Sunday, April 28, 2013

Interview with Jim Cangany

It's a boy! Today on Pens and Peonies, we're welcoming our first male author, Jim Cangany. Jim has agreed to let us interview him, and he's one of the small percentage of men writing contemporary romance, so we were quite interested in his answers. :) Hope you enjoy the interview as much as we did.

Jim's also hosting a fabulous giveaway ($25 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner), so check it out and good luck!

Tell us a little about yourself and your writing career.
My wife Nancy and I have been married for twenty-two years.  We have two sons. Ryan is sixteen and Aidan is twelve. After dabbling with writing on and off for years, if not decades, I got serious with it in the fall of 2011. It wasn't a conscious decision to write romance. For whatever reason, contemporary romance stories are the ones in my head.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

That's easy--learning to portray a woman realistically. I'll never forget my wife's reaction when she was reading my first draft of Fallen Star. At one point, she looked at me, shook her head and said, "Dude, you need to learn to think like a woman." I had the heroine doing some things I thought were completely innocuous that Nancy said a woman in real life would never do. Hopefully, I'm getting a little better every day in my attempts to think like a woman.

Do you have an agent?
Not yet. One of my career goals is to find an agent who loves and believes in my work as much as I do.

What do you do when you're not writing?
I have a full-time job in the legal field, so that consumes much of my time. I follow professional cycling and love riding my bike. I'm a voracious reader, too.

Coffee or tea?
Tea. Nothing beats a good cup of Earl Gray or an Irish Breakfast tea.

White wine or red?
White. I'm a huge fan of Rieslings and Moscatos.

Summer or winter?
Debut releases June 14, 2013
Totally summer. I complain all winter long about the frigid temps, so give me the heat.
Motorcycle or bicycle?

Bicycle--pedal power, baby!

Connect with Jim here:

Website -

Twitter - @jimcangany

Facebook - Jim Cangany Author
 *** GIVEAWAY ***
$25 Amazon Gift Card


As always, thanks for stopping by!

xoxo ~Marisa

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Author Spotlight: Ashlyn Chase

Today I'm pleased to welcome to Pens and Peonies the author of the Flirting with Fangs series, Ashlyn Chase.

Ashlyn Chase describes herself as an Almond Joy bar.  A little nutty, a little flaky, but basically sweet, wanting only to give her readers a satisfying experience. 

She holds a degree in behavioral sciences, worked as a psychiatric RN for several years and spent a few more years working for the American Red Cross.  She credits her sense of humor to her former careers since comedy helped preserve whatever was left of her sanity.  She is a multi-published, award-winning author of humorous erotic and paranormal romances, represented by the Seymour Agency.

She lives in beautiful New Hampshire with her true-life hero husband who’d look like Hugh Jackman if you dyed his hair, and they’re owned by a spoiled brat cat.     

Flirting Under a Full Moon – Book 1 in the new Flirting with Fangs series

How do you tell a woman who knows nothing about the paranormal that she's fallen in love with a werewolf?

And how will he tell her he accidentally marked her as his mate--for life? Oops.
* * * *
Happily, the light paranormal Strange Neighbors series was such a success, my publisher offered me a contract for a spin-off series - Flirting with Fangs. See the series video:  

Flirting Under a Full Moon (April 2013)

Cocktail waitress Brandee Hanson is dumped in a text message and swears off men. The psychic who frequents the bar tells Brandee not to give up. Her true love could be the next man who walks through the door. In strolls One Night Nick—a handsome hunk who specializes in one night stands. Even though they’ve been flirting for months, he is so not what she needs right now.
Werewolf Nick Wolfensen quit the police force to become a paranormal private investigator. His first case is to find a little girl who’s been kidnapped for her paranormal ability as a firestarter. With no ransom demand he has little to go on, so he consults the psychic who hangs out at his favorite bar. When the waitress and wanna-be photographer overhears the conversation, she offers to help…but not by giving him the one night he wants.

First review: 4.5 stars and a top pick from Robin at Night Owl Romance!

“This is the first installment of Ms. Chase's new Flirting series.   This was a wonderful start to a very lighthearted series. I can't wait for the next installment in this series to come out! I know other readers will enjoy getting swept away as much as I did.”

More reviews:

5 star, top pick from J.C. Celeste at TRR

While FLIRTING UNDER A FULL MOON is my first introduction to Ashlyn Chase, I loved her treatment of supernatural creatures…There's enough in this world to make fun and hot romance for years. Imagine my joy when I discovered that Ashlyn Chase has tons of novels with the supernatural involved.
5 Blue Ribbons from Dottie at Romance Junkies

A fun read; FLIRTING UNDER A FULL MOON, the first book in gifted author Ashlyn Chase’s FLIRTING WITH FANGS series, is a sexy, hilarious paranormal romance and a wonderful start to a new series. Known for injecting her books with love and laughter, Ms. Chase has penned a prime example of …this story is an absolute keeper. I recommend FLIRTING UNDER A FULL MOON to anyone looking for a great story with loads of creativity, hilarity and heat. This is one story you will not want to miss!

Buy links:

*** GIVEAWAY ***

Flirting Under a Full Moon
Where there’s fire, there’s Ash Check out my news, contest, videos and reviews.

Join my facebook fan page:

…and I tweet as GoddessAsh.!/GoddessAsh

Ask me to sign your ebook at 


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Interview with Brenda Drake

Hi, Brenda,

Welcome to Pens and Peonies! I'm so excited to get to know you better. It's a great time to be a reader, because with blogs and the internet, authors are more accessible to me and my curiosity. I can't wait for your book to release next year, but until then...

How did you come up with the idea for Library Jumpers?

I was in Borders and happened on a coffee table book, The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World. The photographs of the libraries were so gorgeous, I wanted to be in each one. Each held a special magic with amazing bookcases and balconies surrounding the rooms and amazing artwork and sculptures decorating their quiet spaces. I mused, maybe out loud because the lady down the way from me gave me a curious brow, how fun it would be to jump through the page and visit each one. Then, I thought about what kind of dangers could be hidden behind all the dark nook and crannies of the libraries, and my imagination took off.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Trying to capture the beauty of the libraries on the page without overdoing it. I wanted to describe every detail in every library that Gia and her friends visit but if I did, the story would have ended up being a tome. So I focused on sprinkling details and using only succulent descriptions within the action.

Do you have an agent?

I did have an agent but we decided to part ways. I just accepted an offer of representation with a new agent and will be announcing it soon. I’m thrilled and excited to work with this new agent. His vision for my middle grade novel will take it to the next level. He’s very talented. I’m not good at waiting for Christmas morning, so keeping this secret is driving me a little bonkers.

What is your typical day like?

My typical day starts with coffee and answering emails, reading articles, and doing a little social media. Afterward, I’ll write for a few hours, then take a shower, eat lunch, run errands, clean house, do laundry, or whatever is needed. On days when I have none of that to do, I write. After chores are done, I’ll write some before the hubby gets home and we have dinner. If we don’t have anything to do, I’ll fit some writing in before bedtime. When I’m not living my own life, I’m living my characters’ lives while plugged in to music at the computer.

Fast Facts:

Coffee or tea? Coffee. All day. Any kind. A little Kahlua. Anything goes.
White wine or red? Red, preferably a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon

Cupcakes or ice cream? Ice cream, who? It’s cupcakes all the way. My new obsession is Red Velvet cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting. Yum!

Casual or couture? Casual. I can’t be bothered with couture, the pants are binding. I live in yoga pants and layered tanks with a hoody thrown on top for cold days.

Ponytail or headband? Ponytail. I hate showing my forehead off.

Summer or winter? Neither. I love spring and fall. It’s not too cold or hot and I enjoy watching the changes they bring through the windows surrounding my desk.

You can find Brenda here ... 

Library Jumpers releases February 2014 from Month9Books. Here's the quick glimpse: A sixteen-year-old finds that a simple flip of the page can transport her to the library of her choosing, thus thrusting her into a Mystik world hidden amongst the pages of the library books, where evil abounds, secrets unfold, and mortals are running out of time.

*** GIVEAWAY ***
Brenda's book isn't available until next year, so she's giving away another book right here and now!

Pretty Dark Nothing
Thanks for stopping by!
xoxo ~Marisa

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Interview: Kate and Nicole

Once upon a time I asked an amazing author if I could interview her with her amazing agent, and they both said yes.

Kate had me at "What if..." --- which isn't even technically part of
RED, but from those two words, I fell in love with everything about her Transplanted Tales, and I'm jealous that Nicole, super agent, gets to read Kate's books first! *I joke. Maybe*

Now, at the end of the interview, be sure to enter the giveaway, because Kate's prizes include any ONE of her Transplanted Tales (e-book) and The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression.

Kate SeRine
Onto the interview...

Question 1: Please share with us how your relationship developed.

Author Kate:
It almost didn't! When Nic requested the full of RED I immediately sent it to her, but she never received the message!! Luckily, she contacted me again a month or so later to see if I was still planning to send it. You'd better believe that I made sure she received the manuscript the second time around. A few months after that she *kind of* passed on the manuscript. I'll let her explain that part. ;)

I contacted her again when my editor made the offer on RED a week before Christmas, and Nic said she actually had been planning to call me after the holidays. I signed with her a day or two later when we had a chance to talk on the phone. It was an unbelievable week, let me tell ya! And Nic has been amazing agent from the word "go"! I honestly can't imagine having a more dedicated, talented, and caring advocate in my corner, and I'm so proud to call her my friend and mentor.

Agent Nicole:
Nicole Resciniti
I'm a big proponent of not having in-house competition, so at the time that I wanted Red, I still had a few projects I needed to place. But Kate's writing stayed with me. Seriously with me. I'd think about her characters and the world she created. I was itching to get my hands on her series and to see what other projects she had in the works.

When we reconnected, I literally did a happy dance. I was SOO psyched to be able to work with her.

Kate is incredibly prolific and talented. I LOVE HER! I think she's brilliant. The writing is always tight and witty. The imagination she breathes into each manuscript, it's unsurpassed. Tess, Nate, Lav, Nicky Blue, Gideon... I find her characters to be the perfect combination of strength and vulnerability. They're REAL. She's an author to watch!

Question 2: Please give us a look into the typical day for you.

Author Kate:
I wake up at 5:30 (or so...) and somehow manage to get everyone ready and out the door by around 7:00. I have a crazy-long commute to my day-job, so I spend a lot of time brainstorming on story ideas, plot points, characters, etc., while I'm in the car. After putting in the hours at my office, I head home to the general chaos of running my kids to their various activities, helping with homework, and trying to hang with my hubby now and then! The "magic" of writing happens after everyone goes to bed and on the weekends. I usually collapse around 11:00 or 11:30 each night (except on weekends when I'm up until the wee hours of the morning).

Agent Nicole:
My days begin early and end, um, embarrassingly late. The 'office hours' are when I process/negotiate contracts, queries, and respond to emails. I make my phone calls to editors in the afternoons. We discuss marketing, promo, upcoming release dates. There is correspondence to our film and foreign rights agents. Then there are the submissions and following up on them. A lot of my job is centered on ensuring that my authors are receiving the attention they deserve.

The afternoon and evening is reading/editing time. I work closely with my authors and we might edit a manuscript several times before sending it out on submission. It's the 'quiet' time at night when I can bang out a lot of work.

Question 3: What is it about The Transplanted Tales that caught your attention to write it (Kate) and to represent it (Nicole)?

Author Kate:
The idea for the Transplanted Tales came to me while having a what-if conversation with my son who was around 8 years old at the time. He asked the question, "What if fairytale characters were living next door to us?" And the idea just sparked. I immediately heard Tess "Red" Little's voice in my head--and if you know Tess, you know she can be a persistent pain in the butt.

I finished the manuscript right around the time fairytale retellings/reimaginings were really starting to explode in popularity, so the timing just happened to work out great. Shows like ONCE UPON A TIME and GRIMM came out when my manuscript for RED was already under consideration with my editor. I've honestly never seen these shows, but I'm certainly grateful for their popularity and will have to check them out at some point! :)

Agent Nicole:
For me, it was taking something we're all familiar with, the fairytales of our childhoods, and making it fresh. Forget about what you think you know about Little Red Riding Hood, Tess "Little Red" is a kick-ass heroine. She's smart, capable, a woman who knows what she wants. I LOVE that these characters are unique.

Kate blends humor, action and suspense. Her writing is polished and very very witty. And there are layers, to the characters, to the plots. You don't know how the story will end, but then when you reach the last pages, you want to savor every word. You don't want the story to end. What's more, the stories stick with you. I love characters that are memorable.

I don't know that I can adequately convey just how talented Kate is as an author. I am incredibly blessed to be able to work with her!!!

Question 4: If you could cast the characters in The Transplanted Tales, who would you cast and why?

Author Kate:

I've never been able to nail down an actress for Red, but Amy Lee of the band Evanescence is much how I picture her in my head. Her eyes are electric in every sense of the word. I had better luck with some of the others:

Nate Grimm - Clive Owen (dark and brooding but a gentle side that's dead-sexy--LOL, no pun intended)

Seth Wolf - Bradley Cooper (lean and muscular but with an everyman quality and quiet strength that I love)

Nicky Blue - Jensen Ackles (sexy, bad-boy look but can pull off Nicky's gentleness and fierce loyalty toward the people he loves)

Lavender Seelie - Natalie Portman or maybe Jewel Staite (both women have a very sweet, adorable beauty but an inner strength that comes through)

Trish Muffet - Sophia Myles (looks delicate and fragile but can be a total badass)

You can check out some of my other casting picks at:

Agent Nicole:
Oooh, this is fun! For my picks, I'd cast the following:

Red Little--Angelina Jolie. Hands-down.

Nate Grimm--Eric Bana or Christian Bale

Seth Wolf--Gerard Butler

Nicky Blue--Ryan Gosling

Lavender Seelie--I agree, Natalie Portman

Trish Muffet--Emma Stone

Gideon--Alexander Skarsgard

Question 5: What’s the best piece of advice you can give our readers about getting published?

Author Kate:
Keep writing, be persistent, and always, ALWAYS be professional. The industry is smaller than you think and people talk. Make sure they're talking about you for the right reasons.

Agent Nicole:
Ditto to the above. And most importantly, NEVER GIVE UP. Keep writing. And then keep writing some more. Read.

Just for fun…

Morning or night?

Author Kate: Morning, believe it or not. But I require copious amounts of coffee.

Agent Nicole: Night. Late night.

Television or radio?

Author Kate: Hmm... Tough one. Depends on my mood. I love cheesy horror films, martial arts movies, and anything about the paranormal (go figure). But I need music to feed my muse.

Agent Nicole: Neither, lol. Radio, only while I'm driving. I rarely watch TV. The hour or two spent glued to the tube is time I could spend doing other things. Although I find the cooking channel soothing, and I like action flicks.

Laptop or desktop?

Author Kate: Desktop at work; laptop at home; iPad and iPhone when on the go.

Agent Nicole: Laptop. Droid phone. I've 'killed' four phones in the last 18 months. Note to self: stop reading books on phone...

Strawberries or blueberries?

Author Kate: Strawberries (preferrably covered in chocolate)

Agent Nicole: Blueberries. Love them! I'm a snacker, eating pretty continuously throughout the day. Blueberries, blackberries, almonds... they are my fave go-to foods.

Pool or ocean?

Author Kate: Pool. In my opinion, the ocean is best admired from the shore.

Agent Nicole: Haa! Damn, Kate, I didn't know we were so different! I love the ocean.

Email or voicemail?

Author Kate: Email; it's tough to catch me on the phone.

Agent Nicole: Not voicemail. Texts are great for me. Emails too. Gotta love today's technology, my phone let's me do everything. :-)


*** GIVEAWAY ***

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for stopping by!
xoxo ~Marisa

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Somebody Like You Blog Tour

Welcome to Lynnette's blog tour! She has some great guest posts, interviews, and reviews, as well as an awesome giveaway: a $25 Gift Card for Amazon or B&N (winners choice)!
Tour Schedule:
April 7th - Pens and Peonies
April 8th - Pen and Muse
April 9th - Tonya Kuper's Blog
April 16th - Literary, etc.
April 17th - Jamie Ayres' Blog
April 18th - Kate Meader's Blog
April 23rd - Read Your Writes
April 24th - Amie Louellen's Blog
April 25th - Once Upon a Time
April 30th - Kate SeRine's Blog
*** GIVEAWAY ***

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*** Connect with Lynnette ***

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sneak Peek: Kate SeRine's Along Came a Spider

Today I'm excited to post a sneak peek of the Prologue from Kate SeRine's Transplanted Tales #3!

Prologue from Along Came a Spider

I remember darkness—deep, impenetrable. Not even a hint of ambient light in the void that had consumed me. And falling. I was tumbling through space and time in a nauseating spiral that forced the blood to my feet and sent another sort of blackness rushing toward me. Clinging desperately to consciousness, I curled into myself, wrapping my arms around my abdomen in an attempt to stop that sickening rush that made me want to vomit and sob at the same time.

A scream of terror surged up from the center of my chest, but I bit it back, forcing myself to remain in control. I had to keep it together, could not let the fear consume me. That’s what my father had drilled into my head time and time again.

You must control your fear, Beatrice, or your fear will control you. Never let your mind slip into the abyss where chaos reigns. . . .

I’d been there once before and had clawed my way out of the chasm one agonizingly pitiful inch at a time. And now I was falling again—but this time the abyss was not of my own making.

One moment I’d been playing on the floor of our cottage with my niece Mariella, and the next, my body had been snatched away from all I’d known and loved. I’d heard my family’s cries of surprise, caught the look of horror and panic in my father’s eyes as his arm shot out to grab my hand, but his fingertips had just barely brushed mine before I’d been jerked into the void.

And then I was falling. In darkness.

            Suddenly there was light. A blinding flash that made me wince even though my eyes were already squeezed shut. Then a sudden impact jolted the breath from my lungs. I had to blink several times before I realized I was lying on my back in a field, staring up at a sky that was not familiar, at stars that didn’t shine nearly as brightly as they should have.

Slowly, I sat up and looked around, seeing others nearby—just as dazed and disoriented as I was. They were Tales, some of whom I recognized from my little village. But we were no longer in Make Believe. That was clear. Gone was the scent of dew-kissed roses and sunshine on daisies. The air that now filled my lungs was stale, thick, heavy. The wind that whispered through the trees did not bring with it the laughter of fairies or the secrets of the pixies flitting about in the night. And the grass beneath me was no longer the velvety soft bed I’d lain upon as a child, watching the clouds drift lazily into fluffy white knights on pudgy steeds as they leisurely made their way to battle. Coarse and savage, these blades poked through my muslin dress, stabbing my skin like a thousand Lilliputian swords.

            “Are you hurt?”

            My gaze darted toward the sound of the voice. The man standing over me was devilishly handsome, his chiseled features stark and sharp, giving him an air of danger, but his dark amber eyes were kind as he gazed down at me.

            “Are you all right?” he asked, phrasing the question differently in response to my blank stare.

            This time I nodded and took the hand he extended, letting him pull me to my feet. “I think so.”

            “Good,” he said, the corner of his mouth hitching up in a mischievous grin that completely altered his countenance. He lifted his hand and wrapped one of my buttercup yellow ringlets around his index finger. “Hate to see harm come to a girl as pretty as you.”

            I felt my cheeks growing warm at the intensity of his gaze and quickly looked away, not wanting to look too deeply into those amber eyes for fear of what I might see. “What has happened?” I asked, glancing around the crowd as confusion and panic began to make them uneasy, their frightened voices growing louder. “Where are we?”

            The man at my side shrugged and shoved his hands deep into his pockets. “Not in Make Believe, that’s for damned sure.”

            I let my gaze drift over his shoulder and saw a tall Tale I recognized from the story of Aladdin trying to take control of the rapidly deteriorating situation, his deep voice booming over the din of sorrow. “My friends—please! You must remain calm!”

            A woman with long black hair and eyes as blue as robins’ eggs hurried past me, glancing my way and giving me a terse nod before joining Aladdin as he tried to herd the crowd toward a series of carriages drawn by black horses. “That was Tess Little,” I breathed.

            “Little Red Riding Hood?” my companion asked, his brows arching with interest.

            I nodded. “Yes, but . . . Well, it can’t be! She disappeared almost a hundred years ago with the others.” My heart began to pound. “Have we been transplanted, too?”

            He shook his head. “No idea, but I’ll tell you one thing—I’m not letting them haul me in like a criminal just so I can find out. If I’ve broken out of Make Believe, I’m making the most of it.”

At this, his eyes met and held mine. I felt the connection beginning and started to look away, but his gaze was so unguarded, so unapologetic, I let it come. And in that glimpse, I saw a soul so steadfast, so dauntless and true, that I gasped at the beauty of it.

It was rare that a Tale let me past his defenses, rarer still that I was so taken with what I saw. But here was an intensely intelligent and quietly courageous man who could command respect from his friends and instill fear in the hearts of those who weren’t. He was also capable of genuine kindness and the deepest and most profound love. But I was shocked to see that he had absolutely no idea what a remarkable man he could be.

“Want to come with me?” he asked, grasping my hand in his and severing the connection between my soul and his.

I blinked at him, hardly daring to believe what he was saying. But more surprising was that I did want to go with him even though logic and reason warned me that such a thing was reckless and foolish. I swallowed hard, hating what I was about to say. “I cannot,” I told him, wishing I had the courage to flout propriety and take my chances with a man whose name I didn’t even know. “It wouldn’t be proper.”

            He chuckled and pressed a kiss to the back of my hand. “Well, maybe some other time.” He backed away, grinning a little sadly as he released my hand, his fingertips touching mine for just a moment before he gave me a wink and turned away.

“Wait!” I called, hurrying a few steps after him as he sauntered toward the tree line. “What’s your name?”

            He turned and offered me a rakishly charming grin that held more than a hint of mischief. “Nicky Blue.”

            “You there—with the curls!” I started at the voice behind me and whirled around to see Tess Little striding toward me, her long black duster flapping around her dark skirt and cherry red high-button boots. “Time to go.”

            I obediently moved toward the carriages with her. “Is it true?” I asked. “Have we been transplanted?”

            “Afraid so,” she replied. “But don’t worry—we have people with the FMA who will help you settle in.”

            “The FMA?”

            “Fairytale Management Authority,” she explained. “I’ll tell you everything on the way to headquarters. By the way—I’m Tess Little. But everyone calls me Red.”

            “Beatrice Muffet,” I replied, attempting a smile. “Everyone pretty much just calls me Beatrice. Or Ms. Muffet.” I chuckled a little. “Except my niece Mariella—she has trouble pronouncing my name.” My voice caught in my throat, the words lodging around the lump of sorrow that had rapidly developed at the thought of never seeing little Mari again. I coughed, forcing my emotions away, and blinked rapidly to clear the tears that pricked the corner of my eyes. “She calls me Trish.”

            Tess motioned me toward the last remaining carriage. “Well, welcome to the Here and Now, Trish.”

I placed my foot on the step, but paused and turned to search for Nicky Blue, hoping that perhaps he had changed his mind and had decided to come with the rest of us after all. My heart sank when I didn’t see him. I sighed, a part of me already regretting that I hadn’t gone with him. But it was too late to change my mind. Nicky Blue had vanished, having faded deep into the shadows like a spider in the night.
Kate's offering a fabulous giveaway through Rafflecopter. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check back when I interview Kate and her agent, Nicole Resciniti.

xoxo ~Marisa