Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Seymour Agency's Progressive Giveaway

Pens and Peonies is sponsoring a Progressive Giveaway during the months of August and September!

The more follows, adds, friends, and subscribes received by the participating authors, the more prizes will be added to the giveaway!

Every time The Seymour Agency authors hit a milestone, the prize pack will be updated to include more prizes until the end of September.

How to enter: Start by following this blog, so you don't miss out on release day posts. Check back on release day to read about the author, the book, and the "task" to help build the prize pack.

Terms: U.S. addresses only. Must be at least 18 years of age to win. Void where prohibited. Giveaway hostesses are not responsible for items once shipped. We reserve the right to change any and all rules or conditions as needed. Complete and correct information must be provided as requested, or the entry will automatically and immediately be null and void. Bounced email will automatically void an entry. If we cannot locate your follow or other entry options, your entry will be voided. Once the winner email is sent, that winner will have 48 hours to respond to the win with the information requested in the notification email.

The Seymour Agency Authors with August/September releases:
August 1: Kate SeRine's Along Came a Spider
August 6: Macy Beckett's Surrender to Sultry
August 6: Isabella Alan's Plainly Murder
August 20: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon's Doon
August 26: Laura Simcox's Ivy Entwined
August 27: TBA
August 27: Kait Ballenger's Twilight Hunter
September 1: Mary Ellis' A Little Bit of Charm
September 1: Amanda Flower's A Plain Disappearance
September 3: Isabella Alan's Murder, Plain and Simple
September 3: Ashlyn Chase's How to Date a Dragon
September 3: Jessica Lemmon's Hard to Handle
September 9: Marisa Cleveland's Reforming the Cowboy
September 10: Carl Prude Jr.'s Anchored in Light
September 10: Jenny Sulpizio's Confessions of a Wonder Woman Wannabe
September 24: Amanda Flower's Andi Unexpected

Follow, Add to circles, Join this site with Google Friend Connect, or Follow by Email the Pens and Peonies blog. This is just to get things started. No milestone must be reached to achieve the first prize.

Prize Pack:
Thrill Ride by Julie Ann Walker - this book is signed and new
Roadside Assistance by Amy Clipston - this book is signed and new
The Search by Shelley Shepard Gray - this book is signed and new
Sealed with a Curse by Cecy Robson - this book is signed and new
Swag bag of goodies from Laura Simcox - author of Ivy Entwined
A Plain Disappearance by Amanda Flower - this book is signed and new
First chapter critique by ACFW's 2012 Agent of the Year Nicole Resciniti

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Interview: Jodi Linton

Congrats to Jodi Linton! She signed a two-book deal with Entangled Suspense back in May.

Keep connected with her and watch her journey!






Fast Facts:




Red wine


Ice Cream







Our interview with Jodi:

1. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I have been seriously writing for five years, but I have always had a love for storytelling since I was a child.

2. What is my writing schedule?

My day job “stay –at-home mom” keeps me pretty busy, so I write mostly at night. Although, I was able to finish this book in two weeks, and then I handed it off to my husband for him to do his first round of nitpicking. No. He was great. I knew one day marrying an English teacher would pay off, and he did a wonderful job, giving me some of the best editorial advice.

3. What do you think makes a good book?

I believe a good book lets you have your cake and eat it too. The setting is as much a part of the book as the characters. The characters leap off the pages, and the VOICE grabs you from the first sentence.

4. Do you have an agent?

Yes. I’m represented by Sharon Belcastro and Ella Marie Shupe of The Belcastro Agency.

5. What were the last three books you read?

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Catch Me a Cowboy by Katie Lane, and For Love or Money by Cathy Perkins.

6. What’s one thing you can’t live without?

Dr Pepper.

About Jodi

Jodi Linton grew up across the street from a cow pasture, where she was more likely to been seen selling Kool-Aid in a Dixie cup at ten cents a pop, or inviting neighbors over to watch one of her plays staged on her father’s Bass boat. Even though she never owned one of the bovines, she’ll admit that the smell of cow manure had a lasting effect, making it easy to spot a cow a mile away.

In 2001, she traded in the rednecks, cowboys, and mesquite trees of her hometown to chase destiny out west. After a few years of mucking it around with the roughnecks, dust storms, and droughts, she decided to dust off her boots and head home. With a History degree in one hand and a marriage license in the other, she followed her husband in 2006 to the Texas heartland, fabulous Austin.

Somewhere down the line, she started writing. Maybe it was the boring job search, or maybe it was the crazy characters dancing inside her head that help put pen to paper. Whatever the case, writing sure beat the heck out of working for a temp agency. The first story was about a boy lookalike Indian Jones who chased after vampires in small town Texas. The second story was a YA contemporary about the Grim Reaper, and well half-way through she decided to shuck them both, partly due to the birth of her son, and mostly because she wasn’t awe struck with the premises.

Taking a break from writing to raise her son, she filled the time by reading, and insistently fell in love with mysteries, especially ones with witty, spunky heroines. Four months later, she had a manuscript about a smart-mouthed deputy and her rotten ex-boyfriend dueling it out in small town Texas.

After settling into the Texas Hill Country with her husband and two kids, she joined the Writer’s League of Texas, and signed with The Belcastro Agency. Today she can be found cozied up to the computer escaping into a quirky world of tall tales, sexy, tight jean wearing cowboys, and a protagonist with a sharp-tongue quick enough to hang any man out to dry.

There’s a good chance she’s brushed paths with a few of her characters, but she’ll never tell, those lips are sealed.

xoxo ~Marisa

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Interview: Kiru Taye

Wow! Pens and Peonies is so super pleased to have Kiru Taye on the blog!

Thank you, Marisa for hosting me today.

Island Bound is a sensual, contemporary romance novella, set in Brass Island, Nigeria. It’s the story of Christy and Joshua who are on the verge of a marriage breakdown and how they get their second chance at a life together.

When I was researching reasons why couples filed for a divorce, I found out that outside of Infidelity, lack of communication was the next most stated reason. If a couple is not communicating well with each other it's a great indicator that they are drifting apart. But unlike infidelity this reason can be remedied a lot easier than trying to fix the trust broken by infidelity.

Here are the Top Ten reasons listed:

One: Infidelity in marriage

Two: Communication breakdown

Three: Abuse (Emotional, Psychological, Physical)

Four: Financial issues

Five: Sexual Incompatibility

Six: Boredom

Seven: Religious or cultural issues

Eight: Issues over bringing up children

Nine: Addiction (gambling, alcohol, drugs, etc)

Ten: Divergent priorities and expectation


When Christy Inemi-Spiff discovers that the man she vowed to love and honor has no such feelings for her, she’s determined to cut her losses and move on with her life. A quick, quiet divorce is all she wishes for Christmas.

However, Joshua has other ideas. He’s not ready to walk away yet, especially when he doesn’t understand why Christy wants out of their marriage. So he demands she agree to spend a quiet Christmas on a remote African Island with him, hoping they can salvage their relationship. If she still wants a divorce after these two weeks, he will let her go. But not before he’s had his fill of her.

But with the sparking tension between them, and the secrets behind the disintegration of their marriage threatening to explode, will either of them get their wish? Or will this season of good will show them what really lies at the bottom of their hearts?

Read an excerpt here

Buy links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK|Barnes & Noble |Kobo |Decadent Publishing |All Romance eBooks | Smashwords

About Kiru Taye

A lover of books, as a teenager Kiru Taye used to read novels under the blanket during lights-outs in boarding school. These days, with a young family to take care of, she's still sacrificing sleep for the pleasures of a good book.

During the day though, she transforms her wildly vivid imagination into sensual, atmospheric romance stories with passionate characters.

When she’s not writing or reading, she'd hanging out with family and friends or travelling. Born in Nigeria, she currently lives in the UK with husband and children.

For a comprehensive list of her books, check out her website:

You reach her via her Blog | Facebook |Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest


To celebrate the summer, Kiru is giving away 2 $10 gift cards to 2 lucky winners. All you have to do to enter the prize draw is toleave a comment on this blog post andvisit my blog to enter the rafflecopter prize draw. This contest is open internationally. Entrants must be 18 years and over. Contest ends 31 August, 2013. Winners are chosen randomly via rafflecopter.

xoxo ~Marisa

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Interview: Reese Ryan

Pens and Peonies is so excited to be participating in the Blogger Book Fair this summer! Today the blog is featuring Reese Ryan and her new contemporary release, Making the First Move. She also has a fabulous Blog Tour Grand Prize, so make sure to enter and good luck!

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

After reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in middle school. That book made such a big impression on me. I was so engrossed in the lives of those characters and moved by their story. I wanted to touch people through storytelling the way she had touched me.

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

Three words. Never give up. I regret how easily I became discouraged in the face of rejection and all the years lost that could have been spent strengthening my abilities as a writer.

Who is your favorite author and why?

Jane Austen. I love her imperfect, audacious heroines and the cast of colorful supporting characters that populate her novels. Our self-concept and outlook on life is derived from our experiences. I love meeting the family members, the friends, and frenemies that shape the hero and heroine.

What were the last three books you read?

Sexcapades by fellow Carina Press author, Christine d’Abo; Bound by Him and Claimed by Him—both by Red Garnier.

Describe the premise of Making the First Move

When ambitious HR exec Melanie Gordon falls for sweet, sexy philanthropist Raine Mason, she discovers that his passion for saving others is driven by a tragic secret that threatens to keep them apart.

What message do you hope readers will take away from this story?

Don’t be afraid to go for what you truly want in life, instead of what you think you should. We often find ourselves pursuing the course that others have prescribed for us. It’s never too late to rediscover your passion.

What do you do when you're not writing?

I’m a freelance writer and social media manager, but my background is in administrative support. When I’m not working or writing I enjoy spending time outdoors. I was born and raised in the Midwest, but moved to North Carolina four years ago. I love all the lush greenery and hilly terrain here. I spend as much time as I can walking and biking the local trails and kayaking on the local lake.

Title : Making the First Move

Author : Reese Ryan

Release date : July 22, 2013

Genre : Contemporary Romance

Price : $3.99

Amazon Buy Link:

Barnes & Noble Buy Link:

iTunes Buy Link:

Add to Goodreads :


Melanie Gordon has spent the past five years obsessing over her career to dull the pain of a devastating breakup and the loss of her father. Her effort pays off when she receives the promotion that could be her big break. Only it means returning to her hometown to face her past while leaving behind the man who could be her future.

Selfless (and insanely sexy) philanthropist, Raine Mason, is committed to his cause. But his passion for rescuing high-risk young males from the road to disaster is fueled by his own dark and tragic past.

When Raine is ready to take his casual friendship with Melanie to sizzling new heights, her one-way ticket to Cleveland is already booked. But a steamy night of passion leaves them both wanting more, even if Melanie is afraid to admit it. She reluctantly agrees to a long-distance relationship with no promises and no commitments.

Melanie may finally be ready to give Raine her heart…but then she discovers startling news that causes her to question everything she knows about him. Worse, he’s harboring a dark secret from his past that threatens to shatter any hope of a future for them unless he can convince her that their love is worth the risk.


Thirty minutes later, Raine is standing in my doorway in a camel-colored cashmere sweater and a pair of Levi’s. A white, button-down shirt peeks underneath the collar. Chin-length, caramel-colored locs are pulled back at the crown of his head, with the remaining hair hanging free. He is, in a word, gorgeous.

My eyes trace the curve of his biceps. I lick my lips, cheeks flushed, and hope he hasn’t noticed I’ve spent the past five seconds checking him out from head to toe. Twice.

“I see you’re ready to go.” He nods toward the wrap draped over my arm and my clutch tucked underneath it.

“I am.”

“Then shall we?” Raine extends his hand in the direction of the narrow stairwell leading down to the first floor.

“Let’s.” I offer a nervous smile.

He slips his hand to the small of my back. I try not to notice the heat emanating from his hand. But it’s nearly impossible to ignore the jolt of electricity, which travels through his long, elegant fingers and enters the base of my spine.

I’m sure his hand has been on that exact spot when he’s guided me through a crowd or we’ve danced together at charity functions. His touch seemed incidental then. Tonight, there’s something about the placement and pressure of his hand that feels deliberate, significant. Or maybe I’m transferring my own well-guarded desire to an innocent gesture.

Raine guides me down the stairs, out the front door and into his car, his hand still on my back.

“Thanks for doing this,” I say. “I know it’s short notice.”

“I couldn’t leave you standing there dressed, with no place to go.” He tries to hide a smirk as he turns the ignition.

“How’d you know I was already dressed when I called?”

“You’ve never been ready when I came to pick you up. There’s not a chance in hell you threw this together in thirty minutes. You look…amazing.”

“Very clever,” I say. “And thank you, I think.”

“It’s too bad, actually.”

“What’s too bad?”

“That you were ready. I was hoping to catch you in a towel, just out of the shower,” he says, his eyes straight ahead.

My cheeks grow warm. I’m not offended, just surprised. Our social conversations have been mildly flirtatious, but never anything so easily decipherable. We prefer our flirtation so well-coded that only a world-class hacker has a chance in hell of sorting it all out.

I stifle a giggle. “Sorry to disappoint you.”

He smiles.

We ride in silence for a while. He pays strict attention to the road. I pretend to be fascinated by the houses and apartments that fly by my window. The same ones I’ve seen nearly every day for the past five years.


Reese Ryan writes sexy, contemporary fiction filled with colorful characters and sinfully-sweet romance. She secretly enjoys torturing her heroines with family and career drama, reformed bad boys, revealed secrets, and the occasional identity crisis, but always rewards them with a happily ever after.

Born and raised in the Midwest, she now resides in Central North Carolina with her husband and young adult son who tolerate her propensity to sing and dance badly. A self-proclaimed Bohemian Southern Belle, she treads the line carefully between being a Northerner and a damned Yankee –despite her insistence on calling soda pop. Reese gauges her progress by the number of “bless your lil’ hearts” she gets each week. She is currently down to two.

Visit Reese online at Follow her on Twitter @ReeseRyanWrites. Connect with her on Facebook.

Author Links:

Twitter: @ReeseRyanWrites
Facebook: ReeseRyanWrites
Goodreads: Reese Ryan
Amazon Author Page:

Making the First Move Blog Tour Grand Prize

  • $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card
  • Digital copy of Making the First Move by Reese Ryan
  • Digital copy of The Winning Season by Alison Packard
  • Digital copy of Knowing the Score by Kat Latham
  • Digital copy of Personal Assets by Kelsey Browning
  • Digital copy of Derby Girl by Tamara Morgan
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for stopping by!

xoxo ~Marisa

Monday, July 22, 2013

Interview: Sydney Logan

I am so excited to have Sydney Logan on the blog today!

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. I’ve always written song lyrics and short stories.

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

Be prepared for the business side of publishing. I thought I could write a book, edit it, release it, and then start writing the next one. That’s what I do, but I also have to balance that with marketing and promotion.

What do you think makes a good book?

Readers have different tastes, but for me, a good book is emotional, makes me think, is edited well, and stays with me after I finish the last page.

How did you come up with the idea for your book, Mountain Charm?

Mountain Charm is the second in my Appalachian Heart Collection. The books in the series are stand-alone stories that are all set in the Appalachian Mountains. I live in the region, so I grew up hearing legends about mountain medicine. I did some research and found stories of herbal remedies and witch doctors. I thought it would be cool to write a modern-day fairytale but still make it relatable and realistic. That’s how Mountain Charm came to life.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Typically, it takes me about six months to write the first draft. Then it goes to my editor and the editing process begins.

Do you buy books based on the cover or the blurb?

I am guilty of buying books based solely on the cover and the blurb. That’s why I stress so much about my own.

What were the last three books you read?

Take What You Want by Jeanette Grey, Exotic Music of the Belly Dancer by Brian Sweany, & Healing Faith by Jennyfer Browne.

Fast Facts:

Coffee or tea? Tea

Morning or night? Night

Rivers or oceans? Rivers

Cupcakes or ice cream? Ice cream

Laptop or desktop? Desktop

Casual or couture? Casual

Ponytail or headband? Headband

Shower or bath? Bath

Summer or winter? Summer

Motorcycle or bicycle? Bicycle

Sydney Logan

Author Info and Links


Sydney Logan is an Amazon bestselling author and holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education. With the 2012 release of her first novel, Lessons Learned, she made the transition from bookworm to author. Her second novel, Mountain Charm, was released in July 2013. She is also the author of two short stories: “Mistletoe Magic,” available exclusively on Amazon Kindle, and “Stupid Cupid,” which is featured in the Romantic Interludes compilation.

Sydney has a very unhealthy obsession with music, and her iPod is filled with everything from Johnny Cash to Eminem. When she isn't reading or writing, she enjoys playing piano and relaxing on her front porch at her home in East Tennessee with her wonderful husband and their very spoiled cat.

Please visit her on the web at

Purchasing Links:





Also available through iTunes, Kobo, & Books-a-Million

Social Media Links:






Mountain Charm Blurb

“True love and sweet whispers, till death do us part;
Send someone to love my Appalachian heart.”

At the age of thirteen, Angelina Clark followed in the footsteps of her ancestors by casting an Appalachian love spell, which promised she would blossom into a beautiful and gifted woman who would find her true love. A young Angelina had been thrilled to participate in the sacred ritual, but through the years, her father’s untimely death and her mother’s failing health have shaken Angelina’s magical faith to its core. As her twenty-first birthday approaches, she refuses to practice her supernatural gifts and no longer believes in the love charm.

That is, until Dylan Thomas arrives on her front porch.

Dylan, a Nashville writer, travels to the mountain town of Maple Ridge to unearth the family’s supernatural secrets. While her clairvoyant mother is convinced that Dylan is her daughter’s soul mate, Angelina refuses to see the nosy reporter as anything more than a nuisance.

Despite their constant bickering, sparks fly.

Dylan admits he feels strangely drawn to Angelina and is in no hurry to leave Maple Ridge or publish his magazine article. Fearful that his emotions are being influenced by the spell, a stubborn Angelina struggles to fight her own budding attraction to the reporter.

The two inevitably grow closer just as her mother’s health begins to deteriorate, and Angelina is faced with the possibility of selling the family’s music shop to pay the mounting medical expenses. Desperate to help the woman he loves, Dylan explores his own family tree and finds support from an unlikely source. Can he finally prove his love is real—spell or no spell?

A story filled with love, friendship, family, and just a hint of Appalachian magic, Mountain Charm will leave you spellbound.

Mountain Charm Excerpt

“It’s your birthday?” Dylan asked.

“Yes, and it was blissfully uneventful until you showed up.”

“Beautiful and infuriating,” Dylan muttered. “Look, Angelina, I was just given this assignment yesterday. I don’t have a clue about Appalachian magic tricks or devil-worshipping or whatever it is you do up in these mountains, but I have a story to write. Just let me interview you and your mom, and I’ll be back on the interstate before you can say abracadabra.

Instead of pointing out just how ignorant he sounded, Angelina decided what he truly needed was a strong dose of fear.

“Actually, I do have something you need to see. A family heirloom. Wait here?”

Excited for any useful information, Dylan’s eyes lit up and he nodded enthusiastically. Once again, those good manners kicked in, and Dylan opened the door for her.

Angelina raced inside the house. She hadn’t touched it in years, but she still remembered where her father kept the key to the case. She grabbed what she needed and quickly made her way back out to the porch, letting the screen door slam behind her.

Dylan jumped out of his chair. “What the hell?”

Angelina lifted the rifle and pointed it straight at him. He didn’t need to know the safety was on—or that the chamber was empty.

“This is a Remington, passed down from my father and his father, also known as an Appalachian magic wand. Just watch. It’s going to make you disappear.”

Angelina thought it was almost comical, hearing him curse and watching him leap off the porch. All the commotion caused her dog to chase after him, which only made Dylan sprint faster until he reached the sanctuary of his vehicle.

“Are you insane?” Dylan yelled.

“I tend to get a little crazy when someone trespasses on my property. Leave my family alone and don’t come back!”

He slammed the door and had to do some fancy maneuvering to get around her car, but within seconds, the only sounds Angelina could hear were Dylan’s squealing tires, her dog’s noisy bark, and her mother’s hearty laughter.

Rafflecopter Giveaway Code for BBF:

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Interview: Claire Baxter

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

I’m an Australian romance writer. I started writing in 2003 when I left my job as a corporate communications manager to write a book – just to see if I could. I didn’t know I was going to write romance, but every one of my early stories contained a central love story, so I did some research and – aha! – discovered that I was a romance writer.

Fast forward 10 years (where did that time go?) and I’ve had several romance novels published, as well as numerous short stories which have been published in women’s magazines in Australia, the UK and South Africa. My current release is a romantic comedy from Random Romance (Random House Australia’s new digital imprint), and I have a fun category romance coming out from Entangled Bliss in September.

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

That’s an easy one. START WRITING SOONER!

I feel as if the first 20 years of my career were wasted time – just think how many books I could have written in that time. J

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Hmm, I’m afraid it’s the same part of every book – the middle. It’s not the fault of the book, it’s my process. The first quarter flies out of my fingers, then I slow down and start to doubt myself. I worry that the current book is the first one I won’t be able to finish. I know this is the way I work, yet it takes me by surprise every time. How silly is that?

The only way through is to plod on until I reach the end of the third quarter, and then the final quarter is fairly easy to write.

What were the last three books you read?

Don’t Want to Miss a Thing – Jill Mansell

I’ll Be There For You – Louise Candlish

Tempting the Bride – Sherry Thomas

Do you read horoscopes?

Yes, I do! Every day. It’s my guilty pleasure before I start writing. I read several daily horoscopes, a few weekly ones and a couple of monthly forecasts.

My sign is Taurus, and the general astrological description of a Taurean is spot on for me. I keep promising myself that one day I’ll find out more about astrology. It interests me.

Fast Facts:

Coffee or tea? Coffee mid-afternoon, tea any time.

Morning or night? Morning for working, night for sleeping.

Rivers or oceans? Oceans.

White wine or red? White.

Champagne or liquor? Champagne.

Cupcakes or ice cream? I love them both, but if it’s a pink cupcake, then there’s no contest. I can’t resist a pink cupcake.

Laptop or desktop? Laptop.

Casual or couture? Casual.

Ponytail or headband? Ponytail.

Shower or bath? Shower.

Summer or winter? Spring and Autumn. Summer is too hot, and winter is too cold.

Motorcycle or bicycle? Bicycle.

Author Bio

Claire Baxter writes contemporary romantic fiction of all lengths. Her short stories have been published in commercial women’s magazines around the world, while her novels have been translated into 20 languages, and have been nominated for the Romance Writers of Australia's Romantic Book of the Year Award, the Booksellers’ Best Awards, the RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Awards, and the Cataromance Reviewers’ Choice Awards (winner, Best Harlequin Romance).

Before following her passion to write full-time, Claire was an award-winning corporate communications manager. Earlier, she worked as a translator and a PA.

Claire grew up in Warwickshire, England, but for more than 20 years has called Australia home. She considers herself lucky to live near one of Adelaide’s beautiful metropolitan beaches where she loves to walk and think up stories.

Book Blurb (Anybody But Him)

A deliciously funny rom com from Random Romance. What happens when you fall in love with the man you hate?

Nicola Doyle's dating record is a disaster, and it doesn't improve when she returns to Redgum Valley, after an absence of twelve years, to look after her increasingly eccentric parents. There, she's thrown into regular contact with Blair Morrissey – the very reason she couldn't wait to leave town in the first place.

The decade-old scars are still raw from that humiliating day in high school – when Blair went from the boy she loved to the boy she hated.

Except Blair doesn't seem to be a ‘bad boy' any more – in fact, he's charming, infuriatingly helpful and extremely attractive.

If only Nicola could forgive and forget . . .





Twitter: @ClaireBaxterAu


So great having Claire on the blog! I love that she reads horoscopes. Do you? What's your sign? Because comments are awesome, one lucky commenter will win one of the ebooks featured on this blog's sidebar.

xoxo ~Marisa

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Interview: Barbara DeLeo

Check it out! We have Barbara DeLeo on the blog, and she's not only super interesting, but also she's giving away a copy of her book, Contract for Marriage!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi Marisa and thanks so much for having me on the blog I’m from New Zealand where I live with my husband and four kids. My husband’s a winemaker (I was hoping for a chocolate maker but forced myself to love wine too....) and we’ve lived in different parts of the world together. We currently live in the wine region of the South Island of New Zealand which is stunning.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’d been a high school English teacher for ten years and had always imagined I’d write when I “had time”. When my second set of twins were born within three years of the first set I realized I probably wouldn’t ever have a whole lot of time so I’d need to make it! We’d moved to another town and I had no other family around and as teaching was going to be too difficult with four littlies I started writing. The first thing I did was get a book called “Writing a Romance Novel” out of the library and it changed my world. That was seven years ago.

What is your writing schedule like?

When I’m working on a new book I aim to write 8-10 thousand words a week minimum. And I mean good words, words that get to stay in the story...I’ll have done a lot of prep before that begins, though. I usually have a rough outline done in Scrivener with everything from pictures of my main characters and setting to a basic plan of what’s going to happen in each chapter. I get up early and do an hour of “writing business” , blogs or emails, and then I’m into writing. I teach part time so do a bit of a juggle with kids and teaching and writing.

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

Be patient and learn your craft. For a long time I wanted everything to happen yesterday but I now appreciate the time I had to learn my craft.

How did you come up with the idea for your book Dishing up Desire?

I’ve always loved shows like “What Not to Wear”, “The Biggest Loser”, and “Extreme Makeover” and I wondered what it would be like to have to undergo a transformation when you really didn’t want to, and what would would happen if the person transforming you was your complete ideal of perfection. In “Dishing up Desire”, Kirin is a celebrity chef in the middle of a sex scandal. Blake Matthews, ex-international model and complete studmeister, has been tasked with turning Kirin’s homemaker image on its head.

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

I’ve written eight books and my favorite is always the one I’ve just finished!

Do you have an agent?

Yes, I’m with Nalini Akolekar from Spencerhill Associates in New York.

Share with us "The Call" story.

I’d always imagined I’d get a phone call in the middle of the night (time difference Downunder) and that I’d wake up and be instantly calm and fabulous and a heavenly choir would break into song. In reality it was a Saturday afternoon, the house looked like a bomb had gone off and I remember I’d just given up trying to scrub dried egg off lunch plates. I took a break to check my emails and there was one from my agent. My partner-in-parenting-crime duly opened a bottle of Bollinger champagne and the dishes were forgotten!

What is your typical day like?

Sometimes I wish I had a typical day as I’m sure it would make me less gray and have fewer wrinkles, but it generally goes something like.

6am – Switch on my treadmill, pop my laptop on the console and walk uphill for 45 minutes while I answer my emails.

7-8.30 – avert any number of crises while the four kids and husband have breakfast and get ready for school/work

8.30-9.30 – try to clean up the bomb site the kids and husband left behind

9.30 – 12pm – Write

12-12.30 – Lunch

12.30 – 1pm – Walk my mini schnauzer Cosmo by the river

1-3 – Write

3 – bedtime – go to one six sports and music lessons the kids go to, cook dinner, answer emails, go to book club or writing group or the school board and hopefully grab a couple of minutes reading a great book

Fast Facts:

Coffee or tea? Coffee

Morning or night? Night

Rivers or oceans? Oceans

White wine or red? I can’t choose. My husband makes both!

Champagne or liquor? Champagne

Cupcakes or ice cream? Ice cream

Laptop or desktop? Desktop

Casual or couture? Couture

Ponytail or headband? Ponytail

Shower or bath? Shower

Summer or winter? Summer


Barbara DeLeo’s first book, co-written with her best friend, was a story about beauty queens in space. She was eleven, and the sole, handwritten copy was lost years ago, much to everyone’s relief. It’s some small miracle that she kept the faith and is now living her dream of writing sparkling contemporary romance with unforgettable characters.

After completing degrees in Psychology and English then travelling the world, Barbara married her winemaker hero and had two sets of twins.

She still loves telling stories about finding love in all the wrong places, with not a beauty queen or spaceship in sight.

Book blurb:

Image consultant Blake Matthews is facing his toughest PR challenge yet: salvage the image of celebrity chef Kirin Hart. Once he does, he'll be able to acquire LA's most successful PR firm. But Kirin's no easy fix. She's stubborn about changing her comfortable homemaker image, and is being sued for sexual harassment by a junior staffer. She needs a PR lifeline fast. Only problem is Blake wants more than to make her over...

Kirin doesn't need a makeover--her fans love her as she is. But she could lose everything if the sex scandal and reputation that has followed doesn't get quashed right away. Kirin agrees to let model-perfect Blake work his magic for two weeks, but things get complicated when she can't deny the way her body flares to life whenever he's near.

Find Barbara and her books here:

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As always, thanks for stopping by!

xoxo ~Marisa

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cover Reveal: ORIGIN

Pens and Peonies is so excited to be part of
Jennifer L. Armentrout's cover reveal for ORIGIN!



# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer 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.

ORIGIN official Blurb:

Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.
After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.

All Katy can do is survive.

Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?

Together, they can face anything.  

But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on? And will they even be together?


Additional links to Jennifer’s pages: