Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rock*it Reads: Guest Post with Vanessa Kelly + Giveaway

Vanessa Kelly writes fantastic Regency romance as well as hot contemporary romance with her husband. That's totally awesome! Today, Vanessa is sharing an excerpt from her Rock*It Reads book Fastball as well as what it's like to hang out with 9 fellow authors. Vanessa always has something fun happening on her blog as well as fab giveaways on Facebook. Vanessa's a repeat offender (here and here) when it comes to hanging out at the blog but hey! we love her and she's just fantastic :)


Meet Vanessa:
Vanessa Kelly writes award-winning, Regency-set historical romance for Kensington Zebra. Booklist has named her as one of the “new stars of historical romance,” and she recently received a Reviewer’s Choice nomination from RT Book Reviews for Best Regency Historical Romance. When Vanessa isn’t writing historical romance, she slips into a phone booth and changes into the garb of V.K. Sykes, the writer of sexy contemporary romance. But there’s a catch—she writes those books with her husband, Randy. This collaboration has given her tremendous insight into the workings of the male mind, which has its advantages and disadvantages. Fortunately, hubby is an excellent writer who also has the sense to let Vanessa write all the love scenes and appropriately dress their heroines.

Connect with Vanessa: Author Site | Facebook | Twitter | Blog
Connect with VK: Author Site | Facebook | Twitter

It Takes Two…or Ten!
By Vanessa Kelly/VK Sykes

Hi Kati & Jamie! Thanks so much for having me on the blog today, and for hosting all the authors of Rock*It Reads. I’m really excited to be part of such a dynamic group of published writers who are venturing into the brave (kind of new) world of indie publishing.

Some of your readers might know me from my Regency-set historical romances, published by Kensington Zebra. I’m still writing those books, I’m happy to say. My next Kensington book, His Mistletoe Bride, will be out in October and I’m pretty excited about it. But I’m also excited about my self-publishing ventures, for a couple of reasons I’d like to tell you about.

I love the sense of control that comes along with self-publishing. Story idea, content, cover—it’s all up to me. In fact, self-publishing has allowed me to adopt a whole new persona. For those books I’m VK Sykes, author of sexy contemporary romance. Fun, right? And what I like even more about my indie books is that I’m not producing them all by my lonesome. I have a partner—my husband, Randy.

Writing as part of a team has been a wonderful experience. Two minds working together on one plot, one story problem, and all the other challenges that come with writing a book. Hubby is a really, really good writer too. He comes up with great ideas, is a fab researcher, and produces the first draft. Then he hands it over to me to revise, add the sex scenes (he’s kind of shy about that stuff), and make sure the heroine isn’t wearing some goofy outfit that went out of style ten years ago.

Not that every moment is a bed of roses, but I truly enjoy working with him. Being part of a team has helped me to up my game. We argue over every plot point and scenario, working to make the book as good as it can be. I can honestly say it’s made me a better writer, since I know that I can’t slack off or just dial things in if I’m having a bad day. If I do that, hubby gives me the look over the top of his glasses, which says that it’s back to revisions for me!

Being a member of Rock*It Reads has had a similar effect. Knowing that I’m in this high-powered collective—one that’s committed to producing only great quality books—has made me take my game up yet another notch. When you’re in a group with writers like Pamela Clare and Kris Kennedy, you do not want to take the easy way out. Trust me on that one!

Teamwork really works for me. Both with my VK Sykes books and with Rock*It Reads, we share the work, we share the pain, and we will hopefully share the glory!

Speaking of teamwork, here’s the blurb and an excerpt from one of our latest VK Sykes books. Fastball is another one of our sexy sports romances, a prequel to our award-winning sports romance, Hardball. And please check out our newest book. Hot Number is a very sexy, fun book set in Las Vegas, starring a geeky math prof as the heroine and a handsome, tough casino security chief as the hero.

Happy reading!

Maddie spotted Jake immediately, already seated and looking astoundingly handsome in a navy sports jacket that framed his broad shoulders, a crisp white shirt, and a gold silk tie. The tie alone would likely have cost her at least a week’s salary and, for a moment, she couldn’t hold back
a flash of anxiety. Jake Miller was so far out of her league it wasn’t even funny, and she had to fight the urge to back slowly out of the room before he even saw her. Impossible, of course, since the maitre’d was conducting her to the table with as much ceremony as a drum major led the band before a college bowl game.

Suck it up and act like a pro, girl.

She plastered a smile on her face as Jake stood to greet her, his sexy mouth parting in a slow grin, his gaze flicking appreciatively over her body. For a few seconds, she actually felt faint with pleasure and nerves, and she had to clamp down hard on the dizzy sensations rocking her body. Despite the effort, she could still feel the blush spreading over her cheeks, and the butterflies in her stomach went into full flap as Jake gallantly brushed
the maitre’d aside and pulled out a chair to seat her.

As a sportswriter, Maddie was used to being around hot guys. She’d had her share of locker room encounters, and had seen enough naked chests and towel-wrapped asses to make such sights routine. But no player had affected her quite like Jake Miller, and she’d only seen him fully dressed. All he’d done so far was smile and pull out her chair for her, but she could already feel her hormones sparking in reaction.

And she couldn’t even remember the last time a guy had pulled out a chair for her, waiting until she was settled before taking his own seat. She had to get a grip on her all-too-eager libido or she might be offering to have his babies before they finished the first course.

“Thanks, Jake. Sorry if I’m a bit late. I hope you haven’t been waiting long.” She tried for casual, even though she felt anything but.

He shook his head, sending a lock of thick, wheat-colored hair sliding onto his forehead. He quickly raked a hand back to put it in place. “Maddie, would you mind if I say that you look absolutely spectacular tonight?”

She accepted the compliment with a smile and fussed with her purse for a moment before meeting his gaze. Casual wasn’t working, so maybe a little honesty was called for. “I’m not exactly sure how to do this, Jake. I’m obviously not used to conducting an interview under these circumstances. Maybe the best thing would be to eat, and then I’ll get out my recorder and we’ll talk business over coffee. Would that be okay?”

Jake shrugged, and Maddie found herself mesmerized by the slide of his brawny shoulders under the smooth, expensive fabric of his jacket. She blinked and gave her head a mental shake. Man, she truly needed to get a grip.

“Sounds good,” he said. “But why don’t we make a start on it now, after we get you a drink?”

“Even better,” she said, relieved to focus on work. Right now, it felt just a bit too personal for her comfort.

Jake motioned to the waiter. Since it was supposed to be a business meeting, she thought about ordering a coke or mineral water. But she opted instead
for a glass of Sauvignon blanc, secretly acknowledging she could use a drink to settle her nerves. Jake ordered a bottle and Maddie retrieved her digital recorder, placing it on the table between them.

“Okay to start?” she said.

He leaned back, elbows resting on the arms of his chair, fingers laced in an easy grip. “Fire when ready,” he replied, looking totally relaxed. Maddie had never met a man who seemed more comfortable in his own skin, and it had the effect of easing her own nervous tension.

You can do this. Just stick to the prepared questions and you’ll be fine.

A deep breath and she launched into her questions. “Jake, I’m sure you must be expecting that I’ll want you to talk about the progress of your recovery from the ankle surgery,” she said rather formally for the benefit of the recorder. “About your expectations for this season and so on. I do want to talk about all that, but we can get to those things later, if that’s all right.”

He arched his brows slightly. Good. She had surprised him.

“I say that,” she continued, “because that stuff isn’t really what I’m interested in for a feature piece.”

He unleashed one of those sexy smiles. “Whatever you like, Maddie. I’m in your capable hands.”

It finally dawned on her just how much that devastating smile contributed to his charm. His was an open and honest face with chiseled features, and his easy, masculine grin conveyed both mature intelligence and good humor. Maddie found it disarmingly inviting.

She blinked, losing her bearings for just a second before pulling it back together.

“Um, what I want to write about is what it’s been like to be Jake Miller, ballplayer and man. What was it like for you growing up? What were your hopes and dreams, and have you fulfilled them yet? What your life is like now, both on and off the field—who you’re close to, what inspires you, that sort of thing.”

His sharp gaze narrowed on her, as if assessing her intent. That irked her a bit, since she’d been straight with him from the beginning. If someone at this table had an ulterior motive for the evening, it sure as hell wasn’t her.

Excerpt from Fastball ©2012 by V.K. Sykes


Baseball reporter Maddie Leclair has spent years chasing her dream job—covering the major league team, the Philadelphia Patriots. Now that she’s landed the assignment she intends to make it big, with feature articles on the front page of every sports section in the country. But to do that, she needs to score an interview with the most private and elusive athlete in baseball, Patriots’ superstar Jake Miller.

On the rebound from a devastating injury that knocked him out of play for a season, Jake has a lot to prove to the suits in the head office. He’s sure he still has what it takes to win, and he’ll be damned if he lets anything get in the way of his climb back to the top of the charts.

The last thing Jake needs is a pushy female reporter distracting him. But one look at Maddie and he knows he’s in trouble. He finds himself trying for a different kind of play, one that involves bedrooms and not baseball stats. Sleeping together could damage both their careers, and Maddie is all about saying no.  But when it comes to the game of love, Jake is playing to win.
Get Your Own Copy: Kindle | Nook | Smashwords
Other Books by VK/Vanessa:

Okay ladies, here's the deal. Vanessa is giving away to two(2) lucky readers an ebook copy of HOT NUMBER and FASTBALL. Here's how to get your hands on some sexy athletes:
  • Leave a meaningful comment for Vanessa about athletes, self pubbed reads or the Rock*It Reads project.
  • Fill out the rafflecopter form below. You must leave a comment. All other entries are optional.
Keep up with the fun posts by the ladies of Rock*It Reads here.

A huge thank you to Vanessa for sharing a bit about the Rock*It Reads project as well as the giveaway copies of Hot Number and Fastball. All excerpts are copyrighted by Vanessa Kelly/VK Sykes.

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