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    August 2012
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Better Than Chocolate!

Today I have a little treat for you–a guest review from my sister, Sandy Smith! This is her first so, please be kind.

New York Times  bestselling author Sheila Roberts’s upcoming book BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE  goes on sale on October 1st!

Few women know romance, and chocolate, like Sheila and with BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE, she’s concocted a story (sprinkled with a few chocolate recipes!) that have you dreaming of  everything from milk to dark.

Sweet Dreams Chocolate Company has been in the Sterling family for generations, ever since Great-Grandma Rose literally dreamed up her first fabulous recipe. But now it looks as if they’re about to lose Sweet Dreams to the bank—and that would be a disaster, not only for the family but for the town of  Icicle Falls, Washington. Samantha, the oldest daughter and new head of the company, is determined to save it and comes up with the idea to  host a chocolate festival! But fate seems to be conspiring  against Samantha, and her mother’s attempts to help aren’t helping. To make matters worse, the future of the company is in the hands of her  archenemy, bank manager Blake Preston. Samantha is pretty sure Blake couldn’t care less about Sweet Dreams, but he’s determined to prove to  her that there’s something even better  than chocolate.

Sandy’s Thoughts:

I fell in love with Icicle Falls.  It is a place I would love to visit, mostly for the townspeople who know how to stick together.  Growing up in small town Arkansas, it’s something I can relate to.  The main character had many admirable qualities, especially her never-quit attitude.  The multiple dreams in the story were a little different. Overall, I would describe it as a sweet story, played out much like a Lifetime movie.


For more On Sheila, check out her PAGES HERE

Better Than Chocolate is now available from

Amazon | B&N | Kindle | Nook |


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. 

Nicknames With Lanielove!

Helllloooo all! I have a guest with us today and please be good to her. This is her first guest post—as in EVER! Lanie Jordan’s a doll I love her and you will to. She’s been having some power outages off and on when she sent me this post. Hopefully they’ll be cleared up by the time this posts goes up so she can chat with you all!
Here’s Lanie!

When Keri Ford asked me to take over a guest blog, my initial thought was, ‘Oh, sure!’ followed by a brief moment (okay, 20 minutes) of ‘Oh, crap! What’ve I gotten myself into?’. That left me only a week to come up with a post. And not just any post, but something at least semi-amusing, informative, or cool. Unfortunately…I’m not really any of those things.
So, she suggested I write about wrestling. But who would want to hear me talking about half-naked men throwing each other around in a 15×15 ring? Okay, maybe some people. But I’m a really bad commentator, so the majority (read: all) of my post would have been John Cena-centric.
Then I had another brief moment of panic, followed by the decision to blog about nicknames. Almost everyone has one, right? Right.

Well, some nicknames are good, some are bad, some are just really weird that no one in their right mind can figure out (which is often part of their charm). For our very own Keri Ford, I’ve nicknamed her Kerpie. Why? Because of someone else’s nickname. One of our mutual friends calls her Keripie. In one of my moments of non-readeryness, I read it as Kerpie, and thus, the nickname was born. (Sorry, Keri—blame Sasha!)

My latest release, Breed of Innocence (an Urban Fantasy YA), was originally written as an adult novel. When I first wrote it as such, a few of the characters already had nicknames. I had no idea why or how they’d earned them, but there they were. It wasn’t until I rewrote Breed in YA form that I learned how these characters earned their nicknames (and believe me, they’re well deserved!).
I also have some new characters who, unfortunately, have garnered themselves nicknames. Jade, my heroess (I don’t like calling them heroines), calls a woman she knows Fishface. This nickname is two-fold: the woman’s last name is Gill, and the character makes faces like a fish. (This is one of those nicknames that is totally deserved, by the way.)
Nicknames are great (just not the one I’ve listed). There are almost always stories behind them. Sometimes they’re given out of meanness (only for a few characters), sometimes out of affection (I’m still working on this, I swear), and sometimes out of sheer mockery (sorry, Linc—hero dude—but you kinda set yourself up for this one, even if you don’t know the nickname yet!).
Nicknames can help set us apart. They can, when given out of affection or said mockery, make us feel special and show that we’re a part of something. And when they’re given out of meanness or deserved-ness (new word), they…do something too, I’m sure, and it’s probably helpful to someone. Somewhere.
So, tell us readers, what are some of your nicknames, either given or received? (I would share some of the nicknames I’ve earned over the years, but unfortunately, they’re therapy-seeking nicknames, and just the thought of them brings me to tears. Or chocolate eating. Mmm. Chocolate.)

I’m going to give away copies of Breed of Innocence to 2 people who comment. I’ll be mean and let Keri pick, so if you don’t win, blame her! 😀 Don’t forget to leave your email addy with your comment so we can contact you!! Winner picked Saturday, August 4th at some point.

Find out more on Lanie at her website or by following her on Twitter, Facebook. Be sure to check out her new YA Urban Fantasy, Breed Of Innocence:

Six hours ago, men in dark suits and sunglasses came looking for me.
Four hours ago, they offered me training to hunt the things that killed my family: demons.
Two hours ago, I joined their secret organization–the CGE.

Now… All I have to do is survive demon-hunting school.
The classes won’t kill me, but the finals might.

$3.99 in ebook at Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple | Smashwords

Read an excerpt here
Book Trailer: YouTube or Amazon

Never Eat Lunch Before Buying a Mattress – Guest Post by Lynn Raye Harris

I adore Lynn Raye Harris. She’s a wonderful writer, a USA Today Best Selling Author, and a hoot on Twitter. One day while she was on a Twitter rant (I forget the subject of her rant), I twisted her (figurative) arm into blogging with us today. I warn you…I found myself laughing out loud and scaring my dogs when I read her post for today!  So take it away, Lynn!

When Cynthia asked me if I would guest blog, I practically tripped over myself saying yes.  Because a) I like Cynthia and b) I was positive I’d have something to say since I would have a book that just came out.

Of course I’ve been talking about this book in a few places now, and it’s not as easy to come up with something new to say as I thought it would be.  What haven’t I already said about Raj Vala and Veronica St. Germaine?

He’s ex-Special Forces and the head of a security company.  She’s a reformed bad girl who’s been elected president of her tiny island nation.  Someone doesn’t like that she’s now the president.  Someone wants her gone.  This is where Raj comes in.  It’s his job to protect her.

Blah, blah blah.  You don’t want to hear all that, right?  You can click over to my website or to Amazon or Barnes & Noble to find out what the book is about.  (It’s about Raj Vala, the sexy bodyguard, and Veronica St. Germaine, the President of Aliz.  There’s sex and passion and thumping hearts and all that stuff.)

No, what’s really interesting (or at least it is to me) is how I left the house one innocent Friday two weeks ago with the intent to buy a mattress.  But I came home with a new SUV instead.  Or Mr. Harris did, I should say.

How does this happen?  How does one go out for a mattress and buy a car?  Let me tell you how it happened to me in the hopes that I can save you from the same thing.

Never, ever go to lunch before buying a mattress.  This was my mistake.  I allowed Mr. Harris to take me to lunch at a lovely little bistro that just opened up in our town.  I ate too much.  Who wants to lie on mattresses when they’ve eaten too much?  Not me.

I’m a stomach sleeper, so I was going to need to test a bunch of mattresses by lying on them face down.  On a full stomach.  This was never going to work, so when I explained the dilemma to my lovely husband, he had an alternate plan.

“Let’s go look at that SUV I like again.  Just for fun.”

Sure, just for fun.  Clearly, I was in a stupor from the food, or I would have seen this for what it was.  But no, I went along.  Three hours later, we drove off the lot in a brand new car.

There’s a lesson here.

Don’t be like me.  Don’t eat before going mattress shopping and don’t let your husband talk you into a little side trip to the car dealer while your food digests. It can only end badly.

Cyndi again…I warned you to set down your coffee before you read that, so don’t blame me for spitting on your screen!  LOL Lynn’s latest book is below. I know she’d love you to pick it up!

The news that wild socialite Veronica St. Germaine has cleaned up her act and stepped into her father’s shoes as ruler of a Mediterranean principality creates a tabloid frenzy! But it’s not just the paparazzi that are out for blood.…Duty demands that bodyguard Rajesh Vala must protect Veronica—whatever the cost.… But Veronica has always rebelled against commands, and she isn’t making Raj’s job easy!

He calls it safeguarding. She calls it being held captive at his beach house. Both realize that the attraction between them is inconvenient.… Veronica is forbidden, not for bedding!

Harlequin Presents (June 19, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0373130805 ♦ ISBN-13: 978-0373130801
Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble Nook | Harlequin | Harlequin ebook

Where Am I – An Guest Blog from Kim Sanders

I first “ran into” Kim Sanders doing a guest blog on another site. I enjoyed her so much I invited her to visit us and share something about herself and boy did she! So without further ado, take it away Kim!

I am directionally challenged. There I admitted it. Spin me around three times and I will become totally lost. But it’s not my fault. I’m a very visual person, and street signs tiny and boring.

When I first started driving, I always looked for buildings, giant oaks, and even cow pastures to know where to turn. This approach worked out pretty well when I was young. For instance, to drive to my uncle’s farm, I’d always remember to turn left about thirty miles down the highway at the old tobacco barn with the billboard on the side. I still don’t know the name of that country road. Plus, if I ever got lost, the logical thing was to go to the top of a hill and look for something familiar and head that way.

This method didn’t work so well when my husband and I moved toAtlanta. The buildings were so tall that I always felt lost in a maze. We’d actually lived there almost two years when I received a job interview onPeachtree Street. Do you know how many streets are named Peachtree inAtlanta? At least seventy-one, according to Wikipedia—my source of all great knowledge. To me, this fact just proves that following signs is no help at all.

I did find the office that day, and I even got the job—thanks to my husband drawing me a very detailed map. Regardless, about a year later, I managed to get lost in the building.

The office building was a high-rise with a big elevator lobby in the middle. When I’d get off the elevator on my floor, there were French doors on either side, each with it’s own unique painting hanging just behind the doors.

One April Fool’s Day, I got off on my floor, opened the door leading to the painting I knew so well, and headed toward my office. But my office wasn’t there. Someone else was sitting in what I thought was my office. I stopped a second then just kept walking and walking until I reached the other side of the building. I found my office and a laughing co-worker. He’d come in early and switched the paintings. I told him it was unkind to make fun of the directionally challenged. He pointed out that one set of doors said East and the other, West. I had never noticed.

All I can say now is thank God for my GPS.

How about you? How is your sense of direction? 

Cynthia: Here at ENALR, we always asks our guests the same question: What is romance to you?

Kim: Romance is all about the gestures. When I was young, I always watched my dad and mom embrace romance. Mom hugging Dad when they bumped hips in our tiny kitchen; Dad briskly rubbing his cold palms together over the oil heater before cupping Mom’s cheeks for a kiss.

After my dad died, on the top of his closet shelf, I found an old homemade box with a deadbolt dangling on one side. Over the years, he’d obviously lost the key to the deadbolt and pried open the box. Inside, I found his treasures—a few photographs from their 1951 honeymoon and a 1958 magazine clipping of a model who looked like Mom. He’d kept these treasures for all those years. That is romance.

About the author

Kim Sanders is the author of the best-selling romantic suspense Shades of Gray. Kim received a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina and a law degree from Emory University, before embarking on her career as a writer. Her debut novel Shades of Gray won the 2011 Get Your Stiletto In The Door Contest for romantic suspense, was a Kirkus Reviews Critic’s Pick, and ranked number one on Amazon for contemporary romance.

To find out more about Kim, visit her website http://kesanders.com/

To stalk follow Kim online, find her at Facebook       Twitter        LinkedIn

To buy her best-selling book at Amazon

CYNTHIA:  Thanks for being here today, Kim. Okay gang, Kim is available. Ask her anything! Right, Kim?

Lunacy – A Guest Post from Silver James

Hi All! Once again, I’m out playing…not really. My local chapter is hosting a writers’ retreat. Sort of like a lock-in for chapter members. We’ll be doing 2 hours writing blocks. The idea is to get words, words, and more words this weekend. Lucky for me, good friend Silver James stepped up to fill in for me. Thanks Silver!  Take it away…..

Hi, everyone.  I’m Silver James and I write romance. We’re all about the romance around here, right? I happen to love my romance with a healthy dash of magic and mystery. Are you wondering what the word “Lunacy” has to do with romance? Funny you should ask.

According to the Merriam Webster on-line dictionary:

lu•na•cy noun \ˈlü-nə-sē\; plural lu•na•cies
: insanity; also : intermittent insanity once believed to be related to phases of the moon

Way back when, the medical community thought the phases of the moon affected the human body much the same way as it does the tides. Even though various studies have discounted this, talk to any cop, firefighter, EMT, or emergency room worker and they’ll tell you The Crazy™ happens when the moon is full.

There’s another moon word that people use when describing some of the craziness that goes on under a full moon.

moon•struck adj \-ˌstrək\
: affected by or as if by the moon: as a : mentally unbalanced b : romantically sentimental c : lost in fantasy or reverie

And that’s why I’m here today. I love the sentimental fantasy—though whenever I listen to those voices in my head, people might consider me to be a little unbalanced. I only worry when I talk back to them. *looks shifty-eyed* *bwahahas* Hey. I’m a writer. I’m supposed to have voices in my head. Right? Right??

Who went outside last Saturday night to see the super moon? Raise your hands. It’s okay. This isn’t a quiz. *raises hand* I made my husband take a detour after dinner so we could get a better view of it. I love moon watching. And I love all the legends that go with the moon—especially werewolves. The wolf is one of my favorite animals and the idea that one might morph into a sexy guy has long been a staple of romance—and horror. But in a horror story, the wolf is a bad beastie that eats the heroine for dinner. We won’t go there, ’kay? I’m all about the Wolf turning into the sexy beast who falls in love with the heroine and transports her to fantastic places while the full moon shines above.

 With that thought in mind, I set out to write a trilogy of stories around the idea that a Wolf becomes “Moonstruck” when he falls in love. When the Wolf in question happens to be a Special Forces soldier on a covert operation and the object of his “obsession” is a “superior officer”, sparks are sure to fly. Not to mention that lies, secrets, and betrayals are more personal under a full moon.

BLOOD MOON (Moonstruck Book 1) is on sale for the next few days for 99 cents for the Amazon Kindle. And to celebrate this new release, I’ll give away a Kindle copy of BLOOD MOON to one random commenter today. Leave your email address in the comment (so I know where to send your gift certificate for BLOOD MOON) AND you have to answer this question in your comment: Were you standing in the moonlight when got your first kiss?

(Moon picture Copyright © 2012 Clary Carey) Used with permission.)

Married Romance – Elaine Viets Visits!

While I’m out in Arizona plotting awesome books and attending the Desert Dreams conference, Elaine Viets is filling in for me.

I am SO excited to have Elaine here. She’s funny and talented and beautiful! Plus she has the most fabulous car! I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Elaine a few times in Florida. Unfortunately, my picture filing system involves no labeling so finding a picture of the two of us or her Jag is impossible. But that’s okay. She’s sent great pictures!

So without further ado, take it away, Elaine

Sue Grafton’s private eye, Kinsey Milhone, has been married and divorced twice. She’s a loner who had lovers, but a jaundiced view of marriage. Grafton supposedly didn’t want to write the Nick and Nora Charles dialogue a happy couple requires.

Helen Hawthorne, my Dead-End Job private eye, is also divorced after an unhappy marriage. She’s bitter about marriage and wary of romance.

But while Kinsey stays happily – and successfully – single in the 1980s, I wanted Helen Hawthorne to change and grow in the present. Helen has made two life-changing moves.

She married private eye Phil Sagemont in my ninth mystery, “Half-Price Homicide.” The critics liked that change. Helen got a starred review in Publishers Weekly and a rave in the New York Times.

            In the next book, “Pumped for Murder,” Helen and Phil opened Coronado Investigations, their private eye agency, at the Coronado Tropical Apartments, where they live. Now, in my new mystery, “Final Sail,” Helen and Phil work two cases.

Married romance gave me major headaches.

I had to worry about their living arrangements. The Coronado, an Art Moderne complex, was built – and furnished –in 1949. The apartments are small one-bedroom units. Helen and Phil didn’t really want to leave the Coronado. They like its mid-century style and their neighbors. Margery Flax, their landlady, is Helen’s surrogate mother.

The new couple decided to stay at the Coronado and keep their old apartments. Most nights, Helen sleeps at Phil’s place. She thinks it makes their married love feel illicit. But if Helen needs to be by herself, or Phil wants to play his music extra loud, they retreat to their separate apartments. Helen’s six-toed cat, Thumbs, doesn’t care where they live, as long as he gets fed on time.

But there was another headache: I believe married couples should be equals. I had to make sure that Helen and Phil had equal roles in each  mystery. In “Final Sail,” both detectives take undercover jobs: Helen works as a stewardess on a luxury yacht and Phil is the estate manager for a woman who may have killed her rich husband.

As for writing that snappy dialogue, it turned out not to be so difficult. Helen and Phil are bright, funny people. Marriage wouldn’t change that.

In “Final Sail,” Phil calls Helen on his cell phone and reports what happens as he tails Blossom, who may be a self-made widow. Blossom tears out of her mansion to a grungy convenience store on the other side of Fort Lauderdale. Here’s a sample:

            “Is she going to a Seven-Eleven?” Helen asked.

“Too high-class,” Phil said. “This is a nameless, paintless cinderblock dump. Sells giant sodas, cigarettes, lottery tickets and chili dogs with a side of salmonella. It’s also a  pickup spot for day laborers. I’ve passed it early in the morning when the contractors’ trucks arrive. The day laborers are a rough-looking crew. A sensible woman wouldn’t walk into that store alone. Hell, I’d think twice about it. It looks like a hold-up waiting to happen.

“At least this part is easy. Blossom’s flashy red sports car sticks out like a sore thumb in the lot. She’s parking the Porsche by the door, next to a beat-up van with its back doors wired shut. Wait! She’s getting out.”

“She’s not going inside, is she?” Helen asked.

“She’s heading toward the door. Is that woman nuts, wearing jeans that tight? Now she’s sashayed past the door to the payphone. She’s gripping her purse and she’s got an orange card in her hand, like a credit card. Man, that phone looks filthy. I don’t know how she can hold the receiver to her face. She’s punching in numbers. Looks like someone answered. Now she’s talking and giggling. Blossom looks like a very merry widow.”

“Can you hear her?” Helen asked.

“Not across the street,” Phil said. “Can’t get too close. But I can take some pictures. She’s still talking and laughing. That’s right, Blossom, smile for the camera. Gotcha!”

Phil got the photos that would lead to a break in the case in “Final Sail.”

“Final Sail” will be published May 1 as a hardcover and an e-book. You can preorder your copy and read a sample chapter here: www.elaineviets.com

Here’s the 40-second book trailer: http://tinyurl.com/8a77vah

Cyndi:  Since this is Everybody Needs A Little Romance, what’s your idea of romance?

Elaine:  Giving the one you love unexpected gifts. Tuesday, Don brought me flowers for no reason. For Valentine’s Day, I gave him a hubcap for his 1986 Jaguar. We’ve been married 40 years.

Cyndi: Great answer! I love this series. FINAL SALE sound like a great read.

Thanks so much for being here today.

So what questions do you have for Elaine? Let ’em rip!

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