Thursday, August 28, 2014

Q & A with Jennifer Hayward!

1.  Tell us about your newest release.

Changing Constantinou’s Game is the story of New York City reporter, Isabel Peters, who is on the verge of her greatest career breakthrough as she auditions for an anchor job. However her first and only one-night-stand with a gorgeous Greek is about to complicate things as he becomes her biggest story and Izzie is forced to choose between her career and love.

2.  What makes your story special to you? 

My heroine, Izzie, really makes this a story that hits me deep down. She embodies so many of the hopes and insecurities we all have as women, yet when fate puts her in the path of the man of her dreams, she doesn’t shy away from the chance encounter like many of us have done – she goes for it! It may get her into hot water after the fact, but she never regrets her decision to seize the moment after her and Alex’s near death experience.

3.  When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 

I wrote my first manuscript for Harlequin when I was nineteen and I knew then that that was what I wanted to do. But I didn’t have enough life experience to write those types of deeply emotional books. So I took my very nice rejection from a senior editor and carried it with me through a career in journalism and PR. But I always came back to the love of writing. When my bosses would ask me in performance reviews, “Where do you want to be in five years?”, I would say, “Writing books…” Not career limiting… really. Then later on in life, I finally cut back on my work schedule so I could write more and was having some success with submissions when I won Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write competition in 2012 and my first book contract.

4. What is a typical writing day like? 

I drop my son off at school, answer a few emails, find out what’s going on in the world, then I sit down and write until I pick my son up from school. Sometimes I will have freelance PR work to do and I slot it in either then or at night. I’m a very disciplined person, working at home has always been about working. If I’m on deadline or working on a scene my head is really deep in I might write again at night, but I’m trying to avoid that as the brain needs a rest to remain creative.

5. Do you have an interesting writing quirk or habit?

I’m a planner with my books. I need to know my characters inside out before I begin and at least my key turning points of the story/plot. But I just realized with my last synopsis, I don’t like to commmit on an ending – I’d rather write – “I’ll do something really fun here to tie things up” to my editor. Because I want the book and the characters to tell me the ending. And it often changes. Sometimes twice J Some writers are like this with beginnings – for me it’s endings. They are so crucial to me because they’re a reader’s last impression, what will be in their heads when they see another of my books on the shelf. I want to knock their socks off.

6. What was one of the most surprising things you learned as a published author? 

I’m not sure anything really surprised me. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is the need to tune out the noise. You’re trying to sit down and write the best book you can, but there is so much else going on – promoting  your book, reviews, sales, responding to readers. It’s been interesting to me that some of the things some readers love about my books, others don’t like at all. So I’m learning also that I can’t be all things to all people – I have to be true to myself in the books I write. I’m not saying I’ve mastered this J I think it takes time.

7. What authors or friends influenced you in helping you become a writer?

Oh gosh, so many. I developed so many friendships when I participated in Mills & Boon’s New Voices competition that carried through to So You Think You Can Write. We have supported each other in the most amazing way. I would say authors like Judith McNaught and all those amazing Harlequin Presents authors like Michelle Reid, Sandra Marton, Sarah Morgan and Kelly Hunter – they just wrote such great stories that made me want to write a Presents. And then there’s the great mentors I’ve had to get me here – Sharon Kendrick, Linda Style and Connie Flynn – they've played a big role as teachers in getting me where I am.

8. What does your family think about your career as a published author?

They love it! My dad, who’s a surgeon, chats me up at medical dinners – I just love that. And my brother has helped me with my website. My sister, a big fan of romance, has trooped along to conferences with me. And my mother is my biggest fan – that’s special. And I can’t forget my husband who let me quit my job to write – he’s amazing!

9. Besides writing, what other interests do you have?

I am a huge fan of travelling, pretty much anywhere a plane will take me. I also love to exercise and hike in beautiful places – my trips to Tuscany have been amazing for that. I’m also a member of an eleven-year-strong book club with ten amazing women I adore.

10. Can you tell us about what’s coming up next for you writing wise? 

My next release after Changing Constantinou’s Game is in Dec for Harlequin Presents. It’s called The Magnate’s Manifesto. I’m really excited with this one as I wanted to push the boundaries with this heroine. I saw a TV show about a Las Vegas stripper who had bought herself multiple properties and really set herself up economically for life as a dancer. And I thought what if I create a heroine in Bailey, who comes from a poor background, who puts herself through school as a stripper, becomes a high-powered marketing executive and then one day, her past comes barreling back to haunt her just when she thinks she’s put it all behind her. I actually interviewed a former Las Vegas stripper for the book and it was fascinating. In the Magnate’s Manifesto I paired Bailey with a Silicon Valley billionaire who writes a manifesto about women that creates an incident of international female indignation – he’s her boss. You can imagine what happens when you put these two together! Both of them learn some big lessons about who they thought they were. You can find a teaser here.

11. How can readers connect with you online?

You can find me at my website where you can sign up for my quarterly newsletter. Or you can find me on twitter and facebook. I love to hear from readers!

Changing Constantinou’s Game - Book Blurb

One kiss couldn't hurt, could it? 

Alexios Constantinou is notorious for his lethal charm, so when the exquisite Isabel Peters is—literally—dropped into his lap during a hellish elevator ride, he doesn't waste the opportunity! With tensions sky-high after their near-death experience, an insatiable desire ignites between them, and all bets are off. 

But when Alex discovers that reporter Isabel's next story is him, he's furious…yet determined to use it to his advantage. He's calling the shots, but the closer Isabel gets, the closer she comes to discovering his carefully concealed secret. Now, with everything at stake, he'll need a whole new game plan….

Changing Constantinou’s Game - Excerpt

Izzie focused on forking the small amount of food she thought she could consume into her mouth at the small candlelit table Alex had set on the terrace. The herbed pasta was delicious, but it was hard to eat when her heart was still pounding and her hands trembling so much negotiating a fork seemed like a new and highly complex activity. And why wouldn't it when she had literally jumped into the deep end and invited the most spectacularly good looking man she'd ever met to kiss her--and he had!  Not to mention the fact that the kiss had been the most incredible of her life and all she could think about was experiencing more of the bone-meltingly delicious heat that had coursed through her veins. It was like every nerve ending in her body had been switched on for the first time and she wasn't sure whether to revel in it or be completely terrified of what she was feeling.

She swallowed hard, forced down the food. The fact that she'd been right--that Alex was attracted to her--made her head feel like it was going to blow off.  Maybe Jo was right. Maybe it had been her defensive attitude that had turned men off in the past and not the fifteen extra pounds she'd been carrying. Which had always been her excuse.

She took another sip of the rich, full Cabernet that was going a long way to mellowing her out. But the wine didn't seem to be having the same effect on Alex who'd glowered at her throughout the entire meal-as if she'd committed a crime rather than simply kissed him.

She risked a quick glance at him.  He was still watching her with that same, implacable frown on his face, that penetrating blue gaze of his impossible to read. And it occurred to her she hadn't fully thought through her plan. She had the mind numbing confirmation he was attracted to her...the question now was what was she going to do about it?

Her heart pounding in her chest, she set her fork down with an abrupt movement, and the sound of metal clattering against fine china echoed in the still night air.

He gave her half-empty plate a narrowed glance. "That's all you're going to eat?"

"It was delicious, thank you. I think that's about all I can handle.'
"All right." He laid his fork down with a deliberate movement and pushed his plate away.  "Let's talk about what happened."

Gladly.  She took another sip of her wine to fortify herself and set the glass down.

"That kiss shouldn't have happened."

She was ready for that one.  "Why not?

"I'm much more experienced than you, Isabel. I'm not interested in relationships, in fact mine never last longer than a few months, and the women I date are well aware of that."


He did a double take at the belligerent note in her voice. "You're also probably still in shock from what happened today."

"I'm absolutely fine," she countered.  "In fact I feel like I have more clarity right now than I've ever had in my life."

He sat back in his chair, his gaze on her face.  "What kind of clarity?"

She twisted the stem of her wine glass on the table, watching the blood red liquid shimmer in the candlelight. "That was my worst fear today. Facing it-getting through it-" she paused, looking up at him, "--it's made me realize how much of my life I've lived in many times I've not gone after what I wanted because I was afraid I wouldn't get it or it would explode in my face."

He gave a wary nod.  "That's a good realization."

She shook her head.  "I'm not looking for a relationship, Alex." A husky laugh escaped her.  "In fact, that's the last thing I need right now."

His eyes narrowed. "Then what are you looking for?"

"I don't want to live with any more regrets."

He shook his head, a wry smile curving his lips. "You're twenty-five, Isabel. How many regrets can you have?"

She took a deep breath, meeting his gaze head-on. "I will regret it if I walk away from tonight without exploring the attraction that's between us."

A muscle jumped in his jaw.  He sat there completely silent, staring at her.  "I'm not sure you know what you're doing."

She shook her head.  "I know exactly what I'm doing."

A long moment passed, it might have been four, five seconds, she wasn't sure. All she knew was that she was holding her breath, sure at one point he was going to reject her. The warm night air pressed so heavily against her lungs she thought they would burst.  And then something shifted, morphed on the air between them. And she got her answer in the darkening of his eyes.



JENNIFER HAYWARD has been a fan of romance since filching her sister’s novels to escape her teenaged angst.
Her career in journalism and PR, including years of working alongside powerful, charismatic CEOs and traveling the world, has provided perfect fodder for the fast-paced, sexy stories she likes to write, always with a touch of humour. You can find out more about Jennifer and her books and sign up for her newsletter at her website. Or you can find her on twitter and facebook.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

BROUGHT TO HIS KNEES blog tour stop!

Hi all! Cynthia D’Alba here. Thank you to Patti for having Sabrina York, Tina Donahue and Me from the BROUGHT TO HIS KNEES author collection on the Romance Reviews Today Blog. Brought To His Knees is a collection of 11 stories from 11 well-known authors celebrating the fall of the Alpha male when finally succumbing to love. Here’s a little enticement….

The Alpha male. Strong. In control. Letting no one and nothing rule him…until he meets the one, and all bets are off. The world tilts, the bed rocks, and suddenly that tough guy finds himself Brought to His Knees—in more ways than one.

This collection of ten hot to erotic novellas and one short erotic novel will take you on journeys of lust, love, and adventure, leave you breathless and quite possibly in need of a cold shower.

Enter with anticipation. Finish satisfied…

Sounds yummy, huh? I’ve been able to get Tina and Sabrina to sit still and sober up long enough to answer some questions, but honestly, I make no promises about what either of these two ladies (*cough ladies..snicker*cough) might say.

So here we go…

Question 1. Name five things (not research notes) that are on your desk right now.
Sabrina: Okay, first of all, I do not have a desk. (Cynthia here. See what I mean? Trouble and it’s only question #1) I write at the dining room table. And, if I am being brutally honest, there are: 1. Numerous empty Starbucks cups (venti, decaf, sugarfree vanilla Americano with three Splendas) 2. Chocolate wrappers 3. Colored markers (don’t ask) 4. Stickie note pads and 5. My cell phone. (There are also multiple pens that don’t write when I need them to and mangled paperclips)
Tina: 1. Another computer; 2) Breakfast: 3) Dozens of pens (stole them from hotels I’ve been in); 4) A Betty Boop fountain glass where I keep Magic Markers; 5.) My elbows (it’s early – I’m tired) (Cynthia here…Early? Please. Only if she’s a vampire! I sent these questions at night.)
Cynthia: (My turn! Yeah): A heavy iron cowboy boot picture frame with my boyfriend’s picture (that’d be Tim McGraw…But tell Faith Hill!) 2.) An oriental bowl that has become a collection of “stuff” 3) Rulers. Now why I need 5(!) rules when I write fiction, I have no idea. (Maybe one of you do!); 4) Desk Business Card Holders (4 of them! Don’t ask. I have no “visitors” in my office; 5) A lamp with a mobile detailing the plot for Texas Tango (I don’t collage, so I did a mobile in class instead.

Question 2: What is your writing day like?

Sabrina - It depends if it’s a good day or a not good day. On a good day, I review my outline, sit down and write. I can write up to 10k a day on a good day. On a bad day, I get up, review my outline and stare at my computer. There may be cuss words. On a really bad day, I write like the wind and realize somewhere around 5pm that it’s all crap and I have to start over.
I have no life other than writing. Seriously. I do not. If I am not writing or plotting or editing, I am on social media, promoting, doing ad layouts, formatting or uploading books or dealing with other business issues. Occasionally I leave the house to find food-like substances, but not very often. I live in my bunny slippers.
Tina: Oh god, don’t ask. I crawl out of bed at 2 am to write until 6 am when I begin my day job. After it’s over, I go back to writing. I try to write 2-5k words daily.
Cynthia: Well, let’s see. My live-in housekeeper brings me coffee in bed about 8. If I arise earlier, I’ll bring for service. I read the paper that my housekeeper (and my faithful dog) get from the driveway. Some mornings I get my nails done or get a message. I’ll check email and Facebook about noonish, when my housekeeper brings me a fresh salad. In the afternoon, I try to get in a little nap before dinner and some evening television.
How’d that sound? All BS. Writing is my “day job” so I get up about 7, drink coffee, read the paper, shove my live-in housekeeper (i.e. husband) out the door (if he hasn’t already left to go fishing,) and then I sit and type…all day…every day.  

Question 3 - . If you could have dinner anywhere with any five authors, dead or alive, which five would you choose?

Sabrina: I would have dinner with Cynthia D’Alba (because let’s face it, last time I had a meal with her, she brought cover model Shane Rice) (hee hee from Cynthia), Jennifer Kacey (because she is awesome), Tina Donahue (because, ditto), Erin Simone (because she is a Decadent Diva) and Delilah Devlin (because she’s been such an amazing supporter to my career).  They are all amazingly talented authors, wonderful friends and a hoot. The meal would happen somewhere in Vegas, probably in some fancy restaurant and George Clooney would join us (and pick up the tab).
Tina: 1) Stieg Larsson; 2) Margaret Atwood; 3) Alice Sebold; 4) Sol Stein 5) George Orwell
Cynthia: 1–4) Matthew, Mark, Luke and John from the Bible. I have some questions for those four. 5) Rachel Hauck, the most awesome, deeply believing, inspirational author. I’d bring Rachel because she’d make me behave (unlike Sabrina who would FOR SURE get me in trouble!)

Question 4 - If you weren’t writing, what other career would you have?

Sabrina: I would be a movie star probably. I always imagine I am the star of my movie—I mean heroine of my story—anyway.  (PS Don’t tell anyone I have a Masters Degree in Public Administration or they might make me go work in government again)
Tina: Well, if it were possible I’d be a trust-fund baby without a care in the world. If not, then I’d probably be a biologist.
CynthiaWell, I’m so stealing Tina’s answer…Trust Fund Baby. But that’s where my thievery stops. I’m not going to be a biologist. I’m steal from Sabrina because OMG! I’d have to weight my weight to the point of skinny to be a movie star and that’s SO not me! 

Question 5 -Tell us about your release. Give us a blurb to tease us!
Sabrina: My story is a playful romp between a man and the woman he desperately wants…but cannot have. HAHAHA I love making a hero suffer. But don’t worry, everybody wins in the end!

 Whipped by Sabrina York
Dane Coulter is mourning the loss of his best friend, fellow Special Ops buddy, Cody. Oh, Cody didn’t die. It’s worse. He’s getting married. Cody is, in Dane’s opinion, whipped. Dane swears he will never suffer the same fate. But when he meets a woman who can take all his dominant loving and beg for more, he realizes he may have met his match. It’s a damn shame she’s the one woman in the world his man-code deems untouchable…his best friend’s sister.
Here is a little teaser:
“Anything you won’t do? Because I’ll be frank. I like a little kink.”
Holy God.
First of all, the heat scorching her was mind-numbing. Literally.
Mind. Numbing.
Those brash words from Dane’s gorgeous lips and she nearly lost her balance.
Second of all—he liked kink.
So, in fact, did she.
Tina: Make Me Surrender is a smokin’ hot menage between two biker types – Travis and Dutch – and Mercy – a young woman they believe is oh-so wholesome and sweet. Damn, does she change their minds on that.
Make Me Surrender by Tina Donahue
She has a proposition…to win their attention, passion, hearts.

For over a year, Mercy’s had her eye on Travis and Dutch, two of the hottest guys on the Oregon coast. Dark and dangerously virile, Travis owns a saloon that caters to bikers. Dutch looks like one, right down to his impressive tats, and operates a motorcycle repair shop on the premises.
When a position opens in the saloon’s kitchen, Mercy sees a way to be near these sinfully sexy men, wanting the job and lodging, her cabin snuggled between theirs.
Travis isn’t so sure about having Mercy nearby. She’s deliciously curvy, but too nice. He’s into temporary fun. To Dutch, forever is a dirty word.
Imagine their surprise when sweet little Mercy encourages wild nights of carnal pleasure with a dash of bondage and spanking…followed by friendship and tenderness.
Before she’s through, these tough guys will be the ones who’ve surrendered.

Cynthia: My hero and heroine are sent on forced vacations to the Sand Castle Resort, a private island resort in the Caribbean. Hero arrives with an “I’m going to hate this,” attitude. Heroine decides to leave her stuffy accountant personality at home and release the fun personality for vacation, so she springs from the plane ready for some fun times. And boy, does she find them!

A Cowboy’s Seduction by Cynthia D’Alba

Brock Wade has raised his brothers and sister since their parents’ deaths fourteen years ago. All work and no vacation can make a cowboy a tad grumpy, or at least that’s what his family and crew believe. Brock wants to spend the two weeks before Christmas working as usual. Instead he’s forced by his siblings to take a vacation to the Sand Castle Resort…a vacation he doesn’t want to a Caribbean resort he’s never heard of. He’s sure he’ll be miserable the whole time.
Natalie Diamond is dreaming of getting out of icy Memphis and down to her parents’ oceanfront condo for a couple of weeks of rest and warmth. When her parents accept an out-of-town invitation, she’s sure she’ll be stuck at home watching it sleet and snow. But instead of leaving Natalie shivering, her parents send her on an all-expense paid trip to the Sand Castle Resort.
A casual friendship over drinks rapidly evolves into a hot seduction, which is great until feelings get involved. When vacation is over, Brock and Natalie are forced to make the difficult decision to walk away or see where life might lead them.
But falling in love in two weeks isn’t possible. Right?

Last question -How we can connect with you online.

Sabrina: I am everywhere!!!!  FOLLOW ME!
Like my Amazon Author Page:
Like my Facebook Author Page
Follow me on Twitter @sabrina_york
Check out my Pintrest boards:
Join my newsletter & tiara contest:
Follow my blog for juicy updates: 

Tina:  (From Cynthia…Like Sabrina, she’s everywhere!)

Cynthia (and the person least likely to overwhelm you with links! Hee hee)
Newsletter (If you have to chose one, this is the one to chose!) -

Well, if this collection doesn’t keep you up reading late into the night, I don’t know what will!

BROUGHT TO HIS KNEES will be available for a LIMITED TIME only! Get your copy for the VERY low price of $.99

Thanks for coming by today! Be sure to leave a comment AND do the Rafflecopter for a chance to win books or a gift card. 

Ta-Ta ‘til we meet again! Cynthia D’Alba, signing off for the Brought To His Knees Gang

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