Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hero of My Heart Blog Hop

Welcome to the Hero of My Heart Blog Hop
brought to you by Romance at Random!
Enter below for your chance to win some fabulous prizes:
-- 5 eBook copies of Heart of My Heart to etailer of choice
-- 3 eBook copies of A Vampires Salvation by Virna DePaul to etailer of choice
-- 2 eBook copies Taking Shots by Toni Aleo from etailer of choice
-- A box of books! Including Debbie Macomber's next release Starting Now! (US only)
To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
Must be 18 years or older and US or Canada to enter and win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for hopping by!
xoxo ~Marisa

Monday, March 25, 2013

Love is in the Air Blog Hop

Thanks for stopping by my Pens and Peonies blog! This is a super cool blog hop, because Emma Shortt is hosting and she's giving away a $25 Amazon gift voucher to one lucky overall winner!

Make sure to visit everyone participating in the hop, because all the authors are giving away goodies!

***My Giveaway***
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Author Spotlight: Julie Ann Walker

I am so excited to have the Julie Ann Walker on my blog!
As you will see from her answers, she's got the best personality, and she's gorgeous!
She's also beyond generous, so good luck to those who enter the giveaway.
Marisa: Since I stalk you on Twitter, I know where you live. Not the exact location, but the city. :D Please tell us what a typical day in your life in the city is like. 

JAW:  Oooh, this is going to be so disappointing.  Because that dang Carrie Bradshaw led everyone to believe the life of a writer in a city is nothing but brunches, art openings, and cocktail parties.  Now don't get me wrong; there are those things.  But they're fairly few and generally far between.  The truth is I work fifty to eighty (when I'm on a deadline) hours a week.  And that means my days are scheduled to the gills…

So, I wake up… well, that's not true.  Really what happens is I tumble out of bed, stumble to the kitchen, and immediately pour myself two cups of very strong coffee. (That sounds remarkably similar to an old Dolly Parton song.)  Then I wake up.  The second step is to plunk my ever-expanding bottom into my office chair and take care of what I call the "business" of being an author.  I update my website, post on Twitter and Facebook, compose blog posts, write speeches, create lesson plans and handouts for the classes I teach at conferences, organize book signings, put together contests and giveaways, answer fan mail, touch base with my agent and editor, etc.  This usually takes me most of the morning.  Lunch rolls around and I try to catch up on an episode of one of my favorite TV shows: Justified, Sons of Anarchy, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and most recently The Following.  Then in the afternoons?  Bliss.  Finally.  I get about five hours of uninterrupted writing until it's time to go to the gym, hop on my bicycle, or take a walk along the lake shore in an attempt to combat my ever-expanding bottom.  Shower.  Dinner with my lovely husband.  A couple of hours for some fun stuff.  (Oh, get your heads out of the gutters.  I'm talking drinks with friends, watching Comedy Central, or taking in a movie.  I swear!  *wink, wink*)   Fall into bed.  Rinse and repeat. 

See, I told you Carrie made it look like a lot more fun than it is!  LOL!

Marisa: We met at RWA in New York City, but it was brief and totally intimidating. You were on your way to dinner with your agent and your editor and maybe other people from your publishing house. Would you please share with us what it was like back when you were just getting started? Before your three novels hit the lists and you became a household name.

JAW:  Bwahahaha!  A household name?  I soooo wish.  Then maybe I wouldn't have to work those fifty to eighty hours a week.  I could hire an assistant to take care of the "business" of being an author for me, and I'd spend my mornings having brunch with my homegirls.  Maybe that's how Carrie managed it! *narrows eyes and rubs chin contemplatively* 
But, seriously, back when I first met you I was a complete rube.  I didn't know what the heck a "brand" was supposed to be.  I didn't know there was a "big six" in publishing.  I didn't know about royalties or the Rita Awards or book bloggers.  I was completely lost when folks used industry jargon around me, and particularly acronyms: HEA, H/H, POV, ARC…  (Happily-ever-after, hero/heroine, point of view, and advanced reader copy for the uninitiated among those who're reading.)  My degree is in mathematics, so it was like I'd traveled to a foreign country where I didn't speak the language.  I still feel that way most of the time, a stranger in a strange land.  But I'm learning.  Slowly but surely…  ;-)    

Marisa: Did you buy stock in Dum Dums? From where did that piece of characterization develop? 

JAW:  My local drycleaner has a bowl of Dum Dums sitting on the counter, and my husband and I actually fight over who gets to pick up the clothes because each of us wants to brandish our lollipop in front of the other.  Picture Eddie Murphy sing-songing, "I got some ice-cream!  And you can't have none!"  But my husband always picks out the root beer-flavored ones, which I think are -bleck - hideous.  So, yeah.  The Dum Dums featured in the BKI books are a bit of fiction inspired by fact.   

Marisa: Congrats on THRILL RIDE releasing in April! How many books in total do you have planned for Black Knights Inc.? 

JAW:  Thanks!  I'm really excited for readers to get their hands on Rock and Vanessa's story.  As for the total number of books planned, right now I'm banking on twelve.  Of course, there's always room for more operators at BKI.  So… who knows?  *shrugs*

Marisa: What has been the most thrilling part of this experience for you?

JAW:  I'd have to say it was the evening a friend introduced me to one of her work associates as Julie Walker, and the work associate said, "You mean Julie Ann Walker?  Oh, my god!  I read all your books!"  It wasn't five minutes of fame, more like five seconds, but I'll take it!  :-D

Marisa: Okay, so in every picture you're so completely glamorous! Even the one with the foil on your head. ;) Please tell us what you wear when you write. Ball gowns? Harley outfits?

JAW:  I'm going to have to disappoint you again. :-/  The truth is my daily attire consists of a rotating selection of yoga pants and sweatshirts and/or T-shirts.  Except for when I'm crunching on a deadline...  Then I've been known to stay in my pajamas for days on end.  It's a scary sight, believe me!  LOL!  We're talking no makeup, haven't showered, greasy hair twisted up in a lopsided bun… *shiver*   

Marisa: Do you write in any other genre besides romantic suspense?

JAW:  Nope.  I'm an action and adventure girl at heart, so romantic suspense is the genre for me! 

Marisa: Where will readers be able to find you to connect with you in real life?

JAW:  I'm headed to three writer/reader conferences this year including RT Booklovers Conference in Kansas City, the RWA National Convention in Atlanta, and Authors After Dark in Savannah.  I invite everyone to come and visit.  It should be tons of fun!  Confession: look for me at the hotel bar.  I tend to hang out there.  *cough, cough*   

Fast Facts:

Morning or night?
JAW: Night.  Definitely night.  If you try to have a conversation with me before about 10AM I'm liable to cut you.

Wine or liquor? 
JAW:  Both!  I love a good bottle of wine, especially a big Chardonnay or a deep Cabernet.  But I'm a fan of gin and tonics, as well.  Oh, my god!  Did I just come off sounding like a huge lush?  LOL!  Now I want to call an audible and take back the part where I told everybody I tend to hang out at the bar during conferences!

Desktop or laptop?
JAW:  I work on my desktop the majority of the time.  But I've been known to take my laptop to the gym and use it to answer emails and such while I'm on the treadmill. 

Jeans or a dress? 
JAW:  If it's a casual tunic-type dress that I can wear with tights and boots, I'm there.  Otherwise it's jeans all the way!

Ponytail or headband?
JAW:  Ponytail!  I'm sporting one right now! :-D

Shower or bath?
JAW:  When it comes to baths, I take a page from Sweet Brown, "ain't nobody got time for that!"

Summer or winter?
JAW:  Is this a real question?  Who in their right mind prefers winter? 

Motorcycle or bicycle?
JAW:  I should say motorcycle, right?  Considering what I write?  But I must admit I like to ride my bicycle (Queen song alert!) when the weather is nice in Chicago.  In fact, I'm out on it almost every day from spring until fall.  It's where I do all my best plotting. 

...and because Julie is completely amazing, she's offering to one lucky winner three SIGNED Black Knights Inc. novels: HELL ON WHEELS, IN RIDES TROUBLE, and REV IT UP.


Good Luck!

Thanks, Julie, for stopping by Pens and Peonies! I can't wait for THRILL RIDE! Be sure to check out her website for details on how you can receive a wicked cool bandana!

JAW:  Thanks for having me on Pens and Peonies!  It was a blast!








...and don't forget to add THRILL RIDE to your Goodreads list!




He’s Gone Rogue…

Ex-navy SEAL Rock Babineaux is as Cajun as they come—spicy, sexy, and more than a bit wicked. But would he actually betray his country? Even his best friends on the special-ops Black Knights team aren't sure they can trust him. Now the target of a massive manhunt, Rock knows the only way to protect the team—especially his partner, Vanessa—is to run...


She Won’t Back Down…

Rock might think he can outmaneuver them all, but he hasn't counted on how stubborn Vanessa Cordero can be. And she refuses to cut him loose. Sure, her partner has his secrets, but there's no one in the world she'd rather have by her side in a tight spot. Which is good because she and Rock are about to get very tight...



Julie Ann Walker is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Black Knights Inc. romantic suspense series. She is prone to spouting movie quotes and song lyrics. She'll never say no to sharing a glass of wine or going for a long walk. She prefers impromptu travel over the scheduled kind, and she takes her coffee with milk. You can find her on her bicycle along the lake shore in Chicago or blasting away at her keyboard, trying to wrangle her capricious imagination into submission. Look for the first four books in her fast-paced series: Hell On Wheels (August 2012) In Rides Trouble (September 2012) Rev It Up (October 2012) and Thrill Ride (April 2013).


Author Spotlight: Tamara Mataya

Tamara Mataya writes the books I love to read. She hits on that emotional journey for her characters that has me forgetting the time, the soup on the stove, the clothes in the laundry... even the *gasp!* cupcakes in the oven. And now she's here, on my blog! Isn't she beautiful?!?

Inspired by...

It's no secret I love my agent Marisa Cleveland. She's epic. I could go on and on about her, but it would sound borderline inappropriate at best, and like shameless brown-nosing at worst. Note which I think is best. *lecherous wink*

BUT that love was reaffirmed when I saw This Post where she discusses her top ten inspirations. Number nine was my favourite if you're interested.

And it got me to thinking about mine. I wouldn't say that these are things I go to looking to be inspired, but when I think of them, or hear them, I get still inside, like the rest of the world falls away. And from the eye of the storm, I feel like I can do anything. I'm cradled, suspended in every possibility of Me. All I have to do is try.

The results are sometimes hilarious, sometimes tragic. Sometimes I emerge victorious at the end of the effort. But the following examples put that strut in my step, and make my heart sing.

I've selected two. And they're both from musicians.

Music itself is a HUGE inspiration to me. Without music, I'm 90% sure I'd cease to exist. I may not die, but it would certainly be the end of 'me.' I write and I sing. Writing is something I DO, but a musician is who I AM.

And I think inspiration should be something that tears down everything except the fundamental heart of yourself. For one brief moment moment you are rocked by a truth that resonates with who you are so deeply that it might have been you speaking those words.

Because they are yours, even though it wasn't you who spoke them.

And those words drive you to act on your passions, whatever they are. Today, it was in a blog post that Marisa Cleveland wrote. <3

But back to my words of inspiration...

I'm not going to tell you WHY these inspire me. I don't think that's something that can be described. Inspiration, much like art, is subjective.

Here are mine:

*Esthero: 'Music was the lamb that made a lion out of me.'
(Esthero's first album 'Breath from another,' is one of my favourites to this day. I can't recommend it enough).

*Fiona Apple: When the Pawn...
(This is actually the title of her second album which has been shortened to When the Pawn... But the full version is quite possibly one of the most perfect things I have ever read). Here it is:
When the pawn hits the conflicts he thinks like a king What he knows throw the blows when he goes to the fight And he'll win the whole thing 'fore he enters the ring There's no body to batter when your mind is your might So when you go solo you hold your own hand And remember that depth is the greatest of heights And if you know where you stand then you'll know where to land And if you fall it won't matter cuz you'll know that you're right.

What are some words of inspiration that have left their mark on you?

Twitter: @tamaramataya