediately losing Izzy in a court battle, and how these events shaped Isabeau into the woman she is today. I can’t really get into it too much without giving away any spoilers, but it is a traumatic scene that was emotionally draining for me to write.

How does your family view your writing career?
They accept it as a normal part of who I am and are proud of the fact that I have achieved my goal of becoming published.

What is your writing routine?

I do my best writing in the morning when the rest of the house is still asleep. I wake up around 4:30 seven days a week. Not necessarily by choice, my internal alarm clock just goes off at that time. If I don’t sit down and write in the morning, chances are good I won’t get any writing done that day. I’m too easily distracted by the million other things I need to get done – grocery shopping, the day job, orthodontist appointments, or house cleaning.

How do you keep in touch with your readers?
My all time favorite way to chat with readers is face to face. Unfortunately, I don’t get enough of that with my hectic work schedule, so I settle for keeping in touch with readers through my blog, online chats, and email. I love to hear from readers and encourage them to email me at sarah @ sarahgrimm.com.

What are you reading now?
Rafe’s Redemption by Jennifer Jakes, and Jezebel’s Wish by AJ Nuest

What is your preferred genre to read for pleasure?
Contemporary romance. A close second is contemporary romantic suspense.

Do you have a second career? (Yes, motherhood counts!)
Besides being the mother of two teenage sons, three mini schnauzers, a guinea pig, a rescued kitten in need of a home, and three orphaned mice—whew, that’s a lot to type—I’m the bookkeeper for my husband’s boat repair business and work full time as the bookkeeper for a local farmer.

How would you best describe your books?
I write sizzling, dangerously sexy contemporary romance and romantic suspense.

Which is your favorite of the books you have written?
Definitely After Midnight. Every author I’ve ever spoke with has one story they truly believe is THE story of their heart. After Midnight is mine. Isabeau Montgomery is the owner of Izzy’s Bar, a child prodigy, piano phenom—a woman who is hiding behind a lie of her own making. She’s just so very tortured, her past so full of tragedy… She deserves a happy ending and Noah is just the man to share it with her.

What are your current projects?
While writing After Midnight, one of the secondary characters kept telling me he needed his story, so I’m writing that one now. Midnight Heat is a reunion romance, and although I had no plans to make it so when I started, it looks like it may become a romantic suspense.

Are You The Same Person You Were As A Child, Or Much Different?
I am much different. I’m still a dreamer and impulsive, but I’ve learned to control the impulses and think before I speak.

Do You Believe That The Cup Is Half Empty Or Half Full?
Half full.

Are You An Introvert Or An Extrovert?
Extrovert.

Are You A Window Person Or An Aisle Person?
Window. I want to see where I’m going.

Do You Like Short Or Long Hair On A Guy?
Short.

What is Your Favorite Beverage?
Diet Coke.

Are you a night or a morning person?
Morning.

Are You Usually Late, Early Or Right On Time?
Early.

Where can we find you online?
Website: http://www.sarahgrimm.com
Blog: http://www.authorsarahgrimm.blogspot.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/SGrimmAuthor
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SarahGrimm.Author

Sarah lives in West Michigan with her husband, two sons and three miniature schnauzers. Between mom’s taxi service, parts runs, and answering the phone for the family marine repair business, Sarah can be found curled in her favorite chair, crafting her next novel.
Comment to enter for 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks AND an ecopy of After Midnight!
Open internationally.
**MUST** leave contact email to WIN!

>Author Sarah Grimm Interview + Giveaway!

>

Sarah Grimm is here talking about her new release After Midnight, and we’re giving away 5 custom handmade bookmarks AND an Ecopy of After Midnight! Simply leave a comment to enter. Open internationally.

Sarah, tell us about your latest release.
She wants to forget her past.

He wants to reclaim his.

Sometimes the moment that changes everything comes After Midnight.

Thirteen years—that’s how long Isabeau Montgomery has been living a lie. After an automobile accident took her mother’s life, Izzy hid herself away, surviving the only way she knew how. Now she is happy in her carefully reconstructed life. That is until he walks through the door of her bar…


Black Phoenix singer/front man Noah Clark came to Long Island City with a goal—one that doesn’t include an instant, electric attraction to the dark-haired beauty behind the bar. Coaxing her into his bed won’t be easy, but he can’t get her pale, haunted eyes nor her skill on the piano out of his head.

Can Noah help Isabeau overcome the past? Or will her need to protect her secret force her back into hiding and destroy their chance at happiness?

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?
That even though Izzy views herself as damaged, through Noah’s love she rediscovers that she’s beautiful.

What sparked the idea for this book/series?
Teenage fantasies about meeting and marrying a rock star, combined with the maturity to know that a twenty-something musician is not happily-ever-after material. Add to that the picture in my mind of a woman alone in a bar, playing the piano. That picture spawned a series of ‘what if’ questions which led to After Midnight.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?
Music. It’s what brings them together as well as threatens to tear them apart.

What was the hardest part of this book to write and why?
Isabeau’s childhood was so tragic all the scenes that dealt with it were extremely hard to write. But the most difficult was the scene where her step-father (for lack of a better name) sits Noah down and tells him about losing Izzy’s mother in the car accident, followed by immediately losing Izzy in a court battle, and how these events shaped Isabeau into the woman she is today. I can’t really get into it too much without giving away any spoilers, but it is a traumatic scene that was emotionally draining for me to write.

How does your family view your writing career?
They accept it as a normal part of who I am and are proud of the fact that I have achieved my goal of becoming published.

What is your writing routine?

I do my best writing in the morning when the rest of the house is still asleep. I wake up around 4:30 seven days a week. Not necessarily by choice, my internal alarm clock just goes off at that time. If I don’t sit down and write in the morning, chances are good I won’t get any writing done that day. I’m too easily distracted by the million other things I need to get done – grocery shopping, the day job, orthodontist appointments, or house cleaning.

How do you keep in touch with your readers?
My all time favorite way to chat with readers is face to face. Unfortunately, I don’t get enough of that with my hectic work schedule, so I settle for keeping in touch with readers through my blog, online chats, and email. I love to hear from readers and encourage them to email me at sarah @ sarahgrimm.com.

What are you reading now?
Rafe’s Redemption by Jennifer Jakes, and Jezebel’s Wish by AJ Nuest

What is your preferred genre to read for pleasure?
Contemporary romance. A close second is contemporary romantic suspense.

Do you have a second career? (Yes, motherhood counts!)
Besides being the mother of two teenage sons, three mini schnauzers, a guinea pig, a rescued kitten in need of a home, and three orphaned mice—whew, that’s a lot to type—I’m the bookkeeper for my husband’s boat repair business and work full time as the bookkeeper for a local farmer.

How would you best describe your books?
I write sizzling, dangerously sexy contemporary romance and romantic suspense.

Which is your favorite of the books you have written?
Definitely After Midnight. Every author I’ve ever spoke with has one story they truly believe is THE story of their heart. After Midnight is mine. Isabeau Montgomery is the owner of Izzy’s Bar, a child prodigy, piano phenom—a woman who is hiding behind a lie of her own making. She’s just so very tortured, her past so full of tragedy… She deserves a happy ending and Noah is just the man to share it with her.

What are your current projects?
While writing After Midnight, one of the secondary characters kept telling me he needed his story, so I’m writing that one now. Midnight Heat is a reunion romance, and although I had no plans to make it so when I started, it looks like it may become a romantic suspense.

Are You The Same Person You Were As A Child, Or Much Different?
I am much different. I’m still a dreamer and impulsive, but I’ve learned to control the impulses and think before I speak.

Do You Believe That The Cup Is Half Empty Or Half Full?
Half full.

Are You An Introvert Or An Extrovert?
Extrovert.

Are You A Window Person Or An Aisle Person?
Window. I want to see where I’m going.

Do You Like Short Or Long Hair On A Guy?
Short.

What is Your Favorite Beverage?
Diet Coke.

Are you a night or a morning person?
Morning.

Are You Usually Late, Early Or Right On Time?
Early.

Where can we find you online?
Website: http://www.sarahgrimm.com
Blog: http://www.authorsarahgrimm.blogspot.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/SGrimmAuthor
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SarahGrimm.Author

Sarah lives in West Michigan with her husband, two sons and three miniature schnauzers. Between mom’s taxi service, parts runs, and answering the phone for the family marine repair business, Sarah can be found curled in her favorite chair, crafting her next novel.
Comment to enter for 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks AND an ecopy of After Midnight!
Open internationally.
**MUST** leave contact email to WIN!

Career Author Jackie Braun Celebrates 25th Release!!

>Welcome my guest author today — Jackie Braun. Jackie She sold her first book to Silhouette Romance in late 1999 and started writing under the Harlequin Romance banner with the release of her third book in 2004.

Today’s release, MR. RIGHT THERE ALL ALONG is Jackie’s 25th published novel — yes, you read that right! 25th! And today she answers interview questions about longevity in publishing and her own writing style. Plus, we’ve got an excerpt AND a giveaway!!

Comment to enter to win a copy of Jackie’s August release,
MR. RIGHT THERE ALL ALONG

Jackie, you worked as an award winning journalist for 17 years before leaving to write full time. Can you talk a little about that transition?
It wasn’t as difficult as I expected from a creative and time-management standpoint. I had a 3-year-old at the time and was already very good at multitasking. The big transition was getting used to not having a regular paycheck. That was hard — going from getting paid every week to wondering when the next check would come or, in the case of royalties, how much it would be. I did a lot of freelance for the newspaper still, including writing a weekly column. I invoiced them monthly. So that helped. The really big help, though, was my husband. He’s in charge of our household budget. If you could see the Excel spreadsheets he keeps to determine where every penny goes, you’d be green with envy. The man is a god. (And he has a cute butt!)

You worked for 5 years as both a full time journalist and a full time writer. As an author struggling with this very problem – day job and writing – what tips can you give for maintaining sanity while progressing as authors?

Ah, you assume I maintained my sanity. Ha! And double ha! Seriously, I got up early every day – we’re talking 4 a.m. There was no other way around it.

This is your 25th book! Happy Anniversary! What are the key character elements writers need to stay successful in this business for that long?

Gosh, I’m not sure I know. I will say I wasn’t willing to fail or give up. Life has a way of raining on your parade. During the time I wrote those 25 books I lost my brother to cancer, my grandmother, my mother-in-law to cancer, my dad and my father-in-law to cancer. My husband and I built a house. I left a career and became self-employed. We adopted two children, including a so-called “special needs” toddler from China. My husband was diagnosed with cancer and beat it. On and on and on … People talk about writer’s block, but when you’re a professional writer, you don’t have that option. You just write.

Your books often contain humor. I’ve found humor very difficult to write. Is there a trick to writing humor?

I don’t know. My husband and I like to laugh. We find it preferable to the alternative. I can remember times in our marriage when it felt like the world was falling apart and laughter saved us. So, in addition to writing about people’s struggles, humor just naturally leaks into my stories.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Believable characters even when they are doing the seemingly unbelievable. Readers need to relate to your characters.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

Nope. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal.

What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product?

Immense satisfaction and pride.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

A room of your own and quiet time to work.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

I’m able to be home with my kids. This makes me crazy during deadlines, especially in the summer, but it’s worth it. My boys are 6 and 11 now. I’m going to blink and they’ll both be grown and gone.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Depends on the book. Some books all but write themselves, in which case we’re talking two to three months. Others, four or five months.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I write every day. I currently do about 24 hours a week of freelance as a journalist. Since the deadlines for that are pretty much daily, I fit my book writing around that.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I don’t know that I have one.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

In the summer I like to poke around in my flowerbeds. I love gardening, even though it’s a constant battle to keep the bugs and critters from mowing down all of my perennials.

What does your family think of your writing?

They are really proud of me. I’m blessed to have such great support.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing your books?

Sometimes my characters take off and do something I wasn’t planning. I always follow their lead.

Which is your favorite of the books you have written? 

“In the Shelter of His Arms.” It came out in 2005 and was named Harlequin Romance of the Year by RT.

What do you think makes a good story?

Believable characters, great conflict and an emotional payoff for readers.

What are you reading now?

You mean besides children’s books with my kids? I’m reading “Bed of Roses,” the second book in Nora Roberts’ Bride Quartet series.

What new author has grasped your interest? 

None at the moment, but then my TBR pile is overflowing.

What are the hardest/easiest scenes to write?

For me, the hardest scenes are love scenes. The easiest, those that include humor.

What are your writing strength/weaknesses?

Really? You’re asking me that? I plead the Fifth.

Who are some of your favorite authors and what really strikes you about their work?

I love Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Sandra Brown, Barbara Delinsky, LaVyrle Spencer (Gosh, I wish she hadn’t retired), Jennifer Weiner, Liz Fielding … Again, it comes down to characters for me. They all write amazing characters.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

When she spied the invitation amid the pile of bills and junk mail, Chloe McDaniels’s lips pulled back in a sneer. She’d been expecting it, but that didn’t make her reaction any less visceral.

Tillman High School’s Class of 2001 was set to celebrate its ten-year reunion.

Chloe did not have fond memories of her New Jersey high school. In fact, she’d spent her four years at Tillman ducking into bathroom stalls and janitors’ broom closets to avoid the unholy trinity of Natasha Bradford, Faith Ellerman and Tamara Kingsley.

She’d known the girls since grade school. They’d never been friends, but neither had they been enemies… until the start of their freshman year when, for reasons that had never been terribly clear to Chloe, she’d become their favorite target.

Literally.

Somehow on that first, already awkward day of high school, they managed to attach a “Kick Me” sign to the back of her shirt just before the start of first period. It was the last time Chloe ever accepted a friendly back slap without taking a gander over her shoulder afterward. As cruel pranks went, it wasn’t terribly original, but it was effective. She’d taken enough sneakers to the seat of her favorite jeans to feel like a soccer ball.

Then, between third period and lunch, Simon Ford had happened along.

“You might not want to wear this,” he’d said simply, removing the sign and handing it to Chloe. That was his way. Understated.

Good old Simon. He always had her back. Or backside, as the case had been. They’d been friends since his family had moved into her family’s apartment building at the start of third grade and their friendship continued to this day. Thinking of him now, Chloe picked up the phone before realizing the time. It was well after five on a Friday. He was probably out with his girlfriend.

Chloe realized she was sneering again. Well, it couldn’t be helped. She didn’t like Sara. The long-limbed and lithe blonde was too…too…perfect.

She glanced down at the invitation. Perfect Sara would never find herself in this position. Perfect Sara would have been the homecoming queen and the prom queen and the every other kind of queen at her high school. Unlike Chloe, whose only class recognition had come in the form of “curliest hair” and “most freckles.”

Yeah, that was what a girl wanted to be remembered for, all right.

Her gut told her to ball up the invitation in a wad, spit on it and, with expletives she knew in four languages, send it whizzing into the trash can. Her heart was a different matter. It was telling her to reach for a spoon and the pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream in her freezer.

Diet in mind, she went with her gut. Sort of.

She lavished the invitation with every foreign epithet she could think of before heaving it in the trash. But, while she bypassed the ice cream, she booted up her computer and downloaded a recipe from her favorite cable cooking show, Susie Kay’s Comfort Foods. If it was all but guaranteed to clog the arteries and contribute to heart disease, Susie Kay made it.

Tonight’s dinner selection was a case in point. Macaroni and cheese with not one, but four kinds of cheese and enough butter and calories that Chloe swore her clothes fit tighter just reading the ingredients. Not good considering she was already wearing her fat pants.

Actually, the pants were elastic-waist exercise gear that she didn’t exercise in but instead reserved for days when she felt particularly bloated. Today was just such a day. Strap a few cables to her and she would be right at home gliding down Sixth Avenue like one of those huge helium balloons in the annual Thanksgiving Day parade. Even so, that didn’t keep her from making the mac and cheese and eating half of the six servings.

The wine she poured for herself was an afterthought. She’d been saving the pricey bottle of cabernet sauvignon for a special occasion. This definitely was not it, but three glasses later, she didn’t care.

Chloe set the wine aside and went to her stereo. Music. That’s what she needed now. Something with a wicked beat and a lot of bass. Something she could dance to with reckless abandon and maybe work off a few extra calories in the process. She chose…Celine Dion.

As one weepy ballad after another filled Chloe’s Lower East Side studio apartment, her willpower wilted like the water-deprived basil plant on her kitchen windowsill. Again muttering foreign curses, this time aimed at herself, she fished the crumpled invitation out of the trash. When the telephone rang, she was still sitting on the kitchen floor smoothing out the wrinkles.

It was Simon.

“Hey, Chloe. What are you doing?”

Anyone else—her older and uber-chic sister, Frannie, for instance—and Chloe would have felt compelled to come up with some elaborate reason why she could be found home alone on the official start of the weekend.

Since it was Simon, she confessed, “Drinking wine, wearing Lycra and listening to the soundtrack from Titanic.”

“No ice cream?”

How well he knew her. Despite her best intentions, the mint chocolate chip was next on her list. “Not yet.”

“Want some company?” he asked.

Did she ever. She and Simon always had a good time together, whether it involved going out or just hanging out. Still, his question surprised her. Wasn’t he supposed to be with his girlfriend tonight? She liked thinking he’d throw over Perfect Sara to be with Comfortable Chloe. Liked it so much that she immediately felt guilty. She was a terrible friend. To make up for it, she would share her ice cream and what was left of the wine. “When can I expect you?”

“Right now. I’m standing on the other side of your apartment door.”

If he were a boyfriend—not that Chloe had had one of those in several months—this news would have sent her into a panic. Her apartment was a mess. For that matter, so was she. Her red hair was a riot of curls thanks to the day’s high humidity. And what little makeup she’d applied that morning was long gone. But this was Simon. Simon, she reminded herself, after a glance down at her unflattering attire had her wanting to flee to her bedroom and change.

It was sad to admit, but he’d seen her looking worse. Much worse. Such as when she came down with the chicken pox in the sixth grade or the time in high school when she’d succumbed to salmonella after her cousin Ellen’s bridal shower. Aunt Myrtle made the chicken salad, which was why, henceforth, the woman was only allowed to bring paper products or plastic cutlery to family gatherings. The coup de grace, of course, was last December. Three days shy of Christmas, the guy Chloe had been dating for the previous six months dumped her.

Via text message.

And she’d already bought him a gift, a Rolex watch, which she couldn’t return since the street vendor who’d sold her the incredibly authentic-looking knockoff had moved to a new location.

So, now, she flung open the door, feeling only mildly embarrassed by what her hair was doing, by the mac-and-cheese stains on her shirt or the fact that her lips had probably turned a slightly clownish shade of purple from the wine she’d enjoyed.

“Hey, Simon.”

Where can we find you online?

Website: www.jackiebraun.com
Facebook: as Romance Author Jackie Braun 

Remember: Comment to enter to win a copy of Jackie’s August release, MR. RIGHT THERE ALL ALONG
**US/Canada shipping only**

*MUST leave a contact email to win*

>Career Author Jackie Braun Celebrates 25th Release!!

>Welcome my guest author today — Jackie Braun. Jackie She sold her first book to Silhouette Romance in late 1999 and started writing under the Harlequin Romance banner with the release of her third book in 2004.

Today’s release, MR. RIGHT THERE ALL ALONG is Jackie’s 25th published novel — yes, you read that right! 25th! And today she answers interview questions about longevity in publishing and her own writing style. Plus, we’ve got an excerpt AND a giveaway!!

Comment to enter to win a copy of Jackie’s August release,
MR. RIGHT THERE ALL ALONG

Jackie, you worked as an award winning journalist for 17 years before leaving to write full time. Can you talk a little about that transition?
It wasn’t as difficult as I expected from a creative and time-management standpoint. I had a 3-year-old at the time and was already very good at multitasking. The big transition was getting used to not having a regular paycheck. That was hard — going from getting paid every week to wondering when the next check would come or, in the case of royalties, how much it would be. I did a lot of freelance for the newspaper still, including writing a weekly column. I invoiced them monthly. So that helped. The really big help, though, was my husband. He’s in charge of our household budget. If you could see the Excel spreadsheets he keeps to determine where every penny goes, you’d be green with envy. The man is a god. (And he has a cute butt!)

You worked for 5 years as both a full time journalist and a full time writer. As an author struggling with this very problem – day job and writing – what tips can you give for maintaining sanity while progressing as authors?

Ah, you assume I maintained my sanity. Ha! And double ha! Seriously, I got up early every day – we’re talking 4 a.m. There was no other way around it.

This is your 25th book! Happy Anniversary! What are the key character elements writers need to stay successful in this business for that long?

Gosh, I’m not sure I know. I will say I wasn’t willing to fail or give up. Life has a way of raining on your parade. During the time I wrote those 25 books I lost my brother to cancer, my grandmother, my mother-in-law to cancer, my dad and my father-in-law to cancer. My husband and I built a house. I left a career and became self-employed. We adopted two children, including a so-called “special needs” toddler from China. My husband was diagnosed with cancer and beat it. On and on and on … People talk about writer’s block, but when you’re a professional writer, you don’t have that option. You just write.

Your books often contain humor. I’ve found humor very difficult to write. Is there a trick to writing humor?

I don’t know. My husband and I like to laugh. We find it preferable to the alternative. I can remember times in our marriage when it felt like the world was falling apart and laughter saved us. So, in addition to writing about people’s struggles, humor just naturally leaks into my stories.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Believable characters even when they are doing the seemingly unbelievable. Readers need to relate to your characters.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

Nope. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal.

What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product?

Immense satisfaction and pride.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

A room of your own and quiet time to work.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

I’m able to be home with my kids. This makes me crazy during deadlines, especially in the summer, but it’s worth it. My boys are 6 and 11 now. I’m going to blink and they’ll both be grown and gone.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Depends on the book. Some books all but write themselves, in which case we’re talking two to three months. Others, four or five months.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I write every day. I currently do about 24 hours a week of freelance as a journalist. Since the deadlines for that are pretty much daily, I fit my book writing around that.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I don’t know that I have one.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

In the summer I like to poke around in my flowerbeds. I love gardening, even though it’s a constant battle to keep the bugs and critters from mowing down all of my perennials.

What does your family think of your writing?

They are really proud of me. I’m blessed to have such great support.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing your books?

Sometimes my characters take off and do something I wasn’t planning. I always follow their lead.

Which is your favorite of the books you have written? 

“In the Shelter of His Arms.” It came out in 2005 and was named Harlequin Romance of the Year by RT.

What do you think makes a good story?

Believable characters, great conflict and an emotional payoff for readers.

What are you reading now?

You mean besides children’s books with my kids? I’m reading “Bed of Roses,” the second book in Nora Roberts’ Bride Quartet series.

What new author has grasped your interest? 

None at the moment, but then my TBR pile is overflowing.

What are the hardest/easiest scenes to write?

For me, the hardest scenes are love scenes. The easiest, those that include humor.

What are your writing strength/weaknesses?

Really? You’re asking me that? I plead the Fifth.

Who are some of your favorite authors and what really strikes you about their work?

I love Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Sandra Brown, Barbara Delinsky, LaVyrle Spencer (Gosh, I wish she hadn’t retired), Jennifer Weiner, Liz Fielding … Again, it comes down to characters for me. They all write amazing characters.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

When she spied the invitation amid the pile of bills and junk mail, Chloe McDaniels’s lips pulled back in a sneer. She’d been expecting it, but that didn’t make her reaction any less visceral.

Tillman High School’s Class of 2001 was set to celebrate its ten-year reunion.

Chloe did not have fond memories of her New Jersey high school. In fact, she’d spent her four years at Tillman ducking into bathroom stalls and janitors’ broom closets to avoid the unholy trinity of Natasha Bradford, Faith Ellerman and Tamara Kingsley.

She’d known the girls since grade school. They’d never been friends, but neither had they been enemies… until the start of their freshman year when, for reasons that had never been terribly clear to Chloe, she’d become their favorite target.

Literally.

Somehow on that first, already awkward day of high school, they managed to attach a “Kick Me” sign to the back of her shirt just before the start of first period. It was the last time Chloe ever accepted a friendly back slap without taking a gander over her shoulder afterward. As cruel pranks went, it wasn’t terribly original, but it was effective. She’d taken enough sneakers to the seat of her favorite jeans to feel like a soccer ball.

Then, between third period and lunch, Simon Ford had happened along.

“You might not want to wear this,” he’d said simply, removing the sign and handing it to Chloe. That was his way. Understated.

Good old Simon. He always had her back. Or backside, as the case had been. They’d been friends since his family had moved into her family’s apartment building at the start of third grade and their friendship continued to this day. Thinking of him now, Chloe picked up the phone before realizing the time. It was well after five on a Friday. He was probably out with his girlfriend.

Chloe realized she was sneering again. Well, it couldn’t be helped. She didn’t like Sara. The long-limbed and lithe blonde was too…too…perfect.

She glanced down at the invitation. Perfect Sara would never find herself in this position. Perfect Sara would have been the homecoming queen and the prom queen and the every other kind of queen at her high school. Unlike Chloe, whose only class recognition had come in the form of “curliest hair” and “most freckles.”

Yeah, that was what a girl wanted to be remembered for, all right.

Her gut told her to ball up the invitation in a wad, spit on it and, with expletives she knew in four languages, send it whizzing into the trash can. Her heart was a different matter. It was telling her to reach for a spoon and the pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream in her freezer.

Diet in mind, she went with her gut. Sort of.

She lavished the invitation with every foreign epithet she could think of before heaving it in the trash. But, while she bypassed the ice cream, she booted up her computer and downloaded a recipe from her favorite cable cooking show, Susie Kay’s Comfort Foods. If it was all but guaranteed to clog the arteries and contribute to heart disease, Susie Kay made it.

Tonight’s dinner selection was a case in point. Macaroni and cheese with not one, but four kinds of cheese and enough butter and calories that Chloe swore her clothes fit tighter just reading the ingredients. Not good considering she was already wearing her fat pants.

Actually, the pants were elastic-waist exercise gear that she didn’t exercise in but instead reserved for days when she felt particularly bloated. Today was just such a day. Strap a few cables to her and she would be right at home gliding down Sixth Avenue like one of those huge helium balloons in the annual Thanksgiving Day parade. Even so, that didn’t keep her from making the mac and cheese and eating half of the six servings.

The wine she poured for herself was an afterthought. She’d been saving the pricey bottle of cabernet sauvignon for a special occasion. This definitely was not it, but three glasses later, she didn’t care.

Chloe set the wine aside and went to her stereo. Music. That’s what she needed now. Something with a wicked beat and a lot of bass. Something she could dance to with reckless abandon and maybe work off a few extra calories in the process. She chose…Celine Dion.

As one weepy ballad after another filled Chloe’s Lower East Side studio apartment, her willpower wilted like the water-deprived basil plant on her kitchen windowsill. Again muttering foreign curses, this time aimed at herself, she fished the crumpled invitation out of the trash. When the telephone rang, she was still sitting on the kitchen floor smoothing out the wrinkles.

It was Simon.

“Hey, Chloe. What are you doing?”

Anyone else—her older and uber-chic sister, Frannie, for instance—and Chloe would have felt compelled to come up with some elaborate reason why she could be found home alone on the official start of the weekend.

Since it was Simon, she confessed, “Drinking wine, wearing Lycra and listening to the soundtrack from Titanic.”

“No ice cream?”

How well he knew her. Despite her best intentions, the mint chocolate chip was next on her list. “Not yet.”

“Want some company?” he asked.

Did she ever. She and Simon always had a good time together, whether it involved going out or just hanging out. Still, his question surprised her. Wasn’t he supposed to be with his girlfriend tonight? She liked thinking he’d throw over Perfect Sara to be with Comfortable Chloe. Liked it so much that she immediately felt guilty. She was a terrible friend. To make up for it, she would share her ice cream and what was left of the wine. “When can I expect you?”

“Right now. I’m standing on the other side of your apartment door.”

If he were a boyfriend—not that Chloe had had one of those in several months—this news would have sent her into a panic. Her apartment was a mess. For that matter, so was she. Her red hair was a riot of curls thanks to the day’s high humidity. And what little makeup she’d applied that morning was long gone. But this was Simon. Simon, she reminded herself, after a glance down at her unflattering attire had her wanting to flee to her bedroom and change.

It was sad to admit, but he’d seen her looking worse. Much worse. Such as when she came down with the chicken pox in the sixth grade or the time in high school when she’d succumbed to salmonella after her cousin Ellen’s bridal shower. Aunt Myrtle made the chicken salad, which was why, henceforth, the woman was only allowed to bring paper products or plastic cutlery to family gatherings. The coup de grace, of course, was last December. Three days shy of Christmas, the guy Chloe had been dating for the previous six months dumped her.

Via text message.

And she’d already bought him a gift, a Rolex watch, which she couldn’t return since the street vendor who’d sold her the incredibly authentic-looking knockoff had moved to a new location.

So, now, she flung open the door, feeling only mildly embarrassed by what her hair was doing, by the mac-and-cheese stains on her shirt or the fact that her lips had probably turned a slightly clownish shade of purple from the wine she’d enjoyed.

“Hey, Simon.”

Where can we find you online?

Website: www.jackiebraun.com
Facebook: as Romance Author Jackie Braun 

Remember: Comment to enter to win a copy of Jackie’s August release, MR. RIGHT THERE ALL ALONG
**US/Canada shipping only**

*MUST leave a contact email to win*

New Year’s Giveaway: Day 20, Juliana Stone

Juliana Stone and I met at RWA 2010.  She is a good friend of my CP, Elisabeth Naughton, and we hung out the whole time we were in Orlando.

This girl is so damn fun!  She is sharp and outgoing and personable and funny as hell.  Hilarious.  I swear I never stopped laughing when we were together.  Found myself anticipating her next quip or comment.  She has an awesome voice (sings in a band in her “off” time – snort – like she has any after writing, mothering and wifing–is that a word?) and even set up a karaoke night at a local bar.  So, so fun!

I bought Juliana’s first book in the Jaguar Warrior series, HIS DARKEST HUNGER, at the Barnes & Noble at RWA Orlando and had her sign it for me.  (Come to think of it, that’s where I bought Cynthia Eden’s DEADLY FEAR and had it autographed.)  Juliana’s work is…HOT!  And twisted…I’m speaking of plot here, 🙂 but you knew that right?

She also writes a sexy sci-fi, time travel series called Black Opals.

Up For Win Today:
The second book in her Jaguar Warrior series, HIS DARKEST EMBRACE.

To enter:
Follow me on Twitter: @joanswan & send me a tweet with #newyear in the message. (Tweet Here)

Book Summary:
Jaxon Castille: jaguar shifter, warrior, assassin. He has long hungered for the chance to make his former lover, Libby Jamieson, pay for her deadly betrayal. After three long years he’s finally found her. The hunt is over…
But the Libby that he finds is not what he expected. She has no memory of their tumultuous affair; of her treachery; of anything beyond her own name. A shadowy and deadly clan has marked them both for death, and in an instant the game changes: the hunter has become the hunted.
On the run, with the ghosts of their past between them and a dark, desperate hunger quickly reclaiming their bodies and souls, Libby and Jaxon must discover the truth behind the dark forces working against them. Together, they must grab hold of a destiny that has the power to either heal them or destroy them.
But the truth is far more shattering than anyone could imagine…
Upcoming Releases:HIS DARKEST SALVATION, the third book in the Jaguar Warrior Series, July 2011
 
Contact Info:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Blog
Email
 
Have a great weekend.  5 of NYT bestselling author Stephanie Tyler up for giveaway Monday!

>New Year’s Giveaway: Day 20, Juliana Stone

>Juliana Stone and I met at RWA 2010.  She is a good friend of my CP, Elisabeth Naughton, and we hung out the whole time we were in Orlando.

This girl is so damn fun!  She is sharp and outgoing and personable and funny as hell.  Hilarious.  I swear I never stopped laughing when we were together.  Found myself anticipating her next quip or comment.  She has an awesome voice (sings in a band in her “off” time – snort – like she has any after writing, mothering and wifing–is that a word?) and even set up a karaoke night at a local bar.  So, so fun!

I bought Juliana’s first book in the Jaguar Warrior series, HIS DARKEST HUNGER, at the Barnes & Noble at RWA Orlando and had her sign it for me.  (Come to think of it, that’s where I bought Cynthia Eden’s DEADLY FEAR and had it autographed.)  Juliana’s work is…HOT!  And twisted…I’m speaking of plot here, 🙂 but you knew that right?

She also writes a sexy sci-fi, time travel series called Black Opals.

Up For Win Today:
The second book in her Jaguar Warrior series, HIS DARKEST EMBRACE.

To enter:
Follow me on Twitter: @joanswan & send me a tweet with #newyear in the message. (Tweet Here)

Book Summary:
Jaxon Castille: jaguar shifter, warrior, assassin. He has long hungered for the chance to make his former lover, Libby Jamieson, pay for her deadly betrayal. After three long years he’s finally found her. The hunt is over…
But the Libby that he finds is not what he expected. She has no memory of their tumultuous affair; of her treachery; of anything beyond her own name. A shadowy and deadly clan has marked them both for death, and in an instant the game changes: the hunter has become the hunted.
On the run, with the ghosts of their past between them and a dark, desperate hunger quickly reclaiming their bodies and souls, Libby and Jaxon must discover the truth behind the dark forces working against them. Together, they must grab hold of a destiny that has the power to either heal them or destroy them.
But the truth is far more shattering than anyone could imagine…
Upcoming Releases:HIS DARKEST SALVATION, the third book in the Jaguar Warrior Series, July 2011
 
Contact Info:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Blog
Email
 
Have a great weekend.  5 of NYT bestselling author Stephanie Tyler up for giveaway Monday!

New Year’s Giveaway: Day 19, Christy Reece

>Christy Reece and I met initially online via Facebook.  That was before I was a big twitterer.  Then I discovered the wonders of Twitter and didn’t spend near as much time on Facebook.  But I still wanted to chat with Christy.  So I bugged her, and bugged her, and bugged her — along with many of her other friends — and she took the plunge and joined us on Twitter.  Yay!

We met in person at Elisabeth Naughton’s release party at RWA National 2010.  I remember I was in the process of rewriting my first novel to my editor’s requirements, it was due shortly after nationals and I was…nervous.  Christy was so encouraging, so positive.  And it only took a few words of reassurance from her to make me feel like I’d make it.  And I did–met the deadline with a very polished new version of the novel.

I’m very grateful for Christy’s words of wisdom that carried me through and always look forward to her fun and upbeat comments online.

Christy is a NYT bestseller of romantic suspense.  And you can win an autographed copy of the first book in her bestselling series here today!

Up For Win Today:
NO CHANCE, first in her bestselling romantic suspense series

To enter:
Follow me on Twitter: @joanswan & send me a tweet with #newyear in the message. (Tweet Here)

Book Summary:
Skylar James told a lie to the man she married, and eight years later she still bitterly regrets the deception. Unknown to Skylar, her husband, Gabe Maddox, now lives in the dangerous shadows of elite operatives who rescue victims. When Skylar tries to save a naïve young beauty, kidnappers come after her. For Gabe, Skylar had been his last shot at trust and love. But news of her disappearance battens down his anger and launches him into action. Saving Skylar is Gabe’s only chance for peace and his last chance for happiness.

Read an excerpt: HERE.

Upcoming Releases:
SWEET JUSTICE, August 2011
SWEET REWARD, December 2011/January 2012
SWEET REVENGE, Early 2012

Contact Info:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Blog
Email

Tomorrow, paranormal romance author Juliana Stone!

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