Wow. So, a little dizzy here after a busy week. My husband and I are doing massive yard work thanks to the end of the California drought! (At least as far as the plants are concerned.) There are some downsides to all this fabulous water, and you know I’m grateful. But it’s a jungle out there.

Well, exactly eight months after I submitted it to The Wild Rose Press, Third Strikes the Charm was born. Yay!!!!!

Tome tender quoteIt has thankfully been well received so far. I love the reviews. You know how it is, or you can imagine, holding your breath to see if anyone else besides your critique group, beta readers, and editor like it. No matter how confident you felt when putting on the finishing touches, release day is a little nerve-wracking. I’m actually hugely relieved. There. I admitted it.

But woot! One reviewer was really moved by the story line, in just the way I hoped when I wrote iSpring-5t. She even said that the way it was written, the author must have personal experience with the situation (which is true).

And then one of the most amazing moments was when my mother-in-law called me. I gave her the print copy yesterday, and a few hours later, she called me and was all excited. She wanted to know if it was a continuation of the previous book! I had never mentioned it was a series, and her voice was filled with joy at opening the new book and finding characters she already knew.

That was so amazing to see how happy she was that it’s a continuation, showing me on a personal level the common knowledge that readers love series. Also it was great to see my family member as a reader.Spring-7

A book birthday is when the book you wrote is grown up and goes out into the world to meet its fate.

I am scheduling this post ahead of time. On Friday morning, or Saturday if you are in Australia, I will be out taking more photos. But I did take some shots of the *ahem* bounty of our yard. Hope you enjoy.



#Giveaway Monday

There’s a big giveaway happening on Wednesday, February 25th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. EST. Here are the details:

Hook a Book: A Lobster Cove Facebook Party

The Wild Rose Press and the authors of Lobster Cove are hosting a Lobster Cove Facebook party on Wednesday, February 25 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., EST. Readers can find out all about the Lobster Cove books and “meet” the authors. At the end of the party we will give away a basket of Lobster Cove print books and a Kindle Fire!!  Individual authors will also be doing giveaways throughout the party. There will be lots of prizes!

I hope you’ll stop by “Hook a Book: A Lobster Cove Party.” Enjoy a party at the beach—a fire, friends and a good time. Come party with the authors of Lobster Cove on Facebook.

If you have a Facebook account, just click on that link or copy and paste this link: into your browser and then you can RSVP by clicking on the little button near the top that says Going. In the same area, there’s also a button called Invite. You can click on that and invite friends. You can also just click on that link at the time of the party. I will be hosting from 4:30 – 5 Pacific Standard Time. That is 7:30 – 8 Eastern Standard Time.

The day of the party and the day after, the publisher also plans to put all the Lobster Cove e-books on sale on their Website.

Lobster Cove is a fictional small town on the coast of Maine, near Bar Harbor. It is quaint and quirky with a colorful history, a friendly population of charming residents, and a vibrant tourist business. It is home to research scientists and small shop owners, grumpy cops and sassy chefs. Back in the day, it was a bustling fishing town and home to many immigrants, from both the state cabins and the lowest decks.


#Giveaway Monday and my first book signing

Today you can get Dead to the Max for free. It’s the start of what looks like a great series. This is by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jasmine Haynes/Jennifer Skully, who signed with me, along with Adina Senft/Shelley Adina on Saturday at The Village House of Books!

Nicci, Jasmine, and Adina
Nicci, Jasmine, and Adina

Jasmine took a picture of me signing my very first book sale. Yes, that’s a friend. I had a lot of support from friends, which made me feel wonderful!


Here’s the free book. I already downloaded it and can’t wait to start!



A ghost, a psychic, and one very hunky detective, all tied up with a bit of murder and mayhem…

Thirty-something, down-on-her-luck accountant Max Starr has the unfortunate gift of being psychic, a newly-discovered wrinkle in her already messed-up life. Her husband, Cameron, is dead, killed in a botched 7-11 robbery two years ago. She’s cut herself off from friends, moved out of her San Francisco home in favor of a studio apartment, and dumped her flourishing career as a CPA to do temp work.

And now Max has developed an annoying penchant for attracting the spirits of murdered women. Okay, they possess her. And to exorcize them, Max must unmask their killers. But how?! By stepping into the void their deaths created, taking their jobs, befriending the loved ones they left behind. Max goes wherever she has to go and does whatever she has to do, with a lot of help from the ghost of her late husband Cameron and hunky and very enticing Detective Witt Long.

In Dead to the Max, Book 1 in the Max Starr series, Max steps into the shoes of a murdered accountant and starts to learn that even supposedly boring accountants can have secret lives and secret desires. Max just has to hope the secrets she uncovers don’t get her killed, too.

You can download the ebook here:


Kindle UK

Kindle CA


iBooks AU

iBooks UK


All Romance

Coffee Time Romance

And here are the titles of and links to the Max Starr series:

Dead to the Max, Book 1

Evil to the Max, Book 2

Desperate to the Max, Book 3

Power to the Max, Book 4

Vengeance to the Max, Book 5

#Free: Lighthearted contemporary romance from Mac Crowne! A Song for Sophie

Given how much I loved The Billionaire’s Con, this new romance from Mac Crowne is at the top of my To Be Read pile! Mac, welcome. Can you tell us about A Song for Sophie?

Mac Crowne: Hiya, Nia. Thanks so much for hosting me and my lighthearted contemporary romance, A Song for Sophie, part of the Honky Tonk Hearts series from The Wild Rose Press. I’m thrilled to be included in the list of talented authors contributing to this fun series. Seriously, if you haven’t read any of these awesome honky tonk love stories, you’re missing out!

Might I suggest you begin with my contribution? 😉 Oh, and did I mention it’s free to download 10/15 – 10/19? Yep, FREE! Here’s the blurb and a short excerpt. Enjoy.


Jobless, practically homeless, and tired of being manless, Sophie Taylor jumps at the chance to be Beaumont Walker’s personal assistant. Six weeks on the road with country music’s bad boy–and, more importantly, his all-male crew–is the perfect opportunity to change her life.

Beau Walker doesn’t need any more distractions. Sophie, with her butt-ugly suits and balls-to-the-wall attitude, shouldn’t be one, but she proves to be distracting and more–even, surprisingly, a friend. So when he discovers her plan to snag a man from his worldly wise crew, he’s determined to protect her from herself.

When Sophie realizes Beau is behind her failure to attract even one member of his crew, the last place she expects to find herself is in his bed. But will one night of passion convince her she’s woman enough for him? Or will it destroy their friendship and his budding belief in true love?

And here’s an excerpt:

“Sophie, I’d like you to meet my mother, Savanna Beaumont. Ladies, this is Sophie.”

That’s it? No explanation for her intrusion into their luncheon date. No qualifying her position as an employee. She considered kicking him under the table. Running interference indeed. Hah! As if any of these stunning women would consider her presence at the table any kind of competition for Beau’s attention.

She did her best to ignore the arm he slung over the back of her chair and smiled at his mother. “Miss Beaumont. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m a big fan.”

Savanna’s bemused gaze flicked to Beau before her eyes cleared. She returned Sophie’s smile. “It’s always lovely to meet a fan. How do you know my Beau?”

His fingers tugged a gentle warning on her braid, and he spoke before she could answer.

“She’s from Cholla Springs, Savanna. A history teacher at the high school.”

Sophie sent him a sidelong glance. “Actually, I was a teacher in Cholla Springs.” She jumped when his booted foot connected with her ankle. Oh, no he didn’t! She didn’t look his way, simply kicked him back, hard, and was pleased at his muffled grunt. “But,” she continued, “because of recent budget cuts, I’ve recently taken a new position.”

She turned to him then, thinning her lips and narrowing her eyes in a scowl designed to let him know he was going to owe her—and owe her big.

Here’s the link for the free download A Song for Sophie on Amazon and if I could ask you a favor, please feel free to share the link with your friends, because everyone loves free, right?

Also, excuse me for my shameless plug, but as Sophie and Beau met while on tour, I thought it appropriate to set them loose on the world by tour. The A Song for Sophie Blurb Blitz Blog Tour. I’m giving away a title from my back list at every stop plus a grand prize bundle of 15 romance ebooks from some of my favorite authors. Click on the link for details.

Mackenzie Crowne Bio:
I’m a wife, mother and really young grandmother. Together with my high school sweet heart husband, a neurotic Pomeranian and a blind cat, I call Arizona home because the southwest feeds my soul. My love of books, specifically the romance genre, has been a lifelong affair, both as a reader and a writer. A bout with breast cancer sharpened my resolve to see my stories shared with others. Today, I’m a five-year survivor, living the dream. Raised on the concept that a stranger is just one conversation away from being a friend, I love meeting new people.
My friends call me Mac. I hope you will too.

Mac’s Links:

Amazon Author Page

FaceBook Author Page

Twitter @maccrowne


Thank you, Mac! I love having you on my blog. You’re upbeat attitude and fun, light stories always inspire me.

Versatile Blogger Award and new Romance: mine!

You toil for years and years, quietly putting words on the screen, deleting them, putting them on there again… kind of lonely, but it’s your life. Then one day, everything happens at once.

Disappointment was quickly replaced by relief when I learned my first-published story, The Last Straw, wasn’t coming out until November 13th. Ah, I said, leaning back in my chair, linking my fingers in front of me and stretching my back. Plenty of time to figure out some promo ideas. More like pick a few ideas out of a gazillion available in this writer’s sphere that has gone from quiet and lonely to tweetingly, bloggingly, noisily busy.

Well, my publisher (love saying that) just released The Last Straw for a 3 month exclusive on Kindle Direct Publishing! (The book will go out to all retail outlets 11/13.)

What’s that popping sound you hear? Yes, it’s the champagne.


Not only am I celebrating the release of my book here today, I’m also am celebrating…

A blogger award!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Woo hoo!!!!!!!!!!!! The Versatile Blogger!

This beautiful nomination was bestowed upon me by the fabulous Gynji, whose brilliant blog domesticgeekgirl makes me laugh and learn and catch a glimpse of what it’s like to be young (which I no longer really can claim to be), pregnant (which I never could claim to be) and married to a fabulous Navy man (which I usually can only experience through Romance novels)!


The rules for this award are as follows:

1. Display the Award Certificate on your website/blog

2. Announce your win with a post. Make sure to post a link back to me as a ‘thank you’ for the nomination.

3. Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers

4. Drop them a comment to tip them off after you have linked them in the post

5. Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

7 Interesting Things About Me:

1. I’m collaborating on a novel with another author, a first for me, and I love it. I know a pair of authors who collaborate and always wondered how they did it, why they did it and thought I would never do it. They are an amazing team, though, and now I know why they do it. See #5 below.

2. I left my day job last September, a dream come true.

3. I started writing novels in 2001 and tried to quit many times over the next 12 years.

4. Quitting didn’t stick. I thought I was over it, but I started writing again 3 days after I left my day job. The story that was just published yesterday!

5. I actually loved my day job! I was a project manager and worked with really great people. I was sad to leave, but I’ve found I’ve recreated many things I loved about work: I have a critique group, belong to a couple RWA chapters, and now I even have a writing team for my novel(s). (It’s a series!)

6. I’m not a fast reader because I subvocalize. I think I’m an auditory learner. Or I just really like the sound of words. Both, probably.

7. I forget a lot of stuff but remember a lot of conversations verbatim. 

Now for the best part, getting to acknowledge more hard-working bloggers!

  • celebrates the joy of gardening and has lots of tips as well as photos from her travels.
  • Want pictures from all over the world? This one’s versatile!
  • Ren X. Kyoko delights and amazes with her funny and fascinating not to mention brilliantly illustrated posts. I cannot stop reading one of her posts, once I start. Can. Not. Stop.
  • You must see beautiful pictures and the beautiful island of Patmos offered by Manos, Flora and Marinos.
  • For a brilliant travel blogger offering a humorous theme and plenty of info, see Traveloops. (Isn’t that a great blog name?)
  • Check out the happy themes and get inspired with challenges here: Ese’s voice.
  • Getsetandgo produces very informative as well as beautiful posts on travel; learn how she gets in and out of exotic places on a budget.
  • I appreciate for great photos and for telling about his experience of living with a chronic illness. His blog is down-to-earth and inspiring.
  • This blog lives up to it’s beautiful name: thehourofsoftlight.
  • Scott at scott2608 has gorgeous photos of a variety of subjects.
  • ronscubadiver offers amazing photos from all over the world on his well-organized blog. That link will take you to Haleakala, for example.
  • Just about everything you need to know about traveling to Costa Rica is available from this team: costaricatravelblog.
  • Trinity is a wonderful and versatile artist who I bet will inspire you as much as she does me:
  • There are so many ideas and recipes to enjoy and keep you healthy at Moveeatcreate, and some fun ones like the second link provided here for whiskey sours.
  • And now for something completely different: The Leadership Freak. If you work on teams even if you’re not a project manager, I highly recommend his blog. Every post is brilliant.

Love is like baseball… by Mary Ursettie

Note: Today’s post introduces a new category for this blog. Publication of others’ work. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did when I first read it and still do, whenever I reread it.
An interview with the fabulous author follows. 

A Baseball Fan’s Wedding Vows 

Relationships are like baseball. When you’re young, all you think about is scoring. Getting to first base, getting to second base – all the thrill and excitement are there as you play the field. But as you get older, you realize that that’s bush league stuff. The day finally arrives when you make it to the bigs. 

Life is good. You develop your talents. You’re playing well, hitting doubles, triples, and the occasional home run (!). But there comes that one day when you’re caught looking, looking at someone beautiful, and instead of a stolen base, you’ve got a stolen heart.

At some point you realize that this isn’t just a utility player that you’re hanging out with. She’s someone special, an All-Star. She’s someone who always comes through in the clutch, who’s always going to back you up; a relief pitcher that you can always count on to save the game for you. She’s a closer who’s there, night after night, the two of you making the perfect combination from start to finish.

When you find yourself on the DL or in a slump, you know that she’ll be there for you. And she doesn’t even care that sometimes you’re out in left field – heck, somebody’s gotta play left field!

It doesn’t take long before you realize that you’ve got an ace on your hands. One fateful night it comes to a run-down, and you run her down until she says “yes”. Then you give her a different kind of diamond – one that’s much smaller and will offer you more precious memories than can be found in a ballpark.

Because this is more than the love of the game; this is about the love of your life. And you make a commitment to show up for her, every day, for the rest of time (or until the Cubs win the World Series – same thing). You eagerly sign that unbreakable contract, knowing full well that together you’re going to have the kind of unforgettable winning streak that other players can only hope for.

Your goal is no longer just to score, or to best the other guys. Your goal now is to be your best self – to bring everything you’ve got to this relationship. Because in the final inning; it’s not about the show. It’s not about stats or even making it to Cooperstown.

In the end, all you ever want to do is come home, every day, to the one person you love more than anything else in the world . . . even baseball.

Written by Mary Ursettie, in honor of her son and new daughter-in-law who are huge SF Giants fans, August 2012.

Copyright © 2012 Mary Ursettie. All rights reserved.

Nia: Welcome, Mary, and thank you for sharing this inspiring marriage ceremony reading with us. I love the way it starts off funny and builds to being very touching. Kudos! I know it was a baseball-themed wedding, but did your son and daughter-in-law ask you to write something baseball-themed and if so, was that intimidating or exciting? If not, did you come up with the idea to tie your reading into the theme because you had an idea for it or did you just tell your muse to “do baseball”?

Mary: I was really touched when my son asked me to write a reading for the wedding. He didn’t mention any theme or put any guidelines on it at all. I said, of course, I would love to. My son and his wife are both such baseball fans, so my mind just started to go in that direction. They inspired me because they are both so wonderful and they just radiate love. All these baseball words came to me, scoring, home plate, and so on, and their connection to relationships just started to flow. I know something about baseball, too, having watched a lot of games, which really helped. I actually Googled a list of baseball terms to see which ones would apply and then it just poured out of me with very little editing.

It was also easy because I was so inspired by the two of them. You know when you just know that something you’ve written is good? I was so excited that I didn’t care if they liked it or not, because I’d had so much fun writing it. That experience alone was priceless. And if they wanted me to do something else, that would have been fine too. But of course, they loved it.

I wanted to start out funny because it’s a wedding, sort of as a surprise coming from the mother of the groom. And of course, laughter is such a high vibration. I wanted to end with something touching, the idea of home plate and always coming home to the one you love. I’ve never written anything that made people cry, or got such a positive response, and that was a wonderful feeling for me.

(I had to take a shot at the Cubs because my son’s dad is a Cubs fan and I couldn’t resist a family joke. Nothing like getting a laugh from the crowd!)

Nia:  Mary, your website is really beautiful. I have taken a snapshot to show our readers and tempt them to take a look.

Have a Better Day

I love this quote from your About page:

Her intent, in her coaching, classes, organizing and astrology readings, is that her clients always feel better about themselves and their future at the end of the session.

You have an abundance of testimonials, including one from me. I wrote that one a long time ago when you helped me stay happy and balanced through tremendous personal stress. Now it is a few years later and I find myself listening to some recordings from you and marveling at how dreams that I thought were impossible back then have all come true. I was able to leave my day job and pursue my dreams and I just signed my first story contract! So I know first-hand how effective your coaching is. But I am lucky to have you near me; what about people in other locations? Do you offer coaching and astrology for people remotely?

Mary: Absolutely. I have some clients that I’ve never met in person and thanks to modern technology, I can record my astrology readings on the phone and send them to people on CD.  I’ve done readings for people in other countries and around the US. It’s fun. 

Nia: You have an MBA from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and had a long career at IBM. Now you do intuitive and interpersonal types of work and I’ve experienced how accurate and helpful your insights are, especially in combination with your understanding of “office life” and business. Does your academic specialization in organizational behavior help you with your coaching work or did your natural intuitive and interpersonal gifts help you with your business career? I realize the answer is both, but would love some insights about what came first, the chicken or the egg.

In college, I really became interested in how to improve the quality of working life. It was my focus in grad school because I had been unhappy in my job after college and noticed that so many people were unhappy in their jobs also. After grad school I worked at IBM. It’s a wonderful place to work, but what you’re learning is how the organization works. IBM was a great training ground, though, and I still apply what I learned there to my coaching with clients. My experience there was invaluable.

I didn’t get into my intuitive side until I turned 40, when I went into an intuitive training program. I’d always wanted to be psychic – now I know that we all are.

I named my business Have a Better Day because if you can have a better day, every day, you have a better life.

I am constantly doing my own studying and applying my metaphysical understanding to day-to-day life. It’s so apparent to me now how my own personal alignment (or lack thereof) with my best self affects what’s going on in my life.

So here I am, years later, helping people improve their quality of life by teaching classes, coaching, astrological counseling and helping them de-clutter. It’s not something I planned – it just evolved. And in this way, I feel I can help people more than I could in an organizational setting.

Nia: That is a big transition to make, from a well-defined business career working for a large employer, to a self-employed lifestyle. That would be a scary move for a lot of people to make, but you have succeeded. Was it scary for you in the beginning and if so, how did you keep your confidence up as you embarked on this entrepreneurial path?

Mary: Starting out was challenging because I left the corporate life and started doing professional astrology readings, which got a mixed response because people don’t really know that much about astrology. It’s not a religion or a belief system – it’s a language, my second language, actually. I think of it as a permission slip to discover more of who you really are. One of the major benefits of astrology, because it deals with cycles, is that it can show you how things unfold over time. The guidance of a good astrologer can be invaluable in helping you become more aware of the variety of possibilities available to you right now so that you can choose the best possible future path and go there.
But I also was teaching workshops in personal development and intuition and things of that nature. The turning point was when I got into the Law of Attraction material, which totally clicked and made sense to me. I studied it deeply and started teaching people how to apply it to their lives. I’ve discovered I’m a born teacher.

Yes, it’s challenging to go out on your own. But if it’s what you want and it makes you feel good, you should go for it. Sure, I kept one foot in the corporate world for a while to make some money and pay the bills. I like to mix things up and hey, you have to be practical, but at the same time I kept moving forward with and evolving my business.

My world view has changed over time. As I see it, we’re all here to be fully ourselves and add value to the world by using our talents and abilities and being our best selves. We create our own reality, and what you put out you get back. It’s that simple. Life is supposed to be fun, and I believe 100 per cent that happiness is a choice. That’s what free will is all about.

Nia: Your specialties seem to have expanded from one area to the next. I went to the Professional Business Women of California conference last year where a wonderful speaker, Bridget van Kralingen, Senior Vice President, IBM Global Business Services, suggested thinking of careers not as “ladders” but as “lily-pads” especially in the “new economy.” Her point was that you are not always moving up, sometimes you are moving sideways and just responding with a big “Yes” to new opportunities that excite you instead of the old-school way of climbing up a ladder, one rung after another, first-line manager, then second-line manager, and so on. When I look at the growth of your career, you seemed to have done just that, first jumped onto a new lily-pad and then moved along following the things that excited you, like, now, organizing people’s houses and adding it to your other services. Do you have any advice for people wanting to change careers in midlife to do something for a living that more closely aligns with their passions? Particularly, in the area of how to keep the faith when the path ahead is not clear?

Mary: I like the lily pad analogy. Ladders are narrow and the steps are sequential. But the real world is organic and fluid. Your feelings are your truest guide. If you look at the path of a river, it’s never a straight line, it meanders and curves and turns back on itself… it’s beautiful. We apply a lot of industrial rules and artificial schedules to our lives and it’s not natural.

The biggest impediment for people who want to change careers is they often care too much about what other people think. So if you can ignore other people’s opinions about age, time, abilities, resources, and instead stay in your own world, caring more about what you think than about what other people think, then you can find your joy and create your own definition of success.

Thank you, Mary!

Thanks, Nia. This has been delightful. You’re a good interviewer!

Not erotic romance, but… book review Desert Prince, Lynne Graham

Erotic romance is more… well, you know, if you’ve read any. If not, stay tuned. Some reviews are coming soon!

Desert Prince, Bride of Innocence, Harlequin Presents February, 2010

An older book, but still available on Kindle and in large print.

Very sexy and emotional.

Kindle version:

I won’t offer extracts here as their steaminess goes outside the bounds of not adult content, but this is classic romance, folks.


Can words be invisible? Book review, When Lightning Strikes, Brenda Novak

Yes, when the writer is Brenda Novak.


Writing so natural, you’ll be swept along without even realizing you’re reading.

Conflict so gripping, you’ll be flipping through the pages as fast as you can.

Believable characters you’ll love and root for.

An escape into a homey two-bedroom house in the California gold country.

A love story unfolding in a way you’ll feel is happening to you.

Moments like these to touch your heart:

But did he really want to fall back into his old lifestyle? What about the woman who’d made him happy to live in an eight-hundred-square-foot house and work as a carpenter?

When Lightning Strikes by Brenda NovakBN.COM