Cover reveal, Third Strike’s the Charm

It’s sort of still Monday…well, it is still Monday in Hawaii, or will be for 7 more minutes as of this writing. I had a very busy day today, and I don’t have any new photos for you, so I didn’t think I’d get my post done. But I wanted to try. I booted my computer just now and scanned my work email. In it was the cover art for Third Strike’s the Charm! Perfect for a blog post.

I was so nervous about opening it. I gave the artist a lot of direction. I wanted it to fit the book into books of similar types. I wanted it to be flirty. I wanted a beach. I wanted a big guy. I sent her a lot of art from the stock source the publisher uses, but I never found the right hair for the woman. The heroine is Latina. The hero is an athlete, a major-league pitcher. Of course he’s handsome; it’s a romance. Well, the artist found the perfect couple. It’s weird because Cara has cool undertones to her skin. I did not specify that to the artist. I’m not crazy or a diva. (I don’t think.) But wow, the cover gal has it.

I’m totally over the moon about this. Enough talk, here it is.


I’m working on the galleys now. I proofread by reading backwards one sentence at a time. That took me 6 days. Now I’m reading it forwards. That goes a lot faster! I can only fix typos now. But I am requesting a few slightly longer changes here and there. For the longer changes, I counted out letters so that the replacement words won’t change the layout. I really wanted to add a thought, and I wrote it out several ways until I could get the number of characters to fit in the space. That’s an interesting way to write! LOL I hope the editor lets me make those few changes even though they are not just typos.

I also read the manuscript backwards during the second edit and that time I made a lot of changes. It’s okay to make changes at that point (as long as your editor approves.) It was so revealing to read it that way that I have written it into my process. I’m always going to read the book backwards now when I’m editing, actually before I submit to an editor in the first place.

I love polishing. It’s my favorite part.

Getting the cover, when it’s just what I want, is also very fun.

Have a great week. Tomorrow I plan to go outside and get some photos for Friday’s post.

Artistic choices

With writing, I receive a lot of help from my critique partners. Not only do they tell me what’s not working about a book, but they suggest how I might fix it. They also tell me what is working, so that I am careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Then I receive more help from my editor because I am lucky enough to have one! Good editing is key.

There are so many elements of writing craft: understanding and showing the characters’ goal, motivation (why they have the goal and why they think and act the way they do), and conflict (what stands between them and achieving their goal, both internal and external obstacles). Then there’s character arc (how they change and develop), and story structure, which has its own set of elements. Setting, dialog tags versus character movement, point of view, deep point of view, and so on. I think any writer who has been a member of Romance Writers of America for a while could jump on any of these when critiquing a writer’s work. With all those elements, many things can go wrong, but assuming you have those things right, well then it comes down to artistic choices among multiple right choices. Even at the sentence level, there are multiple ways of saying the same thing. One writer is going to choose to arrange a sentence one way and another will choose another way.

For me, getting to the artistic-choice stage is incredibly rewarding and exhilarating. Getting to choose is worth all the work and frustration involved in learning to write and in producing books.

I went out with a group of four photographers yesterday in New York City, all of them professional. I have been learning all kinds of technical tricks with my camera and some artistic suggestions, but ultimately the choices I make are my own. When I get home and look at my photos, which ones do I like? How do I want to develop them? I wouldn’t say I’m anywhere near mastering the craft, so some things are “wrong,” but each of us who posts photos is making choices, and even for amateurs, that is fun and interesting.

Some of the images below are not perfect, I know that, but I still like them. That’s what I find interesting–why did I choose these images?

The first one reminds me of the famous painting Nighthawks by Edward Hopper. My photo is not very much like that painting, but for some reason, the scene reminded me of it. Our brains are so individual–we are reminded of or pleased by different things. I like the people sitting inside plus I like the colors, textures, lines, curves and that the scene looks three dimensional. This is my favorite photo in today’s group.

The Oyster Bar at Grand Central
Grand Central Station
An old-fashioned info booth with modern displays, Grand Central Station
An old-fashioned info booth with modern displays, Grand Central Station
Phone booths in the public library
Phone booths in the public library
The Chrysler Building
The Chrysler Building
Grand Central Entrance
Grand Central Entrance
Bryant Park by the library
Bryant Park by the library

The next one is another favorite of mine. I like seeing people reading, looking at their smartphones, and talking, a slice-of-life moment in New York City.

Bryant Park
Bryant Park
View from Bryant Park
View from Bryant Park

Who doesn’t like a carousel? These are always so beautiful. The bunny was pointed out by two of the other photographers. It’s fun to see what artists notice. When I went up to take the photo, I was captured by the words on the horse’s saddle, Granny’s Folly, so I included that in the foreground.

Bryant Park carousel
Bryant Park carousel

I had to cut off the day early because I have a cold, but I made it out to our deck for a sunset photo.

Nightfall at the apartment, photo from the deck
Nightfall at the apartment, photo from the deck

Well those are my artistic choices for the day. Do you enjoy getting to make choices in whatever your specialty is? Whether it’s choosing a recipe, an outfit, how you will approach a work project, or choosing how you will tell a story, it all reflects your uniqueness.

Who is Nicci Carrera?


Long story, but I created a new pen name for Nicci Carrera, and my book came out last Monday! It’s a  spicy romantic comedy.



When hard-driving CEO Rick Nordan arrives in Lobster Cove under strict orders from the family doctor to take a break, he discovers the rental house comes with a family attached, including one sexy dynamo of a caterer. She’s nothing like his ex-fiancée who wouldn’t sign a pre-nup, but maybe that means she’s the real deal and not a gold digger.

Maya Cruz wants life for her widowed mother to get easier by renting out her house during the summer. But teaching Mama business means explaining Rick isn’t a “guest,” he’s a “customer.” And the first thing Mama does is invite Rick to join their family activities. Having Rick around wouldn’t be so bad if Maya didn’t find him so attractive. The last time she fell for a vacationing millionaire, she had her heart broken.

She swore off his type, and he’s not looking, but this might be a recipe for love.

Short Excerpt:

Get a grip. She was just proving Rick right about her footwear with her clumsy performance.

“Those shoes aren’t made for lifting,” Rick said.

“These shoes make me your height. Perhaps you don’t like that.”

He chuckled. “Still got a few inches on you, Maya.”

“Still got a few hands on me too.”

He grinned, leaving his hands where they were. “Sorry.”

“Somehow your smile belies your apology.”

“Are you sorry?” His brows rose in inquiry, but his tight half-smile showed confidence that her answer would be no.

About Lobster Cove

Love Caters All is part of The Wild Rose Press Lobster Cove series. This is a multi-author, multi-sub genre series. 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.

Available at:

The Wild Rose Press ebook:


Amazon Kindle:

Amazon Print:


Pacific Beach farewell (more beer)

We loved the California Kabob restaurant so much and really thought our son and his fiancee would also like it, so we invited them to meet us there. Well … when we arrived we found out the restaurant is actually a brewery called Amplified Ale Works. If you approach it from the beach there is the kabob sign, but if you approach it from the street, Mission Boulevard, there is the Amplified sign. A tad confusing! We frantically texted our guests, but fortunately, being part of the next generation, they figured it out on their own.

So, how great is it when you love a restaurant for its food and ambiance and then find out it’s a brewery?!

I’m also celebrating receiving a contract for my second book with The Wild Rose Press today, so here’s a toast to a good vacation, family, good blog friends, good food, good beer, and a new book:


Here was the view … a wonderful farewell to PB.






Tattoos and Tangles, by Melinda Di Lorenzo, book review


I was very caught up in this story right from the start. The voice of the heroine is young and edgy, yet vulnerable. The hero is very strong. And even though I was right in his head, the twist at the end came as a surprise. 

The characters’ life stories were painful and realistic, making for well-motivated actions. This is a romance, and follows the story arcs expected in the genre, but does so in a convincing and natural way. Such organic arcs flow from strong, realistic character motivations.

Along with the characters, the suspense, and the mystery, I enjoyed the author’s light touch with the romance. Feelings grow naturally and realistically while intimate moments are written sparingly. Actually, all the writing is quite spare, making for a strong contemporary fiction feel and fast romantic-suspense pace.

We have the author here today to answer a few questions.

Melinda, welcome! Great book. Tattoos and Tangles is a real page turner. Where did you come up with the idea for this book?

Melinda: A friend said to me one day (half-joking), “You know what the world needs? More tattooed bad boys. That’s what you should write!” So I laughed and replied, “Fine. I can do that.” So I started with the opening scene.

Nia: I was going to ask what came first: the characters, the situation, the plot, the livelihood… Apparently the tattoos. Can you elaborate?

Melinda: The tattoo parlor came first, and Cass’s story. I knew exactly what had happened to her from the first page.

Nia: You wrote in multiple first person. I was excited to see how you handled this point-of-view (POV) choice because my co-author John Holland and I decided to go with this POV for our novel. We went back and forth with POV, sometimes writing in third person but always coming back to first. First just felt right. Why did you choose first person and did you write it another way and change it or decide on first person from the start?

Melinda: I almost always write in first person. It feels natural to me. I wrote Cass’s first two chapters, but knew as soon as I was done with them that John needed to get up close and personal, too.

Nia: Where are you in your writing career? How long have you been writing, what else have you published and where do you hope to go?

Melinda: I feel like I’m just getting started in the part of writing that equals a career, but I’ve been writing for as long as I could hold a pencil. If you ask my parents, they’ll tell you that my room was covered with story notes from the time I was about 8 years old. In addition to Tattoos and Tangles, I have two Indie novels, Snapshots by Laura and Long Way From Home, both available on Amazon. I have a New Adult Romance coming out with Harlequin in the early summer. I’m currently working on another Romantic Suspense and just hope to keep going forever!

Nia: Congratulations. You are off to a great start with the career phase of your writing. Can you tell us why you write?

Melinda: I have a lot of stories in my head. I feel like I have to get them out. Like REALLY have to.

Nia: What do you like to read?

Melinda: Just about everything. I love historical romance and romantic suspense. I also enjoy a good thriller. I decided a while back that I was going to write a Young Adult novel, so most recently I’ve been diving into those. Last year, I read 55 books!

Nia: Thank you for joining us, Melinda. Bloggees, you can find Tattoos and Tangles at the link below, and you can find Melinda on the web at the links below as well.

Tattoos and Tangles, by Melinda DiLorenzo


Twitter: @melindawrites


The Last Straw world-wide release and a free cookbook

Dinner last night was vegetarian Thai curry. Half the vegetables came from our garden, which still clings to life despite cold nights.



We make this all the time at home so I submitted it for the recipe gift book my publisher does during the holidays. You can get the recipe on page 55 of the FREE Holiday Garden Gourmet cookbook at The Wild Rose Press. You’ll also find lots of other recipes from Wild Rose Press authors, all organized by type of recipe in a free, downloadable PDF.

While you’re there, if you would like my novella, The Last Straw, in another format besides Kindle (mobi), you can now get a PDF or epub version. Here is the link: The Last Straw.

Note:  Last night we added tofu to the mix, which isn’t in the recipe, for extra protein. You can see the little white cubes in the second photo. Just toss them in at the end and let the meal simmer for about 10 minutes to heat the tofu.


#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.

Author interview, Cynthia Harrison


Today, we have author Cynthia Harrison.

Cynthia, welcome! Your background shows that you are a real book lover. You teach English, including creative writing, have written a manual on writing, and have written hundreds of reviews, features and short fiction. Have you written in other genres besides romance?

Cynthia Harrison: Yes, I started as a poet and short story writer.  I tried a few literary novels, a mystery, and a historical romance. They were practice books. Nothing felt right until I turned to contemporary love stories, novels of self-discovery, set in small towns.

NS: I know you also read outside the genre. What do you like about reading and writing romance?

CH: I like the parameters. I like working within a structure and twisting it for a bit of edge.

NS: Are you a pantser or a plotter?

CH: Pantser, to my dismay. I do begin plotting in earnest at about 30K words, but until then it’s whatever comes out of the fingertips that day.

NS: What is your favorite part about writing?

CH: I love losing myself in worlds that I can control, lol.

NS: What is the hardest part about writing?

CH: Finding the time and energy to keep going  when I really want to read a good book.

NS: How long have you been writing?

CH: 45 years. Junior high star journalist.

NS: What are your dreams for your writing?

CH: I love this series idea, because I love writing series. But, if I can finish and publish this one I’m writing now, the book of my heart, I’ll be satisfied.

Cynthia Harrison
Cynthia Harrison

To learn more about Cynthia:

Links blogging for 11 years on A Writer’s Diary.

facebook fan page: Cynthia Harrison

Twitter: @CynthiaHarriso1

Author interview Mackenzie Crowne

Welcome, Mac! Can you tell us a little about your writing process, from idea to finished product? Do you plan and plot in detail or “pants” it or some combination of the two?

Mac: I’m a complete pantser. I start out with an idea, a conflict, and a location and the rest comes to me as I go along. Let me tell you, that can be a real pain in the butt at times, but I can’t seem to write any other way, and really wouldn’t want to. I love the status quo.

Nia: What are your long term goals and dreams for your writing career?

Mac: Just to keep writing and sharing my stories. I didn’t take up this craft to get rich, though, of course, I wouldn’t mind. Storytelling is compulsory for me. Even if I never sold another book, I simply couldn’t stop. That would break my heart. So wherever my writing takes me, I’ll be smiling.

Nia: What do you find to be the most difficult part of the writing craft?

Mac: Staying on track to get to where I plan to go. As a pantser, I’m often tossed off in a direction I didn’t expect. Sometimes that’s awesome. Sometimes it’s a disaster leading to writer’s block.

Nia: I hear you. But if it’s any comfort, I’m a plotter and I hit disaster and writer’s block too. What are your favorite parts of writing?

Mac: A good, juicy scene fueled by dialog. I always learn the most about my characters when I let them talk and love how that happens.

Nia: Ditto! Thanks for coming by today.

Please follow, friend or like me. I love making new friends.

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Author interview, Barbara Edwards, Journey of the Magi

Welcome Barbara! You have been writing for a while. Can you tell us where are you in your career?

Barbara: I’m a multi-published author. That means I’m working to increase my readership and write the best books I possibly can. Journey of the Magi is a different type of book for me since it is a sweet romance instead of a paranormal romance or a historical romance.

Nia: Are you a “plotter” a “pantser” or a mix?

Barbara: Although I ‘know’ the beginning and the end of my story before I start I don’t do advance plotting. My characters keep me writing until their story is told.

Nia: Another “pantser”! I’ve had a lot of those on this blog. I’m going to have to hunt for some other plotters, like me!

But for now, can you tell us, what is the most challenging part of the writing craft for you?

Barbara: Everything. I’m always rewriting, editing and re-editing.

Nia: I know the feeling! Writing fiction is, I think, the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. But now for the good part. What is your favorite part of the writing craft for you?

Barbara: I enjoy having a reader like my stories. That’s my ego talking. I also like to share what I’ve learned with other writers. Writers are like sponges soaking up every detail that will make their writing better.

Nia: That’s a nice thing to say about us. Thank you. What aspect of writing took you the longest to master?

Barbara: Keeping to a daily writing schedule. It’s difficult to ignore all the distractions that real life throws in my path.

Nia: Do you mind if I borrow that answer?! What are your aspirations as an author?

Barbara: I want to have a best-seller in the New York Times. I also want to keep publishing novels until I run out of ideas.

Nia: Forever, in other words. That’s so great. How many people want to keep doing their job forever? But that’s a rhetorical question. Here’s a real one. From what neck of the woods do you hail?

Barbara: I am a New Englander. I grew up in a small town and went to college at the University of Hartford in Connecticut.  I did live in Florida for ten years and will travel anywhere the road takes me.

Nia: That’s the spirit we like around here! There are a lot of travelers in this neck of the blogosphere woods.


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