Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cover Reveal: Malicious Mischief

Check out Marianne Harden's super fabulous cover!!!

Malicious Mischief (Mischief and Mayhem, #1)

 by Marianne Harden



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~When the chips are down, the buffalo is empty~

Am I a flake? Sort of. But I’m trying to change. My grandfather has property tax issues, and what troubles Granddad, troubles me. Good thing I’ve held down a steady job for months. A major big deal. Not the getting a job part—I’ve had lots—but the held down aspect. Somehow, I always end up unemployed, but not today.

Today, I am Rylie Tabitha Keyes, chauffeur to the seniors at Fountain of Youth Retirement Home (FoY.)

It was dawn Sunday as I eased my employer’s van from one freeway onto another. After that, I concentrated on the wet asphalt up ahead. I didn’t want to think about my job history or our financial woes. Instead I focused on the summery sunrise over the Cascade Mountains due east. I stared at it a moment, charmed by its contrast to the more typical Bellevue, Washington gloom brooding overhead.

I should’ve been asleep, but I needed to toss trash from a fundraiser rolling around in the back of the van. Leland Rosenberg, my boss at Fountain of Youth Retirement Home, had asked me to dump the bags at his second business, Rosenberg Laboratory, as FoY’s Dumpsters were full from a recent bathroom remodel. His mood had been edgy, kind of insistent I dispose of them last night. I confess, before I could carry out this task, a minor traffic accident and an all-important overnight obligation had waylaid me. I didn’t bother to sigh over how blunders always seemed to pepper my work performance. Some things were fated to be. After all, I slogged at my job for money not joy. It isn't that I don't like working at FoY, it just isn’t my dream gig. You see, I yearned to be a private detective, a Veronica Mars 2.0. Problem is, my grandfather is against the idea. Dead set against it.

So with the stench from the trash bags mounting, I steered FoY’s van onto the off-ramp and headed toward Rosenberg Laboratory just off the freeway exit. My mind was filled with thoughts of a steamy shower, maybe a few hours of shut-eye before punching the clock at nine. I stared forward, squinted. And iced over. Up ahead. Wrong-way traveling. A panel truck advanced, peeling rubber.



Zeroed in to hit me.

I whipped the van off the road, the red, white, and blue panel truck whizzing past. I slammed on the brakes, fighting to control the wheel. I wrestled with it, panicked, my mind flashing on one fortunate thing: no seniors were in the van.

Tons of hazards burst before my eyes. I struggled to absorb them. A mangled guardrail zigzagged up ahead; its many gaps from other out-of-control vehicles big as life. Worse was the wall of giant Douglas-firs growing beyond, lower trunks scarred, limbs low and swaying.

I was going to careen through the railing.

I was going to hit the trees.

I was going to die.


Book Summary


Career chameleon, Rylie Keyes, must keep her current job. If not, the tax assessor will evict her ailing grandfather and auction off their ancestral home. When a senior she shuttles for a Bellevue, Washington retirement home winds up dead in her minibus, sticky with a half-eaten s'more, head clad in a cellophane bag, and a pocketed complaint letter accusing her of driving by Braille, her goal to keep her job hits a road bump.


The deceased was thought to be a penniless Nazi concentration camp survivor with a silly grudge against Rylie. However, the victim has enemies who will stop at nothing to keep their part in the murder a secret.


Forced to dust off the PI training she's kept hidden from her ex-detective grandfather, Rylie must align with a circus-bike-wheeling Samoan to solve the murder, all while juggling the attentions of two very hot police officers.


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About Marianne Harden


Marianne Harden loves a good laugh. So much so, she cannot stop humor from spilling into her books. Over the years she has backpacked through the wilds of Australia, explored the exotics of Asia, soaked up the sun in the Caribbean, and delighted in the historic riches of Europe. Her goals in life are simple: do more good than harm and someday master the do-not-mess-with-me look. She divides her time between Switzerland and Washington State where she lives with her husband and two children.


Find Marianne Harden





Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Interview: April Wall

Today we're super pleased to host April Wall to the blog. Her interview is fabulous, and she's hosting a GIVEAWAY to help build her Twitter followers!

P&P: How did you come up with the idea for In the Midst of Monsters?

April: While my husband studied night and day in law school, I found myself with a lot of free time. I’d taken a creative writing class or two in college and it struck me that I could give writing a full length novel a shot. My inspiration for this book definitely came from my family. I’m married to my best friend and together we have two great kids and we like to have all sorts of adventures together. But those adventures do have their limits, so one night it struck me I could come up with new adventures for us through storytelling and that’s how In the Midst of Monster was hatched.  I started out thinking about how we’re a little kookier than the normal family and then it hit me. What about a family who not only believes monsters exist, but saves them, too? Told you, kooky.

P&P: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

April: My first book is a middle grade fantasy and so I would say the hardest part of writing that book would be the world building. I pulled from collective knowledge about monsters, such as the Boogey Man and Big Foot, but I had to take that information and spin it to fit into the world I was creating. Also, even though you get to make up your own world in a fantasy, that world has to have rules and coming up with those can be real brain busters.

P&P: What’s the one thing that you can’t live without?

April: Oxygen, and to a lesser degree, water and food. Also, music.

P&P: What were the last three books you read?

April: Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake, The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy, and The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. I would recommend them all if you enjoy YA horror, MG adventure, and MG contemporary. My tastes are a little eclectic.

P&P: Do you read horoscopes?

April: I do! I’m a Virgo and so I’m a little OCD about almost everything. I like to read them or watch YouTube monthly horoscope predictions and then see if any of it comes true. I don’t let them dictate my life decisions, but it’s interesting when they turn out to be true.

P&P: What are your pet peeves?

April: I do not suffer fools lightly, and those who choose willful ignorance bear the full weight of my menacing stare. Also, people who spit their gum out in parking lots where my shoes happen to always find it.

Fast Facts:
Coffee or tea? Tea, hot and with lots of sugar

Morning or night? For what exactly ;)

Rivers or oceans? Oceans

White wine or red? Sweet red wine

Champagne or liquor? Champagne

Cupcakes or ice cream? Cupcakes AND ice cream

Laptop or desktop? Laptop

Casual or couture? Casual

Ponytail or headband? Ponytail

Shower or bath? Bath

Summer or winter? Summer

Motorcycle or bicycle? Bicycle
Connect with April here:
*** GIVEAWAY ***

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Which do you prefer? Cupcakes or ice cream?

xoxo ~Marisa

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Interview: Teri Anne Stanley

Pens and Peonies is super pleased to welcome author Teri Anne Stanley to the blog!

Teri Anne Stanley is the evil writing twin of Tracy Hopkins. She grew up reading Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown, but always felt there was something missing.  When she hit her teens, she shifted to romance, but still...something was missing. When she discovered romantic suspense, her reading life was complete.

Teri  authored several scientific articles, and a recipe column or fifty, but wasn't allowed to write sex scenes for them--so she's decided to write what she loves to read: Romantic Suspense that doesn't take itself too seriously.   She's also worked as a fashion designer for female body builders and a sex therapist for rats.
In her spare time, she and the most awesome Mr. Stanley, along with a variety of teenagers, and dogs, enjoy boating and watching farm runoff flow past their weekend estate, Camp Swampy.  Teri lives in Northern Kentucky, near the Ohio River and her beloved Interstate-75, with its lush rolling semis and musical rumbling tires. 

Her first novel, Deadly Chemistry, will be coming from Entangled Suspense later this year. You can find Teri wasting time on Twitter @teriannestanley, on facebook at or blogging at
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing career.
Well, I'm in the process of bursting on to the writing scene. Maybe not bursting, but hopefully I'm not just dribbling onto it.  I've been writing off and on for my whole life, but I didn't actually sit down to start something with a goal of finishing it until a couple of years ago.  I took a couple of online plotting workshops, started blogging and hanging out with other writers, and here I am...just a couple of months from the release of Deadly Chemistry!
What is your writing schedule like?
I work full time, and I have three teenagers and a husband who travels for I write in the cracks of my day. Breaks at work, at stop lights, in the kids are old enough to ignore me, so I get a fair amount of time at night.
What do you think makes a good book?
I love that "oof" feeling that I get when one character bares his or her soul to the other. I don't know how to define it, or how to do it...but that's my goal--to make readers feel something. And to make them laugh.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Getting the committee in my head to shut up. You know the one, the group of voices that tell you you should probably make blankets for homeless cats, that noone is going to want to read that, and if they do, it will only be to make fun of it on Goodreads.  But somehow, I manage to get through to "the end", and when I go back and re-read what I've written, sometimes I even think it's good.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It took me three years to finish the first one, which I'm revising now to submit soon. The second one, Deadly Chemistry, took six weeks. It was a NaNoWriMo project. I sold it to Entangled when it was only 3/4 written. After I got "the call", I spent another two weeks finishing it. Sitting on cloud nine helped a bit with that. I suspect that the next book will fall somewhere in between six weeks and three years. Hopefully closer to the six weeks!
Do you have an agent? How did you get published? Share with us "The Call" story.
My story is a little bass-ackwards: I wrote Deadly Chemistry during NaNoWriMo as part of the Savvy Authors website's Bootcamp Smackdown. Basically, writers joined teams and competed to earn the right to submit their manuscript at the end of November. My imprint, Suspense, won the smackdown, so I submitted my unfinished, barely edited manuscript, along with about forty other hopefuls and tried to forget about it.
I got a call from Nina Bruhns, the managing editor of the Suspense line in January, telling me she wanted to offer me a contract. I don't really remember much after that...
A couple of days later, I told my friend Jessica Lemmon that I'd gotten a call, and she suggested that I query her agent, Nicole Resciniti, of the Seymour Agency. So I submitted the same unfinished, unedited manuscript to her. She must have been drinking the same left over eggnog as Nina, because she called me, too, and I signed with her shortly afterwards.
THEN I finished the manuscript.
Do you buy books based on the cover or the blurb?
The cover might move me to pick it up, but I buy based on the blurb.
What were the last three books you read?
My reading is all over the place. The last three books I read were After Hours, by Cara McKenna; Red, by Kate SeRine; and Heir to a Desert Legacy, by Maisey Yates.
What do you do when you're not writing?
We have a boat that we keep at a little trailer parky campground near the Ohio River, so most summer weekends find us floating around or slapping at mosquitos. I also like to knit and stuff...I got a spinning wheel a couple of years ago, so sometimes I like to get it out and pretend I'm Ma Ingalls. I can't get Mr. Stanley to dress up like Michael Landon, though.
Fast Facts:
Coffee or tea?
Yes, please.
Morning or night?
A little of each. I'm an early riser, but it takes me a while to get moving.
Rivers or oceans?
White wine or red?
Champagne or liquor?
Seriously...I drank my lifetime allotment of all of the above a few years ago, so I stick to Diet Coke these days.
Cupcakes or ice cream?
Oh, come on. Is that even a fair question? How can you--I'm not going to answer that.
Laptop or desktop?
Laptop! Finally, something I can be definitive about!
Casual or couture?
Casual all the way
Ponytail or headband?
Well, my hair's pretty short now, but when it wasn't, I'd have to say "ponytail."
Shower or bath?
Summer or winter?
Motorcycle or bicycle?
Jet ski
Isn't she awesome?!? Be sure to check out her Romantic Times Hangover post!
I love her bass-ackwards story of how she joined The Seymour Agency and snagged Nicole!
xoxo ~Marisa

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Cover Reveal: Obsession by Jennifer L. Armentrout

OBSESSION by Jennifer L. Armentrout - Releases May 31st!


# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell, Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

OBSESSION official Blurb:

He’s arrogant, domineering, and… To. Die. For.
Hunter is a ruthless killer. And the Department of Defense has him firmly in their grasp, which usually doesn’t chafe too badly because he gets to kill bad guys. Most of the time he enjoys his job. That is, until he’s saddled with something he’s never had to do before: protect a human from his mortal enemy.

Serena Cross didn’t believe her best friend when she claimed to have seen the son of a powerful senator turn into something…unnatural. Who would? But then she witnesses her friend’s murder at the hands of what can only be an alien, thrusting her into a world that will kill to protect their secret.

Hunter stirs Serena’s temper and her lust despite their differences. Soon he’s doing the unthinkable—breaking the rules he’s lived by, going against the government to keep Serena safe. But are the aliens and the government the biggest threats to Serena’s life…or is it Hunter?
Additional links to Jennifer’s pages:
As always, thanks for stopping by!
xoxo ~Marisa

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Review: The Cupcake Diaries

Pens and Peonies is pleased to welcome to the blog Darlene Panzera, author of The Cupcake Diaries.
Darlene, please share how this story and publication came about?
Darlene: I was a new author with Avon Books who had just won the Avon/Debbie Macomber "Make Your Dreams Come True" contest which led my novella, THE BET, to be published with Debbie's in FAMILY AFFAIR. Avon also offered me a second contract for the full length novel retitled, BET YOU'LL MARRY ME. I was working on a follow up proposal when out of the blue my editor, Lucia Macro, at Avon asked if I would be interested in writing a series about a cupcake shop. To have my editor offer me this opportunity was huge. I told her, "Of course I'm interested!" My editor gave me only 3 guidelines: 3 women, a cupcake shop (in a small town), and romance! From there I spent the next two weeks working day and night to come up with a story and proposal for all three novellas. I had just come back from a weekend trip to Astoria, Oregon where I attended the Crab, Seafood, and Wine festival featured in Book 2: Recipe for Love. I had teased my friends I was going to write a story set in Astoria because I loved the small historic seaport town so much and so I immediately knew Astoria would be the perfect setting for the cupcake shop. My editor loved the proposal. She said the humorous storyline gave her a good laugh and she needed a good laugh that week. So here I am today, celebrating the release of THE CUPCAKE DIARIES: Sweet on You  (May 7), Recipe for Love (May 14), and Taste of Romance (May 21). And as a fun bonus: if you take the last word of each title it spells....You Love Romance!
Enticing title? Check. Intriguing back cover copy? Check. Delicious read? Check. Darlene Panzera's The Cupcake Diaries: Sweet on You is as sweet as it is filling. She's taken two of my favorites and mashed them together. Cupcakes and romance. A winning combination. She hit on every key point needed when writing a novella, and it's always tough to include an entire romance into such a short read and still end with a happily ever after.

Add to Goodreads:

Darlene Panzera is a graduate of the Writer's Digest advanced novel writing school, The Christian Writer's Guild apprentice writing program, and a member of Romance Writer's of America's Greater Seattle and Peninsula chapters. She is the winner of the "Make Your Dreams Come True" contest sponsored by Avon Books, which led her novella, THE BET, to be published with Debbie Macomber's FAMILY AFFAIR released July 2012. The full length novel, retitled, BET YOU'LL MARRY ME, releases December 4, 2012. She is currently working on a 3 novella set for Avon Books, a division of HarperCollins, to be published March 2013 titled, THE CUPCAKE DIARIES. Born and raised in New Jersey, Darlene is now a resident of the Pacific Northwest where she lives with her husband and three children. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her family and her two horses, and loves camping, hiking, photography, and lazy days at the lake. Write to Darlene Panzera at : P.O. Box 1876 Belfair, WA 98528 Or visit her website:

As always, I love people who comment!

xoxo ~Marisa

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Interview: Amy Lillard

Today on Pens and Peonies we have Amy Lillard! Amy is on tour with her novel, Katie's Choice, published by B&H Books.

I'm a wife, mother, and bona fide Southern belle. Published author, expert corn bread maker, and Squirrel Princess.
Though I was born in Mississippi, I moved to Oklahoma (Boomer!) when I was in high school and met my soul mate and best friend not long after.  Rob and I have been married for over twenty years and have a son--a mom proclaimed prodigy, of course! We have two funny cats and a very lazy beagle.
I have always been intrigued with the Amish culture, their gentle ways and slower-paced lifestyle. (And I love, love, love the fact that they stay married for their lifetime.) Until recently I never thought to blend this interest with my love for romance. Okay, okay, I'm a bit old-fashioned and even enjoy the gender roles that are present in this culture.  I love to cook and take care of my family. Yes, that's me June Cleaver with a laptop.
I love homemade tacos, shoes, and romance novels--not necessarily in that order. I'm a big fan of country music, a staunch proponent of saving the Oxford comma, and I'm shamefully obsessed with all things Harry Potter.
I also love to hear from readers, so feel free to drop me a line: or come visit me on the web:

"But as Zane draws closer to Katie Rose, Samuel comes back to..." Ooooh, and stick around to enter the giveaway.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing career.

I’m a wife and a mother, a Southern belle and a cornbread expert. I’ve been married to my husband for over twenty years (we got married in grade school, you know) and we have one son who’s twelve. Our family is rounded out with two cats, both new additions to our family, and a very lazy beagle-dog. I grew up in Mississippi, but my family lives in Oklahoma. And I make the best cornbread you’ll ever eat.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I had a teacher in junior high who complimented my use of alliteration. After that, I was hooked. But writing as a livelihood was beyond my comprehension. Then in the early nineties, I starting writing seriously, making several genre changes along the way.

Why are you a writer?

Most writers will tell you there are people who live in our heads. The only way to appease them is to write their story. After that, sometimes, they are satisfied and stop talking constantly. It’s about that time that more characters step up and demand their story be told next.
What is your writing schedule like?

Schedule? What’s that? Seriously though, I write every day and take every opportunity to work on something. My family watches a movie, and I’m surfing around looking for pictures for videos or tweaking my site, posting on Twitter or Facebook. Yes, that’s part of writing in today’s world, but as for writing-writing, I work in short spurts all day between loads of laundry and dishes.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time before you were published?

Not to take myself quite so seriously and to be more open to new ideas.

What has been the most thrilling part of being published?

The most thrilling part for me is knowing that others are reading my work and enjoying it. Everyone has stories, but writers have this need to share them. That’s the best part for me.

What do you think makes a good book?

The characters, especially when you’re talking about romances. I believe that any good romance is character driven, simply because there are not that many romance plots. We use them over and over. The difference becomes the characters and how they react in the circumstances that they find themselves in.

How long does it take you to write a book?

With diligent work and focus, I can write a book in about eight weeks. That said, I’m what’s known as a plotter. I outline the book from beginning to end and have copious notes before I type Chapter One.

How many books have you written, and which one is your favorite?

I have written three books and honestly, my favorite book is the one I’m working on now—always. Each book has to feel like it’s better than the one I just turned in. Otherwise, what would be the point?

Do you have an agent?

I do have an agent, the wonderful Mary Sue Seymour of The Seymour Agency. I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today if not for her. Thanks, Mary Sue!

Buy links:

Amy will be giving away a Reader's Prize Pack through rafflecopter, including a copy of Katie's Choice, a bag, a mug, chocolates, etc. 

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Have I mentioned how much I love people who comment?!?
xoxo ~Marisa