Guest: Sarah Mayberry talks Keeper Shelves

Look who we have visiting with us, you guys! It’s Sarah Mayberry!!! Hold on a sec – *squeeee*  – okay. Just had to get that out. 😉 If you’ve never read anything by Ms. Mayberry before, you simply must. I read her Blaze books and was hooked. Whenever someone looked at me and said “Well I don’t read categories because they’re a horrible.” I’d respond, “Go read a Sarah Mayberry and come back and say that to my face.” (There are a few*coughs* many other authors on that list too, of course.)

My Keeper Shelf

Before I start, a big thanks to Limecello for having me here today – I love talking to romance readers and readers in general. In fact, the love of reading is pretty much what I wanted to talk about today.

People who love to read have a lot of stuff in common. We all know what it’s like to be so entranced with a story that when life calls us away before it’s finished we spend the intervening time with one ear/eye on the conversation/event/job at hand while the rest of our brain is back in the story, wondering what’s going to happen next. We all have massive TBR piles (and we know that TBR means To Be Read without asking!) and Keeper Shelves. And we all have our own personal metric for what makes a book good, bad or awesome.

For me, that measure is whether it made my chest ache. Now, I’m not talking cardiac pain here ( at least, I hope I’m not!). I’m talking about the physical sensation of tightness I get in my upper chest when I am reading a book that has engaged my emotions so deeply that I literally feel pain for them. Usually this is because the writer has done a great job of showing me the characters’ inner pain – the conflict within them that stops the world (and the hero or heroine) from seeing who they really are. Well motivated, deeply felt emotional misunderstandings absolutely kill me and almost guarantee a book a place on my keeper shelf.

Don’t get me wrong, I love light and fluffy, funny stuff, too. That’s another way to make it onto my Keeper shelf – make me laugh out loud. Even better, make me laugh out loud AND want to share the relevant passage with my husband so he can enjoy it, too. But generally speaking, it’s a deep emotional engagement with the story that really hooks me into a book.

Because it’s what I like to read, it’s also what I try to write. I spend a lot of time thinking about my characters before I start in on the first chapter. I don’t do checklists like some ‘how-to’ books advise – frankly, I’m not too fussed about what my heroine’s favourite color is! – but I do think about their relationships with their parents and siblings, what their school years were like and how they view the world. I think about events that have shaped that view, too. Pivotal things like childhood trauma or a messy divorce or a horrible romantic break up. I want my characters to feel as though they have a life before the book came along and that that life will continue once the last page is read. I want readers to feel for these people I am creating, because I certainly do. I don’t consider my work done as a writer unless I cry at least once while writing a book. Sometimes it’s more than once. Some books, I cried every time I went over certain scenes or passages as the book made its way through the production process.

But I also try to make readers laugh in amongst all that angst and emotion, because that’s what I like, too. The ups and downs and absurdities. Life is like that, don’t you think? And that’s what I try to convey.

The heroine of my current release, More Than One Night, wound up being one of those characters who really touched me as I wrote. Charlie is such a staunch, solid person, so determined to do the right thing by everyone, but she has such a warped view of her place in the world because of a withholding father who never showed her that she was loved. Charlie has spent her adult life trying to be worthy, looking for connection and, when she fails to find it, blaming herself. I found her incredibly moving to write, because who of us has never craved the love and approval of a parent, and who of us has never felt unloveable on some occasion? (If you’re reading this and thinking “me” in answer to that question, I want your childhood and your self esteem!)

If More Than One Night makes it onto some keeper shelves because of the emotion I have invested in this story, then I will be a very happy and humble writer, because I know that means the story will be re-read and will live long in a reader’s memory, in the same way that my keeper books live long in mine. Whenever I want a guaranteed good read, I peruse the shelf for something that suits my mood and settle in for some good times. Because I know I’d be curious if I was reading this blog by another author, I’m going to share a few of my favourite keeper books with you. I adore Lisa Kleypas’ Blue Eyed Devil and Smooth Talking Stranger. Kristin Higgins Just One Of The Guys gets me every time. I adore Victoria Dahl’s Lead Me On and Mary Balogh’s The Secret Pearl  nearly killed me I wanted the hero and heroine to get together so much. There are more, but I won’t bore you.

I’d love to hear what makes a book a keeper for you. Is it heartfelt angst? Smokin’ hot sexy stuff? Laughs? Silliness and escapism and fun? And what books are on your keeper shelf?

I’m giving away two copies of More Than One Night today. All you have to do is comment to be in the running. Looking forward to reading your responses.

0 thoughts on “Guest: Sarah Mayberry talks Keeper Shelves

  1. Shannon

    Hi Limecello!
    For some reason I just love the Tami Hoag book Lucky’s Lady. I have gone through a couple of copies, tossing the tattered one and getting a new one. I’ve probably read it every year for 10 years and loaned it out a half dozen times. I can’t put my finger on what it is, the dialog, the sensuality maybe it’s that the story is set in New Orleans which is always steamy.
    The Number One Ladies Detective Agency books are on my keeper shelf. They are just delightful to read on a rainy afternoon with a cup of tea. Those books are so simple in their storytelling and leave you content.
    I will definately check out your Blaze recommendation. I love Presents, but got really turned off of Blaze until I read some of Vicki Lewis Thompson’s new ones and since have just stuck with her.

  2. maldivianbookreviewer

    Hmm.. keeper shelves. This is a topic I like.

    Gotta say Sarah, I haven’t read ANY of the books you have mentioned except for Blue Eyed Devil which was a five star read for me. I really have to read the rest in the series by LK.

    Shannon, you have mentioned a book that just staked a claim on my heart from the very moment Lucky walked in. Oh my! That man definitely wears sexy so very well and takes it to a whole new level.

    So books on my keeper shelf.

    1- Judith McNaught’s historical romances. One book I constantly find myself re-reading is Until You. Oh well. Who am I kidding. I re-read the whole lot every now and then.

    2- Books by Linda Howard. They are to-die for. Seriously. She is one hell of a writer, does the whole alpha hero thing so well that I can’t help but fall in love with her characters and the story every.single.time. One of my favorites is Mr. Perfect. Sam, if you ever find yourself single, call me!

    3- Karen Robard’s Wild Orchids. Max!! (enough said!)

    4- Guilty Needs by Shiloh Walker. This is a novella that is seriously overlooked. Widowed hero who finds love with his wife’s best friend, who has been in love with him like forever. Oh my, the emotion overload and the scorching heat. *gets a glazed look in the eyes*

    5- Dangerous Secrets by Lisa Marie Rice. A definite keeper for me. Librarian heroine and an uber alpha and protective Nick! What’s not to love?

    I guess I will stop for now. But if you guys want more, I always share, especially when it comes to my love of romances!

    1. sarah mayberry (@MayberrySarah)

      Hi MBR. Fancy seeing you here! Guilty Needs sounds like a very similar plot to my next book, Within Reach, although the heroine was not in love with the hero while the wife was alive – neither of them noticed each other until circumstances led to them being sort-of forced together. I shall have to give Shiloh’s book a shot – I see her name around a bit and have been meaning to give her a try. And I *really* need to check out some Linda Howard *hangs head in shame*

      1. maldivianbookreviewer

        You should know that I ‘STALK’ you whenever I can. LOL!

        That being said, you HAVE NEVER read a Linda Howard?? *Eeek* OMG!
        You definitely need to. Start with MY Sam’s book! You won’t regret it. Its funny, witty and sexayy! With a creepy killer tossed in too. 😉

        Damn, I need to go re-read me some Sam. xx

  3. Mary Kirkland (@scarymary66)

    Any book that can move me by the end of the story usually ends up being a keeper. If after reading that very last page I close the book with a sigh and take a deep breath, holding the book in my lap and just stewing in the story because I didn’t want it to end…yeah that’s a keeper.

    *For some reason this post wouldn’t let me log in the way I usually do*

    1. sarah mayberry (@MayberrySarah)

      hi Mary. I love that “stewing” moment, too. The big sigh. The gazing off into the distance. The resistance to re-entering the real world. I get really cranky when I’ve finished a great book, because I don’t want to leave the world of the book. Then I put it on my keeper shelf and wait until I’ve forgotten enough of it to read it again!

  4. Kim in Hawaii

    Aloha, Sarah! I tend not to keep books (gasp) because we move often. Also, I prefer to share a great story with another romance fan. That being said, I do keep autographed books (like yours). Perhaps the most unique is Christine Skye – she signed it in Chinese!

    1. sarah mayberry (@MayberrySarah)

      Hi Kim. We move a lot, too, but not for a good reason, like you, but because we’re gypsies. Sort of. (Mostly it’s because my husband keeps getting jobs in other places!) I have started trying to read mostly ebooks to cut down on the book pile up, but when I love a book, I have to have a paper copy, so it’s not working that well… But good for my favourite authors, who get two sales!

  5. JoAnne

    What an enjoyable post. I will have to give your books a try. Not sure if I’ve read them before.
    A keeper book for me has to be a fun read but also show emotion – both the characters and me while reading.
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Liz

    What a great post, Sarah! I also really enjoy knowing what others are reading and re-reading.

    Most of the books on my keeper shelves are the hot ‘n steamy ones that made my fingers scorch. I keep all of Laurann Dohner’s New Species and Cyborg books, I just love her world building. And Shelly Laurenston’s Magnus Pack series is one of my favs about wolf and cat shifters. Not only hot as all get out, but she’s really freaking hilarious, too!

    Urgh…my TBR pile? I might actually make a dent in it if I stopped adding to it! I’m trying to read 100 books this year and keeping track on goodreads, so I read a lot. For me to say I actually re-read a story says a lot about the book.

    Best wishes on your new release, Sarah!

    1. sarah mayberry (@MayberrySarah)

      Oooh, cyborgs. I loved Seven of Nine in Star Trek Voyager. Maybe I should check Dohner out. I hear you on the teetering TBR, though. Mine fluctuates, and I love it when I know I have some great reads ahead of me, but sometimes I feel overwhelmed when I have too much.

  7. Bella Franco

    Hi Sarah:)
    I usually buy all my books as ebooks so I don’t have to lug them around when moving, and read library copies if the holds list isn’t too long. If the book really touched me or was like crack to read cuz of good drama, romance, or adventure then I buy it in hardcover to keep….and take it to ALA or a local author event to get signed if I’m lucky. I’ve also been known to buy a paperback version so I can loan it out to friends cuz no way are they touching my HC’s or signed copies! lol. A few of the books on my keeper list are:

    1) The Twilight series & Hunger Games Trilogy. I put these together b/c they pretty much came out ’round same time &before them I had never read a YA book. My teachers & librarians never mentioned such a thing existed and back then my public library made the mistake of keeping YA on the same floor as the Juvenile books so no way would any teen be caught dead there lol! I’d never read about vampires, werewolves, or anything like that before so I was hooked. I’d loved The Road by Cormac McCarthy (also on my keeper list as I LOVE dystopian post-apocalyptic books) but it had no romantic love story in it. So when I got Hunger Games, man I was in love with it and in a way they were my introduction to romances.Then I found the real romance genre….

    2) Anything and everything by Nalini Singh! I love her romances, especially her Guild Hunter series with a world of angels and vampires. I’m dying for Illium’s story, he’s thoroughly charmed me♥

    3) Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Not only are the covers gorgeous but dang the storytelling is awesome! Her world-building and characters feel so real to me that I think Ms Briggs really does know these people and is just pretending the were and fey communities of her books are imagination cuz they made her swear to it!

    4) Anything by Richelle Mead. I started out with her Vampire Academy YA series but her adult paranormal romance/UF’s are just as addicting! Plus the sex more than PG in those lol.

    5) Jennifer Ashley’s Highland Pleasures series. The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie was the first romance I ever read where the leading man not only had Asperger’s but also made him feel real and believable, and it fit historically that he would be seen as mad. And the MacKenzie brothers have a dynamic relationship that sucks you in and keeps you wanting to know what happens next in their family too, so I love this series.

    1. sarah mayberry (@MayberrySarah)

      Ha! Great post., Bella. The perfect length for anyone who loves reading! Sounds like you are a paranormal/fantasy reader. I have read a few paranormal romances, but I cut my teeth on straight fantasy and really love writers like George RR Martin and Robin Hobb and Anne McCaffrey. I need to read more outside of my comfort zone (which tends to be mostly contemporaries and historicals). I really enjoyed the Hunger Games and can’t to see the movie. The casting seems good, so that’s always an excellent sign.

      1. Bella Franco

        I havent read much straight fantasy but love LOTR, both books &films. A friend also lent me his Icewind Dale trilogy and that was good but not something I’d re-read. Havent tried George RR Martin yet though.

  8. Kim

    There are so many books on my keeper shelf. Most of Judith McNaught’s books are keepers, such as Almost Heaven and Paradise. All of Julie James’s books are also keepers. JJ is great at combining a strong and successful hero/heroine with witty repartee. I also thought Private Arrangements and His At Night by Sherry Thomas were keepers. Finally, all of Nora Roberts’ early Silhouette books are keepers.

  9. jeannemiro

    Hi Limecello and Sarah –

    I have two favorite books which are The Secret Garden, the book that made me love to read, and Don Quoixote de La Mancha by Cervantes, the book that made me love to read romance.

    I received The Secret Garden as a Christmas gift when I was in the 5th grade and it taught me to be aware of the feelings of others. It is a story about the problems of a family and it’s regeneration. As the youngest in the family I was quiet and shy overpowered by the dynamics of the rest of the family. This book made me recognize and understand my family in a completely different way.

    Don Quoixote introduced me to a true hero who fought for other’s rights, who never gave up trying and to strive to always be the best person you could be. He also taught me to look beyong the outer surface of others to see not only who the person was on the outside but on the insdie as well and most importantly that no matter how hard a task may be to never give up.

    Now that I’m older (or according to my sons I’m really, really old) I love to read romance sometimes with conflicts that the hero and heroine must work to resolve, sometimes with hardships that need to be overcome and sometimes just books that are just plain fun to read!

    Just like in life where “for everything there is a season” when I’m looking for a book to pick up and read sometimes it just depends on if the sun is shining or rain is falling before I know which book is the perfect book to read that day.

  10. Limecello Post author

    Hi Sarah!

    Thanks so much for visiting with us today! (And congratulations on winning your first round of DABWAHA!)
    I’m *whispers* behind on your Supers, but I’m definitely going to read More Than One Night first. I also adore the cover.

    As for keepers… basically it has to be “the perfect book” – although I kinda keep/hoard all my books anyway :X which is why a few years ago I went 100% e-book. I do have a 6′ bookcase where I shelve books sideways to fit more, and that’s my “keeper” shelf. And then the (affectionally!) called “B” team – which runs the width (length?) of my room as a shelf. Packed with books. Again stacked sideways, and shelved 2-3 deep.

    The Secret Pearl totally gutted me when I read it. I also adore Kiss an Angel and Heaven, Texas by SEP (or Susan Elizabeth Phillips). They make me laugh and cry. Or Dreaming of You or Prince of Dreams – if I avoid the time travel-ish bits.
    Out of Control by Shannon McKenna. All wonderfully written stories that have characters that are so *human.*

    Books that make me emotionally invested. That I read again and again and love the same, if not more each time. One that’s incredible is Yours Until Dawn by Theresa Medeiros. Keepers are the “A+” books for me.

    Ones that keep me up all night, that have me ignoring everything else in order to read, and then have me dancing around the house after finishing it.

    1. sarah mayberry (@MayberrySarah)

      Oh, house dancing! Aren’t you good. I tend to sulk and want more when I finish a great book. After the big sigh of contentment, of course. Maybe I should incorporate some house dancing, see if I can get past the sulky bit. I haven’t tried Prince of Dreams. I think it’s the only Kleypas I haven’t read. Time travel… in this context, it scares me. And you’re allowed to be behind on my Supers. I know it was a bit of a leap, going from Blaze to Supers. As i said to someone recently, mine are still pretty hot, but they’re not Blazing hot. Thanks so much for having me here today. And for the DABWAHA congrats. Sorry if I messed up your bracket! But am about to be schooled good and proper by Karina Bliss. Won’t be pretty….

      1. Limecello Post author

        lol Sarah – I sulk too in a few hours if there’s more and I know it/it’s not out yet. Although… I’m pretty meh on series. I’m always that sole voice/detractor. Standing at the edges going “noooooo.”
        Prince of Dreams is so good! Some parts are difficult though. The time travel isn’t so much time travel per se as … well a past life where the hero and heroine were also together. It’s interesting. I felt that Kleypas put a bit too much emphasis on [earlier] heroine though, which detracted from Emma.
        Have you ever read Somewhere I’ll Find You and Because You’re Mine? Two of my favorites. I guess I like series in the sense that they’re connected books that stand alone. Something I think Kleypas excels at in her historicals.

        LOL – you know, I actually … argh. I shouldn’t gone with my heart/gut with that one. I was all “omg DUH Lime, of course Sarah Mayberry will win! But then I tried to use logic. Or perhaps we’ll call it “Lime logic” and I was like “but I’ve seen soooo much Sarah Morgan blah blah on twitter about her books…” Obviously I’m wrong. Also I should’ve known better because I’ve always sucked at logic [problems.]

        Of course – perhaps you should be *thanking me* because… I’m a total DABWAHA curse. Even if you were a 100% sure thing shoo in otherwise… if I’d chosen you you’d get knocked out.

        So you know what, Ms. Mayberry?! YOU’RE WELCOME! ;D

  11. Lami

    Hello Sarah congrats on your win 😉

    This is my first time voting on dabwaha and I voted for you!!

    I went to a Romance Readers Storytelling night (where some of our actors read out excerpts from various romance books) and the host mentioned that romance books give the reader a sort of “romance afterglow” which I think is a lovely way of saying how much we loved that book. My keeper books give me that romance afterglow every time.

    If you are going to read Linda Howard, check out Mackenzie;s Mountain. I have re-read it so often that its being held together with sticky tape.

    Cheers and good luck,
    Lami from Australia.

    1. sarah mayberry (@MayberrySarah)

      Gidday Lami (see what I did there, fellow Aussie?) For the people from other realms, most Australians don’t really say gidday all the time. But sometimes I like to play up to stereotypes as I go out to feed my pet kangaroo and koala. (okay, might be a little punch drunk after late night on deadline!) Thanks for your vote, Lami. Romance Readers Storytelling sounds fantastic. I am all about the afterglow. Good afterglow = Keeper Shelf every time.

  12. sarah mayberry (@MayberrySarah)

    Limecello, I am firmly convinced the only reason I got thru was because my neighbour did some facebook recruiting for votes on my behalf. Otherwise Sarah Morgan would have handed me my ass on a plate. She’s a great writer and incredibly popular, but it just goes to show that sometimes the squeaky wheel really does get the oil! There will be no oil next round, tho. Karina is beloved. She knocked me out of the park last year, too, I think. But it’s all good – lovely simply to be mentioned.

  13. Diane Sallans

    I love family stories & series, so I tend to hold on to books until I’ve finished the whole series. A few of the authors that I keep for re-reads are Diana Palmer, Linda Howard, Catherine Anderson, Suzanne Brockmann, Nora Roberts …. I could go on.

  14. eli yanti

    Hi Sarah,

    I have so many books on my keeper shelf and i love reading all genre book but the most is historical romance, paranormalcy romance and young adult.

    from historical romance : i love lisa kleypas, johanna lindsey, julia quinn, eloise james, julia garwood and some book from new author
    from paranormacly romance : i love alexandra ivy, jeaniene forst, darynda jones, gena showalter.
    from young adult : julie kagawa, richelle mead, sophie jordan etc
    contemporer romance : catherine anderson is my fave 😉

    1. sarah mayberry (@MayberrySarah)

      Hi Eli. Lisa Kleypas can do no wrong as far as I am concerned. I love her historicals, but I really, really love her contemporaries. Can’t wait to read Rainshadow Road. In fact, now that I am off deadline, I should order myself a copy (it’s a bit like having chocolate in the house – if it’s there, I’ll read it, no matter what else I should be doing!)

  15. Pingback: Winners, “Update,” & A Flash Giveaway « Limecello

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