A Blog about Nothing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs those who follow me know, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to blog every month. Staring at a blank page, I remember why I stopped blogging. I couldn’t think of anything to blog about. But not to worry. There is always the internet.

I googled Blog Topics and landed on Fizzle, which offers 81 ideas for “starting a blog that matters.” Perfecto.

The list has rather curious suggestions.

My favorite is “Recipes for couples without children.” As someone who has been part of a couple with and without children, I should be able to bring perspective to this subject. Here’s my suggestion. Forget the recipes. If you don’t have children, eat out. Whenever you can. Want to stay in? Bring home a doggie bag for night two. Feeling blah? Break out the Froot Loops. There’s no one at your house to scandalize or whine about dinner. Feeling amorous? Open a bottle cabernet, crush a few cloves of garlic and saute some shrimp or scallops. Break out the baguette and fancy European butter.

A recipe will just cramp your style, and that’s what children are for.

Then there’s this suggestion: Blog about Ghosthunting

I haven’t had much experience with ghost hunting since like most people, I’d prefer to avoid ghosts. Ghosts are not supposed to be hanging around. They are supposed to go to their final destination, wherever that is.

In the Long Island Medium, Theresa talks to spirits, which I lump in with ghosts, since you can’t see either and both are theoretically dead. It appears they follow their loved ones around, which seems sort of cool if you’re alive. But if you’re dead, you may not be thrilled if you are tasked with following someone around all day. Especially someone like me since I mostly sit at a desk or sleep.

But if I was to offer advice on this topic, I might suggest that you spin around fast and see if you can catch your great grandmother yawning.

Number 45 suggests devoting a blog to writing an e-book best seller. If only there was a recipe for that.

In the same vein, there is “How to become a famous rock star.” It seems to me that the only people who can speak to this with any authority are famous rock stars. But how many famous rock stars have blogs? And how many are searching the internet for an interesting topic for their blog? I’ll bet none.

One more: “How to get what you want without breaking the law or burning bridges.” I am not a lawyer, but I feel that there is a vast gulf between breaking the law and burning bridges (assuming they don’t mean burning bridges literally). Wedged into that wide gulf is a prison cell and five years to life, depending on what it is you want.

Next Month

My next blog and newsletter will provide, among other things, a look at the shrine I am setting up to the old-fashioned typewriter. Hopefully you’ll find this more interesting than my family.

In the meantime, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I will raffle off one of Erica O’Rourke’s wonderful YA books, “Dissonance.” If you are interested, please email me at manningillinois@gmail.com

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Catching Up and Valentine’s Giveaways


I must be an unrepentant optimist. I embrace January as the dawn of a new me. It sort of works, but hey, if you don’t overreach a little, you won’t get anywhere. I’m skipping my usual plans to lose 10 pounds and save money so I can go to Europe. Still, my new year’s resolutions are numerous.

  1. I am going to I will write two books.
  2. I am going to I will finish edits on two other that I wrote last year.
  3. I am going to I will read at least four books on writing.
  4. I am going to I will sign up for an Iowa Writers Workshop course.
  5. I am going to I will write a blog/newsletter each month.

Oh, I almost forgot. I will publish the third book in my Murder in Texas series, “Stranger in My Bed.” There is plenty of mystery and murder, and the romance is a second chance at love story. The heroine is a hot-tempered sculptress and the hero is Special Forces who’s seen too much evil.

One of the books that I am writing this year will be a sweet romance called “Mr. Matchmaker.” This a friends to lovers story about a man who sets out to find a wife for his Ne’er-Do-Well brother (in order to straighten him out) and falls for the chosen bride himself.

My other book will be part of new series of Mainstream Mysteries I am working on. I wrote the first two last year. The books are named after the major arcana tarot cards. Each story takes its theme from one of the cards. My amateur sleuth is a tarot card reader with no mystical powers but is a good reader of people. The first two are “The Fool” and “The Magician.” I have started on “The High Priestess” and will finish this year. I am working with my agent to polish “The Fool” and hope we will find a publisher this year.

Valentine’s Day Giveaways

Book Signing

That’s me on the far left at a writers’ event. From left the other writers are Sonali Dev, Elizabeth Harmon, Susanne Lord and Erica O’Rourke (who also writes as Lucy Kerr).

I attend lots of writing workshops, and most of the time, I end up with piles of free book. So many that I don’t know what to do with all of them. Two great reads that I got at a recent conference were Courtney Milan’s “Trade Me” and Christina Lauren’s “Sweet Filthy Boy.” Courtney gave the keynote speech as well and talked about “Trade Me.” We were all in tears by the end of her speech. Christina and Lauren (they’re actually two separate people) gave an inspirational awards dinner speech that blew me away.

Anyway, I am giving away one copy of each of these books as Valentine’s Day gifts to two readers living in the U.S. If you are interested, send off an email to me at manningillinois@gmail.com. I will pick to winners on February 14. The books come with a little  surprise gift.

If you live in the Chicago area … I am also giving away a bouquet from Flowers for Dreams. Flowers for Dreams is a local florist that specializes in organic bouquets and gives a percentage of its sales to a different charity every month. In February, proceeds go to Alive Rescue, an animal rescue group in Chicago. Since they only deliver to Chicago and suburbs, you have to live in their delivery area. If you are interested in getting one of their adorable bouquets for Valentine’s Day, shoot me an email me at manningillinois@gmail.com.

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#RomanticIdea – Tea & Company Thursday – Meet Stacy Juba

Welcome Stacy Juba!

Hope your summer is rolling along as smoothly as a fluffy white cloud. Today I welcome Stacy Juba who has some #RomanticIdea (s) that I really like. If you read Stacy’s bio at the end of this blog, you might conclude they really work.

Go to a theme park and try these romantic ideas:

  1. Snuggle up on slow rides such as the train.
  2. Kiss at the top of the Ferris Wheel at night.
  3. Share a box of popcorn during a show.
  4. Get to a show early and relax in the back of the air-conditioned theater.
  5. Kiss for the ride pictures.
  6. Enjoy a picnic lunch.
  7. Go to the park’s nicest restaurant for dinner.
  8. Have your significant other play games to win you a prize.
  9. Hold hands while strolling through the park.
  10. Snuggle up during the fireworks.


Fooling Around With Cinderella 600x900“Fooling Around With Cinderella” by Stacy Juba

What happens when the glass slippers pinch Cinderella’s toes? When Jaine Andersen proposes a new marketing role to the local amusement park, general manager Dylan Callahan charms her into filling Cinderella’s glass slippers for the summer. Her reign transforms Jaine’s ordinary life into chaos that would bewilder a fairy godmother. Secretly dating her bad boy boss, running wedding errands for her ungrateful sisters, and defending herself from the park’s resident villain means Jaine needs lots more than a comfy pair of shoes to restore order in her kingdom. First in the Storybook Valley series, a blend of sweet romance, chick lit, and fairy tale fun.

An excerpt from Fooling Around With Cinderella:

Dylan scrutinized Jaine, arms folded across his royal blue shirt with the Storybook Valley logo stamped over the left in white block letters. “Do you wear contacts?”

“I have plenty of media contacts. Wait. Did you say wear contacts? You mean instead of these?” Jaine fingered the earpiece of her gold-rimmed glasses.

“Right. Contact lenses.”

She gave a nervous chuckle. “I scheduled a consultation in college, but was too squeamish to insert the lens. I was more comfortable in glasses.”

Was she really justifying her vision enhancement choices to her prospective new boss? Maybe he intended to discuss medical benefits. Or did he think she looked nerdy? What was the saying? Guys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses? Not that she wanted him to make a pass even if he was hot.

“How blind are you without glasses?” Dylan persisted.

“You wouldn’t want to drive with me.”

“How about if you’re walking around a building? Are you in danger of hurting yourself?”

This interview had taken the Mad Hatter Freeway from Fairy Tale Land into Wonderland where nothing made a damn bit of sense. Did this guy have a glasses fetish, like those weirdoes with shoe fetishes?

“I should be okay. I take them off for special occasions.” In fact, Jaine’s older sister Bree, who was getting married in August, remarked just last week, “You are losing the glasses for my wedding pictures, right?”

What the hell. She’d be a good sport and hope Dylan would be so grateful to pick the brain of a real, flesh and blood, bespectacled person that he would appoint her marketing director. Jaine removed her glasses and the fine details of her surroundings fuzzed. She nodded toward the framed print hanging on a side wall, the picture a wash of symbols and colors. “I can tell that’s a park map, but the words and images smear together.”

And that was myopia in a nutshell. Jaine adjusted her glasses back into place so she could see his reaction. Dylan examined her with such intensity that a blush stained her cheeks. She patted her French braid, in case stray strands were straggling out.

“Here’s the situation,” Dylan said. “I took over the general manager position a few months ago. I’m evaluating possible changes and researching how other theme parks run. My grandfather and father have worked with a marketing firm for years to create our brochures, billboards, print, and radio ads.”

Jaine’s shoulders caved, imperceptible to him, but it felt as if her whole body was sinking.

No fairy tale job ending for her.

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1XpaJ5t

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fooling-around-with-cinderella-stacy-juba/1122680940?ean=2940152324976

Kobo: http://ow.ly/SFUsk

iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1042194826

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=BdrNCgAAQBAJ

About Stacy Juba

Stacy Juba got engaged at Epcot Theme Park and spent part of her honeymoon at Disneyland Paris, where she ate a burger, went on fast rides, and threw up on the train ride to the hotel. In addition to working on her Storybook Valley chick lit/sweet romance series, Stacy has written books about ice hockey, teen psychics, U.S. flag etiquette for kids, and determined women sleuths. She has had a novel ranked as #5 in the Nook Store and #30 on the Amazon Kindle Paid List. When she’s not visiting theme parks with her family, (avoiding rides that spin and exotic hamburgers), or writing about them, Stacy helps authors to strengthen their manuscripts through her Crossroads Editing Service. She is currently writing the next book in the Storybook Valley Series, Prancing Around With Sleeping Beauty.

Author Links:

Website and blog: http://stacyjuba.com/blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stacy-Juba/100155471301

Twitter: https://twitter.com/stacyjuba

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Stacy-Juba/e/B002OXLSDE/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Newsletter subscription: http://stacyjuba.com/blog/newsletter-subscription/

romantic idea


During June and July, I am hosting a group of wonderful writers for our #RomanticIdea summer. Each author will offer a romantic idea you can try this summer with your sweetheart, plus a special treat — an excerpt from one of their books. I hope you enjoy the series. — Mari

Posted in Thursday Tea & Company | 1 Comment

#RomanticIdea – Softcover Sunday – Meet Keta Diablo

Welcome Keta Diablo!

Here is Keta’s #RomanticIdea —

When summer comes to the Midwest, we think lakes!

One way I love to pass a sunny afternoon is to pack a picnic lunch and head for the water on a Pontoon boat. What could be more romantic than spending a lazy day cruising the lake? The crappies are biting, the sun’s sharing its awesome warmth and the cooler is filled with our favorite beverages.

This is also a great time to catch up on my reading (a romance novel, of course). As the sun sets, we head on over to one of the many restaurants on the lake and enjoy a delicious meal together.

Now this is my idea of Romance!

Happy sailing and happy reading! ~ Keta ~

400x600 IAN Seal

 Season, Unforgettable by Keta Diablo is a New Adult Contemporary Romance

Nominated for a Rone Award

Finalist Independent Author Network Best Book

Someone wants Season’s land. And they’ll do anything to get it. Even murder.

Season Scrimshaw isn’t selling the land her parents left her when they died, not even to the gorgeous Rann Brogan who saved her life in the forest. Especially not after she finds out he was in the woods to survey her property.

The company Rann works for, his mother’s company, wants the land for a luxury condo development and they want it bad. He never dreamed they’d go to such extreme lengths to get it.

Lives spiral out of control, lies and betrayal play center stage. Caught in the middle between his rich and powerful mother and the woman he loves, Rann discovers love is complicated…and sometimes lethal.

A stand-alone contemporary romance with elements of suspense.


Here is an excerpt from Season, Unforgettable:

Looking at the road Season traveled, a sense of the unfamiliar hit her. Holy crap! This isn’t right. Don’t panic, take a deep breath. You’re not on Mars, at least I don’t think they have red barns and silos on Mars.

Cows grazed in the pastures, a black crow or two crossed the sky. She realized she must have made a wrong turn leaving the 7-Eleven. Was she supposed to go right to get back onto the Interstate or left? She’d have to backtrack and that shouldn’t be a problem since she couldn’t have traveled more than four miles. The gravel road didn’t want to cooperate with her plan. The straight path she’d been on had now turned into a bend, an elongated curve with no end in sight. Still no reason to panic. Hey, if it is a never-ending bend I’ll end up back at the little store.

 About to reach for her cell in the passenger seat, she checked her rearview mirror first. A cloud of dust had formed behind her car, a whirling dervish that screeched fast and furious. If it didn’t slow down, and there wasn’t a lane on either side to pass her, how would it navigate around her?

Kaboom! The car slammed into her tailgate. Her neck whipped forward and then back again. Full-blown terror snaked down her spine. The car hadn’t stopped; it was still swerving and swaying behind her. She didn’t dare pull over. This was no accident but an intentional act. She wracked her brain. Had she pulled out in front of someone unknowingly? What about the clerk at the store? God, she couldn’t even remember what he looked like. Had he followed her?

Kaboom! A scream seized her throat. The Denali veered to the right. Tires squealed, hers or the other vehicle’s she didn’t know. Curve eternal still loomed ahead with no driveways or turnarounds in sight. Frantic now, she searched the seat for her phone. Her hand met flat leather. It must have fallen during the last ram.

With one eye on the gravel road, one in the rearview mirror, a beam of sunlight illuminated the maniac’s car. Spiders crawled over her skin. Silver SUV? No, it can’t be! An engine roared and then brakes squealed. She clung to the steering wheel and prayed.

Bam! The Denali screamed its outrage or was it the sound of broken glass? A steep bank ahead flashed in her line of vision. Dear God, help me! Oh no, oh, no! Like a spinning top, the Denali flipped, ass over tea kettle. Immense pain shot through her body. Something warm and sticky ran down her face. Why hadn’t the air bag deployed? Her vision faded in and out, and she couldn’t form a rational thought. Oh, Pearl, we’re dying. Duna! Oh, my God, Duna, I-I shouldn’t have listened to you this time, should have followed my aura meter.

Lying snake. 

Complete, utter darkness engulfed her.

About Keta Diablo:
Keta Diablo lives in the Midwest part of the United States on six acres of woodland. When she isn’t writing or gardening she loves to commune with nature. She adores animals and donates her time and support to local food and animal shelters.

Keta is a multi-published author in contemporary romance, erotic romance and gay fiction. She’s also an Amazon best-selling author. Her erotica novel Decadent Deceptions was a finalist in the MOLLY contest sponsored by Romance Writers of America and was nominated for a Red Carpet Award in 2014. Her paranormal novel Meko’s Woman was nominated for a Bookie Award by Authors After Dark and her historical novel Sky Tinted Water was nominated for a RONE Award by Ind’Tale Magazine. Her latest contemporary romance novel, Season, Unforgettable, was a finalist in the romance category sponsored by Independent Author Network Book Awards for 2015.

Keta’s books have received numerous Top Pick, Book of the Month, and Recommended Read awards from top professional review sites.

Download Season, Unforgettable

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1K1nXBr

Nook: http://bit.ly/23w8Qn3

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id992988050

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/season-unforgettable
Follow Keta on the Net:

Author Blog: http://ketaskeep.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KetaDiablo.Author

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ketadiablo

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ketadiablo/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Keta-Diablo/e/B002BODURI/

romantic idea


During June and July, I am hosting a group of wonderful writers for our #RomanticIdea summer. Each author will offer a romantic idea you can try this summer with your sweetheart, plus a special treat — an excerpt from one of their books. I hope you enjoy the series. — Mari


Posted in Softcover Sunday | Leave a comment

#romanticidea Tea & Company Welcomes MM Jaye

For today’s Thursday Tea & Company spotlight, I welcome author MM Jaye who offers a great #romanticidea that I intend to use this weekend. (-;

Romantic Idea to enjoy this summer

Have your partner read your favorite romance novel and ask him which romantic scene he enjoyed the most and then re-enact the scene! It could be candlelit dinner at a location similar to that mentioned in the book, wearing similar outfits, with the night progressing exactly as the book describes. Do your best to keep the script *winks*

In Fate Captured, the hero re-enacts the final scene of the heroine’s book (she’s an aspiring writer) even changing the dining room’s furniture to resemble those in the scene, and that’ show he won her back. He did need a grand gesture after the way he treated her, after all.

Fate Captured

MM Jaye is sharing her new book in the Greek Tycoons series, Fate Captured, which comes in a sweet and spicy version. I will be featuring the spicy version (of course!). 

fate captured cover CREATESPACECan two wrongs win Mr. Right?

Trish Swan is living her dream. She gave up chilly Boston for a sunny Greek island to write her novel. But she likes hot crime between the pages, not before her eyes. Yet, she doesn’t think twice about turning in a video she captures of a cop roughing up a man–but maybe she should because fate throws her a curve ball she least expects.

The mind-numbingly hot Greek from the bar isn’t just a cocky bad boy in need of a little love. He’s a shipping heir wrongfully accused.

By her.

Career in ruins, Markos’ life is a hot mess, all thanks to one sexy do-gooder who keeps popping up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Touching her becomes addictive, so maybe he could forgive her for doing her civic duty. But when she dredges up ghosts from his past, messing with his sanity, his Greek blood boils. And someone is bound to get burned.

With a man’s life on the line, Trish prepares for a head-on collision that will push Markos over the edge. What does she stand to lose anyway? Her heart?

He already owns it.

Fate Captured Purchase Links

Amazon Purchase Links (all markets)

Spicy: http://getBook.at/FCapturedSpicy

Clean: http://getBook.at/FCapturedClean 


Spicy version: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30052119-fate-captured-spicy-romance

Clean version:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30056131-fate-captured-clean-romance

Here is a excerpt from Fate Captured:

Balancing the tray on one hand, Trish turned to take the drinks to the couple snuggling on the cushioned bench that lined the side wall. She gave Hot Guy a wide berth. Although initially she wanted him to watch her dance, she also had to think of her reputation at her workplace. Branding herself as an easy waitress was the last thing she needed.

She spotted the sleazo leaving his seat. His eyes were pinned on her, his upper lip curled. Now she worried more about putting space between her and him. She sidestepped clumsily, and her foot caught on the protruding leg of a bar stool, sending her careening forward.

A hand of steel around her arm steadied her before she fell flat on her face. As bad luck went, it was the arm with the tray, and by the time she pushed her tumbling hair out of her face, the drinks intended for the snuggling couple were soaking her savior’s jeans-clad thighs.

She looked up. As if she needed his steel-gray gaze to be petrified.

“Was that Plan B or a payback?”

At the sound of the guy’s low, deep voice, her heart rate went from fast to frantic. Trying to ignore the burning sensation his large fingers had left on her arm, she focused on what he was saying. Which was gibberish.

“What was?”

Hot guy quirked a thick, dark brow. “Do you make a habit of throwing yourself at men, or was that your way of getting back at me for not falling for your little dance routine earlier?”

Anger thickened her blood to the point of clotting it, and her heartbeat markedly dropped.

“Did you just imply I stumbled on purpose?”

“I didn’t.”

She frowned.


Trish opened her mouth, but nothing came out. Glancing about, she saw that Bo had gone to the back room, and the snuggling couple were about to start making babies, oblivious to the fact that their drinks were now pooling on the floor. She inched closer to the bar and leaned against it, giving him her sweetest smile.

The hard expression on his face remained, but his gaze fell on her mouth, his eyes widening just a fraction.

She had a killer smile, and she knew it.

Taking advantage of his momentary distraction, she threw out her hand, snatched his tumbler and brought that drink down on him as well.

His gaze dropped to his lap.

“Now that was payback.” She pivoted and tossed her long hair with such gusto, it had to have whipped his face.

About MM Jaye

MM Jaye’s mother claims that she spoke her first word at the age of six. Months. As a kid she would record fairy tales in her own voice, play them back and then re-record, adjusting the pitch and tempo. Later, she used her voice to inspire young adults and teach them the art of translation. But there came a time when life took a turn for the worse, and her voice temporarily died out. That’s when she turned to writing.

Fate Captured is the first book in her Greek Tycoons series, set on the Greek island where her husband proposed. MM Jaye lives in Athens, Greece, with her husband, daughter and Kindle.

Author Links

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/MM-Jaye/e/B00OX44NSO

Blog: http://mmjayewrites.com

Facebook: www.fb.com/MMJayeauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MMJaye

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/mmjaye1/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+MMJayeauthor

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#RomanticIdea – Softcover Sunday – Meet Carmen Stefanescu

Welcome Carmen!

Here are #RomanticIdeas from Carmen Stefanescu to rekindle the spark :

Learn a romantic foreign language.  Take an intro-class together for a language that neither of you speak –  French, Italian, Spanish or Romanian  simply sound romantic –  and practice whispering sweet nothings into each other’s ears, in that new language!

Cuddle up together in a horse-drawn carriage ride.   You’ll probably feel like you are in a romantic comedy, and that’s a good thing.

Read each other’s Tarot Cards.   Take turns reading each other’s fortunes using Tarot Cards. Even if you don’t believe in astrology, it will make for one fun evening spent together.

Go on a ghost tour together.   Find the nearest ghost tour in your city and head out on the adventure together. At least you’ll have someone’s hand to hold onto should things start to get a little spooky.

Feed each other fondue at home.   It really doesn’t get sexier than feeding each other chocolate dipped strawberries.

Carmen is sharing an excerpt from her Paranormal Romance, “Till Life Do Us Part” which was released by Solstice Publishing on June 9, 2016


About “Till Life Do Us Part”
Till Life Do us part-001Barbara Heyer can hear voices of dead people. They whisper of their deaths, seek comfort for those left behind, and occasionally even warn her about future events. But when Barbara’s brother, Colin, is accused of murder, it will take more than her gift to prove his innocence.

Becoming smitten with the handsome investigator, Detective Patrick Fischer, is a serious complication given his assignment to her brother’s case. Barbara senses there is something far deeper—and perhaps much older—than the surface attraction between them. Could that be why she’s visited by a mysterious woman named Emma in her dreams? Could past life regression tie all the seemingly unconnected events together?

Barbara and Patrick must overcome heartache to find the truth to save Colin, and perhaps themselves.

Trailer for Till Life Do Us Part: https://youtu.be/UbuntlWISc0

Here is an excerpt from the book:

He watched the windows of the house for several days, hidden by the mantle of the falling night. Taking advantage of the cover the lime trees in the garden offered, he avidly followed her every movement across the bedroom. He could have hidden in the attic as he had a few times, watching her through the peephole he’d made, but from here, he could see her better.

He had a cautious nature, yet wasn’t afraid of being spotted. There was little likelihood of his presence being announced to the police as a stalker. After all, they’d been seen together quite often.


The first drop of rain fell with a splash on the windshield jolting Barbara back to reality. She opened her eyes and slipped her small handbag into the glove box. The money she received would help her solve many of the “not-for-now” things, like replacing the floorboard in the bedroom and repairing the leaking pipe in the kitchen.

She looked through the windshield at the pelting rain washing over her car. She reached for the key to start the engine when a faint light flickered on top of the steering wheel.

Barbara, Barbara, a voice came, more like a whisper, in her mind. He killed me. He just killed me…

Who are you, dear? Who killed you?

Kathleen… He killed me.


“Detective, please, don’t  think I’m raving, but I have to ask. Do you know someone called Mabel?”

The man riveted Barbara with his dark blue eyes for a moment. Barbara cringed inside. He’ll rebuke me. The man passed a hand over his face and nodding, he answered, “Yes, I know a Mabel. My… my wife.”

“How long ago did she pass away?”

In a voice that was more than a little surprised he asked, “How on earth did you know she’s dead?”

“She’s here,” Barbara replied in a small voice.

His eyebrows shot up in disbelief. The steel in his voice was hard to miss. “What? What are you talking about?” He spun round and looked at the apparently empty space behind him.

Tell him I no longer suffer, Barbara heard Mabel’s voice.

Detective Fisher was still staring blankly around him.

“She wants me to tell you she no longer suffers. She hopes you’ve found in your heart the power to forgive her for committing suicide… for jumping off the bridge.”

The detective looked straight into Barbara’s eyes. The grief she saw in them was almost palpable.

Buy links: Solstice Publishing  and Amazon

                                           About Carmen:

carmenCarmen Stefanescu resides in Romania, the native country of the infamous vampire Count Dracula, but where, for about 50 years of communist dictatorship, just speaking about God, faith, reincarnation or paranormal phenomena could have led someone to great trouble – the psychiatric hospital if not to prison.

Teacher of English and German in her native country and mother of two daughters, Carmen Stefanescu survived the grim years of communist oppression, by escaping in a parallel world, that of the books.

Her first novel, Shadows of the Past, was released in 2012 by Wild Child Publishing, USA.

Carmen joined the volunteer staff at Marketing For Romance Writers Author blog, and is the coordinator of #Thursday13 posts.

You can stalk the author here:







romantic idea


During June and July, I am hosting a group of wonderful writers for our #RomanticIdea summer. Each author will offer a romantic idea you can try this summer with your sweetheart, plus a special treat — an excerpt from one of their books. I hope you enjoy the series. — Mari

Posted in Softcover Sunday | 1 Comment

#romanticidea Thursday Tea & Company Meet Linda McLaughlin

Linda’s Summer #RomanticIdea

“A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou” – The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

I love that quote, and it makes me think of romantic summer picnics—at the beach, by a lake, in the mountains or a park—whatever location works best where you live or vacation. But what to pack? Wine, bread, meat and cheese are a given, but don’t forget the summer fruit—ripe red strawberries, lush juicy peaches or crisp apples. There’s nothing like a taste of fruit to sweeten a kiss.


LadyElinor'sEscape_400x251Lady Elinor’s Escape
by Linda McLaughlin
Sweet Regency Romance 

Lady Elinor Ashworth always longed for adventure, but when she runs away from her abusive aunt, she finds more than she bargained for. Elinor fears her aunt who is irrational and dangerous, threatening Elinor and anyone she associates with. When she encounters an inquisitive gentleman, she accepts his help, but fearing for his safety, hides her identity by pretending to be a seamstress. She resists his every attempt to draw her out, all the while fighting her attraction to him

There are too many women in barrister Stephen Chaplin’s life, but he has never been able to turn his back on a damsel in distress. The younger son of a baronet is a rescuer of troubled females, an unusual vocation fueled guilt over his failure to save the woman he loved from her brutal husband. He cannot help falling in love with his secretive seamstress, but to his dismay, the truth of her background reveals Stephen as the ineligible party

Buy links:

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00CHSNEII

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/lady-elinors-escape/id645217449

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lady-elinors-escape-linda-mclaughlin/1100559263

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/lady-elinor-s-escape

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/312406


Here is an excerpt from Lady Elinor’s Escape:

Elinor looked around her. “Where shall we have our picnic?”

“I have a particular place in mind.”

A few minutes later, he reined in the horses near a small pond with a few ducks paddling on the surface. He put his hands on her waist and swung her down from the curricle. His hands lingered for a moment longer than necessary as he stared into her eyes. His were a dark liquid amber, like honey, and the warmth in his expression set her heart to racing.

Alarmed by her reaction, she stepped away from him. Oh my, this very private picnic might not have been a wise idea at all.

After tethering the horses, he spread a blanket under a nearby oak, and then produced a picnic basket. While Elinor lowered herself onto the blanket, removed her gloves and bonnet, he dug into the basket. The picnic turned out to be a hearty repast of cold chicken, cheese, bread and butter, cider and sweet, fresh strawberries.

Elinor did not realize how hungry she was until she took the first bite of chicken. Before she knew it, she had devoured a bit of everything, aware of Stephen watching her the entire time.

“I did not mean to eat so much,” she said, feeling a bit embarrassed.

“As you are so slender, I had not expected you to have such a hearty appetite,” he remarked with a smile. “I approve.”

“Everything was delicious.”

“I’ll pass your compliments on to Mother’s cook. She kindly provided the food.”

“You mean you cajoled her into it,” Elinor teased him.

He flashed her a boyish grin. “Cook always did have a soft spot in her heart for a hungry boy.”

“You must have had a wonderful childhood.”

He shrugged his shoulders. “Fairly typical, I should imagine, except for my habit of bringing home stray and injured animals. I was the despair of my mother.”

Elinor laughed softly. “Then you have not changed much, only now you collect stray females. What does your mother think of that?”

Again he shrugged. “If only I were to marry one of them, she would not object at all, or so she says.”

“I see.” So he was under familial pressure to marry. But he could hardly consider a liaison with a seamstress. Was he pursuing her as one last fling before getting married?

“There is one strawberry left.” He held it out to her.

She leaned toward him and bit into the sweet pulp. A trickle of juice ran down her chin. With one finger, he captured the moisture, and then licked it off, all the while holding her gaze. Her eyes widened at the intimacy of the gesture as heat rose to her cheeks. She was in over her head here.


LindaFB1jAuthor bio:

Linda McLaughlin grew up with a love of books and history, so it’s only natural she prefers writing historical romance. She loves transporting her readers into the past where her characters learn that, in the journey of life, love is the sweetest reward. Linda also writes steamy to erotic romance under the name Lyndi Lamont, and is one half of the writing team of Lyn O’Farrell.

You can find her online at:

Website: http://lindalyndi.com

Blog: http://lindalyndi.com/reading-room-blog/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LindaMcLaughlinAuthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/lindamclaughlin

Twitter: @Lyndi Lamont https://twitter.com/LyndiLamont


romantic idea


During June and July, I am hosting a group of wonderful writers for our #RomanticIdea summer. Each author will offer a romantic idea you can try this summer with your sweetheart, plus a special treat — an excerpt from one of their books. I hope you enjoy the series.  — Mari

Posted in Miscellaneous | 1 Comment

#romanticidea Tea and Company Meet Elizabeth Harmon

Here are some great #romanticideas from 2016 RITA nominee, Elizabeth Harmon:

Cook a romantic dinner…together! 

Choose a favorite recipe (or something new), and if you have a nearby farmer’s market, shop there for ingredients. Then turn on the music, pour the wine, and prepare it together.

Bike to a weekend getaway!

For a romantic getaway close to home, book a room at an in-town  B&B or hotel, and ride there on your bike!

Outdoor concert and picnic

Pack a picnic supper and head to a local park that hosts outdoor summer concerts.  Music under the stars, what could be better?

Play ball!

Join a couple’s sports or game league! It doesn’t matter whether your sport is softball, sand volleyball, bowling or even trivia. Win or lose, you’re having fun together.

Teen-age date night

If there’s a drive-in theater in your area, head out to watch a summer blockbuster under the stars. Or hit the County Fair for funnel cakes, lemonade and a kiss on top of the Ferris Wheel.

Go ice skating!

Yep, even in the summer. If you’re lucky enough to have a rink nearby, it’s a great way to cool off on a sweltering summer night.

GiB-FINAL_CoverGetting It Back by Elizabeth Harmon

In this second-chance romance, a former top men’s figure skating champion is willing to risk everything for a comeback–except a new start with his long lost love.

An unexpected phone call from the man who broke her heart offers Amy Shepherd an opportunity to return to the work she loves, training elite figure skaters. Except it’s just one figure skater: Him. Can she finally forgive and forget?

Figure skater Mikhail “Misha” Zaikov once had it all: medals, money and the adoration of millions. But a devastating injury put an end to his career and his romance, leaving him with nothing but regret over what could have been. His last chance to re-join the world’s top skaters is now. And there’s only one person who can help him: Her.

On Russia’s unyielding ice, Misha must reclaim what he’s lost while facing off against a talented young rival and risking further injury. But Amy soon discovers Misha’s much bigger challenges lurk off the ice. And she’s determined to keep Misha whole and healthy, even if doing so ends his shot at the gold.

Don’t miss any of Elizabeth Harmon’s Red Hot Russians. Pairing Off and Turning it On are available now!

Here is an excerpt from Getting It Back:

The next morning, Amy awoke first. Misha lay beside her in bed, still sleeping. He’d brought over clothes last night. His toothbrush was in the bathroom cabinet. This was just like back in Ohio, only better. Misha was no longer searching for direction. He knew what he wanted, and they were working together to help him achieve it. But she couldn’t deny that she was nervous about what would happen today, when he returned to training on the ice.

She got out of bed, and changed into her running clothes, put coffee on, then returned to wake Misha. “Hey,” she sat on the edge of the bed and gently shook his shoulder. “Time for our run.”

Nyet,” he said in a sleepy voice, and reached for her.

“You agreed to it last night. Nothing too strenuous, just enough to get your heart pumping and muscles working.”

“Don’t need running to make my heart pump,” he pulled her down onto the bed, cupping her butt through her black running tights. “As for muscles…maybe we can stay in and work this big stiff one?”

She laughed and squirmed away. “Nice try, but that muscle’s getting plenty of exercise. Rise and shine, big guy.”

She threw back the blankets, leaving him no choice but to fumble around for his pants. She waited outside and he joined her a few minutes later. They took off at an easy pace, following the path behind the center’s main buildings, then out around the pond and back. Nothing too strenuous, just as she’d promised. Their lungs filled with clean fresh air, the morning mist was cool on their skin. They returned to the guesthouse and she bent over her knees, breathing out cold air. Misha did the same. He straightened easily. “How is your back,” she said.

“Perfect. No pain at all.”

“And the rest of you? Knees? Head?”

“Knees are fine, and my head is in good place, too. Thanks to you, Amy the tiger.”

She grinned, and stood on tiptoe to kiss him. “Ready to get back on the ice?”

“Can’t wait,” he said decisively.

“You’re going to be great.”

He brushed a kiss across her lips. “For you, I will be.”

Buy Links:



Barnes & Noble


Google Play




Carina Press


About Elizabeth:

Elizabeth Harmon loves to read and write romances with a dash of different.

A graduate of the University of Illinois, she has worked in advertising, community journalism and as a freelance magazine writer. She feels incredibly blessed to have a career that allows her to spend her days imagining “what if?” and a loving family that keeps her grounded in the real world.  Her debut novel, Pairing Off is a 2016 RITA Award Finalist.

An adventurous cook, vintage home enthusiast, occasional actress, and entry-level figure skater, Elizabeth makes her home in the Midwest.

Author Links:

Website: http://www.romancewriter-girl.com

Blog: https://elizabethharmonauthor.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elizabethharmonauthor?ref=hl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/romanzwrter_grl

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RY9SY0S

romantic idea


During June and July, I am hosting a group of wonderful writers for our #RomanticIdea summer. Each author will offer a romantic idea you can try this summer with your sweetheart, plus a special treat — an excerpt from one of their books. I hope you enjoy the series.  — Mari


Posted in Thursday Tea & Company | 2 Comments

#romanticidea Softcover Sunday – Meet Iris Blobel

LB HeaderMy #RomanticIdea for this summer

I love the beach and for me there’s nothing nicer than walk along the beach with my feet in the water, listening to the sound of the waves crushing along the shore, and my loved one by my side – hoping to spot a dolphin.

 ~~  Little Beginnings ~~

by Iris Blobel

3D-Little Beginnings “I suppose it doesn’t hurt to dream sometimes.”

♥♦♥ BLURB ♥♦♥

A blind date that doesn’t happen might lead to love.
After her divorce, Jeri Belmont moved to Hobart and now runs a successful art gallery. When her niece sets her up with a neighbour, Jeri expects a blind date like the many she’s had. But she never expected her date wouldn’t even show up because of her age. Despite feeling unjustly judged, when she unexpectedly runs into him again, she finds it hard to ignore Ely’s charm.
Ely Lennox knows he shouldn’t have skipped the blind date because of the lady’s age. After all, it had only been a date, not a lifetime commitment. When his carpentry business takes him right to the woman he bailed out on, his guilt turns into regret when he finds out she’s everything a man could hope for. How can he convince Jeri that he knows acting so immaturely was a big mistake? Will she ever forgive him? Or is she hiding behind something else?

♥♦♥   LINKS   ♥♦♥

AMAZON US: http://amzn.to/1SXs5ES

AMAZON UK: http://amzn.to/1psbjSs

AMAZON AU: http://bit.ly/1R2vjWd

♥♦♥  EXCERPT  ♥♦♥

Jeri Belmont checked the time on her watch. It was twenty past six, and they’d

agreed to meet at six.

He was late!

Steaming inside, and less than impressed by her blind date, she took another sip of the Chardonnay as she gazed around the restaurant. Everyone was engulfed in their conversations, but occasionally one of the patrons glanced at her. She shrugged it off, confident in sitting on her own in the town’s most elegant restaurant. What she couldn’t shrug off, though, was her date being late.

She drank the last little bit of her wine, paid, and left. A deep disappointment settled in the pit of her stomach, surprising her, because it hadn’t been the first time she’d been on a blind date that ended with the guy not showing up.

She suppressed a groan as she thought of the man she’d met only a few weeks earlier. Admittedly, he’d been nice, but not at all what he’d pretended to be in the details she received from the “Your Future Heart” agency.

Yet, this rejection hurt inside. Olivia had told her so much about her neighbour, and she’d trusted her niece when she’d assured he’d be there.

Olivia was Georgia’s daughter. Georgia was Jeri’s cousin, but to avoid confusion they all agreed on Olivia being her niece. Jeri loved Olivia like her own daughter and had often babysat her when she’d been younger. They’d been to movies, concerts, and Jeri had even been along to one of her niece’s trips to Melbourne to visit Olivia’s best friend Mia, who had moved across the Bass Strait.

As Jeri walked down the streets to her car, she replayed her conversation with her niece in her mind.

“How are your blind dates going?” her niece had asked as she came into Jeri’s gallery a couple of days ago.

She’d shrugged. “I have a winner’s luck getting hooked up with all the duds in town.” Jeri remembered hesitating, contemplating whether to speak the words in her head. Was she destined to live alone after her divorce? She wasn’t looking for the man of her dreams, just companionship. Someone to go out with once in a while.

Someone to share her day’s highlights or nightmares with.

“You should meet the guy from next door,” Olivia said. “He’s like sex on legs.


Jeri let out a stifled laugh. “Listen, sweetie. I’m in my late thirties, good looking for that age, but sex on legs?”

“You just wait and see,” Olivia said as she looked at her watch. “Anyway, I’d better go. I’ll give you a call tonight. Prepare yourself for a nice night out with my neighbour!”

That had basically been it — she’d been set up on a blind date without actually agreeing to it. In hindsight, she knew she should’ve called it off, but deep inside, she’d hoped for a nice evening. She’d been most certain that none of Olivia’s friends were what she was looking for, but then again, she didn’t even know herself what she was looking for.




Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London as well as Canada where she her husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only emerged recently, but now her laptop is a constant companion.

Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her two beautiful daughters.

Next to her job at a private school, she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.

Social Media Links:

Click here to subscribe to Iris’ Newsletter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IrisBlobel

Twitter: https://twitter.com/_iris_b

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4067254.Iris_Blobel

Instagram: https:/www.instagram.com/iris_blobel/

romantic idea


During June and July, I am hosting a group of wonderful writers for our #RomanticIdea summer. Each author will offer a romantic idea you can try this summer with your sweetheart, plus a special treat — an excerpt from one of their books. I hope you enjoy the series.  — Mari



Posted in Softcover Sunday | 1 Comment

#RomanticIdea – Tea & Company – Meet Sheri Fredericks

Sheri’s fabulous #RomanticIdea to Enjoy this Summer

As a romance author, I have a file where I jot down date ideas. If I need an idea for a scene I’m writing, I skim through and see if any of them fit.

Maybe you’d like to try one of my date ideas and let me know how it turns out for you! Here’s a few:

  1. Horseback Riding

Rocking hips and cowboy hats — it doesn’t get more romantic than that.

  1. Hit the Beach

Coconut oil, sparkling water, warm sun, and lots of skin. A modest form of nakedness!

  1. Go Retro With A Drive-In Movie

It’s like a regular movie, except with a private back seat!

  1. Old-Fashioned…With A Twist!

Going out to dinner means there’s no mess to clean-up. Follow it up with a hot tub for two — and it’s a recipe for romance.

If you have an idea you’d like to share, I’m all ears.

Look for more books to come in my Lights, Camera, Lube? series.


MonicaBeggs_LRGAbout Sheri’s recent book, “Monica Beggs”

Monica Beggs is more than the hottest porn star out on DVD—she’s Finn Daniel’s next assignment.

Lights. Camera. Lube?

Famous porn star Monica Beggs wrapped up another grueling on-location movie shoot when the Colombian cartel attempted to kidnap her. Their guns are as real as the price on her pretty head.

Former Special Ops and present day surfer, Finn Daniels recognizes a lady in distress when he sees one—especially if it’s his adult film crush being hustled out the door. He’s no longer in the business of busting up the underworld, but that doesn’t deflect his moral compass.

In a fast-paced adventure—over land, sea, and air—playing it hot and heavy will lead them straight into action!

An excerpt from “Monica Beggs”

Scene Setup:  **Finn confronts the Cartel soldier**

 Mariano sighed as if the weight of the world rested upon his shoulders. “You make a big mistake with Monica Beggs, señor. It is not good for your health to be involved in my business.”

From the corner of his eye, Finn saw her clutch the front of her yellow dress. She turned her terrified eyes up to Riley.

“Don’t worry.” Riley flicked her a distracted glance. Team members while in the service and team members now, his partner kept watch on Finn’s six. “He knows what he’s doing.”

“Why Monica?” Finn asked the Colombian.

Mariano shrugged and backed away. His gaze slid past and landed on Monica. “We don’t ask questions.”

“Why do you want to kill me?” She cried out. “What have I done?”

Mariano switched his attention back to Finn, his lips lifted in a ghost of a smile. “She is preciosa, no?

“More than beautiful,” he answered without glancing her way. No way in hell was he taking his eyes off the guy.

Finn didn’t need to see Monica Beggs to remind himself how beautiful she looked. Every inch of her smooth olive skin had been seared into his brain after watching her movie Sin City: A Dildo to Die For—twice.

Okay, three times.

Through his adrenaline rush, memory of the teardrop shape of her breasts flushed hot through his jacked-up system and settled low between the hips. Helping the porn star was the right thing to do. He’d been sure of it back at Femenino Island and felt positive about it now. Confidence injected steel into his blood and he reveled in the sense of calm the knowledge brought.

“You win today, señor.” Mariano’s expression soured. A grim line thinned his lips and his brows lowered.

Finn shrugged and replied in matter-of-fact arrogance. “I win them all.”

Off in the distance, above the barrage of harbor noise and cry of sea birds, came the high-pitched wail of sirens. The small crowd of onlookers drew closer. Their speculative murmurs of drug dealers and DEA agent were passed around like a Sunday morning collection plate.

“The business of drugs are one thing. This buying and selling of women… it is not good. And the things I hear about the man who bought her, well…” Mariano took a deep breath and shook his head.

“Leave me alone,” she pleaded, limping closer to Finn. “Forget you ever saw me.”

Mariano stepped back, then hesitated. “I have never failed my contracts, amigo. Not once.”

Finn’s response was lethal. “Neither have I.”

As the first downed man showing signs of stirring, Mariano checked on the other unconscious man with a shove of his shoe.

Riley nudged Finn. “Let’s evac before the cops show up.”

Finn gave Monica a quick once-over. She seemed otherwise physically uninjured, except where she’d smacked her hip on the ground. Right now, she’d no doubt try to process why someone would take her against her will. The reality of what happened would refuse to lodge in her shocked brain.

He felt sorry for her. He really did. Hell, the most danger she’d probably faced in the last five years was rush-hour traffic on the 405.

“Roger that.” Finn nodded her direction. “I got Monica.”

“Good. You can’t drive worth a shit.” His friend took off, dodging gawking pedestrians as he jogged to the Hummer.

The sirens were much closer and the thought of hashing it out in a small beige room until dark-o-thirty didn’t hold much appeal. “Look, sweetheart. You got someone coming? ‘Cause I gotta jam.”

“You’re leaving?” Her expression was aghast. “You won’t stay?”

As much as he wanted to make sure she was okay, he needed to split the scene more. He shook his head. “Want to help you, but I ain’t sticking around.”

© Sheri Fredricks 2015 Monica Beggs

Purchase Links

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/1PlHSsO

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/1MoFy5Z

Barnes & Noble:  http://bit.ly/1iqhwL3

Kobo: http://bit.ly/20epJDZ

iBooks: http://apple.co/1YJrqXp

About Sheri Fredricks Author PicSheri Fredricks

Always on the hunt for the uncommon things in life, award-winning author Sheri Fredricks thrives on creating romantic adventures.

A former engineering secretary, she lives on California’s beautiful central coast. “I wanted to move away from a profession of inflexible right angles and create an unboxed world with no boundaries.” A voracious reader since her early years, Sheri found her brain crowded with stories of her own. “Ultimately,” she says, “my husband encouraged me to write them all down.”

Winner of the Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewer’s Choice Award, and a Finalist multiple times for InD’Tale eMagazine’s Reward Of Novel Excellence award (RONE), she has numerous five-star reviews everywhere eBooks are sold.

Sheri loves to spend time at home and connecting with readers. A computer hutch keeps her focused on creating stories, but the panoramic view of life on a ranch will call her outside to play in the sun.


Website:              www.sherifredricks.com

Twitter:                http://twitter.com/Sheri_Fredricks

Facebook:           http://www.Facebook.com/SheriFredricks

Goodreads:        www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomsheri_fredricks

Author Info:       http://tinyurl.com/hu3q836

romantic idea


During June and July, I am hosting a group of wonderful writers for our #RomanticIdea summer. Each author will offer a romantic idea you can try this summer with your sweetheart, plus a special treat — an excerpt from one of their books. I hope you enjoy the series. — Mari



Posted in Miscellaneous, Softcover Sunday | 1 Comment