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    August 2012
    11 - Nancy Martin
    13 - JL Hilton

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When Key Lime Pie is Tax Deductible – A Guest Post by Nancy Martin

Hi gang. Cynthia D’Alba here. I am so thrilled to welcome best-selling author and super-nice person Nancy Martin to our little home on the net. Nancy writes wonderful cozy mysteries that make you laugh, and then lust after the uber-sexy Mick. She took a break in her Blackbird Sisters Mysteries but is back with two new ones. As a long-time fan of the series  I squealed like a teenage girl over The Bieber when I heard about the two new books,. So help me make Nancy feel welcome.

When Key Lime Pie is Tax Deductible

I love writing. Most of the time I love it so much, I hate to leave my desk. Sometimes I think I write fiction just so I don’t have to leave the house to do the research for non-fiction.

But lately, I’ve discovered  a new resource for the kind of research I need to do, which is finding all the right clothes for my amateur sleuth, the once pampered Nora Blackbird, who is forced to get a job when her parents ran off with her trust fund. Now she attends charity balls and cocktail parties in her job as the society columnist for a Philadelphia newspaper, but because Nora is broke, she wears fancy duds from her late grandmother’s collection of haute couture. Believe me, I knew nothing about couture when I started this series, so I’ve been researching clothes ever since.

And lately I’ve discovered Pinterest.

Wait! Stop! If you don’t know about Pinterest and are tempted to click, be warned:  IT’S COMPLETELY ADDICTIVE! http://pinterest.com/

Type in a topic that interests you, and you can find a gajillion photos and fun little postings about the subject.  Recipes? Shoes? Mystery novels? Funny sayings.  (Oh, Dorothy Parker, I have always loved you!) Inspirational stuff. Wedding ideas.  (Lots and lots of wedding ideas.)  Show jumping, yes. Sexy men—double yes!

The day I wandered onto Pinterest for the first time, I clicked on “couture,” and suddenly my clothing research for the next ten books was revealed to me in bright color and plenty of detail.  I have found new friends—fashion experts, even a designer for one company that specializes in Mother of the Bride dresses. (Why couldn’t I have me him five years ago when my Mother of the Bride marathon began?) For me, it’s much more fun than Facebook.  (Maybe because the high school boyfriends don’t come looking for me on Pinterest?)

Now I look for any excuse to create a “board” on Pinterest.  (You “pin” things you’re “interested” in on a virtual bulletin board, get it?)

When I realized I had 50 days until the release of my new mystery, I thought, why not create 50 Shades of…something?  The more I thought about it and the more I snooped around on Pinterest,  the more I liked the idea.  But I didn’t want to do gray! How dull. Why not…pink?  Pink is a pretty, innocent kind of color with a few sexy connotations (Surrender the pink, anyone?) but not so sexy that it would shock my mother.  In an hour, I had 50 pink dresses lined up, and I’ve been pinning one every day since.  It’s so fun! And cute, right? People love pink!  And the 50 days is a countdown to the release date of the book, so it’s a subtle enough kind of self-promotion that my grandmother wouldn’t have been appalled.

Here’s a short book trailer I made after cruising around Pinterest for so long that I started playing around with graphics in other ways:

Next week my daughter is throwing me a party in her new home to meet some of her new friends. It’s not exactly a book party since you can’t invite people to a shindig and then ask them to buy a hardcover, so we’re giving away books. Wr’re getting decoration ideas from Pinterest. My daughter is serving refreshments.  She found a special key lime pie at a local bakery.  She said, “It’s kind of pricey, but what the heck.”  I said, “I have some of my marketing budget left.  Let me buy. Refreshments are tax deductible!”  After a long silence, she finally said, “I need a job where key lime pie is tax deductible.”

Become a writer.  You can spend time doing research on Pinterest and buying key lime pie and not feel guilty. Well, not too guilty.

Nancy Martin’s new Blackbird Sisters mystery, NO WAY TO KILL A LADY, hit the stores  on August 7th.

Find Nancy on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/nanmart1/

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authornancymartin

Her website:   http://www.nancymartinmysteries.com/

Cyndi here again: I’ve read every Blackbird Sisters book and I can’t wait to get my hands on this new one! I can truly–without reservation–recommend this series. And if you don’t fall in lust/love with Mick Abruzzo, you’ll be in the minority of her readers!

To get you off on this series, I’m giving away a copy of Mick’s Story!

 I’ll select one winner from the comments let today and through the weekend. The winner will be announced on Monday, August 13. 

So leave a comment! 

Thanks again Nancy for joining us. 


Help Me Design My House!

Sorry for the late post. My sweet hubby let me sleep until almost 10 a.m.! I/We were exhausted and here’s why. Maybe you’ve noticed I haven’t been around for the past week or so. That’s because we made a “quick” run to Florida last Sunday. I thought we’d be gone a couple of days. Instead, we were gone over a week. For the last couple of years we have been toying with the idea of getting a second home in Florida. This past week, we did! Or at least we put down earnest money with closing scheduled for August 17. Now I have some major redecorating/updating to do! This is where you come in. I need some help with colors. Interested? Great. Let’s start with the kitchen.



The countertops have to go! I don’t want granite. Too expensive for a second home. The cabinets are called “pickled” in color but think maple. Pretty light.


I need to paint the walls and replace the counters. Give me some color suggestions.  What do you think about glass mosaic tiles on the wall above the counters?

Hubby wants to make this a  “Florida-flavored” house. I guess “Key West” decor is the closest thing I can come to.

So help!

Fool’s Gold (All Summer Long and A Fool’s Gold Christmas) Reviews

Susan Malllery has been a best selling author for years. However, her latest series, Fool’s Gold, has captured this heart of this true romantic. I confess to not finding the series until books 4, 5 and 6 ( Only Mine, Only Yours, and Only His.) Since each book can stand alone, I jumped into the series with both feet and have been a loyal Fool’s Gold devotee since. Yes, there are reoccurring characters, but each story features a different hero/heroine. What remains the same book after book is the town. You can’t talk about this series without realizing that Fool’s Gold is as much a character in the book as Mayor Marsha.

The fictional town of Fool’s Gold is located in California. It’s a small town full of people who know everything about everybody and like them anyway. There are no shopping malls, or Walmart, or Sears or Home Depot where the townspeople shop. No. Everyone seems to do business with the small business owner who is probably located on the town square. The townsfolk know everyone else. Women play the strong leadership roles within the community (seems there was a man shortage for a while!) Neighbors help neighbors. Houses get decorated for every holiday on the calendar. There is a festival of some kind every weekend (or at least it seems that way.) Finding a real Fool’s Gold would be hard in the real world, I believe and that makes me sad. This is the town so many of us remember growing up in but now the small town community is gone. Mallery has done a wonderful job making me believe in Fool’s Gold and making me want to live there.

Now on to the latest two books in the series:

ALL SUMMER LONG brings together Charlie Dixon, a muscular, tough, firewoman, with underwear model and movie butt double Clay Stryker. Talk about opposites.


Charlie is tough—physically and mentally—because she thinks she has to be. When her biological clock alarm begins ringing, she realizes that she has some issues from her past that must be dealt with before she can raise a mentally healthy child (i.e. not pass on her own fears and phobias to her child.)


Clay is a pretty face…or at least that’s what everybody sees but he wants more. He’s retired from his butt double work (that’s a young man’s game, says the 30 y/o hero!). He hold a college degree and has some ideas of what he’d like to do next. One is moving to Fool’s Gold to be near his family (mother and two brothers, heroes of books 7 (Summer Days) and 8 (Summer Nights).) The next is starting a vacation business based in Fool’s Gold, if he can get the town council (all women) to stop looking at his butt and take him serious. And third, he wants to join the volunteer fire department.

Clay has the assets necessary to help Charlie get past her traumatic history. Charlie has the connections, not to mention does the training for, the volunteer firemen recruits. Tit for tat, so to speak. A simple trade of favors that of course finds each of them falling for the other.

I have to also mention Charlie’s mother, Dominique Guerin. Maybe one of the most selfish, self-centered, egotistical characters I’ve read in a while. I figure some readers will complain that Mallery went over the top with Dominique but no. I’ve know women like Dominique. Mallery does a brilliant job getting into the character’s head, into her thoughts… really understanding how women like Dominique think. Kudos. That fact that Dominique’s daughter, Charlie, is nothing like her galls Dominique. Where Dominique is petite, Charlie is tall and muscular. Where Dominique is very feminine in appearance, Charlie prefers pants, boots and chopped hair. There has been a mother-daughter split for all of Charlie’s life, something else that has to be dealt with before Charlie can really take solid hold of her mothering reins.

A very good book.


A FOOL’S GOLD CHRISTMAS has another mother-daughter estrangement storyline, but this time is May Stryker (mother of Clay in the previous book and his brothers from books 7 and 8) and Evie Stryker.


Evie is a half-sibling to the Stryker men, conceived during a one-night stand during the time May was reeling from the death of her husband. I admit that the way Evie was ignored by May (and many times by her brothers) while she was growing up broke my heart. She suffered true psychological and mental neglect. May and the boys were a strong foursome and Evie was on the outside looking in. Broke my heart. Evie leaves home at 17 for school and basically never returns. The brothers do a lousy job staying in contact. Her own mother neglects her year after year. At first, it was the depression and guilt of the one-night stand. Later it’s the guilt at the realization of what she did to her own daughter. These two have a mountain of emotional baggage to climb over in this book.

Dante Jefferson is the business partner of Rafe Stryker (Evie’s half-brother). When Rafe falls in love and moves to Fool’s Gold, he drags Dante along, supposedly only for a short transition period. Dante has no family. His mother died when Dante was fifteen. (He has quite the backstory!) He gives his heart to no woman. He’s a player. He knows it and he makes sure the women he’s with knows it too. After a clogging class in the dance studio over his office, he heads upstairs to give the dance instructor a piece of his mind, only to discover it’s partner’s sister, Evie.

This is a Christmas based story with all the touchy-feely goodness you would expect of a story based in Fool’s Gold.

This book TOTALLY ROCKED. The repartee between Evie and Dante is simply delicious. Mallery hits every note with this one. While I’ve loved all the Fool’s Gold books, this one left me crying, smiling, and not ready for it to be over. IMHO, this is the best one yet. Don’t miss it.

Let’s Get Crafty!

Seems like I get to confess quite often here on the blog. So today’s confessions…I have no artist talent. I can’t paint, unless you’re talking walls and then I’m awesome. I can’t draw a picture, unless a stick horse counts. Neither of these lack of abilities has really rocked my world. However, I can’t sew and that’s a talent I could use.

When I was in junior high, all girls were required to take Home Economics while the boys got to take shop. I would have LOVE to take shop! But no, I was stuck in Mrs. Wright’s Home Economics class. There we learned to cook, how to set a proper table, and how to sew. Exactly I didn’t do so great with that sewing aspect. I made a pair of shorts as required but I never ever wore then again!

My mother was an excellent seamstress. She would make me clothes A LOT, which was great for a family that didn’t have a lot of money to buy new clothes for two teenage girls. She could cut out a dress in the evening and have it ready for me to wear in the morning. I don’t think I appreciated how hard that was at that time. Now I do.

Cyndi’s Sewing Machine

YEARS ago my mother picked up a portable sewing machine for me. Used, old but worked. She failed to give it to me until two years ago when I physically went to get it. You may be wondering why I would insist of bringing house something I wouldn’t use except I decided I could resew the seams of the cushions on my boat. And I did! Then I decided I would recover the arms of the loungers on the boat. I did those. They aren’t great but hey! The boat is almost 17 years old, so a badly recovered arm beats the old ones with holes, right?

Now my latest project (I’m stretching my limits!) is to convert flat sheets into fitted sheets for my bed. We don’t use a top sheet on the bed. Hubby hates them so I’ve ended up with many high quality sheets. To save money, I decided to convert all these flat sheet to fitted sheets.

I raced to the internet and found lots of directions. All of them ASSURE me how easy it is. So far, not so much. My first attempt is balled up on the floor beside me. Not sure it’s gonna work but I started with a cheap sheet, so no loss. I want to get it right before I move on to my 800 and 1000 thread flat sheets.

So I’ve stretch myself to try something outside my comfort zone.

Have you ever tried something like this? Or something truly outside your comfort zone?

Remembering Andy

Every adult of my age wanted Sheriff Taylor for a father. Wise. Calm. Loving.
This week, we lost one of the icons from my childhood.

Andy Griffith died this week. I took it hard. The Andy Griffith show was a staple in my house growing up. In fact, I’m pretty sure my dad owns most, if not every, episode of that show. When hubby and I are flipping channels and come across an old episode, we’ll stop and watch. It’s amazing how much of the “lesson” of the show is still valid today. It taught honesty, morality and love all the while not taking itself too seriously. I wonder how many of us laugh when we hear “Citizen’s arrest! Citizen’s arrest!”

And then there was Matlock. Another great show. Again, Andy played a character with heart.

The last thing I saw him in was the Brad Paisley’s video, Waiting on A Woman. Not great quality but enjoy!

What are your memories of this great man?

A good friend sent this to me tonight. Thought it was perfect.

Our Other Children Results

Oops. I think the heat is getting to my brain! I forgot to post the answers! But I have an excuse…yesterday it was close to 105 and our air conditioning went out! We’re sitting in the den and my husband says…Something doesn’t sound right with the a/c.  Of course I haven’t noticed since the inside part of the a/c is running. I just ASSUMED the outside unit was ginning along too. WRONG. Some part had burned out. Luckily for me, I’m married to a retired A/C repair guy! He hurried off to get the necessary part while I watch the temperature in our house slowly rise. But he got it fixed and we’ re back to normal! So now that my brain is cool, I realized what I forgot to do. How did you do?

Here we go!

A –  Keri Ford

B – Liz Talley

C – Laura Drake

D – Donnell Ann Bell (although the person who matched her with the horse MADE my day! )

E – Keri Stevens

F – Cynthia D’Alba

G – Pamela Hearon

H – Melissa Ohnoutka

I – Heather Brewer

J – Gwen Hernandez

K – Kari Lynn Dell

L – Julie McCrae

M,N&O – Natalie Damschroder

Thanks for coming by yesterday and having some fun!

Mary Hay – Contact me at cynthia d alba at gmail dot com about claiming your digital book

BN100 – contact me about collecting the print copy of Rodeo Daughter

Thanks again everybody



Get to Know the Romantics: Our Other Children

Well, it’s another fifth Friday, so you know what that means! It’s another Get To Know Us Friday!!

And this time, we’re got a sponsor! Today’s post is being brought to you by Leigh Duncan, whose latest book, RODEO DAUGHTER is on the shelves now (but only for one more week!) Leigh will send an autographed copy of Rodeo Daughter to one lucky person who leaves a comment. You don’t have to get the match of Romantic Blogger to Pet correct to win! You just have to try. The giveaway is limited to U.S. Residents only.

In March, we asked you to match out baby pictures to our adult pictures. Click HERE if you missed that one.

Back In December 2011, we posted facts about the Romantics as well as our “real cars” and our “dream cars”  Click HERE for that post.

Today, see if you can figure out which four-legged “child” goes with which Romantic.

Here is who we have pictures from: Melissa Ohnoutka, Pamela Hearon, Natalie Damschroder, Keri Ford, Liz Talley, Donnell Ann Bell, Kari Lynn Dell, Laura Drake, Cynthia D’Alba, Gwen Hernandez, Keri Stevens, Julie McCrae and Heather Brewer. (Shawna is still on maternity leave.) Good luck!

Pet A

Pet B

Pet C

Pet D

Pet E

Pet F

Pet G

Pet H

Pet I

Pet J

Pet K

Pet L

Pets M, N & O

So did you figure out who is a dog person? A cat person? A horse person? I’ll post the results about 4 p.m.

If you’re read this far, you may win Rodeo Daughter in digital format! In the comments, tell me what kind of pet you have and tell me that you read digital. That’s it. I’ll pick one winner of a digital copy from the comments. If you can leave a review of the book after you read it, that’d be great.

Thanks for coming by! Hope you enjoy our Get To Know The Romantics! Good luck with the drawing!

Powell’s | Amazon | Indiebound | B & N

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